Anyone who knows me even the slightest bit, knows that I'm a humongous fan of Mercedes Lackey. I believe I have already done three of her characters for my FFC posts. Honestly, I could probably do a whole years worth of her characters. Today though, I'm going to continue to share another one of my favorite female fantasy characters. Kerowyn appears in quite a few of the books, but it's in her own book, By the Sword, that she truly shines.
When Kerowyn is first introduced as a character, she is the teenage daughter of a minor nobleman who has been running the keep since the death of her mother. Her brother is getting married to a young lady, Dierna, and it's on their wedding night that Kerowyn's life is changed forever. During the wedding feast, raiders enter the keep and slay her father. They also kill or injure every male in the holding and kidnap Dierna. The whole messy situation was engineered by Dierna's Uncle who would gladly use the incident to take the holding and title for himself. Kerowyn, who has never been satisfied by the life she had been leading, is the only able body person with the gumption to go after the bandits and rescue Dierna. She goes to her grandmother, the sorceress Kethryveris for help, which is given to her in the way of advice and in the sword Need. The sword is semi-sentient and responds to a woman's need for help. It gives a Mage a bandmaster's skill and a swords woman an ability to ward off magical attacks.
Once the rescue is complete, Kerowyn is treated as a hero but also as someone to be avoided. She no longer fits in at the keep and goes to her grandmother and Kethry's partner, Tarma, for help. They train her to be a warrior and when that training is done set her up with a mercenary company, The Skybolts. She stays with them for many years, proving herself to be a capable leader and fighter. When she is separated from her group during a dangerous mission, she stumbles upon and rescues (for an agreement of pay of course) the Herald Eldan who was being tortured by a group of Karsite fanatics. The two of them are instantly attracted and quickly fall in love. Love never runs smoothly though, once she realizes that the Karsite's are tracking them by following the magic trail left by Need, she sneaks away and draws them off so Eldan can return to Valdemar.
Once she returns back to her company, through leadership and stubbornness she keeps them out of the hands of a horrible Captain and takes charge of The Skybolts herself. Through ten years of leadership, the mercenary company grows, prospers, and gains an almost immaculate reputation. She helps secure the successful completion of a major battle that the Kingdom of Rethwellen was fighting against Karse. She meets up with her former school mate (Kethry and Tarma's school of course), Darren, who just happens to be the brother of the current King. She accompanies him to court and it's there that she is brought into the Kingdom of Valdemar. At court, two Valdemar Heralds arrive and beg for help against the war that Karse is waging on them. Reluctant to help, the King is about to politely decline, when Kerowyn reminds everyone about a large debt that Rethwellen owes Valdemar, a debt the Heralds did not know about.
The Heralds not only receive the help they need from Darren, who leads the Rehtwellen troops, but the hire The Skybolts (on the advice of Herald Eldan who has been trying to get Kerowyn into Valdemar for years now). Once they are engaged in the final battle, both Darren and Kerowyn loose their mounts and are chose by Companions, Kerowyn by the reincarnation of the long dead Herald Mage Savil Ashkevron. With no way out of becoming a Herald, Kerowyn remains in Valdemar and becomes a valued member of the Kingdom. She eventually becomes the Weapons Master, who is charged with teaching Herald trainees to weapons work in order to defend themselves. Her mercenary company chooses to remain with her and quickly become a valuable component of Valdemar's defense mechanism.
Kerowyn, who happens to be one of the strongest and mouthiest characters I've had the priviledge to read about, appears in several other books and is a proven Herald who can be counted on to do what needs to be done. She is also one of only two Heralds that refuses to wear white as it presents an obvious target to those trying to kill them. She is a lot of fun as a character and every time I get to re meet her in a book is a treasure.
One good thing about Mercedes Lackey is that she also writes a lot of music that goes along with her books. Many of her characters are Bards so it makes sense that many of the events that take place in the books would have songs written about them. "Kerowyn's Ride" is a popular composition that tells the story of Kerowyn's rescuing of Dierna.