Title: Brightly Burning
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Valdemar #15
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy
Publisher: Daw fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: He won’t kill me.
A CURSE OF FIRE
When Archer and Nelda Chitward moved their family from a small rural village to the bustling city of Haven, it was cause for great celebration. After all, their textile skills had made them leaders among their Guilds, welcomed into the highest of Guild social circles.
But not everyone in the Chitward home was happy about this “improvement” in the family’s position. Lavan, their middle son, had no desire to be a cloth-merchant, needleworker, cloth-dyer, or anything related to his family’s Guilds. He didn’t really know what he wanted to be – except back home in Alderscroft! To make matters worse, his parents had enrolled him in an “exclusive” private school. It was a place where the arrogant older students were expected to keep discipline, and as a lanky, undersized, sixteen-year-old newcomer, Lavan quickly became the primary scapegoat.
It didn’t help that whenever the older boys caught him he turned a bright scarlet with suppressed rage – a rage which left his skin feeling sunburned and tender, and so filled his mind that he was unable to see, hear, or even to think. For days on end Lavan was overwhelmed by blinding headaches and was unable to attend classes, yet even his pain was a welcome respite from the daily torture he suffered at school.
But nothing could have prepared Lavan or anyone in Haven for what was to come. For from his rage a Gift unlike any known in Valdemar would be born in a fiery conflagration which Heralds and Healers alike would be hard-pressed to contain…
As usual, Mercedes Lackey managed to seriously surprise me with this story. Similar to The Last Herald Mage trilogy, I knew that Brightly Burning would be a tragic tale – it’s mentioned in some of the other Valdemar books. But, it still hooked me and took me on an amazing journey through Lavan’s short, and sad journey.
I’ve read about homosexual and heterosexual characters, and love triangles until I’ve been blue in the face, but Brightly Burning is the first story that I can remember reading about a character that is asexual. Or at least, that is the way he seemed to me. There is a huge difference between a lack of sexual interest in the storyline (because they are too young, or it isn’t part of the author’s plot), but to read about a character that actually doesn’t appear to have any sexual interest in another was really interesting. I have read articles that say that Sherlock Holmes is supposed to have been asexual too, but I haven’t had the privilege of reading the original stories yet. So this was a really welcome difference. It was refreshing.
Even though I knew that Lavan wasn’t going to have a happy ending, it was really nice to find out the whole story. As myths and tales of our past are warped with time, I felt that the truth of Lavan’s tale was so much more exciting and surreal than the pieces I had managed to put together throughout reading the other Valdemar books. Lackey is a master of intertwining completely different generations throughout her books – Valdemar has become a very real place within my head because of this. It is so multidimensional that I can’t store all of the facts in my head, much like real life.
The final moments of this book are etched into my mind forever. All I have to do is think of fire of Lavan Firestorm and I can picture his final moments. To so vividly engrave a moment into my mind is a mark of how brilliant Lackey is.
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