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Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series



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  #1  
Old October 18th, 2012, 7:56 am
LyannaS  Female.gif LyannaS is offline
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Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

I did a search, and didn't find anything about this series - the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey.

It's one of my favourite fantasy series, with strong female characters, a good setting, excellent story lines which can go from enchanting to nitty-gritty realism.

The main setting is the Kingdom of Valdemar, which was founded by former Baron Valdemar who was fleeing tyranny and oppression in the Eastern Empire. He led a large group of followers West until they found an unclaimed land that became the Kingdom of Valdemar, the Baron becoming its first King. Because they had fled tyranny and intolerance, Valdemar founded his kingdom as a land of tolerance of every difference of gender, race, color, creed, sexual inclination, you name it. The motto of the Kingdom is "There is no ONE true way".

To make sure that it would go on along these ideals, Valdemar, his son and his private counsellor went to a sacred grove to ask the gods for guidance. Out of the grove came three horse-like beings, snowy white and blue-eyed. Each of them "spoke" telepathically to the three men and explained that they would be their Companions. Basically, would serve as their conscience and keep them in the straight and narrow. That you could only become King or Queen of Valdemar if you had been "Chosen" by a Companion, and the Companions only Chose the humans who had the requisite qualities of loyalty, integrity, honour, tolerance, etc. The humans so Chosen came to be known as Heralds, and the Sovereign's private counsellor would be the King's Own or Queen's Own - a very special Herald, who would be Chosen by a Companion coming out of the Grove. (As years and centuries went by, the Companions bred among themselves, so it became very rare to have one come out of the Grove). There is great love between Herald and Companion. A Companion who loses his or her Herald dies of sorrow, a Herald without a Companion is only half his or her former self.

The Heralds became the Sovereign's warriors, messengers and lawgivers. They would arbitrate and judge in conflicts, they would fight if Valdemar was attacked. Each of them had a special paranormal Talent (Mindspeak (telepathy), telekinesis, empathy, firestarting, etc.) At first there also was "real Magic" in the Kingdom but the last Herald-Mage, Vanyel, died in a fight against Evil about a thousand years before the main story begins. Before he died, he cast a spell protecting Valdemar against evil Magic. But the ability to do "real" Magic dies with him, the Heralds only have "Mind Magic", their paranormal powers (which are formidable enough).

The Heralds are Chosen by the Companions from everywhere in the country, from any walk of life (aristocrat, farmer, laborer, merchant, even, once, a thief who actually had a heart of gold). In some rare cases, they are Chosen from outside the country (for example, Alberich, Kerowyn and Daren). They're usually Chosen in their early teens, though sometimes it happens much later in life. Once Chosen, their Companions take them to Haven, the capital of Valdemar, to train at the Collegium.

The Collegium is a sort of Hogwarts, where the Heralds are taught to develop their Talents, and also get an education in law and warfare. The Herald trainees wear grey outfits, a full Herald is in white. Getting his or her Whites is a big deal for a Herald. After they graduate, they train in the field for a year with a more experienced Herald, then they are assigned tasks of their own.

Heralds are not the only students at the Collegium, where are also trained the Bards (who wear red), the Healers (green) and a hodgepodge of other specialties (engineering among them) lumped together as the Blues.

There are four main trilogies. Vanyel's story is told in Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise and Magic's Price. Then we jump about 1,000 years to the reign of Queen Selenay (a lovely person, one of my favorite characters) and learn of Talia, a little farm girl who becomes Queen's Own. Her trilogy is Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight and Arrow's Fall.

The next trilogy is the story of Elspeth, Selenay's daughter, who comes of age in a time when Valdemar is threatened by a neighbouring country, whose king uses Black Magic to conquer the world, or at least tries. That trilogy is Winds of Change, Winds of Fate, Winds of Fury.

The last main trilogy is Karal's story. Karal is not a Valdemaran, he's from neighboring Karse, where people worship the Sun and His representative on Earth. Karse and Valdemar have been at war for centuries but have to ally against a mounting evil. Those three books are Storm Warning, Storm Rising and Storm Breaking.

