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By the Sword (Valdemar (Publication order) #9)

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  17,485 Ratings  ·  223 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
Mass Market Paperback, 492 pages
Published February 5th 1991 by DAW (first published February 1991)
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Mar 27, 2016 MrsJoseph rated it really liked it

4.5 stars rounded down to 4 stars!

*Please Note: By the Sword is a stand alone book that can be read out of the Valdemar Universe publication order. By the Sword IS #9 in the Valdemar universe, however, so there is a great deal of history and definitions that are from previous works in series universe.

How do you analyze old friends? Honestly, I think it's impossible.

I first met Mercedes Lackey while browsing the stacks at the public library in my home tow
Jeremy Preacher
Dec 26, 2009 Jeremy Preacher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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
Feb 06, 2010 Chuck rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2009 Debbie rated it it was amazing
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
Rachael L Moore
Aug 30, 2010 Rachael L Moore rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, fan
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
Jan 12, 2017 Peat rated it really liked it
Re-read this today as I was hanging around the hospital and none of the books really fitted or could be found. This is a good book insofar as brain free entertainment goes, particularly as I've read it before. Its the usual Valdemar fare - incredibly noble people having adventures in a slightly grubby land, with a mostly intelligent if complicated romance and a few fights. Kerowyn's one of the better of Lackey's leads, thanks to less angst and more cynicism, which helps smooth over a not-stellar ...more
This is one of my most favorite of the Valdemar books; it's really a stand-alone adventure, and yet it fits so smoothly into the other stories. Highly recommended.
Jun 09, 2010 Bibliotropic rated it really liked it
Shelves: valdemar
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2012 Hil rated it liked it
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
Oct 02, 2011 Maria rated it liked it
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.

Sep 18, 2010 Kathleen rated it liked it
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.
Oct 20, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
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 12/7/2003
re-read 10/7/2014
Oct 19, 2013 Kayla rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 02, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mercedes-lackey
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.
♆ BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme
Can we say, Xena, warrior princess? This is what Kerowyn's Tale reminded me of ...a warrior princess. Even the slight undertones of f/f made me feel like I'm reading about Xena. Since this came before Xena, I'm thinking someone is a fan of Ms. Lackey when they created the Xena series.

Kerowyn kick's butt and she's good at overcoming obstacles. I like it.
Morgan Dhu
Feb 04, 2014 Morgan Dhu rated it it was amazing
Rereading Mercedes Lackey books because I'm in great need of comfort reading, and Lackey is one authour I can always turn to for that. By the Sword is actually one of my favourite Lackey novels. I love the lead character, Kerowyn, and I like the exploration of the life of a mercenary fighter in Lackey's world of Velgarth.
Jan 28, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 21, 2015 Joanna rated it liked it
This falls solidly into the category of "tough as nails female fighter who doesn't need no man to tie her down". But on the whole it is still enjoyable, and all the difficulties are neatly tied up by the end. There are still a few mysteries, though.
Jan 16, 2014 Samira rated it it was amazing
Kerowyn never expected a betrothal feast to launch her on a lifelong adventure that would be plagued with annoying bards,demons, feminist magic swords, blood mages and a mercenary life but least it wasn't her betrothal...Another Valdemar hit!
Elizabeth Hamre
Jun 15, 2009 Elizabeth Hamre rated it it was amazing
One of the best out of the Herald's of Valdemar series!
Jul 06, 2014 Elspeth rated it liked it
Gah, I had to return the kindle version of this. It was irritating to read, so full of type errors!
Jul 05, 2015 Becca rated it it was ok
I don't even know why I read this. Oh well.
Feb 27, 2016 Vendela rated it really liked it
Faaaaaave. Stands up to a reread.
Dec 29, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
Still an excellent epic, many times read, years later
May 29, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
By the Sword is the story of one woman, Kerowyn, and her journey as a warrior, but it's also very much a bridge book between various parts of Mercedes Lackey's universe. Granddaughter of the sorceress Kethry and student of the Shina'ain Swordsworn Tarma, Kerowyn's tale links their stories (the Vows and Honor series) with the wider family of stories centered around the Heralds of Valdemar (the two had touched briefly in earlier stories, but By the Sword firmly welds them together). It also serves ...more
May 14, 2016 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: valdemar-books
There are many who consider By the Sword to be Lackey’s best Valdemar book, and I can understand why. Kerowyn is a likeable protagonist and the story moves along at a good pace despite being one of the longest books in the series. I personally prefer Tarma and Kethry’s adventures to Kerowyn’s book, but it is a solid adventure and far superior than most of her other work.

Part of the reason I prefer Tarma and Kethry is because I find Kerowyn to be a bit of a Mary Sue. Not only is she beautiful, sh
Nicole N.
Sep 22, 2014 Nicole N. rated it really liked it
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
Anne Jindra
It was the 1980s and feminism was taking fantasy writing by storm. There were movements (Lackey is quoted as apologizing in a cover letter for a predecessor to "By the Sword", saying I know it's another rape and revenge story...), countermovements (Chicks in Chainmail was a huge pun based series of short stories meant to take back the C word), and drives to provide role models for young women, and growing kids.

Fantasy was still based largely on reality- which is no bad trick. It wasn't until mod
Ryan G
Feb 07, 2010 Ryan G rated it liked it
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,
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Elvenblood (Halfblood Chronicles, #2)
  • Tiger Burning Bright
  • Fifth Quarter (Quarters, #2)
  • Sword-Dancer (Tiger and Del, #1)
  • The Ship Who Searched (Brainship, #3)
  • Oath of Gold (The Deed of Paksenarrion, #3)
  • In Celebration of Lammas Night
  • If I Pay Thee Not in Gold
  • First Rider's Call (Green Rider, #2)
  • The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles, #2)
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 &am ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...

Other Books in the Series

Valdemar (Publication order) (1 - 10 of 42 books)
  • Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
  • Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar, #2)
  • Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar, #3)
  • The Oathbound (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #1)
  • Oathbreakers (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #2)
  • Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1)
  • Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)
  • Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3)
  • Winds of Fate (Valdemar: Mage Winds #1)
  • Winds of Change (Valdemar: Mage Winds, #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.”
“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.”
More quotes…