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Arrows of the Queen

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Author: Mercedes Lackey

Published: March 3rd 1987 by DAW Books (first published 1987)

Format: Mass Market Paperback , 320 pages

Isbn: 9780886773786

Language: English


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Follows the adventures of Talia as she trains to become a Herald of Valdemar in the first book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen's own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talent Follows the adventures of Talia as she trains to become a Herald of Valdemar in the first book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen's own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense. But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen's heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen's own foes.

30 review for Arrows of the Queen

  1. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    I've read a lot of fantasy, and I've spent a lot of time looking for fantasy that won't disappoint. When fantasy disappoints me, it usually does so predictably: either the world is poorly-built, the entire story is derivative, it is filled with creepy repressed sexuality, or the Hat Trick. An equestrian friend of mine suggested this series: it was one of her favorites. However, her suggestion was somewhat tentative. She had previously passed Eragon and Eye of the World along to me, which are so d I've read a lot of fantasy, and I've spent a lot of time looking for fantasy that won't disappoint. When fantasy disappoints me, it usually does so predictably: either the world is poorly-built, the entire story is derivative, it is filled with creepy repressed sexuality, or the Hat Trick. An equestrian friend of mine suggested this series: it was one of her favorites. However, her suggestion was somewhat tentative. She had previously passed Eragon and Eye of the World along to me, which are so derivative and poorly-written that they just felt like babelfish translations of Tolkien. However, she had also forced me to read the Potter books (I was recalcitrant due to their popularity) and Pullman's Dark Materials, which weren't bad. Now, I am as disappointed in modern Feminism as your average gender-queer culture-jamming existentialist transhuman chaos magician, so I am slow to suggest that the gender of an author should inform us about their ability to write. However, I will concede that in this culture, the way you are gendered will have long-lasting effects. Apparently, as a man, you end up entirely unable to write sex in a fantasy novel; maybe sex full stop. Tolkien just kept his romantic leads a few thousand miles apart the whole story. Goodkind creeped us the fuck out with lots of fetishized stabbing. Jordan made spanking a part of his world's justice system. Gor. Of course, there are female authors guilty of making their books into lewd, plotless sex romps, like Anne Rice and Laurell Hamilton, but at least the sex is still mostly about the characters; and sex should be. It should be an event in the character's life that causes some emotional reaction, and reveals something about the character's personality. Reading most popular male authors, you get about the same emotional depth as a child smacking two naked barbies together. There were times, particularly later in their careers, when both Rice and Hamilton managed to make sex almost as impersonal as their male colleagues, and I'd suggest in Rice's case that her (less and less) latent Christian repression did a passable job standing in for male sexual discomfort. The sex in Lackey's work is of another breed. It feels human. It feels pleasant. It doesn't make you feel frightened that you might be a bad person if you're turned on by it. In short, it blew my fucking mind. I mean sure, there are male authors like Gaiman, Moore, or Mieville who can write a complex, personal, natural sexual interaction, but they are all authors of allusive, thickly-textured works that draw from literary tradition. What makes Lackey remarkable to me is that she writes a fairly standard, fun piece of pop fantasy and somehow, the sex isn't terrible. But it's not just the sex. It's all pretty naturalistic and refreshing. Except for the magic--and the psychic horses. The world building is not grade A, but it isn't chicken feet. The magic is pretty new age touchy-feely, but so is the world, so it mostly works. In fact, the only thing that tips off the esscapist fantasy is the psychic equine love-bond. However, I'm not going to look into that too closely: I don't want to find that Lackey's sexual repression was staring me in the face all along. My Fantasy Book Suggestions

  2. 5 out of 5

    Evgeny

    A young boy girl named Harry Potter Talia had a very bad childhood until Hagrid Rolan came and took him her to the wizard school Collegium where he she studies, makes some friends and some enemies. By the way, I am sorry for comparing a half-giant (Hagrid) to a highly intelligent magical horse (Rolan). Despite all of the similarities to Harry Potter - and there are more than those I mentioned already, this book is not one of the countless Harry Potter clones. For once it was written exactly ten y A young boy girl named Harry Potter Talia had a very bad childhood until Hagrid Rolan came and took him her to the wizard school Collegium where he she studies, makes some friends and some enemies. By the way, I am sorry for comparing a half-giant (Hagrid) to a highly intelligent magical horse (Rolan). Despite all of the similarities to Harry Potter - and there are more than those I mentioned already, this book is not one of the countless Harry Potter clones. For once it was written exactly ten years before Rowling's magnum opus. Another great difference is that while Harry Potter - at least in the first couple of books - is about sense of wonder of a normal boy who ended up in a magic world and his adventures, this book is about Talia's development and coming of age. A very good description would be something like: a young adult novel written at the time when young adult was not equal to non-stop romance. Talia is an interesting character which is a big win and a big fail at the same time. She is an undisputed star of the novel and as such gets the biggest development. She is a strong woman written before readers start demanding at least one to be present in a book, to the point where some writers have to include a token character. As I said, she is strong, but also realistic. She is not a female Conan the Barbarian on steroids. She is not the best sword fighter and most probably will never be. She is not the strongest magic user and will never be. She is not going to win any physical strength contests. So what makes her strong? She always overcomes her problems herself, or with some help from her friends. She found her place in the Collegium and made herself highly useful and irreplaceable. She does not spend all of her time suffering from her unrequited love to a sparkling vampire (there are no vampires in there - sparkling or any other, by the way). She does her job, and does it well, or tries to. She is kind and caring and not bitchy. Dear authors, take note: bitchy is not equal to strong!!! Talia almost feels like a realistic human. "Almost" is the keyword here. The failing is that sometimes she feels like a Mary Sue, and sometimes comes too close to being one. I could not find anything bad about her, except for her excessive shyness. While I am on the subject of bad parts of the book, I also would like to mention a fairly big plot-hole in the very end which feels like a deux ex machina. Despite all of my criticism above, this is a very easy read. If you are looking for grimdark you will not find it here at all, but for anybody in the mood for light fantasy this should be the right place to look. This review is a copy/paste of my LeafMarks one: https://www.leafmarks.com/lm/#/users/...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Parks

