Short works

Books : reviews

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey.
Tiger Burning Bright.
Avon. 1995

rating : 6 : unfinishable
review : 5 September 1998

The city of Merina is rich and undefended, and falls prey to the conquering Emperor Balthasar, his dark mage Apolon, and his heir Leopold. The dowager queen Adele, her daughter queen Lydana, and the heir Shelyra surrender the city to save it from destruction, but go underground to fight back against the conquerors.

Ho hum. I said the Eight Dreadful Words on page 179, and stopped reading, when I got too bored just waiting for something to happen. By this stage we've had lots of background introductory material, on the three Merinan women, the three enemy men, and various other 'colourful' characters. But that's all we've had (apart from a little heavy-handed foreshadowing about evil gems), it's nearly half-way into the book, and I'm bored.

Maybe the problem is that each of the three writers has provided one book's worth of build-up, all lumped together? Or maybe the problem is that I don't like the kind of plot structure where things get worse, and worse, and worse, and ... until, finally, the characters do something. Maybe the writers are trying to draw a picture of a situation so bad that even the 'ordinary' folk will revolt; I'm just sitting there saying "what are you waiting for: fight back, dammit!"

Mercedes Lackey.
Tor. 1996

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 9 November 1997

Ilya Ivanovitch is one of eight hulking sons of a minor Russian Tsar. The father is a greedy, brutish man who is afraid his sons will band together to overthrow him, so encourages them to fight against each other instead. Ilya seems to be the only one of the eight who has any brains, and he longs to be out of his miserable situation. But when he catches sight of the mythical Firebird visiting his father's orchard, his luck just gets worse. Eventually he is forced to leave home, and goes in search of adventure. Naturally, he comes across an evil sorceror who is holding captive a beautiful enchanted princess. Ilya resolves to rescue her, but needs the Firebird to help him in his quest.

The Russian mythology and history seem to be captured well here, although in some places the decriptive detail reads more like a shopping list or catalogue than a story. And that story is very slow to get going. It is more than halfway through the book before Ilya even leaves home, and yet the denoument is crammed into the last few pages.

Ilya himself is well drawn, but doesn't evoke my sympathy, despite, I suspect, the best efforts of the author. He is certainly very put upon, bullied by his brothers, despised by the servants. But it is made quite clear that he in no timid weakling, and has more brains than the rest put together, so one might feel he could have managed rather better than he does. And all the other characters, even the all-important Firebird, are disappointingly peripheral and two dimensional. However, it is good to see a hero using his wits, and in a rather unconventional manner, rather than just brute stength, to win the day.

Mercedes Lackey.
Fiddler Fair.
Baen. 1998

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 16 April 1998

A variable collection of Lackey's non-Valdemar short fiction, some stand-alone, some set in 'sharecropped' universes and themed anthologies. (My favorite is "Last Rights".) It includes two stories about the mage Mertis and her bodyguard Lyran, that could have some potential if expanded into a novel.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation. 1998
Aliens Ate My Pickup. 1998
A canny farmer is visited by aliens.
Small Print. 1994
Read the small print if you make a pact with the Devil, especially if you are a Fundamentalist preacher.
Last Rights. 1993
Animal Liberationists Free the Dinosaurs. But what if the dinosaurs don't understand the rules?
Dumb Feast. 1993
A Victorian widower is pining for his dead wife. But when he finally Summons her, she isn't quite as he remembered.
Dance Track. 1989
Alternate history: Isadora Duncan as a racing driver.
Jihad. 1993
Alternate history: Lawrence of Arabia wins.
Balance. 1988
Martis the mage is unimpressed with her new bodyguard Lyran, but needs is help with an old pupil gone rogue.
Dragon's Teeth. 1988
Martis and Lyran travel to Lyosten, where the magic seems out of control.
The Cup and the Cauldron. 1992
The old Celtic ways and the newly arrived Christianity have something in common after all.
Once and Future. 1995
A modern day Pendragon is offered the chance to Save the World.
Fiddler Fair. 1989
(Originally written for Andre Norton's Magic in Ithkar anthology; later fixed up as an episode in The Lark and the Wren.) Rune competes for a place in the male-dominated Minstrel's Guild.
The Enemy of My Enemy. 1989
(From Robert Adams' Friends of the Horseclans anthology.) The last remaining gypsies meet the Horseclans, and the 'Dirteater' settlers.

Mercedes Lackey.
The Black Swan.
Daw. 1999

Mercedes Lackey.
Baen. 1999

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 12 December 1999

Another collection of Lackey's short fiction (one set in her Valdemar universe), some stand-alone, some set in 'sharecropped' universes and themed anthologies.

The four stories about SKitty have a slightly old-fashioned air -- one could imagine them fixed up into a pleasing 1950s-esque space opera novel. (They also don't read too well one after the other, because of the scene-setting recapitulations in the later ones.) My favorite story is "Operation Desert Fox", set in the Bolo universe. This despite the fact there is a Valdemar story here -- of Alberich's being Chosen. Lackey says this is the only Valdemar short story she has done, because she hates "to waste a good idea on something as small as a short story" -- and I think she's right; the novel (or maybe even trilogy) is her best length (but only when she makes that length up from incidents concerning the main protagonist, not when padding with too many subordinate stories).


