I’m not sure what exactly it is about Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar books, but I’ve always enjoyed them. They’re not profound works of great literature or anything. They’re not bad at all, but they are a bit fluffy in places. I’m pretty sure they’re young adult books, although I can’t remember ever seeing them branded that way.
I think part of it is that they’re mostly very kind books. Even when the books are talking about the evils of the various bad guys, things are kept pretty chill. The bad guys are always super evil, don’t get me wrong, power hungry madmen (and women) prone to sexual assault, murder, mayhem, oppression and terror. Lackey just doesn’t rub your nose in what they’re doing, is all.
The heroes are always… nice people. They’re nice people doing good things because they need doing and they can do them.
Another good thing about the Valdemar books is the world building. Good lord but Lackey has put a lot of work into the world building. This is a really well-developed, varied world, full of interesting places and people doing interesting things. The characters are all fairly well developed, too. Heroes have flaws they have to overcome, sidekicks are generally useful and fleshed out, plots are tolerably well developed.
All around, the Valdemar books are just sturdily competent (which sounds like I’m damning them with faint praise, but I don’t mean to). They’re fun, they’re fluffy, there are tons of interesting little world building tidbits thrown in, they’re colorful and fanciful, and the bad guys always lose and the good guys always win.
If you’re looking for good popcorn books, you could do a lot worse than these, although they do tend to be aimed more at women (well, girls, really) than boys, I think.