Ahoy there me mateys! While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read. In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder! And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends. So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .
arrows of the queen – Mercedes Lackey
Now I had touched upon this novel and the author in me previous log post, Broadside No. 8. This book was my introduction into her writing. As I said in that post “I finished the trilogy and forayed further into the Valdemar world. I am not sure how well this series would hold up now since I haven’t re-read any since I was a younger lass but me memory holds such fondness for them. I enjoyed her writing so much that eventually I delved into her other work.”
The answer about whether it stood the test of time is . . . erm . . . not so much. While this book did bring back some fondness for me, in general I found in more problematic than my memories would suggest.
Me primary problem be that the main character, Talia is such a special snowflake. I mean seriously, she is twelve or thirteen and out of a backwater province with no real education or experience and yet she can enter a new land with new politics, culture, etc. and somehow with her “wise beyond her years” personality suddenly become a trusted adviser to the Queen. Seriously her advice is common sense. Sigh. Of course young me would not find Talia’s talents to be unreasonable. I wanted them too!
On top of that the culture, politics, and education of Valdemar seem to be rather flat in execution. As was the plot. In actuality I found Talia’s beginning experiences in her homeland to be the most interesting part of the story. It felt more fleshed out than the later parts of the book. The story in general felt too simplistic and generic. And that ending was so ridiculous! I mean seriously the bad guys had no brains.
Plot aside, there were two aspects of this book that still make me heart happy. One of the things is the bond between horse and rider. It is a magical telepathic bond. This bond had way less page time or purpose than I remember but the concept still makes me happy. Even if I can’t have a telepathic horse on me ship for practical reasons, I still kinda want one.
The second aspect of this book concerns sexuality. In this book sex was not shameful. People could have no-strings-attached sex. There are also monogamous long term couples. And gay and lesbian couples. It is by no means graphic but I do remember my younger self’s brain being introduced to these different kinds of relationships and sex. I had no experience with knowing any types people with alternative lifestyles at that point. This wasn’t a major revelation or even one I thought a lot about at the time (late bloomer here) but as a child it did lead to thoughts of “hmm different” and also “cool.” As an adult reader, I appreciate that Lackey was writing about this options as a) normative; and b) doing so in 1987 when people didn’t advertise these lifestyles as viable, perfectly acceptable choices. So hurrah for that!
So while me second reflections of this novel seemed to point out the flaws in this book more than anything else, I still maintain me fondness for it. I don’t know if I will reread the second and third books of this trilogy because too many books and so little time. But I am actually glad I gave this book another look.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
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.
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