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Literature / Heralds of Valdemar

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The Heralds of Valdemar is a Fantasy novel series written by Mercedes Lackey. The series is linked by its setting rather than focusing on a core group of characters; it covers roughly 3,000 years of history, all told. It is written mostly in the form of trilogies that do focus on a particular character, although there are a handful of independent novels as well.

The majority of the series revolves around the Kingdom of Valdemar and its protectors, the eponymous Heralds of Valdemar. Heralds are heroes of one stripe or another Chosen to defend Valdemar from the current Big Bad. Sometimes they have to go on The Quest for the MacGuffin that will save Valdemar, other times they have to root out The Mole or discover whatever Applied Phlebotinum solution they need to save the day. Almost always, it's a Coming of Age Story as well.

No one is admitted to the Herald ranks unless they are chosen by a Companion. Companions are, in essence, Cool Horses with human-level intelligence and telepathy. They deliver the Call to Adventure to new Heralds by instinctively seeking out and recruiting youngsters with latent Gifts and good hearts, and always find the one person for whom they were meant Because Destiny Says So. This usually happens at just the right time to get the newly Chosen trained, before the kingdom needs them.

Mercedes Lackey is also an award-winning filk singer, songwriter and lyricist, which means Valdemar also has a rich folk music tradition of its own. Most of the books list complete lyrics for the songs referenced within, and several books have companion albums containing this music as well as other songs inspired by the events and characters within, all published by Firebird Arts and Music.

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     Major novels in the Valdemar series, in roughly chronological order: 
  • The Mage Wars: The prehistory of the Valdemar 'verse, including the eponymous war between Great Mages Urtho and Ma'ar that resulted in the Cataclysm and its aftermath, and the exile of the Kaled'a'in. Features the mighty Black Gryphon, Skandranon.
    • The Black Gryphon (1994)
    • The White Gryphon (1995)
    • The Silver Gryphon (1996)

  • The Founding of Valdemar: Delves into the story, first outlined in the original Arrows trilogy, of the flight of Baron Valdemar and his people from the despotic Eastern Empire and their eventual settlement in the northwest of the continent, where they founded The Good Kingdom and named it after him.
    • Beyond (June 2021)
    • Into the West (December 2022)
    • Valdemar (upcoming, scheduled release December 2023)

  • The Last Herald-Mage: A trilogy that details the tragic life and ultimate Heroic Sacrifice of Vanyel Ashkevron, the most powerful Herald-Mage Valdemar has ever known. Features one of the first, if not the first, openly gay yet unambiguously heroic protagonists in fantasy literature.
    • Magic's Pawn (1989)
    • Magic's Promise (1990)
    • Magic's Price (1990)

  • The Collegium Chronicles follows roughly fifty years after The Last Herald-Mage and features a young orphan named Mags, detailing the founding of the Heralds' Collegium and associated traditions.
    • Foundation (2008)
    • Intrigues (2010)
    • Changes (2011)
    • Redoubt (2012)
    • Bastion (October 2013)
  • The Herald Spy, a sequel to the Collegium Chronicles with an adult Herald Mags.
    • Closer to Home (October 2014)
    • Closer to the Heart (October 2015)
    • Closer to the Chest (October 2016)
  • Family Spies, a sequel to The Herald Spy, focusing on the children of Herald Mags and his wife King's Own Herald Amily.
    • The Hills Have Spies (June 2018)
    • Eye Spy (July 2019)
    • Spy, Spy Again (June 2020)

  • Brightly Burning (2000): A stand-alone novel detailing the short life of Lavan Firestorm, a Firestarter and legend in Valdemar, who went mad and used his fire powers to incinerate the Karsite army and the surrounding land following the death of his Companion, the only being keeping him and his powers sane in the first place.
  • Vows and Honor: A duology, based on Mercedes Lackey's first published short stories, covering the adventures of Tarma and Kethry, mercenary warrior and mage, and their geased spellsword Need. Noteworthy for Tarma being asexual and even referred to as such.
    • The Oathbound (1988): An episodic novel only loosely tied to the main continuity.
    • Oathbreakers (1989): A full novel firmly placing the series in and around Rethwellan and Valdemar.
    • Oathblood (1998): An anthology of Tarma and Kethry short stories. Several are the originals of stories reworked into The Oathbound.

