Review: Passages (Tales of Valdemar #14) Edited by Mercedes Lackey

Authors: Charlotte E. English, Anthea Sharp, Jennifer Brozek, Elisabeth Waters, Kristin Schwengel, Elizabeth Vaughan, Dayle A. Dermatis, Paige L. Christie, Lousia Swann, Michele Lang, Brigid Collins, Fiona Patton, Stephanie Shaver, Terry O’Brien, Angela Penrose, Phaedra Weldon, Brenda Cooper, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon
Original World: Mercedes Lackey
Edited by: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Tales of Valdemar #14
Publisher: DAW
Released: November 24th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

4 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of Passages in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Are you a fan of Mercedes Lackey’s Tales of Valdemar series? Do you love the world, and all of the rich details included within? Then this is a short story collection worth checking out, as there are over a dozen stories set in this world, all written by different authors.

Included in Passages are plenty of tales worth reading; Roads Less Traveled by Charlotte E. English, A Ruler’s Gift by Anthea Sharp, Rising to the Occasion by Jennifer Brozek, A Nursery of Raccoons by Elisabeth Waters, Tables Turned by Kristin Schwengel, Expected Consequences by Elizabeth Vaughan, Burrowing Owl, Hidden No More by Dayle A. Dermatis, The Dream Seeker by Paige L. Christie, Shadows and Reflections by Lousia Swann, Flying the Nest by Michele Lang, Snowbound by Brigid Collins, The More Things Change, the More They Change More by Fiona Patton, The Choice Makes the Chosen by Stephanie Shaver, Trial by Reflection by Terry O’Brien, Theory and Practice by Angela Penrose, Tools of the Trade by Phaedra Weldon, The Border Within by Brenda Cooper, Temper by Mercedes Lackey, and The Hawkbrothers’ Ways Death and the Vales by Larry Dixon. Each of which I’ll review in more detail down below.

Roads Less Traveled by Charlotte E. English

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Roads Less Traveled is an adorable tale of one young Herald and her brand new Companion. Or rather, it’s the other way around, as it is the Herald who is very new to this world. Either way, this is the perfect start to this anthology. It’s endearing and sweet, while also showing off all the reasons why the Heralds are so fascinating to read about.

“:I am your Companion,: said the horse. :That is the best friend anybody could have.:”

A Ruler’s Gift by Anthea Sharp

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Tarek left him home to become a Healer, even though it is an invocation his father could never respect. Now it’s that very talent that calls him home. This was a wonderful tale, cutting right to the core of all the reasons why I love Valdemar and every little detail that Lackey has put in it. I especially loved the ending for this particular story, and how could I not?!

“He’d known, in a distant corner of his mind, that someday he’d have to return to his birthright.”

Rising to the Occasion by Jennifer Brozek

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Tressa is a brilliant and dedicated baker, one who sometimes gets distracted by a cute Herald who keeps stopping by. However, that will never change her disposition, or her concept of right and wrong. That’s what makes Rising to the Occasion such a fantastic read, as Tressa struggles with loyalty and more.

“Our skill. Our quality. Our goods.”

A Nursery of Raccoons by Elisabeth Waters

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Maja has been handed quite the honor – to take up a new spot full of people and keep them safe and healthy. However, the introvert that Maja is, that is an intimidating task, and it almost feels more like a punishment than a reward. I really enjoyed this story, once again for the messages it has within it. It’s also nicely suited to the world itself.

“Maja was still wondering why she was in this mess.”

Tables Turned by Kristin Schwengel

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

There are times when one should treasure the ability to be bored, as that means things are safe. Safer than an attack, at the very least. Or inclement weather. I kind of adore that the characters in Tables Turned were aware of that, as that early quote came with quite a bit of foreshadowing.

“Right now, I’m glad to be bored.”

Expected Consequences by Elizabeth Vaughan

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Lady Cera of the Sandbriar has done well for herself, standing up and keeping her people safe and together, even after everything that has happened. It’s an empowering tale, to put it lightly. Honestly, I feel like I’ve seen a similar story in this world, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment one bit. I simply loved Cera’s tale, and how fiercely determined she is.

“It’s good to be back in the garden, amidst growing things.”

Burrowing Owl, Hidden No More by Dayle A. Dermatis

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Kya’s tale fits in perfectly with the large world of Valdemar. She is a girl working hard to better her life, hoping for more. It’s a common theme, but one that I will happily read about again and again. So you can imagine my happiness about reading Burrowing Owl, Hidden No More.

“The Golden Compass was no ordinary tavern, and Kya was no ordinary barmaid.”

