Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar Series #2)

Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar Series #2)

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Talia could scarcely believe that she had finally earned the rank of full Herald. Yet though this seemed like the fulfillment of all her dreams, it also meant she would face trials far greater than those she had previously survived. For now Talia must ride forth to patrol the kingdom of Valdemar, dispending Herald's justice throughout the land.

But in this realm beset by dangerous unrest, enforcing her rulings would require all the courage and skill Talia could command-for if she misused her own special powers, both she and Valdemar would pay the price.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781977308030
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Series: Heralds of Valdemar Series , #2
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 1,243,141
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mercedes Lackey is the author or coauthor of close to 100 books, including the Halfblood Chronicles, the Dragon Jousters series, and the bestselling novels of Valdemar.

The narrator of over 100 audiobooks, Christa Lewis has been nominated for an Audie Award and earned multiple Earphones Awards for recordings that have become Audible bestsellers. Christa is a classically trained actress and graduate of Boston University's actor training program.

Read an Excerpt

Arrow's Flight

By Mercedes Lackey


Copyright © 1987 Mercedes R. Lackey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0886773776

Chapter One


The flat of Alberich's practice-blade cracked against Talia's ill-guarded side. She hadn't seen the blow coming, she truly hadn't. That had hurt, and she would lay money on having a bruise despite the padded jerkin that had absorbed most of the blow. The practice blades may have only been wood, but Alberich tended to wield them all the harder for that.

"Faugh!" he spat in disgust, and came at her again before she had recovered from the last blow. This time he connected with her knife-arm, right at the elbow. She yelped, the arm went numb, and she lost her blade entirely.

The hawklike eyes glared at her with no trace of pity, and the scar-seamed face was a demonic mask as he passed judgment on her performance.

He was at least in his mid-forties, if not older, but he hadn't lost a fraction of his edge or agility in the five years Talia had known him. She was panting with exertion-he might as well have been taking a leisurely stroll. His well-worn, dark leathers (he was the only working Herald in Talia's experience who never wore Whites) showed not so much as a tiny sweat stain. The afternoon sun pouring down on all of them had made him look as thin and insubstantial as a shadow. And he had been just as hard to catch.

"A pity it is that Skif is net here to see you. Die of laughter he surely would!" he growled. "Eighteen you are-one would think you eight. Slow, clumsy, and stupid! Paugh! Had I been a real assassin-"

"I would have died of fright before you touched me."

"Now it is jokes! This is a battle-practice-not a comedy. If I wish amusement, I shall find a jester. Once again-and correctly, this time."

Once she was ready to drop with exhaustion, he turned his attention to Elspeth. Now that both of them deserved special tutelage he had changed the hour of their lessons to one shared by no one else, so that he could give his full devotion to the Queen's Own and Heir-presumptive. Rather than being held on the training grounds outside, the two had their drills in the salle. This was a barn-like building with a sanded wooden floor, lined with mirrors, with high clerestory windows to admit the maximum amount of light. Lessons were always held here during inclement weather, but it was too small for mass practices and classes for the combined Heraldic-Bardic-Healer's Collegium students Only those "privileged" to receive private lessons with Alberich took those lessons habitually in the salle.

Now that his attention was off her, Talia found her thoughts drifting back to her surprise of this afternoon.

Talia tugged and wriggled impatiently until she had succeeded in getting the supple, soft, white leather tunic over her head. Pulling it into place over the white raime shirt and leather breeches, she finally turned to admire the effect in the polished metal mirror in front of her.

"Havens!" she laughed, net a little surprised, "Why don't the Grays ever look like this?"

"Because," a harsh voice drawled from the next room, "You youngsters would have your minds on anything but your studies if they did!"

Talia laughed, turned back to the mirror, and preened. Today was the anniversary of her first class at Herald's Collegium-a fact that she'd forgotten until Keren and Sherrill (senior Heralds both, and instructors at the Collegium as well as Talia's longtime friends) arrived at her room with their arms full of white uniforms and wearing broad grins.