    A friend gave me this book for my birthday and am I ever glad I didn't pay money for it. I rather wish he'd just given me a Barnes & Noble gift card instead. From a purely technical perspective, this is possibly the worst published book I've ever read. From an emotional standpoint, this comes in a close third after some horrible book whose title I cannot recall, and Frankenstein. But back to Arrows of the Queen. Good grief. The highlights: 1. I am forced to put the plot as the first casualty, as the A friend gave me this book for my birthday and am I ever glad I didn't pay money for it. I rather wish he'd just given me a Barnes & Noble gift card instead. From a purely technical perspective, this is possibly the worst published book I've ever read. From an emotional standpoint, this comes in a close third after some horrible book whose title I cannot recall, and Frankenstein. But back to Arrows of the Queen. Good grief. The highlights: 1. I am forced to put the plot as the first casualty, as the author had time to kill, dismember, and bury all the little pieces of it before I even picked up the book. Plot? What plot? The first few chapters meander towards one but never quite make it. The rest of the book seems to try and get by on hit-and-miss character- and world-building. They never quite make it either. 2. I mentioned technicalities above, and here's what I mean by that: did anyone ever explain to Mercedes Lackey the proper use of a semicolon? What about putting chapter breaks (whether a new chapter or, say, a double-space gap within a chapter) when a notable amount of time passes? Pacing? Plotting? Show, don't tell? That last was especially egregious, with I kid you not at least two and probably more instances of 'little did he know' interspersed with leapfrogged third-person limited. And the vocabulary -- what grade level was this, third? Maybe fourth? Who was the editor, anyway? I don't think s/he was paid enough (or too much, if they let all this through). 3. The main character, Talia, is a thirteen-year-old girl who, as far as I can recall, never acts like one. (There's acting like a mature thirteen-year-old and then there's acting like a thirty-year-old. No.) I started out wanting to like her, because I too have some self-esteem issues, a fervent love of books, and occasionally daydream wistfully about someone coming and taking me away from my life. I found myself unable to like her because she's just too *perfect.* She's a Mary Sue of the first order, Special and Wanted and Humble and Good At Absolutely Everything. I think the only thing Talia fails at is losing her virginity. (I'm serious: she tries, four times IIRC, to have sex with a friend. One or both keep falling asleep before they can Do It. What?) 4. Was I the only one kind of repulsed/annoyed by the amount of implied sex in this book? Practically everyone (including the telepathic horses sorry, Companions) can have (and apparently does have) no-strings-attached sex with everyone else and that's totally cool with everyone at the Collegium. That was great to know, thanks. It really enhanced my feel of this world at large. I really wanted to know that as opposed to, say, any other character trait of any other character. 5. Speaking of other characters, I would have liked some. The cookie-cutter nature of every side character (and I mean literally every side character except maybe Jadus [?]) meant I mixed up who was who and was invested in exactly zero of them. 6. I neither know, nor do I care, what the sexual orientation of Mercedes Lackey is/was when she wrote this book. All I know is the lesbian-thumping (like Bible-thumping, but with lesbians) got very old fast. Protip: no amount of screaming about the normalcy of homosexuality is going to change the mind of someone who doesn't agree with you. 7. (view spoiler)[I gotta say it: when I got to the part at the end with the incriminating letters in the hollow arrows, I paused, read that part over again, then said to myself "Just finish the book, and we'll get back to this later." I slogged through the rest of the book, then came back to that part. It made, if possible, less sense the third time. What kind of idiotic plot point was that?! The Bad Guys put incriminating letters into hollow arrows which they then used to kill a Herald. Who in their right mind would put incriminating letters into hollow arrows that they intend to shoot at someone? Smuggling papers in hollow arrow shafts isn't a bad idea, but surely they would have some way of differentiating those arrows from regular arrows? One would think they'd feel different weight-wise anyway. (hide spoiler)] Conclusion: There was something bothering me about this book from the beginning that I was able to ignore for a while, but finally crystallized in the last few chapters: Arrows of the Queen felt like an amateur self-insert fanfic in a fandom whose canon I hadn't read. The lack of plot, the cardboard cutout side characters who are either uniformly supportive of the main character and awesome or Evil Incarnate, the Special Snowflake teenage main character that has the Rarest Gift Ever and is fantastic at whatever she touches yet humble and self-deprecating (and apparently half-robot with the way she was able to fit everything into her schedule), the wildly uneven pacing, the level of detail that whips in close on some subject I didn't really need (finding out about menstruation dust and Herald!tampons was a very enlightening paragraph) and pulls out of the only thing I was actually interested in knowing (what was up with Griffon?), all of it felt like one of those really terrible Mary Sue fanfics you hear about, where Mary Sue is able to resist the temptation of the Ring and thinks she's nothing special really while every single other member of the Fellowship wants to keep her warm at night (except, we can hope, Gandalf). This made, at its best moments, merely passable airport fiction. At worst, I suppose it would make pretty acceptable kindling.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    Utterly delightful. One of those "to be loved by all ages" books. I'd read Magic's Pawn and was expecting some rough and perhaps more "period" views on things, but all told I thought this was stronger and much less traumatic than that book. CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)[ child abuse, domestic abuse, discussion of sexual assault, brutal death, loss of a loved one. (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -Talia. Poor little girl! We watch her go from downtrodden Utterly delightful. One of those "to be loved by all ages" books. I'd read Magic's Pawn and was expecting some rough and perhaps more "period" views on things, but all told I thought this was stronger and much less traumatic than that book. CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)[ child abuse, domestic abuse, discussion of sexual assault, brutal death, loss of a loved one. (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -Talia. Poor little girl! We watch her go from downtrodden outcast to a strong, beloved young woman. It was very sweet, watching her grow up. -The instructors. OMG! Adults who act like adults! People who notice children are hurting and do what they can to give them skills to cope, who listen and mentor and comfort. They were all good, caring people and we'd all be fortunate to have one person like them in our memories, let alone five or more! I loooooved that once Talia and her friends had found evidence of bad things, the adults acted on that. It never makes sense to me in books with teens who save the world where the hell the grown ups are. In this case, it was beautifully done, with them doing what makes sense to shelter their charges and reward their efforts. -Talia's friends. AAHHH!! There are more than two girls! And they're all nice to each other! The only people who are at all mean are the bad guys! Everyone else is super chill and supportive. Boys and girls are friends! Girls and girls are friends! Boys show emotion! In case it's not obvious, I was very pleased with this. It's so rare for me to see in books at all, let alone books aimed more at younger readers, and it's so effing nice to have a great example of what platonic love looks like before kids get put on that track of romantic love. Hell, I am a grown up and I still like having reminders of how friendship should feel. Also, I like how there were different levels of friendship and that those levels changed at points throughout the book. Again, a wonderful reminder that you don't need to be everything to everyone, and a healthy look at accepting that we all mean different things to people we care about. -Handling the issues. So, this is something I'd gladly give to a tween. Yes there's casual sex, but it's dealt with healthfully, with discussion of the difference between lust and love, the use of protection and all that. There's also coping with loss, recovering from trauma, finding "your tribe," the value of boundaries and consequences and so on. I really liked most of it, except for (minor spoiler but still a real one) (view spoiler)[ the spanking (hide spoiler)] which was definitely "of its time." I also love that gay relationships were prominent and NBD. It was clear that the characters were used to a little prejudice, but that they had a safe spot where they lived. -The world. Be still my girlish heart. I was definitely a horse girl as a child. A telepathically linked horse that's faster, smarter and braver than all the other horses? One that picks me of all the people in the world??? I want to go to there. And a nice school and pretty people in a tough world. Castles! Intrigue! Libraries! Wild forests! I'm not sure what to say. When I say "epic fantasy" this is the place I want to be in my head. Things someone probably doesn't love: -There's no plot. I mean there is, but the plot is very much secondary to seeing her grow up and make friends. The main character is important to the big moments in the story, but she's neither their cause nor their focus, for the majority of the story. This is a "cozy" fantasy. -It does get dark. Well, it's cozy except for some dark parts. I'd compare this book to Tamora Pierce, except that her books skate much further away from issues like molestation and forced marriage. This is the darker version of the Lioness series. I thought this book did exactly what it set out to do, and it was a nice palate cleanser from some heavier books. I'd recommend this to most people who like epic fantasy and likely even give it to my younger friends, as long as their parents thought they were ready for it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    When I was a kid and my father was out of town for work, my mom and I got to have sleepovers in the big bed. We would curl up with our pillows stacked behind our backs and read books and eat ice cream and fall asleep whenever we wanted to. I loved it. And, unsurprisingly, the tradition continued on until I left home. One particular time I remember it was a Friday night and I was fourteen and my mom and I went to the base library to see what we could find. I wandered down the aisles and stopped w When I was a kid and my father was out of