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SFF Author: Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey(1950- )
Mercedes Lackey has been a prolific writer since 1987 when she published her first Valdemar novel. She has authored and co-authored many fantasy series, anthologies, and short stories (some related to role-playing games). She has a degree in biology from Purdue University. Like many writers she has worked at a variety of jobs, including short stints as a waitress, security guard and artist’s model. She lives outside Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband and collaborator, artist Larry Dixon, their several birds and two dogs. Learn more at Mercedes Lackey’s website.



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Arrows of the Queen: Engaging heroine in an interesting world

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

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.


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Arrow’s Flight: Talia goes on circuit

Arrow’s Flight by Mercedes Lackey

Arrow’s Flight is the second book in Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR series. It was originally published in 1987 and has just now been produced in audio format by Tantor Audio. In the first VALDEMAR book, Arrows of the Queen, we met Talia, a young girl being raised in a repressive society who was chosen by a telepathic blue-eyed white horse to be one of the Kingdom’s Heralds. She was whisked off to the academy where she began learning the skills needed to protect the kingdom.


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Arrow’s Fall: The end of Talia’s story

Arrow’s Fall by Mercedes Lackey

Arrow’s Fall (1988) is the third and final novel in the first trilogy of Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR saga (THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR). This trilogy features Talia, a girl who lived in a close-knit conservative rural area who was unexpectedly chosen as the Queen’s Own Herald. In Arrows of the Queen and Arrow’s Flight we watched Talia come to the heralds’ collegium,


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Exile’s Honor: One of the best VALDEMAR novels

Exile’s Honor by Mercedes Lackey

Alberich had been an honorable, loyal, and effective officer in Karse’s army for many years until the day the Karsite sunpriests discovered that part of his success was due to the flashes of foresight he sometimes gets. When they attempted to burn him alive as a witch, Alberich was saved by a white horse that turned out to be one of the blue-eyed mind-speaking Companions of Valdemar, an enemy of Karse. Now Alberich is in Valdemar being trained as a Herald and, since he’s such a good fighter,


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Exile’s Valor: Important events occur, but there’s a lot of down-time

Exile’s Valor by Mercedes Lackey

Exile’s Valor (2003) is the sequel to Exile’s Honor (which is the best VALDEMAR novel I’ve read so far). Both of these books are prequels to Mercedes Lackey’s first VALDEMAR trilogy (HERALDS OF VALDEMAR). You should read Exile’s Honor before starting Exile’s Valor but you don’t need to read any other VALDEMAR novels in order to understand and appreciate Exile’s Valor.


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Take a Thief: The backstory of a popular VALDEMAR character

Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey

One of Mercedes Lackey’s most popular characters is Herald Skif, the young former thief who we met in the first two VALDEMAR trilogies (HERALDS OF VALDEMAR and MAGE WINDS). In Take a Thief (2001), a stand-alone prequel novel, Lackey gives us his backstory.

It starts as so many of her stories do. Skif is a young orphaned boy who is basically a slave to his cruel uncle.


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Winds of Fate: Fairly average epic high fantasy

Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey

Winds of Fate (1991) is the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE WINDS trilogy which is, in terms of internal chronology, an early trilogy in her VALDEMAR series. The VALDEMAR universe currently contains dozens of novels and short stories. So far I have read only six of them, but I own several more which I’m planning to review for our readers here at FanLit.

The VALDEMAR books are best suited for readers who enjoy classic high fantasy.


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Winds of Change: Boring middle book

Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey

Winds of Change (1992) is the middle novel in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE WINDS trilogy, which is part of her larger VALDEMAR saga. I wasn’t impressed with the first book, Winds of Fate, which was a standard high fantasy novel that didn’t stand out in any way. I decided to read book two anyway because I already owned it at Audible and I wanted to review it for FanLit.


