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About Mercedes Lackey
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In Mercedes Lackey's classic coming-of-age story, the orphan Magpie pursues his quest for his parent's identity with burning urgency-while also discovering another hidden talent and being trained by the King's Own Herald as an undercover agent for Valdemar. Shy Bardic Trainee Lena has to face her famous but uncaring father, one of Valdemar's most renowned Bards. And Healing Trainee Bear must struggle against his disapproving parents, who are pressuring Bear to quit the Healers' Collegium because he lacks the magical Healing Gift.
Each of the three friends must face his or her demons and find their true strength as they seek to become the full Heralds, Bards, and Healers of Valdemar.
High magic had been lost to Valdemar when he gave his life to save his kingdom from destruction by the dark sorceries. Now it falls to Elspeth Herald, heir to the throne, to take up the challenge and seek a mentor who will awaken her mage abilities.
While Sherlock is still officially dead, John and Mary Watson and Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White are taking up some of his case-load--and some for Lord Alderscroft, the Wizard of London.
Lord Alderscroft asks them to go to Dartmoor to track down a rumor of evil magic brewing there. Not more than four hours later, a poor cottager, also from Dartmoor, arrives seeking their help. His wife, in a fit of rage over the children spilling and spoiling their only food for dinner that night, sent them out on the moors to forage for something to eat. This is not the first time she has done this, and the children are moor-wise and unlikely to get into difficulties. But this time they did not come back, and in fact, their tracks abruptly stopped "as if them Pharisees took'd 'em." The man begs them to come help.
They would have said no, but there's the assignment for Alderscroft. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
But the deadly bogs are not the only mires on Dartmoor.
Herald Mags, Valdemar’s first official Herald Spy, is well on his way to establishing a coterie of young informants, not only on the streets of Haven, but in the kitchens and Great Halls of the highborn and wealthy as well.
The newly appointed King’s Own Herald, Amily, although still unsure of her own capability in that office, is doing fine work to support the efforts of Mags, her betrothed. She has even found a way to build an army of informants herself, a group of highly trained but impoverished young noblewomen groomed to serve the highborn ladies who live at Court, to be called “The Queens’s Handmaidens.”
And King Kyril has come up with the grand plan of turning Mags and Amily’s wedding into a low-key diplomatic event that will simultaneously entertain everyone on the Hill and allow him to negotiate behind the scenes with all the attending ambassadors―something which had not been possible at his son Prince Sedric’s wedding.
What could possibly go wrong?
The answer, of course, is “everything.”
For all is not well in the neighboring Kingdom of Menmellith. The new king is a child, and a pretender to the throne has raised a rebel army. And this army is―purportedly―being supplied with arms by Valdemar. The Menmellith Regency Council threatens war. With the help of a ragtag band of their unlikely associates, Mags and Amily will have to determine the real culprit, amass the evidence to convince the Council, and prevent a war nobody wants―
―and, somewhere along the way, get married.
Mags began his special training as Nikolas' undercover partner and future spy for the crown. Disguised, they work at night in one of the seedier parts of Haven, where Nikolas had set up a false identity as a pawnbroker and fence. Mags poses as his deaf-mute nephew, covertly watching and listening from behind the desk. He was especially good at the trait that had kept him alive as a child laborer in the gem mine--ferreting out hidden motives.
Now Mags has graduated to a new role: Nikolas' partner and information broker. Mags channels his old cunning self from the mines and discovers that he's quite good at his new job. So good, in fact, that Nikolas decides to let him open the shop alone one hot, summer night. Mags has barely unlocked the shop when everything goes black in a blinding flash of pain.
He wakes with an agonizing headache, bound, blindfolded, in a conveyance of some kind. But worst of all, he's head-blind. No Mindspeech--he can't even sense Dallen. And if he can't sense or hear Dallen, then no one can sense him. And if no one can sense him, no one can come to his rescue.
Skif was an orphan who would have died from malnutrition and exposure if he had never met Deke the pickpocket. By the time he was twelve, Skif was an accomplished cat burglar. But it wasn't until he decided to steal a finely tacked-out white horse, which was, oddly enough, standing unattended in the street, that this young thief discovered that the tables could turn on him--and that he himself could be stolen!
Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.
Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds.
The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags' mentor, King's Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King's Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time.
Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?
In battle, Alberich had always had a sort of “sixth sense” about things which were about to happen—when and from where the enemy would attack. Instinctively, he his this ability, for the Sunpriests kept careful watch for anyone exhibiting “demon powers” which were the hallmark of Karse’s greatest enemy—the witch-nation of Valdemar. Those they caught were “cleansed” in the fires of Vkandis Sunlord.
Both Alberich’s skill and secret served him well in the army of Karse, and when Alberich became one of Karse’s youngest captains, he received a special gift—a powerful white stallion “liberated” from the enemy. But this honor was merely a distraction, for the Sunpriests had laid a trap which even Alberich’s strange foresight could not predict…
Saved from burning as a witch when this odd white stallion braved flames and carried him over the border into Valdemar, he was healed by the same enemies he had been taught to hate his entire life. Though he knew he could never again return to his home, Alberich also knew he could never truly become a Valdemaran. How could Alberich remain true to his own people and still retain his honor while helping to train the direst enemy of Karse?
Maya Witherspoon lived most of the first twenty-five years of her life in her native India. As the daughter of a prominent British physician and a Brahmin woman of the highest caste, she graduated from the University of Delhi as a Doctor of Medicine by the age of twenty-two.
But the science of medicine was not Maya’s only heritage. For Maya’s aristocratic mother Surya was a sorceress—a former priestess of the mystical magics fueled by the powerful and fearsome pantheon of Indian gods.
Though Maya felt the stirring of magic in her blood, her mother had repeatedly refused to train her. “I cannot,” she had said, her eyes dark with distress, whenever Maya asked. “Yours is the magic of your father’s blood, not mine....” Surya never had the chance to explain this enigmatic statement to her daughter before a mysterious illness claimed her life.
Yet it was Maya’s father’s death shortly thereafter that confirmed her darkest suspicions. For her father was killed by the bite of a krait, a tiny venomous snake, and in the last hours of her mother’s life, Surya had warned Maya to beware “the serpent’s shadow.” Maya knew she must flee the land of her birth or face the same fate as her parents.
In self-imposed exile in Edwardian London, Maya knew that she could not hide forever from the vindictive power that had murdered her parents. She knew in her heart that even a vast ocean couldn’t protect her from “the serpent’s shadow” that had so terrified her mother. Her only hope was to find a way to master her own magic: the magic of her father’s blood. But who would teach her? And could she learn enough to save her life by the time her relentless pursuers caught up with their prey?