Title: Exile’s Valor
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Exile #2, Valdemar #21
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy
Publisher: Daw fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: The very novelty of the frozen river would bring skaters – the skaters would draw vendors of food and drink, and those would attract musicians, skate sharpeners, skate vendors, and probably more merchants than that.
QUEEN OF HEARTS
Alberich was a Herald of Valdemar, but once he had been a captain in the army of Karse. It hadn’t been easy for Alberich to transfer his loyalties, nor had it been easy for the court of Valdemar to accept a Karsite Herald. But Alberich had more than proved himself during the Tedrel War when he had almost single-handedly turned the tide of battle, winning honor and respect from the troops, and victory for Valdemar.
Valdemar had suffered terrible casualties during this bloody conflict. Worst of all, they had lost their king, a tragedy which forced his teenage daughter Selenay, weakened by sorrow and still in mourning, to ascend the throne prematurely. But the Valdemaran Council saw Selenay’s ascension as an opportunity to wrest power from the crown by marrying the young queen to a man of their choosing – a puppet who could seize control of the throne and do the Council’s bidding.
But though Selenay was young and inexperienced, she wasn’t stupid or malleable. She had absolutely no intention of marrying anyone she did not personally choose, nor would she allow her consort to take control of her kingdom.
Herald Alberich, now the Collegium’s Weaponsmaster, and Selenay’s personal protector, was well aware of the devious plans of the Council. But could Alberich protect his vulnerable queen from the conspiracies to steal her throne that were brewing among the aristocratic classes of Valdemar and its allied kingdoms?
Where Exile’s Honor dealt with coming to terms with a changed reality, Exile’s Valor shows us how it is possible to take strength from this adversity and embrace it. This is a story of coming to terms with oneself and using this to create a better future – not just for yourself, but for others. This story reminded me of the fact that even though change tends to rock me to my core and leaves me feeling unshakey and unsure at the best of times, it has always been a great agent for obtaining a better future. No matter whether the change is good or bad, desired or not, it can be used to make your future better… at least, that’s the way that I choose to see it.
Not only did Exile’s Valor expand on Alberich’s tale, it also helped me to understand Selenay’s. She seems so strong and put-together throughout The Heralds of Valdemar series, that I really struggled to understand how she could fall prey to a self-centred, not-so-good man and marry him. It just seemed so incredibly out of character. But, the retelling of this tale through Exile’s Valor and from the Alberich’s experiences finally helped me to place it into context. It went from being an inconceivable notion to completely understandable and justified. A fact that I very much appreciated.
Whilst this story seems to be primarily about settling into a new life and making it your own – it also bought home the realities of war and fighting. They weren’t glorified or toted as a desirable aspect of life, rather, it was a necessary evil. The creation of a new type of war game really highlighted this – Alberich is almost sad to be training his young charges in the weaponry. He knows that the seriousness of defending oneself will leave a mark on their souls and that it is not just a simple, carefree matter. I loved this take. I don’t think that such a sensitive and difficult area should ever be taken lightly, and Lackey certainly doesn’t glorify it.