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Winds of Fury: Better than previous book, but that’s not saying much

Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey

I read Winds of Fury (1993) because I owned it at Audible and had already reviewed the previous books in this MAGE WINDS trilogy (Winds of Fate and Winds of Change). I haven’t been enthusiastic about the story or the characters thus far, so if you have enjoyed them, you should ignore this review because it won’t be helpful. If you haven’t read those books yet and are trying to decide whether to read them,


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Storm Warning: New characters bring some life to this story

Storm Warning by Mercedes Lackey

Storm Warning is the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE STORMS trilogy which is part of the VALDEMAR saga. MAGE STORMS can be read without reading other VALDEMAR novels but, because it features many characters from other trilogies, it would be best to read it directly after reading the MAGE WINDS trilogy (Winds of Fate, Winds of Change,


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Storm Rising: Enemies become allies

Storm Rising by Mercedes Lackey

Storm Rising is the middle book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE STORMS trilogy which is part of the VALDEMAR saga. You’ll want to read the first book, Storm Warning, first. (There will be spoilers for that book in this review.) You don’t have to read any of the previous VALDEMAR books, but it would be helpful to read the MAGE WINDS trilogy,


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Storm Breaking: A satisfactory ending

Storm Breaking by Mercedes Lackey

The final book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE STORMS trilogy is Storm Breaking, which should be read after Storm Warning and Storm Rising. (Expect mild spoilers for those books in this review.)

In the previous books, we met some new characters, former enemies of Valdemar, who have now become allies and are working with our Valdemaran friends to stop the mage storms that threaten to destroy their entire world.


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Owlflight: Heroic fantasy for less-experienced fantasy readers

Owlflight by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

Owlflight (1997) is the first book in DARIAN’S TALE, one of the many trilogies/series that make up Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR saga. Though DARIAN’S TALE was first published twenty years ago, according to the series’ internal chronologically it takes place late in the overall story. I had only read four of the VALDEMAR books before picking up Owlflight. I read it because Tantor Audio has just released it in audio format and will release its sequels,


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Owlsight: Adds a new protagonist to Darian’s story

Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey

Owlsight (1998) is the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s DARIAN’S TALE, a trilogy set within her VALDEMAR universe. DARIAN’S TALE is a fine place for newcomers to begin reading the VALDEMAR books, but you should start with the first book about Darian, Owlflight. If you do start with DARIAN’S TALE instead of the first VALDEMAR book, Arrows of the Queen,


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Owlknight: A satisfactory ending to Darian’s Tale

Owlknight by Mercedes Lackey

Owlknight (1999) is the final story in Mercedes Lackey’s DARIAN’S TALE. This trilogy is part of her huge VALDEMAR series, but it can stand alone just fine. However, don’t start here. The first book is Owlflight and the second is Owlsight. Expect a few spoilers for those books in this review.

As Owlknight begins, a couple of years after the events of the previous novel,


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Magic’s Pawn: Fluffy epic fantasy with a twist

Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

Vanyel Ashkevron is miserable at home. His father, one of the lords of Valdemar, wants him to be a warrior like the other boys in the family, but Vanyel, who’s more interested in clothes and music, wants to be a bard. After getting beat up by the armsmaster, Vanyel is sent to be fostered by his Aunt Savil who trains Valdemar’s Herald-Mages. At first he is terrified, but soon he realizes that he is finally free to discover the truths about himself. He experiences love and tragedy and,


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Magic’s Promise: A little less angsty than previous novel

Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey

Magic’s Promise is the second book in Mercedes Lackey’s THE LAST HERALD MAGE trilogy. This review is likely to spoil some of the first book’s plot, so be warned.

It’s been several years since the horrid events that took place at the end of the Magic’s Pawn. Vanyel is now the most powerful Herald-Mage on the planet and he’s been traveling all around the realm helping to fight a war with one of Valdemar’s neighbors.


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Magic’s Price: Bittersweet finale

Magic’s Price by Mercedes Lackey

In Magic’s Price, the third book in Mercedes Lackey’s THE LAST HERALD MAGE trilogy, we discover how this trilogy got its name. It’s been nine years since the previous story ended and the Herald-Mages are being knocked off one by one. Valdemar is in great danger. Vanyel is “the last Herald-Mage” and there’s a target on his back. If he dies, how will Valdemar survive a magical attack by enemies? Can Vanyel and Yfandes, his Companion horse, find and stop Master Dark,


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The Oathbound: Features a female sword-and-sorcery duo

The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey

The Oathbound (1987) is the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s VOWS AND HONOR series, a trilogy in her larger VALDEMAR saga. You don’t need to be familiar with VALDEMAR before picking up The Oathbound.

The story focuses on two heroines who suffered traumatic events, re-made themselves, and are on separate quests for revenge. Tarma is a clanswoman from a nomadic tribe that got wiped out by raiders.


