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.No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Published by DAW Books on December 2, 2014
Source: the library
Also in this series: Closer to Home, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar
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, 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
The voices of other authors add their own special touches to the ancient land where Heralds “Chosen” from all walks of life by magical horse-like Companions patrol their ancient kingdom, dispensing justice, facing adversaries, and protecting their monarch and country from whatever threatens. Trained rigorously by the Heralds Collegium, these special protectors each have extraordinary Gifts: Mindspeaking, FarSeeing, FarSpeaking, Empathy, Firestarting, and ForeSeeing, and are bonded for life with their mysterious Companions.
Eighth in the young adult anthology, Tales of Valdemar, an urban fantasy subseries for Valdemar with sixteen short stories by assorted authors.
Five of the stories in this anthology are so depressing that you’ll want to cry, two are poorly written, and there are five stories that are cheerful, so consider this in either reading it or in the timing of reading it.
“The Whitest Lie” (Herald Wil & Lelia)
“Spun Magic” (Stardance)
“Ex Libris” (Dann Family of Haven)
Stephanie Shaver’s “The Whitest Lie” will leave you crying and sobbing and wondering if you missed a story. It’s Herald Wil in a catch-22 as he is forced to find a foster parent for his young daughter.
Dayle A. Dermatis’ “Old Loom, New Tapestry” is a culture-specific phrase for the new Herald Syrriah. A new widow in her middle age, Companion Cefylla Chooses her. It’s in Syrriah’s internship on the Circuit that she finds her new purpose in her new life as a Herald. It’s a very sad story with a heartening outcome. I could wish such Gifts for our own time.
Brenda Cooper’s “The Barest Gift” is yet another sad tale with a bittersweet ending. A tribute to a grand lady.
Elizabeth A. Vaughan’s “Consequences Unforeseen” finds a relieved widow writing to her father of her lord’s death. I do love this story as it appeals to my sense of making-do. Lady Cera is a merchant’s daughter and practical when it comes to ensuring that her people and her estate will not just survive but thrive.
Jennifer Brozek’s “Written in the Wind” is another story that will leave you crying as well for the twins, children who feel so alone. It is so depressing at the end.
Ron Collins’ “Nwah” is about a kyree who has lost her Mind-pair in a vicious attack. This one will make you angry and burn with a desire for vengeance almost as great as Nwah’s. It’s also a frustrating short story as it’s only a short peek into Nwah’s anguish and Kade’s life under his stepmother. It starts with pain and ends with a hope.
Kristin Schwengel’s “Spun Magic” is another peek into Stardance’s life when her original home vale needs help with magic issues in k’Lissa Vale. It’s a father hoping that his daughter will choose to remain with them when the crisis is averted, but why he thinks Stardance would choose to remain in a vale strange to her, with a family she has never met, I don’t know.
For that matter, I don’t understand why her mother being dead and her mother’s parents being dead would be good reasons for her father, Firewind, to send Stardance to another Vale. If she’s being raised by a hertasi in k’Veyas, why couldn’t she be raised by a hertasi in her original home?
There’s another reason, of course, why Stardance will choose to return. These Hawkbrothers are really quite subtle *she says with a smile*.
Diana L. Paxson’s “Weavings” is another sad story of running away, of loss, of a mother’s realization that her child must weave her own story.
Elisabeth Waters’ “A Wake of Vultures” is certainly unique with the problem Waters presents. It’s a good idea, but I wish that it had been better written. It reads stiffly.
Michele Lang’s “Maiden’s Hope” is another unique if very confusing story. I wish Lang had better explained this cloud floating bit that Brock is either stuck in or lives in or ??? Sparrow is meant to communicate, I think, with Brock in the clouds and report back. What she is to report, I have no idea. It makes no sense. It especially makes no sense that she’s not Chosen. Heck, if Lang can come up with this confusion of goofiness, why can’t Abilard have two Chosen?
Fiona Patton’s “Ex Libris” appeals to my heart as it’s all about books and the lending of them. I do enjoy Patton’s stories — especially those about the Dann family — and this one is no exception. It’s amazing how much heartwarming Patton can put into a short story.
Dylan Birtolo’s “A Dream Reborn” is a cute tale of redemption as a beggar girl remembers her past.
Cedric Johnson’s “Forget Me Never” is a sweet story that starts with meanness. The theme of this is similar to “Written in the Wind” with a girl who is alone and ignored. One of the few in this anthology that ends with a truly happy ending.
Louisa Swann’s “Beyond the Fires” is a terrifying journey for a young girl who saw her parents slaughtered and has endured horrible beatings and rape. It’s a raven who entices Liana beyond the fires and a Companion and his herald along with the raven and his friends who help deliver her, in every sense of the word.
Rosemary Edghill and Rebecca Fox’s “A Brand From the Burning” is a rather depressing tale of Karse and one of its priests. The immediate tale is encouraging with this Hierophant who takes in those without, but it rapidly deteriorates as Edghill/Fox write of the corruption that infests the priesthood of Vkandis Sunlord. They do leave us with hope however and a deep desire on my part to find the story that includes Solaris.
Mercedes Lackey’s “Vixen” is another of my favorites in this anthology with an angry Healer who softens up when faced with great danger and acceptance from Herald-Mage Vanyel.
The Cover and Title
The cover is consistent with other Valdemaran covers. This one has a black background of pale gray Companions prancing from bottom to top on a diagonal slant, racing between pale gray arrows slanting downwards. At top and bottom are rectangles of purple bordered in gold holding a golden title and the editor’s name. The central motif is an inset shield shape bordered in riveted steel with a Companion’s head in profile emerging with a young man in pale yellow with light brown hair holding the Companion’s cheek. A shield is at the base of this inset with a red phoenix against a black background while another shield shape with a star-flecked lighter purple background provides a good foil for a white winged unicorn in profile.
The title is simple and reminds us that there is No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar to live our lives. That life is different for each of us, whether we live in Valdemar or own worlds.