Exile’s Valour by Mercedes Lackey

(Mild Spoilers)

Exile’s Valour is the continuation of the story of Alberich (him of Exile’s Honour) as he slides from the role of a weapon in a different sheath to being a more important, well-rounded human, and the human he is advising: Selenay, the newly orphaned new Queen of Valdemar. It’s an interesting little story, aimed firmly at the comfy end of the market, with a good deal of derring-do and romance.

In fact, there’s a lot of romance. One major subplot for Alberich is the potential for a romantic relationship with Myste, the Herald-Chronicler. Meanwhile, Selenay is coming under a lot of pressure to marry, with all that entails. It makes for a nice contrast as neither is particularly experienced, but they go about tackling that in very different ways. It puts Alberich’s innate caution into a sharper light.

All of Alberich’s character comes through in a sharper light really. The way his strict honour codes are occasionally moulded by ruthless expediency. His self-effacing nature and quiet intelligence. His strengths and weaknesses as a friend and advisor all come out with Selenay too; unsurprisingly the middle-aged warrior doesn’t always understand the emotional needs of a young woman. This gap comes across naturally with no need for over-dramatisation.

The way it handles all these little conflicts, and the characterisation, is the strength of the book. It would be easy for Exile’s Valour to make things overly melodramatic, or undersell what’s going on. It mostly doesn’t and as such, retains its warmth and respect for its characters.

That’s what Exile’s Valour is. It’s a warm, friendly tale. A comfort read with good people. No more and no less.

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