Originally posted 11/16/10 in my meta/review blog
In the sequel to Foundation, Mags is a little more confident in some ways, but less in other ways. His determination to do everything correctly and certain reactions to perceived hostility have caused his fellow students to believe that he’s trying to “suck up” to the teachers. There is also a significant problem involved with him continuing to live in the room above the Companion’s stables, and resulting in stories claiming that Mags has “something wrong” with him. It’s gotten to the point where various adults are trying to engage in a little psychological pressure to get him to move into student quarters. (It does not work; Mags does not seem to be very socially aware, which causes him a lot of trouble.)
He is persuaded to interact more with the other students, and to join a game called “kirball” which is something like a combination between soccer and polo, and is meant to be a teaching game for the participants. The purpose being they can get used to interacting with a group of people some of whom may have Gifts, some of whom do not, and with people on foot, or on a horse or Companion as they would have to in a battle situation.
Mags also makes the acquaintance of Lena’s father, a famous Bard who is an ass who does not recognize his own daughter when he meets her. Another person having family problems is Bear, who is facing a great deal of pressure to return home and get married. His family seems to have very little faith in the usefulness of a healer with no actual “Gift” for healing and instead relies herbal remedies. This causes a great deal of strain on their relationships because Mags isn’t really able to respond “correctly” to their stress.
The situation gets worse after some Heralds with FarSeeing (precognition) have a vision of someone who’s “foreign” (which is technically accurate since his parents had been from another country). This causes there to be rumors that Mags is actually some kind of polarized “Evil Herald” and that Dallen might be some kind of “Evil Companion.” The situation is somewhat alleviated when he tangles with the mysterious spies from the previous book. Shortly after that, a tragedy occurs, and Mags is overcome with grief, and leaves the palace (partly because Dallen was injured due to recklessness, and partly because his friends yell at him and say extremely ugly things to him.)
Experiancing a great deal of “suicidal ideation” and depression, he ends up getting a job as a scullion. Dallen tries to get through to Mags, but is mostly unsuccessful. Dallen manages to talk some sense into but Mags still will not go back back home. He has discovered that one of the spies is still around; Mags trails him to find out what he is up to.
This book had a lot of adventure, and some character development. I found the book to be entertaining and enjoyed seeing Mags get a little more confident, and seeing his first investigation, and attempting to continue finding more about who is parents were, and where they came from. It is clear he has grown up, but is still greatly influenced by his earlier life.