Mercedes Lackey and I go way back. I started reading her Valdemar series when I was twelve and I kept on because I love it unconditionally. For those of you new to Lackey’s work, Valdemar has a very unique form of government. People have to be Chosen by Companions—magical white horses who bond telepathically with specific humans—in order to have access to political power. Individuals who have been Chosen become Heralds. They ride around the kingdom conducting government business. Heralds have Gifts—some of them are telepathic, others can see or move things that are far away, and a few have really quirky talents like the ability to light fires or talk with animals. However, Valdemar is not a magical kingdom at this point in the series. REAL magic—both the ability to sense and manipulate magical energy and the people who can do it (unless they are Chosen by Companions)—is currently excluded from the kingdom by an ad hoc deal between the vrondi, Valdemar’s indigenous air elementals, and a very influential ghost.
Loving something unconditionally is not the same thing as being an uncritical consumer. I am the author of a Valdemar reread on this very website that can be roughly summarized, “this tax code was written by magic horses, and also Kris is a Mage who should not have sex with Talia.” I once described one of the books as “a series of coded messages from the interns Lackey keeps chained in her basement.” I have no regrets about any of that. And Lackey has no reason to like me. I don’t know if she does or doesn’t. I don’t know if she knows I exist. If she spends alternate Saturdays cursing my name, it would surprise me, but I could understand why. AND YET, SOMEHOW, the latest book in the Family Spies series, Eye Spy, feels like a present written especially for me.
You’re gonna want to read it. This one’s a firecracker.