Earlier Collegium reviews
Foundation: Book One of the Collegium Chronicles
Redoubt: Book Four of the Collegium Chronicles
Maybe covering some stuff below. There is like, eighty percent less action and while the crack is high, the variety for our delectation is not.
First off, I want to just put this out here: the delight of this series is that it's UberCrack. There isn't just one kind of drama going on, but a lot of kinds, in far flung places, thrown at you at the speed of light with wondrous dramatic speechifying and deeply unsettling moments of 'uh'. I'm saying, we had drama coming out our ears here: Bear!Dad drama, Lena!Dad drama, Mags!Family drama, a truly uncomfortable lack of people with visible mothers (Lena and Bear both had one each, or so a line or two tells us, while Amily's is dead), bizarrely Companion/Chosen relationships, riveting lack of working moral guidelines, and that thing with the leash and collar that still just makes me wonder what the fuck that was and why I was reading it.
But okay, this is the joy and the rapture, you see; you don't have to believe me on this one, but the beauty here was in the multicrack moving at the speed of light not unlike textual bukkake except even a shower won't McBeth that leash scene out of your head. Yeah, I'm still working on that, but okay, let's go to this one.
This is not that joy. I have no idea what the hell this is.
In the Beginning
Our hero Mags returns to the Collegium from his miraculous escape from Karsites, the demons who obey them, and the Mystery!Ninja!Family who tried to kidnap him. On his arrival, to his unending horror, someone else now has his Kirball position and the dean isn't ready to give him any new classes because the King's Own and etc want to question him about his experiences being kidnapped and mindraped, and joyfully, there's a Herald whose special power is to make his memories more vivid, just in case he might have forgotten some particularly traumatizing detail of the nightmare. As that's--yeah, no idea.
Amily, since having her leg operated on and while still lame is currently in the slow process of healing, has become a Super!Fighter already, and she and Mags are assigned to help the Weaponsmaster with his classes with the other trainees. Mags has magical knife memories now and can throw a brand new kind of knife they just found with deadly accuracy while Amily possesses the Power of the Bow and is now the standard by which all other archers must be judged because again, Magic Bow Powers or something.
Now, a digression: you may be aware this series is titularly about the New Collegium Reorganization thing--yeah, I forget, too--and how it's better and changing the way trainees are taught and oh the protests and the drama. Right, keep that in mind.
The Plot Thickens
The Collegium has come up with a clever plan for Mags to avoid being stalked by his magic!ninja!family; he will, like the trainees of yore, do this the old fashioned way--you know, the old way that they're rejecting for trainees and replacing with the entire Collegium thing?--and let Mags do the rest of his training in the field with a mentor. With this, they will perform a brilliant maneuver of faking Mag's death in the field and he will return to the Collegium with a Brand New Identity that will totally make this magic!ninja!family go away. But what about his friends, you ask yourself? His classmates? Uh, the entire Collegium that knows what he looks like? The lack of a Death Bell?
Foolish reader: this is the best part! Amily, Bear, and Lena are going to all have excuses to randomly leave Haven for reasons and meet up with him to join him on circuit with his mentor, the antisocial Herald who first found him, Jakyr, who you may remember from Book 1 who gave Mags money for winter holiday, which is one of those minor details that apparently can't just be left alone but instead made creepy very shortly. Also coming is Lita, the head of Bardic and Jakyr's ex who used to be a drover, which is significant because this entire enterprise is going to be carried out in a giant caravan wagon everyone is going to live in before going to live in caves for Mags' circuit.
I'm going to repeat this, because why not: the plan is Mags will go on circuit in the old style with Jakyr as mentor, who doesn't like commitment, Lita as driver of the caravan becaue apparently horse-drawn conveyances are really rare and so not many people know how to do that and who is Jakyr's bitter, bitter ex, Mags' girlfriend Amily (totally visiting relatives), Lena (totally doing her journeyman work), and Bear (totally teaching people herbal things). In a giant horse-pulled winnebago or tour bus equivalent with distinctive painting on the side. Then they will fake Mags' death and he will return to the Collegium as a Totally Different Herald. This plan, you understand, cannot possibly fail.
We find out the following about Jakyr:
1.) his parents were Valdemaran Quiverfulls - have lots of kids. Also apparently have no idea he grew up and left the house. Or his name.
2.) only sleeps with prostitutes in ethically run Valdemaran brothels. Mags has a completely inappropriate moment to think how Jakyr gave him money for Winter Holiday that one year, and seems to find it comparative, because God knows giving money as a gift for Fantasy Christmas is just like paying for sex.
