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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 2017-05-21 05:03
Reading progress: 23%.
Closer to the Chest - Mercedes Lackey

And I've slipped comfortably back into the world of Valdemar with Mags and Amily.


I'm sure the shit will be hitting the fan soon — always around the corner with Mags.

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text 2017-05-21 02:32
Reading progress: 3%.

Oh dear ... where is this one headed?  (Third in series and first two were kinda mixed for me).  I mean this is written by a girl (Mercedes Lackey) in her Valdemar universe where many of the Herald Leaders are female:




Closer to the Chest - Mercedes Lackey  Closer to the Chest - Mercedes Lackey  

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review 2017-05-15 00:00
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1)
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1) - Mercedes Lackey 4 stars

Where has this book been all my life? Seriously. I have a paperback copy somewhere in the basement that I never read, which was purchased long, long ago. Since I read almost exclusively in digital now, there was little chance that I would go digging through boxes of books for the paper copy. But then! the library! added a digital! copy to their collection!!! I checked it out on a whim, and had a very fun journey with Talia and Rolan.

This book reminded me of Harry Potter in both tone and the academic setting. It skews toward younger readers, and while magical school books usually bore me, this one didn’t. And mainly for one reason – the Companions. How could I not like reading about intelligent, noble horses and the men and women who ride them? It would have been impossible.

Talia has just turned 13, and she isn’t like the other girls in her holdfast. For one, she likes to read, something that is unseemly for women. Second, she loves the stories about the Companions and their Heralds. When Talia is coldly informed that she’s to be married, she runs away. And who could blame her? Her stern, unimaginative people, who think that women should be see and not heard (but always pregnant!!), are hardly the type of folk a feisty girl like Talia can flourish among. She is extremely distrustful of men because all of the men in her life are abusive, demanding submission, and the women in her family aren’t much better.

When a white horse approaches her, Talia is awed. Here is a mystical Companion, right out of her stories! When Rolan urges her to hop in the saddle on his back, she doesn’t fight the compulsion to do as he insists. Once she’s seated firmly on his back, there is no going back to that unwelcoming and belittling family of hers. Off they set, on a grand adventure, though Talia doesn’t realize it yet.

After a long journey, where Rolan takes care of Talia, leading her to wayhouses and traveling steadily toward the Collegium, where the Heralds live and train. Once there, Talia must fit in with her new acquaintances, learn how to be a Herald, and avoid getting herself killed. It turns out that not only is Talia a Herald, but she is the Queen’s Own Herald, and there are lots of conspirators against the crown, and they all want her dead.

I think I enjoyed this so much because of the characters. The Heralds are all dedicated to protecting the Kingdom, and most of them don’t live to see retirement. There is always danger and trouble afoot, and they never hesitate to rush to wherever they are needed. The world building is interesting, and though sometimes solutions to problems were too easily found, there was always something going on to hold my attention. Because Talia spent most of this book learning the basics of being a Herald, Rolan didn’t play a big part in the story. But! I’m sure that in the next installment, when Talia is out and about actually being a Herald, he will play a larger role. I totally enjoyed Arrows of the Queen, and I’m looking forward to getting to know all of the characters better in the next book.
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text 2017-03-06 19:06
Planning to read via library ebook loan ...
Perfect Shadow - Brent Weeks
When Demons Walk (Sianim Book 4) - Patricia Briggs
Steal the Dragon - Patricia Briggs
Arrows of the Sun - Judith Tarr
Firebrand - Kristen Britain
The Fate of the Tearling: A Novel (The Queen of the Tearling Book 3) - Erika Johansen
The Trouble with Kings - Sherwood Smith
Half a King - Joe Abercrombie
Closer to the Chest - Mercedes Lackey
It's Raining Men - Jennifer Stevenson

These I put on hold from those newly added to my public library's overdrive ebook loans.


I already read the Succubus Blue's (Georgina Kincaid) series from Richelle Meade so didn't hold -- but that's been recently added as well.  Plus more Nalini Singh ebooks (my library had mostly audiobooks of hers).  First three Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance now showing in ebook rather than just audiobooks also.  Not my thing, but a lot of Battletech books showed up as well.


I did put in a librarian request adding missing covers if any are still showing on this post. 


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