Other important characters' stories are told in different books. Kerowyn, a blonde beauty who becomes Commander in Chief of Valdemar's army is told in "By the Sword". Skif, Talia's best friend, is the hero of "Take a Thief". Alberich, Valdemar's Weaponsmaster, is an exile from Karse, whose story is told in "Exile's Honor" and "Exile's Valor".

Ooops, I hope this is not too long and confusing.

The three trilogies mentioned above are set under the reign of Queen Selenay.

Queen Selenay is, of course, a Herald. If the Heir or Heiress presumptive to the Crown is not Chosen, the throne goes to the closest royal family member who's a Herald. In her case, she has all the required qualities to be Chosen. But being loyal, fair, just, honest and honourable don't make you immune to human follies, and Selenay when still in her late teens makes a disastrous first marriage with a prince of Rethwellan (one of the King of Rethwellan's two brothers), another neighboring kingdom with which Valdemar has always had friendly relations. It turns out however that this handsome Prince is a cad, doesn't understand how the Companion system works, tries to seize the throne by force and is killed in an attempt to murder his wife. He's the father of Princess Elspeth who some people fear will never be Chosen because it takes her a long time to get a Companion. Later, Selenay marries, of all people, her former husband's brother, but this one, Daren, is nothing like his brother. He gets Chosen in the middle of a battle after his own horse (a real horse) gets killed under him as he is trying to come to Selenay's rescue.

That scene is a lot of fun to read. Daren is leading Rethwellan's army (he is his brother the King's Grand Marshall) to aid Valdemar when he sees this beautiful young woman surrounded by a group in Whites beset by a bigger enemy force. He realizes she's wearing something on her hair - the royal coronet! That's when his horse goes down and a Companion comes to him and takes him to Selenay's rescue. When he sees how beautiful and brave she is, the Companion asks him wryly "Like what you see?" After the battle, Daren and Selenay fall madly in love with each other and marry.

Another funny scene at that same battle is Kerowyn going down under an onslaught of enemies and losing consciousness. The Herald who loves her tries to revive her by yelling at her "If you die on me, I'll kill you!" She opens her eyes and says "That's a little extreme, don't you think, kechara?" ("kechara" means "darling"). They, too, eventually marry. Kerowyn also becomes a Herald but refuses to wear White because she says it stands out so much it's like having a sign telling the enemy "Here I am, shoot me" - she calls Herald's Whites the "O shoot me now outfit".

OK, that's the background and summary of the series. There is much more of course. I'd like to discuss it with other readers and fans, if any, among us fantasy readers.


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  #2  
Old October 21st, 2012, 8:34 am
LyannaS  Female.gif LyannaS is offline
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

Aw come on! Nobody on this site has read this series?

Did I at least piqued your interest enough that someone will get into it? I'd so much like to discuss it.

The characters, the situations, the way it gets really harsh and realistic at times (like when Talia is captured and tortured, or when the same happens to Eldan.)


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Old October 24th, 2012, 3:08 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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Aw come on! Nobody on this site has read this series?

Did I at least piqued your interest enough that someone will get into it? I'd so much like to discuss it.

The characters, the situations, the way it gets really harsh and realistic at times (like when Talia is captured and tortured, or when the same happens to Eldan.)
I have read the the entire series up through Take a Thief! But it's been long time. My favorites are the Magic's Pawn series (gotta love Vanyel. Such as tragic story.) The Winds of Change series. (Darkwind and Elspeth = love) and Exiles Honor.


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Old October 24th, 2012, 10:33 pm
LyannaS  Female.gif LyannaS is offline
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

Oh, wonderful! Someone else did read the series!!!

Vanyel is great, but that series is not my favourite. I like the Winds series better, with Elspeth and Darkwind, but also with Skif and Nyara.

My real favourite, though, is the stand-alone By the Sword. It's basically Kerowyn's story, but it has all the other characters (Selenay, Talia, Elspeth, etc.)



