Review: The Valdemar Companion edited by John Helfers and Denise Little

The Valdemar CompanionThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mercedes Lackey’s 24 Valdemar novels cover an impressive span of time. In the real world, it has been 15 years since Arrows of the Queen debuted.

In the realm of Valdemar, readers have witnessed almost 2,500 years of history. With such a vast amount of material, it’s easy to forget little details from books read long ago. The Valdemar Companion contains everything you may have missed or forgotten, and a wealth of little-known information about Valdemar’s creation.

Much of Valdemar’s richness comes from Lackey’s wide background. Her skill with song lyrics lends a depth to her stories, filling out the world’s culture. Her lyrics have been transformed into albums, and this book contains song lists and an essay exploring the Bardic tradition infused into Valdemar.

Some sections of the book hold more generalized information. Larry Dixon, Lackey’s husband, contributes two beautiful, detailed maps of Valdemar and its neighboring countries. A few pages are given over to fan resources on the World Wide Web. Kerrie Hughes weighs in with an amusing “traveler’s guide” to Valdemar and its surrounding countries. Every novel has a synopsis, as does every short story.

A few sections are especially interesting. The book contains an extensive interview with the series’ author. Although it includes the requisite biography, Denise Little poses some probing questions about Valdemar’s conception and some of its major themes. Additionally, Lackey has written a new novella spotlighting a Herald-in-training named Tafri: not a hero, not a full-fledged Herald, just a boy learning to handle the daily routine of protecting the kingdom. The story is a nice reminder that not every fantasy character must be superhuman.

Most of the book is taken up by its concordance, a browsable list that covers people, places, things, and ideas. If you can’t remember a minor character’s name or where a battle took place, this section holds the answers.

Valdemar remains a beloved place that I love to explore and revisit. The Valdemar Companion adds to the series’ depth, and will make a great Christmas gift for your favorite fantasy reader.