Coming from the American writer Mercedes Lackey, Valdemar is a massive classic fantasy series composed of multiple trilogies, numerous standalone novels, and interconnected short stories.
With stories spanning some 3,000 years, the Valdemar universe is mostly set in Valdemar, a kingdom in the world of Velgarth, a world inhabited by magic, and a safe haven for anyone who has been persecuted for his beliefs or actions. To function, the government relies on the Heralds, those Chosen by Companions, the magical horse-like beings with whom they forge psychic bonds.
Follow the Valdemar Reading Order:
There are two ways to go with reading the Valdemar series in order. First, the publication order, then the chronological order. Well, there are more options, everybody doesn’t like to read the series in the same order. If it’s your case, feel free to suggest your personal Valdemar reading order in the comment section.
Reading the Valdemar Books in Publication Order
As you’ll see below, I also included the multiple anthologies set in the Valdemar universe in the publication order, but not in the chronological order as most of them collect stories from a lot of authors, not just Mercedes Lackey.
The Arrows trilogy
These were the first novels published in the Valdemar universe. The story revolves around Talia who, from the moment of being Chosen by her Companion Rolan, becomes the Queen’s Own Herald.
- Arrows of the Queen (1987) – Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense. But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom.
- Arrow’s Flight (1987) – Talia could scarcely believe that she had finally earned the rank of full Herald. Yet though this seemed like the fulfillment of all her dreams, it also meant she would face trials far greater than those she had previously survived. For now, Talia must ride forth to patrol the kingdom of Valdemar, dispending Herald’s justice throughout the land.
- Arrow’s Fall (1988) – With Elspeth, the heir to the throne of Valdemar, come of marriageable age, Talia, the Queen’s Own Herald returns to court to find Queen and heir beset by diplomatic intrigue as various forces vie for control of Elspeth’s future. But just as Talia is about to uncover the traitor behind all these intrigues, she is sent off on a mission to the neighboring kingdom, chosen by the Queento investigate the worth of a marriage proposal from Prince Ancar. And, to her horror, Talia soon discovers there is far more going on at Prince Ancar’s court than just preparation for a hoped-for royal wedding.
The Vows and Honor Series
Set before the Heralds of Valdemar books, these novels are about Tarma and Kethry, characters who first appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress series before being revisited in short stories. Two of these are used in the Vows and Honor books.
- The Oathbound (1988) – Born to the Clan of the Hawk of the nomadic Shin’a’in people, Tarma saw her entire clan slain by brigands. Vowing blood revenge upon the murderers, she became one of the sword-sworn, the most elite of all warriors. And trained in all the forms of death-dealing combat, she took to the road in search of her enemies. Born to a noble house, sold into a hateful “marriage,” Kethry fled life’s harshness for the sanctuary of the White Winds, a powerful school of sorcery. Becoming an adept, she pledged to use her talents for the greatest good. Yet unlike other sorcerers, Kethry could use worldly weapons as well as magical skills. United by sword-spell and the will of the Goddess, Tarma and Kethry swore a blood oath to carry on their mutual fight against evil.
- Oathbreakers (1989) – Evil had cast its shadow over the kingdom of Rethwellan. When Idra, leader of the Sunhawks mercenaries, failed to return from a journey to her home, Tarma and Kethry, warrior and mage, set out in search of their vanished leader.
- Oathblood (1998) – Anthology book that includes a novella featuring Tarma and Kethry, whose fates are suddenly bound together in blood by the powers that control their destinies. Also included in the unique volume is the complete collection of Lackey’s short stories about these two brave sisters as they answer the call of their destinies with sword and sorcery!
The Last Herald-Mage Series
Set before the Heralds of Valdemar books, these are about Vanyel Ashkevron who will be at the center of the Valdemar TV show that is in development.
- Magic’s Pawn (1989) – Though Vanyel has been born with near-legendary abilities to work both Herald and Mage magic, he wasn’t no part in such things. Nor does he seek a warrior’s path, wishing instead to become a Bard. Yet such talent as his, if left untrained, may prove a menace not only to Vanyel but to others as well. So he is sent to be fostered with his aunt, Savil, one of the fame Herald-Mages of Valdemar. But, strong-willed and self-centered, Vanyel is a challenge which even Savil cannot master alone. For soon he will become the focus of frightening forces, lending his raw magic to a spell that unleashes terrifying wyr-hunters on the land.
