Mags is a thirteen-year-old mine worker and all but a slave. When a Herald with two white horses comes to collect him, he has no idea what it means. But those white horses are Companions, intelligent magical beings who act as the other half of the Heralds who are law-keepers of Valdemar—and Mags has been Chosen to be one of them. Arriving at the recently-established Collegium, Mags is one of the first generation of Heralds to learn in the new system. But trouble is brewing with some visiting foreigners, and it looks like Mags will have something to do with it!
Why you should read it:
Despite the difficulty of sussing out the plot, this first book is an excellent example of a coming-of-age novel for older teens—younger teens will likely find themselves bored by the ingrained politics of the story. Mags is growing, learning, and trying to find his place in the world—a place, in this world, which will become near-explicit. In previous novels in this series, it was explained that each Herald is chosen for a reason. (In that case, a middle-aged scribe named Myste was Chosen to be the Herald-Chronicler and the romantic interest of the Weaponsmaster. I find it funny that the author, whose nickname is Misty, has admitted that Myste is the only time she’s inserted herself into her books as a character.) While this point has not yet turned up in this series, it is likely it will–Mags is different, and doesn’t quite fit in with the other Herald-Trainees.
Despite the solidity of the writing, there is a bit of a flaw in the pacing–I’m four books deep into this series and I have yet to figure out the overarching plot. The books are good, as can be expected from Mercedes Lackey, but the series feels like one large book that has been broken down into several books simply due to size constraints. I expect that the end of the series will be triumphant and I’ll be racing to finish it, but for now, the villains’ motivations are difficult to suss out. It isn’t dragging, but it is getting a bit long. I will admit though, the second book has a period of beautifully executed self-doubting teen angst that resonated strongly with my memories of my teenage years.