Friday, August 7, 2015

Changes by Mercedes Lackey

 Reviewed by Holly White
Changes, the third in the Collegium Chronicles quintet by Mercedes Lackey, continues the story of Mags, the orphan boy.  Mags was raised as a slave working in a gemstone mine before being Chosen by Companion Dallen as a trainee to become a Herald of Valdemar.  Mags has risen to fame as one of the Heraldic Collegium’s star kirball players.  His best friend Bear, a Healer trainee without the healing Gift, has successfully begun his campaign to provide every Healer and Herald on circuit with an herb kit containing medicines that could be used by anyone, Gift or no.  Bear’s girlfriend Lena, a Bardic trainee, still tries to live up to the reputation of her father, the famous and incredibly Gifted Bard Marchand.  Mags has discovered he is sweet on Amily, the crippled daughter of the King’s Own Herald Nikolas.  In his spare time, Mags has been working off and on under Herald Nikolas’ direction, as an undercover spy for the Crown.
The story opens with Nikolas urging Mags to let his three friends, Bear, Lena, and Amily, in on the fact that he has been doing undercover spy work, in the hopes that they can be a support to him, in addition to using their own eyes and ears when necessary.  Bear’s family, all Healing-Gifted, seek to force Bear to leave the Collegium, return home, marry someone of their choice, and produce heirs with the Healing Gift.  Lena finds out that her father has not only accepted a protégé apprentice other than herself, but is now claiming that she is not even his child.  Bear has plans to try a risky experimental surgery on Amily to fix her crippled leg, but Nikolas nips Amily’s hopes in the bud when he orders her to put off the surgery indefinitely and will not tell her why.  Mags and Nikolas learn that enemy spies have infiltrated not only the capital city of Haven, but the Palace itself.
During the hottest part of the summer, everyone at the Collegium is arguing with everyone else, rendering the heat even more unendurable.  Lena learns that her father has done something more unthinkable than even she had suspected.  Things for not only Mags’ circle of friends, but for all of Valdemar, come to a head when Mags learns that Amily’s life is in danger from the enemy spies.  If harm were to come to the daughter of the King’s Own Herald, that would not only incapacitate the King’s Own Herald, but also by extension, the King himself.  Amily and her friends become increasingly aware of the fact that she is crippled and unable to defend herself.   For some unfathomable reason the spies want Mags, too.  On top of that, the unknown enemies are impervious to mind magic, so there is no way to ferret them out or to learn what they are thinking.
Will Bear prove to his family that he can Heal without the Gift of healing?  Will Lena prove to everyone and to herself that she does not have to stand in her father’s shadow?  Will Mags find out who the spies are and where they are staying?  Will the Heralds find out why mind magic won’t work on the spies?  Will Nikolas and Mags be able to foil the plot against Amily?  Will Amily walk again?  Will the Heralds find out who is the mole on the Palace grounds?  Will Mags find out what the enemy spies want with him?  Will Mags earn his Whites (the sign that he is no longer just a trainee, but a full Herald)?  Find out by reading Changes.
If you love stories with good vs. evil elements, lots of action and adventure, with a fantasy element, and a dash of romance, you will enjoy this book.  This earlier books in the series are Foundation and Intrigues. My next review will be on Book Four of the Collegium Chronicles quintet, which is Redoubt.

This book follows Intrigues, the second in the series.

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