Eye Spy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Eye Spy is the second book in the Family Spies series of interrelated stories set in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar. Released 9th Aug 2019 by Penguin on their DAW imprint, it's 336 pages and available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

These are nice stories, set in a world with a magic system and mythology rich in history developed over several decades (the first book set in Valdemar came out in 1994, I believe). They're mostly aimed at teen/tween readers and have a reassuring tone of inclusivity, anti-bullying, good role models and families.

Abi is the young daughter of  Mags and Amili from book 1 and tie-ins, who discovers a natural talent with engineering and structure integrity when she feels a bridge is about to collapse and prevents any deaths. The later book covers more of her adventures and conflict resolution as she goes on missions and finds her place in the hierarchy of Valdemar.

I have always liked the inclusiveness and positive messages in these books. The characters are varied and generally well written. I confess that sometimes, the sheer number of books in this universe has left me feeling as though some of them are becoming somewhat repetitious. In the search for an upbeat happy ending, this one felt just a little tacked on and rushed.

I did enjoy this book very much and it's always a red-letter day when I find a new Valdemar book, and this one was no exception.

Four stars.
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Second in the series this one features Abby as she finds her gift.  There is danger and action as one character shows how very bad he can be.  Nice addition to a fun series.  The reading is easy and the plot flows in a interesting direction.
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This time out, the story revolves around Mags' daughter Abi, who doesn't precisely know what she wants to do.  After an incident involving a bridge, she discovers she she can see faults in objects. Abi then starts training with the Artificers.  It's nice to see the training from a different viewpoint, normally we only see the Herald training, now we see what else is offered and how.  Overall nice read and looking forward to more in the series.
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The latest follows another one of Mags kids that turns out to have a unique talent for finding stresses in buildings. She joins the Artificer students and has a run in with a rich kid and that kid gets kicked out of the school. The only reason this comes into play later on there are more run ins with the family to get revenge on her for having the boy kicked out under truth spell.  There is a small mystery at the end of the book but the overall story feels more geared to a YA audience instead of an adult one.  
Digital review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley
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Those gifts keep morphing!

A new gift! Queen's spymaster Mag's daughter, Abi, finds herself with a different gift, seeing and feeling abnormal stresses in constructions. A bridge is about to collapse and Abi is able to save the day.
Off to School of Artificers, for her, with training in construction and with a talented healer. Stresses in bones and illnesses being likened to stresses in architecture.
Of course there's a conflict with a snotty nosed highborn but given her background, Abi has more than a few tricks up her sleeve.
Then events take Abi beyond the Valdemar border and face to face with some nasty mages.
The ending was a bit flat, and really, although I quite enjoyed aspects of the story it was just not all that different from previous tales.

A Berkley Group ARC via NetGalley
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This was a fabulous second book in the Family Spies series about the children of Mags and Amily.  The first book, The Hills Have Spies was about the oldest child in the family, Perry.  This second book is about the middle child Abi.  Abi thinks that she is ungifted until the incident on the bridge that reveals her Gift, which allows her to sense the physical strain in inanimate objects.  She begins training with the Artificers and the Healers.  Just as she is completing her training she has to leave on a special journey to help Valdemar’s neighbors.  
This most recent installment in the series does not disappoint.  I enjoyed finding out more about Abi and was delighted by the inclusion of an asexual character in the Valdemar universe.  Representation matters!  Whether you’re a fan of Valdemar or not you will want to add Eye Spy to your collection.
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Mercedes Lackey continues her Family Spies chapter in her long running Valdemar series.  Fantastic fantasy series with well drawn consistent characters.  Abidela, daughter of Mags, is well trained in self defence and the family's spying skill on behalf of the royal family of Valdemar. Then she discovers her new talent can feel weaknesses in structures when she saves people from a bridge collapse.  Abi is immersed in architectural/building trades but still keeps up her service to the royal family.  What can go wrong?
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It's been years since I'd read a fantasy novel by Mercedes Lackey, so it was a treat to rediscover her work. Eye Spy is the second novel in the Valdemar Family Spies series.  

If you're new to the world of Valdemar like I was, it is easy to dive into Eye Spy and fall in love with the characters and that world.  The lead is a young woman who was not Chosen to be a Herald but instead shows a rare gift and great promise. Abi is the daughter of Mags (the Spymaster & Herald) and Amily (the King's Own Herald) and she's learned that she can see flaws in things. Her gift comes out dramatically - when she learns that a  bridge is about to collapse after hundreds of years of use.  Abi has been helping her father Mags in his spycraft and initially decides to study building and materials to provide herself with a "cover identity" but Abi learns that she loves learning and thinking about buildings.  She decides to try to rebuild the bridge using old ideas repurposed.  Her gift for seeing flaws and her skill and thinking spatially leads her to a unique project and the respect of Master Builders all over the country.

Abi is asked to join a task force to help nearby communities assess their public works and help fix or rebuild as needed.  This small team encounters sabotage from old enemies and Abi must use all her talents and strengths to fight back, to protect their team and the local inhabitants and to find a way back home.