3.) He acts like he's five years old around Lita. A five year old dick.
4.) We have no idea why he signed up for this mentorship.
5.) He is happy to give explicit advice on how to please a woman in bed on request.
We find out the following about Lita:
1.) She used to be a drover, as in a driver of large horse-drawn conveyances.
2.) She acts like she's five years old around Jakyr.
3.) We have no idea why she signed up for this.
We find out the following about Dallen:
1.) He gets laid more than Rolan among the Companions. This is mentioned several times. No, I'm not kidding.
2.) He may or may not have been a Herald at the time of Tylendel's death and calls Tylendel a manchild.
3.) Because Mags' is sad he is missing classes because of htis mentor thing, he mindwhammies or two of them into Mags' head like Matrix kung-fu, but not nearly as intersting.
They get to the circuit, which is on the border, and base their operations in some caves that used to belong to thieves that have been helpfully filled with supplies for them and they discover the area used to be Tayledras territory because Companions can sense the ancient presence of Hearthstones. As Mags and Jaryk begin their Herald circuit thing among the towns, which are inevitably filled with foolish semi-libertarians who don't keep up the waystations and hate taxes (seriously), we get the charming image of Jaryk telling a town that he will totally let them do everything on their own (read; throw the entire town out of Valdemar) and when Mags asked him if he could really do that, as it turns out, Heralds can totally do that and have. Which--really? Just--how does that even work?
Anyway, Mags' greatest source of stress is his and Amily's mutual virginity leading to Jaryk explaining how one please a woman which isn't even graphic or like, detailed, but ranks as top ten for personal moments of reading I could have lived without. Then Mags and Amily do the deed--this is a major plot point--in which there is a brief overview of Mags doing something, God knows what, and again, what the hell. Also, everyone is feeling watched.
The Mystery Is Revealed
There's a blizzard. Just background.
For reasons, Mags' has to go to another cave for a few days--fuck me if I even cared why--and Mags meets his almost doppelganger cousin Bey, who is a magic!ninja and just wants to talk. Mags and Dallen mindread him after he takes off his SuperAwesomePlotDeviceNecklace that makes him invisible on the psychic plane or something, which totally coincidentally, Mags had found a broken (but usable!) version of in the cave earlier for no discernible reason. They then decide to let Dallen mindmeld with Bey and be Mags' filter and hear the story of how Bey's and his parents were cousins and twins who married each other and Mags' parents had Blessings (mind powers!) and ran away because being a super!ninja sucks when you are a mindreader, which noticeably seems to be less of a problem for Mags.
We find out that Mags' people used to be ethical assassins who only killed bad people for money, but then started doing it for just money and Bey wants to return to those halcyon days of yore that contained ethical assassination and wants Mags' help to do it. Also, the people chasing Mags' are like, second tier assassins or something and are even more corrupt with teh spirit thing which may or not be demons.
Dallen debates with Mags' just killing Bey because he's there with a new Companion power of Psychic Smite (are you fucking with me?) and hiding his body and never speaking of this again. Only Jaryk's companion will know and I feel like I'm in the wrong story right now.
The magic!ninjas arrive much to Bey's surprise and they get back to the main cave, where Mags' introduces Assassin!Cousin to everyone and Jaryk for reasons beyond my understnading decides to leave the cave with Amily as cover from the winnebago and inevitably gets shot up like a lot. Getting him inside, they use a new Companion power where a companion links to a person who knows how to heal but without gifts (Bear) and using Mags' power, they half-heal up Jaryk. Lita is enraged or happy or something and at some point we find out Jaryk broke up with her for her own good because he wanted her to be a great Bard and not because he's a loser douchedick and that thing where he said horrible cruel things was for reasons. As yeah.
Mags and Bey decide to take out the assassins themselves, and Mags' mindmelding with Bey earlier means he now has magic!ninja skills too and they kill like a lot of people. Mags' the mindspeaker super!ninja is okay with this.
The story ends with everyone eating meat pies and liking Bey--who apparently has no pies in his land--and Bey's going to marry his cousin, who has Blessings, and since she's not hot and has no prospects, she'll totally marry him, no problem. Jakyr and Lita are getting together again--maybe?--and the dead magic!ninja's will be thrown in a crevice.
I'm pretty sure I missed some things, not least of which is the charming scene where Mags goes around the caves looking for one that's soundproof so he can get laid--it's a plot point--and pie shows up a lot.
I honestly have no idea what I read.
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