marks Mercedes Lackey's return to the kingdom of Valdemar, and introduces us to a portion of the otherwise unchronicled reign of King Theran. The book's principle figure is Valdemar's most powerful herald, Laven Firestorm, who comes of age during Valdemar's war with its long-time enemy, the kingdom of Karse.
Sixteen-year-old Laven Chitward's world is turned upside down when his mother is selected as a textile guild representative in the small rural community where he was raised. Moving to the capital city of Haven rips him away from his friends and boyhood pleasures, and nothing in Haven seems to fill that void. Unable to fit into the nouveau riche society, and unwilling to follow his parents into the textile guild, he finds himself adrift and depressed. His father enrolls him in a special school that will allow him to choose a trade that interests him, rather than be apprenticed against his will. There he finds himself terrorized and tortured by the boys in the sixth form until, with an awful roar, the gift of fire awakens deep within him and extracts revenge for his sadistic treatment.
With the help of a unique herald, an empathetic healer and a special companion, Laven soon learns to keep his gift under control and eventually, to direct his awful firestorm as far as he can see. When the kingdom of Karse attacks, Laven is hurried to the border to assist his king and country by repelling the invasion. During the final battle Laven earns the name Firestorm and becomes one of the most famous heralds in the history of Valdemar.
Brightly Burning is a distinct and unforgettable coming-of-age story. With a compelling cast of characters and lively dialog, Mercedes Lackey once again demonstrates her adroit mastery of fantasy fiction. --Robert Gately
From Publishers Weekly
In the latest addition to the Valdemar fantasy series (Arrow's Fall; Winds of Fate), Lackey returns to the capitol city of Haven, where young Lavan Chitward has just arrived with his family. Although the move signals a higher Guild standing for his ambitious parents, Lan is very unhappy to leave his home. His misery increases when he is sent to merchants' school, where the oldest students use their job of keeping order as an excuse to bully and steal from the younger children. As Lan's fear and frustration grow, he begins suffering terrible headaches--and around him, things mysteriously start to catch fire. When at last the older boys push him too far, a huge conflagration erupts, killing four of the bullies. Lan is terrified by his newly discovered power, until he is chosen by the Companion Kalira, one of the magical horselike creatures who work with the Heralds of Valdemar. Kalira can control Lan's dangerous power, and this is vital, as Lan's power will be needed, for another war is brewing with the nearby Karsites. Lan must learn to channel his power and anger against the coming enemy without destroying his friends--or himself. This tale of adolescent anger and revenge is not only deeply disturbing but flawed by Lackey's unclear message about the destructive nature of rage and her careless attempt to work out what it means for Lan's closest friend to be of a different age, gender and species than Lan. (May)
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