Last year, Melanie @ GrabTheLapels mentioned that she was planning on reading 15 books written by Mercedes Lackey – she talked about the story behind those books in this lovely post. I got immediately intrigued – books that feature magic always draw me in and I wanted to give the world of Valdemar a chance.
Melanie and Jacky @ DeathBySundoku decided to co-host an official read along called #ReadingValdemar – its schedule can be found on their picture below. True to my inner rebel, I somehow did not quite stick to the schedule (hey, I’m only a few days late!). I am glad that I took part in reading The Arrows of the Queen as it turned out to be an enjoyable read.
Follows the adventures of Talia as she trains to become a Herald of Valdemar in the first book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy.
Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.
But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen’s heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen’s own foes.
What did I think of Arrows of The Queen? I was entertained by it despite thinking it was probably not the best written book I have read. However the characters as well as carefully added social issues wan me over in the end.
I could not help myself but to compare Lackey‘s with Tamora Pierce‘s books. Both of these female authors write fantasy books featuring strong female protagonists and their messages promote gender equality.
Pierce‘s Alanna: The First Adventure from the Song of the Lioness quartet was first published in 1983, and Lackey‘s Arrows of The Queen in 1987. If you enjoy Pierce‘s books, I think Lackey‘s books may be worth checking out as well.
As mentioned already, I had some minor issues with the way Arrows of The Queen is written. This could be that it was Lackey‘s first book. I would have probably preferred it to be edited a bit more and for it to omit the somehow slightly confusing change in narratives, which at times felt a little disjointed.
On the other side, I absolutely enjoyed reading about the main character, Talia. If you have been following my blog for a while, you may know that I have a special place in my heart for ‘coming of age’ stories. And Arrows of the Queen certainly fitted that category. Talia, who is 13 at the start of the book, is going to a magic school to learn how to become a Herald (I was sensing strong Harry Potter vibes there, but Lackey‘s book was written a decade before HP was published!).
Talia is certainly a likeable character. She is not perfect though – she struggles with asking for help, bottles up her feelings, doesn’t trust others and is quite shy. She is therefore having problems forming friendships and connections with other and finds it hard to belong. She is a fellow dreamer with a kind heart that compels her to contribute and to help others. Despite her flaws, she is willing to grow and learn – something I find crucial when deciding if I care about a character or not.
I was really impressed how carefully Lackey embedded many social issues into the book. Gender equality, homosexuality, casual sex – it was all there and there was no judgement attached to any of these messages. Diversity is nowadays quite common in many YA books but I dare to say it wasn’t that well represented during the time this book was published and I do applaud the author for doing so!
As I absolutely adore animals, I also appreciated the Companions – magical horses, that choose their Heralds. Reading about those special bonds between Heralds and Companions made me so happy. I do believe that animals talk to us, especially when we listen very carefully.
Overall, it was a fairly slow coming of age story that introduced me to Valdemar as well as its very likeable heroine, Talia.
I have bought the other two books in this trilogy as I do want to know what happens next. I will not be reading them on schedule though as I’m currently swamped with compulsory reading for my course but I will give those books a chance later on in the year. I am really looking forward to it! 🙂
Recommended? Yes if you enjoy slower paced coming of age fantasy that feature likeable heroin, magic schools and beautiful horses.
Over to you!
- Have you read The Arrows of the Queen?
- What’s your favourite coming of age story?
Fancy sharing it with me? Thanks for reading! ❤️