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Book Review

Book Cover

The Collegium Chronicles
Book II


Author: Mercedes Lackey
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $11.95
ISBN: 978 1 78116 587 4
Available 28 October 2012

Fourteen year old Mags has successfully escaped the life of the mines having been chosen by one of the Companions, white telepathic horses. He still finds it difficult to fit in with the other students at his new school, although he has the close friendship of Bear, Lena and Amily. When the Farseers report that they have seen an attempted assassination of the king by an outsider suspicion falls on Mags as the only outsider. In order to survive he has to unravel the mystery of his own past...

Intrigues is the second novel in the Collegium Chronicles, a new book in the latest Valdemar series, written by Mercedes Lackey.

I take it all back. In my review for the first book in the series I thought that Lackey was diving straight into a monomyth, instead she seems to have taken her characters on a slight detour to have a bash at a book which mixes Tom Brown's School Days with Harry Potter, a rather large chunk of Harry Potter. I am confused why this should be? Alone, the book only moves the plot forward a few paces. Strangers appear to recognise Mags, check one for monomyth, he has a magic horse, check two, he is facing adversity, which he needs to overcome, check three and he gets to play a game central to the school, uncheck one, that was Harry Potter.

There also seems to be a masochistic streak in Lackey. The character of Mags, in the first novel, was a strong self-sufficient young man. Sure, he had a hard life in the mines, privation and abuse being the stuff of everyday experience. So, you would think that he would be able to take his best stoic outlook on life and apply them to his school days, apparently not, as he turn into a whiney brat. Now, I’m pretty sure that with the advent of hormonal change most fourteen year old boys are emotionally unstable little shits, but just because it’s the truth doesn’t mean I want my central character to be one.

With so little of import to push the narrative forwards the reader once again is engulfed in character description and development, although unlike the first, establishing novel, where such emphasis is acceptable, this time around it did feel a bit like being stuck in a quagmire of character description, all the time waiting for the real plot to kick in.

I’m not, generally, a fan of fantasy books, The Lord of the Rings notwithstanding, although I have been sent some which I have thoroughly enjoyed. However, following so close on the heels of the first book Intrigues feels like a partial re-tread of the first novel and a particularly poorly thought out weak plot development.

Tonally, the book has also dropped a couple of age notches, from the first book. Whereas the first might appeal to the older teen and her long standing adult fans, this one appears to be aiming at a readership closer to Mags's age. Hopefully when the third book arrives, the plot will arrive also.


Charles Packer

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