Why You Should Read… Mercedes Lackey

Our contributor this week is one Mieneke, a newer but very welcome presence in the blogosphere. Her blog is A Fantastical Librarian, and she posts on Twitter as @Pallekenl. She has chosen to talk about Mercedes Lackey.

Choosing Mercedes Lackey as the subject for this feature wasn’t difficult. No other author takes up as much shelf space in my bookcases as she does. Her books are my comfort reads; when I feel down, when I just want to read something I know I’ll enjoy, her stories always are exactly what the doctor prescribed. Consequently I’ve read most of her books several times.

Lackey is a prolific writer, who writes across many sub-genres. Her work is easily accessible and her writing styling distinctive. This is illustrated by the many co-authored works she’s written; no matter who she’s writing with you always know you’re reading a Lackey novel. Her style is eminently readable and the tone light. You won’t find a lot of dark and gritty here! This is not to say that they have a happy ending by default though. However many times I’ve read the books, there are still scenes that make me well up every time I read them.

She is probably best known for her VALDEMAR novels, which focus on the Heralds of Valdemar and their Companions. Often featuring adolescents who bond these magical, telepathic more-than-just-horses, the themes of these books tend to be about finding yourself, accepting who you are and growing up. Though these are oft-written about themes, Lackey never bores me with them and is very good at adding a twist. These themes are not just found in the VALDEMAR novels, but pervade most of Lackey’s work, which is why they are often well suited to the young adult reader. Other (though by no means all) multi-volume series are the books set in the ELVES ON THE ROAD universe, the ELEMENTAL MASTERS series and the tales of the FIVE HUNDRED KINGDOMS.

With so many different sub-genres to choose from, there are many places to start in on Ms Lackey’s books. If you’re interested in the VALDEMAR novels, I’d say start with the first book published in that setting, Arrows of the Queen. If you’d rather start with something non-horsey and YA, I’d recommend Joust. This is the story of a young slave boy and his dream of becoming a dragon jouster. If you’re more into urban fantasy, I’d recommend Burning Water, the first of the DIANA TREGARDE books. If you like re-workings of fairytales I’d suggest starting with The Serpent’s Shadow or for a more humorous approach with The Fairy Godmother. I would recommend not starting with any of the VALDEMAR anthologies though, if you’re unfamiliar with Ms. Lackey’s work, since some background knowledge of Valdemar helps in appreciating them.

If you are in need of some literary chocolate when you’re having a bad day, look no further than the works of Mercedes Lackey. Try at least one of her books and I’ll bet you, like with any good chocolate, you’ll want more!

If you’d like to contribute a post to this series, please get in touch.


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AMANDA RUTTER, one of our guest reviewers, used to be an accountant in the UK but she escaped the world of numbers and is now living in a fantasy world she creates. She runs Angry Robot's YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. And we knew her when....

View all posts by Amanda Rutter (guest)

5 comments

  1. The first Lackey novel I read was “Magic’s Pawn”, and from there, her books were like an addiction. I just couldn’t get enough of them! I had to read all the Valdemar books, then oh, I found out about some of her standalones, and then other series she’s co-written… Many people will say she’s not much of a writer, that her stories are rather cliched and unoriginal, but really, I like ‘em! They’re fun to read, they provide hours of entertainment, and it doesn’t matter to me whether or not she’s declared the world’s most sophisticated author — I’ll remain a loyal fan!

  2. Sarah /

    If you want Urban Fantasy by Lackey try finding the SERRAted edge series. Or Sacred Ground. I found Burning Waters and the rest of the Tregarde trilogy well done but very dark, bordering on horror.

    One of my favorites of the non-Valdemar books is The Ship Who Searched written with Anne McCaffery.

    I have to agree that there are a lot of comfort reads my Lackey on my shelves.

  3. I have only tried later Lackey (collaboration). I need to try an early Valdemar novel when I’m in the mood for “literary chocolate”. Thanks, Mieneke!

  4. Thanks for all the comments :)
    That’s an interesting take on the Tregarde novels Sarah! I’d never have considered them bordering on horror. But then I’ve always told myself I don’t do horror and I loved the Tregarde series lol

  5. I originaly read the Diane Tregard books when they first came out. I re-read Burning Water recently and found that compared to more recent Urban Fantasy offerings it just didn’t hold up well.

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