I started reading Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books at exactly the right time in my life. I was a pretty angsty teen who, as I tell people, sat at the side of the lake in my town and threw rocks into it, thinking about life was just like rocks being thrown into a lake. Reading "Ha ha, unaccepting family/peers! I'm an Important Person with a horse that talks in my head
, but I'm so good and awesome I'll never wield my powers against you for evil, even though I could!" was rather cathartic at that age.
I've noticed I haven't really enjoyed anything she's written that I've read since I grew out of that phase, which may just mean that the books are exactly the same, but I am very very different. (Now my "ha ha revenge!" self-told stories are all
about getting Published in an important academic journal, because that way lies fame and fortune, obviously.)
And, of course, Lackey woke up one morning and decided that trans* people were subjects of mockery and ridicule and
The short form of the above is: I'm not Lackey's target audience anymore, and haven't been for some time.
Lackey has three stories that I'm aware of that explicitly include people with what would now be called cognitive impairments, but who she describes as "simple", "child-like", and "slow". In addition, she has a second-tier character in another series who is a Gryphon who is equally child-like, considered "misborn", and is a Very Special Lesson In Love to the main characters.
Below the cut I start talking about sexual abuse of people with disabilities.( 'Simple' Human Girls/Women )( Gryphon )
I feel a bit weird talking about these books in this way. For one thing, the inclusion of people with cognitive impairments isn't exactly common in books, so on some level I feel I should praise - or at least acknowledge - that Lackey has included characters with cognitive impairments as the background of her world. As well, I generally think basically good things about some of the depictions of disability I've read in Lackey's work: I found her description of King Randall's degenerative and unknown pain condition to be realistic, although a bit of tragedy pr0n. I found her depiction of the disabled Herald that sang to Talia in the first Arrows
books pretty simplistic (he just needed someone to love him!), but that whole series is pretty simplistic. I feel, perhaps unwarranted, that Lackey at least makes an effort to include disability in her stories.
I just find the way she goes about it to be difficult to deal with, because it seems to both brush up against reality and then act like reality isn't important. I don't know, your mileage may vary.