Book Review: Spy, Spy Again by Mercedes Lackey

Posted December 13, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Spy, Spy Again by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Spy, Spy Again by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Published by DAW on June 9, 2020
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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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, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond, Oathbreakers, The Lark and the Wren, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes, The Wizard of London, The Robin and the Kestrel, Oathblood, Exile's Honor, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, Owlflight, Exile’s Valor, Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar

Third in the Family Spies fantasy series for Young Adult readers (and eighth in The Collegium Chronicles within the Valdemar universe in supposedly 864 AF) and revolving around Mags and his family. The focus is on Prince Kyril and his best friend Tory, Mags’ son and on Sira, Bey’s daughter.

If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take

There’s a bit of catching up with past stories in The Collegium Chronicles even as Lackey introduces us to Kyril and Tory.

They’re boys with imaginations. And an unexpected genetic inheritance in Kee’s case! Lord knows how he’ll survive going back to Valdemar! The boys also have a revelation as to why the Herald-Mages died out. Tory, well, he has his own sad revelation.

There’s a bit of back, back-history in this about that war with the great Wizard, Urtho, and what happened to the people who became the Sleepgivers. It seems that Beshat has ideas to clean up the Sleepgivers. I sure hope we get more stories about them. I certainly do like the Sleepgiver economy and their stance on slavery.

A bit more back history is on those Talismans, providing proof that power can corrupt anyone. The Sleepgivers also serve as a vehicle for Lackey’s message on recycling and simplicity of living. “Waste nothing, and do nothing wastefully.” It’s also creates an interesting use of magic.

Harvest Fair provides insight into how Mags trains his children in spycraft.

That Sira is amazing. I loved reading about her imprisonment — I know, how does one love that? — but she’s so clever and resourceful. She certainly gives those priests of Vkandis grief, lol. Then there are her interactions with the afrinn! Oh man, have they got a story to tell! Especially about those older Talismans.

I’d love those language talismans! Wear ’em long enough and you absorb the language. In Tory and Kee’s case, five of ’em!!

LOL, the afrinn call the Karsites god-botherers. Oh, then there’s that mansion of a barn. Wow.

I’m gonna say that Lackey is using third person quadruple protagonist point-of-view from the perspectives of Tory, Kee, Sari, and Ahkhan.

A good message to take from Spy, Spy Again is that one can be friends and allies with any living being.

It’s exciting, entertaining, and filled with action — tracking, meeting other cultures, imprisonment, escape . . . and more escape with a quirky romance — with some fascinating characters.

The Story

Prince Kyril and Mags and Amily’s son Tory “share” Gifts, which become crucial when Mags gets a desperate message from his cousin Bey calling in the debt Mags owes him.

Bey’s eldest daughter has been kidnapped, and he’s desperate to find Sira before it’s too late.

The Characters

Valdemar is . . .
. . .a nation ruled by a Herald monarch, equality of men and women, trustworthy Mind-Magic Heralds, and full of air spirits who scare off magic users. Herald Mikel is the man who meets Tory, Kee, and company.

Fourteen year old Tory, with a Gift of Farseer, and thirteen year old Prince Kyril, a.k.a. Kee, with a minor Empathy Gift, are best friends. Neither has been Chosen, but when working together, they have a unique Gift, a Farseeing that allows them to look in on any family member. Tariday and Elissa are Companions who have not Chosen, and they will bear Tory and Kee to the border of Valdemar. The horses Ahkhan provides them are Aly and Vesa.

Herald Amily is Tory’s mother and the King’s Own; Rolan is her Companion. Herald Mags is his father with Dallen as his Companion (Foundation, 1; Intrigues, 2; Changes, 3; Redoubt, 4; and, Bastion, 5). Pawn shop owner, Willie the Weasel, is Mags’ persona in Haven. (Mags’ grandfather had been the previous Banner of the People — and a real jerk.) Tory’s siblings include Abi, a Master Artificer (Eye Spy, 2); Perry, and he has a kyree, Larral (The Hills Have Spies, 1 (6)); and, Niko.

Kee is one of six royal siblings. The oldest is Crown Prince Trey who is married; Niko is on a mission to Duke Farleigh; Herald-Princess Kat is the king’s problem solver; and, Rafi and Sofia are Kee’s younger siblings.

Rutolf is the owner and proprietor of a furs stall at the Harvest Fair. Bourde the Goldsmith acts as a bank for successful mercenaries.

The Sleepgivers are . . .
. . . a nation of assassins located in mountains in Ruvan. Siratai “Sira” is the daughter of Beshat, the leader of their nation. She is also half-Mage. Aku is her horse, like and unlike the Shin’a’in horses. Beshat, the Banner of the People, is also Mags’ cousin (Bastion, 5); Anhita is their mother. Sira’s siblings include Hakal, the Healer; Jeshan, who specializes in poisons and antidotes; Nalad is in training; Rayakh trains tracking and attack dogs; Teychik is the Heir to the Banner and skilled at sniping from cover; and, Ahkhan who loves Natya, his horse. Lalanash is in training. Servants include Lharosh and Seteen who share household duties and Nilda is the cook.

The Sleepgivers wear Talismans which hold the memories of prior assassins. Although there had been two other types of Talismans in the past. Lammergeyers, scavenger birds, are the emblem of the people. One of them, Windhover, is the special pet of the family.

The afrinns (I think of them as genies) seem to be elementals of air, fire, water, and earth. Borkase, a.k.a. the Stone Man, an earth afrinn is very dangerous. Eakkashet is a fire afrinn who is quite chatty. Atheser and Vela are water ifrinns and mates. Halina and Merirat are air ifrinns. Lyasho. All of ’em come with some fascinating abilities.

Hakshen Tiron is leading a merchant caravan into Karse. Ismal is his son. The guards include Kerk, Birk, and the enthusiastic Derdan who wants to open a wine shop when he retires.

The Southern and Northern Mage Schools of Amber Moon are . . .
. . . one of the many schools that teach magic with each having its own philosophy on the use of magic. Amber Moon has a mutually beneficial treaty with the Sleepgivers. Bertolome is the Chief Mage of the Northern School, which is just over the border from Valdemar; the Southern School is in Rethwellan. May outfits travelers at Southern.

The Karsites are . . .
. . . a strict theocracy, which worships Vkandis Sunlord. They’re so incredibly evil! High Priests Durchloss, Entschmitt, and Guerether are expecting a shipment.

Remp had been a spoiled merchant boy with no honor (Eye Spy, 2).

The Cover and Title

The cover is in the desert with a blue sky with a white Companion superimposed on it. To the upper left is a red-brown overhanging cliff with Tory and Kee standing guard amongst rocks and overlooking two men in the distance. At the very top is the author’s name in gold with black shadowing. Just under the cliff to the left of the boy who’s standing and wearing a lilac head scarf and navy jerkin and carrying a cudgel is the basic series info in black. The title is white and is below the second boy, wearing a blue striped jerkin and golden shirt, holding a knife in his right hand. Below the title is the more detailed series info in gold.

I’m not sure about the title. It could be referencing Mags’ spying days and indicating that Tory and Kee are carrying on, to Spy, Spy Again.

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