For the Heraldic Circle had considered-for less than five minutes, all told-had voted-and had passed Talia into full Herald status with the rest of her year-mates-no surprise to anyone in the Collegium, though by tradition the trainees were not to know when they were to be evaluated until the evaluation had already been made and they had passed.

Keren and Sherrill had claimed the right to give her the good news.

They didn't even give her a chance to think, either-just appeared at her door, swept her up one on either side, and herded her down the long, dark wood-paneled hall of the Collegium dormitory, down the stairs to the first floor, and out the double doors at the end.

From there they had taken her off to the Seneschal's office to claim her new quarters. Now she stood in the bedroom of the suite she'd chosen, marveling at her reflection.

"I look like a real grownup for a change!"

"That is the general idea," Sherrill laughed richly.

She cocked her head to one side, regarding the tiny, slender figure in the mirror. Her unruly red-brown curls were as tousled as ever, but somehow gave an impression now of being tumbled the way they were on purpose. The huge, deep-brown eyes that had been utterly guileless seemed somehow wiser; the heart-shaped face no longer so childlike. And all that change wrought by the magic of a new uniform!

"Talia, your head is going to swell like a spongetoad in rainy season if you're not careful." Keren interrupted her train of thought a second time. By craning her neck to peer around the doorframe Talia could see the riding instructor grinning sardonically from where she was sprawled on the wooden-backed, red-cushioned couch in the other room.

"Don't you know what the Book of the One says?" Sherrill added piously over her mate's shoulder. "'Great pride shall earn equal humiliation.'"

Talia left her bedroom to join them. They were lounging comfortably in her sparsely-furnished outer room, sharing the lone couch.

"I suppose you're both going to claim that you never spent so much as a minute in front of the mirror when you first got your Whites," Talia taunted, strolling toward them with her hands clasped behind her back.

"Who? Me?" Sherrill replied in artificial innocence, lifting an airy hand and batting thick black lashes over wide hazel eyes. "And feed my vanity? W-e-l-l, maybe a little."

"I happen to know for a fact that you spent half the day there. I'm told you were trying every hairstyle you could twist that black mane of yours into, seeing which one went best with the new outfits," Keren countered dryly, running her fingers through her own close-cropped, graying brown hair.

Sherrill just grinned and crossed her legs elegantly, leaning back into the cushions. "Since I can't claim equal, knowledge of what you did on that august occasion, that's hardly a fair blow."

"Oh, I did my share of mirror-gazing," Keren admitted with mock reluctance. "When you're as scrawny as a sapling and flat as a boy, it's rather astonishing to see yourself in something that actually flatters you. I swear I don't know how they do it-it's the same pattern for everybody, and not that dissimilar from the Student Grays-"

"But Lord, the difference!" Sherri concluded for her. "I don't know anybody who doesn't look fantastic in their Whites. Even Dirk manages to look presentable. Rumpled, but presentable."

"Well, what do you think of me?" Talia asked, turning on her toes in front of them, and grinning impishly into Keren's eyes.

"What do I think? That you look fabulous, you young demon. Keep fishing for compliments, though, and I'll likely dump you in the horse trough. Have they told you anything about your internship?"

Talia shook her head, and clasped her hands behind her again. "No. All they said was that the Herald they want to pair me with is in the field, and they won't tell me who it is."

"That's pretty much to be expected. They don't want you to have time to think of things to impress him with," Sherrill replied. Suddenly her eyes sparkled with mischief. "Oh, but I can think of one prospect that would give Nerrissa a litter of kittens!"

"Who?" Talia asked, head to one side.

"Kris and Dirk are due back in the next few weeks, and Dirk got the last greenie-as you should know, since it was Skif-so it's Kris' turn next! Nessa would die!"

"Sherri, it's only my internship assignment."

"A year and a half Sector-riding, most of it spent alone together, and you say it's only an assignment? Talia, you must have ice water for blood! Do you have any notion of the number of hours Nessa-and half the females of the Circle, for that matter-spend on their knees praying for an assignment like that? Are you sure you don't have leanings our way?"

Talia chuckled, and wrinkled her nose at them. "Quite sure, darlings. Just what is Kris' attraction for Nessa, anyway? She's got most of the males of the Circle panting at her heels as it is."

