Queen's Own - Volume One [Arrows of the Queen(1) Arrow's Flight(2)] (1987(1)(2))
Spine Front Cover Book Details
Mercedes Lackey
Publication Date 1997
Format Leather-bound (225 x 150 mm)
Publisher The Easton Press
Genre Fantasy
Product Details
Series Masterpieces of Fantasy
No. of Pages 458
Paper Type Acid-neutral paper
First Edition No
Personal Details
URL This book on Amazon.com
Rating 9
No. of Reviews 102
Frontispiece/Illustrator Pat Morrissey
Maps Larry Warner
Original Details
Original Title Arrows of the Queen(1) Arrow's Flight(2)
Original Publisher DAW Books
Original Publication Year 1987(1)(2)
First of two volumes which contain all books from Lackey's "Heralds of Valdemar" trilogy - Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, Arrow's Fall.

Fiction is that area of human experience where events work out in some meaningful way instead of the confusing jumble we call life. People tell stories in order to make sense out of existence; in stories, effect follows cause, motivation precedes action, and people get the fates they deserve. Justice prevails. From all this we get a feeling of pattern, an understanding of the way things ought to be rather than the way things are.

If the order that fiction offers falsifies the chaos of experience, it does so in a good cause: fiction may be the source for the human concept that life has meaning and for its concept of justice - that is, the way events ought to work out in a properly arranged universe. Fiction tries to organize the pointlessness of experience into scenarios with significance, and, curiously, we may get from fiction the sense of appropriateness that we apply to events in the real world. That is, events in the real world may be considered unjust because we have seen how justice operates in fiction.

Fantastic fiction operates in a different area. What happens still must occur in a meaningful pattern, but the events themselves occupy landscapes that have never been seen by human eyes. Those landscapes appear only in the human imagination. As Golden Age science-fiction editor John W. Campbell once remarked, "Fiction is simply dreams written out. Science fiction consists of the hopes and dreams and fears (for some dreams are nightmares) of a technically based society." Fantasy, on the other hand, could be described as the hopes and dreams and fears of a society disturbed about its technical basis.

Many of today's best science-fiction writers are women, but fan tasy may have even more. If science fiction is a literature of ideas, fantasy is a literature of emotions, and traditionally women have been considered to be more comfortable with emotions than men. Even the literature they write tends to provide evidence for those interested in looking at gender differences.

Science fiction, particularly science fiction of the hard kind, focuses on understanding the way things work, and the goal of the SF protagonist is to control out-of-control events by understanding them and then putting them to rights. Fantasy, particularly high fantasy, focuses on understanding the way people work and on creating relationships that allow the protagonist to tap unsuspected sources of strength to fix a social situation gone awry. Even in the writing of fantasy, men and women often differ in their approaches. Robert E. Howard's sword-and-sorcery matches individual physical strength and courage against overpowering evil; when Andre Norton (Alice Mary Norton) writes sword-and-sorcery in her Witch World series, there are battles and sword-fights but, as David Pringle wrote, its "most notable feature... is the position of moral and political power which it gives to the women in its imagined [ society." When T. H. White retold the Arthurian legends in The Once and Future King, even though he dealt with the decay of the Matter of Britain and the loss of innocence, he dwelt on the retrieval of the sword in the stone and the battles that followed, but Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon retells the story as a conflict between women's sane but dying pagan religion and the rising patriarchal Christianity that dooms women to millennia of subservience.

All of this, of course, is over-generalization; there are many exceptions. But it does lead us to a consideration of the work at hand, Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. Arrows of the Queen was Lackey's first published novel in 1987, and its success was followed by the immediate publication of its sequels, Arrow's Flight (1987) and Arrow's Fall (1988). The combined volume, Queen's Own, was first published in 1993.

Although one should not underestimate the ability of male readers to appreciate fantasy valorizing the gentler virtues, one still is tempted to suggest that Arrows of the Queen and its sequels were aimed at and enthusiastically received by young women. The reason for this is not simply that its protagonist, Talia, is an adolescent girl but that her plight is one that every adolescent girl might identify with: she is abused, tyrannized, and beaten; her intelligence and courage are unappreciated and her imagination is unwanted; and she is about to be married off, at the tender age of thirteen, to a stranger. She is Cinderella with the spunk to run away.