Eye Spy was a delight and had got me to dive into the other Valdemar novels.  I've devoured six books and am enjoying going through the long backlist.  Mercedes Lackey is a gift to readers everywhere!
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I really enjoyed this story. Following the character's father through his own story and having it continue to his children has been wonderful and very well done. The author managed to create distinct people instead of children simply following in their parents footsteps. The main character of this story was interesting and easy to like. Some aspects of her personality were done perfectly as with great care. I look forward to having it in our store.
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I really liked this book, although it was less character-driven than most. It was nice to see a character treated as a full adult, in spite of the fact that the parents were also characters in the story. It was also nice to see this as somewhat more of a mystery with a problem to be solved, rather than an adventure story with someone to be rescued. Not that there isn't adventure! There is plenty of action, but the action never overtakes the plot. Highly recommended.
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Eye Spy is Abi’s story. Her older brother has had an adventure and is working closely with Mags. Abi still doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life when she senses a bridge about to fail. Now she has to train her gift and figure out how to turn it into something useful.  I loved watching Abi grow into her own skin and realize that she is special just being herself. I really liked Abi and was rooting for her throughout the story.  Action and adventure aplenty this is a terrific addition to the series.
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I enjoyed this book having just finished book #1. I look forward to reading about the other kids in the family to see what their talent / adventure will be. This is book 2 in this series. however, it is set in the Valdemar universe and there are a lot of books set in that world. So after reading this book, you'll have lots more to read!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review. - I hope for many more Valdemar books!
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I really enjoyed this book! Valdemar is one of my favorite universes, and the Family Spies series is awesome! Abi's book is filled with intrigue, action, great dialog and writing, and wonderful characters! I can't wait to see what happens in the next book! Mercedes has hit a home run with this book and I highly recommend checking it out! I would start with the Collegium series and read the series in chronological order. It's very worth the read!
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Abi is the daughter of Herald spymaster Mags and his wife Amily who is the King's Own Herald. She has grown up with the children of the king and queen. She has been trained by her father to be dangerous, to be another layer of protection for the royal children. She has also been trained to be observant. She sometimes wonders if that will be enough for her to be a help to her father and her kingdom since she seems to lack any magical gift.

One day, while on an errand with her best friend Princess Kat, Abi gets a bad feeling about a bridge they have to cross. She knows that the bridge is in immediate danger of collapse. She and Kat manage to save all the people on the bridge before it does collapse. Now, she has a unique Gift to learn to use: she can feel the stress in non-living things. 

Abi is sent to be trained as an Artificer which causes all sorts of resentment from some of the other students who feel that she took the place of a more worthy candidate just because of who her parents are. Especially resentful is Dudley Remp, a first class bully who feels entitled to whatever he wants because his father is rich. When he attempts to assault her after class with the help of a couple of his sycophants, she breaks his finger. When his father comes to demand that she be beaten and expelled because she hurt his son, her father casts a Truth Spell which quickly shows what happened and leads to his being expelled instead. However, she has made an enemy who isn't just going to go away.

At the end of her training, Abi has to come up with a Master Work to prove her accomplishments and she chooses to rebuild the bridge that had collapsed some years earlier. To do so, she needs to reinvent a technique for supporting bridges that she learned from a ruin in the city. Before her bridge is finished, though, she is asked to accompany a small group of Masters as they travel to a land bordering Valdemar that is thinking about becoming part of Valdemar. 

This journey gives Abi a chance to explore more of Valdemar and learn more about things that Master Artificers do. She is traveling with three other Masters, a Herald who is one of her father's agents, and three mercenaries who have been hired to guide them. Things go well at the beginning but quickly go downhill when they come to a town that had a previous visit from "Valdemaran Artificers" who caused a part of the city wall to collapse. They learn that the group has Mages and they believe that they are Karsites who want to ruin any relationship with Valdemar and who can control demons.

They need to find a way to restore Valdemar's reputation and get rid of the Karsite spies. The story was exciting. I liked the Abi grew and changed through the story and identified a path for her life that will make her happy and fulfilled. This was truly a coming of age story.
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"Eye Spy" is a fantasy novel for tweens and teens. While the story works as a stand alone novel, you'll better understand some of the references made in the story if you've read more of the Valdemar series. Frankly, this story felt fragmented--like it was several short stories about Abidela put into one book. She's confronted with a bully but immediately took care of that threat because she's smart and talented. She needed to learn to use her Gift, yet that's more summarized than seen, so not much suspense built up there. Then she helped her dad briefly by working as a spy. So a series of short adventures, and most didn't contain a notable challenge because she's so talented and smart.

The usual underdog fight against dangerous evil people didn't start until the last quarter of the book, so there wasn't a lot of time to develop the conflict, and the ending felt rushed. It was an enjoyable story, there just wasn't a lot of suspense since the problems were resolved so quickly. There was no sex. There was some bad language (including b**ch).
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