This thirteenth anthology of short stories set in the beloved Valdemar universe features tales by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself.
The Heralds of Valdemar are the kingdom's ancient order of protectors. They are drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages--and all are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. These inborn talents--combined with training as emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counselors, warriors, and more--make them indispensable to their monarch and realm. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horse-like Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. The Heralds of Valdemar and their Companions ride circuit throughout the kingdom, protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
I think as a reader, if you’ve read anything by Mercedes Lackey or anything set in her land of Valdemar, you already know what to expect from this anthology. From new or continuing authors, you will get tales of wonder, tales of justice and mercy, tales of good defeating evil by normal and gifted alike. The stories can be enjoyed with little to no introduction to previous anthologies or the novels of Valdemar because each author does an exceedingly good job of creating rich and diverse characters that infuse each page with personality and with plots that don’t require previous knowledge. That is the best feature of this anthology: New or old readers can both enjoy it and if you’re new, it is an excellent introduction to Lackey’s world.
The stories themselves follow the theme, that of seasons, each exploring the seasons of the world, Spring Festival, Midsummer, Sovvan, and Midwinter, each with a unique aspect to each festival. Some of the characters are continued from previous anthologies but this just adds to the richness and detail of the story if you are a continuing reader. But each plot follows the theme of the anthology in a way that doesn’t require you to remember or know those previous details. I loved each story, although I did have favorites amongst them, including A Midwinter’s Gift by Kristin Schwengel continuing the story of Lady Jhosen Amberdale as she realizes her true skills. I also loved Unknowable Consequences by Elizabeth A. Vaughn which features the character of Cera as she struggles to care for her people with the unexpected help of an herbalist. Preparing for the Worst was fun, I loved how the author Brigid Collins built on her characters within the world but added new ones to love. And Fiona Patton’s Rose Fair was just delightful.
True fans of Valdemar will love the new stories by these talented authors, including Mercedes Lackey and new fans can and will love the characters.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5. ~~ Andrea Rittschof
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