Werehunter. 1987
(Set in Andre Norton's Witch World universe.) Glenda is offered escape from her intolerable life, into a world where she is a were-leopard. Her life gets much better, until the villagers put a werehunter on her trail.
Nightside. 1989
Urban witch Diana Tregard and her vampire lover Andre must stop a soul-killer.
SKitty. 1991
Dick White and his gene-tailored shipscat SKitty solve a trading problem on Lacu'un
A Tail of Two SKitties. 1994
Dick White and SKitty foil a hostile takeover bid
SCat. 1996
Dick White discovers where SKitty's mate came from
A Better Mousetrap. 1999
Dick White discovers that not everyone on Lacu'un likes shipscats
The Last of the Season. 1994
A paedophile chooses the wrong victim
Satanic, Versus .... 1990
Diana Tregard must cope with the results of a "whoopie witch" summoning "tall dark and handsome" but forgetting to add "human"
Wet Wings. 1995
The world has grown too politically correct to tolerate Katherine's differences.
Stolen Silver. 1991
How Alberich was Chosen, and his arrival in Valdemar
Roadkill. 1990
Why did that cardboard box blow against the wind?
Operation Desert Fox. 1993
Retired soldier Siegfried O'Harrigan, and obsolete Bolo tank RML-1138 team up on backwater planet Bachman's World.
Grey. 1997
Sarah's pet and protector, Grey the parrot, is left behind in Africa when she goes to school in London. But she needs his protection more than ever.
Grey's Ghost. 1999
Sarah, Grey, and Killian investigate a medium.

Mercedes Lackey.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds.
Voyager/HarperCollins. 1997

rating : 5 : waste of time
review : 25 October 1998

Has Mercedes Lackey forgotten how to plot? Too much turgid, tedious build-up, to a decidedly unsatisfactory 'climax' that disappointingly fizzled out in a few pages.

Tal Rufen, a constable, High Bishop Ardis, a Justiciar Mage, and Vysir, a Haspur birdman, are hunting a gruesome serial killer. Yawn. We get four viewpoints -- a few chapters of each character, but never building to any real climax, and then swapping to another viewpoint, which starts building background all over again. The structure put me in mind of a joke...

Syllabus for a detective story written by a physics professor
  1. Origins of Law in Babylon
  2. Constitution of the United States
  3. Basic Organisation of Police Department
  4. Elements of Courtroom Practice
  5. Theory of Fingerprints.
  6. (Last Page) The Corpse
    (Solution Left to the Student)

-- A. E. S. Green, American Journal of Physics
as quoted in More Random Walks in Science

...but this wasn't as funny. And those little italicised internal monologues that show a character's state of mind, which were used sparingly and worked rather well in earlier books, are now becoming ubiquitous, preachy, and irritating.

Darkover (series)

Tales of life under the 'bloody sun' of Darkover, a lost human colony, reverted to feudalism, where some humans have interbred with the natives to produce the Comyn, a psi-caste of rulers. The series ranges right from the original Landfall, through the Ages of Chaos where the new psi powers lead to devastating wars, through to the crisis of recontact with mainstream, relatively alien, Terrans.

The early books in the series are okay romps (and are probably half a point lower than the overall series rating), but in 1975 with Heritage of Hastur something changed, and they improved, and deepened, dramatically (and most of these are probably half a point higher than the overall series rating). The focus of plots varies widely throughout the series, but they are known for dealing sensitively with the intense intimacy between husband and wife brought by psi-contact, with homosexual relations, both male and female, with the place of women in a feudal society, with the use and abuse of power, with culture shock.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mercedes Lackey.
DAW. 1993

Mercedes Lackey.
Daw. 2003

Mercedes Lackey.
The Fire Rose.
Baen. 1995

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 3 November 1996

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in 1905 California, where 'Beast', Jason Cameron, is a fire magician who is stuck half-transformed into a wolf, and 'Beauty', Rosalind (Rose) Hawkins, is a medieval scholar he employs to help him with the research he needs to transform himself back.

I enjoyed reading it, and found it a good page turner, but felt it was strangely unsatisfying once I had finished it. What's there is done well, but there are some guns carefully placed on the wall that either fail to go off at all, or go off with only a small pop. (The Chinese magician carefully warns Rose that the drugs might give her vivid bad dreams, but we hear no more about this; du Mond's massive betrayal seems to have no importance except as a minor plot device to get Rose into the wrong place at the wrong time; and the earthquake is rather underused.)

