Since I knew that I had next to nothing left of Brightly Burning yesterday, I had to take a second book with me. There wasn’t anything else I was particularly craving to read, so I opted for another Valdemar standalone, Take a Thief. Timeline-wise, this book is centuries after Lavan Firestorm (who is briefly mentioned) and takes place not too long before Arrows of the Queen, the first book written in the entire series. It is the tale of Skif, who will later become one of Talia’s friends, a Herald-Trainee and former thief.
Well, not “former” in this particular book. It’s his backstory, after all.
Take a Thief is a perfect example of the strengths a series like Valdemar posesses. Skif is an important character for both Talia and Elspeth’s stories, but he’s never the protagonist. An ally, a man of many talents, but not the central focus. In the earlier books, Lackey never told us too much about how Skif came to be a Herald (outside of a song at the back of one of the books), but Valdemar’s flexibility enabled her to go back years later and fill in that gap with a novel, revealing aspects of the character that we might not have suspected, and could never have known. In fact, read in chronological order, Take a Thief sets the stage wonderfully for the Arrows trilogy.
When you contrast this to Lackey’s current fixation on Herald Mags, well, needless to say they’re a great study in the best and worst ways to add on to the series. Do I think Take a Thiefs a great book? No, but it is a good one. Is it as good as Brightly Burning? Definitely not, it does not have the same emotional impact. Is it far better than yet another book featuring Mags? Hell yes.
In other news, I have acquired and not-quite filled bookshelves! They are simple, but very sturdy and adjustable. Most shelves are spaced to allow for doublestacked paperbacks, but I couldn’t quite manage that for every single one. Which is fine, since I do have quite a lot of oversized paperbacks and hardcovers as well. It may not be a solid wall of books like my dad’s, but I find this quite respectable. Below you can see some before and after photos.
I can’t put anything on the one base shelf right now because it’s acting as temporary storage for more wood, which will eventually become a piece under the window where I can put my plants, among other things. There’s a few more books out of sight, mostly very tall ones, very small ones, graphic novels, textbooks, and my to-read Pile. Don’t get me wrong though, there are a number of books I’ve never read that have just been added to those shelves. I took the opportunity to raid my dad’s collection and grabbed a few books I felt I should have as well as a number that I’d like to try to read at some point.
In fact, my next book is one of those. I was adding the books to my database as I shelved, and glancing down at the books to do so. One of them intrigued me as I worked, so as soon as these photos were taken I hauled it down and sat it next to my keyboard. And yes, I need a stepstool to reach the top two shelves. In fact, I could use a taller one (or one with a third step) when it comes to the topmost shelf. At least the books up there are the ones I am least likely to touch for some time. The box on the end is a complete set of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the end with the horse is ten volumes of The Best in Children’s Books, an anthology set of classic tales.
And no, I have not yet updated my short stories database. I don’t think I’ll be adding things like the children’s story collections to it simply because those aren’t the stories I created it for. Not to mention that most of them are abridged or excerpts from longer works. I will go through all the standard books though, and add things like all the Ray Bradbury shorts (and all I have from him are collections too). This isn’t something pressing in light of the unpacking I have yet to do. Now that the books are (mostly) settled, I can shift my focus to things like clearing off the washer & dryer and putting my tchotchkes on all the shelves I no longer need for books.
At some point I may sit down with all the kids books I’ve rediscovered and read through a bunch of them. I have several that I’m sure everyone knows, but I also have a number that no one else I’ve met seems to have heard of. Which is a shame, because those are the ones I love most of all.