I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey
Published by DAW Books on July 9, 2019
Source: the library
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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth
Second in the Family Spies subseries that’s part of The Collegium Chronicles series, which is itself part of the Valdemar universe and revolving around Mags and Amily and their family. The focus is on Abidela, the middle child.
It’s all about justice! And I love it. Although I do suspect that all this justice takes away chunks of conflict and tension. Although, oh, baby, if only we could have a justice system with access to Truth Spells!!
Abi has been floating along, wanting some daring spywork to do for her dad, to have an adventure, but soon discovers she has a Gift which exposes her to a whole new field. The more she learns, the more she finds joy and a variety of applications to which she looks forward. She also learns that designing and building is just part of the process with managing people an important part.
Abi warns her fellow students to be careful of her royal friends and what they say to them. For there’s a hierarchy everywhere, especially among the three factions: 1) people who had made their money, 2) people whose titles and family lines stretched far, far back in time, and 3) people who were newly ennobled or whose line only went back five generations. This last is also the most contentious.
There’s some chat about how the Trainees can earn some money and gain some experience. The tests they endure. The tricky tasks Mags sets his oldest son and daughter at the Fair. There’s the trip to Valdemar’s border where Abi’s gift helps a number of communities: a breaking dam, a water system, and a cracked wall. More of Abi’s adventures include finding hidden treasure by which Kat starts to discover how she wants to act as a Herald.
I love how supportive Abi’s parents are of her choices. And romance-wise, there really isn’t any, especially after Jicks’ little attempt. That kiss is a contrast to Jicks’ usual views. She doesn’t believe Valdemar would help people without an ulterior motive. There’s also a hard lesson about how far Valdmar can stretch itself. I can understand Abi’s dismay, but I also understand Stev’s point.
Lackey uses a third person protagonist point-of-view from Abi’s perspective — we never experience a scene where Abi isn’t present. The action is driven by its characters — and I’m including the country of Valdemar as a character! Yeah, there’s plenty of action, but so much of it is so low-key. As much as I love the values expressed, this is probably my least favorite story in the Collegium series.
Abi finally finds out why that bridge scares her when she senses its imminent collapse. It’s a revelation when Abi and Kat save all those lives…and Abi discovers her Gift.
Intrigued by the potential of her Gift, the Artificers seek to claim her as their own — but so do the Healers. Through training with both of them, Abi discovers unique facets of her Gift, including a synesthetic connection to objects that allows her to “see” as well as feel the strains.
Her Gift may also grant her a distinct advantage as a spy, as she uncovers the hidden secrets in the depths of Valdemar.
Abidela “Abi” is the middle child of Herald Mags, the King’s Spy with a Gift for Mindvoice, and Amily, the King’s Own Herald, whose Companion is Rolan. Dallen is Mags’ Companion. Peregrine is the oldest with a gift for Animal Mindspeech and is now an agent running his dad’s pawn shop in the city (The Hills Have Spies, 1 (9)). Larral is his kyree companion. Tory is the youngest. All three children are learning spycraft, statecraft, and how to read a room, partly because they are great friends with the royal children, and their parents count on them to help keep them safe. Herald Nikolas is Amily’s father and the kids’ grandfather who stepped down from his public duties.
Lord Jorthun, who used to be the King’s Spy, is teaching Perry and the Queen’s Handmaidens how to blend, spycraft, and defense. His wife, Lady Dia, breeds dogs. Jorthun’s weaponsmaster is Master Leandro who had trained Mags and is now training Abi.
…the capital of Valdemar and is ruled by King Sedric and the pregnant Queen Lydia (who came from a fabric merchant family and who has been best friends with Amily and Mags for years). They have
four five children — Crown Prince Trey is the oldest, and he and Prince Niko are in Trainee Grays. Prince Kyril “Kee” is the youngest with a Gift for Empathy with a great mastiff, Gryphon — and it turns out Kee and Tory have a group Gift. Rafiel is the new baby. Drake is a mastiff who belongs to the royal family. Sedric’s father, King Kyril, stepped down in favor of Sedric when Kee was born.
Kat, a.k.a., Princess Katiana, is a Herald Trainee with a gift of Mindspeech and a touch of Empathy. Dylia is Kat’s companion.