Mercedes Lackey.
The Serpent's Shadow.
Daw. 2001

reimagining "Snow White"

Mercedes Lackey.
The Gates of Sleep.
Daw. 2002

reimagining "Sleeping Beauty"

Mercedes Lackey.
Phoenix and Ashes.
Daw. 2003

reimagining "Cinderella"

Mercedes Lackey.
The Wizard of London.
Daw. 2005

reimagining "The Snow Queen"

Mercedes Lackey.
Reserved for the Cat.
Daw. 2007

reimagining "Puss in Boots"

Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill.
Spirits White as Lightning.
Baen. 2002

Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill.
Beyond World's End.
Baen. 2000

Mercedes Lackey.
The Fairy Godmother.
Daw. 2004

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 3 February 2007

In the Five Hundred Kingdoms, the Tradition is always hard at work, trying to make everyone's life fit a fairy tale. But there are only so many Sleeping Princesses, or Noble Princes, to go around. So Elena Klovis, ground down by her wicked stepmother and two cruel sisters, awaits her prince. But he's only 11, and so completely unsuitable. But eventually, her Fairy Godmother turns up to help, in a rather unexpected way.

This is a fun play on the traditions of fairy tales, but a bit disjointed, with rather a lot of incidents packed in. But it manages to subvert a few cliches as Elena battles with the Tradition in novel ways, and moves steadily on to its own Happy Ever After.

Mercedes Lackey.
One Good Knight.
Daw. 2006

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 17 February 2007

The bookish Princess Andromeda of Acadia is the only one who knows what needs to be done when a dragon appears and starts terrorising the countryside: it needs to be appeased by a weekly virgin sacrifice. But when she reports to her mother the rumours that the lottery is rigged, she is horrified to discover that she is to be the next sacrifice. Determined not to go quietly, she plots her escape, only to see the dragon frightened off by the Champion Sir George. Both are aware that at this point the Tradition decrees Andromeda should fall in love with her rescuer: both are determined that won't happen. But the Tradition still demands that the dragon be defeated, so off they go on a Quest.

This is another fun romp through the land of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, where Tradition rules your fate, and where the clever can subvert the Tradition to their own ends. But remember, the Tradition is just as happy with a tragedy as it is with a Happy Ever After...

Mercedes Lackey.
Fortune's Fool.
Luna. 2007

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 19 April 2008

In the Five Hundred Kingdoms, you can do quite well if you understand what the Tradition wants. Sasha, seventh son of the king of Led Belarus, is the Fortunate Fool, and his family knows it. So he spends his time making his Luck work for the land. Katya, seventh daughter of the Sea King, is his eyes and ears on secret missions. When they meet, Tradition goes into overdrive. Katya, while investigating a transplanted Jinn, is taken captive. While she schemes to escape from the inside, Sasha must scheme her rescue from the outside.

This is another fun frolic through the traditions of fairy tale, this time of Russia and Japan. In places, it seems a bit like a whirlwind tour of Russian folktales without doing that much to advance the plot: Rusalka, check; Baba Yaga, check. And all the captives seem to have the same name (five letters, ends in "a", sounds like...) and not enough personality to help me distinguish them easily. But there's enough action, and some loose ends later tied together, to make for some amusing mind candy.

Mercedes Lackey.
The Snow Queen.
Luna. 2008

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 22 February 2009

Godmother and Snow Queen, Aleksia's main job is to support the Tradition by abducting young men about to turn bad, and putting them through a trial to show them the error of their ways. She sometimes worries that she is becoming as cold as her own Ice Palace. But then come the rumours of a wicked Snow Witch, freezing whole villages to death, and claiming to be the Snow Queen. Aleksia has to set off on her own adventure to sort things out.

This time we have a romp through Finnish fairy tales. The route to the climactic final trial is entertaining enough, even if feeling a bit like a fairyland travelogue in places, but some guns on walls are left unfired (all that unused buildup about Kaari and the forest spirits -- or is that for a future book?), and the final showdown is too easy and way too obvious, and is over much too soon.

Mercedes Lackey.
The Sleeping Beauty.
Luna. 2010

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 11 October 2011

Godmother Lily is having a hard time protecting the small but rich kingdom of Eltaria. The Tradition is trying to force Princess Rosamund down a path -- but is it that of Sleeping Beauty or Snow White? Everything seems to be being subverted, from the seven evil dwarfs who capture Rosamund, to the Wicked Stepmother who rescues her. And to top it all, Prince Siegfried needs to rescue a maiden who isn't his aunt from a ring of fire in order to avoid his own Doom. The only solution to all this: issue a set of challenges to all the local Princes, the prize being the kingdom and fair Rosamund's hand.

Another amusing romp through mangled fairy tales. Here we get Sleeping Princesses aplenty. Lackey recommends listening to Anna Russell summarising the story in her own inimitable fashion, in "The Ring of the Nibelungs (An Analysis)", to help understand some of the plot points here. (I have heard it. I thoroughly recommend it. Be very careful if you are listening to it while driving, however.) Some of the plot points are a bit heavy handed (Siegfried's befriending of the animals, for example), but there are some amusing twists and turns along the way.

