After that, I wanted a comfort read. Another one of my favorites. And Lackey, because Lackey is a nice, easy read. Which brings me back to Valdemar and to Brightly Burning, the story of Herald Lavan Firestorm.
When Lackey first began to write Valdemar, she wasn’t simply telling us the tale in the book (in this case, Talia, because that trilogy was first), but also informing us that this world has a past, even if we’re not familiar. We heard mention of Valdemaran legends such as Vanyel, Tylendel, and Lavan Firestorm. Those stories weren’t told yet, but their underlying facts existed already. After all, if not for Lavan Firestorm, there wouldn’t be a section on Valdemaran maps called “Burning Pines.” Brightly Burning is the story of how this name came to be.
Lavan was a great hero to Valdemar, chasing off the Karsite army in such a way that even centuries later their summoned demons wanted nothing to do with the pass he held against them. His tale is also one of Valdemar’s great tragedies, for he died in this defense. I must be a sucker for sorrow or something, since I seem to be attracted to these stories. Then again, if you pick up this book with any familiarity with the series, you have to know that it can’t end well.
Our story starts with an unhappy Lavan who has recently moved to Haven with his family. Everything is different, and not just because they’re living in the city instead of the country. He has no friends and much less freedom. Since he shows no interest in either parent’s trade, they send him to school. And yes, this is a school book in some ways, but that’s not the primary story. School is a vehicle, one containing plot points, and a location, but little more. It’s simply where the story of Lavan Firestorm truly starts. Everything previous has just been setup.
Brightly Burning may be my single favorite entry in the Valdemar series. Part of this may be due to it being a single story, instead of a trilogy or duology, and not a particularly long book either, like By the Sword. Perhaps it also strikes a chord in me, as Lan often feels like an outcast in various parts of the book, and is utterly uninterested in anyone romantically. Of course, he has a different reason from mine, and one that raises a large number of questions, but I’m not going to get into spoilers today. Suffice to say, I greatly enjoy this book and am always happy to revisit it.