- Magic’s Promise (1990) – Wild magic is taking its toll on the land. Many Heralds and Herald-Mages have died fighting to preserve the peace. Even Vanyel, the most powerful of the Herald-Mages is almost at the end of his strength, in need of a respite from the dual threats of war and dark magic. But for Vanyel, there can be no rest. Not when his Companion, Yfandes, receives a summons which can’t be ignored-a desperate cry of a magical holocaust in the neighboring kingdom.
- Magic’s Price (1991) – Valdemar-the once-peaceful kingdom protected by the magic of its Herald-Mages-is now besieged on all fronts. The king lies near death, the neighboring land of Karse wages a relentless war against Valdemar, and the forces led by a master of dark forbidden magic are massing to strike the final devastating blow against the kingdom. And Vanyel, the most powerful Herald-Mage Valdemar has even known, has become the primary target of the evil which is reaching out to poison all the land.
- By the Sword (1991) – Granddaughter of the sorceress Kethry, daughter of a noble house, Kerowyn had been forced to run the family keep since her mother’s untimely death. Yet now at last her brother was preparing to wed, and when his bride became the lady of the keep, Kerowyn could return to her true enjoyments – training horses and hunting. But all Kerowyn’s hopes and plans were shattered when her anscestral home was attacked, her father slain, her brother wounded, and his fiancee kidnapped. Drive by desperation and the knowledge that a scorcerer had led the journey which would prove but he first step on the road to the fulfillment of her destiny.
The Mage Winds Series
The Mage Winds revolves around Princess Elspeth as she becomes a fully-fledged Herald.
- Winds of Fate (1991) – High magic had been lost to Valdemar when he gave his life to save his kingdom from destruction by the dark sorceries. Now it falls to Elspeth Herald, heir to the throne, to take up the challenge and seek a mentor who will awaken her mage abilities.
- Winds of Change (1992) – The protective barrier set so long ago over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperiled by the dark magic of Ancar of Hardorn, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.
- Winds of Fury (1993) – Princess Herald Elspeth has completed her magical training. She returns to her homeland with her beloved partner Darkwind. Will they be strong enough to confront the magical evil that is threatening their land?
The Mage Wars & The Mage Storms Series
The Mage Wars and The Mage Storms are two series that were published during the same period of time. The first one is set in pre-history, describing the events which set off the Mage Storms. The second one is set after the Heralds of Valdemar story and focuses on the threat posed to Valdemar by the vast Eastern Empire.
- The Black Gryphon (1994) – Skandranon Rashkae is perhaps the finest specimen of his race, with gleaming ebony feathers, majestic wingspan, keen magesight and sharp intelligence. Courageous, bold, and crafty, Skan is everything a gryphon should be. He is the fulfillment of everything that the Mage of Silence, the human sorcerer called Urtho, intended to achieve when he created these magical beings to be his champions, the defenders of his realm–a verdant plain long coveted by the evil mage Maar. Now Maar is once again advancing on Urtho’s Keep, this time with a huge force spearheaded by magical constructs of his own–cruel birds of prey ready to perform any evil their creator may demand of them.
- Storm Warning (1994) – In war-ravaged Valdemar, Queen Selenay struggles to overcome years of hatred, hostility, and superstition to forge an alliance with Valdemar’s long-time enemy, the neighboring kingdom of Karse, to combat a mutual enemy from the mysterious Eastern Empire.
- The White Gryphon (1995) – It has been ten years since the magical Cataclysm. Urthro’s peoples–human and non-human alike live in a terraced city carved into the face of a gleaming white cliff on the edge of the Western Ocean. Secure at least, …until the fleet of the mysterious Black Kings appears in their harbor, bringing envoys who inform the residents of White Gryphon that their newfound home lies on the northern perimeter of lands claimed by this powerful kingdom. Desperate not to lose their hard-won home, Skandranon, along with his longtime friend Amberdrake–agree to accompany the envoys back to the Court of the Black Kings, hoping to negotiate an alliance…
- Storm Rising (1995) – Mysterious mage-storms are wreaking havoc on Valdemar, Karse, and all the kingdoms of the West, plaguing these lands not only with disastrous earthquakes, monsoons, and ice storms, but also with venomous magical constructs – terrifying creatures out of nightmare. Both Valdemar’s Heralds and Karse’s Sunpriests struggle to marshal their combined magical resources to protect their realms from these devastating, spell-fueled onslaughts. But as the situation becomes bleaker and bleaker, the still fragile alliance between these long-hostile lands begins to fray. And unless Valdemar and Karse can locate and destroy the creator of the storms, they may see their entire world demolished in a final magical holocaust.