town for work, my mom and I got to have sleepovers in the big bed. We would curl up with our pillows stacked behind our backs and read books and eat ice cream and fall asleep whenever we wanted to. I loved it. And, unsurprisingly, the tradition continued on until I left home. One particular time I remember it was a Friday night and I was fourteen and my mom and I went to the base library to see what we could find. I wandered down the aisles and stopped when my eye caught on a pink and purple spine in the fantasy/scifi section. It seemed a bit...girly...for me and when I saw the pretty much opalescent horse on the cover I almost put it back on the shelf. But I liked the title. And the girl on the horse looked pale and sad and interesting with her short hair and her threadbare scarf. So I checked it out and that night curled up with my mom and a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream and fell in love. Talia is an orphan. Raised in a very claustrophobic, incredibly closed off family hold that her uncle runs with an iron fist, she longs for a kinder, more stimulating world in which "family" refers to people who love you and not people who revile and shame you. When a white horse straight out of her dreams appears one day, Talia climbs into his saddle and never looks back. The horse is clearly no ordinary horse. He can sense emotions and share his own with Talia. He takes her to Haven, the capital city of Valdemar, where her hidden talents are recognized and she is enrolled in the Collegium--a school for heralds-in-training. The heralds are an elite force who are trained to protect the Queen and the realm from threat or harm. There at the Collegium Talia makes the first friends of her life (and a few enemies as well). When she stumbles across a plot to destroy the Queen, she is forced to harness her wayward abilities and use the connections she's made to convince the Queen and her council that there is a traitor in their midst. This series is a very dear one to me. My fourteen-year-old self completely empathized with Talia and her insecurities and longings. She has to be one of the most passive heroines of any I've read, which makes her unique as I generally find myself drawn to stronger, more forceful personalities. But Talia matures, both chronologically and emotionally in this series, particularly in book two, Arrow's Flight, when she gets shoved through the refiner's fire as she completes her Heraldic training and emerges prepared to defend her Queen. And yet, she retains that innocence and inherent sweetness which somehow captured my heart more than a decade ago and has not let it go. Each book in this trilogy gets better and better and you only grow fonder of this family of characters Lackey has pieced together. Among Talia's inner circle, there is a not-so-ex-thief, a spoiled princess, a gruff and intimidating armsmaster, a crippled harpist, and Rolan--her horse and Companion. Mercedes Lackey's strength lies in these characters and how she is able to make you want so much for them. If you fall in love with the world you're also in luck as Ms. Lackey has written a whole host of books that take place in Valdemar, though this trilogy is by far the best, IMO, and definitely the place to start. Reading order: ARROWS OF THE QUEEN, Arrow's Flight, and Arrow's Fall.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    I’ve always vaguely known about Mercedes Lackey’s work, but rarely read any, so this was my first experience with Valdemar. I’m aware that there are tons of problematic things about Mercedes Lackey’s body of work, though I haven’t looked at details. Still, Arrows of the Queen is a book I wish I’d had when I was younger. It has a couple of queer characters, who are treated pretty much like the other characters — okay, things aren’t all rosy for them, but not for other characters, either. And the I’ve always vaguely known about Mercedes Lackey’s work, but rarely read any, so this was my first experience with Valdemar. I’m aware that there are tons of problematic things about Mercedes Lackey’s body of work, though I haven’t looked at details. Still, Arrows of the Queen is a book I wish I’d had when I was younger. It has a couple of queer characters, who are treated pretty much like the other characters — okay, things aren’t all rosy for them, but not for other characters, either. And the main character is a young girl who loves books, and turns out to belong to something bigger than herself — that scullery maid to (almost) princess sort of transition which can be so fun (and which so often brings forth cries of “Mary Sue” when the character is female, and yet no such complaint is made if the character is male). It’s fun, and Talia is capable and compassionate, while also learning and growing throughout the book. There are some things which jar a little now, for example her casual use of corporal punishment with the spoilt young princess, even after coming from a rather abusive background herself. It’s pretty commonly agreed now that corporal punishment doesn’t really go any good, but here it’s treated as a valuable tool in the arsenal of unspoiling a child. I’m dubious, and I’m sure there are people who would hate that section, but at least Talia has a general common sense approach to dealing with the Brat. On the less positive side, the writing seriously falls down in places. Large chunks of time fly by, without any real framing, so that you think she’s been at the school for a month and it turns out it’s been a year, and such things. Worse, Lackey is — at least at this point in her career — very prone to “telling, not showing”. This sometimes wrecks the pacing and makes sections seem rather dry and didactic. Still, I read it in one go and did enjoy it, and I’m planning to read more in the Valdemar universe. And I still wish I’d actually picked this up as a kid, and given it to my sister too. It might have made us feel less alone. Originally posted here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: This book is super trope-heavy and not always the best written, but I found it a light, fun, quick read that seemed to suit my current mood. 3.5 stars. Full Review I’ve heard of Mercedes Lackey, but none of her books had made it onto my to ever growing to read pile. If not for Sword & Laser I probably never would have read this. This is one of those books that read at a different point, I might have been bored by. I’ve been a bit burnt out on reading lately and this seemed to Executive Summary: This book is super trope-heavy and not always the best written, but I found it a light, fun, quick read that seemed to suit my current mood. 3.5 stars. Full Review I’ve heard of Mercedes Lackey, but none of her books had made it onto my to ever growing to read pile. If not for Sword & Laser I probably never would have read this. This is one of those books that read at a different point, I might have been bored by. I’ve been a bit burnt out on reading lately and this seemed to hit the spot. This is the classic chosen one trope mixed with the magic school trope. I’m a complete sucker for the Magic school trope. It was obvious at times that this was Ms. Lackey’s first book. The writing was decent, but could use some more polish. The biggest surprise for me were all the social issues casually woven into the story, especially given the time this was published. It seems like only recently that books are dealing with things like gender equality, homosexuality or casual sex without negative connotations are more commonplace. This book covers all of those things, but in subtle ways. It could simply be that my own personal reading selection in the 80s and 90s simply neglected other works covering these kinds of things. This certainly seems to be a book aimed at young women more than boys. Much of my reading was stuff my mom brought home for me. I doubt the cover with the girl on the magic horse was something I’d have been willing to give a try in my teens. That said, who wouldn’t want a magic horse as your companion? If you don’t, you might be dead inside! If this book was published today, it’d be put in the YA section and might be lost in vast array of fantasy aimed at young girls. In many ways this book feels like it could be a prototype for those books. However, as I don’t read a lot of YA anymore I could be wrong there. The book ends in a pretty good place. The major issues seem to be wrapped up (albeit a bit too quickly and neatly). I feel like I might be up for reading more, but could be perfectly content to stop here. Overall, I’m glad I read this book. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue on with the series. I’ll probably have to be in the right mood for it. Maybe this time next year.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Arrows of the Queen tells the story of Talia, a young girl from a repressive society who suddenly ends up being bonded with a magical horse called a Companion*. Rolan, the Companion, takes her to the capital city of Valdemar where she learns about her role as the Queen's Own Herald and gathers a group of friends around her. *as in many fantasy novels of the time, Important Concepts are Capitalized. I first read this book not long after it first came out, and was so drawn in I read all the way thro Arrows of the Queen tells the story of Talia, a young girl from a repressive society who suddenly ends up being bonded with a magical horse called a Companion*. Rolan, the Companion, takes her to the capital city of Valdemar where she learns about her role as the Queen's Own Herald and gathers a group of friends around her. *as in many fantasy novels of the time, Important Concepts are Capitalized. I first read this book not long after it first came out, and was so drawn in I read all the way through the trilogy back-to-back, something I almost never do. How's it held up in the intervening 30 years?... the rating should tell most of the story. Much of this novel was enchanting. Talia's an endearing character and it was easy for me to root for her. The descriptions were good, and there's an intriguing sense of a larger world, its magic and dangers and history, beyond its "present day" story and setting. I'm interested in seeing more of Talia's friends, like Skif, who work hard to break her reticence, and love and support her. The whole thing is mostly comforting and cozy. At the same time, I'm not that excited about the writing style, which like many fantasy novels from its time period is heavy with exposition, written with very basic sentences and vocabulary. Only a handful of the supporting characters are memorable at all, and the rest are names without any particular character traits. A lot of the action, including a number of Heralds' deaths, either happens off-screen or is abruptly resolved, depriving those parts of the story of interest and immediacy. This was Lackey's first published novel, so I'm willing to cut her some slack. She's had a long, prolific and successful career since 1987, and her budding skill as a storyteller shows even this early on. I'll keep on going with this trilogy, and see if I can get further into the huge Valdemar universe after that!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

