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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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book reading
children of dune - leto 1
Okay, so book report.

I read (or re-read) the following over the last two weeks:

(re-read, six or eight years since last reading)
Winds of Fate
Winds of Change
Winds of Fury

(new, read)
Exile's Valor
Exile's Honor
Take a Thief

(new, read)
Sun in Glory

(re-read, six or eight years since last reading)
Arrows of the Queen
Arrow's Flight
Arrow's Fall

(re-read, pretty much memorized)
By the Sword

(re-read, prety much memorized)
Brightly Burning

(have read, didn't this sitting)

(have read, didn't this sitting)
Sword of Ice

Hmm, I think that's all I've read or have. I made it through part of the Mage Winds, but never finished, and a long time ago read The Gryphon trilogy, but I don't own it (yes, that's next on my purchase list) and am still avoiding The Last Herald Mage because dear God, the synopsis alone is depressing. I think I missed a couple, but feel free to enlighten me on what in Valdemar I missed.

Reading as a condensed group made this much more intense--and odd--than I expected.

1.) Brightly Burning

This one still drives me nuts. I have it practically memorized at this point, and I'm always running on a low grade tantrum of wanting to scream at Mercedes "I get it, stop shoving it down my throat already." Yes, I get Lavan's parents were not awesomely perfect. No *shit*. We *get that*. From Lavan's pov, it worked okay--he's a adolescent kid. They're selfish and stupid--that's their job in life. What got me grinding my teeth was teh adults taking up the refrain. Yo, asking the kid to think about *doingn something with his life* and not lay aruond feeling so goth (you know Lavan was looking for black nail polish and was on teh edge of composing bad poetry while laying around in his faded black clothing) is not evil parents. Missing the bullying and calling him a liar--bad parenting. Telling him to go to school? Not bad parenting.

The entire book had a really bad habit of not just stating something adn going with it. IT said it over and over and over, and it was with stupid things that I couldn't figure out why she was doinng it. Elenor's crush--acting like this was a great and terrible tragedy was driving me nuts. Yes, its' a crush and painful. It is not the end of the world. Kids go through that every day. She has a crush on a guy in love with his not-horse. Complicated. But agonizing over it for pages and pages--and I don't mean Elenor, that would have made *sense*--but her parents. Pages. And. Pages. Dear God.

Lavan himself. We get he's not the most emotionally stable kid on the block. We assume that by the fact he needs to be lifebonded to his Companion (adn yes, I googled, I have yet to find Lavan/Kalira, but my morbid side still wonders, like with Alf porn). But every chance possible, Pol pounds this back in with worry and foreshadowing, and seriously, stop that shit.

Hmm. I think the part that most got me frustrated was that I felt like the entire time, Mercedes was giving me a very long, involving lecture on how to raise children (she did this in Oathblood, too, much to my annoyance) and how to feel about *every character*. There was no leeway. Lavan is Sympathetic but Crazy and Tragic, end of story. Pol is Sympathetic and Empathetic and Wary and a Good Worried Father and Husband, no variation. Parents are Evil and Don't Pay Enough Attention (and Jesus, do I want to go back and throw Selenay at her with her absentee parenting of Elspeth, which yes, I can see the reasons with being a queen and single parenting and kingdom etc, but hey, that there was not only some seriously bad parenting, but utter *stupidity* in not maybe noticing that the NURSE WAS OBVIOUSLY THE REASON ELSPETH WENT TO THE DARK SIDE OH MY GOD HOW FREAKING HARD IS IT TO FIRE A NURSE? YOU DID NOT NEED TALIA TO TELL YOU THIS).

Okay, breathing.

Despite this--despite Kalira making me twitch with some of the innuendo and Lavan um--not ever quite getting what he was involved in there, and Pol being way too self-righteous and Macy a little too perfect and honestly, the only person I really liked iss Elenor--it was fun. Glimpses into the Collegium never get old.

