|This article does not cite any references or sources. (August 2009)|
|Publication date||1 May 2000|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 21|
|LC Classification||PS3562.A246 B75 2000|
Brightly Burning is a 2000 novel by Mercedes Lackey. The novel is a fantasy set in the magical world of Valdemar. As such it adds to the "Valdemar" canon, yet stands alone and can be read without other books set in that world.
The novel which focuses on what could be called the tragedy of the Valdemaran Herald Lavan Firestorm. A boy (Lavan) from a mercantile family born with frightening abilities is misunderstood by his peers and family. The book begins when Lavan's father decides to move the family from the countryside to the city of Haven. Lavan finds himself stuck in a mercantile school he does not care for and with nasty bullies for senior students. Life does not seem good for Lavan as he becomes the target of the leader of the Seniors.
All this changes when quite suddenly during a bout of heavy-handed bullying a huge fire started around Lavan causing the storage room to burn, along with several of the students who had been bullying him. The constant bullying had finally thrown open Lavan's innate ability to create and control fires, called Firestarting. After the fire, he is brought to the palace complex, given some medical attention (from the effect of the bullying and burns from the fire - his abilities do not protect him from fire's harm), and questioned about the event. He becomes agitated, and large torches nearby are set on fire. With the fires raging out of control, a Companion named Kalira "chooses" Lavan. Companions are spirits of Valdemar who choose people to become Heralds, who roam the land dispensing justice. Lavan in a single moment of panic and rage becomes a Herald Trainee.
The book goes to tell of Lavan's time as a Herald-trainee to his reluctant experience as a Herald. Much of the book speaks of the teenager's inability to control his own power. Due to the constant bullying, Lavan's power to start fires is intricately connected to his rage and anger. Without his Companion, Lavan has no way to control his Firestarter powers. It is also mentioned that Kalira and Lavan are Lifebonded, or soulmates. This is regarded with astonishment by many, as Lifebonds rarely happen, especially among Heralds-and even less frequently when one is a Companion. Elanor, Lavan's Herald mentor's daughter, learns of this later on in the book-much to her dismay, as she believes that she is in love with Lavan.
Soon Lavan's strange power is needed as the neighbouring country Karse begins to invade Valdemaran borders not just with enemy soldiers but unexplainable horrors of the night. Only Lavan Firestorm is able to combat this strange threat. The books ends with Lavan's rather violent death right after crossbow bolts/arrows hit Kalira and she is wounded mortally.