Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey

Arrow's Flight is the second book in the Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy.

Talia could scarcely believe that she had finally earned the rank of full Herald. Yet though this seemed like the fulfillment of all her dreams, it also meant she would face trials far greater than those she had previously survived. For now Talia must ride forth to patrol the kingdom of Valdemar, dispensing Herald's justice throughout the land.

But in this realm beset by dangerous unrest, enforcing her rulings, would require all the courage and skill Talia could command- for if she misused her own special powers, both she and Valdemar would pay the price!

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As I will likely note in future reviews of other books in the Valdemar/Velgarth saga, I've often found that the middle books in the various trilogies are often the weakest. Such is not the case with this one, however, for I feel it is stronger than the first book, though probably not quite as strong as the one that follows it. The story of Talia's intern journey is engaging, frustrating, and heartbreaking by turns. She must experience one of the darkest times in her life thusfar on this trip, though as usual she comes through it with flying colors and stronger than she's ever been.

Talia has just gotten her Whites at the beginning of this book, and is ready to set forth on her internship with Herald Kris as her adviser and mentor. She has come a long way from the frightened little farm girl she was at the beginning of the first book, though she still has a good deal to learn regarding the need to trust those who are there to help her, and to accept the help that they can give when needed instead of walling herself off and trying to deal with things on her own. Such has been a continuing problem for her, and while one would have thought she'd have learned her lesson about it by now, it pretty quickly becomes evident that she hasn't quite once she and Kris set out. It's not really that she has any inflated opinions of herself or her capabilities, but rather that she is afraid of disappointing her friends and colleagues, and is still wont to fall back upon the distrusting and independent ways she learned as a child among the Holderkin when personal crisis strikes. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that she receives yet another rather pointed lesson in why she needs to trust her fellow Heralds and let them help her when she finds herself in over her head with something. Thankfully, by the end of this book, she does seem to have finally learned that lesson.

In the overall scheme of things, this story steps away from the larger plots of the trilogy and extended series, though it doesn't forget them entirely. A few more crucial parts of the background to the tapestry that's being woven are laid in here, though the main focus stays squarely on Talia and the trials she faces during her year and a half on the road with Kris. Vicious rumors, personal catastrophe, an epic blizzard, her first taste of battle, and murder all figure into the tale and all contribute to Talia's growth as a Herald and as a woman. Through it all, enough ominous signs of an impending showdown of some sort can be seen to thoroughly whet the appetite for the final book in the trilogy.

While I've rounded up my rating for venues such as Goodreads and Amazon, I'm reflecting my truer rating of 4½ stars here. I still noticed a few instances of wavering POV in this one, and it still doesn't rank among my favorites of the saga (though it does come close in some ways), but it certainly deserves a step up from book one. Always a "would recommend" for me, but it does get better from here friends, so stay tuned.

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