Book Review: Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey

Posted June 8, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

It’s the year 1077 AF (After Founding) in the Valdemar fantasy series and revolving around the Heralds of Valdemar. The focus is on Lavan Firestorm. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take

What is with parents who don’t believe their children? The child doesn’t fit with what they want or expect, therefore they’re shirkers, disrespectful. What’s disrespectful is parents who don’t listen to their kids. Shouldn’t a child expect their parent to be supportive? It’ll take a lot of suffering, but there’s a nice bit of revenge in here.

I do love Macy! She’s Lavan’s sister and not one to sit around with her socially ambitious mother, lol. Lavan? Well, he’s a nice kid with good morals, but he does whine on and on.

Master Keileth represents what’s wrong with so many of our schools where bullying is allowed to run rampant. The Collegium is so much better! Sounds like the food is worlds better too, lol.

While Lackey uses third person global subjective point-of-view with perspectives from a number of different characters, it is primarily Lavan’s perspective which we read.

Lackey provides a behind-the-scenes look at life at the Collegium and interactions between students, Heralds, and regular people — I do have to wonder about Elenor having good sense. Lackey also makes me feel the warmth of the students and the freezing cold of the war camp as well as the tension of battle.

The contrast between the Merchant’s School and the Collegium is huge, and I could wish all our schools could be like the latter with teachers who are truly interested and with motivated students. There’s also a huge contrast between Lan’s family and Tuck’s. Oy!

The Companions are quite impressive with a commonality of care and support for their Chosen, although each does have their own personality. Kalira does reveal an interesting fact about Companions.

The characters do drive the story through their emotions — Lavan most of all with his family a near second. Primarily however, it’s full of action from the Merchant’s School to the Collegium, the anger of Tyron’s mother, and battle against the Karsites.

Be sure to have a box of Kleenex nearby for this cozy read.

The Story

Lavan Chitward’s parents intend for him to take up an apprenticeship, preferably in the cloth trade. To that end, he’s enrolled in a school of bullying students. A brutality that brings out Lavan’s Gift.

The Characters

Lavan Chitward, a.k.a. Lan, Firestarter, and “Scrub”, has the Gift of Firestarting. His ambitious parents are Archer, a cloth merchant, and Nelda née Hardcrider, a needleworker and the Guild Representative for five counties, whose country estate is in Alderscroft. Samael, Lan’s older brother is apprenticed out to Master Iresh. Other siblings include fourteen-year-old Macy, who is highly thought of for her needlework, and Feoden, who works with their father. Kelsie is the maid. Uncle Lerris.

Valdemar is . . .
. . . a kingdom ruled by King Theran. Queen Fyllis is his pregnant wife with the Gift of Empathy. Clevis is their five-year-old son. Haven is its capital. The laws of the kingdom are upheld by the Heralds.

Herald Pol, who has a very strong Mindspeech and a weak secondary gift of everything, enabling him to teach pupils with any Gift or combination, and a specialty in geography. His Companion is Satiran, who loves bad weather and rough forage. Elenor, a Mind-Healer and possibly a Gift of good sense(!), is Pol’s youngest daughter; her mother is Ilea, a Healer. Their other daughters are Kaika, a Bard, and Amaly, a Healer, who is married to Ranolf.

Herald Jedin is the King’s Own and his Companion is Rolan. Other Heralds include Isten; Damina; Tevar (the king’s youngest brother and a specialist in wilderness survival and flora and fauna who teaches Orienteering); Melly teaches History and Literature; Artero teaches Field Investigations; and, Evan, who is the teacher in charge of Trainees with ForeSight and whose Companion is Jolene. Jonotan rides the Lake Evendim circuit; Kiela rides Staghorn Forest; Werner rides Torgate; Charis, who was on the Karsite border; Lerrys rides the Fells; Larissa comes to Lan’s rescue. Kalira, Satiran’s daughter, will become Lan’s Companion. Lada is a Companion in foal with two months to go. Wrenlet is gonna be cold that night. Other Companions include Charkan.

Greeley is the Seneschal; Trevor is the Seneschal’s Herald. Lord Weldon is the Lord Marshal. Marak is the Lord Marshall’s Herald. Turag will replace Marak, and Adan is Turag’s Companion.

Captain Telamaine is part of the Guard. Odo is the kind but brutal Weaponsmaster. Commander Raleigh is part of the army. Fedor is a royal messenger; Calum, Ben, and Diera are scouts. Ben Dotes is the retired Horsemaster who was replaced by Barnebin. Diera Ashkevron of Forst Reach came with horses. Wulaf is a shepherd, which makes him a good guide.

There are three Collegium in the Collegia: Heralds, Bards, and Healers. Students at the Herald’s Collegium include Kedd, an Animal Mindspeaker; Derrian; nine-year-old Malken, whose Gift appears to be multiple ForeSight; Hayka; Tuck Chester, whose Companion is Dacerie; Fyllia; Mona; Jirkin; and, the very competent Daria.

Tori is the Housekeeper. Hob is a Healer-Trainee?? Lord and the frugal Lady Vertalays have a lot of daughters. Lady Leana is frustrated with her husband. Lady Isend and Duchess Abel are feuding over which of them is the more fashionable.

Tuck’s family includes his parents, Pa and Ma Chester, who run the farm just outside Haven. Ajela, Hal, Stane, Guy, Sheela, Trinny, Cassie, the saucy Merry, and Jan are Tuck’s siblings?? Granny “Curious Kit” Chester spins their wool. Brownie and Swan are two of the cows.

Master Keileth, who is highly motivated by profit, is in charge of the Merchant’s School in Haven. The teachers include Herewan. Students include Owyn Kittlekine (his father is a Leatherworker), “Froggie“, Liss, and Anjeyla. The Sixth Formers are the bullies and include Tyron “Tyrant” Jelnack, Loman “Loathsome” Strecker, and Derwit “Dimwit”.

Tyron’s father is the Grandmaster of the Silversmith’s Guild, so naturally Tyron must be above reproach; Jisette is Tyron’s angry mother. Howell is the Guildmaster of the Cloth Workers Guild. Master Veth is Healer-trained. Holderkin are insular families who don’t believe in Heralds or magic. Priestess Fayshan is of the Cloistered Order of Kernos-Sequestered.

Karse shares . . .
. . . a border with Valdemar and their Sun-priests hate Heralds and their Companions.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a giant yellow ball of flame in the upper half, serving as a showcase for the author’s name and the title below it in purple outlined with small licks of orange flames. Beneath the title is an info blurb about the story. The bottom half is of Kalira, Lavan’s white Companion, hunched over the red-haired Lavan in a red tunic, and small clusters of fire floating up from his left hand. At the very bottom on the sides are spears thrusting inward.

The title is all about Lavan Firestorm who is Brightly Burning.

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