Book Review: Mercedes Lackey’s Under the Vale and Other Tales

Posted February 6, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mercedes Lackey’s Under the Vale and Other Tales

Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar


Mercedes Lackey

It is part of the , , Heart, Kerowyn, Wil and Leila series and is a fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by DAW Books on December 6, 2011 and has 344 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Beauty and the Werewolf, Invasion, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Bastion, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Arcanum 101, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea

A Valdemar anthology of sixteen short stories and one essay on worldbuilding. Half of the stories refer to a character or time period within the Valdemar series while the other half could fit in anywhere.

If you’re as obsessed as I am, you may want to re-read the Mage Wars, Mage Storms, and the sections on Elspeth, Selenay, and Kerowyn. It is not a necessity. It’s just been so long since I’ve read them…sigh…

Series within Valdemar:

“Heart’s Peril” (Heart, xx; ten years after Ree & Jem get to the farm)
“Heart’s Place” (Heart, xx; all the Ree & Jem stories were set just after Storm Breaking, Mage Storms-3 (Valdemar 1376-5 AF))
“In an Instant” (Valdemar – 1376-2 AF; Kerowyn’s Tale – 01 (just before this?? Kerowyn is Chosen on the battlefield))
“Warp and Weft” (just after Storm Breaking (Mage Storms, 3))
“The Watchman’s Ball” (Dann Family of Haven, 4)
“The Bride’s Task” (Kerowyn has made captain)
“Fog of War” (King Sendar is killed and Selenay becomes queen)
“A Healer’s Work” (Elspeth has returned as a Herald-Mage with her strange allies)
“Sight and Sound” (Wil and Leila)

The Stories

Mercedes Lackey‘s “The Simple Gifts” is a most unexpected “hero”. Donnat Stains is a man-whore rapidly running out of towns, counties, countries to pursue his desires. It’s that last town that sends him fleeing much too early and lands him where Destin and Ardred, two Companions, kidnap him for their own purposes…bwa-ha-ha… Seems they have need of a pair of hands.

Rosemary Edghill & Denise McCune‘s “Catch Fire, Draw Flame” finds an odd group taking its ease at a midsummer fair. A Herald who can’t hear his Companion, a turned-off mercenary, a Bard who didn’t know he preferred the road, and a Healer who can’t stop. Seems they were brought to this fair for a purpose, to set a smooth-talkin’ fellow back on the right path.

“There’s a man here at the fair with the power to make Elade change her mind.”

The funny bit is that’s not what he meant, lol. There’s an interesting point about the distinction between men with psychic gifts who are Chosen. Only those with morals are acceptable.

Elizabeth A. Vaughan‘s “In an Instant” finds Queen Selenay at a loss and in despair, for she’s found her lifebond at the end of the battle against Hardorn’s Ancar. He’s too much like his brother…

Daniel Shull‘s “A Healer’s Work” there’s a lot of set-up chat in this before Shull finally settles into the whole point of the story. The desperate aid required by Layelle, Herald Mellie’s Companion. For her herald may be dying from the damaged mage channels in her brain. And no other healers in Haven have ever worked with such channels before.

Elisabeth Waters‘ “A Leash of Greyhounds” finds it lucky that Lena has Animal Mindspeech to save the dogs and call in a Herald and their Companion to arbitrate a disastrous decision after a tragic accident.

Kristin Schwengel‘s “Warp and Weft” finds Stardance remembering the lessons of her beloved Triska when spinning fiber into thread as she and others search the Vale for any possible magic.

Jennifer Brozek‘s “Discordance” is a series of bad news of similar bar brawls resulting in deaths. It’s a lesson to us all to use care when rejecting anyone.

Brenda Cooper‘s “Slow and Steady” is what Shay’s mama always told her. Take it slow and steady for Shay has problems with too fast, too quick. It’s a disability that has created problems for Shay in the past, and when her mother is murdered, that past rises up for Shay, leaving her terrified.

Stephanie D. Shaver‘s “Sight and Sound” will leave you weeping. An accident of drowning, one is saved and the other is not. It could never have been prevented and affects so many. A brief peek into the life of Heralds and a Bard.

And yet, Shaver brings in a bit of humor that helps:

“:After putting up with a Chosen like you, I’ll be galloping for the Bright Havens when my time comes!:

:That’s truly morbid.:

:Be glad I don’t take a head start!:”

She has a short story, “Safe and Sound”, about Wil and Leila in Crossroads & Other Tales of Valdemar, 3.

Michael Z. Williamson & Gail L. Sanders‘ “The Bride’s Task” creates quite the conundrum at the Collegium. Students are supposed to leave their previous lives behind them. Only Nerea isn’t taking no for an answer from anyone but her pledged.

This one’s a pip! It has a nice moral about allowing events to roll out and that life is not set in stone. To accept change.

Ben Ohlander‘s “Fog of War” is disjointed and confusing. In some respects it’s a good thing as it conveys a sense of the battle that was fought, but in others, it doesn’t work. The idea was good, but it’s that last statement by Danilla that makes me say huh, what?? as I don’t remember that being a question. And that’s after reading it twice.

Kate Paulk‘s “Heart’s Peril” is another installment of Ree and Jem. They’ve been ten years on Grandad’s farm and this one finds Lenar and his small family having dinner with them. It’s Little Garrad who sets the cats among the bears, and it’s Ree who reassures young Meren that he’s not an animal. It’s a good thought to keep in mind for anyone can act like a beast just as anyone can act decent.

Sarah A. Hoyt‘s “Heart’s Place” is another tale of Ree and Jem. This one has Lenar’s Mage examining Meren to reassure the villagers. The opening salvo on the family’s determination to ensure the family’s survival, for they consider Ree and Meren their own. It’s Grandad’s actions that really kick things into gear, and Lenar will have to lean on those Particular Laws.

Tanya Huff‘s “Family Matters” is too, too funny. That Annamarin is wondrous indeed, and if she is trapped here on the farm, it would be truly, tragically tragic, lol.

“‘He is a song walking above the mud we less lovely creatures tread upon.’

‘Have I mentioned that I like her?:

This is a great story that is a reminder for all of us that we are who we are no matter where we stand, and it’s because of family.

Fiona Patton‘s “The Watchman’s Ball” has a twist at the end that left me fluttering and laughing at how good it was for morale. Now if I only knew if that tradition kept on…

Nancy Asire‘s “Judgment Day” is a Solomon of a case to be tried by Perran, a traveling circuit judge dispensing the laws of Vkandis. it’s close to home as it is his assistant’s hometown which he left with great relief years ago.

Larry Dixon‘s “Under the Vale” is a fascinating essay on the back history of magic and the disasters that befell the world of Velgarth of which the country of Valdemar is a part.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a black background framed by a tangle of scrolling brown branches at the top and twining rose vines at the bottom. In the middle is a steel gray riveted inset frame in the shape of a shield, a stormy purple sky in its background and a white Companion galloping out of it, harnessed in purple. Atop this shield is another, smaller shield with the same gray border encapsulating a purple starry background with a pegasus flaring its wings in profile. Behind this is a deep blue box with the title in Gold and the subtitle below it in white. At the bottom is the same box with the “edited by” in white.

The title is more about that last essay and lifts the veil on what is Under the Vale, how it evolved and why as well as the engineering genius of it. You only thought it would be fascinating to live in a Vale…