John Helfers &
Denise Little, editors,
The Valdemar Companion
(DAW, 2001)

This 497-page book is crammed with information on Mercedes Lackey's well-established kingdom of Valdemar, tracing its development from the author's initial concept of Valdemar and its inhabitants over 15 years ago through her subsequent 18 novels to the complex land it has evolved into today.

It opens with a breakdown of the novels by Valdemar timeline, then continues with a six-page introduction by Lackey, an 80-page novella, "A Herald's Journey," and a 50-page interview with Lackey by Denise Little. There is also a genial and gossipy 26-page pseudo-Rough Guide to... in the form of "A Traveller's Guide to Valdemar and the Surrounding Kingdoms by Bard Jeriko (As Told to Kerrie Hughes)."

The professional origins of Lackey as a lyricist bring much to bear on the influence of music in Valdemar, and so Michael Longcor gives us "Balladeers, Buskers, and Bards: The Music of Valdemar," followed by Teri Lee's contribution, "Born in Song: Making the Music of Valdemar." John Helfers outlines "A Discography of the Songs of Valdemar," listing the 10 albums associated with the series.

Little conducts another interview, holding "A Conversation With Betsy Wollheim," president and co-publisher of DAW Books. There follows a thoughtful Valdemar bibliography, with accompanying synopses, which would obviously spoil the stories for those who have not yet read all 18 novels, but is very handy for those who, having read the books, find themselves at the mercy of the foibles of human recall, annoyed and annoying as they wonder which novel featured Wotzit at the mercy of Thingummyjig -- you know, when they were in, oh, tip-of-my-tongue, you know...! This lengthy section also includes short story collections set in and around Valdemar.

Russell Davies details "Virtual Valdemar," explaining the beginnings of a fan's possible travels online in search of Valdemar-related sites. Maps of Valdemar, providing much visual detail, are provided by cartographer Larry Dixon and Daniel Green. The remaining half of the book is given over to "The Valdemar Concordance," compiled by Teri Lee, Juanita Coulson, Kerrie Hughes and Denise Little. This is a phenomenally detailed glossary, dictionary, "Who's Who" and encyclopaedia of all things Valdemar, running from "Abel" to "Zhaneel," with notation indicating in which of the novels the reference may be found. It would appear to be flawless, but the editors invite comments, questions and suggested additions or corrections.

For any self-respecting Valdemar fan, this is an essential companion, and its loving detail and all-encompassing nature would appear to make it a study aid for a degree on the geography, politics, customs and populace of Valdemar and its surrounding kingdoms.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 14 June 2003

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