    This is a re-read, but it's been so long since I read it the first time, I only really remembered a few major events. I think this is still a great coming of age story, and I remember it was one of the first magical school type of books that I read. So my rating may be a little bit nostalgia, but it was just really fun to read this again as an adult. One thing I hadn't realized was that there's not a whole lot of plot in this one. We do get the story of the main character developing over time, wi This is a re-read, but it's been so long since I read it the first time, I only really remembered a few major events. I think this is still a great coming of age story, and I remember it was one of the first magical school type of books that I read. So my rating may be a little bit nostalgia, but it was just really fun to read this again as an adult. One thing I hadn't realized was that there's not a whole lot of plot in this one. We do get the story of the main character developing over time, with a few plot threads here and there, but it's more of a slice of life type of book than I remembered. Either way, I enjoyed going through this, and I'll probably re-read more of the series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    ❀angela

    I absolutely ADORED this book. I wanted to give it five stars... But how can I when I'm so effing mad that (view spoiler)[Talia won't end up with Skif? I know that Dirk saw her first and that usually is a good indicator of who the real love interest is, but still! Skif spent so much time with Talia, was a more developed character. I feel like Dirk just suddenly appeared out of nowhere, he doesn't get any page time until the end. And I am going to admit I'm pretty shallow when it comes to the hero I absolutely ADORED this book. I wanted to give it five stars... But how can I when I'm so effing mad that (view spoiler)[Talia won't end up with Skif? I know that Dirk saw her first and that usually is a good indicator of who the real love interest is, but still! Skif spent so much time with Talia, was a more developed character. I feel like Dirk just suddenly appeared out of nowhere, he doesn't get any page time until the end. And I am going to admit I'm pretty shallow when it comes to the heroes in my fantasy novels so: Dirk is ugly; BOOOO. (hide spoiler)] Anyway. The world-building is good and it's a very easy read without being juvenile. It shares a lot of similarities with Tamora Pierce's Alanna, though I think I'd prefer this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. Talia is not like normal 13-year-old girls. She likes to read adventure stories and she fantasizes about being a Herald for the queen of Valdemar. She does not want to get married to one of the dreary men in her village. So, when a Companion — one of the blue-eyed white horses who belongs to a Herald — shows up without a rider, Talia is happy to help him find his way home and stunned to learn that she’s been chosen to be trained as a Herald. Published in 19 ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. Talia is not like normal 13-year-old girls. She likes to read adventure stories and she fantasizes about being a Herald for the queen of Valdemar. She does not want to get married to one of the dreary men in her village. So, when a Companion — one of the blue-eyed white horses who belongs to a Herald — shows up without a rider, Talia is happy to help him find his way home and stunned to learn that she’s been chosen to be trained as a Herald. Published in 1987, Arrows of the Queen is Mercedes Lackey’s first novel and the first in her popular Valdemar series. This is a coming-of-age tale in which a naïve and wide-eyed youngster who has endured a repressive upbringing is suddenly freed and enrolled in a special school, where she makes friends and enemies and discovers that she has magic powers and an important destiny. Like many such heroes, Talia is a good and well-meaning girl who, despite being mature and wise beyond her years, neglects to tell adults when she’s being bullied or needs help, thus getting into mishaps that could easily have been avoided. Fortunately, she deals with some equally unwise villains who tend to audibly rehash their evil plans at the exact moment that Talia happens to eavesdrop on their clandestine meetings. Although I’ve read many books of this ilk and, therefore, found few surprises in this one, I must admit to being charmed by Talia and her story, though I’m certain I would have felt differently if Arrows of the Queen had been published more recently. Mercedes Lackey’s first novel has a nice pace (though Talia’s lessons were sometimes prolonged and too detailed) and an engaging heroine, and introduces a world I’d like to learn more about. I listened to Albany Audio’s version of Arrows of the Queen, which was narrated by Carole Edie Smith. She’s a terrific actress, but she has a rather unsuitable Northeastern US accent which just doesn’t fit the medieval setting of Valdemar. I managed to mostly listen past that. Unfortunately, the next 24 Valdemar novels are not available in audio format. I may pick up the next couple of Valdemar novels in print, completing at least the first trilogy. This series has the potential to provide many hours of mindless entertainment.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    This was the first Valdemar book that I read, which was sort of fortuitous since it was the first book about the world that Mercedes Lackey wrote. It isn't my favorite (Kero's tale has that honor), but it comes very very close. I re-read this book (and the rest of the trilogy) probably about once a year, and I never get tired of them. Don't be fooled by the childish looking covers, this trilogy deals with some VERY adult themes.. child abuse, death, torture, sex, war, rape, murder... but it does i This was the first Valdemar book that I read, which was sort of fortuitous since it was the first book about the world that Mercedes Lackey wrote. It isn't my favorite (Kero's tale has that honor), but it comes very very close. I re-read this book (and the rest of the trilogy) probably about once a year, and I never get tired of them. Don't be fooled by the childish looking covers, this trilogy deals with some VERY adult themes.. child abuse, death, torture, sex, war, rape, murder... but it does it in a way that doesn't leave you feeling slimy. Are there talking horses? Yeah, kind of. It's a fantasy novel. Animals frequently talk in fantasy. Narnia, anyone? The Valdemar books are still my favorite series of all time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Re-read 2019 I'm on a bit of a re-reading spree. Revisiting some of my favorite series. Re-read 2018 I'm picking up some of my favorite books as a re-read to take a break from all the reading for a paper I'm writing. I love the books revolving around Talia and how she became Queens Own of Valdemar. Re-read 2017 Poor Talia, she's a holderkin girl who wants to be something other than a wife or mother. When she escapes into books she dreams of being a Herald of Valdemar and doing great things like Lav Re-read 2019 I'm on a bit of a re-reading spree. Revisiting some of my favorite series. Re-read 2018 I'm picking up some of my favorite books as a re-read to take a break from all the reading for a paper I'm writing. I love the books revolving around Talia and how she became Queens Own of Valdemar. Re-read 2017 Poor Talia, she's a holderkin girl who wants to be something other than a wife or mother. When she escapes into books she dreams of being a Herald of Valdemar and doing great things like Lavan Firestorm and Herald-Mage Vanyel. Unfortunately, that isn't something proper girls do in her society. After running away from her hold to avoid a marriage at 13 she is found by a Companion, and her adventures both good and bad start from there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read. In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder! And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends. So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it we Ahoy there me mateys! While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read. In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder! And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends. So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . . arrows of the queen – Mercedes Lackey Now I had touched upon this novel and the author in me previous log post, Broadside No. 8. This book was my introduction into her writing. As I said in that post “I finished the trilogy and forayed further into the Valdemar world. I am not sure how well this series would hold up now since I haven’t re-read any since I was a younger lass but me memory holds such fondness for them. I enjoyed her writing so much that eventually I delved into her other work.” The answer about whether it stood the test of time is . . . erm . . . not so much. While this book did bring back some fondness for me, in general I found in more problematic than my memories would suggest. Me primary problem be that the main character, Talia is such a special snowflake. I mean seriously, she is twelve or thirteen and out of a backwater province with no real education or experience and yet she can enter a new land with new politics, culture, etc. and somehow with her “wise beyond her years” personality suddenly become a trusted adviser to the Queen. Seriously her advice is common sense. Sigh. Of course young me would not find Talia’s talents to be unreasonable. I wanted them too! On top of that the culture, politics, and education of Valdemar seem to be rather flat in execution. As was the plot. In actuality I found Talia’s beginning experiences in her homeland to be the most interesting part of the story. It felt more fleshed out than the later parts of the book. The story in general felt too simplistic and generic. And that ending was so ridiculous! I mean seriously the bad guys had no brains. Plot aside, there were two aspects of this book that still make me heart happy. One of the things is the bond between horse and rider. It is a magical telepathic bond. This bond had way less page time or purpose than I remember but the concept still makes me happy. Even if I can’t have a telepathic horse on me ship for practical reasons, I still kinda want one. The second aspect of this book concerns sexuality. In this book sex was not shameful. People could have no-strings-attached sex. There are also monogamous long term couples. And gay and lesbian couples. It is by no means graphic but I do remember my younger self’s brain being introduced to these different kinds of relationships and sex. I had no experience with knowing any types people with alternative lifestyles at that point. This wasn’t a major revelation or even one I thought a lot about at the time (late bloomer here) but as a child it did lead to thoughts of “hmm different” and also “cool.” As an adult reader, I appreciate that Lackey was writing about this options as a) normative; and b) doing so in 1987 when people didn’t advertise these lifestyles as viable, perfectly acceptable choices. So hurrah for that! So while me second reflections of this novel seemed to point out the flaws in this book more than anything else, I still maintain me fondness for it. I don’t know if I will reread the second and third books of this trilogy because too many books and so little time. But I am actually glad I gave this book another look. Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Awallens