Mercedes Lackey.
Beauty and the Werewolf.
Luna. 2011

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 13 May 2013

Isabella Beauchamps lives at home with her wealthy father, her stepmother, and two step-sisters. One winter's day she dons her father's red hooded riding-cloak, to visit wisewoman Granny in the woods. On her way there she is accosted by a nasty huntsman; on her return she is attacked and bitten by a werewolf, who is in fact a cursed local nobleman. The King commands she be held in the noble beast's castle until it is clear she will not become a werewolf herself. There is just so much material here for the Tradition to work on, but Bella is determined not to let it win.

This is an amusing romp through fairy-tale space, with just enough red herrings (due to the conflation of so many possible stories) to make the ending not totally obvious. In fact, there's one point where I was gritting my teeth, going, "no, not that resolution, please", when Bella recognises what is happening, Tradition-wise, and neatly circumvents it.

Like the others in the series, I felt the ending was a little rushed. And like the others, there's a gun hanging on the wall that doesn't go off (twice it is noted that the werewolf didn't kill Bella when he attacked her; but nothing very explicit is ever done with this).

Another fun piece of mind-candy in the series.

Valdemar (series)

Fantasy elements: empathy, telepathy, mages, gods and goddesses, magic spirit horses

The earlier books tend to be focussed on one, or maybe two, major viewpoints, whereas the later ones try to tell a more complicated story with several viewpoints. I find this approach too jarring, as I get jolted from scene to scene, and lose my immersion in the story. The latest books still have multiple viewpoints, but seem to manage the transitions a bit more smoothly. But I still hanker for the earlier, simpler structures.

The saga seems to be regaining some previous form with Storm Warning and The Black Gryphon (Lackey and Dixon) after the disappointing Mage Winds trilogy. Some plot elements keep cropping up (no problem if you are a fan of those plot elements), as summarised in the hilarious filk song "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Valdemar"

Mercedes Lackey.
Exile's Honor.
Daw. 2002

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 30 April 2005

Herald Alberich's tale

The story of how Karsite Captain Alberich was Chosen, became the Herald's Weaponsmaster, and fought in the Tedrel wars that saw Selenay become Queen.

Another book filling in the backstory of Valdemar. Alberich is Chosen right at the start, so we get straight into Heralds and trianing. It's mainly from Alberich's viewpoint, so is nicely focussed, and has some interesting twists on things that we know will happen from the Talia stories. A good account of an honorable man struggling to retain his honour in compliated circumstances (although slightly marred by the fact that he figures out how to do so without compromise).

Mercedes Lackey.
Exile's Valor.
Daw. 2003

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 1 May 2005

The second part of Herald Alberich's tale is set during the early part of Seleny's reign, where she struggles to cope with the loss of her father, and then her disasterous marriage to Karath.

Told mostly from Alberich's viewpoint, and partly from Seleny's, this again offers some interesting details on the backstory known from the Talia tales. It has more of Alberich's counter-espionage activities, and a suprising love interest. Knowing who the villain really is, and knowing that he won't be uncovered (at least yet!) diffuses some of the tension, but also allows for some knowing little winks at the way people are being decieved.

Mercedes Lackey.
By the Sword.
Daw. 1991

rating : 2.5 : great stuff

Kerowyn's tale

This links Tarma and Kethry's story with the Heralds of Valdemar: Kerowyn is Kethry's granddaughter, and this is her story of how she ends up in Valdemar.

Although only a single book (if fat), it reads like it was planned as a trilogy. I think it would have been better as one; it's a bit rushed in places. However, it does mean all the action is packed in well, and the single viewpoint makes it flow well.

Mercedes Lackey.
Brightly Burning.
Daw. 2001

Lavan Firestorm's tale

Mercedes Lackey.
Storm Warning.
Daw. 1994

rating : 3 : worth reading

A series of inexplicable Mage Storms are sweeping Valdemar. Karal, a young Karsite priest, and various other characters, form an uneasy Alliance in Valdemar, to try and solve the problem of the Storms before they destroy their world.

Mercedes Lackey.
Storm Rising.
Orion. 1995

(read but not reviewed)

The Mage Storms are getting worse. The story is told from four main viewpoints: Karal trying to be taken seriously as Karse Ambassador, An'desha coming to terms with his memories and his magic, Firestorm having problems with An'desha's remoteness, and Tremane trying to consolidate his position in Hardorn.

Mercedes Lackey.
Storm Breaking.
Orion. 1996

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 3 August 1997

The desperate measures taken at the end of Storm Rising have abated the Cataclysm echo storms for a while, giving everyone a breathing space to consolidate, and prepare for the final trial.

The story structure has three parallel strands: Karal in Urtho's Tower, Elspeth in Hardorn, and Heir Melles in the Empire. Yet again, I found this plot style very off-putting. Multiple strand plots can work: in some of David Weber's Honor Harrington novels, for example, at times the viewpoint can flicker back and forth at the paragraph level. The trick there is to have the various sub-plots illuminate and give depth to the main one. But here, the strands truly are parallel; they never really meet, and there is no main focus. Maybe in an attempt to tell a more complex tale, too many characters get their own time on stage for their own little stories, and nothing gels. This doesn't have to be the case: the 'Queen's Own' trilogy has many very memorable characters, but their stories support Talia's, rather than detracting from it. For example, Elspeth as a character is to me much more real from that trilogy than from the Mage Winds or this Mage Storms ones, even though she has a much greater role in the latter.