  • Exile's Duology: Tells the story of Alberich the Weaponmaster, who came from Karse, historical enemy of Valdemar. The first book deals with Alberich's Choosing and how he settles in as a Herald, plus the events of the Tedrel War, the Tedrels being an entire nation of corrupt mercenaries that Karse hired. The second book deals with Alberich's time in the years following the war and Queen Selenay's disastrous first marriage.
    • Exile's Honor (2002)
    • Exile's Valor (2003)
  • Take a Thief (2001): Forms a rough trilogy with the previous two novels and tells the story of the young thief Skif, his Choosing and life as a Trainee, and his role in breaking up a slaver ring.

  • The Arrows Trilogy: Innocent farmgirl Talia is rescued from an Arranged Marriage and with her empathic powers becomes the Queen's Own Herald, just as an old ally of the kingdom turns traitor and starts a deadly war. This was the first published trilogy set entirely in Valdemar.
    • Arrows of the Queen (1987)
    • Arrow's Flight (1987)
    • Arrow's Fall (1988)

  • By the Sword (1991): A standalone novel introducing Kerowyn, mercenary and inheritor of Need (from Vows and Honor), who comes to lead her own mercenary company and eventually rescues Valdemar from a savage Hardornen attack.

  • Mage Winds: Elspeth, the Royal Brat a decade earlier, has come of age and is foretold to become Valdemar's first Herald-Mage in six hundred years. But she's not about to be controlled by destiny and ends up unexpectedly making allies of the magical Hawkbrothers, just as an ancient enemy returns and threatens to destroy both the Tayledras and Valdemar.
    • Winds of Fate (1991)
    • Winds of Change (1992)
    • Winds of Fury (1993)

  • Mage Storms: In the aftermath of Hardorn's defeat, Valdemar has an uneasy assembly of newfound allies, including their historical enemy, Karse. Karal, a young Karsite priest and aide to the ambassador, must navigate the resulting political intrigue while a new threat arises from the Eastern Empire. But even this struggle may be moot in the face of the return of the three-thousand year old Cataclysm.
    • Storm Warning (1994)
    • Storm Rising (1995)
    • Storm Breaking (1996)

  • The Owl Trilogy (Darian's Tale): In the aftermath of the Mage Storms, young Darian Firkin, reluctant apprentice wizard, finds his life altered when his village is attacked by barbarians and he is forced to flee, finding sanctuary and tutelage with the Hawkbrothers. As he grows into his responsibilities, he finds himself an ambassador to the northern tribes.
    • Owlflight (1997)
    • Owlsight (1998)
    • Owlknight (1999)

    Anthologies and other works: 
  • Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar (1997)
  • Sun in Glory and Other Tales of Valdemar (2003)
  • Crossroads and Other Tales of Valdemar (2005)
  • Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar (2008)
  • Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2009)
  • Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar (2010)
  • Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar (2011)
  • No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2014)
  • Crucible: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2015)
  • Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2016)
  • Pathways: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2017)
  • Choices: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2018)
  • Seasons (2019)
  • Passages (2020)
  • Boundaries (2021)
  • Shenanigans (2022)
  • The Valdemar Companion: A Guide to Mercedes Lackey's World of Valdemar (1990) — Nearly everything you wanted to know about Valdemar, plus a Valdemar novelette.
  • Official miniatures

    The Music: 
  • Heralds, Harpers and Havoc (1988): Songs inspired by the Arrows trilogy.
  • Magic, Moondust, and Melancholy (1989): Includes two songs related to the Vows and Honor/By the Sword books.
  • Oathbound (1990): Songs from the book of the same name.
  • Oathbreakers (1991) likewise
  • Shadow Stalker (1994): Songs from The Last Herald Mage.
  • By the Sword (1994): Songs from the book of the same name
  • Lovers, Lore, and Loss (1995): More songs about the Arrows trilogy.
  • Owlflight (2000): Based on the Owl trilogy.
  • Sun and Shadow (2000): Songs about the legendary Sunsinger and Shadowdancer.

Due to length, the list of examples has been split:

Main series

Last Herald-Mage Trilogy

Alternative Title(s): Valdemar