author: Mercedes Lackey
published: 1 June 2001
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His name is Lavan Firestorm, a young man blessed—and cursed—with a special talent for firestarting. His legend has haunted the darkest corners of Valdemar, yet the truth has never been told. Here, at last, is his story.
This is one of the saddest books in the overall Valdemar saga, perhaps even more so than those of Herald Vanyel. But is also one of my favorites. The book is one of the few standalones within the saga, too.
Lan has been uprooted from his country home and friends, moved to Haven, the capital of Valdemar. His parents are artisan Guildmasters who seek to rise in their fields, but he’s left feeling as if he has no place. Even his siblings are following in their parents’ footsteps, but Lan wants nothing to do with either family business. All he wants is to be a member of the Guard, which his parents forbid, feeling it to be “beneath” them. It has left Lan an outlier in his own family. To make it worse, they decide to send him to a school, one in which the headmaster leaves all the discipline and order to a group of older students who love nothing more than to cruely bully the younger students. One thing leads to another, and a terrible accident occurs. But there’s a silver lining… he finally finds his path, even if he will probably always remain an outlier, this time from those who fear him.
The author laudably runs the gamut of relationships in this series, those that aren’t quite as “status quo.” She wrote of same-sex relationships, even throuples, long before those became more mainstream. But this one created a lifebond, a soul mate bond between people, between Lan and his Companion. A completely nonsexual lifebond, but one based on the purest of love and trust.
It truly is a beautiful read!