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. In her special role as Queens Own, Talia (despite her youth, lack of education, and inexperience in the world) gave the queen advice and help that saved the kingdom.
In Arrow’s Flight, a few years have passed and Talia has earned her whites. Now it is time for her to go off on her internship ride with a senior herald. She gets paired with Chris, a young man who’s extremely good-looking and a little bit arrogant, but also kind and protective (as all Heralds must be in order to be chosen). As they are on circuit around the kingdom, Talia learns, in a practical way, what it really means to be a Herald. They go from village to village, making pronouncements for the queen, solving problems, marrying people, and acting as judges when the villagers have disputes. Heralds are also known for their licentiousness, and Talia learns about that aspect of being a Herald, also (making this, in my matronly opinion, not a book for teens).
A smaller plot involves Elspeth, the heir to the throne, who has not yet been chosen as a Herald. If she is not chosen by one of the Companions, the queen will have to either name a different heir, or remarry in hopes of having another child.
The main crisis in Arrow’s Flight, though, is the rumor that Talia is using her gift of empathy to influence and manipulate people around the queen. Talia spends a lot of time examining herself and wondering whether she is perhaps unconsciously manipulating people. This causes some problems with her shielding and control of her gift, so she goes through a lot of “ground and center” training with Chris. There is also a love triangle involving Talia and two young men, and much introspection about this occurs, too.
I don’t really know who this book is for. (This is an issue I’ve had with previous Lackey stories.) Readers who want to know about the life of the Heralds of Valdemar will enjoy Arrow’s Flight. But the simplistic subject matter and plot, and all the drama and brooding, especially involving the love triangle, feels juvenile to me, making this feel like a Young Adult story. But, as I mentioned, because of the sex, I wouldn’t want my daughters reading it and, as some validation for my opinion, I’ll point out that these books were published by an adult imprint of Penguin Group (not a children’s or teen’s imprint). Perhaps 18 is an appropriate age, but the story seems too juvenile for that. I think there is a mismatch here.
Christa Lewis narrates Tantor Audio’s new edition of Arrow’s Flight. She does a very nice job and I think it’s great that these books (whoever they’re for) are finally available in audio format. Arrow’s Flight is ten hours long. The audio version of the third novel about Talia, Arrow’s Fall, will be out next month.
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