Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale, #1)” as Want to Read:
By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale #1)

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  15,269 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Granddaughter of the sorceress Kethry, daughter of a noble house, Kerowyn had been forced to run the family keep since her mother’s untimely death. Yet now at last her brother was preparing to wed, and when his bride became the lady of the keep, Kerowyn could return to her true enjoyments—training horses and hunting.

But all Kerowyn’s hopes and plans were shattered when her
...more
Mass Market Paperback, 492 pages
Published February 5th 1991 by DAW (first published February 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about By the Sword, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about By the Sword

Graceling by Kristin CashoreVampire Academy by Richelle MeadAlanna by Tamora PiercePoison Study by Maria V. SnyderFire by Kristin Cashore
Best "Strong Female" Fantasy Novels
94th out of 3,354 books — 10,899 voters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingThe Golden Compass by Philip PullmanSabriel by Garth NixElla Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Best Heroine in a Fantasy Book
50th out of 1,049 books — 1,386 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jeremy Preacher
There's no question in my mind that this is the best Valdemar book by far. (It might partly be because Kerowyn is so very much the fantasy heroine I would want to be - tough, practical, supremely competent, and principled, although regrettably straight.) The three sections are very nearly complete stories in themselves, but flow nicely together, keeping the overall pace up by skipping the long boring stretches involved in getting from 15 years old to 35 without losing the feeling of steady chara ...more
Chuck
Kind of Tarma and Keth ride again, for fans of those series. More accurately, Tarma and Keth: The Next Generation.

Kerowyn, is the daughter of Keth, one of the two main characters in the "Vows and Honor" trilogy. Her mother was the odd one out in the family, uninterested in weapons or magic, and left as soon as she was able to have a more conventional life. She died when Kerowyn was young, and she grows up in her father's house, feeling out of place, unaware of her heritage or birthright.

Her fat
...more
Debbie
I’ve read this book so many times I actually need to get a new copy because my copy is falling apart. I love Kerowyn and you see her in many of the other Valdemar books so if you have read those and wonder how she became who she is, this book tells her story. Readers see Kerowyn turn from this sheltered young girl into one of the top mercenary in the mercenary guild.

The book is basically broken up into two parts. The first part follows Kerowyn as she is taken in by her grandmother, Kethry, and r
...more
Rachael L Moore
I loved the Heralds of Valdemar in middle school. I read everything by Mercedes Lackey I could get my hands on, which was a considerable lot.

Eventually I "outgrew" them, sort of. I had reread the old ones so much and the new ones didn't have the same allure. It was time for new favorites.

Still, eventually nostalgia called, and I looked up my old friends to find you really can't go "home" again. Books that had made me alternately joyous and heartbroken were distressingly flat and transparently cl
...more
Laura
I have a cold so I wanted a book I could get lost in but not feel bad if I had to put it down. I've been reading Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series since the beginning. I've read this book before. It looked like a perfect fit. And it was.

For a book about mercenary life, it's probably one of Ms. Lackey's most idealistic books. I realized this when I read about moonflower's bane, etc. Other than magic, how would the characteristics of these particular plants be found? Then there's the Mercenary's C
...more
Hil
Like most of Lackey's Valdemar novels, By the Sword draws rather heavily on traditional high fantasy tropes in order to advance its plot. Main character who is a fish out of water? Check. Murdered family? Check. Mysterious, ancient mentor? Check. Mercenary companies with uncommon morals? Check. Unlikely love interest? Check. I can't hold this against the book though since the use of traditional fantasy plot devices is one thing I love about this author's work. Kerowyn as a main character is soli ...more
Bibliotropic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria
I have a friend who refused to read GRR Martin because it's "boy fantasy."
When I asked her for an example of non-boy fantasy, she pointed out, among others, this book.

I was expecting a strong female in distinctly female situations, perhaps with more intrigue or relationship focus, but this book out boys the boys. It is probably the most manly fantasy I've ever read--battles, camping, training, military life. The only thing that's really female about it is that the main character is a woman.

