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Characters / Arrows Trilogy And Related Books

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This subsection of the Heralds of Valdemar Character Sheet covers the original Heralds of Valdemar trilogy (commonly known as the "Arrows" trilogy), as well as the stand-alone novels Take a Thief and By the Sword.

Herald Skif and Companion Cymry

  • Action Mom: Downplayed, but in Arrow's Fall Cymry gives birth to a colt. That doesn't make her kick ass any less, for all she sort of sinks into the background.
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  • Blood Brothers: With Talia.
  • Good Feels Good: Realizes this after becoming a Herald.
  • Interspecies Romance: With Nyara, sort of. (She's actually human, but extensively modified.)
  • Knife Nut: Especially with throwing knives, which go exactly where he wants to put them.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Talia again.
  • Lovable Rogue: In the Arrows books and Take a Thief. Not so much in Mage Winds.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Skif gets a certain amount of teasing from the other male Trainees over his chore assignments of laundry and mending. (Both of which he learned during his thief days.) They stop teasing him when he points out he's the only male in a room full of women.
  • Reformed Criminal
  • Street Urchin


Queen's Own Herald Talia and Grove-born Companion Rolan

  • Bad Powers, Good People: She can force anyone to experience any emotion she wants to, at any level she wants to, and she could potentially do it so subtly that her victims would never know their minds had been altered. If she weren't a Herald and under extreme self control, she would be terrifying.
  • Better as Friends: With Kris. Played with between her and Skif; they're so much better as friends that they don't even manage to get a romance off the ground to start with — they fall asleep at every attempt. Afterward, Skif winds up with a reputation as a ladykiller, and Talia never lets on that they never once managed to do the deed.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Being an empath means she can heal your angst and trauma, as she does for her friends and people in need. It also means that she can destroy your mind, and if she thinks she should do it, she will.
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  • Blood Brothers: With Skif, after a very brief and completely failed try at a teenage romance.
  • Bookworm: One thing that puts her at odds with her family is the fact that she's always skipping chores to read books. She also snuck into her father's library on full moon nights to read. At one point she was afraid that she'd been found out for it, only to be told by her father's wives that she was now thirteen and ready for marriage.
  • The Confidant: Part of her job as Queen's Own.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading/Sex by Proxy: Unavoidably, due to her empathy and the fact that Rolan is, ahem, quite a mare's stallion.
  • The Empath: Her magical power. She can perceive emotion and act as a Living Lie Detector, but she can also project, forcing an emotional state on others or causing them to experience her emotions directly.
  • Farm Boy: She starts out as an inexperienced girl from the insular world of the Holderkin. She serves the usual purpose of The Everyman, being an unschooled view into the world of Valdemar. In addition, she wasn't Chosen as the Queen's Own primarily because of her latent and immense empathic abilities (though they certainly help), she was Chosen because she knew how to deal with spoiled little girls.
  • Fish out of Water: Since her people are kind of a Wacky Wayside Tribe to Valdemar as a whole, she's totally out of her depth when she gets to the Collegium.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the third book, after undergoing prolonged physical and emotional torture.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: She catches a bit of this in Arrow's Flight — between her own necessary actions as Herald and an Evil Chancellor spreading rumors at home, the townspeople start to fear her and think she's influencing their minds with her Empathy. By the same token, she can feel everyone's distrust, making it all the harder for her to look confident, approachable, and trustworthy.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The tiny girl to Dirk's huge guy.
  • Honest Advisor: Part of her job as Queen's Own.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Inflicted by Rolan on Talia twice. The first time, it was a temporary measure to get Talia to Haven without a mental breakdown. The second time, it was because Talia saw something she shouldn't have and that could lead her to discover a lot of the Companions' secrets prematurely.
  • Like Brother and Sister: With both Skif and (eventually) Kris.
  • May–December Romance: she's 19-20, Dirk is in his mid-30s.
    • only by Retcon. (Is this age difference confirmed anywhere on-screen?) When Talia arrives at the Collegium, she's told a funny story about Kris, who "got his Whites a few months ago"; Kris and Dirk are year-mates, and he mentions in Arrow's Flight that they actually went on internship together. That makes them six years apart at most, unless Dirk was one of the rare mature-age Chosen.
  • Meaningful Name: Talia means "dew of God" in Hebrew. Her arrival at the Collegium is a definite relief for the Heraldic Circle, and the "from God" part becomes even more appropriate once we learn the true nature of Grove-Born Companions. Especially so since she also becomes an Honorary Priestess of Karse.
  • Mindlink Mates: With Dirk.
  • Mind Rape: In an unusual heroic example, Talia inflicts Mind Rape as a punishment on a few select people who deserved it. In other cases (crippling phobia, for example), she can go into someone's head and rearrange their emotions, but she won't do it without their informed consent.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: She is completely disowned by her Holding for "running away" and getting Chosen as a Herald.
  • Noodle Incident: The details of her diplomatic mission to Karse, where she befriended Solaris and was named an honorary Sun Priest, are only briefly mentioned in the main series. To learn what actually happened, you need to read the title story in the Sun in Glory anthology.
  • Older and Wiser: In the Mage Winds.
  • Power Incontinence: In Arrow's Flight. Ironically, she was doing pretty well to control her Empathy until she hears rumors that she doesn't have conscious control of it, creating a feedback loop of self doubt that results in her Gift going entirely rogue.
  • Rape as Drama: In Arrow's Fall.
  • Runaway Fiancé: At first.
  • Shrinking Violet: Initially. She grows out of it with time and Character Development.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Becomes this.
  • The Voiceless: Rolan. He can Mindspeak anyone he chooses, but like most Companions he pretends he can't, and since Talia's Gift is Empathy (which is implied to work against Mindspeech), Rolan only speaks to her once, when he Chooses her.
  • When She Smiles
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Border children don't get much of a childhood; she had adult responsibilities before she was thirteen, and going into Heraldic training was more of the same.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: A good chunk of the plot in Arrow's Flight is her inner struggle to decide when and how to use her Empathy.