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Oathbreakers: Better than the first book

Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey

Oathbreakers (1989), the second book in Mercedes Lackey’s VOWS AND HONOR series, is much better than the first book, The Oathbound. You probably don’t need to read The Oathbound first, unless you want the backstories on the main characters.

Tarma and Kethry are a female sword-and-sorcery duo. Tarma, a swordsmaster, is the last remaining member of her clan after they were obliterated by raiders.


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Oathblood: Stories about Tarma and Kethry

Oathblood by Mercedes Lackey

Fans of Tarma and Kethry shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Oathblood (1998), a short story collection featuring all of Mercedes Lackey’s tales about the female sword and sorcery duo. A couple of these stories appeared in The Oathbound and Oathbreakers, the other two books in Lackey’s VOWS AND HONORS series (part of the larger VALDEMAR saga), but most did not (though published elsewhere previously).


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By the Sword: A stand-alone story about Kerowyn

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey

In publication order, By the Sword (1991) is the ninth novel in Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR saga, but if you haven’t read any VALDEMAR novels before, don’t let that stop you. By the Sword can stand alone and it’s a fine place to enter Lackey’s universe. There are several beloved VALDEMAR characters in the novel, but it doesn’t matter if you meet them now or later. In general, the VALDEMAR saga is divided into several different trilogies and a few stand-alones and anthologies.


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The Black Gryphon: Begins a VALDEMAR prequel trilogy

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

There are dozens of novels and stories set in Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR universe. Most of these are arranged into trilogies that can be read by themselves without familiarity of the other VALDEMAR trilogies, though there are some overlapping characters and a shared history. The MAGE WARS trilogy (The Black Gryphon, The White Gryphon, and The Silver Gryphon),


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The White Gryphon: Skandranon and Amberdrake become detectives

The White Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

The White Gryphon (1995) is the second book in Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon’s MAGE WARS trilogy, a prequel trilogy in Lackey’s VALDEMAR universe. You’ll probably want to read The Black Gryphon before starting this book (and this review will contain some spoilers for it), but you don’t need to read any other VALDEMAR novels.

In The Black Gryphon we met the gryphon Skandranon and his friend,


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The Silver Gryphon: A second-generation survival story

The Silver Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

The third and final book in Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon’s MAGE WARS trilogy is The Silver Gryphon (1996). Like its predecessor, The White Gryphon, it jumps ahead about ten years. By this time, our heroes Skandranon and Amberdrake have teenage children who are preparing to receive the torch from the previous generation.

Skan’s son Tadrith and Drake’s daughter Silverblade feel daunted by their illustrious fathers’ reputations and are hoping they will eventually measure up.


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Foundation: Lackey has written this book better

Foundation by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey has written this book before. And she’s written it better before. Foundation follows the story of Mags, a plucky orphan who is rescued from an abusive situation as a slave in a mine by a Companion and brought to Haven to become a Herald. Substitute Talia for Mags, and Holder for mine, and you have just summed up Lackey’s first book, Arrows of the Queen. The problem is that Foundation isn’t nearly as good.


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Intrigues: Dear Mercedes Lackey,

Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey

Dear Mercedes Lackey,

I’m writing to you as a lifelong fan. Your Valdemar books are what started me reading fantasy. Some twenty-plus years later, By The Sword is still one of my favorite comfort reads. I considered naming a daughter Talia. So please don’t think I’m just a hater when I say: please stop writing Valdemar books.

Valdemar used to be a place of excitement. Everything was new. Heralds were wonderful. Companions were amazing. Every new book was an adventure.


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Changes: Giving up on Valdemar

Changes by Mercedes Lackey

And it is on this day, the 23rd of April, in the year two thousand and twelve, that I, Ruth Arnell, having been ushered into the world of fantasy readerdom by Arrows of the Queen, have given up on Valdemar.

Mercedes Lackey was my gateway to fantasy as a teenage girl. Valdemar was fascinating to me, but after 30some-odd books set in the world, the magic has faded, especially in the volumes written with her husband Larry Dixon.

This is the third book in the COLLEGIUM CHRONICLES series,


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Changing the World: All new tales of Valdemar

Changing 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,


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Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar: Too many fragmentary tales

Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar edited by Mercedes Lackey

Tempest (2016) is the most recent in a lengthy series of light fantasy anthologies set in and around Mercedes Lackey’s well-known Valdemar, is a land where people called Heralds are “Chosen” (read: magically bonded for life) with telepathic white horse-like creatures known as Companions. Once bonded, the pair joins others in traveling and policing their kingdom against wrongdoing, threats and evils of all kinds. While I’m a relative newcomer to the world of Valdemar, I’ve read several other works by Lackey and was impressed by a couple of her short stories of the Companions.


