The long-awaited founding of Valdemar comes to life in this second book in the new series from a New York Times-bestselling author and beloved fantasist.
Baron Valdemar and his people have found a temporary haven, but it cannot hold all of them, or for long. Trouble could follow on their heels at any moment, and there are too many people for Crescent Lake to support. Those who are willing to make a further trek by barge on into the West will follow him into a wilderness depopulated by war and scarred by the terrible magics of a thousand years ago and the Mage Wars. But the wilderness is not as “empty” as it seems. There are potential friends and rapacious foes….
For the second novel of the founding of Valdemar, Mercedes Lackey has created a novel that is fun for fans, especially those who’ve read others in the series. I loved the characters, especially the intersecting insights of Kordas and Delia, their challenges and their points of view. Neither character is perfect and the secondary characters resonate with the details that I’ve come to adore in Mercedes Lackey books. I will advise that since this is the second in the series it helps if you have read the first. While Lackey does a fantastic job of explaining the events of the previous book, it will help the reader understand the motivations and events if they’ve read the first book.
If you’re a previous fan, this book will be like revisiting a familiar family. You will be grabbed by the protagonists and the writing. I also think if you haven’t read the previous books, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the series. The world building is fantastic and there are details that are fascinating, especially if you like to know how things work in a fantasy world.
One of the aspects that could have worked better was more escalation of action, more dynamic scenes. A lot of the story is absorbed with the journey of the travelers in reaching a safe place to settle, which is prefaced by the notion that they are founding Valdemar but the end does help ramp up the action. That said, even at that point, it feels like the solution is made fairly simple for the adventurers. I would have liked to have seen a bit more complexity despite how much I love the characters and the world.
If you love the other books or like magical fantasy, I think you will find this fun for fans. The characters are engaging, the dangers interesting, and the ending satisfying. While the ending could have had more complexity or more consequences, it still was a fun read.
Rating: 4 out of 5 vrondi