Monday, March 21, 2016
Crucible edited by Mercedes Lackey
Synopsis From Back Cover:
Valdemar's protectors are the ancient order of Heralds, trained as emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counselors, and warriors. 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. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike 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 peach and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
Now, eighteen authors Join Mercedes Lackey, adding their own unique voice to the Heralds, Bards, and Healers of this well-loved fantasy realm.
Journey with Fiona Patton, Jennifer Brozek, Elizabeth A. Vaughn, Elisabeth Waters, and others in eighteen original stories, including a brand-new novella by Mercedes Lackey, to the magical land of Valdemar where:
A Herald must thwart a secession plot helmed by a pretender to the throne...
A nobleman and an heiress work together to dodge their own arranged marriage...
A mercenary, after her partner dies, completes their contract alone, and is drawn into a world of intrigue in the process...
Valdemar is my second home. For some of you it's Hogwarts, others get lost in Narnia, and some of you like to wander around Middle Earth. Don't get me wrong, I like those places too, but there is something about Valdemar, and it's surrounding lands, regardless of the time period, that feels like home. It's the place I go to when I just need to hunker down and recharge.
When I'm not in the mood for a full length adventures, it's the anthologies that I turn to. They are filled with quick little short stories so I don't have to invest a lot of time, seeing a long story line through to the end. I can read one, or a few of them at a time, getting in my fix, but not taxing my busy schedule. I hate when I get to a really good, or intense part of a book, to only be forced to put it down due to time constraints. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more frustrating when it comes to reading.
In the past, I've recommended these anthologies to people who are unfamiliar with Valdemar and it's denizens, but I think I'm going to change my mind on that one. After finishing the last story in Crucible, I realized a couple of things, or at least I put two and two together. These books really are for the fans. Fans who are already familiar with the timelines, peoples, and lands mentioned within their pages are going to get more out of these. The stories jump around too much. There is not sense of time or place among them, so if you aren't already familiar with the basics, you will quickly get lost. And being lost in a foreign land, is never fun.
Crucible is the ninth such anthology, and I've read every single one of them. The first three were devoured preblogging days, so there are no reviews for them, but I'm such I'll correct that over time. Like any collection of short stories, Crucible has some that I like more than others, but they all collectively add to the richness of Valdemar. As in previous collections, there are stories that continue form earlier anthologies, and a whole host of new characters to explore. Each of them, including the ones I didn't fall in love with, makes my second home, all that much more real to me. Each story, each character, adds another layer, another thread, shaping Valdemar into a more concrete place in my imagination, which in turn makes it an even better place to escape to.