This is where it all began. Returning to the world of Valdemar, readers learn how Valdemar was founded and more specifically why. When I saw this book I was a bit skeptical if I wanted to read it because it feels like this series has lost some of its intensity. In addition, I felt as though it was recycling old themes with different character names. With a bit of trepidation, I picked up this book and I LOVED IT. Ms. Lackey pulls me back to the world of Valdemar with this reboot.
Valdemar fans know there was an evil Empire far away that caused issues for Duke Valdemar. This is the story which goes through and explains how it all began. I loved it. I became immediately immersed into this storyline because it reminds me of my grandparents story of escaping the evil Communist. It reminds me of how my grandparents had to escape during the chaos. And how many left behind were slaughtered and killed. Just as in this book, there is a horrible corruption within the Empire - starting at the Emperor.
The inhuman acts of cruelty to elementals and children is abhorrent. The desire for Duke Kordas to save as many as he can is admirable. Watching how those who support this long game to escape for a better life use different ways to figure out how to exit quickly is thrilling. Witnessing how some still refuse to go because they value their creature comforts over their freedom is maddening. It is an interesting perspective to see all the different people, their motivations and what they choose at the end. I can't wait to see what happens in this new spin-off. These "pioneer" storylines where people have to rough it out and put together are a favourite of mine. I can't wait to learn more and see what happens next. When do the Companions show up? How does a devastated Empire grow back? All questions I have and can't wait to see how Ms. Lackey shares her story. This fantasy is recommended to readers