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Burning Water: Urban fantasy by Mercedes Lackey

Burning Water by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey is best known for her VALDEMAR series, a multi-volume epic fantasy that is beloved by many fantasy readers. Some of Lackey’s legions of fans may not know that she also published an urban fantasy trilogy back in the late 80s and early 90s. It stars Diana Tregarde, a romance writer and practicing witch who solves magical murders and helps protect the world from evil supernatural beings. She is a Guardian.

In the first DIANA TREGARDE novel,


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Children of the Night: Not rewarding enough

Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey

Children of the Night (1990) is the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s DIANA TREGARDE trilogy, following Burning Water. Each of the novels can stand alone, so you don’t need to read Burning Water first. In fact, it could be argued that this one is a better starting place because it’s set earlier in Diana’s life and we learn more about her in this novel.


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Jinx High: Like a cheesy horror movie

Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey

Jinx High (1991) is the third novel in Mercedes Lackey’s DIANA TREGARDE trilogy, following Burning Water and Children of the Night. This series stars Diana Tregarde, a romance novelist and witch who protects humans from supernatural harm. The novels and short stories in this series can be read in any order.

In Burning Water we watched Diana catch a serial killer inspired by an ancient Aztec god and in Children of the Night she confronted vampires that were sucking the life out of people in her city.


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Elvenbane: Norton vs. Lackey, Round 1

Elvenbane by Andre Norton & Mercedes Lackey

In the world of Elvenbane, elves have subjugated humanity because… well, they’re elves, frankly: magical and long-lived and perfectly capable of taking what they want. Apparently having served as the unselfish goodie-goodies one too many times, elves have instead been refreshingly cast as the fantasy version of the Roman Empire in this text, conquering and enslaving other races out of a sense of entitlement and a desire to expand their power. Humans are used for menial labor and sexual gratification,


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The Fire Rose: A Beauty and the Beast retelling

The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS is a series of ten (so far) novels that take place on an alternate Earth where some people are born with the ability to learn to control fire, water, air, or earth. Each book is also a fairytale retelling, though you may not notice that if you’re not looking for it in the story.

The first ELEMENTAL MASTERS novel, The Fire Rose, is based on “Beauty and the Beast” and is set in 1905-1906 San Francisco.


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The Serpent’s Shadow: A Snow White and the Seven Dwarves retelling

The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

The Serpent’s Shadow is the second of Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS novels. These are stand-alone fairytale retellings and this particular one is based on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” The story takes place in London in 1909 and it’s so different from that familiar tale, though, that you may not have recognized its influence if I hadn’t told you, even though the classic elements are here (seven companions, an apple, a magic mirror, poison that puts the heroine to sleep,


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The Gates of Sleep: Lush and engaging, but it loses steam

The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey 

The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey, part of her ELEMENTAL MASTERS series, is a fun, harmless read based loosely on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.

Growing up, I had always been drawn to Mercedes Lackey books, mostly because of the lush cover art, usually drawn by Jody Lee. But then, unfailingly, I’d read the blurb and decide not to read it; they usually sounded too involved, too conspicuously “high fantasy,” or otherwise cheesy and formulaic.


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Phoenix and Ashes: A Cinderella story about PTSD

Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey

Each of Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS novels is a stand-alone fairytale retelling. Some of the novels have overlapping characters, but you can read these books in any order. The fourth book, Phoenix and Ashes, is a mostly pleasant Cinderella story set in England during The Great War. Maya, the Indian doctor from The Serpent’s Shadow, is a minor character. I listened to Michelle Ford narrate the audio version of Phoenix and Ashes (Audible Studios).


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The Wizard of London: Strangely jumbled

The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey

The Wizard of London is the fifth of Mercedes Lackey’s stand-alone novels in her ELEMENTAL MASTERS series of fairytale retellings. It’s so loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” that you probably won’t even notice the few similarities. There’s an ice queen, but the theme of The Wizard of London (if there is one, which I doubt), has nothing to do with the theme of “The Snow Queen.”

The story starts when a little girl named Sarah arrives from Africa (where her parents are missionaries) at a London boarding school that is known to educate and train the children of Elemental mages.


