Book Review: Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey

Posted February 6, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 6 Comments

Book Review: Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar 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.

Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
Series: Tales of Valdemar #7, , Heart, Kerowyn, Wil and Leila
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Published by DAW Books on December 6, 2011
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

Also in this series: Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar

The Heralds of Valdemar are an ancient order, drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.

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, 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, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond, Spy, Spy Again, Oathbreakers, The Lark and the Wren, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes, The Wizard of London, The Robin and the Kestrel, Oathblood, Exile's Honor, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, Owlflight, Exile’s Valor, Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar

A Valdemar anthology of sixteen short stories and one essay on worldbuilding. Half of the stories refer to a character or time period within the Valdemar series while the other half could fit in anywhere.

If you’re as obsessed as I am, you may want to re-read the Mage Wars, Mage Storms, and the sections on Elspeth, Selenay, and Kerowyn. It is not a necessity. It’s just been so long since I’ve read them…sigh…


“Heart’s Peril” (Heart, xx; ten years after Ree & Jem get to the farm)

“Heart’s Place” (Heart, xx; all the Ree & Jem stories were set just after Storm Breaking, Mage Storms-3 (Valdemar 1376-5 AF))

“In an Instant” (Valdemar – 1376-2 AF; Kerowyn’s Tale – 01 (just before this?? Kerowyn is Chosen on the battlefield))

“Warp and Weft” (just after Storm Breaking (Mage Storms, 3))

“The Watchman’s Ball” (Dann Family of Haven, 4)

“The Bride’s Task” (Kerowyn has made captain)

“Fog of War” (King Sendar is killed and Selenay becomes queen)

“A Healer’s Work” (Elspeth has returned as a Herald-Mage with her strange allies)

“Sight and Sound” (Wil and Leila)

The Stories

Mercedes Lackey‘s “The Simple Gifts” is a most unexpected “hero”. Donnat Stains is a man-whore rapidly running out of towns, counties, countries to pursue his desires. It’s that last town that sends him fleeing much too early and lands him where Destin and Ardred, two Companions, kidnap him for their own purposes…bwa-ha-ha… Seems they have need of a pair of hands.

Rosemary Edghill & Denise McCune‘s “Catch Fire, Draw Flame” finds an odd group taking its ease at a midsummer fair. A Herald who can’t hear his Companion, a turned-off mercenary, a Bard who didn’t know he preferred the road, and a Healer who can’t stop. Seems they were brought to this fair for a purpose, to set a smooth-talkin’ fellow back on the right path.

“There’s a man here at the fair with the power to make Elade change her mind.”

The funny bit is that’s not what he meant, lol. There’s an interesting point about the distinction between men with psychic gifts who are Chosen. Only those with morals are acceptable.

Elizabeth A. Vaughan‘s “In an Instant” finds Queen Selenay at a loss and in despair, for she’s found her lifebond at the end of the battle against Hardorn’s Ancar. He’s too much like his brother…

Daniel Shull‘s “A Healer’s Work” there’s a lot of set-up chat in this before Shull finally settles into the whole point of the story. The desperate aid required by Layelle, Herald Mellie’s Companion. For her herald may be dying from the damaged mage channels in her brain. And no other healers in Haven have ever worked with such channels before.

Elisabeth Waters‘ “A Leash of Greyhounds” finds it lucky that Lena has Animal Mindspeech to save the dogs and call in a Herald and their Companion to arbitrate a disastrous decision after a tragic accident.

Kristin Schwengel‘s “Warp and Weft” finds Stardance remembering the lessons of her beloved Triska when spinning fiber into thread as she and others search the Vale for any possible magic.

Jennifer Brozek‘s “Discordance” is a series of bad news of similar bar brawls resulting in deaths. It’s a lesson to us all to use care when rejecting anyone.

Brenda Cooper‘s “Slow and Steady” is what Shay’s mama always told her. Take it slow and steady for Shay has problems with too fast, too quick. It’s a disability that has created problems for Shay in the past, and when her mother is murdered, that past rises up for Shay, leaving her terrified.

Stephanie D. Shaver‘s “Sight and Sound” will leave you weeping. An accident of drowning, one is saved and the other is not. It could never have been prevented and affects so many. A brief peek into the life of Heralds and a Bard.

And yet, Shaver brings in a bit of humor that helps:

“:After putting up with a Chosen like you, I’ll be galloping for the Bright Havens when my time comes!:

:That’s truly morbid.:

:Be glad I don’t take a head start!:”

She has a short story, “Safe and Sound”, about Wil and Leila in Crossroads & Other Tales of Valdemar, 3.

Michael Z. Williamson & Gail L. Sanders‘ “The Bride’s Task” creates quite the conundrum at the Collegium. Students are supposed to leave their previous lives behind them. Only Nerea isn’t taking no for an answer from anyone but her pledged.

This one’s a pip! It has a nice moral about allowing events to roll out and that life is not set in stone. To accept change.

Ben Ohlander‘s “Fog of War” is disjointed and confusing. In some respects it’s a good thing as it conveys a sense of the battle that was fought, but in others, it doesn’t work. The idea was good, but it’s that last statement by Danilla that makes me say huh, what?? as I don’t remember that being a question. And that’s after reading it twice.

Kate Paulk‘s “Heart’s Peril” is another installment of Ree and Jem. They’ve been ten years on Grandad’s farm and this one finds Lenar and his small family having dinner with them. It’s Little Garrad who sets the cats among the bears, and it’s Ree who reassures young Meren that he’s not an animal. It’s a good thought to keep in mind for anyone can act like a beast just as anyone can act decent.

