|Exile's Valor: A Novel of Valdemar|
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Review by: CL5 Beryl
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When Exile's Valor begins, Herald Alberich is becoming fully settled into his life as a Valdemaran and as the Weaponsmaster of the Collegium, Queen Selenay is battling both her Council's attempts to get her to marry and her own grief for her father, and all of Valdemar is recovering from the losses during the recent Tedrel Wars. Much like Exile's Honor, in which we first meet Alberich, Exile's Valor centers primarily on honor and truth- or rather, the issues of honor and truth; it is equally a story of deception and the weaknesses that allow humans to believe them.
The plot focuses on the hardships of a new Queen. Selenay finds herself in the position of Ruler far sooner than she could ever have anticipated, and her own insecurities are only aggravated by the fact that her Council can't think of her as anything but a child. Being forced to battle their expectations and underestimations leaves her vulnerable to outside influence, which Alberich must do his best to protect her from.
The story is filled with action and excitement, accentuated by emotional undertones. Mingled with post-war turmoil and distress there is frustration, guilt, and everything else you would expect to find in life or a well-written book. The characters are complex and realistic; they are in every way perfect in their imperfections. Exile's Valor differs emotionally from Exile's Honor in the sense that it features romance somewhat prominently; some discrete and rational, some markedly less so and somewhat disastrous. Primarily, though, the undercurrents of the story are on trust and distrust, and the reasons or lack thereof for both.
Mercedes Lackey was able to blend distinct facts with elusive symbolism and meaningful subtext to make a book that's easy to read and hard to put down.
Title: Exile's Valor: A Novel of Valdemar