Filling several places in my favorites list, the Valdemar books feature many characters that I can honestly say I admire, even feel inspired by. Talia, Skif, Alberich, Dirk, Kerowyn, Elspeth (post-brat stage), Karal, Master Ulbrich...the list goes on. Cost of the Crown highlights Queen Selenay's inner thoughts. She's only a primary character in Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor, but she plays an active role in many books beginning with the Arrows trilogy.
For those of you who may be less familiar with Valdemaran politics, the Monarch of Valdemar must also be a Herald, Chosen by a Companion. They may look like horses, but Companions are incorruptible sentient beings with the ability to judge a person's heart. Ethics, duty to others, and compassion are among the traits they look for. Heralds serve the people by scouting, serving as arbiters as needed, fetching and delivering critical messages, and uncovering information needed to keep the kingdom safe. Just to name a few of their roles.
The law that the Monarch must be a Herald is a safeguard to ensure that their people would always have a leader who would care more about the people than the power of position. You might say it was divinely inspired. (Read the books; you'll understand.)
Queen Selenay took the crown as a young woman, barely in her twenties, after her father was killed in the final battle against the Tedrels. Though she'd been raised as the Heir-presumptive, then Heir-In-Right after she was Chosen, being queen was harder than she'd thought.
This song not only shows why I admire Selenay herself but also served as inspiration for one of my own characters: King Reynard. They have different personalities and problems facing them, and of course no Heralds or Companions in my story, but they share many of the same leadership traits and views toward their role to their people.
Shandeen O'Neill's phenomenal voice just makes this song even more achingly beautiful. You can find it on the Lovers, Lore, and Loss album, available at Firebird Arts.