Lackey, Mercedes R. 1950-

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LACKEY, Mercedes R. 1950-

(Mercedes Ritchie Lackey)

PERSONAL: Born June 24, 1950, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Edward George and Joyce Ritche; married Anthony Lackey, June 10, 1972 (marriage ended); married Larry Dixon (an artist and writer), 1992. Education: Purdue University, B.S., 1972. Politics: "Esoteric." Religion: "Nontraditional." Hobbies and other interests: Scuba diving, costuming, needlework, and beadwork.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, DAW Books, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Writer, novelist, editor, wildlife rehabilitator, and recording artist. Artist's model, South Bend, IN, 1975–81; Associates Data Processing, South Bend, computer programmer, 1979–82; CAIRS (survey and data processing firm), South Bend, surveyor, layout designer, and analyst, 1981–82; American Airlines, Tulsa, OK, computer programmer, beginning 1982. Licensed wildlife rehabilitator, working at rescuing and rehabilitating birds of prey. Has worked as a lab technician and a short-order cook.

MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America.



(With C.J. Cherryh) Reap the Whirlwind, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1989.

By the Sword, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1991.

The Last Herald Mage, Penguin (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Ellen Guon) Wing Commander: Freedom Flight (science fiction), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

(With Anne McCaffrey) The Ship Who Searched (second book in the "Brainship" series created by Anne McCaffrey) Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

(With Ellen Guon) Freedom Flight (in "Wing Commander" series; based on Wing Commander computer game), 1992.

(With Piers Anthony) If I Pay Thee Not in Gold, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1993.

(With Marion Zimmer Bradley) Rediscovery: A Novel of Darkover, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Sacred Ground (fantasy and suspense novel), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(With others) Sword of Knowledge, 1995.

(With Andre Norton and Marion Zimmer Bradley) Tiger Burning Bright, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Firebird ("Fairy Tales" series), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Lammas Night, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1996.

The River's Gift (novella), Roc (New York, NY), 1999.

The Black Swan ("Fairy Tales" series), DAW Books (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor, with Martin H. Greenberg; and contributor) Flights of Fantasy (short fiction), DAW Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Werehunter (short stories), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1999.

Brightly Burning (novel), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Eric Flint and Dave Freer) The Shadow of the Lion (first in "Heirs of Alexandria" series), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2002.

This Rough Magic (second in "Heirs of Alexandria" series), 2003.

(With Eric Flint and Dave Freer) This Rough Magic, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2003.

(With Catherine Asaro and Rachel Lee) Charmed Destinies (three fantasy romances: "Counting Crows," "Drusilla's Dream," and "Monglow"), 2003.

(With Eric Flint and Dave Freer) The Wizard of Karres, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2004.

The Fairy Godmother, Luna, (New York, NY), 2004.


Joust (dragon fantasy), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Alta (sequel to Joust), DAW Books (New York, NY) 2004.

Sanctuary, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2005.


(With James Mallory) The Outstretched Shadow, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

To Light a Candle, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.


Arrow's Flight, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Arrows of the Queen, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Arrow's Fall, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Take a Thief: A Novel of Valdemar (also related to Arrows of the Queen) DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Exile's Honor: A Novel of Valdemar, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Exile's Valor (sequel to Exile's Honor), 2003.


The Oathbound, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Oathbreakers, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Oathblood, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1998.


Magic's Pawn, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Magic's Promise, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1990.

Magic's Price, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1990.


Children of the Night, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1990, trade paperback edition, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

Jinx High, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Burning Water, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1993.


Winds of Fate, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Winds of Change, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Winds of Fury, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1993.


Storm Warning, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Storm Rising, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Storm Breaking, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1996.


The Black Gryphon, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1994.

The White Gryphon, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The Silver Gryphon, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1996.


Owlflight, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Owlsight, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Owlknight, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1999.


(Editor and contributor) Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar, 1997.

(Editor and contributor) Sun in Glory and Other Tales of Valdemar, 2003.


The Elvenbane: An Epic High Fantasy of the Halfblood Chronicles Tor Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Elvenblood: An Epic High Fantasy, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Elvenborn, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2002.


