Arrows of the Queen is probably Mercedes Lackey's first published work, or close to it, and that shows; although it's well written for a first novel, it has the rough edges of inexperience, and a certain naive simplicity that renders it eminently suitable for children (really, young teenagers) and sometimes less engrossing for adults. All her works tend to have a touch of those qualities, but Arrows of the Queen is an explicitly escapist fantasy: a young girl's dream of magical horses to cure her loneliness and carry her away from all her troubles. The cliche is so thick that I'm always surprised at how well the actual story is told within that framework.
It should be noted that, although first published, Arrows of the Queen does not represent the first Valdemar novel chronologically. That honor goes to The Last Herald Mage trilogy (for the kingdom of Valdemar itself), or the Silver Griffon trilogy (for the world of Velgarth). Nevertheless, this novel is the proper place to start.
Imagine a young girl, living in a repressive and distinctly anti-feminist medieval culture, whose only escape from the daily drudgery of her existance is reading fantasy novels. What would such a person dream up? Start with a magical horse to carry her away from her troubles, magical powers to make her a special person, a community that will accept and trust her, and an important position in the government to make her feel useful. Now, imagine it's all real -- and you have the kingdom of Valdemar.
The hero of this novel, Talia, is Chosen as a Herald of Valdemar -- and not just any Herald, but Queen's Own Herald. She must take up both her training as a Herald and her tasks as Queen's Own, advisor and counselor to the Queen, while adjusting to the changes in her own life and surviving the assassins bent on making that life short indeed.
Don't expect too much from this novel, since it exists primarily to set up the sequels (both the two direct sequels, and the larger Valdemar story arc). The prose is light, the characters and plot are simple; there's not much emotional commitment necessary. Read it quickly without shame, and you'll enjoy the experience.
This entry was published Sat Aug 06 22:15:06 CDT 2005 by Matthew
and last updated 2018-06-27 01:13:35.0.