This book starts a new series in Valdemar, in a different timeframe than’s been covered before, when the Herald’s Collegium was developed, because there were so many new Heralds that the old mentorship system of training them is starting to fall apart.
Mags has lived all his life in the gem mines, and simply cannot believe that a Companion has come for him. Just having three square meals a day is a mind-boggling improvement to his life, let alone being thrown into a life where he suddenly matters, and people want him to succeed. (There are definite shades of Talia in the Arrows books here, except that Mags was definitely in a worse situation than she was.)
As he starts warming to live in Haven, he finds a unique talent for observation, while being unobversed, and the King’s Own Herald realizes that ability, and asks for his help. The new Collegium system is causing divisions amoung the Heralds, and they need all the help they can get to make sure the kingdom doesn’t fracture because of it.
There is a certain comfortable familiarity about this book. I did see a few complaints that it wasn’t necessary covering new ground, but I’m ok with that. Mags is a likeable hero, and the friends he makes as distinct enough from other groups around the Herald’s Collegium to keep things interesting. It’s definitely a good set up to a new series. (Ok, new to me. There’s yet another series that came out after this one that I still haven’t gotten to.)