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3.0 out of 5 starsGood series, but this book is not the best entry
Reviewed in the United States on December 11, 2020
Entertaining, but once again the author blatantly rips off the story from other author's work. I first noticed it in the book that's straight up the story of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (seriously, how did her publishers let that one through without a plagiarism lawsuit), and now this book that's clearly her version of Harry Potter with a side of Oliver Twist (I think it was first published in 2001). I mean, come on - a poor orphan boy who literally sleeps under the stairs and has an older male cousin who bullies him, has to do most of the chores, doesn't get enough to eat, and wears cast off clothes, then gets whisked away to a special school (with the Oliver Twist detour of becoming an accomplished thief)? At least Lackey only takes those elements and molds them into a story that fits into her world of Valdemar. The ending was WAY too implausible and abrupt and it's not my favorite in the series, but I didn't feel like it was a waste of time to read. The Valdemar series in general is very good, but I would recommend reading some of the other books in the series first.
5.0 out of 5 starsAnd so they found the best of them.
Reviewed in the United States on January 10, 2021
This tale had all the elements which I enjoy. Laughs, chuckles and side eyes register through the lighter parts. Touching points of clarity or emotion are there also. The plot wings from point to point of the growth of Skif as if guided by an eagle's eye. And even the character building is spot on. Even though I truly enjoyed this tale, I give this book 4.5 stars as I found a possible continuity error. But it may have been related to one of the anthology tales and by another author, so I'll come back when I can verify .
5.0 out of 5 starsthen he was a poor child raised in the slums by his very unkind ...
Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2015
This is part of the Herald of Valdemar series of books, and takes you through the life of a young thief named Skif. If you have read the Queen's Arrow series, then you will recognize who Skif is; if not, then he was a poor child raised in the slums by his very unkind relatives after his mother's death. He is able to escape that life and is taken in by a band of boy thieves with their very kind Fagin-like character. When he is on his own again, he becomes involved in crown affairs and is chosen by a Companion, those wonderful horse-like creatures who choose those who often wind up basically becoming the country's heroes. He really has a whirlwind time of things after being chosen, and his life is changed. I'm trying to set the stage without letting you know the entire story, but the entire series is wonderful to read and every one of the characters are fully developed, and you cannot help but love them all.
5.0 out of 5 starsWhat a great set up for "Arrows Of The Queen'
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2020
I love the "fill in the blank" books that tell us how the different characters came into being in the world of Valdemar. I first started this journey when a friend that worked at a feminist book store turned me on to Mercedes Lackey when I asked for a gay romantic book. Little did I know that her recommendation of the story of Vanyel would keep me in this life long reading that NEVER is boring.
This book is about Skif, one of the Herald's of Valdemar. It is one of Mercedes older books, which as a huge Mercedes fan, I prefer. The book itself was ordered and delivered quickly. Adding to my Lackey collection was wonderful, getting it fast was even better!!!
4.0 out of 5 starsThe adventures of a young orphan
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2002
This novel assumes that the reader is familiar with the Valdemar series and the Companions. It begins somewhat like Andre Norton's "Scent of Magic" with a young orphan, Skif, being used as child labor in a tavern owned and operated by unsavory relatives. He escapes from that life to join a gang of young thieves led by an older man who teaches Skif the finer points of picking pockets and cat burglary. The setting is similar to Charles Dickens' stories set in 19th century London. A tragic change in circumstances sends Skif on a quest for vengeance (while supporting himself as a thief). Finding himself in a situation where his life may be in danger, he seeks refuge in a temple but continues his cat burglary at night. His attempt to be a horse thief finds him chosen by a Companion, somewhat to the dismay of the Heralds, and puts him in a position to exact retribution for past wrongs. Skif seems to abandon people as the story moves along. What became of the young girl he protected from bullies at the school? Does he never go back to visit anyone who befriended him? Perhaps the Heralds need to teach Skif some social skills. The novel is suitable for teenage readers.
4.0 out of 5 starsEnjoyable fill-in-the-holes for Valdemar fans
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2002
Enjoyable fill-in-the-holes story for Valdemar fans, but not for readers new to the series -- the back-story and the appeal of this immersive world will not be apparent from this starting point. If you are new to this world, start with "Arrows of the Queen" or the "Last Herald-Mage" series. The story fills in the details of Herald Skif, and paints an interesting picture of the capital city of Haven (from Lackey's other writings, who would have thought it to be such a desparate, impoverished, and dangerous city?). It also has a little more of the gritty character I found so appealing in the first two or three series of Lackey's Valdemar books. A long-standing quibble of mine, the cover art, seems to have been addressed, the Companion pictured looks closer to what the text describes. Quibbles -- it ends too quickly after a long build-up (it felt like it could have used a few more chapters), and things still go "too well", too easily, for her main character, which has been a theme in recent Lackey books. But it definitely feels more solid than the last two or three volumes.
5.0 out of 5 starsA lovely "spin off" from the Heralds Trilogies
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2003
In this book, you learn the background of Herald Skif... Thief. It gives background as well into the Weaponmaster Alberich. Skif plays a role in the "Arrows of the Queen" trilogies. This book (like "Oathbound/Oathbrakers", "Brightly Burning", "Exile's Honour", do for Kerowin, Lavan Firestorm, Alberich) gives a more full acount of his lif before being chosen, and how Havens adapted to having a thief in the Collegium! If you have never read any of the other Herald of Valdemar, you could still get to know, and life, Skif. It would be a good introduction to the Valdemar stories. This is classic Mercedes Lackey- punchy, interesting, good characters, and fits nicely with the other Valdemar tales.