The Lark and the Wren (also see below), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

The Robin and the Kestrel (also see below), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1993.

(With Joshua Sherman) A Cast of Corbies, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1994.

The Eagle and the Nightingales (also see below), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1995.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1997.

The Free Bards (contains The Lark and the Wren, The Robin and the Kestrel, and The Eagle and the Nightingales), Simon & Schuster (New York City), 1997.


(With Ellen Guon) Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1990.

(With Ellen Guon) Summoned to Tourney, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

(With Ellen Guon) Bedlam's Bard (omnibus containing Knight of Ghosts and Shadows and Summoned to Tourney), 1992.

(With Rosemary Edghill) Beyond the World's End, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2001, also published as Leagues Beyond.

Spirits White as Lightning, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2001.

(With Rosemary Edghill) Mad Maudlin, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2003.

(Editor, with Rosemary Edghill) Bedlam's Edge, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2005.

(With Rosemary Edghill) Music to My Sorrow, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2005.


(With Josepha Sherman) Castle of Deception, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

(With Ru Emerson) Fortress of Frost and Fire, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1993.

(With Mark Shepherd) Prison of Souls, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1993.


(With husband, Larry Dixon) Born to Run, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

(With Mark Shepherd) Wheels of Fire, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1992.

(With Holly Lisle) When the Bough Breaks, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1993.

(With husband, Larry Dixon) Chrome Circle, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1994.

(With husband, Larry Dixon) The Chrome Borne, (omnibus containing Born to Run and Chrome Circle), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1999.

(With Holly Lisle and Mark Shepherd) Otherworld, (omnibus containing When the Bough Breaks and Wheels of Fire), 1999.

(With Roberta Gellis) This Scepter'd Isle, 2004.

(With Roberta Gellis) Ill Met by Moonlight, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2005.


The Fire Rose, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1995.

The Serpent's Shadow, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The Gates of Sleep, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Phoenix and Ashes, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Wizard of London, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2005.


Heralds, Harpers and Havoc, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1987.

Mercedes Lackey—Live!, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1989.

Leslie Fish—Live!, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1989.

Magic, Moondust, and Melancholy, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1989.

Oathbound: Mercedes Lackey Vows and Honor, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1990, adaptation released as Oathbreakers, 1991.

Freedom, Flight, and Fantasy, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1992.

(With D.F. Sanders) Shadow Stalker, Firebird Arts (Portland, OR), 1994.

Author of lyrics for nearly fifty songs recorded for Off-Centaur, a small recording company specializing in science fiction folk music. Contributor of stories to numerous anthologies, including "Stolen Silver," Horse Fantastic, edited by Martin Greenberg, DAW Books; "Werehunter," Tales of the Witchworld, edited by Norton, DAW Books; "Skitty," Catsfantastic, edited by Norton, DAW Books; "Fiddler Fair," Magic in Ithkar, edited by Robert Adams and Norton; "Deathangel," Merovingen Nights, Festival Moon; and "Don't Look Back" and "Friends like These," Merovingen Nights, Divine Right. Contributor of stories to periodicals, including Fantasy Book and American Fantasy. Author's works have been translated into six languages.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Elvenbred (with Andre Norton; fourth in the "Halfblood" series), Stoned Souls (with Josepha Sherman; fifth in "Serrated Edge" series), Queen of Air and Darkness (first in new series), and novels Aeyrie and The Fall of Darkness..

SIDELIGHTS: Mercedes R. Lackey proclaims herself a storyteller, and most of her books focus on the genre of fantasy fiction. Her books range from A Cast of Corbies, in which an oppressive institution known as the Church censors music and attacks magic, to Sacred Ground, in which a female Native American detective must solve a mystery to placate the souls whose resting place has been violated.

Lackey is perhaps best known for her fantasy land of Valdemar, featured in such works as Arrows of the Queen and Winds of Fury. This land is peopled by several intelligent species, including humans and a variety of bird known as gryphons. Winds of Fury tells about the need to reinstate the power of magic in Valdemar, and places the heir of the throne, Elspeth, in direct conflict with a political schemer, Ancar of Hardorn, and an evil and manipulative mage, Mornilithe Falconsbane. The Black Gryphon, set in ancient times long before the founding of Valdemar, recounts the legendary mage wars and the friendship between Skandragon, the title character, and the Healer Amberdrake. The popularity of the Valdemar cycle has prompted Lackey to announce she would continue to write Valdemar books and stories for as long as readers wanted to see more of them.

