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This subsection of the Heralds of Valdemar Character Sheet deals with the deities of the setting, as well as general character tropes shared by various groups within the series.

Kal'enel, "The Star-eyed Goddess"

The Goddess of all the Kaled'a'in clans, she has four aspects, the Maiden, the Warrior, the Mother and the Crone. It is mentioned in The Mage Storms that ancient Karse had a Goddess with an almost identical name, in addition to the God Vkandis.

  • Divine Delegation: The souls of her Sworn continue to serve her after they die, acting as trainers and advisers to living Sworn (among other things). In the Mage Winds trilogy, she branches out a little further by selecting a pair of Avatars.
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  • The Hecate Sisters: Three of her four aspects, the odd one being the Warrior.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Her eyes look like a starry night sky, without discernible irises or pupils.
  • The Omniscient: Averted, even She doesn't always know what's going to happen.
  • Physical God: There is no doubt that She exists and She has interfered relatively often and unmistakably in the lives of her people over the years.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She is good to her people, but she doesn't baby them either.


Vkandis the Sun Lord

The God worshiped in Karse and Iftel.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: How he chose to start off his dramatic re-organization of the corrupt Karsite priesthood.
  • Fan Nickname: Vkandis the Unsubtle, due to the aforementioned bolt of divine retribution.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Is the mighty smiter in question. Unlike most cases of this trope, he actually 'does' start smiting people. Namely, most of the upper ranks of his priesthood.



  • Artifact Title: In-universe — most Heralds aren't heralds; they're called that because the first three people Chosen were the king, the crown prince, and the royal herald. Since there can only be one monarch and one heir but any number of heralds, the name stuck.
  • Changeling Fantasy: Not universally, but many Herald-Trainees were plucked out of old, ordinary lives, some of which were horrific, when their Companions arrived to get them. Somewhat lampshaded in the very first book written (Arrows of the Queen) as just before Rolan arrives and Chooses Talia, she briefly daydreams a Herald coming to choose her along with her Companion in tow.
  • The Chosen Many: Most Heralds are found by their Companions when their Puberty Superpower innate Gifts start to kick in. The Collegium not only trains them to use their abilities but gives them a sense of home and fellowship which they probably wouldn't find among the unGifted.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Heraldic devotion to duty is legendary; they can torment themselves over the 'weakness' of wanting a moment or two to just relax.
  • Circuit Judge: The main duty of a Herald riding circuit.
  • Ethical Slut: Heralds off duty tend to be "hedonistic and anything but chaste," with casual dalliances among their fellows being the norm. Justified, since the demands of Duty are so compelling — and the job is so dangerous — that long-term bonds usually won't last.
  • Fish out of Water: New trainees often experience this.
  • Good Feels Good: The call of duty aside, most Heralds do what they do because they enjoy it. The fellowship of a Companion and the Heraldic Circle are definitely a bonus.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Heralds are chosen for their moral balance as well as their innate goodness. If they feel they must, they will deal with you so brutally and decisively that even "good" people will wince.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Easy to identify by their Heraldic Whites, which are entirely white, boots and all. Certain characters have a Running Gag of complaining about the "shoot me now" uniform (e.g. Kerowyn) and avoiding wearing them as much as possible — except in cases where being yet another Herald in white makes them less conspicuous.
  • Honor Before Reason: Sometimes, though not always portrayed as a good thing. One non-Herald character muses that Companions must know how to look for someone who can balance morality and expediency.
  • Hope Bringer: When a Herald and Companion show up, the situation is about to get much better or much worse.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Pretty much a requirement, it's mentioned that, theoretically anyone can be corrupted, but that most evildoers wouldn't be able to figure out what would corrupt a Herald much less provide it.
  • Living Lie Detector: Via the Truth Spell. Some can merely make a lie obvious; others can force a person to tell the truth.
  • Mind over Manners: Heralds have a lot of codes, often self-imposed, against reading the minds or emotions of others 1) when not required by duty, 2) when there's time or means to find out some other way, or 3) without their informed consent.
  • Pragmatic Hero: A Herald would do anything in the service of Valdemar.
  • Psychic Powers: Heraldic "Gifts" are generally Mind Magic instead of true magic.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: People in danger draw Heralds like a lodestone.
  • Slave to PR: They work hard to maintain the reputation of the Heraldic Circle, the training college, and the monarchy. A Herald on duty will never look anything but trustworthy, capable, and approachable... no matter how tired, angry, or scared they may be feeling.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: All Heralds have at least one innate Gift. The Collegium — and prior to that, an apprentice/mentor system — exists to make sure trainees are comfortably in command of their abilities before they graduate, since an untrained or half-trained Gift is dangerous for everyone.
  • Undying Loyalty: A Herald is never too far from his or her Companion, especially on duty.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The people who are Chosen are also the kind of people who feel that their Gifts carry an obligation to use them for the greater good. The more powerful the Gifts, the greater the obligation.