- The Silver Gryphon (1996) – A dozen years of peace have passed in the city of White Gryphon – providing well deserved and much needed security for the people who had lost their homes in the magical Cataclysm which killed the Mage Urtho, creator of the gryphons. But the inhabitants of White Gryphon have not forgotten their long struggles, and have trained an elite guard force, the Silver Gryphons, to protect their city, and if necessary, to join with the army of the Black Kings for mutual defense.
- Storm Breaking (1996) – The western allies have traveled deep into the Dorisha Plains to locate the ancient ruins of the Tower of Urtho, Mage of Silence, creator of the gryphons. Legend has it that below the Tower, deeply buried beneath the plains, is Urtho’s Vault, hidden stronghold of some of the most powerful magical weapons ever devised – weapons that Urtho himself felt were too dangerous to use. With the help of the Shin’a’in plainsmen, they have successfully excavated this ancient arsenal, and risked their lives triggering one of these antique but potent tools of death to unleash a monstrous burst of mage-energy. With this explosion of magical power, Karal, Firesong, and their companions have temporarily counteracted the ever-increasing waves of the mage storms. But they know that this desperate action will not save them – they have bought themselves precious time, but are still far from a permanent solution…
- Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar (1997) – An anthology collecting 17 new tales by fantasy’s greatest authors are sure to add their own chapter to the history of this enchanting land.
Darian’s Tale Books in Order
Aka The Owl trilogy. It takes place several years after the events of The Mage Storms and focuses on the repercussions of the mage storms on Valdemar’s northern border.
- Owlflight (1997) – Apprenticed to a venerable wizard when his hunter and trapper parents disappear into the forest never to be seen again, Darian is difficult and strong-willed–much to the dismay of his kindly master. But a sudden twist of fate will change his life forever when the ransacking of his village forces him to flee into the great mystical forest. It is here in the dark forest that he meets his destiny, as the terrifying and mysterious Hawkpeople lead him on the path to maturity. Now they must lead the assault on his besieged home in a desperate attempt to save his people from certain death!
- Owlsight (1998) – It has been four years since Darian saw his village sacked and burned by barbarians. Taking refuge with the Hawkbrothers, he soon finds his life’s calling–as a Healing Adept. But even as he learns the mystical ways of this ancient race, Darian cannot escape the dangers threatening his future. Another tribe of barbarians is approaching. The time has come…to stand up and fight.
- Owlknight (1999) – Two years after his parents’ disappearance, Darian has sought refuge and training from the mysterious Hawkbrothers. Now he has opened his heart to a beautiful young healer. Finally, Darian has found peace and acceptance in his life. That is, until he learns that his parents are still alive–and trapped behind enemy borders…
- Brightly Burning (2000) – His name is Lavan Firestorm, a young man blessed-and cursed-with a special talent for firestarting. His legend has haunted the darkest corners of Valdemar, yet the truth has never been told. Here, at last, is his story.
The Valdemar Prequels
This trilogy of prequel novels revolves around Weaponsmaster Alberich and the thief Skif.
- Take a Thief (2001) – Skif was an orphan who would have died from malnutrition and exposure if he had never met Deke the pickpocket. By the time he was twelve, Skif was an accomplished cat burglar. But it wasn’t until he decided to steal a finely tacked-out white horse, which was, oddly enough, standing unattended in the street, that this young thief discovered that the tables could turn on him–and that he himself could be stolen!
- Exile’s Honor (2002) – Saved from burning as a witch when this odd white stallion braved flames and carried him over the border into Valdemar, Alberich was healed by the same enemies he had been taught to hate his entire life. Though he knew he could never again return to his home, Alberich also knew he could never truly become a Valdemaran. How could Alberich remain true to his own people and still retain his honor while helping to train the direst enemy of Karse?
- Sun in Glory and Other Tales of Valdemar (2003) – A short fiction anthology featuring Mercedes Lackey’s heroic Heralds and their horselike companions–as penned by such masters of fantasy as Judith Tarr, Michelle West, Fiona Patton, and others.
