Book Review: Exile’s Valor by Mercedes Lackey

Posted June 10, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Exile’s Valor by Mercedes Lackey

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

Exile’s Valor by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Fantasy
Published by DAW on October 5, 2004
Pages: 448
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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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, 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

Second in the Exile Duology subseries and seventh in the Heralds of Valdemar subseries all in the Valdemar universe, in 1376 AF (After Founding), and revolving around the Heralds of Valdemar. The focus switches back and forth between Queen Selenay and Weaponsmaster Alberich. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take

I like it. You don’t need a special building or a religieux to honor God; it’s what in your heart that matters.

Lackey uses a third person global subjective point-of-view from a variety of perspectives including Alberich and his massacre of the language — it certainly sets him apart, Selenay, and Myste.

I love how Alberich solved his privacy issue — and that the Companions enjoy it too, lol. Everyone also seems to enjoy Hurlee. It is a practical solution for too-active students and is a useful addition at the end.

Poor Selenay has lucked out with Myste and her knowledge, shooting down her pushy Councilors, lol. She is proving to be a thoughtful queen; it’s too bad our own politicians can’t be as considerate. On the negative side, Selenay is feeling caged, overworked, and misses her father. It does not help that her Council is trying to control her and insist she do what they say. I suspect it’s why she succumbs to Karath.

Karath is . . . hoo boy, something else, a real idiot. He seems the answer to a maiden’s prayer, but Lackey is cruel to her readers, as she slowly lays out the critical conflict. It gets really “good” after the wedding! I found myself cheering with almost every event! It does help how the Heralds conspire to get some time off for Selenay — and protect her.

The Collegia in Haven (for trainee Bards, Heralds, and Healers) are what our schools should aspire to. How they handled that disaster of the mirrors was admirable and really pounded the lesson in. I adored how Alberich responded to that uppity Blue! YES! As for his response to that Blue’s partner? Another yes.

Lackey had an issue with her continuity. At first Adain is a Bardic Trainee, but he later has a Companion while Mical is said to be an Heraldic Trainee, but he’s assigned a horse from the stables. Should be the other way around.

It is amazing how much Lackey manages to pack into Exile’s Valor, from Selenay’s having been on the throne for six months to getting courted and married, and then having a baby! While Selenay is the main story with several plotlines revolving around her, Lackey also inserts other tangents with students, Hurlee, and Alberich’s “excursions”.

I must confess that I did find it slow-going in some places, but these niggles aside, Exile’s Valor is both character- and action-driven. It’s one of my favorites in the Valdemar series.

The Story

It’s a betrayal of sorts, Queen Selenay’s Councilors are insisting she marry — their choice. Then there are those who are betting on whether she can last six months before they congratulate her on ascending the throne.

It’s lucky for Selenay that Alberich is her suspicious Weaponsmaster with his ear to the ground.There are too many anomalies that begin to add up to a danger to the queen’s heart.

The Characters

Herald Alberich, a.k.a. Great Rider, a former Karsite with a Gift for ForeSight, is the new Weaponsmaster. One of Alberich’s aliases is Bret Carter. Kantor is his Companion and the disciplinarian of the Companion herd. Herald Dethor is the former Weaponsmaster.

The Kingdom of Valdemar is . . .
. . . ruled over by Queen Selenay. Caryo is Selenay’s Companion. Sendar had been Selenay’s father and the previous king. Elspeth is the stomach with a warhorn . . . and heir. Melidy had been Selenay’s nurse. Some of Selenay’s lady’s maids include Lady Jenice and Lady Betrice. Selenay’s Councilors include Lord Garthese and Lord Orthallen. Heralds uphold the laws throughout the land. The Provost Marshal is in charge of discipline.

Kyril is the Seneschal’s Herald. Herald Elcarth, who suggested the stained glass, is the Acting Dean of Herald’s Collegium; Bard Arissa is the Dean of Bardic Collegium. Talamir is the Queen’s Own Herald . . . and not entirely in the here and now; Rolan is his Grove-Born Companion. Taver had been Talamir’s original Companion until events in Exile’s Honor, Exile 1. Myste Willenger, formerly an accountant and clerk, is Herald-Chronicler-Second with esoteric knowledge of the laws and the strongest Truth-sensing ability. Aleirian is her Companion.