"The lure of the unattainble, or so I would surmise," Keren supplied, lids half-closed lazy with only a glint of brown iris showing. "He hasn't taken a vow of chastity, but he's so circumspect about his dalliances you'd never know it. It drives Nessa wild, and the harder she chases, the faster he runs. She's as caught up now by the chase as by the face."

"Well, she can chase him all she wants. I am not at all impressed by Kris' handsome face," Talia replied firmly.

"Or the gorgeous body-?" interjected Sherrill.

"Or the gorgeous body. Nessa can have all the gorgeous bodies in the Circle, for all I care. Holderkin men are handsome specimens, and I can do without them-my father could have given Kris stiff competition in his younger days, and I've told you what kind of a petty tyrant he was. And my late-but-not-lamented brother Justus was actually handsomer, if you favor blonds, and he was the foulest person I've ever known. I'd rather have a good heart and plain packaging."

"Yes, but Kris is a Herald-" Sherrill pointed out, tapping one long finger on her knee for emphasis. "That guarantees the good heart without having to settle for a homely exterior. No handsome, smiling bastards in our ranks-"

"Sherri, this is all sheer speculation. Until I find out who I'm interning with, I refuse to worry about the subject," Talia replied firmly.

"You are no fun at all."

"I never said I was."

Hmm. Dirk's interning that scalawag Skif-" Keren said thoughtfully. "You and Skif were very thick there for a while. In fact, as I recall, you and he had a rumor or two floating abut your heads. Is that why you aren't interested in Dirk's partner?"

"Maybe," Talia smiled enigmatically. The fact that their "romance" had been entirely without any result was Skif's secret-and hers. The streak of ill-luck and accident that had plagued their meetings had not had any effect on their friendship: except that they had never managed to be more than just that-friends. Oddly enough, though, except for a brief period of anxiety when word had come that Skif had been hurt during his first three months in the field, Talia had thought less of Skif, and more of his counselor. To her own amazement-and for no reason, logical or fanciful that she could think of-when her thoughts strayed in the direction of the former thief and his internship assignment, it was in Dirk's direction that they tended to wander. This was annoying; she'd met the man all of three times in her life, and had never been in his company for more than an hour or two at most. Yet, that homely face and those wonderful blue eyes kept lingering stubbornly in her thoughts. It did not make sense.

She shook her head to free it of those fanciful images. She had little enough time, and had none to spare in daydreams.

"Well, this little wardrobe change of yours ought to surprise little Elspeth," Sherrill said, changing the subject.

"Oh, Lady Bright-" Talia sat down with a thump on one of her cushions, joy extinguished. It almost seemed to her at that moment that the bright sunrays pouring through her windows had dimmed. "Poor Elspeth-"

"Something up?" Keren asked, one eyebrow rising.

"Just the usual."

"What's usual? You know I don't get around the Court."

"Intrigue rising beyond gossip. She's almost fourteen and still not Chosen; there's muttering in the Court that she's still the Brat under the skin and she'll never be Chosen. In Council meetings one or more of the Councilors is usually trying to pressure Selenay into naming an Heir-'pro tem,' as they put it-"

"Who?" Sherrill asked in alarm, sitting straight up. "Who's stirring up the water?"

"You know I can't tell you that! Anyway it isn't just those particular Councilors; it's more than half of the Court. Elspeth doesn't say much, but it's got her very depressed, poor baby. Their timing couldn't be worse. She's already moody enough with the normal adolescent woes, and this has got her in near-tears on a regular basis. When I'm not getting my shoulder soggy, I keep finding her at Companion's Field whenever she's free, sort of lurking-"

"Hoping any minute to be Chosen. Gods, no wonder she's wearing a long face whenever I see her. What's Rolan got to say about this?"

"Be damned if I know!" Talia gifted Keren with a look of exasperation. "You know he doesn't Mindspeak me in words."

"Sorry," Keren winced, "I keep forgetting."

"He's worried, but it could be as much over the machinations and power-maneuverings at Court as anything else. The current candidates are Jeri, Kemoc, and your oh-so-lovely Kris."