She's
...more
Becca
I don't even know why I read this. Oh well.
Kathleen
Kerowyn is an attractive heroine to me almost in spite of her physical prowess and mercenary attitude. Her driving desire is freedom, and her motto is that she "can live without________." She doesn't dislike comfort, she simply needs to be self sufficient. So I like her. And since this is a novel of Valdemar, after she fights in several wars and endures many hardships she gets to have a magical mind reading horse that loves her and will be her best friend forever.
Nicole
Absolutely thrilled with this stand alone book.

After finishing up "The Oathbound" and "Oathbreaker" instead of reading "Oathblood", I picked up this little gem at the local library, figuring it was good after reading The Arrows trilogy and since Kerowyn was Kethry's granddaughter, it had to be good, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Sure, there were parts that dragged on and some parts I thought that could be left out but overall, an excellent read.

After saving her brother's fiancee from a gr
...more
Susan
I started reading Lackey with Children of the Night and the Diana Tregarde books, but this was the first Valdemar book I ever read.

I liked it so much I next hunted down the Tarma & Kethry novels, then the short stories (was thrilled when Oathblood collected their short stories!) then continued on to the actual Valdemar books.

Kero is my fav character from these books.

re-read 10/7/2014
Andrea
Lackey is one of my favorite authors ever and Kero is probably my all-time favorite chracter. I started reading her in 8th grade but I will still pull out her books to reread them. Her character building is really her main strength – you want to meet her characters – which is probably why I always reach for her books as a pick-me-up, it’s like talking to old friends.
Kayla
The only thing that bothers me about the series is some inconsistency with the time line. If you read Exiles Valor and then read this, the stories about the betrayal of the prince are different. Probably not something I would have picked up on if I had recently reread everything up until this point.
Jamie
This is one of my favorite books written by Mercedes Lackey. The main character is a wonderful, free spirited, strong willed young girl who is thrown into greatness by unfortunate circumstances and finds her calling in life.

This is one of the books by Mrs. Lackey that I can read over and over again.
Sophie
I think the moral of this book is "don't set foot in Valdemar unless you want to be Chosen." Because seriously.

I liked this one a lot, and not just because nobody got raped (which seems to be a rarity in Lackey novels). Kerowyn's a great protagonist, and we get to follow her from angsty teenager to seasoned veteran, and it's a wonderful ride the whole way. I especially like that she is very firm about the fact that she wants to be a mercenary and her own person, and doesn't want to settle down a
...more
Elspeth
Gah, I had to return the kindle version of this. It was irritating to read, so full of type errors!
Elizabeth Hamre
One of the best out of the Herald's of Valdemar series!
Wendy
Still an excellent epic, many times read, years later
Ann Carpenter
I can't possibly rate this book because I've read it several times since I was a child, and my reactions to it now are too tied up in my first encounters with it, and the rest of the series.

I think if it were published today it would be as YA (I think that of most of the Valdemar books, actually) even if Kero ends the book somewhere around 40 or so. Lots of angst and identity issues. Too much "why can't I be normal???" internal dialogue.But still fun to read, even if I've read it so many times
...more
carolyn
Great heroine story

One of my favorite 'herald' books. A no nonsense heroine, who can kick butt and take names. I wish there hadn't been as much inner dialog with her thinking there was something wrong with her. Also I'm a little disappointed at the romance. I think it was unnecessary, a little ham fisted, and undetermined the 'can be whatever she wants to be and doesn't need a man's message the book seemed to be giving. Otherwise I loved it, I only wish there was more stories of restoring her me
...more
Ryan G
If I had to pick a favorite Mercedes Lackey character, after Vanyel Ashkevron, it would have to be Kerowyn. It's a hard decision to make with all the great characters she has created to dwell in Valdemar and it's surrounding countries, but Kerowyn is such dynamic character, that it's hard to not like her. By the Sword is where we first meet her. She starts off as a young noble woman, sharp of mind, and possessing a strong desire to be doing something with her life.

