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Exile's Honor
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books, 433 pages

Jody A. Lee
Exile's Honor
Mercedes Lackey
Born in 1950 in Chicago, Mercedes Lackey (née Ritchie) graduated from Purdue in 1972. After some years as an artist's model, lab assistant and security guard, she embarked on a career in computer programming. Active in writing and recording folk songs, Lackey has published close to 50 novels and collections since her first book, Arrows of the Queen, was published in 1985. She won the Lambda award for Magic's Price and the Science Fiction Book Club Book of the Year for The Elvenbane, co-authored with Andre Norton. Besides an interest in scuba diving, Mrs. Lackey is also a licensed bird rehabilitator, specializing in wild birds.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Brightly Burning
SF Site Review: Flights of Fantasy
SF Site Review: The River's Gift
SF Site Review: Owl Knight
SF Site Review: The Black Swan
SF Site Review: Owl Flight
SF Site Review: Storm Breaking
Mercedes Lackey Tribute Page
Mercedes Lackey Bio
Mercedes Lackey Tribute Page
The World of Velgarth

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Valdemar and Karse have long been enemies. The Karse have made an art of it, sending bandits to plunder Valdemar, having their priests train the people to believe that anyone with a Herald's Gift is a demon in need of death. Alberich of Karse, newly-made captain and gifted with a handsome white stallion, has never formally committed himself to battle with his hereditary enemy. Now, his extraordinary skills as swordsman and leader are being pitted against the very bandits his government hired. He has the gift of foresight, which he has long tried long to hide, but cannot when he sees that a village is about to be attacked and destroyed. He rallies his men, and saves the lives of many, only to forfeit his own. Two men who wanted his commission take advantage of the situation and have a Priest condemn him as a demon. They throw him in a small barn, planning to burn him to death. His white stallion charges in to save him, but he is still badly burned. This stallion, a Companion named Kantor takes him to Valdemar, where he is healed... only to find himself facing a whole new set of problems.

His whole life, Alberich has been trained to believe that the Heralds are nothing more than demons, and that his God wants him to eradicate their evil. He has no where else to go. When you're in this situation, where you have to face your enemy, yet they treat you well, heal and feed you, what do you do? How do you make a place for yourself? These questions are made harder to resolve by the fact that Alberich has a very strict sense of honor. It keeps him, on one hand, from going around and killing people, because his honor refuses to allow him to harm the innocent, especially when they've been good to him. Yet, he will not take up arms against his own people. These questions are what make this book so interesting.

Readers who have read Lackey's The Heralds of Valdemar series will remember Alberich. Quiet, in the background, he is an incredible arms instructor that everyone respects. If you were like me, you wanted to learn more about this enigmatic ghost. That is also part of the charm of Exile's Honor, in that it tells the story of a character that one has always wondered about. The rest of the charm of this book can be placed firmly at the feet of Alberich. His is a very subtle character. Torn by his need to fit in, yet have all his actions in keeping with his honor, he is forced to really compromise and take action in different ways. I also like the fact that he isn't shunned much by the people, that they welcome him, if not immediately with open arms, with a willingness to give him a chance to prove himself.

One element that Mercedes Lackey discusses in this book is the differences of religion. In Karse, the priests who directed the worship have always, as I mentioned before, stirred the people against Valdemar and its Heralds. When Alberich talks to priests of the same god in Valdemar, he discovers that it is not the god's will at all, but the will of man that makes these rules. In doing this, Lackey makes a theological parallel that we can make with our own lives. God is always a good excuse for our actions... and someone easy to blame. It is always sad when a group, such as these priests, use their religion to manipulate the people into doing their own will.

Exile's Honor easily stands alone. A newcomer to the series will enjoy it. It is also a bit of pleasant wish fulfillment, in that we get to explore characters and a bit of timeline not really covered before.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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