The Collegia includes…
…Herald Trainees who wear gray, Bardic Trainees who wear dark reddish orange, and Healer Trainees who wear a light green. Abi trains with their Weaponsmaster. Sofia is a Herald Trainee. Dione has some lovely perfume. Healer Sanje is working with Abi on her Gift. The country Bardic Trainee Harlee gets help from Abi.
Kirball is a sport played by the Trainees.
The Artificers are…
…blue-clad students who learn building, construction, and the general making of things. Master Ketnar is the dean. You can only get in if you are recommended. Master Morell, Greer, Master Edders knows everything about stone, and Master Renold specializes in reinforcement. To graduate, each student must create a Master Work, something new or improved that no one has ever seen before. The Sisters of Betane, a religious order, clear their sanctuary for the sample construction.
Students include the nasty, bullying Dudley Remp, Brice is a bullied student who doesn’t read well whose ability to remember is amazing, who along with Rudi (a blacksmith’s son) and Emmit, become friends with Abi. Geoffers is a cheat.
The Heralds are…
…the ultimate law enforcement in Valdemar. They are Chosen by a Companion, a supernatural gift of a white horse-like being with a conscience, in a life-long bond who communicate telepathically. The King’s Own is the king’s confidante and sounding board. Heralds Seth and Jered have a role to play.
Aunty Mina runs a sort of house for Mags’ group of young thieves who include Kip and Neddy. Ma Sendle makes excellent apply jelly. The Watch and Fair-Wards police the Fairs. Iris is a prostitute and one of Mags’ agents. Lord Sentean is heading back to his country house with his family. The Archpriest of Kernos conducts all the business of the Order across the kingdom.
Goodman Seth Wrenmarsh is Mags’ agent and a freeholder in Asterliegh Manor, which Sussena, Lady Asterleigh who uses a wheelchair, is about to lose. Rafi is one of Seth’s children and a friend of Peregrine’s. Tobin is Sussena’s hard-edged man, Hansa is his wife, Hob is his son, and Lori is their daughter.
A delegation representing two dozen communities — including Ellistown, arrive to petition to be annexed to Valdemar. Some of the builders going include Master Vance, Master Padrick, and Master Beyren. Jicks is a Hanson’s Harriers mercenary who will be guide, bodyguard, and cook; she dreams of owning a pub when she retires. Her squad includes Bart and Bret. Herald Stev, with a Mindspeech gift and another of Mags’ agents, will accompany them, but without his Companion. Belle is the hinny, a cross of a stallion father and a donkey mother, that Abi will ride. Steen is a sorcerer in Ellistown; Aubryana is his serving woman. Rufous is the village mayor.
Benjon is the very cheap mayor of the third town, the very suspicious Gescony. The Green Dog Pub is quite unhappy with the meals they’re forced to provide. Mage-smith Evelie is a blacksmith who hammers spells into metal. Albemarle is a nutjob of a mage. Korlak is a mage of the Red River School, who isn’t doing well at all. Kaw is his crow. Zac is Korlak’s cousin; he’ll apprentice with Albemarle.
The Karsite priests of Vkandis can call up demons, and they sacrifice any child who shows signs of a Gift. The Crown of Menmellith has a standing bounty on Mage-priests. “Del” is the Mage whom Abi and company take prisoner.
Fenris Remp is a very wealthy, skinflint of a father; Mari is his nonentity of a wife. Shackle is a pickpocket. The High Court Judge is the Honorable Bader Genberg. The Order of Sethor the Patriarch is an old tale of a bigoted religious group that was thrown out of the kingdom.
The Cover and Title
The cover is one of grays and muted purples which make up the shaky bridge and the city skyline behind Abidela and Kat on Dylia. Abidela wears a coral bodice with coral sleeves revealing puffs of her cream chemise and a tan cloak with a hood, her red hair flying in the wind. Kat has her blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail and wears trainee grays with a hooded cloak. Dylia wears a head and chest harness and bridle with purple dags, his mane blowing in the wind. The author’s name is in a gothic font in a subdued yellow with scrollwork on the “M” and the “L”. The title is below it in white. At the bottom is the series information and a note that this is a novel of Valdemar, also in white. All the text is embossed.
The closest I can come to interpreting the title is that “eye” is a metaphor for Abi’s Gift, and she is a spy after all, therefore Eye Spy??