Book Review: Passages by Mercedes Lackey

February 3, 2021 Book Reviews 2

Book Review: Passages  by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Passages by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Fantasy
Published by DAW Books on November 24, 2020
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene

An anthology of nineteen short stories make up this fourteenth installment in the Tales of Valdemar fantasy series for middle-grade readers that revolves around Lackey’s world of Valdemar and its Chosen and Companions.

The Series

Some of the writers have their own subseries going on within the Tales.

“Shadows and Reflections” (Petril)
“Rising to the Occasion” (Sparrow)
“The More Things Change, the More They Change More” (Dann Family of Haven)
“The Choice Makes the Chosen” (Wil & Leila)
“Expected Consequences” (Lady Cera of Sandbriar)
“Temper” (Kerowyn)
“A Nursery of Raccoons” (Lena)

The Stories

Charlotte E. English’s “Roads Less Traveled”

It’s a sad tale of a family of peddlers and the antipathy they encounter. It’s a good lesson that even good people aren’t perfect while people who have done bad things can always change in the future.

Characters
Rosia is newly orphaned, called a thief. Lilan is a Companion. Danna is a Herald.

Anthea Sharp’s “Ruler’s Gift”

It’s a case of following one’s passion and one’s abilities, until Tarek’s father is dying. It’s time Tarek came home and took up his rightful place.

Characters
Healer Tarek Strand is reluctantly headed home to Strand Keep on the border with Hardorn. He’s in a relationship with Bard Shandara Tem. Master Ardrun is Tarek’s mentor and a master healer.

Elen Strand is Tarek’s younger sister, who’s been doing the Keep’s books since Dellin passed. Lord Strand, his father, despises Gifts. Belinda is another sister and expecting her third. Mira and Bennet are Belinda’s other children.

Jennifer Brozek’s “Rising to the Occasion”

It’s all about integrity whether you’re creating a product or being true to your employer.

Characters
Tressa, Soren, and Inga are apprentice bakers to Mariah, the head baker, at the Rise and Shine Bakery in Haven.

Herald Arden loves Tressa’s cheese biscuits. Jala and Enri are the head chefs at the palace. The Temple feeds people.

Elisabeth Waters’ “A Nursery of Raccoons”

Lena and her love are setting up a daughter house to the Temple with the intention of relieving the crowded main Temple. It’s a move that will tear lovers apart and point up the lack of God’s Peace.

It’s rather silly with a number of disjointed scenes.

Characters
Lady Magdalena, a.k.a. Lena, has married Keven, and they have their own estate in the country. Dexter is Lena’s favorite raccoon; Alma is his friend. Algott, a member of the Brotherhood of the Bereaved, had been cruel to Lena’s finches and is now Lady Magdalena’s game warden. Guildmaster Jurgen. Johan is the simple son of the milliner and a poacher.

Maja has a Gift of Animal Mindspeech and had been living in the Temple of Thenoth, Lord of the Beasts. Now she’ll be in charge of the new daughter house. Those who came with her as staff include Stina, who is too attracted to the cute boys and slacks off as much as possible; Brothers Magnus and Thomas; Britta; Mathilda; Nalini; the unthinking Anders; Edvin; Hugo; and, Karl.

The Prior sent them. Arvid has Animal Mindspeech and has remained in Haven. Sven-August‘s mother wants Lena as a bride to her son.

Kristin Schwengel’s “Tables Turned”

It’s on the way home from a family visit that Rinton suddenly collapses, later discovering his Gift.

Characters
Herald Rinton travels with Kiyan, a giant crow, and his Companion, Linx. Those Demon-Riders with their White Demons…! Mirideh is a Healer Trainee visiting Grandmother Fidesa in Karse. Rolan is another Companion still in Haven. Selenay is queen.

Elizabeth Vaughan’s “Expected Consequences”

I did enjoy this one…I always enjoy catching up with Lady Cera and the progress she makes. In this one, a number of characters are learning life lessons and not all of them are happy about it, lol.

And I think Cera’s right: celebrate every victory and don’t worry about perfection.

Characters
Lady “Cera” Ceraratha of Sandbriar is a widow struggling to turn her estate to profit and make life easier for her people. Bella, Marga, and Athelnor appear to be staff. Master Jebren is a master apothecary. Master Xenos has a lousy personality and is here to heal Herald Helgara. Stonas is Helgara’s Companion. Merchant Hurlbert stops by with news. Emerson had been a would-be suitor and now weaves on the estate. Withrin Ashkevron seems to be the current chirra herder. Gareth is in charge of the Guard sent from Haven. Ager had been the old Lord’s chirra herder. He’s in love with Alaina, Cera’s handmaiden. Old Meron may be crippled but he keeps an eye on the barns. Young Meron is helping with the shearing.

Lord Thelkenpothonar “Thelken“, a Rethwellan, is Sinmonkelrath’s father and Cera’s deceased husband, “Sinmon“. Sinmon had been a supporter and sycophant of Prince Karathanelan.

In Haven, Naritha is the Assistant Dean at the Healer’s Collegium. Selenay is queen.

