Foundation: Book One of the Collegium Chronicles: A Valdemar Novel
Written By: Mercedes Lackey
Published by: Titan Books
I agreed to review Mercedes Lackey’s new novel Foundation – the first in a series of seven proposed books making up The Collegium Chronicles – because my all-time favourite author Stephen King endorses her work. On the cover, Mr King states ‘She’ll keep you up long past your bedtime.’ Mmmmmm.
I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, so I’m maybe not the best person to read a ‘coming of age’ book with a teenage boy as the central protagonist, but I have to admit that I quite enjoyed it.
The writing was, to be quite frank, a bit elementary but it’s one of those books that’s not exactly a page-turner but a good enough read all the same.
The main character, Mags, lives a life of slavery in the gem mines of Valdemar. An orphan who is convinced he is ‘bad blood’, Mags and many other children enslaved by the tyrannical Master Cole are worked and starved almost to the point of death.
When Mag is plucked from his miserable life by one of the King’s Heralds, and whisked away on horseback to the newly formed Collegium in Valdeman’s main city, Haven, a whole new world is opened up to the confused, emaciated boy.
It’s in Haven that Mags meets Dallen, a majestic horse who Mags communicates with via telepathy – or as Lackey describes it – Mindspeech. Dallen informs Mags that he is his Chosen, and Dallen in turn is Mags’ Companion. The two of them are intrinsically bonded and Dallen pours information in to Mags’ mind to help him try and understand the enormity of his new life and the challenges and expectations that lie ahead.
For the first time in Mags’ short yet unhappy life, he is offered shelter, security, food and a sense of belonging. Guided at all times by Dallen, Mags begins his new life training as a Herald.
As the author herself revealed: “Mags’ new life is anything but simple as he learns he must simultaneously battle the enemies of his Kingdom and King, uncover the mysteries of his past, and fight off enemies of his own. If you are not familiar with the Valdemar series, this is the perfect place to jump in!”
Foundation does what it says on the tin – it sets the scene for an epic adventure involving Mags, Dallen and his new-found friends. The second part of the series, Intrigues, has also been released and delves more deeply into Mags’ past.
Perhaps I’m a little too old to be gripped by tales of telepathic horses and teenage boys, but I imagine younger readers will be enthralled by the story. Lackey has created some wonderful characters which I’m sure will be fully developed in the forthcoming books.
Her wonderfully vivid descriptions of firstly Mags’ pitiful life in the mines followed by his transformation to a trainee Herald will enable readers to conjure up fantastically vivid images of Haven in their mind. And if I’m not mistaken, the book contains a nod or two to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Foundation – and the rest of The Collegium Chronicles – to anyone who enjoys a good old epic fantasy.