- Exile’s Valor (2003) – Once a heroic Captain in the army of Karse, a kingdom at war with Valdemar, Alberich becomes one of Valdemar’s Heralds. Despite prejudice against him, he becomes the personal protector of young Queen Selenay. But can he protect her from the dangers of her own heart?
- Crossroads and Other Tales of Valdemar (2005) – An original short fiction anthology set in the world of Valdemar and including an all-new novella by Lackey herself, as well as stories by masters such as Mickey Zucker Reichert, Judith Tarr, Tanya Huff, and others.
The Collegium Chronicles
Collegium Chronicles tells the story of the founding of the Heralds’ Collegium through the eyes of Magpie, an orphan and a former mine slave.
- Foundation (2008) – In this chronicle of the early history of Valdemar, Mercedes Lackey’s bestselling world, a thirteen-year-old orphan named Magpie escapes a life of slavery in the gem mines when he is chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar to be trained as a Herald. Thrust into the center of a legend in the making, Magpie discovers talents he never knew he had and witnesses the founding of the great Heralds’ Collegium.
- Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar (2008) – Another anthology book featuring fantasy authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2009) – Another anthology book featuring sixteen authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm..
- Intrigues (2010) – Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy. But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is “recognized” by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie’s parents-who is he, really? Can Mags also solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?
- Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar (2010) – Another anthology book featuring authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Changes (2011) – Magpie pursues his quest for his parent’s identity with burning urgency-while also discovering another hidden talent and being trained by the King’s Own Herald as an undercover agent for Valdemar. Shy Bardic Trainee Lena has to face her famous but uncaring father, one of Valdemar’s most renowned Bards. And Healing Trainee Bear must struggle against his disapproving parents, who are pressuring Bear to quit the Healers’ Collegium because he lacks the magical Healing Gift.
- Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar (2011) – Another anthology book featuring authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Redoubt (2012) – Mags began his special training as Nikolas’ undercover partner and future spy for the crown. Disguised, they work at night in one of the seedier parts of Haven, where Nikolas had set up a false identity as a pawnbroker and fence. Mags poses as his deaf-mute nephew, covertly watching and listening from behind the desk. He was especially good at the trait that had kept him alive as a child laborer in the gem mine–ferreting out hidden motives.
- Bastion (2013) – Mags returns to the Collegium, but there are mixed feelings–his included–about him actually remaining there. No one doubts that he is and should be a Herald, but he is afraid that his mere presence is going to incite more danger right in the heart of Valdemar. The heads of the Collegia are afraid that coming back to his known haunt is going to give him less protection than if he went into hiding. Everyone decides that going elsewhere is the solution for now. So since he is going elsewhere–why not return to the place he was found in the first place and look for clues?
The Herald Spy Series
This Herald Spy is a sequel to the Collegium Chronicles that continues the story of Mags who is becoming a full herald and a spy.
- Closer to Home (2014) – Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King’s Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds’ Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen. Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds.
- No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2014) – Another anthology book featuring authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Closer to the Heart (2015) – King Kyril has come up with the grand plan of turning Mags and Amily’s wedding into a low-key diplomatic event that will simultaneously entertain everyone on the Hill and allow him to negotiate behind the scenes with all the attending ambassadors―something which had not been possible at his son Prince Sedric’s wedding. What could possibly go wrong? The answer, of course, is “everything.”
- Crucible: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2015) – Another anthology book featuring authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Closer to the Chest (2016) – Someone has discovered many secrets of the women of the Court and the Collegia-and is using those secrets to terrorize and bully them. Someone is targeting the religious houses of women, too, leaving behind destruction and obscene ravings. Mags and Amily take steps to minimize the damage while using both magic and wits to find the evildoer. But just as they appear to be on the verge of success, the letter-writer tires of terror and is now out for blood.
- Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2016) – Another anthology book featuring twenty-three authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Pathways: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2017) – Twenty-three authors ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm. Join Janny Wurts, Elisabeth Waters, Michele Lang, Fiona Patton, and others in twenty-four original stories, including a brand-new novella by Mercedes Lackey, all set in Valdemar.
The Family Spies Series
The story continues for Heralds Mags and Amily as they must protect the realm of Valdemar while their children are preparing to follow in their footsteps.
