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The Hills Have Spies (Valdemar: Family Spies #1)
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August 2018: Espionage > The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey - 4 stars

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message 1: by annapi (last edited Aug 22, 2018 09:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

annapi | 5156 comments When I heard about this book, my first thought was "Not another series about Mags!" - because I was growing a tad weary of this character who was a bit of a Gary Stu, and has had two series about him, the first one five books long, the second three. The last series only garnered 3 or 3.5 stars, rounded down, from me.

But this book, and I believe the series, focuses on Mags's oldest son Perry, who has been trained in spycraft since Mags (who is the king's spymaster) realized his aptitude for it. Perry's Gift is animal mindspeech, which comes in handy in spying, though I do feel it is a tad overused as quite the convenient tool for getting a character out of trouble. And there is big trouble here to get out of as Mags takes Perry along to investigate another Herald's report of people disappearing on the border of Valdemar. It's a test of Perry's skill and a baptism by fire for his coming-of-age.

Lackey still writes an entertaining tale, and I love the world of Valdemar, so I am happy to visit it again. Perry is an engaging character, and I look forward to the next book.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review! Is this YA? I've not heard of this book but it looks interesting.

message 3: by annapi (last edited Aug 23, 2018 02:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

annapi | 5156 comments I guess it can be classified as YA, though it's not specifically intended as such. It's fantasy - Lackey has written a ton of books set in her world of Valdemar (among other things). The first book she wrote for it was Arrows of the Queen, and that too is more YA than adult, though she never really writes specifically for the YA market, just for fantasy lovers. After reading all her Valdemar books, then looking back on Arrows, it reads very juvenile now, as Valdemar has become much more sophisticated than it was then.

You can really start just about anywhere in her books and jump around, and the only ones that need to be read in order are those within a series, or those series that come immediately after another series (like Mags - he has 2 series about him). Here is a list of her books, with the Valdemar universe in chronological order:

message 4: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2667 comments Drat- how have I never come across her (except in conjunction with Anne McCaffrey)?

message 5: by annapi (last edited Aug 23, 2018 10:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

annapi | 5156 comments LOL I don't know - she's all over the place! One of my favorite authors. There's really only one thing she's done that I hate - a collaboration with Rosemary Edghill on a YA series, Shadow Grail. Her other collaborations with Edghill are mediocre too. But she's so prolific and has so many great books, I can forgive the occasional failing. One other thing - she is very active on Quora and I follow her there, her answers are so very entertaining and very informative. You should check those out.

Anne McCaffrey's old stuff is better than her new. Her early books were brilliant, but she reached a point several years before her death where she was just writing for the check, rehashing ideas and throwing stuff together, and it was just terrible. Her collaborations with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Catalyst and Acorna series) are pure trash, revoltingly saccharine and cliche IMO. Her son is a mediocre writer and I stopped reading anything with his name on it after the first two or three books.

message 6: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2667 comments I’ve never read the collaborations with Scarborough - the descriptions didn’t appeal at all, so I skipped them. Now I’m glad I did! I enjoyed the early Pern books (haven’t read any later ones written with Todd) and I love the Rowan series. The writing in those isn’t always great but her ideas are very cool and the characters are so relatable. The Crystal Singer is probably an all-time fave, though.

I’ve just signed up for Audible and got a Mercedes Lackey (The Outstretched Shadow) with my first credit. Listened to an hour of it at the gym and it kept my attention so far ...

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