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By the Sword

(Valdemar (Publication order) #9)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  19,873 ratings  ·  314 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
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Olaf This is an adult fantasy novel, but experienced YA readers should be fine. This is a direct sequel to both THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR trilogy and the TAR…moreThis is an adult fantasy novel, but experienced YA readers should be fine. This is a direct sequel to both THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR trilogy and the TARMY & KETHRY stories. I suppose it could be read as a stand-alone, but it makes more sense to tread this in sequence. The first trilogy is available in a nice omnibus edition (3 in 1). The TARMA & KETHRY stories are not strictly necessary since they deal with characters two generations before.(less)

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Jeremy Preacher
Dec 26, 2009 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
MrsJoseph *grouchy*

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
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Kerowyn is the great-granddaughter of the famed sorceress Kethry, although she knows little of her own heritage. When her father is murdered and her brother grievously injured at his wedding party, there is no one left to save the bride except for Kero. Her heroic actions set her on a journey to become a mercenary, and her life will never be the same again.

This was one of my absolute favorite books when I was in high school. I devoured every single book I could read about badass women wielding s
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
Well, I had to go back to this one because it carried on the plot from the first three Heralds of Valdemar books. Unfortunately, that plot didn't turn up until around 70%.

Book 1 - Pretty much covered that in my original review when I DNF'd this one. Thankfully, shortly after I picked this up again, the ladies went off to the tower and I didn't have to read anymore about their misogynistic tendencies.

Book 2 - The Skybolts! Who instantly start getting annihilated before I know or care about any
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I've read this title so many time since it first became available. Personally I’ve always considered it more as a Vows and Honor subset. My copy is a mass market paperback that was purchased way before GR and ebooks. It's only now that its made it onto my list but this title is amongst my forever favorites. ...more
Jan 22, 2009 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
Feb 06, 2010 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
Rhy Moore
Aug 30, 2010 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
David H.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is the book that unites the Vows & Honor books with what I consider the "main arc" of the Valdemar universe. However, if you're reading this book because you want to read about a lot of Heralds and Companions, you're going to be disappointed.

Kero has a bit of "not like those other girls" but I think it's a bit different in that she doesn't know how she fits in at the beginning. The first section is a bit of a fun coming of age, but the story really kicks up with the last two-thirds of the n
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. ...more
Para (wanderer)
And the Valdemar binge continues. After the disaster that was The Oathbound, I was a little bit wary of continuing that timeline. But I have been assured this book is a lot better and I wanted a standalone, so I decided to give it a try.

As far as reading order goes, it should preferably read at least after Arrows (it takes place shortly after), but it should work without reading anything else first, too.

The first third of the book was extremely annoying. Kero is a Strong Female Character™ and al
Oct 02, 2011 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.

Jan 28, 2008 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.
Jan 16, 2014 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! ...more
ms bookjunkie
Quite a satisfying story in the fantasy adventure category. Not a quest, but training, life, and adventure as a female mercenary—a really good one.

It's official: I'm hooked on Valdemar.
Pam Baddeley
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I approached this wondering if I was going to enjoy it as I was rather put off the sagas of Valdemar by the Last Herald Mage trilogy which I remember as being rather maudlin and a bit sadomasochistic in places. Anyway, this is a completely different no nonsense sort of book and not a wallow in angst despite some sad things that happen along the way.

Kerowyn is the put upon sister of a young lord who is having his wedding feast as the story opens. Her mother died and her father has expected her to
Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
Two things immediately struck me about By the Sword and hooked me. First, this book is not set in Valdemar. Set in Rethwellan, a country to the south, we finally get to experience how the rest of the world views Valdemar. To them, Valdemar is reclusive, quiet, and has silly ideals about honor and nobility. Their Heralds are constantly wearing stupid uniforms into battle which basically scream, "HIT ME!" And, for some reason no one in Valdemar uses magic? I really enjoyed hearing everyone talk ab ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2018
This is the first time I've read a Valdemar book, and it was a fairly easy read. It traces the arc of Kerowyn's life - she starts off managing the house as her brother has his wedding feast. When her family is attacked by bandits at the feast, she sets off on a rescue mission. On the way, she goes to her grandmother for help and discovers that there's a wider world out there. (This is all at the start of the book - the rest is her growing to experience the world.)

I like Mercedes Lackey's writing
Melanie Page
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the beginning, Kerowyn is a fifteen-year-old daughter of an unimportant nobleman in the country Rethewellan, caring for his keep after her mother died. At the wedding of her brother and his new bride, the keep is attacked and nearly everyone is killed, including her father. The bride is kidnapped, and there’s only one person left to rescue her: Kerowyn. The teen knows nothing about fighting, so she rides off to her reclusive granny’s house — reclusive because Kero’s father doesn’t want his mo ...more
Bernadette Durbin
This is a novel that ties the Tarmac & Kethry books to the Valdemar books quite directly (instead of just being in the same world.) The other reviews have gone over it for the most part, so I'm going to focus on something else.


Jody Lee is a phenomenal artist, and her work with Mercedes Lackey for both this series and the Elemental Mage series showcases what a good artist can do. But... oh lordy... that outfit. It's like a late 80s workout refugee dressed in a music video version of a
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Just re-read the book because I really enjoy it. It should be read in order or there will be a lot that you don't understand, but it's a good book no matter how you do it.

The problem? There are inconsistencies in the overall story line. Nothing too drastic, and no worse than most story lines, but they niggle at me.
Rachel Teferet
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, ya-fantasy
One of my favorite YA books of all time, and my absolute favorite in the Valdemar series. Kero is such a fantastic character, and her development throughout the novel is rich, well paced, and exciting. I've read this book at least a dozen times, both as an adult and adolescent, and I still had a hard time putting the book down reading it again! Everything is just so on point in this book! One of my all-time favorites :-) ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Damn that was good. Really really good
Naomi Waters
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed, owned
I have mixed feelings in regards to this book. I loved Kero as a character at the beginning of the book, adored her when she was with Eldan, wanted to stab her when she refused to go back to Eldan, and after that I never quite recovered my former love for her. I liked her during the war scenes at the very end, my like came close to love but the book had gotten incredibly irritating by that point and I just couldn't love Kero again. Mercedes Lackey tried to paint her as a proud woman who had no n ...more
Aug 01, 2012 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
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kristen (belles_bookshelves)
"No learning, no knowledge is ever wasted."


Since I'm trying to read all the Valdemar books this year, I don't even read what they're about before diving in, so I'd HOPED based on the title that this might be about Sun and Shadow, but Kero's story is interesting, too. I don't remember getting to much of her backstory from the other few books she appear in (that I remember anyway). All I remember being mentioned is she was a mercenary, so its WEIRD at the beginning seeing her not know anything. Al
Jan 12, 2017 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
Oct 20, 2008 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
Sep 18, 2010 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. ...more
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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 & M ...more

Other books in the series

Valdemar (Publication order) (1 - 10 of 46 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 (Vows and Honor, #1)
  • Oathbreakers (Vows and Honor, #2)
  • Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage #1)
  • Magic's Promise (The Last Herald-Mage #2)
  • Magic's Price (The Last Herald-Mage #3)
  • Winds of Fate (Mage Winds #1)
  • Winds of Change (Mage Winds, #2)

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“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…