  • 100% Adoration Rating: Valdemar's citizens may be wary of the guards, the royal family, or even individual Heralds, but almost no one hates Companions.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Vanity tends to be a Companion's vice. They like to look good for the general public, and for their fellow Companions (especially if they want a dalliance). Naturally, they have sets of show tack, all in blue and silver, with bells. And don't you dare call them horses.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Everyone a Companion meets- future Herald or not, foreigner or not- instinctively feels that a creature so ethereally beautiful must be trustworthy. Which is one reason why perfect strangers are still willing to help Companions and/or follow them. The Karsite character Karal actually doesn't recognize Companions at first, because they're so different from the savage "demon-horses" described in his country's propaganda.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Why they Choose whom they Choose. Some of them, like Yfandes, tell their Heralds they knew they would die because they Chose that Herald but have no regrets.
  • Bond Creatures: Heralds and Companions are a single working unit. It's rare for one to outlive the other, and neither would want to.
  • Call to Adventure: They deliver it.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: And exactly where to find you. And will shanghai you from wherever you are and carry you off to the Collegium without so much as a by-your-leave. Even if you're being burned to death at the time.
  • The Chooser of The One: Companions are the ones to say who is a Herald and who is not. Once they have Chosen a partner, no one is allowed to override their Choice; in some cases a person who would ordinarily have washed out of the Collegium is allowed to stay because their Companion supports them. Companions also ring the Death Bell for Heralds who have died, pronouncing at least one character a posthumous Herald.
  • Cool Horse: They appear to be graceful, pure white horses with blue eyes. Their strength, stamina, and intelligence far exceeds any normal horse, without even going into their personalities and supernatural powers. Their silver hooves even make a musical chime when they strike the ground.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Despite possessing mental or even magical powers, Companions fight with teeth and hooves like a warsteed, though the incredible coordination they have with their riders makes this very effective. They also have a tendency to trample the bodies of anyone who attacks them or their Heralds.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Even more so than Heralds, though this by no means makes them infallible.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: All Companions are incorruptible, and they all have blue eyes.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's an insult to call them horses (except affectionately) and even worse to treat them like one.
  • Intellectual Animal: Initially, they are thought of in terms of horse-like animals who are intellectually equal to their Heralds. Later, they are considered (more accurately) guardian spirits in a horse-like body.
  • Irrational Hatred: Not immune to it (or at least not in later books). In Exile's Honor, a very young, very traumatized Companion convinces some of his fellows to beat Alberich to death, solely because of his race. At which point Alberich's own Companion, and the current Grove-born Companion, arrive on the scene and make it clear they will defend Alberich with lethal force if necessary.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Will sometimes use this on Heralds.
  • Masquerade: Companions have a lot of secrets (see Reincarnation below).
  • Mind over Manners: Similar to Heralds, Companions generally stay out of others' minds and business unless duty requires it, the situation makes it the most expedient thing to do, or they have the other's consent.
  • Mundane Utility: They are their Heralds' main transportation and occasional bodyguard.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: They keep their intelligence concealed from the public at large, even going so far as to wear saddle and bridle. This has two functions: it keeps them Beneath Suspicion — no one expects the 'horse' to do anything once his Herald is out of commission — and the tack is either for comfort or somehow functional (an injured Herald can pull herself to safety by grabbing her Companion's reins, for example).
  • Mystical White Hair: Pure white; later revealed to be because they innately channel magic to boost their endurance. They have Occult Blue Eyes for the same reason.
  • Only the Chosen May Ride: Generally. Companions will carry riders other than their Chosen as a special favor — or in an emergency — but as a rule they won't carry anyone but their own Heralds. Needless to say, no one can stay on a Companion who isn't willing to be ridden, as Prince Thanel found out the hard way.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Grove-born Companions are essentially archangels who have taken on a mortal form, while regular Companions are ordinary angels (or reincarnated spirits) in a mortal body. At least some appear to be reincarnated Heralds, which is a secret the Companions do not want to get out, and some Companions apparently go the other direction and return to life as Heralds.
    • In the Mage Storms trilogy, when in conversation with Karal about various Sons of the Sun being re-incarnated as Firecats, (the mystical companions and advisers to particularly favored or important priests) the Companion Florian (the somewhat self-appointed Valdemaran ambassador/cultural adviser to Karal) mentions absently that 'it depends on how many times you've been around'... which implies that many, if not all, of the souls concerned recycle fairly continuously (with a brief stop in the Havens to rest and recharge a bit) between Heralds — who don't remember their previous lives — and Companions — who do, and that's the source of their legendary wisdom... accumulated life experience! Florian dies as a Heroic Sacrifice during the final Mage Storm, and Karal (who was granted a brief vision of Florian's human form) resolves to keep an eye out among the Heraldic Trainees in about twenty years or so...
  • Omniscient Morality License: Companions don't have to answer to anyone for what they do (except perhaps other Companions).
  • Reincarnation: Many Companions are reborn souls, often of former Heralds.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Profoundly averted, and the desire to avoid this is at least part of the reason Companions don't reveal who or what they are.
  • Sapient Steed: They are regarded as persons in every way. Injuring a Companion is treated the same as assaulting a Herald, and killing one is murder.
  • Spirit Advisor: They are either embodied guardian spirits or reincarnated worthy souls, with the twist that they don't tell their Heralds that, nor do they advise much unless directly asked.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Blue eyes. Between the color itself and the way they Choose new Heralds with a Held Gaze, looking a Companion in the eye is often a magic moment.


