Changing the World: All new tales of Valdemar

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsChanging the World Mercedes LackeyChanging the World: All new tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey

In Changing the World: All new tales of Valdemar, Mercedes Lackey edits a collection of short stories from several different authors. They’re all set in her famous Valdemar, and many center on a theme: What happens when being Chosen causes more problems than it solves? I enjoyed this approach to the classic being Chosen trope in which being Chosen is the end of all your troubles.

Lackey starts off the collection with “The One Left Behind” about a young woman who is dealing with the emotional fallout of being left — her father abandoned her as a child because he was Chosen, and her boyfriend leaves after he is Chosen. Other stories focus on people who have wonderfully happy lives and resent the intrusion of a magical white horse who is just mucking things up, or examine what happens when being Chosen means being forced to overcome personal shortcomings that the new Herald does not want to face.

Some of the more successful stories are not ones that center on the heralds and their Companions, but revisit characters from earlier Valdemar anthologies. We return to the tale of Ree and Jem (a human and hobgoblin) who are searching for a home and love in a time of upheaval. The two stories featuring these characters, each by a different author, provide a touching explanation of what it really means to be a family. Another particularly successful tale features a reporter interviewing a Companion… in Kentucky. In “Interview with a Companion” by Benjamin Ohlander, we learn that the Valdemar stories are a thinly veiled history of real creatures that intervene back here on earth on a regular basis. Have you ever noticed how many historical figures ride white horses? That’s not a coincidence. My other favorite story is “Nothing Better to Do,” by Tanya Huff, which features a poor, beleaguered Herald transporting an orphaned infant for several days through a forest.

These Valdemar anthologies come out on an almost yearly basis, and this is one of the stronger collections in the series. I particularly enjoyed the returning characters because they provide a sense of continuity. Like most anthologies, the quality is inconsistent, but the stronger stories predominate, especially in the second half of the collection. This is a good collection for Valdemar fans, and a fun collection for anyone else.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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