Returning back to the beginning of how Valdemar first was settled is a wonderful experience. This book introduces the Companions and my questions over the years about these amazing horse shaped creatures are answered. This book can be read as a standalone. I recommend reading the first two books in this series for a better experiences. This is a spin off of other series and can be read as a standalone series. I might postulate to read this series before reading any of the other series involving Valdemar.
What I liked about this series is the pioneer feel of it. This is a group of thousands fleeing a land and finding a new open land to settle. Whilst it isn't the cowboys and indians wild west style, it is similar in survivor tactics. I love seeing the beginning of a new homestead and how everyone has to pull their weight. There is a certain type of egalitarianism that is required in order for the whole community to survive. It is only when there is too much time and excess goods that people start moving toward entitlement and laziness. Sometimes, when people have to work hard for the basic needs - like shelter, clothing and food, it really shows who are the contributors and who are the takers. As a person who is rarely ever idle, I love this clear delineation.
This story takes place 10 years after the fleeing of their homelands. We start to see a bit of easing in labor as people have a little bit more time and do not have to fight so hard to survive the elements and predators. Yet there are new threats on the horizon. Anytime a community becomes prosperous, those who rather steal than work for it, will show up. Which is why the Heralds and Companions come into play. I love the world building and society Ms. Lackey builds here. It starts out with all the best of intentions. There are beings to help keep humans on track. If one reads the later series, it is apparent that this is not an utopian society and there are still flaws. Because humans are inherently flawed. Still, I enjoyed reading about how Kordas has the foresight to think about the future and plan to keep this new kingdom from becoming like the evil empire they fled.
I also like the different magic that the characters have in this book. I have forgotten the magic that allows one to speak with animals. That is my favourite one and I kind of wish I could have that one. Who doesn't want to be Dr. Doolittle? This fantasy is recommended to readers who want to be transported to a more wholesome time when communities worked together for a common good.
*provided by NetGalley