  • Deprogram: MindHealers do a benevolent version to characters who have been traumatized, usually by implanting a mental association that brings up a calming memory or thought immediately after a painful one, hopefully breaking the cycle before a dark moment can feed on itself and become an obsession.
  • The Empath: The ability to read emotions is often tied in with Healing Gift; there's a subdiscipline called MindHealing that uses projective Empathy to deal with emotional illnesses.
  • Healing Hands: The Healing Gift. Not all Healers possess it, however; there is a place for Healers who use surgery and medicine, though they have to deal with the disappointment of those who expected a quick fix.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Valdemar's Healers, as an organization, wear a green uniform for the same reason that Heralds wear Whites, so that they can be quickly spotted and identified in an emergency.
  • Mundane Utility: Defied. Healing uses personal and mental energy, so they don't Heal if the patient can be cured through other means. After all, there might be an emergency later that day.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Not to the extent of Heralds, but Healers definitely have the temptation to wear themselves to a thread helping everyone. Learning how to avoid burnout and Heroic Fatigue is part of their training, and they believe a little honest selfishness is healthy.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Yep. Dying in combat is a definite risk for field Healers, though smarter armies try to take Healers alive if possible and force them to Heal until they burn out.


  • Charm Person: Good Bards have at least a touch of this, either from their Gift or their personal charisma.
  • Diplomatic Immunity: Bardic immunity prevents anyone from punishing them for what they sing (they're sort of Valdemar's press, after all), but it has its limits.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Following the same trend as their Heralds and Healers, Valdemaran Bards can be identified by their bright scarlet uniforms.
  • Magic Music: The Bardic Gift is a kind of projective Empathy. In normal cases it can't actually control someone's behavior, but it can influence their minds and emotions.

Artificers and Generalists

  • Hufflepuff House: The "Blues" — the students who aren't training to be Heralds, Healers, or Bards — were the least explored branch of the Collegium until the Mage Storms trilogy.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: A few Artificers came to prominence just as magic was returning to Valdemar; their attempts to study magic energy as any other field of physics irritated Firesong no end, but it produced useful results.


