Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: 'Intrigues' by Mercedes Lackey

Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey, 2010, DAW Books, $7.99, softbound, 391 pages. Category/Genre: fantasy. Cover: The swords and masks background is pretty cool, but Dallen's and Mags' faces could be a little better done. The overall composition is pleasing, however. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million.

Spoiler Alert!

Though it would be best to read the first of the Collegium Chronicles before Intrigues, it isn't vital. Intrigues, the second book in the series, follows Herald Trainee Mags and his Companion, Dallen, as Mags struggles to fit in with the other Trainees at the Collegium. 

Companions are white, horse-like creatures with blue eyes and a talent for telepathy. The telepathy is called 'Mindspeech,' and some humans have it, as well (Mags does). Companions bond to their Chosen people and are very close to them. 

There are lots of personal issues in Mags' life; all his friends have problems that need sorting, and Mags himself has problems, as well. Most troubling is the vision at the heart of this story: Farseers have seen the king covered in blood, with a shadowy, foreign-born figure next to him. Because Mags is foreign, suspicion immediately falls on him, and he starts being harassed by the other Trainees. 

It will be up to Mags to prove himself innocent -- but how can one prove oneself innocent of a crime not yet committed? Fortunately for Mags, he has Dallen and his human friends, who stick up for him. Still, things are rough, and Mags takes it to heart. 

On the plus side, the Collegium is developing a new sport: Kirball. Kirball will help Trainees get used to what it's like to be in battle, which they will all face one day. The Kirball scenes are lively and exciting, as team members work together using their wits, skills, and Gifts (magical powers). 

Mags is also learning espionage techniques from Nikolas, the King's Own Herald. Nikolas is teaching Mags to be stealthy and not draw attention to himself (a problem when Mags becomes something of a hero and his friend Lena, a Bard Trainee, writes a song about him).  

This is a very entertaining book. One thing we didn't like about it was the fact that, when everything comes to a head and Mags' friends turn on him, the friends never apologise for their part in the fighting, though Mags does.  

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