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Brightly Burning (Daw Books Collectors, No. 1150) (Valdemar) Hardcover – May 1, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Brightly Burning 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)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: DAW Hardcover; First Edition edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886778891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886778897
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on June 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not one of those readers who thought "Owlflight" and its sequels were boring. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and the whole Valdemar series for that matter. "Brightly Burning," however, is quite amazing, a real standout on the level of the Last Herald Mage and Queen's Own trilogies. Mercedes Lackey is at her storytelling best here. And her talent for creating memorable characters we care about is as good as ever. This tale centers around Lavan, the 16-year-old son of a cloth merchant and a needleworker, who is sent by his parents to what proves to be the school-from-hell. It's dominated by a gang of vicious, sadistic bullies, and it's where Lavan's rare and dangerous Gift manifests itself. We meet many well-portrayed, likable characters: young Owyn, Lavan's ally against the school thugs; Herald Pol, Lavan's mentor; Herald Trainee Tuck and his delightful family; King Theran; the Companion Kalira. If you enjoyed the stories of Vanyel and Talia, you'll probably like the story of Lavan Firestorm too.
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Format: Hardcover
Brightly Burning tells the legend of Herald Lavan Firestorm of the Heralds of Valdemar. The background is carefully delineated for the tragic tale of young Lavan, the epic hero of the magical kingdom of Valdemar. He begins as an unhappy boy in the Chitward family, textile merchants recently moved from countryside to urban Haven due to their profitable cloth and needlework trade. Lavan is uncomfortable with his family's expectations of him, but he is truly tormented in his new school experiences at Haven. This unleashes a lethal display of his unusual talent (fire starting) and ultimately leads to his discovery and enrollment with other young Heralds at the Collegium. Key to his survival and discovery is his being Chosen by his special protector and Companion, Kalira, the white telepathic horse/Mage who declares she loves him and will risk her life to help train him. Pol, the Collegium tutor is sympathetic to the unique needs of his terrifying protege, and he is also the Chosen of Kalira's father, Satiran, who wonders at her Choice: "Children grow up and make their own paths...It's not for us to force them out of the roads they pick, however much we might wish to. The Choice is made; now let's deal with it (p. 141)." Pol and Satiran, Kalira, Elenor (a Healer), and Tuck, Lan's trusted sturdy friend among the Heralds in training - all become the network of trust that helps anchor, train, comfort and stableize Lan. The story moves quickly but unhurriedly to its natural conclusion, a horrific mad martyr's end for Lavan and an enduring legacy of protection to Valdemar from their demonic enemies the Karsites.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I was quite disappointed with the latest Herald books (The Owl Series, and the previous Elspeth-centered trilogy). They contained too many boring descriptive passages, and not enough action.
Action's back in _Brightly Burning_. This is more like the _Arrows_ trilogy or _The Last Herald-Mage_; good, fun fantasy reading with interesting characters.
Recommended, even if you didn't like her last few efforts.
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By A Customer on May 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Well, Mercedes Lackey is definitely getting better. The Pawn/Promise/Price trilogy is still the best of the Valdemar books, however.
It looks like she wrote this one herself, rather than co-writing with her husband. I don't want to insult her hubby or anything but her books are Always better when he is not co-authoring.
I was rather upset with what she did with this character, or at least, that she did it so quickly. Three quarters of the book were used to make you get to know and enjoy the character, though it did go mildly slow through some of that. And then BAM, he was off to war, etc. I won't say more as I don't want to spoil it for folks. I just think this could have been a three book series like Pawn/Promise/Price was. I suppose, though, it might've been too much like that series if it had been.
This is a good Valdemar book, but I don't think it's quite back up to the quality of the Vanyel / Arrows or even Mage Storm books.
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Format: Hardcover
The plot of Brightly Burning is basic: gifted but misunderstood child leaves home, joins the Heralds and saves the country, more or less in that order. It isn't a bad storyline, the same that made the Vanyel and Talia books so successful. In this case it's about Lavan Firestorm, the most Gifted herald in Valdemar history.
Brightly Burning begins with Lavan's incompatibility with his merchant family, and the bullying he faces when he is sent to the city school. (Sound familiar already?). After being pushed to the limits by his tormentors, his firestarting abilities come to the fore. The story from that point on is one smooth ride to war and eternal glory, albeit with some bumps.
Lackey has never exactly been lauded with critical acclaim, but she's reached the point where the word Valdemar can and does sell novels. Her strongest point has always been with her characters--real, likeable characters that breathe life and verve into cliched plots and an otherwise standard fantasy world. In this respect, Brightly Burning falls flat. Lavan fails to catch the reader's sympathy. Instead of being angst-ridden and tormented by his problems and abilities, he comes across as shallow and self-centered. Lavan wants to be Vanyel. He wants to be tormented and compassionate and sympathetic, but he just comes off flat and unrealistic. He appears no have no reason for existing outside of being in this book--which he doesn't. The only reason for his existence is his being the main character of the book.
I saw no reason for this book to be written other than financial demand. Misty has nothing new to say about Valdemar in this book, or even about life in general; the same old themes are reiterated again. We don't even learn anything new about the Heralds; everything said has been said before.
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