And again, the resolution is just too easy.

Mage Wars (series)

Skandranon and Amberdrake's tale

Unlike the other Valdemar series, the three books comprising The Mage Wars don't form a single-story trilogy: they are three novels linked by the same major characters, but each book is a complete story, and each is on a completely different scale or action (Black Gryphon: major war and historical event of lasting significance; White Gryphon: murder mystery in a foreign culture; Silver Gryphon: two isolated characters coming of age).

Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon.
The Black Gryphon.
Daw. 1994

rating : 3 : worth reading

Tells the tale of the pre-(Valdemar)-historic war between the mages Urtho and Ma'ar, which finally ended in a Cataclysm

Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon.
The White Gryphon.
Daw. 1995

rating : 3.5 : worth reading

The survivors of the Cataclysm have found a sanctuary, but must now make peace with the local rulers. A series of murders makes this difficult, since Skandranon is the main suspect.

Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon.
The Silver Gryphon.
Daw. 1996

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 6 July 1997

Tadrith, son of the gryphons Skandranon and Zhaneel, and Silverblade, daughter of the humans Amberdrake and Winterhart, are feeling smothered living in their famous parents' shadows in the cliff city of White Gryphon. So when their first posting as Silvers, to a far-away outpost, comes through, they are delighted: freedom at last! But they never make it that far: something drains away their magic, and they crash, injured, lost, and unable to call for help, in a deep forest, stalked by an unknown enemy. Are their parents' worst fears for their safety about to become reality?

The Silver Gryphon is essentially a rites-of-passage story; unlike many such, the protagonists start out fully trained and competent, but they do still have some conflicts to be resolved, with themselves, with each other, but mainly with their parents. And, naturally, the peril in which they find themselves helps them to do this.

The multiple viewpoints, a feature I have complained about in the past, are handled much better here. There aren't too many changes, given the restricted cast, and when there are, the linking is smooth enough that the change didn't jar me out of the story. I found the ending a little rushed, and just a little too easy, but on the whole this was an enjoyable read.

Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon.
Daw. 1997

Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon.
Daw. 1998

Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon.
Daw. 1999

Mercedes Lackey.
Take a Thief.
Daw. 2001

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 21 August 2004

Skif's tale

This fills in the backstory of how ex-thief Herald Skif was Chosen. About the first two-thirds show him training to be a thief, and the series of tragedies that befall him. Then, once chosen, he and Alberich team up to expose a slaving ring.

This is mostly of interest if you've already read the Talia trilogy. Otherwise some of the sly little references to a major villan will lose their significance, and some of the backstory details will be missed. And it's pleasantly free of some of the problems of late 1990s Lackey books: too many viewpoints, and too many preachy internal monologues.

Mercedes Lackey.
Daw. 1998

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 5 April 1998

Various Tarma and Kethry short stories have appeared in print, scattered mainly through Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthologies. Here they are collected together for the first time, along with two new stories. Some of the stories are quite slight, others are amusing, and one at least is essential reading for Tarma and Kethry fans: "Sword-sworn" tells how it all began.


Sword-sworn. 1985
How Tarma became Sword-sworn after the massacre of her clan, how she met Kethry and her geas-sword Need, and how they became she'enedra. An uncommon "rape and revenge" tale.
A Tale of Heroes. 1987
The duo arrive just too late to slay a human-eating monster themselves, but need to rescue a chambermaid from the monstrous 'hero'.
Keys. 1988
Kethry must unravel a locked-room mystery while Tarma faces trial by combat.
The Making of a Legend. 1990
Leslac finally catches up with the mercenary duo, in order to record one of their heroic deeds firsthand. But not all deeds are the stuff of ballad.
The Talisman. 1990
Kethry meets an old schoolmate who, tragically, has never accepted that magic requires hard work, not special talismans.
Wings of Fire. 1991
The duo fight a sorceress who wants to enslave a Hawkbrother's firebirds.
A Woman's Weapon. 1992
Tarma and Kethry intervene in a dispute between two Master Tanners.
Friendly Fire. 1993
The tale of a bad-luck charm.
Turnabout. 1986
The (slightly different) story behind Bard Leslac's song Threes, telling how Tarma, Kethry and the kyree Warrl (here referred to as a wolf) defeat a gang of pack train bandits, and wreak a poetically just revenge on the leader.
Spring Plowing at Forst Reach. 1998
Tarma, Jodi and Beaker travel to Valdemar to train, or rather, gentle, horses the Shin'a'in way.
Oathblood. 1998
Kethry's oldest daughter Jadrie swears blood oath with the twins Kira and Meri. Kethry thinks she is too young to know the seriousness of the oath, but events soon prove otherwise.

