Friday, July 3, 2015

Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey

 Reviewed by Holly White

Intrigues is the sequel to Foundation, and the second in the Collegium Chronicles quintet.  Intrigues takes up where we left off in the story of Herald Trainee Mags.  Mags’s circle of friends includes Lena, a Bardic Trainee; Bear, a Healer Trainee; and Amily, the daughter of King’s Own Herald Nikolas.  In addition, Herald Nikolas has also started training Mags to be a spy for the Crown.  Mags must learn to go into the city unobtrusively, and observe others while going unnoticed himself.
In Intrigues, Mags and his friends endure a series of difficulties.  Lena, the daughter of the most Gifted Master Bard in Valdemar, strives to live up everyone’s expectations of her due to her father’s reputation, but her father barely notices her.  She feels it must be because she is not good enough to merit his notice, which breaks her heart.  Bear comes from a family of Healers, and wants to become a Healer as well, but he does not have the Healing Gift.  Bear does, however, know how to grow and mix herbs, and treat patients with medicine; he excels at this so much that even Master Healers come to him for advice and potions.  Bear’s family, however, embarrassed by him, pressure him to come home, get married (to someone of their choice), and begin to produce children who will hopefully have the Healing Gift that Bear himself lacks.  Amily, daughter of the most important Herald other than the King himself, is lame, one leg ruined in the same long-ago accident that also killed her mother.  A new sport is being instituted at the Collegium, a game called kirball, and the Heralds in charge of it, unaware of Mags’ undercover work for Nikolas, asked him to join one of the kirball teams.  Mags fears this will have the dual disadvantage of taking too much time away from his spy work as well as causing him to be noticed which would be detrimental to any undercover work.
Mags does join a kirball team, and because of his excellent riding skill and use of his Gift, he becomes a kirball star overnight.  Everyone is talking about him.  Exactly what he wanted to avoid.  But his good notoriety was short-lived; he was about to become famous for a very different reason.  His search for information about his parents led to information that caused the entire Collegium to suspect Mags of plotting against the King.  At first, his friends and kirball teammates support him against the onslaught of public opinion, but soon rifts develop between him and everyone he cares about, even his Companion.
Will Lena live up to her famous father’s heritage?  Will Bear leave the Collegium and his true calling for an arranged marriage?  Will Amily ever find a way to walk again?  Will Mags’ kirball notoriety help or harm his undercover endeavors?  Will Mags ever be able to prove his loyalty to Valdemar and its King?  And when everyone turns away from Mags, how will he find a way to get back into their good graces again?  Find out by reading Intrigues.
If you love fantasy, good vs. evil stories, or character-driven stories with a hint of romance, a bit of magic, and a large dollop of adventure, then you will love Intrigues.  Once again, Mercedes Lackey’s depiction of the character Mags is so vivid that one feels what he feels.  When Mags’ friends all abandoned him, I cried because I related.  We have all had those moments when we feel utterly alone in the world, even if it is not actually so.  When it happens to Mags, the emotions are as real as if it was happening to me.  Intrigues is a delicious book with a satisfying ending, and yet, there are still unanswered questions.  Which is why I hasten on to the third book in the Collegium Chronicles quintet, Changes.

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