"Wonderful people in and of themselves," Keren observed, "But with some not-so-wonderful relatives lurking in the family trees. One would think Kris' uncle Lord Orthallen would have his hands full enough as chief Councilor without wanting to be the Heir's uncle-"

"That man will never have enough power to satisfy him," Talia snapped bitterly.

Keren raised an eyebrow at the outburst, and continued. "Kemoc's horde of lazy cousins would swarm the Court, looking for sinecures-and Kemoc's such a soft touch he'd try to manage it. And Jeri-Lady Bright! Her mother!"

"We'd have a battle royal every day between Jeri and Lady Indra over how Jeri's Council votes should go. I wish her husband would lock her away. Or buy a gag for her."

"Amen. Pity none of them come without baggage. Not my idea of a fun situation. And poor catling caught in the middle."

Talia sighed in agreement. "Speaking of no fun, I'd better scramble. Alberich informed me in no uncertain terms that my new status does not exempt me from his special lessons. I have the sinking feeling that he intends to slap my inflated pride down to pre-student levels, and probably with the flat of his blade."

"Can I watch?" Keren asked wickedly.

"Why not? Elspeth's always there, and there's nothing like being worse at something than a thirteen-year-old girl to really deflate your opinions of yourself. Well, that ought to reinflate her self-esteem a bit.


