Alberich was a Herald of Valdemar, but once he has been a captain in the army of Karse. It hadn't been easy for Alberich to transfer his loyalties to the kingdom he had considered an enemy all his life. And it had also been hard to for the court of Valdemar to accept a karsite who has become a Herald, to true that Alberich would not betray his adopted country. But Alberich had more than proved himself during the Tedrel War. Alberich's bravery during the war was unequaled on the field, and his loyalty was uncompromising. He had almost single-handedly turned the tide of battle, thereby winning honor and respect from the troups, and also victory for Valdemar.
But Valdemar had suffered terrible casualties during this bloody conflict. Worst of all, they had lost their king. King Sendar had been in the prime of his life, a powerful and wise monarch respected and loved by his people and his court. His premature death had forced his teenage daughter Selenay, his only child, to ascend the throne. Traumatized and bereft, and having always assumed that she would have decades to learn the art of kingship, Selenay was not properly prepared to rule. She had thought that her faterh would be there to teach her the complicated games of power, that during his declining years, she could slowly assume the mantle of his office as he delegated more and more royal duties to her care. Now, thrust suddenly onto the throne, in mourning and weakened by sorrow, she fell prey to the machinations of the Valdemaran Council who saw her ascention as an opportunity to wrest power from the crown.
With each consecutive month the Council put increasing pressure on Selenay to marry and produce an heir. And she knew that each Councillor was jockeying to place his own man at her side to be king, not merely consort - someone who could seize control from Sendar's daughter, and yet would remain loyal to the Councillor who had aided his ambitions.
But though Selenay was young and inexperienced, she wasn't stupid or malleable. She had absolutely not intention of marring anyone she did not personally choose, nor would she allow her husband to take control of the kingdom.
Herald Alberich, now the Collegium's Weaponsmaster and Selenay's personal protector, was well aware of the devious plans of the Council. And he fared that the surrounding realms allied with Valdemar might use this perceived weakness to marry one of their own princes to Selenay, thereby usurping Valdemar's throne.
With Talamir, the Queen's Old Herald, unused to fulfilling his advisory duties to a young female monarch, and handicapped by the loss of his Companion and his near-death experience in the Tedrel War, Selenay did not have the support she needed in this difficult situation. Could Alberich protech his vulnerable young queen from the consipracies to steal her throne that were brewing among the aristocratic classes of Valdemar and its allied kingdoms?
Mercedes Ritchie Lackey (born 1950) is an American writer of fantasy novels. Many of her novels and trilogies are interlinked and set in the world of Velgarth, mostly in and around the country of Valdemar. Her Valdemar novels form a complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists with many different cultures and social mores.
Her other main world is one much like our own, but it includes clandestine populations of elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. The Bedlam's Bard books describe a young man with the power to work magic through music; the SERRAted Edge books are about racecar driving elves; and the Diana Tregarde thrillers center on a Wiccan who combats evil.
She has also