Many of Lackey's novels combine contemporary themes and characters with medieval settings—or, sometimes, fantastic characters with modern settings. When the Bough Breaks is an example of the latter; it features an elfish race-car driver, a fifth-grade human teacher, and a sexually abused girl who has developed multiple personalities. Born to Run follows a similar pattern in dealing with the weighty topics of child pornography, teenage prostitution, and a teenaged mage who is fascinated by fast cars and rock music. Calling it "part morality tale" and "part fast-action adventure," Diane G. Yates in the Voice of Youth Advocates wrote that "this improbable mixture is tied together well." Summoned to Tourney takes place in San Francisco and involves psychically summoned creatures called Nightflyers who are capable of eating souls. Wheels of Fire, set mostly in Oklahoma, concerns parental abduction of children, fanatical religious cults, religious and political intolerance, racism, violence, and abuse.

Lackey has also produced some tales of Valdemar in collaboration with her husband, Larry Dixon. Owlflight, Owlsight, and Owlknight are all set in the imaginary land. The central character in these books is Darian Firkin, who is introduced as a thirteen-year-old boy. Known to have magical talent, he is apprenticed to his village's bumbling wizard, but a surprise attack interrupts his training. Most of the villagers are enslaved, but Darian escapes into the forest. He is "whiny," "sullen," and "lacking self-esteem," according to Sally Estes in a Booklist review, yet by the end of the first book, he has come of age as a "courageous, caring man" who has earned his own psychically bonded bird.

In Owlsight, the story is divided between Darian and his love, Keisha, who provides the main focus. Keisha has healing powers, and like Darian, her gifts are undeveloped. As a Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "her empathic abilities often overwhelm her and so thwart her desire to help others." The reviewer noted that Keisha's story offers "very little action" because "mostly, Keisha conducts inner monologues on the virtues of potions or her feelings about people…. The sections involving Darian are more involving as he sees wonderful sights, hunts with a gryphon … and learns to see the current of magic through all things."

In Owlknight, Darian has become a knight as well as a master mage, and he works hard to wield his influence for good within Valdemar and its neighbors. Keisha and Darian encounter many threats in this tale, and Valdemar is shown to be "an immensely well-developed world," stated a Publishers Weekly writer. "The book is full of dry wit and rich detail—about, say, the bathing habits of gryphons and the sarcastic, telepathic dyheli, deerlike sapient beings." The writer did complain of "too much New Age sensitivity and didactic feminism" that made the novel somewhat "cloying," however.

The Wizard of Karres is a sequel to James H. Schmitz's science-fiction classic, The Witches of Karres. The novel "seamlessly picks up the story where Witches ended," noted the School Library Journal reviewer Christine C. Menefee. Captain Pausert, his oddball crew, and a group of precocious young witches embark on a new mission to save humankind, but end up being chased by members of the Empire, marauding pirates, and alien gremlins, all of whom want to capture them for different reasons. Seemingly random plot elements finally come together in a way that "matches Schmitz's narrative style and high standard of humor, imagination, and absurdity," Menefee wrote. In Sanctuary, the third of Lackey's Dragon Jousters novels, a group of jousters, led by Kiron, flee the raging war between the cities of Alta and Tia. As the Magi, fomenters of the war, feed off the energy of the dying victims and the god-touched ones with psionic powers, the remaining jousters find refuge in a hidden desert city called Sanctuary. There, Kiron learns to live in an extreme environment, tries to deal with a group of wild dragons escaped from Tia, and prepare the people for the disastrous repercussions of the Magi's unrelenting war. "Spot-on dialogue and just the right amount of exposition mark this rip-roaring adventure as superior fantasy fare," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