Dayle A. Dermatis’ “Burrowing Owl, Hidden No More”

It’s the tavern where the Artificer students gather to debate, work, and exchange ideas. Interests in which Kya passionately wants to share. I love Kya’s tenacity, and it proves that you can get what you want if you’re determined enough.

Characters
Anders and Cosa own the Golden Compass Tavern where Kya, a.k.a. Burrow or Bur, is a waitress interested in inventing, of efficiency, and organizing. Herald Mieran is searching; Frind is her Companion. Masters Qualla and Ularo are Artificers.

Davvi and two others are bad men.

Paige L. Christie’s “The Dream Seeker”

Whoa, what a negative! It’s a small village that’s dying from a lack of hope. Where a young girl dreams of glory. Where she learns a valuable lesson.

Characters
Teig, the girl who cried wolf, and Hostess Mero work at the inn, which Wilhelm owns. Gwenline is a bard who sings there. Hest is a returning guest. Pekki had been with him on his last trip.

Old Belton used to be a Road Guard who had met Herald Talia, the Queen’s Own.

Louisa Swann’s “Shadows and Reflections”

This tale continues Petril’s adventure and has unexpected results. A sweet tale on which I hope Swann continues to elaborate.

Characters
Petril is a nine-year-old young man who can understand animals and dreamed of being a hero in Pathways: “Boggles and Spies”, 11. Now he wonders. Bella is the horse Petril rescued; Sunfish is her foal. Herald Mira has been Petril’s traveling companion; Bryn is Mira’s Companion.

Kata’shin’a’in is a town of ancient buildings and colorful tents. Tari is a Shin’a’in girl from whose herd Kendira had been stolen. Sharana has the best cakes. The shaman and D’shayna are Kal’enedral.

Lord Fancy Pants has been jailed.

Michele Lang’s “Flying the Nest”

Continues the adventures of Sparrow and Cloudbrother as they progress on to a different mission in life. Lang does a recap of Cloudbrother’s achievements.

Characters
K’Valdemar Vale has been Sparrow‘s home where she learned under Roark, a hertasi, of healing with her primary gift one of love. The blind Herald Cloudbrother had been Chosen by Abilard. Their son, Thistle “Tis” has just been Chosen by Milin. Keeth is Sparrow’s big brother and now a Captain of the Guards in Haven. Longfall had been Cloudbrother’s home village.

Zeth had been the demon Cloudbrother vanquished in the Forest of Sorrows.

Brigid Collins’ “Snowbound”

It’s loneliness. One of loss and homesickness yet still full of compassion. This should be interesting for the future as Marli and Kimfer unexpectedly discover a bond.

Characters
Herald Marli is bound for Shaded Vale. Taren is her Companion. Herald Selte, a mute, had taught Marli of weathersenses. Barret had been the miller’s son she’d been meant to marry.

Holderbred, Kimfer is without family or support and desperate to survive the winter. Holders believe Heralds cannot be trusted.

Fiona Patton’s “The More Things Change, the More They Change More”

It’s a growth to which Padriec has looked forward until it arrives. It brings yet more growth, of a more intimate sort, which will upset everything in the Dann family.

Patton certainly leads us on for quite a bit before she reveals the why of all the sudden strife and shunning that Padriec is experiencing. It would be incomprehensible to most of us, but Patton makes us feel the seriousness of the situation.

Characters
Padriec “Paddy” Dann, a.k.a. Pazers, is the youngest and Chief Runner at the Iron Street Watch House of the Haven City Watch. His brother Aiden and his family moved to their own flat. Brothers Jakon and Raik moved with them. Brother Hektor and his wife Ismy have two babies and moved into Aiden’s old room. Their sister, Kassie, is a messenger bird apprentice at the Watch House. Ma is a widow. Trebor is a cousin.

Rosie is the girl Padriec intends to marry. The prankish Codi Vinney has been Padriec’s friend since childhood; his family run a brewery.

Camden Wright is a senior runner under Padriec. Lance Constable Farane. Corporal Hyy Thacker is the Day Officer in Charge. Captain Travin is another Watchman.

Ren Jessan, a widower, is a master glassmaker on Glazier’s Terrace. Robyn and Orlenda are two of his children, about Padriec’s age.

Mistress Auklet, a pattern drawer, is a pain whom Codi loves to torment. She’s married to a stationer.

Stephanie Shaver’s “The Choice Makes the Chosen”

Wil’s Gifts of Mindspeech and Foresight have been stripped from him, making him doubt his career. Until Vehs makes him realize that those Gifts only helped but did not make him who he was.

Characters
Herald Wil, a widower, takes his daughter, Ivy, on Circuit with him. Leila, trained Bard, had been his beloved wife. Vehs is Wil’s Companion. Aubryn is an unattached Companion who loves to babysit Ivy. Langfirch is Ivy’s grampa and Wil’s dad.

Bard Amelie had been Leila’s last protégé. Herald Maresa is always willing to babysit. Lyle also worries about Wil. Talia is the Queen’s Own Herald. Myste. Selenay is queen. Lord Grier, a Healer and Mardra’s brother, is not looking forward to the ball his wife, Drusillia, is planning.

