Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Book Review: Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Arrows of the Queen
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Heralds of Valdemar (Book 1)
Publication: DAW (March 3, 1987)

Description: Follows the adventures of Talia as she trains to become a Herald of Valdemar in the first book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.

But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen’s heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen’s own foes.

My Thoughts: This is the first Valdemar book. I must have read it first more than twenty years ago and began to read it again with some trepidation, wondering if it could be as emotionally engaging as it was when I first read it. If anything, it was even better this time.

Talia is a thirteen-year-old girl who was raised in a very restrictive sect on the border of Valdemar. Her life was bound and restricted. Reading was discouraged and any disobedience was harshly punished. When she is told on her thirteenth birthday that it was time for her to marry a man chosen for her by her father, she runs away but really doesn't know where she might be going.

She is picked up by Rolan who was the Companion of the previous Queen's Own Herald. Talia doesn't know what is going on. She's certain that she'll be punished for stealing the Companion. When she arrives at the Palace and the Collegium, she finds herself in a life she couldn't possibly have imagined. Now, she is in training to become a Herald and the Queen's Own to Queen Selenay. One of her first tasks is to befriend the Queen's Heir who has become thoroughly spoiled and is in danger of never being Chosen by a Companion of her own.

But the spoiled Heir is just one thread of a bigger conspiracy that caused the murder of the previous Queen's Own and the death of a number of other Heralds. Talia is also in danger of being a victim of that conspiracy and would have except for the friendships she's made among the other Heralds and Trainees at the Collegium.

I enjoyed the seamless way the world building was built into the story in the form of stories told Talia whose past upbringing made her ignorant of the world she is now living in. I liked Talia's common sense and compassion. I could understand her fear of trusting which has her keeping secrets from those who would be able to help her if only she could open up to them.

There is an engaging cast of characters who surround Talia and make the story even richer. I can't wait to read the rest of this trilogy again to watch Talia grow into the Herald she becomes.

Favorite Quote:
Yes - at last - you. I Choose you. Out of all the work, out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again will there be loneliness --

It was a feeling more than words; a shock and a delight. A breathless joy so deep it was almost pain; a joining. A losing and a finding; a loosing and a binding. Flight and freedom. And love and acceptance past all words to tell of the wonder of it - and she answered that love with all her soul.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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