Herald Kris and Companion Tantris

  • Better as Friends: With Talia
  • Big Brother Instinct: For Dirk, after his early heartbreak. "I helped him get over his broken heart, and I will kill anyone who tries to hurt him like that again."
  • Hero of Another Story: when Kris tells Talia of his and Dirk's history as partners, it's implied that a lot of their previous missions would make good Spy Fiction.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Dirk.
  • Hidden Depths: It's heavily implied by Kris to Talia that Dirk and Kris are frequently used for under the table intelligence missions among other things.
  • Like Brother and Sister: With Talia.
  • Mentor Archetype: He's a teacher at the Collegium when not on patrol, and the experience helps him get Talia trained properly when her Gift goes rogue. He wanted to be Kyril's successor as Dean, but circumstances didn't work out that way.
  • Never Live It Down: in-universe. The incident with the chicken, on his first shift in the kitchens as a Trainee.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Both Kris and Tantris in Arrow's Fall.
  • Secret Legacy: Very likely to be a descendant of Vanyel, since he is related to the royal family and certainly has the good looks. He may even have had MageGift, since in the post-magic setting of Valdemar this was usually misidentified and trained as FarSight.
  • Reincarnation: after Storm Warning, Mercedes Lackey confirmed offscreen that Tantris is the reincarnation of Vanyel's friend Tantras
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He accidentally kicks off a lot of suffering in Arrow's Fall when he flat-out tells Dirk that he and Talia were lovers. Dirk promptly tries to pull a I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, complicating Talia and Kris' efforts to get Dirk and Talia together. He is also the one who tells Talia about the rumors that she unconsciously influences others with her Empathy, which eventually results in her Gift going out of control in Arrow's Flight. He even managed this pre-series: when he rejected Lady Naril, it never occurred to him that she'd manipulate Dirk into falling in love with her as a means of revenge on Kris, nor that leaving her alone with him once she'd been found out might get Dirk (verbally) flayed alive.
  • Unwitting Pawn: His uncle used him in multiple plots to get the throne. He tried to get Kris named heir pro tem before Elspeth was Chosen and manipulated him a few different ways to undermine Talia. He even let Selenay send Kris into the trap that would kill him rather than speak up and risk the discovery of his plans.

