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Search tags: Mercedes-Lackey
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review 2019-01-13 20:16
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1; Valdemar #1)
Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey

This is the first book in the Valdemar series and it has a lot going for it, but it falls short of what I expect out of story. The good news is it's not another Tolkien ripoff trying to pass itself off as something original. The bad news is it's the first in a series, and I think even the first book Lackey wrote, and it shows. The other good news is that for a first book, this shows a lot of promise, and I'm willing to go along for the ride and see how Lackey improves as a writer over the course of the series, especially as I'll be reading this is publication order.

 

This book introduces us to the world of Valdemar, so named after its first ever king, and a young Herald by the name of Talia. She's the classic Hero archetype, pulled from the fringes of society from a miserable life to discover that she's something more than she dreamed possible, landing into a world of adventure. Eventually. After she gets trained and goes to school and all that boring stuff. ;) Along the way, she meets several friends, helps with a conspiracy to unseat the Queen, and gets a magical horse. 

 

I like Talia for the most part. She comes across a bit Mary Sue-ish at times, but that appears to be a hazard of the Heralds in general, since they're Chosen by their Companions, who somehow can sense the people who will have all the qualities necessary to be good Heralds: goody-two-shoes with some form of Gift and with hearts of gold no matter how awful their starts in life might have been. In other words, no one from Slytherin is getting onto this team. Not that they're perfect, and that saves Talia from being a true Mary Sue. She has faults and she pays for them, and she struggles to fit in and find her place in the Collegium. Her growth through the book was quite well-done.

 

Of the other characters we get the most page time with, I really liked Skif and Jadus. Skif was a street rat and still has many skills handy for sneaking about - and getting into trouble. Jadus becomes a mentor to Talia, and later to Skif. Elspeth, the queen's heir, is a horror child when we first meet her, and I can just imagine the tough love approach taken to tame her would be frowned upon by some. 

 

The world-building is sprinkled throughout the book and doesn't overwhelm at any point, but I would've liked to see more of the day-to-day goings on of the Collegium, more training sessions, more classes, more equestrian training, anything at all with the Council. The various other side characters also don't get as well developed as the ones I mentioned and are there mostly for support. There's also a lot of head hopping that I'm sure would annoy some readers, though it was never confusing whose head we were in at any point.

 

I also wanted more of the conspiracy.

Since most of the book was from Talia's POV, and she understandably isn't allowed into the inner workings of the kingdom, we miss nearly everything about this conspiracy. If Lackey was going to head hop anyway, I don't see why we couldn't get those scenes with the queen discussing them with her Council. Being left in the dark for this, when it drives so much of the plot, feels like a huge misstep. We don't even find out the name of the people who were arrested.

(spoiler show)
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review 2019-01-10 15:45
Valdemar read: Arrow's Flight
Arrow's Flight - Mercedes Lackey

Continuing with my Valdemar read, I'm loosely planning on reading two or three books a  month. Arrow's Flight is the second of the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy which focuses on Talia, Queen's Own Herald.

 

This was the Deathly Hallows of Valdemar, involving the longest camping trip of all time. I'm joking a little bit, but most of the book involves Talia and Kris, her training officer, doing rounds on the Borders dispensing queen's justice and overcoming obstacles. It's not particularly action packed, although that's fine with me - I'm not an action driven reader. 

 

Talia is struggling with controlling her Gift, so a lot of the book is focused on that, and on the moral and ethical dilemmas of using her Gift of mindspeaking. She struggles with trying to figure out when and how it's appropriate to bend others to her will by projection, ultiimately coming to what seems to be a reasonable decision that she will employ the Gift as a weapon in the same way that she would employ her hands in combat.

 

I enjoyed exploring the world of Valdemar and the Heralds. One of the things that I really do like about Lackey's writing is her very open and easy attitude towards sexuality. The Heralds are, generally, not monogamous and they become involved in healthy, friendly sexual relationships in a way that feels very organic and convincing. Especially for a book published in 1987, this is surprising. There are no "punishments" administered for girls/women who have a healthy and even lusty appetite for sex. It's refreshing. 

 

The next book in the trilogy is also planned for January - Arrow's Fall.

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review 2018-12-02 21:55
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1)
Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey

Thanks to everyone who commented on my series post yesterday - as you can see, I settled on the Valdemar series for a couple of reasons. I have a horse and fantasy loving daughter who is 22, and this series seemed like it might appeal to her, and the plot summary really reminded me of the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce, which is a favorite of mine.

 

Once I selected the series, I had to decide on the order. I didn't spend much time on this, although there are two possibilities: publication order and chronological order. I settled on publication order because the Heralds of Valdemar series is so beloved and seems like a good entry into the world.

 

Arrows of the Queen is a very fast read. There were some things that I really liked about it - Lackey doesn't waste any time getting right into the main plot, which occurs when Companion Rolan Chooses Talia (all caps are on purpose) and sweeps her away from her abusive, polygamous, male-dominated and primitive community to become the Queen's Own Herald. This did remind me quite strongly of the first book of the Alanna quartet.

 

I also liked Lackey's breezy, authentic writing style. Talia's self-esteem and trust issues are well-founded and make sense. Lackey refers openly to menstruation, contraception and same-sex relationships (this again reminds me of Pierce's Tortall books) which is refreshing, especially in a book of this age. The Companions are really sort of weird, but telepathic, uncorruptible blue-eyed magical horses is so obviously intended to appeal to teen girls that I'm willing to overlook the weirdness. 

 

There is a lot of sweetness and domesticity here, mixed in with the palace intrigue. There are flaws, too, of course - Talia is a bit too good to be true, and her ability to "cure" the princess heir of her tendency towards brattiness occurs with an ease that defies reality. That entire plot element, from the perspective of a parent, is wholly unrealistic. I don't know if Lackey had children, but a parent who is insightful enough to recognize that their child is an insufferable brat (as the Queen is, here) typically doesn't have a child who is an insufferable brat. I'm also not a fan of hitting children, not inconsequentially because it is generally not a particularly effective form of discipline, so the entire interaction in which Talia cures Elspeth of being horrible in a few weeks by swatting her bottom when she hits her servants (among other things) feels really inauthentic to me - like the sort of plotting that a teen writer would come up with to deal with an issue about which they know very little.

 

But, this is a book for teens, especially teen girls, and viewing it through that prism, the flaws are easily overlooked, the Collegium sounds lovely, and being Chosen as special by a magical horse would be pretty much the greatest thing ever, and it's no worse a system of government than many seen in fantasy, and better than some.  (Here I am reminded of Monty Python.  "Listen -- strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.")

 

I would have read the hell out of this book as an eleven year old, and I thoroughly enjoyed it at 52.

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text 2018-09-14 03:30
My favorite Fairytale retell series
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
The Stepsister Scheme - Jim C. Hines
The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey
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review 2018-07-13 16:14
was willing to suspend my disbelief
Elite: A Hunter novel - Mercedes Lackey

Now Joyeaux is a member of the Elite and she's dealing with the aftermath of the last fight. Now she's helping clear storm drains of lingering monsters so maintenance people can deal with them. She comes across bodies of psimon who appear to have died from old age. Then Ace escapes and things start to get more and more stressful.

There's a lot of complicated politics and undercurrents going on and she's trying to do her best. She's also learning more about the bond between hunter and hound.

Intresting read and I really want to know what's going to happen next.

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