Sarah A. Hoyt‘s “Heart’s Place” is another tale of Ree and Jem. This one has Lenar’s Mage examining Meren to reassure the villagers. The opening salvo on the family’s determination to ensure the family’s survival, for they consider Ree and Meren their own. It’s Grandad’s actions that really kick things into gear, and Lenar will have to lean on those Particular Laws.

Tanya Huff‘s “Family Matters” is too, too funny. That Annamarin is wondrous indeed, and if she is trapped here on the farm, it would be truly, tragically tragic, lol.

“‘He is a song walking above the mud we less lovely creatures tread upon.’

‘Have I mentioned that I like her?:

This is a great story that is a reminder for all of us that we are who we are no matter where we stand, and it’s because of family.

Fiona Patton‘s “The Watchman’s Ball” has a twist at the end that left me fluttering and laughing at how good it was for morale. Now if I only knew if that tradition kept on…

Nancy Asire‘s “Judgment Day” is a Solomon of a case to be tried by Perran, a traveling circuit judge dispensing the laws of Vkandis. it’s close to home as it is his assistant’s hometown which he left with great relief years ago.

Larry Dixon‘s “Under the Vale” is a fascinating essay on the back history of magic and the disasters that befell the world of Velgarth of which the country of Valdemar is a part.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a black background framed by a tangle of scrolling brown branches at the top and twining rose vines at the bottom. In the middle is a steel gray riveted inset frame in the shape of a shield, a stormy purple sky in its background and a white Companion galloping out of it, harnessed in purple. Atop this shield is another, smaller shield with the same gray border encapsulating a purple starry background with a pegasus flaring its wings in profile. Behind this is a deep blue box with the title in Gold and the subtitle below it in white. At the bottom is the same box with the “edited by” in white.

The title is more about that last essay and lifts the veil on what is Under the Vale, how it evolved and why as well as the engineering genius of it. You only thought it would be fascinating to live in a Vale…

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6 responses to “Book Review: Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey

    • One of my favorite Lackey series are Valdemar (1,000s of books long (kidding, sort of), although they are divided into much smaller subseries. I do, however, recommend starting at the beginning of the saga if only because later stories refer to earlier ones.) There are also some 8 anthologies on the series storyline. Ooh, consider checking out the Collegium Chronicles. They are one of those subseries in the Valdemar line-up, but they easily stand alone. They’re very good.

      Another couple of favorite are Diana Tregarde and Bedlam’s Bard. Both are subseries of her Elves on the Road overall series and there are some references to these series in the various subseries, but they’re not essential enough that you need to have read them all. I do love her 500 Kingdoms series if only because I have adored fairy tales from the moment I started reading. At an extremely early age. (My dad used to bring home fairy tale books for me.) Bardic Voices and Halfblood Chronicles are two more elf-based series but more fantasy than urban.

      Her Shadow Grail YA series started out well, but fell down in quality. Skip it. Same for Dragon Jousters. I don’t remember much about the three subseries in her Obsidian Universe series. They are well-written. Her Dead Reckoning steampunk novel is good, and I hope it turns into a series. Another new YA series Lackey has begun is One Dozen Daughters, which I enjoyed.

      Sorry, I got a little carried away. I do like Lackey as a writer, and I like to encourage reading!
      Now, if you like comic book heroes, Nazis, and alien invaders, the Secret Worlds Histories is good.

      I love her Elemental Masters series! It’s individual tales of magic users from high to low in late Victorian England. Some have a feel of the fairy tale to them.

      For the historically minded, Doubled Edge finds an elf keeping a young Elizabeth safe so she’ll live to rule England in the Elizabethan period. The Heirs of Alexandria is an alternate world of a medieval-ish Venice with magic and a guardian lion.

  1. I’m such a poser, LOL. I profess to love fantasy, and that my love goes back to early adolescence, sprung from my earlier love of fairy tales . . . and yet . . . I have never read . . . Mercedes Lackey. *hangs head in shame* I really must remedy that situation 😉

    I’m glad you loved this, and despite the lack of . . . Lackey in my life, this is quite a remarkable collection of authors. I’m particularly fond of Elizabeth A. Vaughan (WARPRIZE, I love it), so onto the list it goes 😉 Great review!

    • *Arm across brow as I fall to the floor in a faint*…lol. I’m glad you enjoyed it. If you like fairy tales, you really must read Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series. It’s her own twist on fairy tales, and they’re quite good. I’m also glad I could help add to your TBR *grin*

  2. Hi, Kathy! I’ve gotten to know Stormi a little bit through COYER and the Sunday Post and her reviews, but I didn’t realize you were a Valdemar fan! Heyla! Fan to fan, I got this for Christmas and I really need to make time to read it. I think I’ve read every Valdemar book there is (I may have missed one or two of the short story collections) and a whole lot of her other work. She’s one of my autobuy authors – well, most of her series are, anyway. Certainly the Velgarth/Valdemar books, the Free Bards, 500 Kingdoms, and Elemental Magic books!

    So glad to find another fan out here in blog-land. Wind to thy wings!

    • And may you and your Companion live forever! Lackey is definitely a must-buy for me as well. I just wish I had the budget for it. I’m slowly picking them up as I can. And I’m feeling a need to start a re-read. I FINALLY got a chronological list of the Valdemar books, so I’ll finally be able to make sense of it, lol.

      Yes, yes, yes, I adore her Bards series. And the Elemental Masters! Then the 500 Kingdoms, then… Is that where Lark comes from? Bardic Voices??

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