- "A Charm of Finches," Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Anthologies, Volume 6 (2010) - Young Lena, Maia, herald Samira, herald-trainee Robin
- "A Leash of Greyhounds," Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Anthologies, Volume 7 (2011) - Lena, now 14 years old, herald Samira
- "A Wake of Vultures," No True Way, Anthologies, Volume 8 (2014) - 15-year-old Lena, heralds Samira and Robin
- "A Bellowing of Bullfinches," Crucible, Anthologies, Volume 9 (2015) - Lena, Maia, Sven-August, the Prior
- "A Trip of Goats," Tempest, Anthologies, Volume 10 (2016) - Lena, now 16, Sven-August, Arvid, the Prior
Maia - an animal mindspeaker from a remote forest village
Lena - a noble child in Haven who has multiple bird pets
Prior - the devoted clergyman of the Temple of Thenoth, Lord of the Beasts
Sven-August - a noble preteen with a love for animals
Arvid - a noble teenager who is embarrassing his parents by blurting out parts of his mental conversations with animals
Herald Samira - a herald that is brought to Maia when she is injured; later she helps these animal mindspeakers with legal situations
Herald Robin - born into an acting troupe, he helps Samira and the Animal Mindspeakers, first as a trainee and then as an intern
These stories center around characters with the rare gift of Animal Mindspeech, the ability to communicate with any animal, rather than just Companions.
The series begins with Maia, whose closest companions are crows. She encounters an injured herald, Samira.
Story summaries (SPOILERS)Edit
- "A Storytelling of Crows," Changing the World, Anthologies, Volume 5 (2009) - Clyton, a companion, brings his injured herald Samira to Maia in the Forest of Sorrows. Maia's brother was one of the bandits who attacked Samira. While her raccoon friend keeps a close eye on the unconscious herald, the crows guide her through the dark night to fetch supplies. Her crows carry a message to a Healing temple to get help. Maia decides to go to Haven. Samira says she will be especially welcome at the Temple of Thenoth, the Lord of the Beasts.
- "A Charm of Finches," Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Anthologies, Volume 6 (2010) - Young Lena and her brother Markus, who is also her guardian, bring her finch to the Temple of Thenoth with a dagger stuck in its' wing. Temple healer Sara pulls the dagger out with Maia's aid, and heals the bird. Through mindspeech, it shows Maia that it was deliberately injured by a friend of Markus. Without human witnesses, the man cannot be charged. However, the crows show Maia that Markus' group accepts money to say prayers for people but does not do it. Samira says he can be charged for not fulfilling his obligations to donors. She and herald-trainee Robin, who comes from a family of actors, help Maia to set a trap for Markus. During the confrontation in front of the king, Markus suddenly dies from a genetically weak heart. The orphaned Lena decides to move to the Temple, as her own animal mindspeech gift is now emerging.
- "A Leash of Greyhounds," Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Anthologies, Volume 7 (2011) - Lena, now 14 years old, is visiting one of her dead mother's friends, Shantell. The woman's husband, Lord Kristion, dies in a hunting accident; shot accidentally by his friend, Lord Teren. During Lena's turn to stand vigil over the body, the hunting dogs come to her for comfort, and mourn their master. Lord Teren is also in the chapel. Shantell accuses him and the dogs as loving to kill. Teren offers to take the dogs if they bother her, and she accuses him of wanting to profit from the death. She orders that the dogs be killed instead. Lena asks Maia's crows to look for a herald to stop the execution. They find Samira who quickly shows up. She uses the truth spell to determine what happened, and Shantell lets Lena take the dogs to live at the Temple.