Lady Androa Baireschild, a.k.a. Madra, a Mindhealer, is a traitor who had commanded a construct, Lord Dark. Carris had been one of Mardra’s conspirators. Yelyza had been a talented botanist who’s gone missing. The Rusty Nail is where the Twins work: Theng and Tharg. Letti is a landlady who rents out apartments.

Terry O’Brien’s “Trial by Reflection”

Not all that interesting for all its convolutions. I don’t see where Shasta’s disability contributes much to the story.

Magic is rarely the answer to everything.

Characters
Shasta is a Mage Journeyman reluctant to undergo her Trial. Timiyon is her tutor and a former member of the General Staff of Lord Martial Daren, now Prince Consort. Jayan, a friend of Timiyon’s, is the new leader of the Guard.

Sunrise Crossings is a convenient trade town near Karse and Hardorn. Thayler is a gold merchant who was attacked. Basidi and Merrow are partners, trade factors. Dmiri is the town’s healer.

Alberich is the Weaponsmaster in Haven. Vkandis is the god in Karse.

Angela Penrose’s “Theory and Practice”

A sweet story of friendship and support. There was an interesting reason for the students’ vandalism *grin*.

Characters
Bruny, from a family of sheeptenders, is a latecomer to the Bardic Collegium. Seladine is of gentry stock and Bruny’s roommate. Fellow students include Delvan who plays double clarinet, Tessy plays a sweet bone flute, Kindal plays the oboe, and Zaden appears to be a bedhopper. Bard Breeanne teaches music theory.

Phaedra Weldon’s “Tools of the Trade”

It’s a common failing, believing that one thing or another are all that makes you who you are. It’s a sad tale, rife with problems that need solving. The villagers’ comments, ahem, about Merelyn’s cooking are a crack-up. As for Weldon’s description of Merelyn’s kitchen…how can she not see what’s wrong with it? I’m not sure why it takes Imra so long to see the truth.

Characters
Imra used to be a Herald back before the death of her Companion, Saelihn. Imra still has her Empathic gift and skill at mediation. Mouse and Telidji are her horses. Tarron is Imra’s son and is a Bard in training.

In Carnei, Izli‘s mother, Merelyn, runs an inn but hasn’t a clue about cooking. Riduil Araric is the blacksmith. Reyis Loraqen harangues the crowd. His sister had been a Chosen. Simon Dod has his own bit to say about the cooking at the inn. Aerus Carnei lives in the Hold and is Connak’s grandmother. Goat is the only servant she still has. Vincent Carnei is her deceased husband. Connak Errel owns the land.

Brenda Cooper’s “The Border Within”

Marjom has been riding circuit for forty-six years and fully intends to die in the saddle. It’s all that experience that’ll pull her home and discovers a new challenge.

Characters
Heralds Marjom and Graylan are riding circuit on the border with Hardorn. Their Companions, respectively, are Hannra and Yinna. The forgetful Herald Kenso is new come.

Selenay is queen. Talia is the Queen’s Own Herald. Candry is a Herald Trainee, one of many being rushed through their training; Blackie is her Companion. Fellow Heralds at the Heritage Hall include Chalena, Jolsten, Debda, and Witman.

Lisette is a stablegirl at the Forest Sow Inn who worships Companions. Hans is the innkeeper.

Mercedes Lackey’s “Temper”

I was wondering if Kerowyn is the same heroine I remember reading about. Poor Kero, she’s taking the hard road in this. I’d never have lasted… Interesting point Lackey makes about people in a village lacking a kitchen.

Characters
Kerowyn of the Ride would prefer to be known as Kay Taldress. Hellsbane is Kerowyn’s Shin’a’in warsteed. Need is the sword she inherited from Grandmother, White Winds Mage Kethry. Tarma shena Tale’sedrin had been Kerowyn’s mentor and her grandmother by adoption. Tarma had ridden with Idra’s Sunhawks. Prince Daren had been a fellow student. Dierna is the autocratic sister-in-law Kero rescued.

Lerryn Twoblades is the Guild Captain of the Skybolts mercenary troop overwintering in Bolthaven. Lidreth is assigned to Kay. Hadrick just doesn’t listen. Training Sergeant Drall.

Larry Dixon’s “The Hawkbrothers’ Ways: Death and the Vales”

This was an unexpected exploration of the Hawkbrothers religious beliefs.

Characters
The Hawkbrothers, a.k.a. the Tayledras, are a mystical people. The Star-Eyed is the being in whose interest they act.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a deep grayish blue filled with a tone-on-tone close-up of a Companion’s head and neck. His mane standing in the wind of his passage, a purple eye staring out at us, challenging us, and wearing a purple bridle and chest strap with silver discs of one V intertwined with another V that’s upside down. Two silver spears are thrusting toward the Companion from the lower right. At the top is the title in beige with an info blurb mostly in white immediately below it and left justified. At the bottom is another info blurb in beige with the primary author’s name in white.

The title is a theme for the short stories, the Passages each protagonist must endure.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Passages by Mercedes Lackey”

  1. Breana M.

    I’ve been coming across so many different anthologies lately. This one seems like it has a bunch of stories I would be interested in. Great review!

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