A quick note about my Friday Read posts: These will not always be book reviews. They will sometimes be The Friday 56, or things I want to read, or progress reports on things I am currently reading. Sometimes they will be book reviews. However, if I keep reading as fast as I have been reading, I won’t have enough Fridays to keep up with my book reviews. If you want to read all of my book reviews, and read them on the day I actually write them, I’d suggest keeping up with my dedicated book blog: Book-Wyrm-Reads.
The Oathbound (Vows & Honor #1)
The Oathbound is the first in a trilogy set in Mercedes Lackey’s wide-sweeping world of Valdemar, and if you’re new to the world this is as good a place to start as any. You’ll learn a lot about the world, though it takes quite some time until you actually meet any Heralds of Valdemar, and they are the main focus of many of not most of the books set in this world. And the series has been around long enough that I’d be surprised if any longtime fans of fantasy novels hadn’t at least heard of it.
This particular book focuses on a paid of blood sisters at a point after they have found their common purpose, blood-bonded to each other, and now find themselves at a bit of a loss of what to do next since their main purpose in life seems to have been completed. Now, this may seem like it’s starting part-way through the story. In a way, it is. Tarma and Kethry met (and accomplished that main purpose) in a short story which was published in the anthology “Sword and Sorceress III”. However, you can easily pick up this book without having read the prior story and not get lost.
Originally published in 1988, this book has stood the test of time pretty well. I’ve read it multiple times, and it (like the rest of this trilogy) remains on my keeper shelf. That’s not something that all of the Valdemar novels can say. I actually like the older ones better than the newer ones, in general.
Oathbreakers (Vows & Honor #2)
I like this story perhaps more than its predecessor, mostly because the characters are established in their relationship with each other by now. I like seeing how they work as a pair, rather than how they work as two individuals after the same common end. Granted, they worked remarkably well together even in their first short story, much less The Oathbound, but I think they do even better here.
I also like all the castle intrigue and the addition of the other characters in the story. I like meeting Herald Roald, and getting a glimpse of what Valdemar is like. I enjoy getting to know the Hawks. And best of all, I like Jadrek. I suppose I’ve always felt a kinship with his kind of character – the bookish sort who longs for adventure, but doesn’t really have the physical ability to go after it. (I’m ignoring the fact that in my case the lack of physical ability to go adventuring might be remedied with some actual exercise.)
These books, to me, are good fun. They’re not ponderously heavy, weighted with some obvious moral code. They’re not trying to be something other than entertainment. They are there for our enjoyment, and for me? It works. These are comfort reads, something I can turn to when I want to be told a good story.
Although earlier I mentioned that the books set in this world focus on the Heralds of Valdemar (and when you look at the publication order, the first novel published was about one of the Heralds), the short story introducing Tarma and Kethry pre-dates Arrows of the Queen (aka first Valdemar novel) by two years. So, I think it’s appropriate to start a re-read of some (or most) of my favorite Valdemar novels by starting with the couple of bond-sisters who started it all.