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Collision: Book Four in the Secret World Chronicle Hardcover – December 2, 2014
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About the Author
Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times best-selling author of the Bardic Voices series and the Serrated Edge series (both Baen), the Heralds of Valdemar series, and many more. Among her popular Baen titles are The Fire Rose, The Lark and the Wren, and also The Shadow of the Lion and Burdens of the Dead with Eric Flint and Dave Freer. She lives in Oklahoma.
Cody Martin is originally from Scottsdale Arizona and currently resides in Florida. An avid gamer, he spends his extra time chained to a computer, writing.
Dennis Lee was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Canada. He has a degree in pharmacology and is a cell biologist when not writing.
Veronica Giguere started off as the voice artist for the Secret World Chronicle podcasts then quickly proved her writing chops and was taken on as a series coauthor. Veronica remains active as a voice talent. An educator with a background in mathematics and ocean engineering, she has lent her voice to various research and campus promotional endeavors. She makes her home in Florida.
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I haven't read all of her books very recently so I might get somethings mixed up but here are some things that stuck in my mind when I was reading this book:
Things I didn't like:
1. "Stuck in/snowed in a blizzard while roughing it, while comfortably situated in a "structure/cave". Didn't we see this in "Storm Breaking"? Kinda hard to take it seriously when the other story was a cataclysmic storm reflecting back from thousands of years ago. Also, same thing sort of happens in "Arrows Flight", where protagonists are snowed in a waystation and gifts go rogue or something.
2. "In a cave, being attacked by <something>" Also done (in my opinion better) in "Silver Gryphon", at least those odds seemed impossible. This? Not so much. We have one top-tier assassin, his newly minted assassin-Herald cousin via Mindspeech skill transfer, versus a bunch of second-tier assassins that come in waves, like some level on a video game.
3. Not even going to touch the whole Kirball versus Hurlee point ("Exile's Valor"). I'm okay with one Quidditch knockoff serving to train young people in the arts of war disguised as sport to serve the plot, but again, its practically the same thing for the same reason for the same plot device.
3. "Complete mind-sharing because we're getting to the last part of the book and Mags now needs to be a skilled assassin for the book to finish" Oh really? I suppose Mags could learn Kung-Fu the same way? Why spend all that time in the Collegium then?
4. "Let's have some people gripe about the new way of teaching Trainees and establish for several books that way is better, then decide to do it the old fashioned way at the very end of the series" Then why write the series in the first place?
5. "Let's spend most of the book talking about driving caravan horses, apples and pocket pies, then *boom* 'Hi my name is Bey your more attractive, charming, lethal and sexy cousin and I'm here to finish the book for you." Mmm....yea.....really?
6. Do I really need to know that Mags "pleasures himself"? If this was a series about "coming of age" (which a lot of the series Mercedes writes), she has handled it a lot more deftly in the past. The way it was written and the whole "let's go find a part of the cave where we can go lose our virginities without making too much noise" was pretty cringe-worthy. And for some reason the part of Mags "growing up" isn't emphasized much, so for some reason I still see Mags as very small and young even though by the end of the books he's supposed to be older. Again, very awkward....
"New" things I would have liked to see developed a lot further:
1. The abandoned vale. That's an interesting idea, would have liked to really see that developed further.
2. "Cutting off a village", parts of Valdemar drifting away from Crown control, Heralds not being viewed in a fairy-tale positive light within the country. That's new, and interesting, but got barely introduced before it was resolved way too quickly.
3. Bey. I would have really enjoyed reading about Bey's journey, and from Bey's perspective. Its a totally different kind of character than she normally writes, from a type of country/culture that hasn't really been fleshed out in Velgarth before. I would have really enjoyed the book more if she had written two parallel storylines like she did for the Mage Winds trilogy, and having them meet up somewhere in the middle of the series even. Instead we're given hastily written exposition way late in the book framed as "mind-sharing" about the culture and the country so I had a hard time really caring. Its exactly the same feeling as reading the summary of the entire "Fellowship of the Ring" as a paragraph in "The Silmarillion", it does its job but a fleshed out story of Bey as the "anti-Herald" would have been really interesting. The frustrating part of it is that I know she has written plots like this before, and that she's good at fleshing out cultures (Hardorn, Eastern Empire, Karse), and it feels like for this book she just didn't bother. Instead of an interesting culture and country, we get more about "finding latrines in a cave".
So yea, I thought there were some interesting and new ideas in the book, and in the series as a whole, but it felt like there was a lack of focus on a) the character arc b) plot development c) development of the world, and an overemphasis on minutiae that didn't serve the story at all.
proposal for the reason to write the book and her characters are always endearing. Can't say enough about
Lackey and her husband and sometimes co-writer.
Mags has escaped from the people who kidnapped him but he is afraid that he brought trouble back with him to the Collegium in Valdemar. He is very worried about Amily, the young woman he loves, and his friends becoming targets. He did gain a promise from his kidnappers to stop trying to assassinate the Crown that Mags is sworn to protect.
So a plot is hatched. Mags will go out on circuit with a mentor as most young heralds do and along the way he will "die." His friends will also get out of town for various reasons of their own. They will meet up and hope to elude the assassins. The will be patrolling the north of Valdemar including the Bastion which used to be a bandit hide-out. The same bandits who killed his parents. Mags is hoping to find some clues about them.
He and his mentor weren't expecting to find an area that was hostile to heralds and many problems to solve. Nor was he expecting to find the family that he had wondered about for years. His cousin Bey is a fascinating character who tries to convince Mags to come "home" with him and be part of the assassin's guild that Bey hopes to take over.
This story had romance as Mags and Amily finally get together. It had danger as Mags and company had to fight off assassins who also wanted to take Mags home with them. It was a nice conclusion to a story arc.