I’ve been a fan of Mercedes Lackey since almost the beginning, finding a copy of Magic’s Pawn in a K-mart back around 1990. Valdemar saved me, it’s not hyperbole to say, and imagining myself in Valdemar allowed me to survive some pretty rough years as I entered, and finished, high school, so to say I was excited to hear there would be a founding trilogy is an understatement. The trilogy begins with Beyond, and this book is the second in the series.

Sometimes the second book in the series drags, and there are places where we get into Kordas’ head which I feel probably were more the author channeling thoughts and observations (which I didn’t mind one bit!) rather than actual action. They fit within the storyline, and the character of Kordas is, like most of Valdemar’s later leaders, aware that the mantle of leadership can be heavy at times. The joy with this book, especially, is beginning to piece together what we already know about Valdemar and seeing it appear. For example, I immediately recognized the wyrsa from the Winds trilogy, and by now the Pelgairs and what creatures it harbors is an old, and sometimes not so dear friend.

I devoured this book. Affection for the world and the characters seeps through every page. The stories of Sydney-You-Asshole (rather aptly named cat) are delightful to anyone who is the servant of a feline overlord, and when some true old friends appear toward the end of the book–well, I just cheered out loud.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that we haven’t seen the companions yet, and I cannot wait for the third book to be published. Highly recommend this, and in fact, am starting my spouse on this series to introduce him to Valdemar.