Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Review: “Oathbreakers” by Mercedes Lackey

This is the second novel Mercedes Lackey published about the mercenary pair, Tarma and Kethry. In the beginning… Warrl complains that Tarma even thinks in clich├ęs. The trio has joined a mercenary company called the Sunhawks, lead by Captain Idra former royal princess of Rethwellan. They’ve joined up for two reasons. Bard Leslac (that damned warbler as Tarma puts it) has composed many songs about them emphasizing and reemphasizing that they help women in distress. This is costing them serious money on account of jobs Need makes them take when the women can’t pay. Joining the company takes them out of that line of work. The other reason is to get them exposure to royals and other high nobility, so that they can get land and students for the schools they hope to open.

The story goes on from there with a couple of chapters introducing the major characters. Then the action starts. Captain Idra is missing and Sewen, her second in command, wants Tarma and Kethry to go to Rethwellan and find out what happened. Idra went to Rethwellan on account of needing to cast a vote to decide the line of succession. She did, then the last letter she sends hints that something serious complicated the issue and she needs to deal with it. Tarma, Kethry, and Warrl go to Rethwellan and begin their investigations. Along the way they pick up Stefan, the other heir to the throne, and decide they need to overthrow the King of Rethwellan, Raschar. When they find out that Raschar killed Idra, his sister, they bring in 600 Hawks and former Hawks to capture and kill him.

This is a good book. A real novel, unlike all the other tales of Tarma and Kethry, with plenty of action.

Book Review: “The Oathbound” by Mercedes Lackey

This book follows after the short story “Sword-sworn”, which was first published in Sword and Sorceress III. This is a rather episodic account of (some of) the adventures of Tarma and Kethry.

It begins with them making their way back to the Dhorisha Plains. After that Kethry insists on getting a familiar. Warrl, the “familiar”, decides that Kethry doesn’t need him, so he bonds with Tarma. Then they set off to work as mercenaries. They have a series of adventures, making money and a name for themselves. In particular they banish a demon and clear out a particularly vicious bandit infestation. Then the bandit has the demon summoned for round two. Along the way they learn, more and more, how to be a team.

Allowing for the episodic nature, rather like the short stories that make up most of the Tarma and Kethry tales, it is an excellent book.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Review: “Foundation” by Mercedes Lackey

This is the first book in a series by Mercedes Lackey. It is set in the Kingdom of Valdemar, which long term fans of Lackey’s work will remember. It occurs between 50 and 150 years after “Magic’s Price” and around 200 years before “Brightly Burning”.

The Kingdom has expanded considerably, and now Companions are bringing in many more Chosen. Some of whom, like Mags, the main character in this tale, are completely or almost completely uneducated. This has led the Heralds to create a Herald’s Collegium to replace the system of trainees with mentors. One of the threads of this story is the worry and unrest some of the Heralds are feeling because of that. Another, related to the expansion, comes from a diplomat, whose purposes are never clear.

This is rather an enjoyable tale, except for one weakness. It ends rather abruptly after moving from Mags making friends and watching the diplomat’s guards, to dealing with an assassin. Honestly, it feels like this is the first part of a longer tale cut off from the rest with a cheerful epilogue added just to make the story end on a cheerful note. From my perspective it either needed to be carried another couple hundred pages or stopped when they got everyone out of the killer storm.

The characters are what I’ve come to expect from Lackey; not terribly deep and mostly there to keep the story moving along. On the other hand they work quite nicely for moving the story along without distracting the reader from the action.

All in all an enjoyable story, one of Mercedes Lackey’s solid tales that I’ll reread from time to time.