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Tldr version: read the Mage Wars trilogy and then the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy.



VALDEMAR

The Valdemar series is built up in contained segments (one, two or three book series). Some segments exist pretty much on their own and could be read in isolation. Other segments refer to or interlink at various levels to previous sections.

The following is a list from Mercedes Lackey’s website (http://www.mercedeslackey.com/biblio_series.html), which is put together chronologically following the history of Lackey’s verse, not order of writing.

My comments and reading order are in square brackets [….] Reading the books actually allows you to see progression of a writer. Her early writing is very much young adult books (with some inference to activities – torture, rape – which as a teenager I completely missed!). They’re entertaining fantasy stories, which you may have to take with a little pinch of salt like all fantasy books.

The Mage Wars.

[I often tell people to read this series first. It’s 2000 years before the majority of the series. However, it’s a little bit more adult, as in well structured, presents better realised characters. If you enjoy this story you can make it through the more variable writing knowing that there are gems on the horizon].

The Black Gryphon (1994) with Larry Dixon
The White Gryphon (1995) with Larry Dixon
The Silver Gryphon (1996) with Larry Dixon

The Last Herald Mage Trilogy.

[Possibly the one that everyone raves about. Don’t read this one first, though. It is good. Angst to highest level you possibly will ever come up against (if you stay away from fanfiction.net). Read this after Heralds of Valdemar].

Magic's Pawn (1989)
Magic's Promise (1990)
Magic's Price (1990)


The Collegium Chronicles.

[Don’t read it first. It would be confusing. I think you could enjoy it after reading the Heralds of Valdemar series. It’s classic ML writing, possibly a little formulaic.]

Foundation (2008)
Intrigues (2010)
Changes (2011)
Redoubt (2012)
Bastion (2013)

Herald Spy

[Follows on from The Collegium Chronicles, so you def. have to read them first.]

Closer to Home
Closer to Heart
Closer to Chest.


Standalone books.

[Again don’t read it first. It would be confusing. IMHO not the best of the series. Taste differ. It’s not my favourite by any stretch of the imagination. It’s… sad.].

Brightly Burning (2000)


Vows & Honor 1.

[can be read separately. Very entertaining. The events don’t happen in the land of Valdemar, but there is some interaction with the residents of Valdemar. These are good; female heroic protagonists. Get the series under your belt, i.e. read Heralds of Valdemar, and then you can pick this up when you want something meaty].

The Oathbound (1988)
Oathbreakers (1989)
Oathblood (1998)


Vows & Honor 2.

[Again don’t read this series first. It would be confusing. You either like the protagonist or you don’t. Mercedes Lackey writes herself into this series and hooks up with the hero, which is kind of hilarious. I, personally, really like these ones. You could read these after the Heralds of Valdemar series].

Exile's Honor (2002)
Exile's Valor (2003)
Take a Thief (2001)

Kerowyn's Tale.

[read this one after you’ve read the Vows & Honor 1 Oath series. Thoroughly, thoroughly, enjoyable.]

By the Sword (1991)

Heralds of Valdemar.

[read this series first, unless you start with the Black Gryphon series – otherwise read it second. This is the introductory storyline, from which everything else grows. They won’t take you very long. They are very much YA -- apart from the sex and violence 0_o. You can then read The Last Herald Mage Trilogy, and indulge in Angst with a capital A].

Arrows of the Queen (1987)
Arrow's Flight (1987)
Arrow's Fall (1988)

The Mage Winds Trilogy.

[read this series, and the next two trilogies Mage Storms, Owl Mage one after another. Read after Heralds of Valdemar, and after you read the earlier stories in the chronology. Does this make sense? Of course it makes sense…. 0_o. FYI, I’ve always found the female protagonist in this series a bit annoying. I’m fairly sure that this point, though, because she is a strong, opinionated character].

Winds of Fate (1991)
Winds of Change (1992)
Winds of Fury (1993)

The Mage Storms Trilogy.

[interestingly, ML redeems the bad guys in this series. The Bad Guys against Valdemar are from the country of Karse – the people are Karsite. Karse is ruled by a religious oligarchy and they’ve pretty much been inveterate haters of the Good Folk of Valdemar since forever. Some folk have inferred the Karsites to be analogous to Muslims – I think that analysis is inaccurate and simplistic.
This series reflects ML growth as a writer, but you either loathe or like the main protagonist].


Storm Warning (1994)
Storm Rising (1995)
Storm Breaking (1996)

The Owl Mage Trilogy.
[all right, nothing to get excited about]

Owlflight (1997) with Larry Dixon
Owlsight (1998) with Larry Dixon
Owlknight (1999) with Larry Dixon

Valdemar Short Story Collections .
[any time you want. Best consumed on a plane].
Sword of Ice (1997)
Sun in Glory (2003)
Crossroads (2005)
Moving Targets (2008)
Changing the World (2009)
Finding the Way (2010)
Under the Vale (2011)
Valdemar Companion (1990) with John Helfers

SERIES WHICH AREN’T ABOUT VALDEMAR.

Guardians/Urban Magic.

[I do like these ones. And after reading an essay, found out that ML really enjoys writing these, but they didn’t sell that well, and, unfortunately, and, garnered the interest of a selection of readers who became a little too invested in the ‘verse. There is a reason why ML states quite categorically that her stories are fiction.
Long story short: Diana Tregarde is a witch, Guardian and protector of those who need help, and writes crappy Romance Novels to allow her to be a Guardian. She’s a little too perfect, but knows it, has a temper and is really lonely. ]

Diana Tregarde series
Burning Water (1989)
Children of the Night (1990)
Jinx High (1991)
Plus a bunch of short stories.

Jennifer Talldeer Book
[Another I like. This is based on a Private Investigator and Shaman, Jennifer Talldeer. She’s a strong character with mundane problems. However, the storyline and characterisation of the protagonists may be offensive to a Native American reader or a reader more familiar with the Osage? But as a Caucasian and living on another continent it’s difficult to assess from my perspective.]

Sacred Ground (1995)

Elemental Series Fantasy.

[Grand romps. Masters of elements: Air, Fire, Water and Earth. A whole series of books. Interestingly, often based in England or Wales, with concomitant cultural errors which make me go 0_o, but for the most part not too egregious. However, does make me wonder about other books where she is exploring a different culture c.f. above].

I’ve *** the ones that I particularly enjoyed and have reread a lot. But I’ve read them all and they’re fun.

The Fire Rose (1995) based on Beauty and the Beast
The Serpent's Shadow (2001) based on Snow White ***
The Gates of Sleep (2002) based on Sleeping Beauty
Phoenix and Ashes (2004) based on Cinderella
The Wizard of London (2005) based on The Snow Queen ***
Reserved for the Cat (2007 based on Puss in Boots.
Unnatural Issue (2011) based on Donkeyskin
Home from the Sea (2012) based on East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Tam Lin, and The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry ***
Steadfast (2013) based on The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Blood Red (2014) based on Little Red Riding Hood
From a High Tower (2015 based on Rapunzel
A Study in Sable (2016) featuring Sherlock Holmes


Okay, I’ll stop now. This is actually only a small selection of the novels that she’s written. I’ve waxed lyrical about some of the series that I’ve enjoyed.

I will resist the urge to segue into talking about Tanya Huff.

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