Excerpted from Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey Copyright © 1987 by Mercedes R. Lackey
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar Series #2) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 114 reviews.
alyssama121 More than 1 year ago
This book continues the story of Talia as she serves her year of apprenticeship with the heralds. It’s nice to see her step away from politics and have to deal with actually being on the road and putting her training into practice. It was also fun to get to know another character who was only briefly mentioned in the first book. I did find this book to be a bit dull, however. A lot of time is spent on how Talia is having trouble with her powers and the endless feedback loop of her being unsure of herself and worrying about what people are thinking about her, and what that might do to the princess. While it provided some great time to develop more characters, I’m not sure this really needed to be a full novel to accomplish what it did. With that said, I’m sure it’s nothing more than the middle book slump that sometimes happens in trilogies, so I’m not put off by the series as a whole. I’m excited to read the third book so the story straightens itself out and contains more substantial conflict. I see why the development was important to the story, I just wish it could have been done with a more exciting plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it for the fifth or sixth time.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sequel to Arrows of the Queen, Talia's story continues to unfold. More of the history of Valdemar is revealed, and Talia's powers begin to emerge in a sometimes terrifying fashion. This is, perhaps, the weakest book in the trilogy. The action is just the slightest bit draggy. Not much happens for fairly long stretches, but there are lots of ominous overtones.As a totally spurious aside, this book many years ago was my first encounter with Lackey's work (a Christmas gift from my mother, who has always been prone to buying the second book in a series, for some odd reason...). In the days before Amazon, and lacking a local bookstore, I checked the mailbox every day for weeks, waiting for the mail-lending library's copy of Arrows of the Queen to arrive so I could find out what happened first.
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Nikkles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite Lackey series set in Valdemar. Lackey does write fluffy books, but I like that about them. There is good and evil and everyone fights the good fight. Its a quick enjoyable read that is no less worthwhile for being a lite read. The characters are all plausible is slightly one sided and the story is interesting if shallow. If you looking for an epic this isn't it. If you want a couple of fun afternoons try itne Arrows set.
SimonW11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This the second book of a trilogy shows the dreaded mid trilogy droop Lackey's plot often seems rather linear which is what makes me think of them as suitable for young adults.. But I cant think of one that was marketed as such in this case I suspect it is because the conservative American market would find the implied message that its okay to have sex with people that you just think of as friends as dangerous.
sinead.ciara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Talia becomes a Herald, gets her whites and goes of to do a circuit wich will make her full Herald. During the circuit she loses control of her gift and gets snowed in by a snowstorm of great feroicity.
van_stef on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good read. I do like how you learn more of Talia's personal struggles. This is one of the books in the Valdemar series that makes the Heralds seem more real.
frazrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing story and amazing author. This is book two of the trilogy. Talia is finally a herald but need to complete her year and a half internship in the field. She is partnered up with the handsome Kris. She goes through self doubt about her heraldic gift and this book is a coming to terms with herself and the heavy responsibility of her gift.
Alliebadger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This second book of the Queen's Own series did not impress me quite as much as the first one did. I love reading about Talia and her Companion, but this one moved much slower than the first. I really loved all of Lackey's vivid descriptions of Talia's adventures on her field internship. Her work in the small towns of Valdemar is heroic and fun. I did get annoyed at the pace occasionally. There would be pages and pages of a very small snippet, and yet sometimes the bond between Kris and Talia or their heroism would be cut short. Overall though, a fun read.
Frazzletastic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Out of all the novels in this trilogy, this has to be my least favorite. But I still enjoyed it, and the series, a lot, so my saying that it¿s my least favorite isn¿t something bad, really.In this installment of the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, Talia is sent out on her 18 month intership and the entire book revolves around the duties a Herald is likely to perform on circuit. To be honest, it was a refreshing change of scenery from the Collegium ¿ there were only so many situations Talia could find herself in, and a lot of them were starting to repeat. So when I say the change of scenery is a nice change, I mean it.Right off the bat, a new friendship is unveiled. Kris and Talia are bound to become closer, as he is her ¿mentor¿, of sorts. It doesn¿t help, however, when he asks (very bluntly!) Talia about the rumors spreading in Court about her. This dampers the mood immediately, and Talia is suddenly cast into self-doubt and a depression that eats away her soul. In fact, after the first 50 pages, the entire novel was basically Talia being suicidal/depressed, angry, and weak. Am I being harsh in saying she¿s weak? Hell no. If I were her, I would have tried my best to reverse the predicament she was in. All she did was reflect on it and allow the doubt to eat away at her. I wanted to reach into the book¿s pages and slap her silly. I mean, I¿m glad that she had something she wasn¿t sure of/skilled at, since a lot of things just came easily to her in the first book, but it was getting me depressed while I was reading about it.Back to Kris and Talia... I love that they both love someone so much they don¿t want to hurt that person, and sacrifice their own feelings (however insignificant) because of that. I love Kris; I¿ll admit. He¿s funny, arrogant, gallant (at times), and understanding/patient (well, after he reevaluates his perceptions of others). He screamed different, very much like Skif did in the first novel [pertaining to how all the characters sounded the same]. Near the end of the novel, the Midsummer¿s Eve scene with him had to be one of my favorites. It was such a nice, loving, thoughtful scene, and I have to admit that I got misty eyed. So sweet! I have to admit that I hated the lack of action. By action, I merely mean that half of what we read is just them riding, and Talia being emo in the corner (okay, not the corner). There were only about... four scenes that deviated from the monotonous circuit up north, not including the snow-in that occurred. Two of those scenes were stuck in the back of the book, as if Mercedes Lackey just thrust them in without careful planning at all. I also disliked the lack of time (what can I say, I¿m a stickler for time!) sequence. One moment, we¿d finish up a scene and in the line break, we¿re months ahead. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish when a time jump would happen, and I¿d have to re-read again to check what month I was reading about.Upon this re-read, I found some things I had missed in previous reads, which got me really excited. Knowing how the third book goes, I was able to foreshadow a few events (two in particular stuck out; the Weatherwitch and the flowers), so I was happy I was able to pick those events up that I hadn¿t in earlier reads.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the sequel to Arrows of the Queen concluded in Arrows Fall. I loved the Valdemar stories as a teen and recently read them in a fit of nostalgia and found I still love them: good comfort food. The series deal with a kind of police force/military in a medieval setting bonded with magical horses the equal of their riders and full partners. The trilogy with Talia this is the middle book for is also a engaging coming of age tale in the classic mold, with an unappreciated child finding and growing into their destiny. This particular story has Talia finally done with her schooling and going out in the world, and I thought the story dealt well with some of the ethical dilemmas of her gift. A good read in an involving world with characters Lackey makes me care about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read this many many times since...oh...about 20 years ago. Now I feel old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She pded in her .den.
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Tommorrow meet at lola res 2
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Sits in a chair
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
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