The River's GiftMercedes Lackey
Gifted with the healing touch, fifteen-year-old Ariella spends her days caring for the animals great and small in the forests surrounding her father's castle. Her presence brings peace to the land, a serenity that entices the magical beings of the woods to make their presence known....
One summer afternoon, a wonderous horselike creature appears from the depths of the river to seek Ariella's help. As black as night and as wild as the wind, Merod is at first wary and distrustful of the small human, until her kind heart eases his pain - and a unique friendship blossoms.
But Ariella's happiness is shattered by the sudden death of her father. She is ripped away from her beloved home to be wedded to a cousin she has never seen. And Merod must use his greatest gift of magic to transform himself into her only hope for freedom - and for love.
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