Sunday, February 8, 2015
No True Way edited by Mercedes Lackey
Synopsis From Back Cover:
An ancient order of Valdemar's protectors, the Heralds are trained to be emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counselors, and warriors. these heroes are drawn from all across the kingdom, 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. Sought and chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic creatures, a powerful partnership that supports each Herald as he or she rides circuit throughout the kingdom. Heralds of Valdemar are charged with protecting the peach,and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
Now, sixteen authors join Mercedes Lackey, adding their own Heralds, Bards, and Healers to the well-loved fantasy realm of Valdemar.
A father and daughter circuit he kingdom together, after a Companion offers to accompany the child.... Twin brother and sister Heralds are stalked by a mysterious danger.... A widowed, middle-aged mother is unexpectedly Chosen by a Companion.... A Healer with Animal Mindspeech must save a village from a nightmarish beast....
This is the eighth anthology of short stories set in the kingdom of Valdemar and it's surrounding countries, and I'm already looking forward to the ninth. If you guys have been reading this blog for any length or time, you know that I love Valdemar the way others love Hogwarts, Narnia, or Middle Earth. If there was a teleportation portal that connected our two worlds, I would gladly go across. It's the world I escape to when I'm needing to forget what is going on around me. It's my second home, and I never miss an opportunity to visit.
What I love about these anthologies is that other authors get to add their imprint to the Valdemar. They introduce us to new characters, some of which come back in several anthologies. Some of the characters are from the past, enriching Valdemar's history, others are from the present, striving to make sure Valdemar has a future. It's a way to make the world all that much concrete and vibrant, and I appreciate all the effort that goes into it.
While I loved all sixteen of the stories that were presented this time around, the one that really stuck out for me was "Written in the Wind" by Jennifer Brozek. It's one of the shorter stories in the collection, and it's small in scope, but it's so powerfully moving, especially if you are familiar with the Vanyel and everything going on in his time period. Vanyel doesn't make an appearance in this story, nor is he mentioned, but if you have read The Last Herald Mage trilogy, which I think everyone should, then you now this piece of Valdemar's history. Someone is setting out to destroy the Herald Mage's and rob Valdemar of their strength. It's not noticed at first since the casualty rate has always been high with Herald Mages, but it starts to take it's toll. Fewer and fewer youngsters with the Mage ability are being chosen, and nobody seems to know why. It seems as if someone is targeting the kids before they even have a chance to be chosen, killing them off, one by one. This story is about Orun and Milla, twin brother and sister who not only have a Mage gift, but seem to have ForeSight as well. For years now they have know they will be chosen on their birthday, and from that day onward, there are two paths. One of them leads to a rich long life, the other to a short one ending in violent death. Sadly it's that second one that find these two young people, and wipes them out before they even make it to Haven. What I found remarkable about them,,and what I admire about anyone who is chosen to be a Herald, is the willingness to do what is needed of them, despite the dangers to themselves. These two children knew they were probably going to die before they were even going to be able to start training, but they stepped up, got on the backs of their Companions, and set off to Haven in the hope that they could at least let others know what is going on. They are remarkable kids, and this is really the first time we get a glimpse at what could have been.
While I do think you guys should start your explorations of Valdemar with the Last Herald Mage triogy; Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price, the anthologies are a good way to step the toes in the water, and test out Valdemar for yourselves.