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The Hills Have Spies
Book One of Family Spies
by Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books; $27; 360 pp
Published: June 2018

WARNING: The book’s jacket description of the story is NOT the novel contained in this book. I don’t know how this happened, but the jacket blurb is a completely different story, including the name of the main character.

Anyway…What we have here is a look at the Heralds Mags and Amily and their family in Haven, the capitol of Valdemar. The oldest child is Perry, short for Peregrine. He is thirteen. Mags is a Herald in the King’s Guard and a master spy. His wife Amily is the King’s Own Herald. They have three children.

Perry has the strong ability to Mindspeech with animals, a rare talent. He has been training to be a Herald and a spy, but still has not been Chosen by one of the fabulous white horses that each Herald has as a Companion.  This makes him uneasy, but because he can talk to animals, this makes up for the lack of being Chosen.

Mags, who has the strong ability to Mindspeech with other humans, has gotten information from an elderly Herald beyond the boundaries of Valdemar near the mysterious Pelagirs about people disappearing. Randomly. No one knows why or where they have gone. No bodies have been found.  So Mags is sent out to determine the cause of the disappearances and decides to take Perry with him, to give him some experience and a chance to use his skills. With Mags and his Companion, Dallen and the Herald Arville and his Chosen, Perry should be just fine.

Ah, just a simple summer jaunt in the wild.

NOT.

Once they reach the isolated site of Arville’s home near the village of Whithern, Mags and Perry, disguised as travelling traders with a caravan wagon, begin to ferret out information on the missing.  It turns out Herald Arville, not only has a Companion, he also has a kyree, named Ryu, a large wolfhound type creature that has rudimentary speech and is delighted to find Perry has the ability to Mindspeech with him. Because they are at the edge of the Pelegirs, many magical creatures exist that are nowhere else in Valdemar, including the mysterious and elusive Hawkbrothers who though once in the area, have gone deeper into the Pelagirs and haven’t been seen in years.  Ryu , along with Arville lay out the mysterious issue of the people that have been disappearing for over a year with no trace.

So Perry and Mags, joined by a kyree named Larral, who becomes Perry’s Companion, for all intents and purposes, take off and go deeper into the Pelagirs, visiting small holdings and tiny villages, to see if they can discover what’s going on.  Both Mags and Arville believe that there might be a secret mining operation in the hills that needs laborers, which they acquire by simply kidnapping people they think no one will notice have gone missing.

So as not to indulge in any spoilers, what they find is not what they expect. It’s really kind of creepy and fascinating.  The adventures with Perry and Larral are very entertaining and it’s wonderful to watch him grow into his own with the help and support of his kyree, as well as from Mags.

Very entertaining novel. A great start to a new series. ~~ Sue Martin

For other titles by Mercedes Lackey click here

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