Today’s A to Z Challenge post carries me back to my early teenage times, when I was only starting to read fantasy, and preferred the light and positive reads (and even though my preferences broadened a lot since then, I still enjoy a good happy ending).
I think I first came across Mercedes Lackey’s “Arrows of the Queen” in a cheap books store, one of the best places for a bookworm with little pocket money. The description intrigued me, and the price was pleasantly low, while the book itself was pleasantly thick. So I didn’t hesitate long before buying it.
The book told a story of young Talia who runs away from her strict home and finds a Companion, a magical white horse (yes, you read it right). Talia ends up in the kingdom’s capital where she starts her training as the queen’s Herald: a messenger, a mediator, a spy, if needed. For obvious reasons, the story of a teenage girl struggling with “school” and finding her own place in the new environment appealed to the teenage me, and the additional bonus of magical abilities, rich secondary world, and a cast of likable characters only enhanced my newfound love. Not to mention there was love and friendship in the book, but also bullying, betrayal, and a sinister plot against the kingdom. What more a budding fantasy fan could have wished for?
It didn’t take me long to discover that “Arrows of the Queen” was a first part of a trilogy, and then that there were many more trilogies set in the same world, spanning across both time and space, though Valdemar, the kingdom that lend the name to the series, always remained at least in the background.
Despite the white horses prancing around and using telepathy to communicate, the books turned out to be interesting and engaging fantasy, and they didn’t shy away from more serious topics, though still served in a delicious crust of quite optimistic story: whatever happened on the pages, one could always hope for some sort of a happy or an uplifting ending.
I never got to collect or read all of the books in the series, some were already out of print when I searched for them, while others never got translated into Polish, and eventually, as I grew older, I moved onto other books, other series… Valdemar series became nothing more than a smile exchange with some of my childhood friends with a glance telling “yes, we really read books about magical white horses back then,” but the sentiment remained. And I will confess to you that last year, when I was still in Ireland, and I saw “Valdemar Omnibus” books (each containing a complete trilogy) on a bookshelf, the sentiment came back and for a moment I seriously considered buying them. But since I already knew I would be moving over to States, I gave up on the idea. I will shameless admit though, that I’d love to read them again, because even if I grew out of teenage stories (and was never a fan of horses, magical or not, in the first place), I remember the books as a great adventure and stories full of warmth, so going back to them only to rekindle those memories would be worth it.
What about you? Is there a book or series from your childhood or teenage years that you feel particularly sentimental about? Don’t be shy, share!
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.