Herald Dirk and Companion Ahrodie

  • Drowning My Sorrows: Does this in Arrow's Fall out of guilt when one of his Fetching Trainees dies on her Internship; he taught her an Up to Eleven Fetching technique that enabled her to save several children from burning to death, but never mentioned the Dangerous Forbidden Technique he discovered in the Archives after she left for said Internship that she might have used to save herself.
  • Friend to All Children: He's described as the sort of person that children and animals trust immediately.
  • Hero of Another Story: When Kris tells Talia of his and Dirk's history as partners, it's implied that a lot of their previous missions would make good Spy Fiction. Even when he's reassigned to the Collegium after his marriage to Talia, Kyril tells them outright that Dirk will still be expected to go on the sort of 'special missions' he used to pull off with Kris.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Dirk.
  • Hidden Depths: It's heavily implied by Kris to Talia that Dirk and Kris have been frequently used for under the table intelligence missions. When Kerowyn meets him in By the Sword, she observes that he looks like a farmboy and moves like an assassin.
  • Hollywood Homely: No one, not even those who love him, thinks his looks are his best quality. Even he thinks he's ugly. Fortunately, he also knows he's a good singer, a gifted dancer, and a very good Herald.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: He was badly emotionally burned by a beautiful but vicious noblewoman who was only dating him to get close to Kris. When she was found out, she called him an idiot (among other insults) for thinking a woman like her would want a homely man like him. Kris thinks Dirk would have been Driven to Suicide without his Companion.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Kris.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With Talia.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Tries to pull this. It ends poorly.
  • Love at First Sight: He and Talia, as with all Lifebonded couples, but neither of them realize it until much later due to Talia only being thirteen when they met. If they had known, it would have saved Dirk from the heartbreak detailed in The First Cut Is the Deepest and the tragic, near-disaster of the cycle of miscommunication between Dirk, Kris, and Talia in Arrow's Fall that turned out to be orchestrated by Lord Orthallen in order to destabilize Talia and potentially break up one of the Heraldic Circle's best working partnerships.
  • Mentor Archetype: Like his frequent work-partner, Kris, Dirk teaches a lot of Fetching classes whenever he's not on assignment elsewhere; his Drowning His Sorrows sub-plot in Arrow's Fall is because he feel he failed one of his students. His teaching of FireStarter Griffon is considered an essential part of one of Valdemar's early victories in the war against Ancar. After his marriage to Talia, he's permanently assigned to the Collegium as the Orientation Counsellor
  • Mindlink Mates: With Talia.
  • Nice Guy: He's the weaker but stabler partner of the lifebond, providing the anchor so Talia doesn't get overwhelmed.

Lord Orthallen

  • Ambition Is Evil: Orthallen, as senior Council member and Selenay and Sendar's confidant, is one of the most powerful people in Valdemar. The fact that he's still not satisfied and wants to be king shows how blindly greedy and ambitious he is.
  • The Confidant: Confidant, close personal friend, and high-ranking adviser to Queen Selenay, her father King Sendar, and her grandfather King Roald. A powerful adviser dedicated to furthering Valdemar's interests (or so everyone believes).
  • The Chessmaster
    • Xanatos Speed Chess: Orthallen is a master of taking advantage of existing opportunities and schemes to further his own agenda and removing traces of his involvement when the plans go south.
  • Evil Chancellor: Close personal friend and high-ranking adviser to three generations of the Royal House... while plotting against them all along.
  • Evil Uncle: To Kris. He does not get more than "displeased" when Selenay sends Kris with Talia to Hardorn, even though he knows his nephew will likely be tortured or killed, because revealing any more would expose his own plans.
  • Man Behind the Man: Was shooting for this, knowing he couldn't be king in his own right.

Herald Keren and Companion Dantris

Herald Jadus and Companion Fortunea

  • Companion Cube: as befits a former Bardic Trainee, implied with his harp My Lady.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: with Talia when she first comes to the Collegium, bordering Happily Adopted. He even bequeaths her his treasured harp, My Lady, when he dies.
  • Magic Music: Jadus came to the Collegium as a Bardic Trainee, and is implied to also have the Bardic Gift.
  • Retired Badass: Formerly a field Herald and the King's bodyguard during the Tedrel Wars.

