(Description nicked—mostly—from B&N.com.)
“Mags returns to the Collegium, but there are mixed feelings—his included—about him actually remaining there. No one doubts that he is and should be a Herald, but he is afraid that his mere presence is going to incite more danger right in the heart of Valdemar. The heads of the Collegia are afraid that coming back to his known haunt is going to give him less protection than if he went into hiding. Everyone decides that going elsewhere is the solution for now. So since he is going elsewhere—why not return to the place he was found in the first place and look for clues? And those who are closest to him, and might provide secondary targets, are going along. With Herald Jakyr, Bard Lita, and his friends Bear, Lena, and Amily, they head for the Bastion, the hidden spot in the hills that had once been the headquarters of a powerful band of raiders that had held him and his parents prisoner. But what they find is not what anyone expected.”
A bit of a disclaimer: the text above has been altered to correct a mistake in saying who went to the Bastion with Mags. The same mistake exists on Amazon, though, so I’m not sure what’s up with that. Also, beware of spoilers in this review.
Lord, do I hate giving Lackey’s books bad reviews. I remember when her books were such a joy to read, and now… they sort of fall to the ground with a thud and lie there. I’ve speculated many times on the cause of this. Perhaps it’s because she’s writing so many series now, perhaps it’s that she feels obligated to churn out more Valdemar novels. I just don’t know. What I do know is that the Collegium Chronicles have dragged on for far too long.
I have the same complaints about this novel as I did about the previous ones. Mags continues to be the most special of snowflakes in all of Valdemar, with a Companion who plops information into his head in defiance of everything that says that Companions don’t do that, the strongest telepathic gift you can have, the trust of the most important people in the kingdom… in short, despite some difficulties, Mags is always the character around whom everything revolves.
The secondary characters don’t have much to do in this book. Bear and Lena, who got to shine a little in the last novel, are mostly just tagalongs here with little to do but butter up the locals for Mags to encounter. Amily, possibly because of her relationship with Mags, seems well on her way to being another special snowflake as she suddenly picks up weapons proficiency after a lifetime of physical incapability. She also seems to have gone along on the trip to the Bastion just to give Mags a sex life. Jakyr and Lita do a little more, but mostly exist to bicker and provide tension.
My biggest complaint about this book—and indeed, about the entire series—is that almost nothing happens. Much of this novel consists of travelling: going to the Bastion in several stages, going to villages to visit, and going back to the Bastion from those villages. There are lots of inns to stop at, with meals that are described and rooms that are examined in detail. In fact, aside from a minor incident or two in the villages, there really isn’t any action until the very end.
When the action does start, it’s more of Mags being special, as he finally finds out the mystery of his past via his suddenly appearing cousin. Through a telepathic link, this guy gives Mags all the skills he needs to be a super-assassin, never mind that Mags’s body would be in no way prepared for the kinds of acrobatics he puts in through during the final fight with a large group of assassins. And then the novel is over.
I miss the days when the Valdemar novels had well defined plots, clear villains, and characters that grew and changed and matured. None of this is present anymore. Instead, we get a Mary Sue protagonist (or in this case, a Gary Stu) and a series that was supposed to have been about the founding of the Collegium but has almost nothing to do with that. I don’t know what has happened to turn the Valdemar universe in this direction, but I really wish it would get back on track. Bastion is a boring tale in a world that I usually relish visiting, but I could have done without this particular itinerary. It has none of the hallmarks of a good story, and I can only hope that the series ends here.
Also by this author: Beauty and the Werewolf, Brightly Burning, Changes, Changing the World, Conspiracies (with Rosemary Edghill), Crossroads, Elemental Magic, Exile’s Honor, Exile’s Valor, Finding the Way, The Firebird, The Gates of Sleep, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Home from the Sea, Intrigues, Joust, Legacies (with Rosemary Edghill), Phoenix and Ashes, Redoubt, Sacrifices (with Rosemary Edghill), The Serpent’s Shadow, Steadfast, Take a Thief, Under the Vale, Unnatural Issue
Series: Collegium Chronicles
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Acquired: Borrowed from the Yolo County Public Library, Davis Branch
Read an excerpt