I’ve been meaning to read some of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books for a very, very long time, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Then this book was suggested for the book club at the Mallorean Tavern, which meant we also got to discuss the book on the Bibliophiles Anonymous podcast. The Valdemar books are made up of a bunch of smaller series. Arrows of the Queen is the first book in the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, and is also probably the best place to start.
I will say, after seeing how many Valdemar books there are, I’m starting to regret the goal I made to finish all the series that I start this year. Maybe I’ll say that the rule only applies to this trilogy? I do intend to read them all at some point, but . . . sheesh! That’s a lot of books!
So on to the review.
Arrows of the Queen tells the story of Talia, a young girl growing up in a rural Hold where she doesn’t fit in at all. She likes to sneak off and be by herself, to read about the brave Heralds of Valdemar, who are selected to defend the queen. Unable to take the idea of an arranged marriage (to someone who will try to beat the rebelliousness out of her, or so she thinks), Talia runs away from home. She comes across one of the Herald’s Companions, which takes the form of a snow white horse with brilliant blue eyes. Unsure of what to do, afraid to be found by someone from her Hold, Talia decides to take the Companion back to the Heralds, hoping that they might take her in as a servant.
Of course, that doesn’t happen. The Companion, who Talia somehow knows is named Rolan, leads her back to the Herald’s stronghold, called Haven. There, Talia realizes that she didn’t find the Companion – Rolan found her. She has been Chosen to become a Herald trainee. It seems like a dream come true, but Talia’s insecurities abound. She is used to being vilified and a few kind words from her fellow Herald trainees don’t change that. She keeps to herself, even when she is mercilessly bullied (and nearly killed) by other groups of students at the Haven.
Slowly, Talia is able to come out of her shell and learn to trust people. She is given many new duties, one of which involving trying to civilize the princess (referred to as “The Brat”). Talia is special, and has abilities that the Heralds need, although she doesn’t fully understand them yet. There are plots to overthrow the queen and Talia and the rest of the Heralds are pulled in to try and stop them.
I liked this book, but I’m not convinced to be a big Valdemar fangirl just yet. There were a lot of things that were predictable about it. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I could have guessed the ending from the first few chapters of the book. Still, there are some great characters – I particularly loved Skiff, the thief-turned-Herald-trainee who not only befriends Talia, but the two become romantically involved for a time. And the world is pretty wonderful. I want to go to the Haven and join the Collegium! I want to live at the Haven!
So yes, I will probably look for the next two books in this trilogy at some point. I already own the second one, which is good. Now I just need to find the time!