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Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Talia has completed her training as a Herald of Valdemar, but before being appointed full Herald status, and that of her special position of Queen's Own, she must still complete her internship.
Kris, beautiful Kris, is assigned to be her mentor as they ride circuit, passing along news, judgement, new laws and even gossip--and learn just *what* being a Herald means to the people of Valdemar.
Talia has a talent no-one else in Haven posessed. So, her training has not been complete or comprehensive. The stresses she faces on her training circuit come close to destroying her and Kris and their Companions!
Thoughts: It's strange, but in between Arrows of the Queen and this novel, the style has become so much closer to the way Lackey writes the rest of her books. Less narration-in-the-guise-of-dialogue, less voice of god telling about the behind the scenes stuff that readers need to know but that can't be explained in any other way. The story is driven more heavily by character interaction than before, and that's what I like most about her Valdemar novels. The style is still less refined than in later books, but it's getting there. The seeds have been planted and the plant is growing.
In this second book of the trilogy, Talia has earned her Whites and is off on her first circuit, a year and a half in the field with a mentor to guide and help her learn the more practical aspects of being a Herald. We get a clearer view of just what a Herald does here, the real nitty-gritty of the lives they lead and the work that they do, and much in the same way that Arrows of the Queen gives us a good look at just what training to be a Herald can be like, this is good groundwork for later books in that we know more about the little bits of Heraldic life, the less-than-epic events that sometimes get overlooked in the larger picture of the history of Valdemar.
If this book has any one failing it's in the pacing, and even then there are understandable reasons why the author dwells on just about everything that happens for a month and then skips half a year. It can throw the reader a little bit, and make you read back to make sure that no, you didn't actually miss anything, but as jarring as it can be sometimes, there are reasons for it. To give equal time to everything would mean the underplaying of some important things and giving too much attention to other more trivial things.
I'm still enjoying the reread of this series, and I'm seeing things that I missed before and appreciating all the familiar and much-loved aspects that little bit extra.
But then, I freely admit that I'm a die-hard Valdemar fan, and your mileage may vary on these books. The things that I enjoy about them tend to be the very things that other people find tedious and dull. Still, I definitely recommend the series to people, and at least counsel giving them a try before making a final decision. Especially when the series gets going with the Winds and Storms trilogies, it's easy to get pulled into the world and get lost within it.
But that's a review for another day.