    When I was younger, I would say in my early teens, my friends read all of the Mercedes Lackey books they could get their eyes on. Because I didn't listen to audio books at the time— I only read Braille when I could be bothered to read, that is, I didn't get to read these books. and what a series I missed, but I'm catching up now and am delighted to do so. the NLS annotation is below. Talia lives on the borders of the kingdom in an isolated, grim hold. She knows little about the outside world except When I was younger, I would say in my early teens, my friends read all of the Mercedes Lackey books they could get their eyes on. Because I didn't listen to audio books at the time— I only read Braille when I could be bothered to read, that is, I didn't get to read these books. and what a series I missed, but I'm catching up now and am delighted to do so. the NLS annotation is below. Talia lives on the borders of the kingdom in an isolated, grim hold. She knows little about the outside world except for the existence of the magical horse-like companions. Talia longs to become a herald and travel with her own companion to carry out the queen's law. When she runs away and the companion Rolan picks her up, Talia finds her dreams coming true. However, learning to be a herald is hard and dangerous. For grades 6-9. the NLS description couldn't touch the themes Lackey touches on in this book. Themes of abuse, how to overcome it, she touches on homosexuality, sexual feelings of adolescents, and perseverance with gentleness, with and understanding, in a way young adults and heck, even adults, can appreciate. Buzzard's narration is excellent, as I listened to her, I really began to like her narration and voice. Her narration, woven with the world Lackey has created here, has enthralled me. I would highly recommend this book, and I might just curl up with the next book as soon as I can get it loaded. this, of course, is subject to change.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Octavia Cade

    An entertaining, easy-read coming of age story in which Talia escapes her difficult family to train as a Herald, complete with magical powers and an even more magical horse. The main strength here is the protagonist - Talia is sympathetic and I enjoyed reading about her, but I did feel that the more talents got heaped on her in the second half of the book the less interesting she was, and the more she started to feel like a fantasy heroine rather than an actual person. Another positive is the ge An entertaining, easy-read coming of age story in which Talia escapes her difficult family to train as a Herald, complete with magical powers and an even more magical horse. The main strength here is the protagonist - Talia is sympathetic and I enjoyed reading about her, but I did feel that the more talents got heaped on her in the second half of the book the less interesting she was, and the more she started to feel like a fantasy heroine rather than an actual person. Another positive is the general atmosphere of kindness that surrounds her in Herald training school - obviously there's conflict in the story and enemies to be defeated, but they're often almost outside the text, and it's nice to read a book where pretty much everyone who spends any time on page is a decent person. I have to say, though, that in many ways the book struck me as a very long introduction. A pleasant one, don't get me wrong, but when I came to Goodreads to rate and review and saw that it was the first in a series, I felt absolutely no surprise. The rest of the series will be going on my reading list, though, and I hope they're as likable as this one!

  17. 4 out of 5

    C.W.

    Full video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXJoy... 3.5-4ish. Full video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXJoy... 3.5-4ish.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    Solid feel-good fantasy about a young woman coming of age. Strongly reminiscent of Alanna: The First Adventure and Dragonsinger for me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    3.5/5; 4 stars; B+ I have had a pile of Mercedes Lackey books sitting on a shelf in the basement ever since I inherited them from my sister years ago. I finally started working on them. I remember Joan telling me to start with these then follow with the Magic's Pawn subset. This book had several strong female characters, including the main character. It reminds me very much of the Tamora Pierce series I read lately starting with Terrier. This was good clean fantasy. I don't feel compelled to rush o 3.5/5; 4 stars; B+ I have had a pile of Mercedes Lackey books sitting on a shelf in the basement ever since I inherited them from my sister years ago. I finally started working on them. I remember Joan telling me to start with these then follow with the Magic's Pawn subset. This book had several strong female characters, including the main character. It reminds me very much of the Tamora Pierce series I read lately starting with Terrier. This was good clean fantasy. I don't feel compelled to rush out and binge on the series but I will definitely read more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    El

