Arrows Flight by Mercedes Lackey (Heralds of Valdemar #2)
Reviewed by GGGinny
Review for Book 1
What I drank: Mostly beer. One of my friends was having a housewarming and it was wonderful, but I definitely had a few and I’m in the mood to talk about books.
Set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Valdemar, this unique and exciting novel continues the story of Talia. Having mastered the powers necessary to a guardian of the kingdom, she faces the final preparation for her initiation as adviser and protector of the Queen.
Drunk Overview: Talia has earned her whites and is going on what amounts to her internships being a Herald out in the world. She will have a mentor to walk her through things. But her empathic powers also go fucking wild and it turns out she didn’t get the training she needs. So in addition to the travel, solving problems in far out places, and horrendous weather, she’s also doubting herself.
Drunk Thoughts: I said this with the first book, but this book has the magical ability where I can read it both as my current 31 year old self and my 12 year old self and both are grinning wildly
- That being said, I do think this book has some pacing issues.
- Talia and Kris (her mentor in the field) spend so much time where Talia’s empahtic abilities are getting further and further out of control, but both feel helpless to do anything about it.
- While I think this did a lot to show the severity of the issue, I feel like there’s also a decent amount of this that could have been cut to show other interesting topics.
- For example; we only see one real scenario where Talia is in charge of the Heraldry before the end of her internship, the “centering” training that Talia oversees was fairly vague, and I personally think there could have been more small examples of Talia’s empathic abilities going a little haywire; rather than her just grimacing.
- Ironically, I felt that the sections where Kris and Talia were stuck because of a massive blizzard were some of the most interesting, if only due to the desperation in so many of the scenes.
- I also think it’s kind of interesting for a female main character to have a temporary physical relationship, and have that treated as completely normal. the only other YA book I can think of that does that off the top of my head is the Kell series by Tamora Pierce.
- But, I really enjoyed most of Kris’ realtionship with Talia. I think the tension between liking her company and being suspicious of her powers was really well balanced.
- I will say, I’m not a fan of when someone is super suspicious of someone (or knows important information that they aren’t sharing) and still bones the person they’re suspicious of, but I think this book handled that better than most books.
- Honestly, I almost feel like I’m writing this like I’m going through a list of tropes…. which is not what I want.
- The best parts of this book were these quiet moments that showed up randomly throughout the book.
- There’s a moment with an older Herald who allows Kris and Talia to stay the night that’s just delightful!
- I love the scene where unexpected characters start to sing, it was such a good world-building tool and added a sense of joy into a situtation that was otherwise lacking it.
- I will say, another frustration that I had with this book was the idea that this “Hallowed school” could have fucked up so badly with training one of their VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE!
- Like, Talia isn’t just some random person going through the program, she’s meant to be the Queen’s advisor. The idea that she would have been able to skip through basic training to the advanced shit (especially when there were so many people paying careful attention to her) was just frustrating.
- And I think part of the frustration I felt was due to the fact that I also fully recognize that that shit happens! It just feels wrong that it happened there.
- Back to the relationship between Kris and Talia; I’m not going to talk about everything here, but I LOVED some of their moments. The way they celebrated the holidays together was delightful.
- I also really enjoyed the emotional confrontation that happens regarding their relationship. (this is a trope for sure, but they’re both worried the other person has fallen in love while it’s meant to be casual).
- But it lead to this absolutely wonderful encapsulation of how they’re different and how that’s okay.
- I know I’ve really only talked about those two, but to a certain extent, part of this book felt like a character study.
- How does someone react when they feel they can no longer trust themself? How do they recover? How do they handle when the person who is meant to help them also doesn’t know if they can be trusted?
- There are just so many intersting questions, and questions that would be answered in wildly different ways with different characters.
- Which is why, even though I’ve had complaints, I keep pointing out the things I loved about this book. Because there were so many small but important moments, while there were also these massive important overarching questions.
- I will say, what I would call the final confrontation in this book, is absolutely brutal. Both the actual situtation and the ultimate resolution. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
- Which is a really interesting choice for the hero of a YA series.
- But the way it highlighted the sometimes gray area that the Heralds live in was really well done. There’s also a good questions about how you define justice, and how to put justice in play. and maybe I’m overthinking what ends up being a series for kids, but this book had me really excited to see where this series and world goes.
What it Pairs With: I want a strong but sweet red wine, the kind of thing is easy to drink and makes you think of either the height of summer of sitting near a roaring fire.