Welcome back on Alsea! Oh, this is your first time here? I think you should go and read Without a Front first, then. I know it’ll take a little time, but I’ll wait right here for you, promise.
Ah, there you are again — I feel certain you enjoyed the trip. You will remember Vellmar, then, the guard with the uncanny understanding of blades, who later helped the Lancer prepare for her sword duel. This is her story, or, one may hope, part of it.
Actually, it is told in the framework of a goodnight story for two Alsean children, and as that it looks quite a way back in time, even before Fiana Vellmar became Andira’s successor to the office of the Lancer — a really nice touch.
The “inner” story starts a moon after the ending of “Without a Front”. Fiana has to work hard to come to grips with the friendship offered to her by Salomen Opah, the Bondlancer, and, by extension, the Lancer herself. But she also has another problem: She wants to participate in The Games, a competition held every cycle. However, that would pit her against her mother, the reigning champion, and while Fiana feels certain that she can do more than hold her own, she does not want to take the title away from her mother. Salomen and Andira convince her to enter the competition, anyway.
We get to watch mother and daughter battle it out — friendly with one another, and way ahead of any other competitor. They end in a draw, but there can only be one champion, and just how one of the two claims the title shall be left for you to experience on your own. While the actual winner is given away quite early in the plot, I’d be surprised if if you could guess just how this comes about.
The characters in this story have all been thoroughly developed in “Without a Front”, which is the main reason I recommend reading the novel first. “Vellmar” is not even a tenth of “Front’s” size, but a very welcome addition. For myself, I hope for more of those.
Brilliant. As usual.
I need, however, to issue a warning: Fletcher DeLancey’s stories
are highly addictive, and any withdrawing syndromes between
new releases can at most be mitigated by re-reading them. Read
at your own risk!