author: Mercedes Lackey
series: Heralds of Valdemar #1
published: 3 March 1987
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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.
This book is the first published work in the overall Valdemar saga, although not the first in a chronological order of the world itself. It is also the book that spawned my love of Mercedes Lackey and the world itself, the work that fueled my love of fantasy.
The protagonist, Talia, is a strong female character that is developed in a very real and believable way. She is strong but flawed, and that is what makes her such a relatable character. She isn’t portrayed as being perfect in anything she is or does, physically or in any other way. Instead, her strength is found in her own inner character. She doesn’t run away from obstacles but faces them head-on and finds a way to overcome them. She isn’t afraid to ask for help when she realizes she needs it. She finds personal satisfaction in being useful, and that is a beautiful thing to see in a character.
Things I loved about this book…
- The Heralds. At their heart, Heralds are a family, often the first a Chosen has ever truly known. I love that concept!
- Talia’s friends. I loved that, by and large, they were kind and accepting and supportive of one another. I love the representation of platonic love and support to be found in the pages of this book. It’s nice to see nontoxic relationships in action.
- The teachers. So often the adults in charge are portrayed as blind to the woes of their charges. That isn’t the case here, which I loved. They pay attention, they notice, and they help.
- The issues. There is mention of sex, but it’s done in a healthy way, touching on the differences between lust and love, as well as safety. There’s conversations about trauma and loss, finding one’s true family, boundaries, and consequences.