The amazon.com product description:
Set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Valdemar, this unique and exciting novel continues the story of Talia. Having mastered the powers necessary to a guardian of the kingdom, she faces the final preparation for her initiation as adviser and protector of the Queen.The back cover blurb:
Herald's Challenge!For all this isn't my favorite of the Heralds of Valdemar series (Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight and Arrow's Fall), I found that I enjoyed the read more than I thought I would. I remembered the tension between Kris and Talia to be more all-encompassing than it turned out to be - perhaps also because it has been emphasized in the re-read of Arrow's Flight that's been going on over at TOR Books. Instead, it didn't overwhelm the story for me.
Talia could scarcely believe that she had finally earned the rank of full Herald. yet thought this seemed like the fulfillment of all her dreams, it also meant she would face trials far greater than those she had previously survived. For now Talia must ride forth to patrol the kingdom of Valdemar, dispensing Herald's justice throughout the land.
But in this realm beset by dangerous unrest, enforcing her rulings would require all the courage and skill Talia could command - for if she misused her own special powers, both she and Valdemar would pay the price!
What's more, it seemed to be fairly realistic to me - especially the way Talia, her doubts and her Gift were all interacting.
There were a couple of other moments that caught my eye as this was a re-read. On page 56, "...a middle-aged Herald whose twin streaks of grey, one at each temple, stood out startlingly in the firelight." That Herald is going to turn up in By The Sword. The other, looking at this from a point of view of more knowledge than a first-time reader is the question of just what Gift Kris really has.
One of my favorite scenes in the book is Kris giving Talia the bouquet of Maiden's Hope at Midsummer - and the promise he makes to her as well.
Read for both the Hardcore Re-Reading Challenge and my own Valdemar Reading Challenge.