This is not that book. It is a good book, a tasty treat of a book, but it is not that book. It is set during the founding of the Herald's Collegium, a few generations after Vanyel and Stefan lived.
Mags has spent his whole life working. He is told he is "Bad Blood," that he was found orphaned in a bandits' camp and this proves he is destined to be wicked. Every day he works in the mines, hunting for "sparklies." He shores up his portions to prevent cave-ins, and shares his food and rags with those smaller than him. If he finds enough sparklies, he gets a piece of bread with his thin broth. (Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a little over the top.) But then Heralds come to the Big House where the owner of the mine lives with his family. They are looking for a very special boy. Could Mags be the one?
This book is in the tradition of "classic Lackey." Recently Lackey has been writing some books set in Valdemar that have a YA feel to them - a bit less graphic violence and sex than her initial works - but overall read much like the books that some of us grew up on - the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, The Queen's Own. I think this is a vast improvement over some of her Valdemar books (like the Gryphon and Winds series). I found the book enjoyable and am curious to see where she will go with the inevitable rest of the series. Four stars (B- in the new system).