Her father died shortly after her birth when he attempted to murder Queen Selenay and gain the throne for himself. After her father's death, his old nurse maid Hulda showed up from Rethwellan to care for the young princess. As Elspeth grew older, she became a spoiled, arrogant, and self-righteous Brat under the influence of Hulda. The Heralds and her mother despaired of her ever being Chosen, so they planned to have Elspeth fostered with a minor noble family to see if they could change her. Before anything was finalized however, the Queen's Own Talamir, who was the only one in a position to make the arrangements, was poisoned.
The Taming of the Brat
The new Queen's Own, Talia, took on the task of taming the Brat. When she couldn't get close to Elspeth, she enlisted the aid of her friend and fellow trainee Skif to spy on the royal nursery. He soon discovered that Hulda was drugging the chief nurse, Melidy, and effectively isolating Elspeth from all others, all the while being paid by some mysterious lord. When Talia and Skif took their revelations to Herald Jadus, Hulda fled Valdemar before she could be caught and questioned. Talia then befriended Elspeth to undo all of the manipulation that Hulda had done, and taught her how to be the kind of person that could be Chosen. Talia taught her to respect her servants and her possessions, and to understand the responsibility and meaning of friendship. In addition, Talia cured Elspeth's fear of Companions which Hulda had instilled into her with horrifying stories. With Talia now guiding her, Elspeth was soon well-behaved enough to attend classes and Council meetings with Talia. Then, one night while on Companion watch, after helping Talia deliver a Companion foal, Elspeth was the Brat no more.
Elspeth was Chosen when she was thirteen (nearly fourteen) by the Companion Gwena, just before Talia left on her internship. While Talia was gone, a marriage proposal was offered by Hardorn for Elspeth to wed the Prince Ancar. When Talia returned, she and Selenay overruled the council with the decision to table the motion until Elspeth was older. While traveling with her mother and the court to Hardorn for a royal visit, the Valdemarans discovered that Talia had been taken prisoner in Hardorn. Distraught over Talia's suffering, Elspeth used her gift of FarSight in conjunction with Herald Dirk's Fetching Gift and the strength of the Companions to retrieve Talia from the dungeons. After Talia delivered her news of Ancar's betrayal, Selenay made Elspeth regent over everyday affairs in Valdemar.
During the second war with Ancar, Elspeth was again made Regent of Valdemar, as well as liason between Selenay and the mercenary captain Kerowyn.
The First (new) Herald-Mage
After Ancar sends an assassin to attack Elspeth with the aid of magic, she determines that Valdemar needs to find mages who are powerful enough to withstand whatever it is about Valdemar that keeps magic out. Backed by Skif, Kerowyn, and the Companions, she forces the Council to let her go, arguing that only she would know exactly what to agree to with other mages and that she's not indispensable because her twin siblings are perfectly good heirs. Before she leaves, Kerowyn gives her the sword Need.
Elspeth's first stop is Bolthaven, where mages from Kerowyn's former mercenary troop have set up a school. Although the mage Quenten has no one he can send to help, he does inform Skif and Elspeth that she has a very powerful mage gift. He warns her that she must get training and that she will be very attractive to any blood-mage that encounters her. Elspeth and Skif then head to Kata'shin'a'in to find Kerowyn's Shin'a'in cousins, Clan Tale'sedrin (the Stooping Hawk Clan). While there, the sword Need wakes up and begins communicating with Elspeth through Mindspeech. The Tale'sedrin point Elspeth and Skif in the direction of Tayledras Clan K'Sheyna. On the way, they are attacked by creatures that are attracted to magic. In an attempt to destroy them, Elspeth allows Need to guide her in the use of magic. This draws the attention of Darkwind k'Sheyna and his gryphon friends Treyvan and Hydona.
Elspeth and Skif stay in k'Sheyna for almost a year while she trains her mage gift and helps k'Sheyna defeat the blood Adept, Mornelithe Falconsbane. Falconsbane wants to break Elspeth and use her Gift for his own evil purposes. While there she falls in love with Darkwind. In addition, Elspeth is shocked to discover from the Healing Adept Firesong k'Treva that they are both descended from the famous last Herald-Mage Vanyel. As Elspeth, Skif, Darkwind, and Firesong, as well as their Companions and bondbirds, step through the Gate to go to k'Sheyna's new home, they are whisked away to the Forest of Sorrows in Valdemar. There they meet the spirits of Herald-Mage Vanyel, his Companion Yfandes, and his lifebonded the Bard Stefan. Vanyel explains to Elspeth why she is to be the first Herald-Mage since his time: he has to bring down the mage protections he put in place before too much damage is done. In addition he lets slip the secret that Gwena is a Grove-born Companion. Everyone then goes through another Gate to the Ashkevron manor, the closest place to Haven that Vanyel can get them to.
After Elspeth arrives back in Haven, she gives up her position as heir to the throne in favor of her younger sibs Lyra and Kris. She begins to find the old magical rooms in the palace and recruits mages from allied kingdoms while training any Heralds with MageGift. It is then discovered that Mornelithe Falconsbane has survived the final battle and is now in Hardorn as one of Ancar's mages. Elspeth, Skif, Darkwind, Firesong, and Nyara travel to Hardorn disguised as performers in a trade caravan. When they reach the capital city, Need informs them that Falconsbane shares his body with a young man named An'desha, whom they agree to save. In the end, Falconsbane, Ancar, and Hulda are all killed, and the group of heroes Gate back to Haven before the capital can be destroyed by mage storms. After their return, Elspeth took up a new title: 'Herald to the Outlanders'
Elspeth's next challenge is to deal with the dual enemies of the mage storms and the Eastern Empire. She and Darkwind become the envoys to Grand Duke Tremane of the Eastern Empire in Hardorn. They are instrumental in making him the new king of Hardorn and finding a way to shield magical nodes from the final wave of the mage storms, thereby saving the Valdemar, Hardorn, and their allies from total destruction.
Like her mother before her, Elspeth served in Haven's law courts.
In the series
Elspeth appears in the following works:
- Arrows of the Queen, Heralds of Valdemar series, volume 1
- Arrow's Flight, Heralds of Valdemar series, volume 2
- Arrow's Fall, Heralds of Valdemar series, volume 3
- By the Sword
- Winds of Fate, Mage Winds series, volume 1
- Winds of Change, Mage Winds series, volume 2
- Winds of Fury, Mage Winds series, volume 3
- Storm Warning, Mage Storms series, volume 1
- Storm Rising, Mage Storms series, volume 2
- Storm Breaking, Mage Storms series, volume 3
- "Transmutation" by Larry Dixon, Crossroads and Other Tales of Valdemar, Anthologies, volume 3