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Exile's Valor (Valdemar) Hardcover – November 4, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Making love and not war is the theme of Lackey's entertaining high fantasy, the second in a trilogy (after 2002's Exile's Honor) within her long-running Valdemar series-not that love is any less of a battlefield. Alberich of Karse, the outsider Herald, must watch over the newly enthroned queen, Selenay, as he trains young Heralds by day and chases down treasonous plots in the alleys and shady locales of Haven by night. Along the way, his recruit in the arts of undercover work, Herald-Chronicler-Second Myste, provides him with her own ideas of work under covers. And his Companion, the intelligent, mind-linked equine Kantor, keeps Alberich honest with a sardonic sense of humor. The recently bereaved Selenay, too, faces her own challenge in the court of love, first from anxious councilors trying to arrange a royal marriage, then from the too-good-to-be-true Prince Karathanelan of Rethwellan. Will good triumph in the end? That answer will have to wait for the next book, as the master villain remains unknown. But it would take a poor gambler to bet against a set of characters so obviously beloved by their author, despite her inflicting a Germanic speech pattern on poor Alberich, who often sounds like Yoda. Long-time readers will appreciate learning more of favorite characters. Newcomers will definitely feel as though they have walked in on the middle of a gossipy conversation.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The sequel to Exile's Honor [BKL S 15 02] continues the adventures of Herald Alberich, former Karsite captain turned herald of Valdemar. After the Tedrel War, few, if any, doubt Alberich's loyalty to his adopted country, which is just as well, for the death of King Sendar during that war put his daughter Selenay, who had barely finished herald's training, on the throne of Valdemar. She had expected years of apprenticeship in ruling at her father's side, but she is now queen of a country that, while victorious, is weakened by the bloody war. Furthermore, her council and some of her heralds see her as too inexperienced and badly in need of a consort. Alberich is now the Collegium weapons master, a job that includes keeping track of Valdemar's enemies, internal and external. What with court intrigues, foreign envoys, and Selenay's grief, Alberich's duties are no less time-consuming than were his wartime responsibilities. A must for Valdemar fans. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Similarities between the two duologies (SPOILERS):
1) Both main characters are foreigners.
2) Both had odd childhoods.
3) Both are heralds of whom others are suspicious.
4) Both become spies.
5) Both are involved in a sporting event. Mags (CC) plays Kirball and Alberich helps to organize Hurlee. (BTW, that SHUT UP I DON'T CARE comment another reviewer wrote about Hurlee was *so* correct.)
6) Both spend an awful lot of time talking to either the King/Queen or the King's Own/Queen's Own.
The CC books are a much better read. For one, there's far, FAR fewer continuity issues in CC in part because all it has to deal with is the Last Herald Mage series. It is actually interesting to wonder how, for example, the trainees ended up doing all their own chores as demonstrated in the Arrows trilogy when Mags thinks that the Heralds wouldn't be so helpless if they learned, say, how to cook. For another, there's no teeth-grittingly annoying Mary Sue character. (And for the other reviewer - I've been a Lackey fan since 1988 or 1989 and she's been "Misty" since the 1980s, or before. Well before Dixon. It was a camp counselor nickname.) Obviously Myste the Collegium Chronicler is Mercedes Lackey. I did not mind in Exile's Honor because it *did* address the point of whether a person who was obviously unable to be a competent fighter could be a Herald, though having Lackey elevate herself to Herald status was a bit, um, presumptuous. However, having the Mary Sue character date Alberich in Valor read just a little too much like a masturbatory fantasy. Ick. (tvtropes.com mentions how both Myste and Diana Tregarde are both Mercedes Lackey - it's an interesting read.)
Also, what is up with her characters becoming spies? It seems unreasonable that the Weaponsmaster would spend half his nights spying - having Skif do that in To Take a Thief was much, much more plausible as he had the time, the street smarts, and was more expendable. It equally seems unreasonable that a feral child (Mags) with an obvious accent would become a spy within his first six months living within four walls, much less in a city of tens of thousands, no matter how deus ex machina his Companion's memory-transfer skills are and how much attention the King's Own (another bad choice for spymaster) gave him. I was starting to get this creepy vibe that Lackey was saying, "hey, folks, you can still be pristinely good (Herald-like) if you spy on your friends and report back to your betters. Leave the moral quandaries up to them."
And the sports? Yes, it's nice to have sports in Valdemar and it was fun to hear they have a form of soccer (in CC). However, Harry Potter did that and we don't really need to be treated to it - twice - in the meta-series. Why did Kirball not stick around? Why did Lackey keep reinventing the wheel? It got boring. I did not want a play-by-play of either sport, thanks muchly. I get that Hurlee was important toward setting up the Queen's rescue in Valor ... but there are many other ways she could have addressed that without bringing in a complicated and needlessly involved, plot-consuming sport.
Last, to address the editing ... some authors, when they become reliable best-seller writers, can demand that they not be edited. Laurel K. Hamilton is one (see her reviews for more details). I suspect Lackey has reached that status, which might explain why her books have become a little bit tedious and full of error.
The main character in this book is Alberich and I can relate to him in sooo many ways! Questioning right from wrong, sentence syntax (I'm trying to learn multiple languages and he is spot on with his frustrations). Big tough guy with a golden heart that he keeps carefully hidden behind a stern demeanor.
This book to me is the foundation to a lot of timeline mistakes you'll find later on. You learn that Elspeth was born rough two years after the Tedrel Wars, and if you pay attention to her age you learn that the books often try to pass off that war as far longer ago than when it actually happened.
Alberich is one of Lackey's most interesting characters, and it is a pleasure to read from his point of view. Also intriguing were the sections written from the young queen Selenay's POV. One of my favorite aspects of Lackey's writing is how, over the body of her work, she will illustrate a character or situation from multiple points of view. She will show how someone acts in a certain situation and what other characters think about it, then somewhere else reiterate that situation from a first-person point of view.
The Exile series ranks up with the Mage Winds series (which follows it chronologically) in my estimation, but has so far avoided the loony bits (mainly to do with Falconsbane) that crop up in that series and that spring into full flower in the Mage Storms series that follow it. (Seriously - recruiting ghosts of dead famous Heralds and their lovers to help a multicultural cadre of random people uncover a buried magical key that will save the world from a mage storm echoing backward in time? A bit too ensemble-cast for me, although I do like the bits with the Karsite boy.)
Sorry, let me get back on track. Being female, the touches of romance in this book are also very appealing. If you're a guy, why are you reading this stuff anyway? Just kidding - but now you're forewarned so you don't have to roll your eyes at the mushy bits.
I liked this book very much and will certainly be as excited about the eventual release of the third book as I was about the first two.