I have loved Mercedes Lackey’s books for thirty years. As I said in my review of her last book, I still have the SFBC omnibus of the Last Herald Mage trilogy on my shelf and I can’t tell you how many times I read it.
Until recently, I haven’t read many of her Valdemar books in the last few years. I listened to the audiobooks of the Collegium Chronicles series, which was fun, but I felt it dragged on too long, with too many kidnappings, and Mags’s accent drove me bananas. I lost touch with the series when my library stopped buying the ebooks of the Herald Spy series after Closer to Home, and I was disappointed in Spy, Spy Again, the third volume in the series focusing on Mags’s kids.
Last year, I really enjoyed Beyond, her new novel about the origins of the kingdom of Valdemar. So I was very happy to get an eARC of the sequel, Into the West, from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book continues on directly from the last one. It is a weird book. The pacing is so strange, and the book never seems to give much focus to the interesting characters, instead sticking mostly with Duke Valdemar, who is somewhat dull, and his sister in law, who takes way too much time to get over her schoolgirl crush on her brother in law, which was always kind of creepy. The book spends a long time on logistics of the journey of barges down a river, and after some loooooooong slogs it just seems to give up on that with a deus ex machina that takes most of the suspense away from the journey. Then there is a big battle at the end that feels tacked on and unnecessary. There were a few fun infrastructure tidbits of how the castle is built that I smiled at, but the ending felt abrupt. Is there going to be another book? It felt like a definitive ending. But We would need another one to explain how the vrondi end up where we know them to be, as well as to establish Companions. It’s not Valdemar without magical white horses!
This was a fun, if odd, book. I’m glad I read it.