Arrows of the Queen: Engaging heroine in an interesting world

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsArrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Arrows of the Queen: Heralds of Valdemar Series, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged Mercedes Lackey (Author),‎ Christa Lewis (Narrator),‎ Tantor Audio (Publisher)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 patriarchal 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 at the academy.

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.Heralds of Valdemar (3 Book Series) by Mercedes Lackey

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), engaging characters, and introduces a world I’d like to learn more about.

REVIEW OF OLD AUDIO VERSION (posted in February 2011): 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.

REVIEW OF NEW AUDIO VERSION BY TANTOR AUDIO (Released on March 30, 2018): Finally the VALDEMAR series is getting the audio respect it deserves. This one is narrated by Christa Lewis and it’s far far better than Albany Audio’s old version. Lewis gives an very nice performance overall. I did not love her voice for Skif, but that’s okay. The audio version of the sequel to Arrows of the Queen, Arrow’s Flight, will be released on May 8, 2018. The third and final book about Talia, Arrow’s Fall (sounds ominous) will be out on June 5, 2018. I’ll be reviewing these, too.

Published in 1987. New audio version in 2018. 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.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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One comment

  1. Jackie J /

    I loved this trilogy when I was a teen.

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