As part of my NANO project last year, I reviewed:
Lackey, Mercedes. 2000. Brightly burning. New York: DAW Books.
Find in a Library: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/44020309
Rating: 3 stars
Best Line: He’s lifebonded to his Companion? [Spirit Guardian in horse form.] Howls.
Best Scene: When Lavan’s Companion Kalira explains how she wished things could have turned out differently in the waking of his gift.
Review: This is a sad book of an abused child who glimpses happiness before nobly sacrificing himself. It’s more than that but it represents the core. Throughout the many different book series of Mercedes Lackey, child sexual abuse comes up fairly often and Lavan has been a victim of it in this book. It’s what part of what fuel his rages. Unfortunately, once he becomes an adolescent, his rages fuel an incredible psychic firestarting ability. If not for being chosen by Kalira, he would have probably gone up in smoke in first third of the book.
A good portion of the book focuses on Lavan’s pretty close to romantic love relationship with his horse form Companion Kalira. This is also a love triangle as another human character deeply loves Lavan and hopes this Companion infatuation is a passing phase. Alas for her, it is not.
In the end a threat arises that only Lavan can meet and that by only calling a sort of final strike that incinerates him along with the enemy. By this time you’ve come to care about Lavan enough that you feel bad about him dying and even sort of understand where he and Kalira were coming from.
Many of the Valdemar books have tragic parts – Arrow’s Fall comes to mind. But Brightly Burning is one of the few that feel sad from beginning to end.