Lackey inaugurated Harlequin Books' new Luna imprint with her romantic fantasy novel, The Fairy Godmother. All the residents of the land of Five Hundred Kingdoms are bound to Tradition—preordained to live their lives as though they were in fairy tales. When Elena finds that she cannot fulfill her Cinderella-like role because Prince Alexander is too young, she is apprenticed to a local Fairy Godmother. Suddenly finding herself in charge of several kingdoms, Elena's duty is to prevent any of the bad things that come with Tradition. When she loses her temper with Prince Alexander and transforms him into a donkey, she sees no other choice but to take him home with her and help him remake his life. The story "will enchant readers with this delightful twist on traditional fairy tales," commented Booklist contributor Diana Tixier Herald. "Original, fascinating, and full of marvelous potential, the Five Hundred Kingdoms is a setting that simply begs for future stories," remarked Kristin Ramsdell in the Library Journal. In another twist on the Cinderella legend, this time combining magic with the historical setting of World War I Britain, Phoenix and Ashes tells the story of Eleanor, a nascent Fire Master enslaved by her Earth Master stepmother, Alison, and horrid stepsisters. Eleanor secretly practices to perfect her magic before the upcoming family ball, where she will try to convince Reggie Fenyx, former pilot and Air Master who believes he has lost his powers, that she is his one true love. Together, she believes, she and Reggie can defeat the oppressive powers of Earth. "This is an intriguing retelling of Cinderella that combines history and fantasy to tell an adult fairy tale," commented Harriet Klausner in the MBR Bookwatch. A Bookwatch reviewer called the novel a "satisfying story of a young woman's aspirations and struggles."

Lackey once told CA: "I'm a storyteller; that's what I see as 'my job.' My stories come out of my characters; how those characters would react to the given situation. Maybe that's why I get letters from readers as young as thirteen and as old as sixty-odd. One of the reasons I write song lyrics is because I see songs as a kind of 'story pill'—they reduce a story to the barest essentials or encapsulate a particular crucial moment in time. I frequently will write a lyric when I am attempting to get to the heart of a crucial scene; I find that when I have done so, the scene has become absolutely clear in my mind, and I can write exactly what I wanted to say. Another reason is because of the kind of novels I am writing: that is, fantasy, set in an other-world semi-medieval atmosphere. Music is very important to medieval peoples; bards are the chief newsbringers. When I write the 'folk music' of these peoples, I am enriching my whole world, whether I actually use the song in the text or not.

"I began writing out of boredom; I continue out of addiction. I can't 'not' write, and as a result I have no social life! I began writing fantasy because I love it, but I try to construct my fantasy worlds with all the care of a 'high-tech' science fiction writer. I apply the principle of TANSTAFL ('There ain't no such thing as a free lunch') to magic, for instance; in my worlds, magic is paid for, and the cost to the magician is frequently a high one. I try to keep my world as solid and real as possible; people deal with stubborn pumps, bugs in the porridge, and love-lives that refuse to become untangled, right along with invading armies and evil magicians. and I try to make all of my characters, even the 'evil magicians,' something more than flat stereotypes. Even evil magicians get up in the night and look for cookies, sometimes.

"I suppose that in everything I write I try to expound the creed I gave my character Di Tregarde in Burning Water—there's no such thing as 'one, true way'; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good—they're the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren't willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race."



St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Booklist, March 15, 1992, Roland Green, review of Born to Run, p. 1344; September 15, 1992, Roland Green, review of Winds of Change, p. 130; February 15, 1993, Roland Green, review of Rediscovery, p. 1011; December 15, 1994, Roland Green, review of The Eagle and the Nightingales, p. 740; October 15, 1996, Roland Green, review of Storm Breaking, p. 408; January 1, 1997, Roland Green, review of Firebird, p. 826; September 15, 1997, Sally Estes, review of Owlflight, p. 216; November 1, 1997, Roland Green, review of Four and Twenty Blackbirds, p. 457; September 15, 1998, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Sacred Ground, p. 213; October 15, 1998, Roland Green, review of Owlsight, p. 407; May 15, 1999, Roland Green, review of The Black Swan, p. 1681; September 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review of The River's Gift, p. 75; April, 15, 2000, Sally Estes, review of Brightly Burning, p. 1534; January 1, 2001, Roland Green, review of Beyond the World's End, p. 928; February 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Serpent's Shadow, p. 1122; January 1, 2004, Diana Tixier Herald, review of The Fairy Godmother, p. 837; March 15, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of Ill Met by Moonlight, p. 1275.

