Thursday, February 10, 2011
Finding the Way edited by Mercedes Lackey
Synopsis From Back Cover:
The Heralds of Valdemar are an ancient order, drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horse-like Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
I am in love with all things Velgarth, the world that the Kingdom of Valdemar exists in. I snatch every book up that I find, though I still am missing three books, and I devour them almost instantly. Finding the Way is the new fifteen story anthology that explores the world of Heralds, Healers, Bards, and other citizens of the land. Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Larry Dixon, Elisabeth Waters, and Mercedes Lackey all continue to draw upon their creative talent to expand the mythology of Velgarth and Valdemar.
Now I know for a lot of people anthology can' be headache inducing if all the stories don't work for them. I know some people that if they even dislike one story, the whole collection is ruined for them. Thankfully I am not like that, not that I didn't enjoy every story in this one, because I did for one reason or another. For the most part this was a collection of 15 wonderful stories that allowed me to revisit my favorite fictional land. Now I didn't love them all, but there were none that fell flat for me this time around.
What I absolutely loved this time around was that quite a few stories allowed me to revisit some fantastic characters introduced in other anthologies. I got to visit with Jem and Ree in the stories "Heart's Choice" by Kate Paulk and "Heart's Own" by Sarah A. Hoyt. They are a couple of young men, one completely human the other a changechild, who are trying to forge a life together after the Mage Storms. They continue to face challenges, not only because they are shaych (gay) but because of Ree's obvious difference in appearance. What I love about them is that despite the prejudice and the odds, they are slowly building a life with a new daughter and a relationship, if somewhat strained, with Jem's father, the local lord. They face more difficulties in these two stories, but by the end they are stronger for it and even more committed to each other.
The other two stories that really stood out for me, were "Unintended Consequences" by Elizabeth A. Vaughn and "The Time We Have" by Tanya Huff. The first was the shortest story in the collection, about nine pages long, but it had one of the strongest emotional punches for me. Lady Cerararatha's husband was one of the Rethwellan lords that tried to assassinate Queen Selenay and sit her husband on the throne. Faced with the shame and possible execution as a traitor, Lady Cera's mind instantly goes into overload. Will she be allowed to to stay in Valdemar? Will she be sent back home to Rethwellan, where she would face an unknown future? Or is something else in store for her that she can never predict? When the two women, one the wife of a traitor the other the queen of the land, finally come face to face, they are connected by the betrayal of their husbands.
In "The Time We Have" we find out how lifebonding doesn't always go the way you would want it to. Herald Jors is riding circuit when he is caught up in struggle against bandits that have been pillaging and killing their way across Valdemar. One of those bandits happens to be a beautiful young woman that for one reason or another Jors is not able to get out of his head. It's by going after her that the Herald is able to end the reign of terror that the bandits have been spreading, but it's also through her that he suffers the biggest loss of his life. Herald Jors and Mirgayne were destined to be lifebonded, but the bonding is cut off way before it's time.
Where "Heart's Choice" and "Heart's Love" helps keep alive that helpless romantic side of me, "Unintended Consequences" and "The Time We Have" broke my heart and made sad for the characters involved and for anyone who has been caught up in a relationship out of their control. I think both are feelings and situations that most of us find ourselves in at one time or another. We have all come out with scars, but it's that true belief in love that allows us to find our peace and strength.