Mercedes Lackey, ed.
Sword of Ice: and other tales of Valdemar.
Daw. 1997

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 2 May 1997

Short stories tend to be 'one idea' tales, simply because of lack of space. There is no time to develop characters or backgrounds beyond the needs of the story. Writers in a well-known existing world have an advantage: much of the background is already known to the readers, and can just be assumed. Some of the authors in this Valdemar anthology take advantage of that fact, and give us vignettes of a Herald's or Hawkbrother's life (such as The Demon's Den, or Ironrose), or fill in bits of history mentioned only in passing in the novels (such as Sword of Ice or Vkandis' Own). Others, disappointingly however, seem to have a story they want to tell, and set it in Valdemar merely to fit into the anthology (such as A Song For No One's Mourning).

Helps to while away the time until the next Valdemar novel.


Philip M. Austin, Mercedes Lackey. Sunlancer. 1997
A Karse captain has to question his conscience: should children be sacrificed to Vkandis?
Tanya Huff. The Demon's Den. 1997
A Herald is trapped in a collapsed mine; the only person who can save him is a mining engineer badly crippled in a previous accident.
Larry Dixon, Mel White. Ironrose. 1997
The hertasi conspire to bring together two lonely members of the Hawkbrother clan.
Josepha Sherman. Babysitter. 1997
A stranded traveller needs all his wits to save an orphaned gryphon cub.
Richard Lee Byers. The Salamander. 1997
Someone is sending fire against Mornedealth's Blue faction. Is it the hated Greens, or an unknown enemy?
Janni Lee Simner. A Child's Adventures. 1997
Inya is a grandmother by the time she is Chosen, and she feels to old for adventures.
Stephanie D. Shaver. Blood Ties. 1997
Unpleasant times in the life in a Border family.
Lawrence Schimel. ...Another Successful Experiment. 1997
A trainee Herald invents a new game.
Michelle West. Choices. 1997
Kelsey has yearned all her life to be Chosen, but never has, even though she has all the Herald virtues. Then she finds out why.
Kristin Schwengel. Song of Valdemar. 1997
Revyn desperately wants to be a Bard, but he has Healer gifts instead. It takes a tragedy before he can accept his fate.
Elisabeth Waters. The School Up the Hill. 1997
Quenten's White Winds school at Bolthaven is teaching weather control: is that why it's raining in the kitchen of the local inn?
Mark Shepherd. Chance. 1997
Guardsman Jonne, himself shay'a'chern, meets the legendary Vanyel.
Mercedes Lackey, John Yezeguielian. Sword of Ice. 1997
How Herald-Mage Savil met Hawkbrother Starwind.
John Helfers. In the Forest of Sorrows. 1997
Vanyel, spirit of the Forest of Sorrows, rescues Treyon from a sorceress.
Ben Ohlander. Vkandis' Own. 1997
Solaris' first miracle in Karse.
Mickey Zucker Reichert. A Herald's Honor. 1997
Herald Martin has vowed to be faithful to Lyssa, then discovers he is lifebonded with Judaia. How can he reconcile his honour and his heart?
Gary A. Braunbeck. A Song For No One's Mourning. 1997
Olias is a bitter and hardened thief, until he meets the Gifted L'lewythi.
Philip M. Austin, Mercedes Lackey. Blue Heart. 1997
A Herald-assassin tells Selenay a story of a butterfly.

Mercedes Lackey, ed.
Sun in Glory: and other tales of Valdemar.
Daw. 2003

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 23 December 2003

A rather slight set of tales set against the background of the Valdemar world. Some tell stories that build up the history (such as The Cat Who Came to Dinner and Sun in Glory), but most are just a random vignette of a day in the life of a Herald, or another way to be Chosen. Tanya Huff's Brock is an interesting variant on this theme, but mostly this is mind candy.


Catherine S. McMullen. Errold's Journey. 2003
A wizard and his apprentice escape Ma'ar and set up a new life far away.
Nancy Asire. The Cat Who Came to Dinner. 2003
Reulan makes a pilgrimage to Karse's capital city, on the suggestion of his cat.
Michelle West. Winter Death. 2003
Kayla has suffered one too many harsh winters, and lost one too many kin. So why has the Companion waited until now to Choose her? And what is the sickness gripping Valdemar?
Mickey Zucker Reichert. A Herald's Rescue. 2003
Santar is confronted by a Companion seemingly desperate for his aid in rescuing his Herald. Santar has quite an ordeal before the end.
Josepha Sherman. In the Eye of the Beholder. 2003
Marra's family has been slaughtered by Darick, and she has escaped into the forest, there to meet a strange monster who was once human. They may be the answer to each other's troubles.
Fiona Patton. Trance Tower Garrison. 2003
Who is the Companion trying to reach in the besieged garrison?
Stephanie D. Shaver. Starhaven. 2003
Herald Vess has to find out how the innocent young Healer is using blood magic, and how it is linked to the destruction of Starhaven years earlier.
Judith Tarr. Rebirth. 2003
Herald Mage Mathias dies defending Queen Vera, but has a vision of her losing her soul. So he breaks the rules of the Havens to save her again. What will his punishment be?
Tanya Huff. Brock. 2003
Brock, called half-wit by the villagers, claims he is a Herald. Then two real Heralds arrive. Their Companions are strangely supportive of Brock.
Michael Longcor. True Colors. 2003
Rin is a con-man, and has found the best trick of all in remote Valdemar -- to pose as a Herald. Then a bandit raid and two frightened children put his lie to the test.
Brenda Cooper. Touches the Earth. 2003
Anya's fear is stopping her using her Healing power. Then a friend is badly injured in a raid.
Rosemary Edghill. Icebreaker. 2003
Elidor is training as a scribe, but has always dreamed of being Chosen. When a Companion appears, he discovers dreams don't always come true.
Sun in Glory. 2003
The story of Talia's induction into the Karsite priesthood under Solaris, the new Sun of the Son , from Alberich's PoV.

