May 17, 2011

Review: Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Arrows of the Queen ( The Heralds of Valdemar, Book 1) Arrows of the Queen (Arrows of the Queen, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queens's own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.

But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason which could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the queen's heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen's own foes.


Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, and other popular male authors where about it for Epic Fantasy exposure when I was first starting out in the genre. So it came as a shock when the allure of a female voice was so addicting after being bombarded with male writing—in fact Lackey was the first female EF author I had ever read back when.  It was a shock to read a book that actually had emotions and plots that worked with them.  Of course the idea of mystical horses that can mind-link to humans and have the same intelligence (if not smarter) of their riders is any little or grown-up girls dream. 

The horses are mystical—maybe even divine—creatures that protect the kingdom in more ways then even their Heralds.  Considering their Heralds act as enforcers of the law, spies, ambassadors, negotiators, warriors, assassins, and so much more—it's pretty impressive.

Talia comes from a repressive society of Holder Kin, that believe women are no better then housewives. The villages are basically polygamist settlements where women marry at thirteen, or are vowed into silence as priestesses.  Talia is immediately relatable as a young girl who dreams of more and finds her escape in the few books that she can get her hands on.  So when she's confronted with an arranged marriage, I was only too willing to follow along Talia's escape into the world of Heralds and Companions.  Where outside of Holder Kin society women are equal to men. 

Lackey's "emo reputation" probably comes from the fact that she is not afraid to deal with negative emotions. Talia has been repressed by her abusive upbringing, she suffers from low self-esteem and doubts.  Heralds are asked to justly serve the kingdom and set aside personal feelings and prejudice. Talia is also Queen's Own, which is a position as the main advisor and friend to the current ruler.  Even though Talia's Companion makes her Queen's Own by picking her, this book is still a journey on Talia truly becoming a person to fit that role. 

Life-bonded couples—much like soul mates—are a favorite topic of negative opinions from other reviewers. While some characters state it was love at first sight, the relationships don't start then. Lackey is all about character growth and nothing is ever easy, so don't be afraid about mushy-gooey soul mates spoiling the storyline.

Arrows of the Queen may only be a 230 page book, but it covers more story then most 700 page books. Lackey's writing style is easy to get into, and is classy enough to forget the few typo issues at the beginning. Even though some characters don't even get a page appearance, as they're only brought up in conversation, you know who they are and what happens to them—even caring about them.

This is my third time visiting this book, and it still manages to enchant me.  It covers the training years of Talia, being the time honored tale of escape from the mundane lives we live to something incredible.  Political intrigue adds flavor to the pages as the current Queen has old and new enemies who want her gone. Leading to attempts on Talia's life and the brainwashing of the Heir. The cast of characters here will become well loved friends that you constantly look out for each book.

Sexual Content:  Homosexual themes for some cast members and secondary characters clearly have sex lives. There are some mature scenes where Talia tries to get involved sexually—but it ends up being rather comedic and nothing happens. All in all nothing truly outrageous.

Rating – 5/5 Fabulous, a beautiful obsession!

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Amazon: Arrows of the Queen ( The Heralds of Valdemar, Book 1)

Goodreads: Arrows of the Queen


Under the Covers said...

Great review. I love EF, but I have to confess I have only read (good) epic fantasy by men! As a woman I am kind of disgusted with myself about that though. I will have to try out this book and change my mind!


Shera (Book Whispers) said...

That's really common, so no worries.

Once I found out about all the goodies in female EF, I never looked back. It's really rare that I even pick up male authors anymore.

Under the Covers said...

I read mostly female authors as well, in PNR UF and HR, just EF I can never find any! I have tried a few with horrible results, I think it put me off!


Shera (Book Whispers) said...

Who did you try??

I would suggest Kate Forsyth and Elizabeth Kerner to start you off.