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Old October 24th, 2012, 11:02 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

I do enjoy Kerowyn's story. Unfortunately I just think Kerowyn and Alberich are too much alike. I prefer Alberich. Skif and Nyara were a pleasant surprise after his crush on Elspeth which was a little unnerving considering his crush on Talia!


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Old October 26th, 2012, 12:42 am
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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I do enjoy Kerowyn's story. Unfortunately I just think Kerowyn and Alberich are too much alike. I prefer Alberich.
Kerowyn and Alberich alike? Funny, that comparison never occurred to me. Apart from the fact that they both refuse to wear their Whites when they can get away with it, the fact that neither of them was Valdemaran by birth, and that they both have some kind of ESP talent, what other similarities do you find between them?

Kerowyn, though born a lady, becomes a mercenary, a hard-edged one at that (like when before rescuing Eldan, she asks him how much he'll pay for her help). She is "Chosen" late in life. She's not immune to love and sex. Alberich was a Karsite officer who was Chosen just in time to save his life, he's celibate as far as I can tell, he doesn't care a whit about money, but he knows politics very well. As he tells Talia "That I don't play the game doesn't mean that I don't know the rules". Kerowyn is not in the least interested in politics. That's partly why she refuses to follow Daren to his brother's court.

They're both devoted to Selenay, as Weaponmasters they both favour Elspeth and have great affection for her.

Other than that, I don't see much in common. But then, I haven't really thought of them in that angle, so I'd be interested to know what makes you think they're alike.

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Skif and Nyara were a pleasant surprise after his crush on Elspeth which was a little unnerving considering his crush on Talia!


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Old October 28th, 2012, 7:31 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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Kerowyn and Alberich alike? Funny, that comparison never occurred to me. Apart from the fact that they both refuse to wear their Whites when they can get away with it, the fact that neither of them was Valdemaran by birth, and that they both have some kind of ESP talent, what other similarities do you find between them?
I see them as the same because they give off the "vibe" of be really tough but are basically good underneath it all, y'know? Don't get me wrong but women tend to empathize with one another more easily, and Kerowyn is definately a great role model, but I think I would feel much more validated if a man like Alberich took me under his wing.

I really did enjoy Nyara. Considering the awful abuses of Falconsbane for her to come out of it with a heart still capable of affection and love...well it's amazing. Actually the whole Winds trilogy is amazing because the characters, all of them, are so distinct and real. From Selenay to Firesong each character is well crafted there was never a point where I felt any of the books dragged.


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Old October 29th, 2012, 7:36 am
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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Actually the whole Winds trilogy is amazing because the characters, all of them, are so distinct and real. From Selenay to Firesong each character is well crafted there was never a point where I felt any of the books dragged.
I agree. My favourite trilogy, however, is "Arrows". The nitty-grittiness and realism of the situations, especially in Arrow's Fal was sometimes hard to take, but it was rivetingl. Though I must admit that Arrow's Flight does drag a bit.

You know, I had almost forgotten Firesong? How could I, such a flamboyant character!


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Old October 29th, 2012, 4:01 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

I thought the Arrows trilogy was somewhat cliched in spots. I mean Talia was practically perfect in every way almost from the very beginning. Arrow's Fall was the best because you really get the full bond between Talia and Roland. They are at a disadvantage because Talia can't thought-sense but their emotional bond literally saves the kingdom. I was near the verge of tears when Talia broke her arrows and Roland was running for Valdemar. Talia's love story fell a little flat for me, though. The other thing I liked about the Arrows series is the fact that Selenay epitomizes a true Harold. She never judged Talia based on her age or small stature, she held Talia to high standards, and expidited Talia's training because she needed a functional Queen's Own. I love how Selenay expressed that she felt that she was stealing Talia's childhood, but didn't have a choice in the matter.


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Old October 29th, 2012, 10:25 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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I thought the Arrows trilogy was somewhat cliched in spots. I mean Talia was practically perfect in every way almost from the very beginning.
There are some clichés, yes, but I don't think Talia's shown as perfect. She's clueless when Rolan Chooses her - I wonder, btw, why things are not explained to her right away, like they are explained to later Chosen Herald trainees.