Mercedes Lackey, ed.
Crossroads: and other tales of Valdemar.
Daw. 2005

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 20 May 2006

Another bunch of tales set in the Valdemar universe, mostly so-so, but a few with an interesting new take.


Larry Dixon. Transmutation. 2005
The gryphon Kelvren is drained of magic, dying, unless another gryphon can be found to cure him. Meanwhile he sets about making the most of what slim resources he remaining to inspire the Valdemar army.
Nancy Asire. The Feast of the Children. 2005
Yet another priest of V'kandis acquires a chatty cat, who helps him save children from the flames.
Richard Lee Byers. Death in Keenspur House. 2005
Selden investigates a murder that threatens the fragile truce between Greens and Blues in Mornedealth.
Brenda Cooper. Dawn of Sorrows. 2005
The cost to those left behind after a Choosing is finally recognised.
Rosemary Edghill. Horse of Air. 2005
Herald Paymin has had to change the manner of his service to the Crown since his Companion was killed 20 years earlier, and now goes to investigate reports of a witch.
Sarah A. Hoyt, Kate Paulk. A Change of Heart. 2005
Ree has been changed into a hobgoblin during the Mage Wars, and worries he is losing his humanity, until he stumbles across Jem.
Tanya Huff. All the Ages of Man. 2005
Circumstances oblige Herald Jors to mentor the young, attractive Herald Alyise on her Internship, but he's worried that he's too young for the responsibility.
Michael Longcor. War Cry. 2005
A gift of empathy awakes during the final battle of the Tedrel Wars.
Ben Ohlander. Strength and Honor. 2005
A Karsite Warmaster must decide where his loyalties lie: with the governing Black Robes, or the Priestly Red Robes.
Fiona Patton. The Blue Coat. 2005
The last survivors of the Goshon tribe hope to find a home in Valdemar.
Stephanie D. Shaver. Safe and Sound. 2005
A novice bard desperate for inspiration for her proving song pesters a Herald about his dead sister.
Janni Lee Simner. Song for Two Voices. 2005
A tale of a Holderkin lifebonding.
Mickey Zucker Reichert. Finding Elvida. 2005
Trainee Herald Elvida has to discover her gift for herself, before the traumatic attack by bandits kills her and her Companion.
Judith Tarr. Darkwall's Lady. 2005
Merris is willing to honour her parent's bargain to make her heir of Darkwall, but she wants to find out precisely what she's letting herself in for.
Michael Z. Williamson. Naught but Duty. 2005
An honourable mercenary captain finds himself contracted to a most dishonourable master.
Landscape of the Imagination. 2005
Tarma and Kethry find themselves accompanying a mage in a strange landscape between two Gates.

Mercedes Lackey, ed.
Moving Targets: and other tales of Valdemar.
Daw. 2008

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 22 December 2008

Yet more tales from the Valdemar universe. Many of these are "sequels" to tales in earlier volumes, helping to add a little depth. And many are the usual tales of alientated Herald/Bard/Healer/whatever nevertheless making good.


Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon. Moving Targets. 2008
Nancy Asire. An Unexpected Guest. 2008
How Sosha and Torgon first met
Brenda Cooper. The Power of Three. 2008
The twins' bond is strong: will they survive separation?
Janni Lee Simner. What Fire Is. 2008
Tamar can call fire: a dangerous ability in Karse
Mickey Zucker Reichert. Dreams of Mountain Clover. 2008
Mola dreams that mountain clover will help her dying Herald mistress
Richard Lee Byers. The Cheat. 2008
Selden is convinced that Dromis is helping his pupils cheat in duels: but how to prove it?
Kristin Schwengel. A Dream Deferred. 2008
Laeka finda a wounded kyree, and helps rescue her stolen cubs
Michael Z. Williamson. The Sworddancer. 2008
Riga has trained all her life to fight, bt finds that war is different
Stephanie D. Shaver. Broken Bones. 2008
A lovesick Bard solves a local problem
Tanya Huff. Live On. 2008
On the Importance of Stories
Rosemary Edghill. Passage at Arms. 2008
Chosen Aellele is convinced that she won't become a Herald, because she is not a nice persons
Sarah A. Hoyt, Kate Paulk. Heart, Home and Herth. 2008
Hobgoblin Ree and his human friend Jem find what looks like a deserted house to shelter in.
Fiona Patton. Haven's Own. 2008
A fire puts Haven City Watch in between two fueding factions
Judith Tarr. Widdershins. 2008
A Herald must put aside his own fears, and the hatred of his intern, to save a riding school.

