Out of all the novels in this trilogy, this has to be my least favorite. But I still enjoyed it, and the series, a lot, so my saying that it’s my least favorite isn’t something bad, really.
In this installment of the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, Talia is sent out on her 18 month intership and the entire book revolves around the duties a Herald is likely to perform on circuit. To be honest, it was a refreshing change of scenery from the Collegium – there were only so many situations Talia could find herself in, and a lot of them were starting to repeat. So when I say the change of scenery is a nice change, I mean it.
Right off the bat, a new friendship is unveiled. Kris and Talia are bound to become closer, as he is her “mentor”, of sorts. It doesn’t help, however, when he asks (very bluntly!) Talia about the rumors spreading in Court about her. This dampers the mood immediately, and Talia is suddenly cast into self-doubt and a depression that eats away her soul. In fact, after the first 50 pages, the entire novel was basically Talia being suicidal/depressed, angry, and weak. Am I being harsh in saying she’s weak? Hell no. If I were her, I would have tried my best to reverse the predicament she was in. All she did was reflect on it and allow the doubt to eat away at her. I wanted to reach into the book’s pages and slap her silly. I mean, I’m glad that she had something she wasn’t sure of/skilled at, since a lot of things just came easily to her in the first book, but it was getting me depressed while I was reading about it.
Back to Kris and Talia... I love that they both love someone so much they don’t want to hurt that person, and sacrifice their own feelings (however insignificant) because of that. I love Kris; I’ll admit. He’s funny, arrogant, gallant (at times), and understanding/patient (well, after he reevaluates his perceptions of others). He screamed different, very much like Skif did in the first novel [pertaining to how all the characters sounded the same]. Near the end of the novel, the Midsummer’s Eve scene with him had to be one of my favorites. It was such a nice, loving, thoughtful scene, and I have to admit that I got misty eyed. So sweet!
I have to admit that I hated the lack of action. By action, I merely mean that half of what we read is just them riding, and Talia being emo in the corner (okay, not the corner). There were only about... four scenes that deviated from the monotonous circuit up north, not including the snow-in that occurred. Two of those scenes were stuck in the back of the book, as if Mercedes Lackey just thrust them in without careful planning at all. I also disliked the lack of time (what can I say, I’m a stickler for time!) sequence. One moment, we’d finish up a scene and in the line break, we’re months ahead. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish when a time jump would happen, and I’d have to re-read again to check what month I was reading about.
Upon this re-read, I found some things I had missed in previous reads, which got me really excited. Knowing how the third book goes, I was able to foreshadow a few events (two in particular stuck out; the Weatherwitch and the flowers), so I was happy I was able to pick those events up that I hadn’t in earlier reads.