56. Foundation (Valdemar: The Collegium Chronicles) by Mercedes Lackey. 340 p. Published October 2008.
This is the latest book in Lackey’s Valdemar Series and starts to catalogue how the Collegium is founded (hence the title) through one of its earliest pupils, Mags. An orphan, Mags is raised to work in a mine, digging jewels out of the rock from dawn till dusk and fed the meagerest of meals. He and the other orphans do their best to keep their heads down and out of trouble, knowing that there is little hope outside of simple survival. But when a Companion appears, accompanied by a Herald, things change in ways Mags never imagined.
Taken to Haven, Valdemar’s capital, astride his very own Companion, Mags is enrolled in the newly founded Collegium to train his gift of Mindspeech. But the college is so new that all of its buildings are still in construction and the housing shortage places Mags in the stables. As he adjusts to life as a Herald-trainee, Mags makes friends among the trainees from the other colleges (Healers and Bards) and in the city. Soon enough, thanks to his particulawr gift, Mags is buried in intrigue and political subterfuge. But when a overwhelming blizzard burries the campus, one of his friends goes missing, and Mags must do all he can to save the life he’s grown to love.
Lackey is an amazing wordsmith, her descriptions of the world as vivid as the characters she populates it with. But Foundation, while starting a new chapter in the Valdemar universe, fails to provide anything of real substance. This growing-up-with-magic tale, while engrossing, just doesn’t compare to the vivid and inspiring books that compose the rest of the world. Frankly, it comes off as an attempt at hooking some of the growing young adult audience.
The books of Valdemar are some of my favorite from High School, and while Foundation doesn’t do them justice, hopefully the following novels in the Collegium Chronicles will rise to the challenge.
Rating: 3 out of 5