DRUNK REVIEW: Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar #1)

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar #1)

Reviewed by GGGinny

What I drank: First off this is one of the books I heard about at Worldcon. I don’t remember which panel, but whateves. White wine, specifically a savuignon blanc. It was delightful and light and easy to drink which I did with plenty of laughs while catching up with people.

Goodreads Overview:

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.

Drunk Overview: This is a YA book. A girl who has never fit in with her VERY conservative, very patriarchal, bigamous society gets chosen by a Companion (basically a magic horse) to be a herald to the queen (aka a spy/soldier/jack of all trades), except she’s the Queen’s Own, or the right hand tot he queen. In this case, it means she needs to help the possible heir not be a little shit while also guiding the queen as a 13 year old…

Drunk Thoughts: I know the overview was snarky but this book was so cute!

  • For one ,I think it’s rare to find a YA book where the adults seems to care/are somewhat competant
  • (don’t get me wrong, the queen is a super shitty parent for not seeing what was going on with her daughter/heir)
  • But so many of the adults in this book care about the kids that they’re looking after, and just don’t have the information to know how to help with things (or their hands are tied up in bureaucratic nonsense that kids don’t have/recognize).
  • I’ve read so many books recently where things are entirely on the kids/teens and it was kind of a relief to read a book where the adults didn’t completely suck.
  • Okay, characters.
  • The main character Talia, was definitely a bit of Mary Sue. Everyone loves her, she’s going to be the best Herald. But it didn’t matter, because this bpoor girl was bullied her entire life and then bullied at this school and by GOD, I just wanted her to be happy.
  • I was surprised that the magic horse wasn’t more of a character for most of the book (other than as a prescence in Talia’s mind) but I didn’t really mind. Rolan the horse companion was super OP.
  • But I did enjoy the cast of characters (including a lesbian couple which I DID NOTE EXPECT from a book from teh 1980’s).
  • But there was the wise but elderly mentor, and the various kind teachers, and the other heralds, and the students who were all magicaly wonderful (at least if they were Heralds).
  • It’s definitely a little bit cheesy, but again, this is a YA book. I’m willing to give it plenty of grace because of how much I enjoyed reading about Talia coming into her own.
  • tThis book does do something which I’ve noticed a lot in older YA, where there’s a decnet amount of explaining things as past events rather than showing them happening (I’m thinkings specifically of Dark LOrd of Derkholm by Diana Wynn Jones). I find this frustrating mostly because I think it can be a missed opportunity to show character growth or build a world or something else.
  • But I feel like it’s mostly done because there’s a certain amount of plot that the author wants to fit in, but also needs certain dominos to fall to make said plot work…. So again, this is YA a lot can be forgiven.
  • A lot of that comes from how important I think this book was in it’s time. the mian character is a 13 year old girl who has been abused by her family; the book makes it clear that she’s important, that she could survive and thrive past being abused, and do so in a male-dominated space.
  • That would have been an important lesson even for me growing up in the 90’s. (My favorite character growing up was the token girl best friend of a hero in the series that shall not be named- not even the main character).
  • And this book is super approachable. I enjoyed it as someone in their 30’s, and part of that was as I read it, I recognized how much I woul dhave loved this as a kid. The prose wasn’t lifechanging, but it was hearfelt and genuine, and I appreciate that in a book.
  • Was this book lifechanging, No (I’m in my 30s and I read over 100 books a year – lifechanging doesn’t happen as often as it used to), but I think it could have been if I was 12. And I think that’s what matters here.
  • Too often reviewing YA I think about whether I as an adult enjoyed it, when I should be thikning about my pre-teen or teen self instead. This book made me thing about kid me and how I would have reacted, which feels special.
  • I would also like to add, the way this book handles puberty and sex is kind of wonderful. There was a part where Talia and a potential partner call it quits “because the gods didn’t want it to happen” and without saying anything else, there was a comment that made me burst out laughing.
  • The book definitely dealth with some outdated norms, but I really enjoyed how well the book handled both semi-taboo topics (again, Talia was from a very bigamous part of society), without the book being judgmental about why cultures are different.

What it Pairs With: Sweet red wine. Something easy to drink with friends.

Rating: 4.5/5

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