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Review: ‘Exile’s Valor’ by Mercedes Lackey

November 4, 2010

Alberich, the former captain of the Karsite Sunsguard and enemy of Valdemar, has fully embraced his life as a Herald of Valdemar.  His work is fulfilling and (mostly) enjoyable serving a Queen he is fiercely loyal to and believes in, and he has found a family among the Heralds.

But another plot is brewing in the streets of Haven, something Alberich the spy can’t quite put his finger on.  Something that could threaten his queen and his country–if only he could find it.  Recruiting some of the other Heralds to help, Alberich devotes everything he has to fleshing out the situation, almost to no avail.  On top of all this, his Queen, Selenay, is love-struck over a foreign prince whom no one truly likes, he is blamed for the popularity of a new game among the Trainees called Hurlee, and he has to figure out his love life.  All while trying to keep Valdemar and Selenay safe…

My Thoughts:

The story is about half and half–half about Alberich and half about Selenay.  They seem to get equal time in the plot, which makes sense considering Selenay is mooning over a prince and it would be rather difficult to see her emotions and complications from Alberich’s perspective when he is in fact so rarely around her.  Yet the plot centers mostly around Selenay, making this novel less of a sequel to Exile’s Honor and more of a related stand-alone.  Which is fine, nothing wrong with that!

I enjoyed this story a great deal.  I think Alberich is one of Lackey’s best characters because of his complexity and depth.  He has been through experiences that many of us will never have, yet for all of that I think he’s still very relateable.

Selenay is an enjoyable character as well, though in my opinion she is overshadowed by Alberich as the favorite character.  I rooted for Alberich whereas I don’t really root for Selenay.  Yes, I want her to succeed and be a good Queen, but I also get the sense throughout that she is going to be a good Queen regardless of what happens in the story.  In Exile’s Honor she was set up as the kind of person who thinks things through and is mostly level-headed, so I never really get any sense that she will turn out to be a bad egg.  Her decisions lead to some trouble, but mostly the decision is a poor one for her, not for her country.  Therefore while I find her interesting and likable enough, she isn’t my primary focus anywhere in the story nor is she my favorite or the one for whom I hang on every word to find out what happens next.

All in all, a very good read, no major plot or character drawbacks, and a book that I will definitely read again.  Alberich is magnetic.

Buy on Amazon * Author’s website * GoodReads

Book info: 438 pages, published 2004, ISBN 0756402212

Copy is from personal library

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