Mercedes Lackey continues to surpass my expectations. Beginning with Arrows of the Queen so many years ago, I've read every word she has written about Valdemar. Mere glancing references to the legendary origins of the country are finally being fleshed out with a full cast of interesting characters and a delicious narrative that I positively INHALED without pause. Duke Kordas of Valdemar's experiences in the Emperor's palace had me involuntarily comparing those of Grand Duke Tremane in Storm Rising, which takes place hundreds of years later. After all the tumult occuring here, I am very interested to see where Misty goes next in founding her beloved country. So very many of us have been at her elbow for years, eagerly snatching her newest offering, building our own images of Valdemar. Thank you, Misty, for finally going back to the beginning.