Mirilin and Jadus, after losing his leg in Exile’s Honor, are the Heralds permanently assigned to dispense justice in Haven. Herald Ravinia (her Gift is Mindspeech and Animal Mindspeech) is usually out riding circuit and has a relationship, ahem, with Mirilin. Sheiteny is Ravinia’s Companion. Keren (Talamir is her grandfather), permanently stationed in Haven as the riding instructor with Dantris as her Companion, and Ylsa, a Special Messenger, are Heralds and partners; they’ll become Selenay’s bodyguards. Heralds Alton and Shanate are alternate bodyguards. Teren is Keren’s twin brother who married and begot children; he was later Chosen. Herald Peled teaches law?? Jandal is a Companion.

Captain Lekar is with the City Guard, who meets with Alberich. Rusken and Kimel are a couple of the Guardsmen training with Alberich.

Students in the Herald’s Collegium include Korten, Ledale, Aldo, Triana, Kadhael Corbie is an uppity Blue, Osberic, and Telbrenm who will have to take charge of a weapons session. Companion Cheric brought in a “Tedrel Orphan”, Theodren; Trainee Rotherven will be Theodren’s mentor. Some of those involved in Hurlee include Harrow (and I think Lekaron is his Companion), Shanda, and Brion.

Adain, a Bardic Trainee, is tight with Mical, an Heraldic Trainee whose Gift is Touchreading with Eloran as his Companion, and they’re notorious for their pranks. Anelie is a sympathetic Healer. Healer Crathach is Mical’s second cousin.

Marriage candidates include Rannulf, who is Gartheser’s nephew. His mother is Lady Elena of Penderkeep. Orthallen’s nephew Kris is a bit young. Devlin Gereton, a budding expert in drama, is the third son of Lord Stevel Gereton, a family which has not distinguished itself.

Cuelin is the Master of the Glassworkers Guild. Elkin is a glassworker favored by Cuelin.

Norris Lettyn is the primary actor in his troupe, and they’re operating from the Three Sheaves Inn in the Cattle Market area. He’s quite the man with the ladies and appears to be living beyond his means. Laric had been a butler and knows Myste.

Hardorn is . . .
. . . a country allied with Valdemar. Alessandr is king. Ambassador Werenton will be replaced by Isadere.

Rethwellan is . . .
. . . also an ally of Valdemar. Ambassador Brenthalarian requests that Selenay receive King Megrarthon‘s second son, the attentive, handsome Prince Karathanelan “Karath“. The king’s heir, Faramentha, has a young son.

The Temple of the Lord of Light is how Valdemarans refer to the Temple of Vkandis Sunlord, the Karsite religion. Priest Gerichen is a true man of the Sunlord.

The Broken Arms is a tavern — try not to eat or drink here. The Companion’s Bell is a tavern popular with Heralds with a secret room for Alberich. The Compass Rose seems to be popular with the students. Hurlee started as a war training exercise and quickly evolved. It was the disastrous Tedrel Wars in Exile’s Honor that changed so much of Valdemar. Swordmistress Tarma shena Tale’sedrin was a famed Shin’a’in with a training school in the Vows and Honors subseries. The Maidens of the Moon is a legend of Rethwellan. The Silver Horn is a brothel for the rich with Kassie as one of the “ladies”.

The Cover and Title

Two-thirds of the left side of the cover is a dreamy purple with swirls of a pale lilac forming the background for the author’s name at the top in a black-shadowed gold. Below this is a gold-framed heater shield with a background of birch trees. Thrusting from the left edge of the shield is the head of a white Companion wearing a brown bridle, his mane streaming behind him. Below this is a black-shadowed white for the title and below this is a series blurb in black. On the right side of the cover is the mêlée at the end with more birch trees in the background.

The title refers to Alberich and this Exile’s Valor.

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