Then the wondrous fulfillment begins. A magical white horse arrives, and it chooses her! It is significant that the magic begins with a horse; horses are liberating, providing strength, mobility, loyalty, and love, just what an abused adolescent needs. C. J. Cherryh's Riders at the Gate series, though science fiction, is an example in which telepathic, horse-like creatures bond for life with young men and women. Another famous female author, Anne McCaffrey, begins her best-known series, Fern, with a young woman bonding with a flying dragon that offers the same kind of support.

That it is magical in Queen's Own is essential. This is not an ordinary horse but a Companion, telepathic like McCaffrey's dragons, first appearing out of a magical grove, now breeding like other horses except for one, the Companion to the Queen's Own Herald, who still appears from the Grove when the previous Companion has been killed. And, of course, that is the one that chooses Talia, like Cinderella's prince fitting the slipper to her foot, but better - be cause here it is liberating, not confining, a beginning, not an ending.

None of this is understood by Talia, who was born into a harsh, patriarchal, polygamous society on the unruly borders of Valdemar, and she has to learn it all when she is delivered by her Companion, Rolan, to the court where her education begins. The education is not simply in the knowledge, and the magic, that a Herald must have, but the ability to trust one's fellow Heralds, and one's own abilities and feelings. That, of course, is part of the wonders of the story: Lackey has insights into inner conflicts and the problems of growing up that she incorporates into the action of the narrative, and a special gift for describing, in fascinating detail, the processes of training.

Two other aspects of Queen's Own deserve comment. Although "Valdemar" is a Scandinavian name meaning "famous ruler," the place and time of the narrative are unspecified; it may incorporate modern sensibilities but it exists outside the frame of reference of the reader. Queen's Own also is self-referential in the sense that a body of literature exists about the Heralds and the other orders, the Bardics and the Healers, that is a kind of historical and socio logical background. When Talia learns that she has been chosen as Queen's Own and that Rolan is her Companion for life, and even, a little later, that she has a room all her own, she tells herself, "It was too much like a tale." And like a tale it is, with Talia discovering powers within herself that she never suspected, such as the magical abilities to communicate telepathically, to view from a distance, to see through other creature's eyes, to feel other people's joys and pains, and to say and do exactly the right thing. What young woman could ask for a better gift?

Lackey has been astonishingly productive, perhaps the most prolific author in the fantasy field over the past decade, with the possible exception of Piers Anthony. Born Mercedes Ritchie in Chicago in 1950, she earned her B.S. degree from Purdue in 1972, the same year she married Anthony Lackey. They divorced in 1990 and she married artist Larry Dixon. She has been an artist's model and a computer programmer, and worked for American Airlines in Tulsa (where she set the Diana Tregarde series) until 1990, when she became a full-time writer.

In the decade following the publication of Arrows of the Queen, Lackey has averaged four books a year, so many that the series alone makes a substantial list. In addition to Queen's Own, she also has produced the Bard's Tale series, Bardic Voices, Diana Tregarde, the HalJblood Chronicles, The Last Herald-Mage, Mage Storms, Mage Winds, Serrated Edge, and Vows and Honor. Many of them are set in the same world as Queen's Own, including By the Sword, which eventually may become another series under the general heading of Kerowyn's Tale.

Lackey has collaborated with a substantial number of other authors, including Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Ellen Guon, Piers Anthony, Ru Emerson, Mark Shepherd, Holly Lisle, Josepha Sherman, Nancy Asire, Leslie Fish, C. J. Cherryh, and, most often, her husband Larry Dixon. Like her heroine Talia, Lackey has established her own social connections.

Connectedness is important, as Talia discovers in Queen's Own. When Arrows of the Queen begins, Talia's only connections are to a dead brother who had befriended her, a sister who had been married off and broken in spirit, and her books, which her family considers a perversion. But once she meets Rolan she is connected, and the Companion communicates to her: Yes - at last - you. I choose you. Out of all the world, out of all the seeking. I have found you, young sister of my heart! You are mine and lam yours - and never again will there be loneliness -

James Gunn
Lawrence, Kansas
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Arrow's Flight Start Page: 217