It’s been a little while since I picked up a Valdemar book. Mostly because as much as I love them, they are often pretty heart wrenching. There is always some kind of abuse or emotional turmoil that just doesn’t seem to be as prominent in many of the other fantasy books that I read. So I honestly need to make sure that I’m in a good headspace whenever I pick up one of these novels… which I was when I picked up The Black Gryphon. And boy am I glad. It was enjoyable, fun and an absolutely great read. Even if there was still that signature Lackey tragedy that made the enjoyment a little less… joyful.
We all have a past, and no matter how hard we run from it, it will come back to haunt us. It’s true that the past has shaped us and all of those wonderful clichés, and Lackey reminds us beautifully of this in Redoubt. Mags doesn’t remember his past, but it constantly reappears in his life to torture and harass himself and his friends. It’s a fact that both fascinated and frustrated me throughout the story – it was easy to understand that Mags’ biological family had some amount of importance, but that was it. I like to know things, so not knowing drove me a little crazy. So, it was wonderful to finally find out more about his family and past.
The challenges that Bear started facing with his familial issues really come to light in Changes. The conflict that starts to build in Intrigues is heightened and Lackey poignantly reminds us that family isn’t everything. I loved the contrast with Amily and Lydia’s families, they show exactly what unconditional love is all about. It’s a great reminder that blood isn’t everything and sometimes it is actually okay to say goodbye to family.
Intrigues returns us to the world of Mags’ and the building of the Heralds Collegium. Mags is finally settling in to his new life and his small group of friends. I love that he isn’t a popular kid, he has a select few with whom he is close, and that is enough. I’ve never understood the idea of quantity over quality with friends, and Lackey helps to drive this home. You only need a few people who really care about you, not an entourage of characters that just happen to be there.
Foundation was a really unique book in my eyes. Most books have a very specific plot line and journey through the chief protagonist’s life. Foundation, not so much. It’s almost like a huge introduction for the remaining three books in the series. Not that this is a bad thing. Of all of the Mercedes Lackey books I’ve had the pleasure of reading, it is Mags that I feel the most connected to. So much so that when I finished reading this series, I turned right around and started to read it again.
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.
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.
I’ve read a lot of fantasy books that have a tough arms master to train the main character in self-defence. Regardless of the period of history or the weaponry used, they all seem to have the same things in common – they are tough, strict, unsmiling and incredibly efficient at killing, fighting and making sure their charges survive. So it was a real pleasure to read a tale that helped me to understand how a man could become an arms master.
I loved the character of Skif from Lackey’s The Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. So it was such a pleasure to read more about his adventures and Choosing. I really enjoy how Lackey’s books continue to expand upon the stories of well-loved characters. This prolonged exposure is instrumental in my (slightly ridiculous) attachment to her characters.
I loved the entire The Last Herald Mage trilogy, and the finale certainly didn’t disappoint. Even though I knew what the ending would be from mentions in other Valdemar books, but, I still wanted to watch the entire tragedy unfold.