Herald-Captain Kerowyn and Companion Sayvil

  • Action Girl: To the point where she stands out even in a series filled with Action Girls.
  • Better as Friends: With Daren. They become lovers during their training with Tarma, but Kero is well aware that there's no room for her to live the kind of life she wants as the consort of a prince of Rethwellan. A decade and change later when she's leading the Skybolts and he's Rethwellan's Lord Martial, they like and respect one another but feel no interest in rekindling a romance.
  • The Chains of Commanding: As Captain of the Skybolts, she finds herself without anyone to be her real friend and confidant. This makes her more open to Talking in Your Dreams with Eldan.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Even her old friends joked that when the 'ice queen' fell, she'd fall hard. Kero duly lampshades this once she realizes her feelings for Eldan.
  • Embarrassing Rescue: Her story begins when she rescues her brother's fiancee; while Dierna is certainly grateful to be rescued, the aftermath proves highly uncomfortable for everyone.
  • Famed In-Story: Her early adventures were turned into a ballad which dogs her throughout the rest of her career, to her distinct chagrin. It doesn't help that she has perfect pitch and not all of the people who perform that song in her honor are good at singing.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Is a Mindspeaker, but until she is Chosen she rarely uses the ability, feeling it would make others distrust her. Also wields Need, but does her best not to rely on Need's abilities.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: She and Eldan begin their relationship with an After Action Patchup. Kero lampshades the trope in the process, acknowledging that she's felt the impulse plenty of times before, this is just the first time it's happened in the vicinity of someone she wouldn't mind waking up with.
  • Good Is Not Nice: She's plain-spoken to the point of rudeness most of the time, though she can be diplomatic if the situation calls for it.
  • Good Is Not Soft: She's ruthlessly pragmatic for a Herald, able to suggest assassination without blinking an eye, but she'll only do it after considering every other option and deciding that one will cost the fewest lives.
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: She performs the self-inflicted "I quit" version halfway through By The Sword.
  • Mindlink Mates: She and Eldan can speak mind-to-mind, and can open their minds to each other while making love, but they are not permanently connected to each other like a Lifebonded couple.
  • Mind over Manners: She scrupulously avoids using her Mindspeech whenever possible out of fear that her fellow mercenaries won't be able to trust her otherwise. She also refuses to learn how to use mind powers offensively, out of a sense that it isn't fair, which marks her out as Herald potential very early in the story.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: She purposefully exhausts Eldan with a night of lovemaking and leaves while he is still asleep in order to avoid a confrontation about her decision, fearing that he might convince her to change her mind.
  • Older and Wiser: In and after the Mage Winds trilogy.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Nearly. In a non-romantic example, her fellow Skybolts were trying to tell her they'd deposed the abusive former Captain and promoted her. She assumed they were agents of said Captain out to arrest her and fled accordingly.
  • Secret Legacy: Her mother was a Black Sheep among Kethry's children and her father disliked mages, causing her to pretty much grow up unaware of her Shin'a'in relatives until the events of By the Sword kick in.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: With Eldan, for over ten years.

Prince Daren and Companion Jasan

  • Babies Ever After: Once he and Selenay meet, they are parents within a year. Of twins.
  • Better as Friends: With Kerowyn. He tries to convince her to come back to Rethwellan with him and marry him, but she's not having it, and they both come to agree that a relationship between them would be a disaster.
  • Hot-Blooded: As a young man.
  • In Love with Love: The main reason he asks Kerowyn, his first serious lover, to marry him. She wisely refuses, knowing he needs more time to grow up.
  • Love at First Sight: With Selenay.
  • Mindlink Mates: With Selenay.
  • Royal Brat: At first. He grows out of it.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: When he initially shows up in By the Sword; Tarma and Kerowyn between them take care of that.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born
  • The Wise Prince: Eventually, after Tarma and Kerowyn beat some sense into him. It's a contrast to his brother Thanel, who never learned to respect women and saw Selenay as a means to the throne.

Herald Eldan and Companion Ratha

  • Animal Eye Spy: A skill of Eldan's, made possible by a special form of telepathy.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Downplayed. He won't kill for food because of his connection to animals, but he has no problem eating meat that others have killed.
  • The Determinator: Like all Heralds. It also shows through in his relationship with Kerowyn; Eldan does everything within his power to maintain some kind of contact with Kero. He legally requires her to meet him in person in order to collect his ransom, and when she finds a way around that, he manages to connect with her in her dreams, and he keeps this extremely long-range relationship up for nearly a decade.
  • Distressed Dude: He was spying in Karse and discovered by a Karsite priestess, who had him bound up and was about to torture him. Cue the lost mercenary woman on a warsteed, with a lot of arrows and a magic sword...
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Appears (by description only) in Arrow's Flight, sitting beside Selenay at the Heralds' party celebrating Elspeth's Choosing by Gwena.
  • I Will Wait for You: A subtle example; he never took up with anyone else after Kerowyn, and ten years later still hopes to reunite with her.
  • Reincarnation: Ratha is implied to be a reincarnated Shin'a'in, judging by his reaction when Kero speaks the language to him, but this is never really explored.
  • Skunk Stripe: A streak of white hair at each temple.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: In addition to standard MindSpeech, Eldan possesses a rarer form which allows him to sense and communicate with the minds of animals.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: With Kerowyn, for over ten years. She isn't too pleased to find out they weren't just dreams.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ratha confronts Kero as she's trying to make a More Hero Than Thou Sneaky Departure, forcing her to explain everything.

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