” A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the tree, but the young girl seated beneath it did not seem to notice.”
I bought a series of Mercedes Lackey Valdemar books from Audible on sale a little while ago, and to my horror I realized that while I could have started off with them, they’re kind of prequels in a way, and I wasn’t sure how much world-building and context I might miss. This series starts off the whole thing, and luckily was available from Hoopla, so I could jump in.
We begin the novel with Talia sitting under a tree reading a novel. Specifically the novel is about the Herald Mages, the Queen’s attendants and personal guard, holding off an invading force. Talia is right at a good part when she’s interrupted. She finds out that she’s about to be married off (she’s 13) and she is able to kind of run away. She meets a horse on the way that she recognizes as a “companion” a magical breed of horse that are the steeds of the Herald Mages, and she senses something from the horse and joins it on its journey. She thinks she is simply going to return the horse, but she meets a Herald Mage in the flesh, she learns that the companions choose their own riders, and this one has chosen Talia. She also learns that this particular horse is the companion to the Queen’s specific attendant, and that she will need to be trained to be the personal guard and friend of the heir, know as “The Brat”. So the book then turns into a school and training book as Talia learns all about the ways of being a Herald. What I loved about this in general is how great the set up is — she’s chosen! but to be a warrior and scholar and mage, and it saves her just in time, but puts her in a new kind of danger.