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Reserved for the Cat: A Puss in Boots story

Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey

Reserved for the Cat is the sixth stand-alone novel in Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS series of fairytale retellings. As the title might suggest, Reserved for the Cat is a “Puss in Boots” story and it’s actually recognizable as such (unlike some of Lackey’s other retellings that go too far afield from their sources).

Ninette, our heroine, is an orphaned ballet dancer who has lots of talent but is fired from her gig with a famous Parisian ballet company after inadvertently evoking the jealousy of the company’s reigning diva.


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Unnatural Issue: Great premise executed poorly

Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey

All of Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS novels are stand-alone retellings of fairy tales from around the world. Unnatural Issue (2011) is Lackey’s adaption of Charles Perrault’s “Donkeyskin,” a more obscure French tale from 1695 about a king who wanted to marry his daughter. In Lackey’s version, this king is an Earth Mage named Richard Whitestone, a country squire who was devastated by his beautiful wife’s death 20 years ago. When his daughter Suzanne, who he’s never met, grows up to look just like his wife,


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Home from the Sea: Lackey finally gets it right

Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey

Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey was a pretty enjoyable, fluffy fantasy romance. Set in coastal Wales, it combines the story of Tam Lin with selkie myths. Mari Prothero is a young woman who lives with her father, Daffyd, an unusually lucky fisherman. On her sixteenth birthday, Mari learns, to her great dismay, that she has been promised as a bride to one of the Selch, the seal-skinned people of the sea. This bargain has been in place for generations of the Prothero family;


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Steadfast: More like Stead-slow

Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey

Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey is another fairy-tale retelling from her ELEMENTAL MASTERS series. It recasts Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the Steadfast Tin Soldier.

Katie Langford is a circus acrobat on the run. She flees to Brighton and ends up as a dancer and magician’s assistant for a small theatre. Lionel Hawkins, the magician she works for, is an elemental magician; he and his good friend Jack, the one-legged doorman of the theater, soon see that Katie also has undiscovered magical abilities.


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Blood Red: Cool premise, but disappointingly simple

Blood Red by Mercedes Lackey

Each book in Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS series is a stand-alone re-told fairy tale set in a world where some humans are elemental masters — magicians who have control over an elemental power. Some of the stories are more closely tied to the original fairy tale than others. For some, the source material is almost unrecognizable.

Blood Red, the tenth ELEMENTAL MASTERS novel, starts out sounding exactly like Red Riding Hood — there’s an Austrian girl (Rosamund) wearing a red cape who’s bringing a basket of food to an old lady that she thinks of as her grandmother.


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From a High Tower: Rapunzel as Annie Oakley

From a High Tower by Mercedes Lackey

The most recent addition to Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS series of stand-alone retold fairy tales is a version of Rapunzel set in the Black Forest of Germany. Giselle (Rapunzel) is the natural daughter of a poor man who made a desperate deal that required him to give Giselle to a witch when she was born. The witch was an Earth Master who raises Giselle (who turns out to be an Air Master) as her own daughter. One day, when Giselle is locked in her tower bedroom while her mother is out of town,


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Firebird: 90 pages in and it’s still starting

Firebird by Mercedes Lackey

Since Firebird is one of Mercedes Lackey’s somewhat older works, I thought I’d enjoy it. It certainly sounded promising.

And indeed, Firebird starts off with a lot of potential. Though the main character, Ilya, is yet another underappreciated, super-clever youth whose family is mean to him, etc. etc., he’s a bit of a, well, womanizer. He likes him some womenfolk, and it’s kind of charming in a rather “That’s not very like Mercedes Lackey” kind of way.


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Joust: Quite entertaining despite the problems

Joust by Mercedes Lackey

Vetch’s family used to own land in Alta, but when they were invaded and occupied by Tia, Vetch’s father was killed and the rest of his family became serfs. Vetch, who was taken away from his mother and sisters, is now the servant of a horrible fat and lazy man who’s pretty much the worst master you can imagine. (All of Mercedes Lackey’s bad guys are really really bad!)

When a Tian dragon jouster named Ari notices Vetch’s plight, he rescues him and takes him as his own servant.


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Alta: Multiple plot problems, but I want to know what happens next

Alta by Mercedes Lackey

Alta (2004), the second book in Mercedes Lackey’s DRAGON JOUSTERS quartet, starts where Joust left off. Vetch, formerly a slave and more recently a “dragon boy” in the land of his enemies, has escaped with the dragon he raised from an egg. They are now in Alta, the land of his birth, which has been occupied by Tia, the land he just escaped from.

