Today was Intrigues, the second book of the Collegium Chronicles. This is one of the Valdemar books that sticks out most clearly as a highschool analog. Complete with the entire “school” but for a few friends hating on the main character for some stupid reason. Also sports.
Having read Lackey as much and as long as I have, I can see a lot of trends in her work. For the past several years, she’s been very interested in both sports and spies. Both Exile and the Collegium Chronicles involve new sports being played at the Collegium, and both sports double as combat training. We also have at least one character in each set of books who will (eventually) give up the sport because they’ve acquired combat experience and find the two too closely related.
Then, of course, there’s the interest in spies. Alberich and Mags both become covert agents (though the latter is still in training at this point) who must assemble a variety of identities to fit in with the various peoples living in the capital city of Haven. I’m not entirely certain if there’s been an increase in thriller movies and bestselling books in the past decade or so, or if this is just a personal interest of Lackey’s. It can be said that the Collegium Chronicles are meant to garner the young adult audience – as I’ve mentioned, the story takes place at a school of sorts, the main character is a teenager, we have the classic elements of sports, gossip, and young love.
This is an advantage of writing a world instead of a direct series. Lackey can choose a character of any age, gender, or race to be her new protagonist, enabling her to target different audiences. She doesn’t always aim for the young adults, but I’d say that her work in general has a wide appeal.
Really, what can I say? It’s a second book. It continues the story, it introduces some new elements and characters, it develops previously introduced characters, elements, and plots, etc. Considering that there are five books in this set, we still have a ways to go.