- "A Wake of Vultures," No True Way, Anthologies, Volume 8 (2014) - Traveling with heralds Samira and Robin, 15-year-old Lena is on her way to visit a friend of her dead father, Lord Tobias. They encounter a group of vultures guarding a dead human body and a dead vulture. The vultures say the man has been dead for five days, after he staggered across the border from Rethwellen to Valdemar. But the body is not corrupt. The vultures will not let anyone approach, saying the human body is "death." Checking with Lord Tobias, the man is not local. Lena is disturbed, as her mind remains linked to the vultures, seeing through their eyes. Suddenly she sees a woman approach, and starts shooting levin-bolts at the birds. The heralds quickly capture her, and she turns out to be the dead man's mother, Mage Photine. The mage is nervous, feeling as if people are spying on her. It reminds the heralds of a song about "Vanyel's eyes are watching you." Discussing the man, Eskil, Photine says he had very little mage ability, and had been trying to draw more magic to himself. They suspect he attempted a spell that he could not control, and crossed the border hoping to halt it because "everyone knows you can't do magic in Valdemar." Unfortunately, that's not the case, as the woman proved with the levin-bolts. Suddenly, Lord Tobias' daughter Agneta remembers that "Vanyel's Eyes" gather when foreign magic is used, making the spellcaster feel increasingly nervous and uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Lena deduces that Eskil's spell is continuing to draw life energy to itself. They decide Photine should try to dissolve the body so that the accumulated magic will not hurt anyone, and Lena helps compose the spell. The woman successfully tests it on the dead vulture, but says that the "Eyes" have increased. She manages to cast it on her son's body, which also safely dissolves. She is glad it is finished, so she can go home and get away from the "Eyes."
- "A Bellowing of Bullfinches," Crucible, Anthologies, Volume 9 (2015) - Upon Lena's return to Haven, a woman asks the Temple for her help, accompanied by a very large donation. The Prior sends Maia along as her chaperone. It becomes apparent that the Mistress Efanya wants to instigate a marriage to her son, Sven-August, who is two years younger than Lena. To discourage her, Maia calls Dexter the raccoon to act as Lena's lady's maid, and Lena offers to call her finches to add color to the dinner part that night. Efanya bears up, but Sven-August is fascinated as he watches them feed the birds later that night. The next day they find the lonely boy trying to feed an injured bullfinch that he has been trying to help. He couldn't take it to the Temple because his mother would have killed it, having broken its' wing in the first place by throwing her hairbrush at it. Lena and Maia call for a healer for the bird, and continue working unsuccessfully at training Efanya's fish. When Healer Sara arrives, she notices they are both completely drained, and vows to speak to the Prior. She takes Sven-August's injured bird back to the Temple. The next day, they visit the Temple, where Sven-August is immediately happy. They note how good he is with the birds. After the Prior walks them back to Efanya's, he explains to her that fish cannot be trained, as they do not have enough mind to contact. He assures her that her fishpond will be beautiful anyway. He also offers to take Sven-August on as a student at the Temple, where he would learn academics as well as the care of animals. Sven-August is permitted to join them the next week, where his bullfinch chose to stay with him.
- "A Trip of Goats," Tempest, Anthologies, Volume 10 (2016) - Lena, now 16, and Sven-August are wrangling their "trip" of goats, which are eating midwinter festival greens at a guildmaster's house. They return to the Temple looking the worse for wear, making a poor impression on a snobbish couple in the courtyard. Their son, who looks to be about 15, is oblivious as he happily cradles a goat kid in his arms. Lena silently mindspeaks the goats to go to Maia for food, and the boy innocently asks, "Who's Maia?" Later at the goat pen, Lena tells the Prior that the boy has the gift of animal mindspeech. She also apologizes to the Prior for the unfortunate encounter. He asks her and Maia to dress in their finest, so Lord and Lady Melander can meet Lena in accordance with her noble birth. At dinner, their son, Arvid, blithely speaks his words aloud as he mindspeaks an owl. His parents are clearly mortified by his conduct and ability. The Prior offers to foster Arvid at the temple, which delights Lady Melander, but Lord Melander is not persuaded until Lena reassures him. Arvid arrives the next day, and fits happily into life at the Temple.