Vetch (now called by his real name,


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Aerie: An unnecessary and disappointing sequel

Aerie by Mercedes Lackey

Aerie is the fourth and final book in Mercedes Lackey’s DRAGON JOUSTERS series. This review will spoil some of the plot for the previous three books, Joust, Alta, and Sanctuary, so it’d be best to not read further in this review if you haven’t read those books yet.

I’m convinced that Aerie exists only because Lackey left a thread dangling in the third book,


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The Phoenix Unchained: Standard, but entertaining, “lite” epic fantasy

The Phoenix Unchained by Mercedes Lackey

I picked up The Phoenix Unchained, the first novel in The Enduring Flame trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory because I haven’t read Lackey before (and I wanted to) and this book was available for download in audio format (and I needed something for my commute). The Phoenix Unchained is a sequel to The Obsidian Trilogy which, unfortunately, is not available (yet) on audio, and which I haven’t read.


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The Phoenix Endangered: Silly and boring

The Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey

I got through about three quarters of The Phoenix Endangered on audio. This was a sluggish and clunky second installment in The Enduring Flame trilogy. The writing was dull and not much happened to advance the plot. By the time a battle finally started, I couldn’t muster up enough interest to participate.

Even more than the last book, this one was full of two teenage boys brooding, bickering, whining, and being noble. Half of what they say is said “sulkily,”


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Gwenhywfar: Didn’t meet expectations

Gwenhywfar: The White Spirit by Mercedes Lackey

I normally wait a day or two after reading a book to write the review. This gives me time to let the book settle, and for my opinions to solidify. I finished Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit by Mercedes Lackey over a week ago, and am still struggling with this review…

Gwenhwyfar is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, based on an ancient Welsh myth that says that Arthur actually had three separate wives named Gwenhwyfar.


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Trio of Sorcery: Lackey back at the top of her game

Trio of Sorcery by Mercedes Lackey

[Ruth and her sister Sarah (one of our regular guest reviewers) both read Trio of Sorcery and finished within nine minutes of each other. This review consists of their email conversation about Trio of Sorcery. We edited it for clarity and removed their sisterly in-jokes.]

RUTH: I have to admit that when I got this ARC in the mail and turned it over to read the back cover, I squealed like a fan girl when I saw that there was a new Diana Tregarde story (the first in almost 20 years),


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Crown of Vengeance: Enjoyable high fantasy

Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

I finished listening to the audio version of Crown of Vengeance, the first in Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory’s DRAGON PROPHECY series. It tells the story of Vielissar Farcarinon, an Elvish mage who discovers when she is twelve that her parents were killed and her ancestral house destroyed by the people who fostered her, House Caerthalion. She nurses her rage and quest for vengeance as she learns to channel the Light. However, she soon finds out that she is the Child of the Prophecy,


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The House of the Four Winds: Shoddy plot and no romance

The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory

Do you ever read a book and wonder how it got published? Or read an established author and think, “Don’t they understand basic storytelling?”

The House of the Four Winds, by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, starts innocently enough. Princess Clarice of the Duchy of Swansgaarde must go out and seek her fortune because she has eleven sisters and a brother, and the Duchy cannot support twelve royal dowries. Clarice is a master sword fighter and intends to make her living as an instructor.


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Hunter: Magical monster-hunting

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

In Mercedes Lackey’s new young adult novel Hunter, post-apocalyptic science fiction mixes with magical fantasy to produce an adventure in the tradition of The Hunger Games and Divergent. A series of catastrophes called the “Diseray” — a corruption of Dies Irae — has hit our world: a nuclear bomb (blamed on Christians) was set off in the near east, the North and South Poles switched, plagues killed countless people,


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The Hills Have Spies: A good introduction to Lackey’s VALDEMAR universe

The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey

If, like I was, you’re utterly unfamiliar with Mercedes Lackey’s hugely popular and wide-ranging VALDEMAR series and the various interconnected novels set within that kingdom, The Hills Have Spies (2018) is a good entry point. The narrative flow is familiar in a retro, 1980s kind of way, evoking the fantasy genre I immersed myself in during my adolescence, with an appealing and likeable main character, various clever animal companions, a dastardly villain who spends most of the novel off-page,


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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,


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