- The Hills Have Spies (2018) – Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Peregrine, has the Gift of Animal Mindspeech-he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. Perry’s dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Herald Spy, but he has yet to be Chosen by a Companion.
- Choices: All-New Tales of Valdemar (2018) – Another anthology book featuring twenty-three authors that ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.
- Eye Spy (2019) – Mags and Amily’s daughter, Abidela, dreams of building on her parents’ legacy by joining her father’s network of spies, hoping to offset her seeming lack of a Gift. But when Abi senses the imminent collapse of a bridge only moments before it happens, she saves countless lives, including that of her best friend, Princess Katiana. The experience, though harrowing, uncovers her unique Gift-an ability to sense the physical strains in objects. Intrigued by the potential of her Gift, the Artificers seek to claim her as their own-but only the Healers can train her.
- Seasons (2019) – This is an anthology of short stories set in the beloved Valdemar universe features tales by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself.
- Spy, Spy Again (2020) – Thirteen year old Prince Kyril and Mags and Amily’s fourteen-year-old son Tory “share” the Gift of Farsight–although neither of them are Chosen. They are self-trained, though currently, their shared Gift only allows them to see what is happening with their immediate family members. After much debate, the Herald’s Collegium has decided to test and train them anyway. That’s when the surprises start.
- Passages (2020) – This is an anthology of short stories set in the beloved Valdemar universe features tales by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself.
The Founding of Valdemar Series
Going back in time, exploring the founding of Valdemar.
- Beyond (2021) – Within the Eastern Empire, Duke Kordas Valdemar rules a tiny, bucolic Duchy that focuses mostly on horse breeding. Anticipating the day when the Empire’s exploitative and militant leaders would not be content to leave them alone, Korda’s father set out to gather magicians in the hopes of one day finding a way to escape and protect the people of the Duchy from tyranny.
- Boundaries (2021) – This is an anthology of short stories set in the beloved Valdemar universe that features tales by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself.
- Shenanigans (2022) – This is an anthology of short stories set in the beloved Valdemar universe that features tales by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself.
- Into the West (2022) – Baron Valdemar and his people have found a temporary haven, but it cannot hold all of them, or for long. Trouble could follow on their heels at any moment, and there are too many people for Crescent Lake to support. Those who are willing to make a further trek by barge on into the West will follow him into a wilderness depopulated by war and scarred by the terrible magics of a thousand years ago and the Mage Wars. But the wilderness is not as “empty” as it seems. There are potential friends and rapacious foes…
- Valdemar (2023) – The refugees from the Empire have established a thriving city called Haven with the help of the Tayledras and their allies. But the Tayledras have begun a slow withdrawal to the dangerous lands known as the Pelagirs, leaving the humans of Haven to find their own way. But even with Haven settled, the lands around Haven are not without danger…
- Anything With Nothing (2023) – This is an anthology of short stories set in the beloved Valdemar universe that features tales by debut and established authors and a brand-new story from Lackey herself.
The Kelvren’s Saga
A new series co-written by Larry Dixon and Mercedes Lackey. This new trilogy returns to the tales of the majestic gryphons.
- Gryphon in Light (2023) – On the border between Valdemar and the deadly Pelagirs Forest, the gryphon hero Kelvren returns from a near-fatal self-sacrifice that won him the approval of Valdemar’s ground troops but caused a diplomatic crisis. Frustrated by his lack of a hero’s welcome, Kelvren is talked into helping with an expedition by his old friend, Firesong. Firesong struggles with his own age and mortality, and he intends to solve a vast mystery at the center of legendary Lake Evendim as his crowning achievement. Just getting the multicultural fleet underway is a challenge, but what awaits them is a situation none of them could expect.
Valdemar Books in Chronological Order
- The Black Gryphon
- The White Gryphon
- The Silver Gryphon
- Into the West
- Magic’s Pawn
- Magic’s Promise
- Magic’s Price
- Closer to Home
- Closer to the Heart
- Closer to the Chest
- The Hills Have Spies
- Eye Spy
- Spy, Spy Again
- Brightly Burning
- The Oathbound
- Exile’s Honor
- Exile’s Valor
- Take a Thief
- Arrows of the Queen
- Arrow’s Flight
- Arrow’s Fall
- By the Sword
- Winds of Fate
- Winds of Change
- Winds of Fury
- Storm Warning
- Storm Rising
- Storm Breaking