    My partner has been working on a fantasy world for a while now, and one of these days he might actually put all of his scraps of paper together into a cohesive story. I love this, and I keep urging him to keep at it; one of the ways I encourage him is to ask him about his world which then sets him off on an hour-long discussion about some very important yet seemingly-small details about something that happened in this world a thousand years ago. We got to talking about his main character, a femal My partner has been working on a fantasy world for a while now, and one of these days he might actually put all of his scraps of paper together into a cohesive story. I love this, and I keep urging him to keep at it; one of the ways I encourage him is to ask him about his world which then sets him off on an hour-long discussion about some very important yet seemingly-small details about something that happened in this world a thousand years ago. We got to talking about his main character, a female, and there was something that was bugging me about this character that I couldn't, for a long time, figure out. I finally managed to put it together - the character he is envisioning is pretty damn awesome. Like... too awesome. No one (myself included, har) is not that awesome all of the time. So we talked about that at some length, that when writing characters you don't want the protagonist to be so absolutely perfect, because then the story will lack tension or character development. And these things are important to a good story. It bugged him at first, but he eventually came around to what I was saying and recognized my advice was probably accurate. I'd like him to read this book as an example of how boring a character can be if she's perfect at everything she ever does. Talia is a 13-year-old who leaves her own corner of the world because she's about to be forced into marriage which is pretty ew considering her age. She runs away, finds a horse (or does the horse find her?; hmmmmm....), and off they go. These two, Talia and the horse she intuits is named Rolan, are pretty tight. He brings her back to his homeland, and everyone there is pretty excited because Rolan found his special friend. Rolan is now Talia's Companion. Cute! Turns out Talia is pretty gifted in some other ways and the queen of this place wants her to be her own very special guard. This 13-year-old manages to be incredible at everything, and much of the story involves her being awesome at things, and that not sitting well with some people, but who cares because perfection. Sorry, the story isn't that great, I'm not going to lie. The worst of it, however, is the attempt at writing sex scenes. Talia and a boy try to make the sex happen a few times, but they keep falling asleep which is totally realistic (NOT) for adolescents to continuously fall asleep before the actual act. And then! "I hate to say this," Skif began with a sigh. "I know. This isn't going to work, is it?" "I guess not. It's either the gods, fate, or the imp of the perverse." "Or all three. I guess we're stuck just being good friends. Well, you can't say we didn't try!" Ummmm. Is this like a three-strikes-you're-out kinda deal? Cause that seems a bit harsh, even though they both seem to be on the same page about this. Like "Man, bummer we can't stay awake and get it in; oh well, let's just order pizza." Unless the plot point implied here is that Skif or Talia are gay, or asexual, which then that's great because this book was written in 1987 and it would be refreshing if Lackey was leading the story along one of those lines. But I sort of just feel the possibility of sex was thrown in for, what, shock? Interest? Publicity? I don't know, but it didn't work here. AT ALL. What did work, however, is a brief discussion of this land's version of birth control, which pretty much mirrors your standard birth control pill of our own day, except it's in powder form there. This actually intrigues me, probably more than it should because a powder birth control? Like... do you put it in your tea? Do you snort it? So many possibilities here. The fact that I put this much thought into powdered birth control makes me realize that the story just wasn't doing much for me in the slightest. I had high hopes for this book because I read Lackey's Mage Winds trilogy back in college when a friend of mine claimed they were her favorite books EVER. I also enjoyed them at the time, and always meant to read more by Lackey. I realized as I read this that after reading The Mage Winds trilogy, I did try to read one of Lackey's other trilogies (of which there are quite a few, actually), but the story never took off in the same way. So I wonder if I actually did try to read this trilogy (The Heralds of Valdemar) but couldn't get into it. I do have the next two books that I got from the library at the same time as this first one, so I will stick with it to see where Talia takes us on her quest to becoming Herald. I hope the story improves though, because this was a pretty big disappointment.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Talia is a peasant girl who yearns to be more than a brood-mare. She wants books and adventure! Alas, all she has to look forward to is years of more abuse and hard labor. But then! A sparkly magical white horse comes by! The Companion (the shiny psychic horse) takes her to Valdemar, an idyllic kingdom where a wise, hard-working, common-sensical queen rules. Training montage! Everyone thinks Talia is the bestest evar! Talia is a bit like Alanna, except infuriatingly humble. Talia is a peasant girl who yearns to be more than a brood-mare. She wants books and adventure! Alas, all she has to look forward to is years of more abuse and hard labor. But then! A sparkly magical white horse comes by! The Companion (the shiny psychic horse) takes her to Valdemar, an idyllic kingdom where a wise, hard-working, common-sensical queen rules. Training montage! Everyone thinks Talia is the bestest evar! Talia is a bit like Alanna, except infuriatingly humble.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    What fun it is, to revisit an old-time favorite and enjoy it just as much as ever.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~

    This is the first book in the Valdemar series and it has a lot going for it, but it falls short of what I expect out of story. The good news is it's not another Tolkien ripoff trying to pass itself off as something original. The bad news is it's the first in a series, and I think even the first book Lackey wrote, and it shows. The other good news is that for a first book, this shows a lot of promise, and I'm willing to go along for the ride and see how Lackey improves as a writer over the course This is the first book in the Valdemar series and it has a lot going for it, but it falls short of what I expect out of story. The good news is it's not another Tolkien ripoff trying to pass itself off as something original. The bad news is it's the first in a series, and I think even the first book Lackey wrote, and it shows. The other good news is that for a first book, this shows a lot of promise, and I'm willing to go along for the ride and see how Lackey improves as a writer over the course of the series, especially as I'll be reading this is publication order. This book introduces us to the world of Valdemar, so named after its first ever king, and a young Herald by the name of Talia. She's the classic Hero archetype, pulled from the fringes of society from a miserable life to discover that she's something more than she dreamed possible, landing into a world of adventure. Eventually. After she gets trained and goes to school and all that boring stuff. ;) Along the way, she meets several friends, helps with a conspiracy to unseat the Queen, and gets a magical horse. I like Talia for the most part. She comes across a bit Mary Sue-ish at times, but that appears to be a hazard of the Heralds in general, since they're Chosen by their Companions, who somehow can sense the people who will have all the qualities necessary to be good Heralds: goody-two-shoes with some form of Gift and with hearts of gold no matter how awful their starts in life might have been. In other words, no one from Slytherin is getting onto this team. Not that they're perfect, and that saves Talia from being a true Mary Sue. She has faults and she pays for them, and she struggles to fit in and find her place in the Collegium. Her growth through the book was quite well-done. Of the other characters we get the most page time with, I really liked Skif and Jadus. Skif was a street rat and still has many skills handy for sneaking about - and getting into trouble. Jadus becomes a mentor to Talia, and later to Skif. Elspeth, the queen's heir, is a horror child when we first meet her, and I can just imagine the tough love approach taken to tame her would be frowned upon by some. The world-building is sprinkled throughout the book and doesn't overwhelm at any point, but I would've liked to see more of the day-to-day goings on of the Collegium, more training sessions, more classes, more equestrian training, anything at all with the Council. The various other side characters also don't get as well developed as the ones I mentioned and are there mostly for support. There's also a lot of head hopping that I'm sure would annoy some readers, though it was never confusing whose head we were in at any point. I also wanted more of the conspiracy. (view spoiler)[Since most of the book was from Talia's POV, and she understandably isn't allowed into the inner workings of the kingdom, we miss nearly everything about this conspiracy. If Lackey was going to head hop anyway, I don't see why we couldn't get those scenes with the queen discussing them with her Council. Being left in the dark for this, when it drives so much of the plot, feels like a huge misstep. We don't even find out the name of the people who were arrested. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brecht Denijs