I like the way she handles Elspeth, the Royal Brat, though. That first exchange between them always has me laughing.

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I was near the verge of tears when Talia broke her arrows and Rolan was running for Valdemar.
Yes that was a tear-jerker (in a good sense) all right! The scene I also found moving is when Rolan gets to Selenay's camp, exhausted, and drops the package containing the two broken arrows at Selenay's feet.

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Talia's love story fell a little flat for me, though.
I agree with you there. And the whole story of the fight between Talia, Dirk and Kris got on my nerves. I like Kris a lot, btw. And I think that Talia and Dirk should have named their first child after him. Funny that, later, it's Selenay and Daren who name their son "Kris".

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The other thing I liked about the Arrows series is the fact that Selenay epitomizes a true Herald. She never judged Talia based on her age or small stature, she held Talia to high standards, and expidited Talia's training because she needed a functional Queen's Own. I love how Selenay expressed that she felt that she was stealing Talia's childhood, but didn't have a choice in the matter.
Yes, that was great. Selenay is one of my favourite characters in the series. Like you say, a true Herald and a true Queen.

I also loved it when she tells Elspeth, much later, how much she loves and trusts her, and she looks forward to Elspeth's return from her mission "so we can celebrate your handfasting to that young man who loves you so."

What did you think of the songs Mercedes Lackey wrote, that are at the end of one of the books? Especially the one called "Her Father's Eyes"? How it was difficult for a while for Selenay to really be close to her daughter because she has her treacherous father's eyes?


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Old November 3rd, 2012, 2:48 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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There are some clichés, yes, but I don't think Talia's shown as perfect. She's clueless when Rolan Chooses her - I wonder, btw, why things are not explained to her right away, like they are explained to later Chosen Herald trainees.

Yes, but it's so sweet that she is clueless. Plus, Rolan had her "forget" until they reached Haven (which is not uncommon for Companions to do). For me, the Talia/Rolan bond was one of the best Herald/Companion bonds in the whole series. With Vanyel and Yfandes coming in a very close second. All Heralds are very close to their companions, of course, with often times the Companion being the Herald's first friend (look at Skif), but I don't get the same depth of feeling from other pairs that I do from Talia/Rolan. I really think it was genius for Talia not being able to thought sense because it forced a depth of knowledge between Herald and Companion that words would have made awkward (example Elspeth and Gwena). My absolute favorite scene is when Talia and Rolan are working the obstacle course together. It was a short scene but very illustrative of their bond.



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I agree with you there. And the whole story of the fight between Talia, Dirk and Kris got on my nerves. I like Kris a lot, btw. And I think that Talia and Dirk should have named their first child after him. Funny that, later, it's Selenay and Daren who name their son "Kris".

I get why Talia fell for Dirk instead of Kris (her brother was beautiful but abusive and sadistic) but really Kris didn't deserve the treatment that he got from either Dirk, or even Talia (while he was training her in the cabin.) Kris was one of my favorite characters in the arrows trilogy because of his beauty and his connections in court. He could have been vain and shallow and and immature (as many royals are often portrayed to be) but he was Herald through and through despite all that. And yes I angered me that Talia and Dirk's child was not named Kris! :grr: I don't know, the whole lifebonding thing seemed so unnecessary to me.





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I also loved it when she tells Elspeth, much later, how much she loves and trusts her, and she looks forward to Elspeth's return from her mission "so we can celebrate your handfasting to that young man who loves you so."
Hee. It's so funny! Darkwind is a very masculine character but it always amused me that he acted like a lovesick dufus with Elspeth sometimes (and she him). The fact that Selanay picked up onit made me laugh.

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Originally Posted by LyannaS View Post
What did you think of the songs Mercedes Lackey wrote, that are at the end of one of the books? Especially the one called "Her Father's Eyes"? How it was difficult for a while for Selenay to really be close to her daughter because she has her treacherous father's eyes?