Mercedes Lackey, ed.
Changing the World: all-new tales of Valdemar.
Daw. 2009

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 30 June 2010

Further short stories set in the Valdemar world. Some could be set in any generic fantasy world, but most are extending the history of the Heralds, as a group, and as individuals.


The One Left Behind. 2009
Marya is no fan of the Heralds: first her father, then her fiancee, deserted her to become Heralds. So when two Heralds come knocking on her door for help, she is less than willing to offer it.
Rosemary Edghill, Denise McCune. For Want of a Nail. 2009
The arrival of strange "Companions" at the founding of Valdemar makes the soldier Navos very suspicious.
Elizabeth A. Vaughan. Softly Falling Snow. 2009
Queen Elspeth the Peacemaker looks back on her reign: was it worth the sacrifices?
Mickey Zucker Reichert. The Reluctant Herald. 2009
Lubonne comes from a wealthy family and is about to marry the woman of his dreams, so the arrival of a Companion intent on Choosing him is less than welcome.
Elisabeth Waters. A Storytelling of Crows. 2009
Maia's ability to talk to the animals helps her rescue a wounded Herald.
Kristin Schwengel. Waiting to Belong. 2009
Shia's best friend Teo is Chosen, but her own healing skills are needed at home.
Brenda Cooper. The Last Part of the Way. 2009
Twin Bard and Healer sisters accompanying a Herald devastated by the loss of his family wonder how to get him to continue with his life.
Stephanie D. Shaver. Midwinter Gifts. 2009
Herald Lyle needs his Bardic twin sister Lelia to help uncover a possible serial murderer.
Michael Z. Williamson. Wounded Bird. 2009
Trader Riga is appalled by the brutal treatment of women in Mirr, but what can she do?
Kate Paulk. Defending the Heart. 2009
Ree and Jem's home is invaded by soldiers who carry Jem off. What can Ree do to help?
Sarah A. Hoyt. Matters of the Heart. 2009
Ree and Jem feel displaced when Garrad's son returns home.
Tanya Huff. Nothing Better to Do. 2009
Herald Jors has to deliver an orphaned baby to its next of kin.
Fiona Patton. The Thief of Anvil's Close. 2009
Sergeant Dann of Haven City Watch investigates curious thefts from a cantankerous smith.
Judith Tarr. Twice Blessed. 2009
Cousins Nerys and Kelyn have been fighting each other since birth. Then a Companion appears; which one will he Choose?
Nancy Asire. Be Careful What You Wish For. 2009
A Karsian exile, now a Herald, returns home to track down his kin.
Ben Ohlander. Interview with a Companion. 2009
A modern day journalist finds a fantastic new source.

Mercedes Lackey, ed.
Finding the Way: and other tales of Valdemar.
Daw. 2010

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 1 March 2011

More short stories set in the world of Valdemar and surrounding lands. Many of these involve characters from earlier collections, slowly building up a richer story about them.


Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon. Finding the Way. 2010
Sherra the hertasi guides an impatient Companion through the swamp.
Rosemary Edghill, Denise McCune. In Burning Zones We Build Against the Sun. 2010
Hedion is killing himself with all his healing, and that won't help anyone.
Elizabeth A. Vaughan. Unintended Consequences. 2010
Ceraratha's husband failed to kill Queen Selenay; what will happen to her?
Mickey Zucker Reichert. The Education of Evita. 2010
Evita is Chosen, but has an extremely naive world-view.
Elisabeth Waters. A Charm of Finches. 2010
Maia's ability to talk to the animals helps her punish a wicked brother.
Kristin Schwengel. Healing in White. 2010
Newly Chosen Shia knows more about Healing than being a Herald.
Brenda Cooper. Songs of a Certain Sort. 2010
Twin Bard and Healer sisters find trouble off the beaten track.
Stephanie D. Shaver. Otherwise Engaged. 2010
Lelia and Grier each love another.
Kate Paulk. Heart's Choice. 2010
Ree and Jem discover a baby changeling.
Sarah A. Hoyt. Heart's Own. 2010
Ree and Jem have difficulties raising Meren.
Tanya Huff. The Time We Have. 2010
Herald Jors is strangely drawn to a bandit woman.
Fiona Patton. A Bard by Any Other Name. 2010
Sergeant Dann of Haven City Watch investigates a poetic vandal.
Judith Tarr. Change of Life. 2010
Marlys is marrying off her last daughter, and wonders who the Companion has come to Choose.
Nancy Asire. Lack of Vision. 2010
Karse judge Perren tries a murder case.
Michael Z. Williamson, Gail Sanders. The Groom's Price. 2010
Keth're'son has mind magic, but does not want to go to Valdemar for training.