I love Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, but I have been disappointed by this new book. It has been written, it seems to me, almost at a child's level; very simplistically. It is nothing like as complex as the 'Magic' trilogy, not even as much as 'Arrow's Fall' (which, to my mind, started off rather at a child's level, but it did improve). The characters are presented as very black-and-white as well. This over-simplicity is becoming increasingly characteristic of ML's books, eg particularly 'Fortune's Fool'. What does redeem it is that a) it is another Valdemar book and b) the insight into the changes both causing, and caused by, the institution of the Herald's Collegium.