Segue to

2.) Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, Arrow's Fall

I love this series, but Talia's a Mary Sue classic. She's an abused child (huh, theme? Imagine that) who is miraculously Chosen by a magic horse. She keeps getting almost killed and eveyrone saves her. She Mindheals and acts as yenta. She ends up with the superkind man with the shattered heart thats' her lifebond. I say this with love. I love Talia. I love her Mary Sueness. I loved every freaking second of this series, except for the finding out the nurse part, because seriously, that was lame. It's all angst and people trying to kill her and people just loving her all over the place and this is totallyh the books I would get my daughter if I had one. They are perfect for a teenage girl to read. She's lifebonded! To Dirk! Who is all broken! Her Gift is goes crazy! She goes a little crazy! Kris, the hottest guy at the Collegium, is sleeping with her. Then great tragedy! She's tortured! Dirk and Rolan adn Elspeth and Gwena and Ahrodie stage an impossible rescue! It's all very moving.

I still have this idea in the back of my mind that if Kris had lived, eventually he and Talia and Dirk would have set up some kind of quasi-threesome thing, room given for the fact that Kris doesn't seem the type to settle down really, but does feel like the type who would like to have some people to come to at teh end of the day. And that would have been awesome.

I dont' have much more interesting here. Talia angsts a lot, and Mercedes never got on my nerves like she did with Lavan. Happy.

3.) Exile's Honor, Exile's Valor

I love Alberich. Teh books are awesomely fun. I loved seeing the Tedrel Wars--that was just cool--and I loved the explanation of Selenay's marriage--that made perfect sense to me. Young girl, queen, grieving for father, under pressure, hot young thing comes by--oh yeah. It worked for me perfectly. I'm not so sure about Thanel needing to have a *script* for sex--I got the impression from By the Sword that he was already pretty skilled as a court fop, so it seemed kind of gilding the lily to make him both incredibly stupid, incompetent, and needing help with seduction in pornographic detail. OTOH, I liked Myste, who is still less Mary Sue than Talia, and I loved her with Alberich.

In a lot of ways, I think Alberich and Kantion are the most interesting pairing, because of their sheer compatiability, kind of like, God help us all, Lavan and Kalira. They worked together. They even think in unison and unlike Elspeth and Gwena, or Selenay and Caryo, there're really a single solid pair. I liked seeing Companions being prejudiced. I liked the explanation of why Talamir wasn't terribly good at interacting with Selenay on a personal level--in Arrows, Selenay mentioned the age difference, but considering the job requirement, it makes more sense to me that his problems came basically from being mentally fragile. It also explains why Rolan was so excited to get Talia. True, she was depressed and mopey, but man, it's got to be a relief to be with a mind that wants *you* and not your dead other self.

I have this entire mental area I wonder about with Rolan there in view of the Exile series, from when he came for Talamir through Talia. If you play with the ideas in the last stories, Rolan's fast bond to Talia and protectiveness makes even more sense. He had to live in a mind that would have rejected him if it could and always wanted to be free. Even for a Companion, that's got to suck to live with, day in and day out for years. Talia must have been amazing for him.

I still kind of giggle at the description of Caryo as a older scholarly sister or maidenly aunt. And kind of intrigued by the one-line where Kantor said that they hadn't had time to think that Caryo needed to change for Selenay. That implies something, though I don't know what exactly.

Okay, I was going to do more, but eh. Maybe later. So, anyone have different thoughts? I'm curious--enough of us all have read these, either during our formative fantasy years or later--that i want to see where everyone falls out on the books.


I can't believe you haven't read Last Herald Mage!!!! It is so freaking awesome! Or at least I think so. Heh. Anyway, you pretty much summed up my views about all of those books.

THE SYNOPSIS WAS SO DEPRESSING! I read the Wikipedia and was like I WILL CRY TOO MUCH.


