Titan Books. p/b. £7.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins
Mags is a proper Trainee Herald now and has a whole host of new problems to contend with. His friendship with Lena and Bear seems solid enough, and of course his Companion, Dallen, is always at his side, but he will soon discover that relationships – a concept that is still new to Mags – do not always run smoothly. The combat training game, Kirball, presents a new challenge in his life in Haven and his growing relationship with Amily will soon need addressing too.
But this time Mags will face far more of a challenge than just learning to fit in and adapt to his new surroundings and his new talents. Haven residents begin to share visions of their king being assassinated, and unfortunately for Mags it seems as though it is he they see covered in blood standing by the body. Always afraid he had Bad Blood, Mags discovers he has foreign blood, and the prejudices that come with the visions begin to affect everything he now treasures. It looks as though he may lose it all.
Intrigues is the second book in The Collegium Chronicles and where book one, true to its name, laid the foundations for Mags’ story, book two picks up the pace and delivers a much more action-focused narrative. As well as the added complications of Mags’ increasingly more complex relationships and the discovery of his parents’ origins, there is a greater overall threat to the well being of Haven, meaning the book is more full of suspense and tension.
The world of Valdemar will be familiar to fans but this series is a fine starting place for newcomers to this author. The young protagonist is becoming easier to empathise with and the overall tone of the novel is akin to the Harry Potter books; there is a tight focus on Mags and his new role as student, Companion and friend, and a secondary focus on the wider aspects of this world and the dangers imposed upon its inhabitants. Kirball certainly feels very reminiscent of Quidditch.
Intrigues is an easy read and has more of a sense of a whole story contained within this volume, rather than the ending leaving the reader with a strong need for it ‘to be continued’, although saying that, Mags certainly has more work to do on his relationships in the next instalment. After a slow start it seems The Collegium Chronicles are beginning to deliver.