4 out of 5
Foundations is the first in Lackey’s The Collegium Chronicles part of her Valdemar series. Chronologically it falls about 50 years after the story in the Last Herald-Mage series and there are many references to Vanyel. This story concerns a very young Mag, a mine slave, chosen by the Companion Dallen. Mag’s upbringing causes him to lack even the most basic social skills or knowledge. Having been raised with only his literacy to bring to a level slightly above an animal, Dallen is forced to create special shields to protect him and basically force feeds him basic knowledge of the world and it’s people. Dallen also helps him find his two best friends Lydia and Bear keeping him from being a complete outcast. Yet Mag’s upbringing gives him special skills that make him valuable to the King’s Own and the King himself as a spy. These skills allow him to not only break up a spy ring but save his best friend in the process.
Like many of the Valdemar novels the story is told from only one point of view which allows the reader to see the world only through the main characters eyes. While helping develop the main character it does exclude some parts of the story. The fact that the building of the Collegium does not please all of the older Heralds is seen only through Mag’s experiences and I would have liked to have seen it expanded upon. As always the climax is secondary to the characters development and almost slips by. Lackey has created an interesting world and I enjoy watching it’s history being developed. She reminds me of Modesitt in this. This is an enjoyable addition to the Valdemar series for fans although those new to the Valdemar world might want to start with the Last Herald-Mage series.