The amazon.com product description:
Talia, a young runaway, is made a herald at the royal court after she rescues one of the legendary Companions. When she uncovers a plot to seize the throne, Talia must use her empathic powers to save the queen.To further on that description, the back cover blurb:
A much better description, the second one. This was the first of many Mercedes Lackey titles, and the first book set in the world of Valdemar/Velgarth. It's also a book that I've read many times over. The first few times I read it, I borrowed the book and as many other Valdemar novels as I could from the library. I think it was at least three times that I borrowed this one and it's two sequels before I bought my own copies. Since then, I've been an avid reader and re-reader of Mercedes Lackey's titles. I'm not the only one who's been re-reading them of late either. Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer has been doing a re-read over at TOR Books as well. She's currently posted her thoughts for midway through Arrow's Flight, the second book in the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy.A Kingdom Imperiled!Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with bowers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one o fthe Queen's own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.
But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason which could destroy Queen and Kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen's heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen's own foes.
Reading Arrows of the Queen after reading through her discussion points for the book was an interesting experience, although I have somewhat different thoughts on some of them, i.e. some of the comments about the lack of evident bodyguards etc.
Still, I'm a bit more aware of the different aspects of the story as I'm reading it - not just reading for the story but also being slightly more analytical.
Talia, as an outsider character serves as a great introduction to the world, simply because she's not going to take anything for granted, but is noticing all the little details about how things work/don't work just because they're not familiar to her. At the same time, Mercedes Lackey isn't (at least in my mind) going overboard with a ton of details and in-your-face world-building.
The characters feel human, and the story is one that has grabbed me for almost two decades now - both as a teen and as an adult. I keep coming back to the world of Valdemar anytime I need a pick-me-up of a read if I'm not feeling well, or simply down for some reason.
I recommend this book to any teen who is looking for a great read, but also to adults who love fantasy novels and series.
Read for both the Valdemar Reading Challenge and the Hardcore Re-reading Challenge.