Throughout this 492 page book,
...more
TheCosyDragon
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

Kerowyn's Ride. Should say it all, right? Left the only able bodied person after an attack on her family, Kerowyn must avenge it. Little does she know that she's going to be changed forever.

Kerowyn will attach herself to your heart as a strong female hero right from the word go. She's convincing, consistent, everything I could want in one of Lack
...more
Serena
It may interest those who have read this book to know that Mercedes Lackey also put out a cassette/CD of the same name. You can sample some of the songs on YouTube, although the only place to buy it is from the Firebird Arts and Music website.



1)
Open (?Kerowyn's Ride)
2)
Warrior
3)
Blade of Desire
4)
Draw the Circle
5)
On the Edge of the Forest
6)
Keep the Peace
7)
Women of Steel

(I could not find "A Serious Business" or "Thinking Out Loud" or "Kyree" or "Guardian of the Night".)

Cole Barnes
This was by far my favorite Valdemar story that I have read so far. I typically have trouble relating to female leads, in any book, and often find myself struggling to complete the book, this book blew that standard out the door. I found myself quite anxious to find out where the book would take me next. The pacing was different from what I usualy like in a novel, but Lackey pulled off spanning many years in a superb manner, all without boring the reader. Definately a book I will return to again ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 22, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fantasy Fans
Two series Lackey published early in her career was Vows and Honor, dealing with Tarma and Kethry and the Valdemar series, dealing with Heralds, a police/military force bonded with magical horses. Both series were favorites of mine when I was a decade younger and still hold up now.

Although I think By the Sword could stand alone, I'd read those novels first. The Vows and Honors books are first chronologically speaking and start with The Oathbound. The first Herald Trilogy, begin with Arrows of t
...more
Campbell Scollo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Victoria
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series provides one of the cornerstones of my reading history. After discovering her when quite young, I still follow new additions to the series - nearly twenty years later! I read and re-read these books over and over again throughout my youth, but I haven't re-read this series in its entirety in a long time - and never as an adult. There are some new books added to the series since the last time I read them, so this re-reading project is pretty exciting for me since ...more
Mallori
I have to say I enjoyed this book and Kerowyn much more than Lackey's original Arrows of the Queen trilogy with Talia. Kerowyn was an aweseome character, I loved how she thought things through and planned for the future, not letting the emotions of the moment rule her life. So much less hand-wringing angst than Talia.

Mostly a standalone novel, By the Sword takes place over 18 years in three acts. Act 1, we are introduced to Kerowyn at 17 and then see how she first receives training. In Acts 2 a
...more
Angela James
3.5 stars (Oh, Goodreads, won't you please give us half stars?)

I found the beginning of this book a little slow to get through. I enjoyed the story overall, but I did think, for a story with such a broad scope (covering decades) it was a little aimless. Essentially the story of Kerowyn's tale. No real overarching plot, but a series of smaller plots and conflicts. And I didn't feel a huge satisfaction of resolution at the end, because there was a new storyline introduced, so while this is touted
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Elvenborn (Halfblood Chronicles, #3)
  • Tiger Burning Bright
  • Fifth Quarter (Quarters, #2)
  • If I Pay Thee Not in Gold
  • The Ship Who Searched (Brainship, #3)
  • Sword-Dancer (Tiger and Del, #1)
  • In Celebration of Lammas Night
  • Sheepfarmer's Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion, #1)
  • First Rider's Call (Green Rider, #2)
  • Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart (Firekeeper Saga, #2)
  • Finders-Seekers (Ghatti's Tale, #1)
  • The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles, #2)
8685
Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &a ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1) Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1) Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3) Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar, #3) Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)

Share This Book

“Three things never anger or you'll not live for long;
A wolf with cubs,
A man with power, And a woman's sense of wrong.”
66 likes
“Three things trust and cherish well-
The horse on which you ride,
The beast that guards and watches,
And your shield-mate at your side.”
30 likes
More quotes…