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Book Review

Book Cover

The Collegium Chronicles
Book I


Author: Mercedes Lackey
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $11.95
ISBN: 978 1 78116 585 0
Available 26 October 2012

Mags has always been told he has bad blood, so he finds it no surprise to be enslaved to a mine owner who seems intent in working the children to death in search of jewels. But this all changes with the arrival of the Companion and the Herald. The Companion is a telepathic, white, horse who has chosen Mags to train as a Herald, the knights who are the arbiters of justice in Valdemar. Freed from the mine he journeys to Haven to be trained only to find the city in turmoil as the influx of new recruits has meant the building of new quarters. Whilst he trains events are quickly coming to an unpleasant head in the East...

Foundation by Mercedes Lackey is another in the Valdemar series, a series which has already spawned a large number of books. For her new series she has chosen to delve into Valdemar’s past and the founding of the colleges.

In truth, the book would have been more honest if it had been titled ‘prelude’ as the actual plot progression is negligible. This is more setting the stage for what will surely follow in the next three novels. It may be that Lackey had the millions of followers for her other extensive Valdemar trilogies in mind, as we spend less time in world building than we do in the head of Mags as he travels to Haven.

Although, undoubtedly well written, Foundation is another book which follows Joseph Campbell's monomyth. So, we find Mags as a scruff, working down a mine, low born unaware of his destiny. He meets a Herald and, although we don’t get to that part in the first book, he will inevitably go on a quest, encounter fabulous, possibly magical forces and emerge victorious - it’s a bet I’m willing to take. As Campbell pointed out, like jokes, there appears to be only a handful of story types and lackey has chosen to tell a coming of age tale.

Lackey writes well and her strong point is the characterisation of Mags, like his Companion we spend so much time in his head that there is never any confusion about his motivations or decisions, although this does remove a layer of mystery to the character, if you like Mags then you’ll like spending time in his company, here she strives for the intimate rather than the grand and succeeds well.

Lackey treads the fine balance between servicing her many fans and making the series understandable without having read the previous books. For the most part this works well as I never once felt torn out of the narrative by some random piece of information which did not make sense within the confines of the novel.

So it is a good, if unexciting, start to a new series. We will have to see where the tale is leading us.


Charles Packer

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