I did read that, and what I liked about it is that Selenay is a person. Not just a queen or a Herald. She truly loved her husband at first and he betrayed her in the cruelest of ways. Selenay knew that she wasn't being fair to Elspeth but Elspeth's behaviour was like an outward expression of what her husband had been hiding during their courtship and marriage. She felt guilty as a parent and mother for feeling the way that she did but didn't know how to fix things with her daughter. It was very touching.


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Old November 4th, 2012, 7:07 am
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

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I get why Talia fell for Dirk instead of Kris (her brother was beautiful but abusive and sadistic) but really Kris didn't deserve the treatment that he got from either Dirk, or even Talia (while he was training her in the cabin.) Kris was one of my favorite characters in the arrows trilogy because of his beauty and his connections in court. He could have been vain and shallow and and immature (as many royals are often portrayed to be) but he was Herald through and through despite all that. And yes I angered me that Talia and Dirk's child was not named Kris! I don't know, the whole lifebonding thing seemed so unnecessary to me.
Totally agree about Kris, and about the lifebonding.

Dirk is very childish, and this is one case where Talia is not perfect. But I liked it a lot when she finally convinces Dirk that it's him she loves. I also loved it when Kris, from beyond the grave, sends her those flowers on her wedding day. They absolutely and definitely should have named their son Kris, I don't know why Misty Lackey didn't have them do that.

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Hee. It's so funny! Darkwind is a very masculine character but it always amused me that he acted like a lovesick dufus with Elspeth sometimes (and she him). The fact that Selanay picked up on it made me laugh.


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I did read that, and what I liked about it is that Selenay is a person. Not just a queen or a Herald. She truly loved her husband at first and he betrayed her in the cruelest of ways. Selenay knew that she wasn't being fair to Elspeth but Elspeth's behaviour was like an outward expression of what her husband had been hiding during their courtship and marriage. She felt guilty as a parent and mother for feeling the way that she did but didn't know how to fix things with her daughter. It was very touching.
Hulda bears a big part of the blame for Elspeth being "the Royal Brat" - but it's true that Selenay has some responsibility about it too, which she was well aware of. Talia handled Elspeth beautifully, though. Not only when Elspeth was a child, but later, when she falls for the cad Orthallen throws at her.

I like Elspeth, going from Royal Brat to very decent and talented young woman, though at times she has to be "cut down to size" a bit, like when Darkwind says he doesn't give a fig that she's a princess. I also like it when Kerowyn realizes that here is a high-born young woman who's not shallow and arrogant and doesn't think she knows it all. Like Kris, she's both a royal and a true Herald. Even before she finds out she's the first of the new Herald Mages.

It was a great scene also when she renounces the throne in favour of her half-brother and half-sister, realizing in part that, because of her father's treachery and treason, people will be suspicious of her. Of course it was also because she wanted to marry Darkwind, but that was only one of the reasons.


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Old November 13th, 2012, 8:37 am
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

Flimsey Cauldron, you and I seem to be the only ones to have read this great series.

I was hoping that someone would be intrigued enough by the storylines and setting, read the books and jump in in the debate, but it looks like it's not going to happen.

I did discuss the Vanyel trilogy with someone I thought was a CoS member - at least she mentioned CoS to me - but she doesn't seem to be around. Ah well...


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Old November 19th, 2012, 7:02 pm
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Re: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

Hi!

I have read a great deal of Lackey's work in this universe, though I have found a lot of the more recent stuff a bit tedious so I no longer religiously read everything new that she puts out. (Though among more recent stuff, there was a book about Alberich that I did quite like).

My favorites among these are the three Vanyel books, and "Oathbound/Oathbreakers" (the story of Tarma and Kethry). I really liked the first installment of "Arrows of the Queen" but thought the second one got a bit slow. (The third was an improvement, but is not among my favorites of these).

I also enjoyed, a little less but enough, some of the novels of Elspeth discovering she has the Herald-Mage gifts. But a lot of her newer books, dealing with backstory and some of the cultures that are newer introductions in the series, I did not enjoy enough to seek out sequels to.

I think one thing that makes Lackey's work have a repetitive "feel" to them is their villains.


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