Which probably means I'll be buying them with the Gryphon trilogy the next time I go to the bookstore.

oh man I read this series back when I was 15 and absolutely loved it (especially the super angsty I cried buckets of tears during book one - Last Herald Mage trilogy) I re-read the series about a year or two ago and yeah...the flaws kind of jumped out at me but...I still enjoyed them. :) though not the newer books as much. I think up until the Mage Storms it was pretty good. Then I felt like she was just writing to get a paycheck...

IMO the Last Herald Mage books are best read in high school-- at least, I had a higher angst tolerance then, due to the massive amounts of angst surrounding me. Haven't been able to pick up a Lackey book since.

I read them in my early 20s, but it was in the middle of half-a-dozen RL crises and I really enjoyed the wallowing-in-angst aspects. It let me indulge my inner angsty 15-year-old. *g*

Albereich was the coolest character ever, his books just MADE MY YEAR. They were indeed made of awesome. And will probably be reread.

*gangs up on you* Read the Last Herald Mage! COME ON! *peer pressures!*

Lackey does deliver on the Mary Sue mostly in comforting ways. This is a great series for a young girl BECAUSE it starts off as an easy read (not emotionally mind you, third book, youch) but in terms of verbage and such. And it's a great hook for them to read more. And hey, woman power! And gayness!

Though yes, lifebonded with a companion. Hmm.

I really, really love the backstory she give for Talamir and Selaney and Rolan, yes. It does slot in very nicely and is some of the more fun stuff to read.

Oh. Did you read the Skif book? *G* It's a one off, but fun and candy like-- considering his past.

I discovered the Arrows series at *just* the right time - I was a freshman or sophmore in high school, and I got the third one out of the library, quickly realized it was the third one and tracked down the first. It took forever to find the second one, though, so I skipped it in my initial read-through (and not much actually happens in the second, so I never felt like it harmed my impressions). I *adored* these books at the time - OMG, the angst! The *talking horses*! The magical stuff! The power plays!

It set me off on a M. Lackey tear that lasted through college. Every time she published something new, I would buy and devour it. The Herald-Mage books are far and away my favorites, with the Oath-sister ones and By the Sword as close seconds.

A couple of years ago, I reread the Arrows trilogy and was kind of appalled at how badly it was written. I mean, I know that my tastes have changed in the intervening years, but wow. So anvilicious, in everything. A lot of the later trilogies I wouldn't even begin to want to look at again, but I feel like the Herald-Mage stuff stands up really well.

It also amused me deeply that I apparently imprinted on those novels' template. Some of my favorite fanfic, across multiple fandoms, involves the fallen hero (Xanatos in Phantom Menace, Krycek in X-Files, etc) who engages in an antagonistic yet ultimately tender relationship with his True Love, who pulls the fallen back from the brink and redeems him with the power of love. Oh yes. Once I realized this, it was a face-palm moment, but what can you do? I love melodrama, and people doing evil things for the best intentions, and even more the way they angst about how horrible they are and nobody could ever love them, woe!

rofl, I love melodrama too. :) I agree about the Herald-Mage, and By the Sword, they stood the test of time for me, the rest I was left shaking my head wondering when did my tastes in fiction change so much.

For me , Last Herald Mage was the series where you will bawl your eyes out on the first reading. On the second reading, you get a little sniffly. A few years/months/etc later, you go back to read it and you sort of go I CAN'T BELIEVE I THOUGHT THIS WAS AWESOME. HE IS JUST ANGSTY AND PATHETIC.

But you still go back and read it because it's your guilty pleasure.


(I admit I read the Mage Winds for the Sun cats.)

As for the books you've missed:
-Owl trilogy (possibly the end of the timeline, I would say?)

