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.
Alberich, formerly an enemy of Valdemar, is now the weapons master of its heralds and is a chief advisor and bodyguard to queen Selenay. He also continues to entrap bad guys at night.
After Alberich and Selenay defeated Valdemar’s enemies in Exile’s Honor, the country seems to be at peace, but both of our heroes are still not satisfied. Alberich still feels like an outsider (though he’s been in Valdemar for years) and he’s lonely. Selenay is still mourning her father’s death and is being pressured by her council to get married and produce an heir. There are other political tensions, too. Someone is fostering rebellion against Selenay and Alberich is determined to hunt down the culprits.
There’s a lot of down-time in Exile’s Valor. We watch Alberich train the heralds and learn about glass making (some of this was interesting). We watch Selenay plan and execute a winter festival with an ice-skating competition. We watch the heralds invent a game that sounds like hockey and then gets converted to rugby when the weather warms up.
Eventually, romance enters both Alberich’s and Selenay’s lives (separately). This is sweet at first, but later turns sour, which makes up most of the drama in the latter part of Exile’s Valor.
As usual, the plot of Exile’s Valor is sloppy in places. For example, Selenay is guarded all the time except when there is a masquerade. Suddenly, though everyone knows what she is wearing, she is allowed to roam free amongst a lot of people in masks. This conveniently allows her to have a little romantic escapade. Alberich manages to overhear a lot of useful information when bad guys discuss their plans out loud in public. The council and Alberich suddenly let Selenay have her way when they know she’s made a decision that is likely to be deadly to both herself and her country. They don’t even try to talk her out of it. This is very much out of character for all of them, but it allows the drama to progress.
Exile’s Honor is a typical VALDEMAR novel and is not as good as its predecessor. But it introduces a new character who becomes important in later VALDEMAR novels, such as the HERALDS OF VALDEMAR and MAGE WINDS trilogies, so fans of the series do not want to miss this installment. This novel also mentions Tarma and Kethry from the VOWS AND HONOR series.
The audiobook version of Exile’s Valor (Tantor Audio, 2019) is excellently performed by Paul Woodson. I recommend these audio editions.