  • Arch-Enemy: Somewhat of an Evil Counterpart to Valdemar since Vanyel's day if not before, until the Mage Storms give them common cause.
  • Ban on Magic: A ban on MindMagic, which they consider witch powers. Anyone found in possession of what Heralds would consider Gifts is executed by burning.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The priesthood wear different colors of robe, with black being highest.
  • Corrupt Church: For centuries, the Vkandis priesthood was corrupt at best, evil at worst.
  • God Is Good: Vkandis himself is good, but his followers have done horrific things in His name.
  • Kill It with Fire: Due to their association with the sun, fire is considered the appropriate way to destroy 'unclean' things. This backfires on them somewhat when the Skybolts and Valdemar hand them two defeats by setting fire to a significant mobile shrine and a sizable chunk of their army, respectively.
  • Light Is Good/Light Is Not Good: They worship the Sun and the sun god Vkandis, but the priesthood has not always been saintly.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Any child with Mage-potential or high intelligence is drafted into the priest ranks, often involuntarily.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Their most feared power is the ability to summon evil spirits. Solaris put an end to that practice after she came to power.

Tayledras and Shin'a'in

  • After the End: They have different but complementary roles in the wake of the Cataclysm: the Shin'a'in guard the plains (read: massive crater) around Urtho's Tower where his remaining weapons are stored; the Tayledras travel to the places where the aftereffects of the Mage Wars have made the land dangerous and clean up the corrupted magic.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Tayledras raptors and Shin'a'in horses are far beyond the norm, though not quite to the level of Intellectual Animal.
  • Animal Eye Spy: The Tayledras can do this with their bond birds.
  • Ban on Magic: The Shin'a'in force anyone with the Mage Gift to choose between exile or entering the shaman ranks. This is because they guard the magic weapons of Urtho, and they don't want anyone around who might be tempted to use them. This restriction is lifted after the Mage Storms trilogy.
  • Conlang: Tayledras and Shin'a'in, both derived from the older Kaled'a'in. Comparing similar terms from the three languages is occasionally an interesting exercise.
  • Cool Horse: The Shin'a'in are master equestrians who spent generations creating the ideal horse. Shin'a'in horses are famous for their endurance, willingness, intelligence, and loyalty. Shin'a'in warsteeds are all of that and more... but they're not pretty.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Tayledras Vales are hidden and guarded to deter outsiders; the Shin'a'in, while not hidden, do not welcome outsiders into the Plains.
  • In Harmony with Nature: Both. The Tayledras take it a step further, using their magic to shape and cultivate nature in the process of cleansing it of the harmful magical energies left behind by the Mage Wars.
  • Magical Native American: The base concept, though they develop into their own cultures in time.
  • Meaningful Rename: Tayledras sometimes change their use-names, usually after a change of life so profound that they consider the person they formerly were to be 'dead'.
  • Mystical White Hair: All Tayledras, even the non-Mages, eventually get white hair and blue eyes because they live in close proximity to Nodes and Heartstones.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Tayledras use-names are poetic combinations of nouns: Dawnfire, Hawkwind, Iceblade, etc. Evidently they are shorthand for a certain mood; Darkwind says that his is meant to evoke a gathering storm.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Tayledras, as the name suggests, have an affinity for raptors, whom they have bred and adapted over time to be smarter and more sociable. Many Tayledras form a psychic partnership with one of these birds, and giving someone a feather from your bondbird is effectively a marriage proposal.
  • Proverbial Wisdom: A trait of the Shin'a'in. There are a lot of proverbs out there, and those who know them never stop with just one.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: Apostrophes representing glottal stops are a hallmark of the Kaled'a'in language and its offshoot Shin'a'in. The Tayledras language, though also a derivative of Kaled'a'in, seems to have mostly phased out their use.
  • That Man Is Dead: The significance of a change of Tayledras use-name. When 'Songwind' became 'Darkwind', he spoke about Songwind as if he were a former member of the tribe, as did everyone else.

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