Bookwatch, February, 2004, James A. Cox and Diane C. Donovan, review of This Rough Magic, p. 10; May, 2004, review of This Scepter'd Isle, p. 5; May, 2004, review of Alta, p. 5; December, 2004, review of Phoenix and Ashes.

Library Bookwatch, May, 2005, review of Ill Met by Moonlight.

Library Journal, June 15, 1988, Jackie Cassada, review of The Oathbound, p. 71; June 15, 1989, Jackie Cassada, review of Magic's Pawn, p. 83; October 15, 1991, Jackie Cassada, review of Winds of Fate, p. 126; September 15, 1992, Jackie Cassada, review of Winds of Change, p. 97; March 15, 1993, Jackie Cassada, review of Rediscovery, p. 111; June 15, 1993, p. 104; February 15, 1994, p. 188; August, 1994, Jackie Cassada, review of Storm Warning, p. 139; August, 1994, Jackie Cassada, review of Chrome Circle, p. 139; October 15, 1994, Jackie Cassada, review of Deals with the Devil, p. 90; June 15, 1995, Jackie Cassada, review of Elvenblood, p. 98; August, 1995, Jackie Cassada, review of Storm Rising, p. 122; October 15, 1996, Susan Hamburger, review of Storm Breaking, p. 93; October 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of Owlflight, p. 98; April 15, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Oathblood, p. 119; May 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of The Black Swan, p. 131; October 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Owlknight, p. 110; January 1, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Beyond the World's End, p. 163; February 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Serpent's Shadow, p. 205; February 15, 2004, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Fairy Godmother, p. 112; October 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Beyond the World's End, p.57.

MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Phoenix and Ashes; May, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Sanctuary.

Publishers Weekly, August 30, 1991, review of Winds of Fate, p. 72; September 20, 1991, review of The Elvenbane, p. 124; August 17, 1992, review of Winds of Change, p. 492; March 15, 1993, review of Rediscovery, p. 74; July 18, 1994, review of Storm Warning, p. 239; March 27, 1995, review of The White Gryphon, p. 77; May 22, 1995, review of Elvenblood, p. 52; August 21, 1995, review of Storm Rising, p. 51; October 7, 1996, review of Storm Breaking, p. 66; November 18, 1996, review of Firebird, p. 66; November 24, 1997, review of Four and Twenty Blackbirds, p. 57; September 28, 1998, review of Owlsight, p. 78; September 27, 1999, review of The River's Gift, p. 79; September 27, 1999, review of Owlknight, p. 79; April 17, 2000, review of Brightly Burning, p. 59; December 18, 2000, review of Beyond the World's End, p. 59; December 15, 2003, review of The Fairy Godmother, p. 58; October 18, 2004, review of To Light a Candle, p. 52; April 18, 2005, review of Sanctuary, p. 48.

School Library Journal, May, 1992, Barbara Hawkins, review of Winds of Fate, p. 152; July, 1992, Judy Sokoll, review of Bardic Voices, p. 97; September, 1994, review of A Cast of Corbies, p. 259; October, 1994, Katherine Fitch, review of Sacred Ground, p. 158; August, 1996, Beth Devers, review of The Silver Gryphon, p. 185; p. 185; May, 1997, Bobbi Thomas Skaggs, review of Firebird, p. 164; January, 2000, Marsha Masone, review of The Black Swan, p. 158; November, 2004, Christine C. Menefee, review of The Wizard of Karres, p. 176.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1992, review of Bardic Voices, pp. 44-45; August, 1992, Diane G. Yates, review of Born to Run, p. 176; October, 1992, review of Summoned to Tourney, p. 240.


DragonCon Web Site, (September 5, 2005), biography of Mercedes Lackey.

eHarlequin Web Site, (September 5, 2005), biography of Mercedes Lackey.

Mercedes Lackey Home Page, (September 5, 2005).