Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published By: DAW Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When an old friend recommended a series of three Mercedes Lackey books for me to read, I had no idea that I would become so immersed in the story as to want to read every single book about the country of Valdemar. Since having read The Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy, I simply can’t get enough. Every time I visit the bookstore, I search the shelves for a novel I don’t have. It was on one such expedition that I came across Exile’s Honor. Anyone who has read The Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy would certainly recognize the main character of this novel – Herald Alberich, the Weaponsmaster.
In Exhile’s Honor, we learn that Alberich was actually a soldier for the land of Karse, one of the last people anyone might have expected to be “Chosen” to become a Herald of Valdemar. In fact, one of Karse’s staunchest of warriors, Alberich was Captain of the Sunguard and on the rise within the Karsite Army. But Alberich had one failing that was his undoing in the land of Karse – he had the ability to see into the future. Alberich did all that he could to cover up this power, but, in searching for bandits that threatened the lives of his people, Alberich discovered that he could not ignore the visions he was experiencing. Thus, he led his army to the location he envisioned the bandits attacking and savagely vanquished them from the area. Unfortunately, his talents were not unnoticed by the local Sunpriest who, labeling Alberich a witch, sentenced him to be “cleansed” through fire. It was at this time that the Companion, Kantor, made himself known to Alberich, whisking him away to Valdemar to begin his existence as a Herald for the very land he was taught to hate.
It is said that the Companions know what they are doing when the select a Herald. Although the Heralds of Valdemar initially find it difficult to understand why a member of an enemy land would be chosen to become a Herald, Alberich’s abilities and future events soon make the reasons for the choice obvious. Alberich’s experience as a soldier endears him to the Weaponsmaster Dethor, who is on the verge of retirement and in need of a Weaponsmaster’s Second. His knowledge of Karse and the mercenary nation, known as the Tedrels, soon makes Alberich an invaluable addition to the Heralds of Valdemar.
One of the things I love about Mercedes Lackey is that she recognized that it was not enough to simply write The Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy without writing the back stories of the characters involved. The Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy focused on Talia, the new Queen’s Own Herald. Subsequent novels focused on characters that helped to ensure Talia’s greatness in her role as Queen’s Own possible. No one could possible forget the grim-faced Weaponsmaster Alberich, former soldier for the enemy. I, for one, wanted to know what it was that made Alberich leave his people and join Valdemar. I wanted to know just what it was that made Alberich tick. Happily, this is explained to perfection in Exile’s Honor.
More importantly, Exile’s Honor fills in gaps in the story that have previously gone untold, such as how Queen Selenay came into power in the first place. It also fills Valdemar fans in on the history behind Talia’s Companion and many other characters that befriend Talia in The Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy. I also loved the fact that the characters often referred to Heralds of the past, such as Lavan Firestorm and Vanyel Ashkevron, the Herald Mage, thus effectively tying all of the Valdemar-based novels together.
Mercedes Lackey’s writing style is addictive. She magically lures you in from the very first paragraph and hold your attention to the very last word of the novel, leaving you yearning for more as you turn the last page. Happily, there is a sequel to Exhile’s Honor entitled Exile’s Valor! I can’t wait to sink my reading teeth into that one!