    Ugh, I adored this book and I so want to give it five stars but, sigh, it's got some issues. This is the sucky part about being an adult, seasoned reader. You pick up a thing or two about writing books and suddenly you can't help but notice things and be critical. I'm sure I would have loved the shit out of this as a kid and readily given it five stars, I can't in good conscious do that now though. Arrow of the Queen is a classic style Noblebright, coming of age fantasy story. It was basically Ha Ugh, I adored this book and I so want to give it five stars but, sigh, it's got some issues. This is the sucky part about being an adult, seasoned reader. You pick up a thing or two about writing books and suddenly you can't help but notice things and be critical. I'm sure I would have loved the shit out of this as a kid and readily given it five stars, I can't in good conscious do that now though. Arrow of the Queen is a classic style Noblebright, coming of age fantasy story. It was basically Harry Potter before Harry Potter was Harry Potter. I love these kinds of stories, they're my favourite subgenre in fantasy and I'm so glad to have stumbled on this one. It does the Noblebright thing very well, creating a world within a world that is full of good, justice, friendship, love etc...while the world at large still has grimness and evil. There is grief and loss in this book, but hope above all. I loved it, I loved the bits of the world we got to see and I loved the characters. Also, this book had LGBT rep in the 1980s! I wasn't expecting that. Kudos for including it, though I must say, it wasn't always handled all that well. I'll circle back to that but for now I'll point out that one of the characters who despite being from a region where it is generally accepted and being in a place where it is also openly allowed, still feels the need to hide her sexuality somehow and has a lot of sex with men instead. I mean she might be bi or something, but it wasn't explained well AT ALL. A lot of great female characters in this book though. If ever I have a daughter, this would be the type of book I would like her to read. Now on to the parts I really rather not talk about, because I loved reading this book so much, but I must address the issues. Plot It doesn't really have one. This trilogy was written back to back and all published in just a single year, first one in 1987 (incidentally that makes it as old as I am) and the last one in 1988. As such, this first book is really just covering our Hero Talia's formative years at the collegium and her initial admission. A lot of things seem to happen, but there is little to no big overarching plot that we're working towards. The antagonists are all nameless and faceless and their motivations none existent as far as we're concerned. As a consequence the pace was downright odd with constant shifts in speed between chapters. Seeing as we cover about three or four (formative) years in this book, this did lead to a certain amount of confusion at times. Show, don't tell This basic rule of creative writing was ignored a bit too often. Sometimes the author would literally tell us that "a bond was formed". To make matters worse, what she told us at times contradicted with what was happening, in particular with how characters acted. Especially in Talia's regard to Skif. (view spoiler)[ How does this shy character, who is especially wary of men, suddenly become sensual and sexually confident towards her friend who she apparently isn't even all that romantically attracted to? She's a virgin, barely out of girlhood, so innocent her friends weren't even sure if she knew about the birds and bees and all of a sudden she's making midnight rendez vous with a guy she's barely kissed. This came out of nowhere and was so ill-fitting to the character that it felt very awkward. (hide spoiler)] Tropes While staying from certain tropes nicely, with strong characters of both genders and the world being neither utopian nor dystopian. It sadly does still follow a couple of tropes or deals badly with trying to avoid them. I'll list four examples below: 1) The chosen one trope: This is one is sadly very present. I like Talia a lot but she is certainly a bit over powered, almost super human even. Her few flaws seem to be applied very randomly and aren't logically utilised. Sometimes they seem to be just there because the author is trying to make her seem a little less perfect and not being very successful at it. 2)Men and Women can't be just friends trope: I particularly hated this part as I have quite a few close female friends. It was by far my least favourite subplot and should have been left out entirely in my opinion. (view spoiler)[ Why can't she and Skif develop a close bond without there having to be a sexual component? It was totally out of character for Talia to behave the way she did and the whole thing didn't make any sense. They apparently like each other so much that they go past their friendship and overcome their inhibitions towards each other to have sex. Moments after admitting they like each other I might add. There might be some sense in that if they were adults but these are young teenagers and at least one of them is a virgin. But then it gets even weirder, they want to have sex but end it up being too fatigued to engage in it. I remember being a horny teenager, not buying that! But then worst of all, after three failed attempts, they decide it must mean it wasn't meant to be and revert back to being close friends. I mean...what?! What I hate most is that it treats the friendship as a sort of consolation price and it really weakens the scene with Skif at the very end. No, I HATED this subplot with a passion! (hide spoiler)] 3)The back-up love interest trope: (view spoiler)[ This was a very weird bit. When Keren goes into emotional turmoil because of Ylsa's death, Talia figures out that Sherril is the only one that can help her because she has same sex attraction like Keren so she's the only who "truly understands". What, us straight people can't relate to queer people losing a romantic partner because our romantic partners are of the opposite sex? WTF?! But to get to the tropy part. Apparently Sherril has always secretly liked Keren, so now that Ylsa is dead, that means Keren will just have to take Sherril instead, because reasons. She there, she's queer, so Keren apparently doesn't get much of a say in this. I hate it when books do this. "We killed off the love interest, but here is this other character that we've been keeping handy, available and pining for the entirety of the book so now you can just fall in love with them instead. Not that you've just suffered a terrible emotional loss and a new love interest may be the furthest thing from your mind or anything. No! Stop! Treat grief and loss (and love for that matter) with the proper respect and attention it deserves, damn it! (hide spoiler)] 4)The beauty myth trope: Now it avoids this particular trope, but it does so hard its best to avoid it that it goes so far in the opposite direction as to become a trope in itself. The book hammers it in that our characters are not really attractive looking, every single chance it gets, to the point of being downright annoying. Poor Dirk is even made to look like Quasimodo. Here's a thought? How about one general description of what a character looks like, without commenting on their attractiveness. Because unless it somehow pertains to the plot, I really don't care and I certainly don't need to see it repeated. Now, in spite of my ramblings and in spite of the issues, I really loved this book. I'm happy to have discovered the world of Valdemar and I suspect I shall be spending a lot more time in it. If you're into Noblebright, I warmly recommend this one. Bear in mind that it is an all ages novel, so the story is more basic without major twists. Not that that is a bad thing in and of itself, but it is noteworthy. I'm looking forward to reading the next one!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Ugh, what? Get outta here.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku

    I will admit, from page one I knew what was going to happen. We all did. A wide-eyed youngster who comes from a repressive upbringing is suddenly freed and enrolled in a special school where she grows into herself. Talia makes friends, she makes enemies. And, she discovered that she has magical powers and important destiny. Arrows of the Queen is a collection of predictable tropes latched together to create characters and plot. But that didn't change how engaged I was on every page. Talia is the I will admit, from page one I knew what was going to happen. We all did. A wide-eyed youngster who comes from a repressive upbringing is suddenly freed and enrolled in a special school where she grows into herself. Talia makes friends, she makes enemies. And, she discovered that she has magical powers and important destiny. Arrows of the Queen is a collection of predictable tropes latched together to create characters and plot. But that didn't change how engaged I was on every page. Talia is the perfect character for the story Lackey has built. As Arrows of the Queen is the first published book in the Valdemar universe, we have a lot of world-building to establish. Talia is a blank slate for all world-building to be crafted around. While we Talia experiences most of this, as we're in a school there is still quite a bit of explaining. However, I never felt like the explaining was distracting, inappropriate, or info-dumpy. Instead, I was right there with our scrappy protagonist as she learned the rules of her new life in the Collegium. In Arrows of the Queen, Lackey explores social issues which are incredibly progressive for 1987. Such as homosexual lifemates, gender equality, and sex positivity. Sometimes, Lackey's messages are overt, and other times subtle. But they are there. And these characters are not just vessels used to share Lackey's opinions. Nope, these characters are well-developed; these social ideas are part of their lives. Speaking of! Can we just take a moment to recognize the subtlety of feminine care Lackey tossed in here? Like, when Talia was receiving a tour of the bathroom: "Sherrill showed her where everything was located; the laundry chute, the supplies for moon-days, towels and soap --" MOON DAYS. And later, birth control is discussed! Be still my beating heart. These characters actually DO things to take care of their biological needs. And these characters are what drive Arrows of the Queen forward. While we do have some "evil" for Talia to fight, the experience of her education and growth at the Heraldic Collegium is the focus of this story. If you're someone who wants to read questing and stabbity-stabbity in your fantasy, well, you'll probably need to wait until a later book. It is obvious at times, that this isn't just the first book in the Valdemar series Lackey published. It is her first ever published novel. Lackey's writing doesn't have a ton of polish. It is witty and charming, engaging and exciting-- but it falls short sometimes. Framing was often non-existent, meaning I could only tell of time's passage by the seasons. Also, as is often a problem with books in a school setting, telling and not showing cropped up occasionally. This would wreck the pacing and made sections slow down quite a bit for me. And yet… I still read this book in a single sitting. Brace yourself, friends. It turns out, I might be addicted.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Actually this book is better than a 3...but it's not really a 4. It's a well written book about a, are you ready? Young hero who's miserable, abused and unappreciated at home, until duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, DAAAAA, one of the chosen. Yes gasp she's to be a Herald!!!!!! So you get the picture. The young protagonist who's had a hard to miserable childhood/youth and then gets called away to be a hero/heroine. Still (my sense of humor aside) it's a well written book and the young protagonis Actually this book is better than a 3...but it's not really a 4. It's a well written book about a, are you ready? Young hero who's miserable, abused and unappreciated at home, until duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, DAAAAA, one of the chosen. Yes gasp she's to be a Herald!!!!!! So you get the picture. The young protagonist who's had a hard to miserable childhood/youth and then gets called away to be a hero/heroine. Still (my sense of humor aside) it's a well written book and the young protagonist is appealing and complete. I got to know her, to like her (in spite of a few personality quirks that can annoy, and those were I believe deliberate). The book tells a "pretty good" story and draws you in. So why drop it to a 3? Well it's pretty obviously the "first in a series" and reads like/"feels" like a long first chapter. It seems to me mostly a set up for the next/rest of the book/s (and I have the paperback of the next here. I just need to make time to get to it. So a good book a readable book. It has the good world building (but them Ms. Lackey has spent a lot of time and ink in this world already) and a good system of "magic" (though they'd correct you for calling it magic I suppose. And who doesn't love horses? Don't tell me if it's you. Recommended, a good read I hope the series holds up.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    For Jan 20, 2020 SFFBC Also avl as ebook okc. Probably want to get sequels, too. At least the first trilogy. ----- mobius sent me a beat-up mm pb after a relatively long wait... but once I finally got my hands on it I read the first third when I should have been sleeping, and now am having trouble putting it down. It's an easy, engaging, teen/ YA style read, perfect for young girls who love horses and for us older women who remember being young and want a comfort read... probably good for other folk For Jan 20, 2020 SFFBC Also avl as ebook okc. Probably want to get sequels, too. At least the first trilogy. ----- mobius sent me a beat-up mm pb after a relatively long wait... but once I finally got my hands on it I read the first third when I should have been sleeping, and now am having trouble putting it down. It's an easy, engaging, teen/ YA style read, perfect for young girls who love horses and for us older women who remember being young and want a comfort read... probably good for other folk, too. I do hope that I can read the sequels; I'd kinda like to own the trilogy. If it ends as well as it's going so far, it'll be a strong four stars. ...... And done. And yes indeed, the ending was just as charming as the rest of the story, and it is totally worthy of four stars, and I want to own the trilogy (and of course keep reading Lackey). It's not a perfect book, and so people who aren't engaged by it will find plenty of nits to pick. But I was enchanted. Now I feel a bit more surprised I wasn't engaged by Tamora Pierce's Sandry's Book. (my review of that does pick nits)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog)

    4.5 Stars Talia has never fitted into her home, she dream of adventures and not the bland drudgery and abuse that she lives with. When she realises the future planned for her by those in her household she blindly runs only to found by a Companion the fabled steeds of the Heralds who serve the Queen as messengers and warriors, not wanting to go back to her home Talia decides to take the Companion back to the Queen and see where fate may take her. This is the first Mercedes Lackey book I have read 4.5 Stars Talia has never fitted into her home, she dream of adventures and not the bland drudgery and abuse that she lives with. When she realises the future planned for her by those in her household she blindly runs only to found by a Companion the fabled steeds of the Heralds who serve the Queen as messengers and warriors, not wanting to go back to her home Talia decides to take the Companion back to the Queen and see where fate may take her. This is the first Mercedes Lackey book I have read but I can say with certainty that it won't be the last. Her tale of a lonely abused teenage girl finding her way and realising she is more special than she can imagine was enchanting and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Although this doesn't seem to be Fantasy in the sense I normally read it, it wasn't particularly epic and instead focused on one individual and her journey there was so much potential and so many different directions this series could go that I can't wait to see happens next. If you like authors such as Maria V Snyder and Trudi Canavan you will like this book as well, the authors have a very similar style in the way they have set up their stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bon

    3.5 stars rounded down. I’ll start with dislikes, which seem like a lot but I really did find the second half of the book enjoyable. Firstly, there is needed but sometimes tiring worldbuilding and explication in this first book. Talia has to learn about Heralds and a billion kinds of magic skills, threats to the kingdom, etc., and so some conversations started losing my attention. The first half of the book, to be honest, dragged on like this, but it picked up at nearly exactly the halfway poin 3.5 stars rounded down. I’ll start with dislikes, which seem like a lot but I really did find the second half of the book enjoyable. Firstly, there is needed but sometimes tiring worldbuilding and explication in this first book. Talia has to learn about Heralds and a billion kinds of magic skills, threats to the kingdom, etc., and so some conversations started losing my attention. The first half of the book, to be honest, dragged on like this, but it picked up at nearly exactly the halfway point so I carried on. I was a little worried when the book started with Talia living in a patriarchal region of the kingdom, where polygamy is common – her father has several wives – because a lot of men die or something? And while this lends a weird power to the first wife, the whole system left me feeling very squicked out. Forgive the sarcasm, but I’m glad our female protagonist found the ONE way out of marriage and childbearing and household duties at a very young age. Her friend, of an age – so I think 13 – got married off to an old man, she says, and I was ready to be done right there. Gross. So it’s a good thing we quickly see her run away from home and embark on a quest to find fulfillment through a magical calling, right. However, even the magic had a creepy aspect for me. Talia has a constant psychic connection with her Companion horse that cannot be shielded, and the book made a point to mention that his ‘amorous’ doings are conveyed to her through that – and even ‘educates’ her about sex. NOT NECESSARY 😊 Even more squicky - Talia is portrayed as 13, then assumedly a couple years pass while she’s at school. She’s maaaybe 15 by the end of this but it isn’t even clarified. Her friend makes a point to mention the safe sex habits that the Heralds practice – contraceptive powders, oh my! – and encourages Talia to partake? Sure, young adult sex ed is essential, but Talia is literally referred to as an adolescent in the next scene and *gestures vaguely* something was off-putting about the whole thing. I liked a lot of the book; it felt like a complex fantasy world broken down prose-wise to YA level, making it much more easily digestible; and this was in the 80s, when a lot of ramblers were written, so I really enjoyed that. It was also remarkably similar to Green Rider, which I believe came out more than a decade after this, so THIS must’ve been the inspiration – though it does make me frown at Kristen Britain, because it’s SO similar, down to the special horses and messenger/warrior roles of the Heralds/Green Riders. There are a lot of strong female characters in this - the Queen runs the kingdom, there are tons of female heralds, there is a female herald COUPLE - very cool. Talia seemed a bit Mary Sue at times and annoying, but also painfully relatable. She’s a voracious reader, spurred on to seek this escapism as a result of an abusive and traumatic childhood. Helllooo! She is also crazy-wary of men, immediately labeling them as threats or not, also relatable, tends to expect the worst of people, and heavily suppresses her emotion. Plus, her special magic talent is an Empathy that can translate to kind of astrally-projecting into another’s mind. It’s super cool magic. The pacing really picks up in the second half, too, though it never feels like the book reaches a climax. I'm left with mixed feelings, disliking the first half and enjoying the second.

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