I am finding it a little hard to rate this book. I have enjoyed reading Mecedes Lackey since I was a child but I have recently found that her writing (especially around the Mags character has been really hit and miss). The larger issue/crisis in each of these books ends up being quite minimal and I find it hard to believe that the government would assign its top spy agent to deal with it.
However, this book is an up turn from the other two in this series. At least it stopped copying and reusing entire pages from the earlier story of when Mags was a mining orphan. I did enjoy some of the twists and turns as they identified who was the "poison pen" - but I couldn't shake the feeling when I was reading it that the author was trying to make an overly strong societal message (about sexism, male vs. female roles, the risk of institutionalized religion, and in general bullying).
I would recommend to read it but the "moral message" may get a little tiresome.
I always enjoy stories of Valdemar. It is a world of magic and gifts and abilities. The long arc of the stories that Mercedes Lackey has created has allowed for big, grand fantasy as well as small intimate stories. This book of Mags and Amily is one of those. Intimate in characterizations and watching characters grow into themselves, with a plot dealing with tolerance and appreciating differences. I look forward to more in this world, be they of Mags and Amily or another generation of Heralds.
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