Thursday, September 9, 2021

Book Review: Beyond by Mercedes Lackey


Mercedes Lackey
Series: The Founding of Valdemar (Book 1)
Publication: DAW (June 15, 2021)

Description: The long-awaited founding of Valdemar comes to life in this new series from a New York Times bestselling author and beloved fantasist.

Within the Eastern Empire, Duke Kordas Valdemar rules a tiny, bucolic Duchy that focuses mostly on horse breeding. Anticipating the day when the Empire’s exploitative and militant leaders would not be content to leave them alone, Korda’s father set out to gather magicians in the hopes of one day finding a way to escape and protect the people of the Duchy from tyranny.

Kordas has lived his life looking over his shoulder. The signs in the Empire are increasingly dire. Under the direction of the Emperor, mages have begun to harness the power of dark magics, including blood magic, the powers of the Abyssal Planes, and the binding and "milking" of Elemental creatures.

But then one of the Duchy’s mages has a breakthrough. There is a way to place a Gate at a distance so far from the Empire that it is unlikely the Emperor can find or follow them as they evacuate everyone that is willing to leave.

But time is running out, and Kordas has been summoned to the Emperor's Court.

Can his reputation as a country bumpkin and his acting skills buy him and his people the time they need to flee?  Or will the Emperor lose patience, invade to strip Valdemar of everything of worth, and send its conscripted people into the front lines of the Imperial wars?

My Thoughts: I have been reading the Valdemar books for years and years. So I was excited to find that Mercedes Lackey has chosen to write the story of how Valdemar came to be.

Duke Kordas Valdemar rules a small, rural duchy famous for breeding horses and making and selling rafts. He is proud of his reputation as a country bumpkin who lives in an uninteresting place. Staying out of the Emperor's mind is his goal.

Kordas was taken hostage for five years as a teen and lived in the Emperor's palace. He had a chance to see the way the empire worked and the way people were shaped to fit into it. He decided not to be brainwashed.

He is also keeping a major secret: his family has been planning a way to flee the empire with their people and goods for a couple of generations. They were waiting for mages who live secretly in Valdemar to find a way to gate them to a place far outside the Empire. Now that discovery has been made and it is time to put the plans into motion.

But, just as plans are getting underway, Kordas is called to the capitol to present his annual tribute of horses to the Emperor. He finds that things are not only worse than they were when he was a hostage but getting worse each day. He also finds new allies and the need for a bigger rescue than he could have imagined.

I enjoyed the world building in this story. I also enjoyed getting to know Kordas, his wife Isla, and his young sister-in-law Delia. There were many other characters who were well-developed and interesting people. The story was filled with action, adventure, and lots of moral dilemmas. 

I can't wait to see where this series goes next. 

Favorite Quote:
"Do what you can, do everything you can, do it to the best of your ability, and leave the rest to fate. Or the gods. Or random luck. Your choice," he advised. "By the time you get to be my age, you've learned to let a lot go."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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