I hated Brightly Burning. D:

Goodness, how did you manage to read all thse without your brains leaking out of your ears? ;-)

I liked Misty when she wasn't under pressure to Produce Three Books a Year. And the Valdemar stuff was never my favorite--mine were the Oathbound books, and the Diana Tregarde books (which were just re-released)

Another Diana fan *yays*
I have read Jinx High way too many times, though I have great love for Children of the Night. Also - gay character - HIV positive - written in the 80s. *loves*

*facepalm* I remember coming out of the tail end of Thanksgiving Break during ninth grade, having just mainlined all of these, save for the Gryphon trilogy. Probably one of the more pure, concentrated reading sessions I have ever done.

Now, I just read To Take a Thief every six months, clutch Alberich to my bosom, and cry at the thought of Talia.

I still have this idea in the back of my mind that if Kris had lived, eventually he and Talia and Dirk would have set up some kind of quasi-threesome thing, room given for the fact that Kris doesn't seem the type to settle down really, but does feel like the type who would like to have some people to come to at teh end of the day. And that would have been awesome.

::is stared at by plot bunny::

::backs slowly away::

::bunny jumps into lap, bats eyelashes, looks awful cute::


::rememembers the Terribly Long Queue of Fanfic waiting to be written, and pushes bunny off of lap::

::bunny hops over, twitches ears, and gently bumps ankle with cute pink nose::

::sighs, and adds bunny to the end of the Terribly Long Queue::

I haven't re-read Mercedes Lackey in forever

oops, I accidentally hit post in the middle of my sentence.

what I was going to say was that I haven't re-read Mercedes Lackey (specifically the Arrow books) in forever, and it's fascinating to hear your take on going back to them. It would never have occurred to me to call Talia a Mary-Sue, and yet she so totally is. I still love her, though - i imprinted young.

I'm glad I wasn't the only one going Dirk/Talya/Kris OTP. Those two best friends where like Sam and Dean minus the shared genetic heritage.

They where like Body and Doyle!


Where to start...

I'm a little tempted to give Mercedes the benefit of the doubt on Brightly Burning. I think that (like Magic's Pawn), it was told from the view of a self indulgent adolescent - naturally they have The Worst!Parentz!Eva.

Have you read the Owl trilogy? Again with the adolescent boy angst.

I do recommend Last Herald Mage - it has some depressing parts, but overall it's not so dark. At least Vanyel grows up.

Mercedes is not one for the subtle - she likes to browbeat readers with her views on individual freedom, parenting and personal responsibility. Some books she overdoes it more than others.

To catch a thief has become one of my favorites, Skif is an intersting character and he also changes a bit during his various appearances. Unlike Talia, who is always sweet and practically perfect.

Will probably continue to spam when my brain has woken up
Sorry about that ;)

Re: Mostly random thoughts

Oh feel freee. I love hearing people's thoughts on these books.

It's probably important to remember that Arrows of the Queen was her first book. Yes, it had flaws, but whose first book doesn't?

seperis, I must jump on the bandwagon here and say, read The Last Herald-Mage series! READ THEM! READ THEM! Yes, there's a lot of depressing stuff in them, but . . . well, let me point out, I am the Queen She-Who-Demands-A-Happy-Ending! And I have re-read these books!

I read Brightly Burning once when it was first released and haven't been able to pick it up since. I've gotta say that The Black Gryphon is my favorite now, but when I was young, it was totally The Last Herald Mage trilogy.
It was like a revelation when I was in high school, "Hey, a gay guy, wow." I had never read, let alone met a gay man before. I like to think LHM began my descent into slash.

Give 'em a chance. Look, Vanyel's very pretty!

If it weren't for The Last Herald Mage trilogy I would probably to this day not know that slash exists. :( That would be very sad for me, though the books are totally an angst fest.

am still avoiding The Last Herald Mage because dear God, the synopsis alone is depressing.

And yet, unfortunately, that's teh only ones of hers that I've read. (What? Me? Biased? Naaaaaah.)

However, these little synopsis made me giggle and be glad that I haven't tried to read all of her stuff.