The Dream Seeker by Paige L. Christie

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

The Dream Seeker is arguably one of the more unique reads in this anthology. For one thing, there are no Heralds in it. Yet I absolutely adored Mero’s tale, and how much she grew over the course of such a short period of time. I honestly wouldn’t have minded seeing more of it.

“The only thing that made any of it bearable was having a minstrel trapped here as well.”

Shadows and Reflections by Lousia Swann

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Petril is a sweet boy, one whose entire life is about to be changed – and it all started because of one good deed. Not because he wanted anything from doing it, but because it was the right thing to do. Proving that Petril is a good man, one who deserved the chance handed to him. It was a sweet story, and I love the message woven throughout.

“Something was about to happen”

Flying the Nest by Michele Lang

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Flying the Nest is a hard story to describe, not without risking giving away some of the most important parts about it. It was an interesting read, one that felt so human, while also portraying more of a world of magic and critters.

“This time felt like a forever goodbye, to what was gone and could never be called back again.”

Snowbound by Brigid Collins

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Snowbound was a fascinating read – one that really surprised me, I’m pleased to say. It’s the tale of one stubborn Herald, and her beloved Companion. Only, that isn’t all that is within this story, as a third character learns to respect who they are in the process. I adored this read, and was actually a little bit sad when it ended, not going to lie.

“:I’m not moving one bit faster than I already am.

The More Things Change, the More They Change More by Fiona Patton

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

While The More Things Change, the More They Change More is probably the longest title in this anthology, it’s still a delight to read. Surprisingly enough, this is a blend of themes, all in one quick read. It’s a coming of age story, as well as being a tale of how two families are changing, and the friendships surrounding them.

“All he’d ever wanted was to stand beside them in the pale blue and gray uniform of the Haven City Watch.”

The Choice Makes the Chosen by Stephanie Shaver

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

We all know how it goes. There are those with talents in the world – but how does one cope, when they’ve lost everything that they thought made them special? Do they fight to get it back, or do they learn the truth about themselves along the way?

“But no matter how safe or comfortable he felt, the unease always came back. He could not escape the sense that this was all on borrowed time.”

Trial by Reflection by Terry O’Brien

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

If I had to pick one favorite from this entire anthology, it would be Trial by Reflection. This is a delightfully inclusive tale, one that puts a whole new perspective of magic, biases of the world, and so much more. I would have happily read an entire novel about Shasta and her journeys, if I was given half a chance.

“Of course, only a nonMage would ever make such a statement: even she knew that magic was rarely the answer to anything.”

Theory and Practice by Angela Penrose

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

What sort of adventures can those about to face their Trials come up against? Well, if you read Theory and Practice, you’ll know. Bruny is stressed and practicing hard for her Trials, yet it can be very difficult to keep your mind from wandering when you’re stressed. I feel like that is something we can all relate to.

“If you work yourself into a muddle, you’ll stumble at the trials even if you do master your piece.”

Tools of the Trade by Phaedra Weldon

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Tools of the Trade is a beautiful, yet truly heartbreaking tale. As the quote I’ve pulled should clearly indicate, this is a Herald who has gone through a lot of pain and loss in her life. And yet she’s still moving forward, and that in itself is so empowering to read about.

“But there was nothing – not even the death of her husband – that could compare to the loss of a Companion.”

The Border Within by Brenda Cooper

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

This is the tale of an older Herald, and how she learns new ways in order to help the people she has come to love with all her heart. I love the message of The Border Within, and I honestly do feel like it fit in very nicely with the larger world and theme of the Heralds in general. It was wonderfully written as well, and is arguably one of my favorites.

“You develop an instinct after decades out here.”

Temper by Mercedes Lackey

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Temper is the one and only story in this anthology that was written by Mercedes Lackey herself (though they were all edited by her, naturally). That makes it stand out quite a bit, and makes for a solid anchor towards the end of this collection.

This is a surprisingly complex story, given how relatively short it is. And honestly? I adored it. I loved the perspective, as well as the concept of trying to earn your way through life, instead of riding on one great moment.

“Bored mercs needed a place to go, a place that wasn’t their quarters.”

The Hawkbrothers’ Ways Death and the Vales by Larry Dixon

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

The Hawkbrothers’ Ways Death and the Vales reads as a story of old; of descriptions, legends, and warnings all wrapped into one. In many ways, it was absolutely fascinating to read. In other ways, it did feel a bit dry, at least in comparison to every other short in this collection, which may not have been fair. Either way, it’s not a story I’d recommend skipping out on!

“Hawkbrothers understand that matter, and life itself, exists at many sizes relative to themselves.”

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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