Thursday, August 19, 2010

Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

Magic's Pawn is the first book in The Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, and it's one of the books that made me fall in love with Fantasy in general.  This will be a rambling review, so please forgive me, I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what to tell you so you will read it, but not too much where you feel you don't need to.

I guess you could call Magic's Pawn the "discovery" phase of the story.  We are introduced to Vanyel Ashkevron, a spoiled brat of a teenager who has been emotionally hurt so much by parents that don't have time for him, that he's continually turning inward and shutting everyone else off.  When his father finally gets sick of him, he ships him off to the capital of Valdemar, Haven, to be fostered with Savil Ashkevron, Vanyel's Aunt, and one of the most powerful Herald Mages alive.

At first no one is able to figure out what to do with Vanyel, they aren't sure if he is really as snobby and bratty as he appears or if he is slowly dying inside because all he wanted to do was be a Bard and he had that dream shot down pretty quickly after arriving.  When forces dictate that Vanyel comes out of his shell, Tylendel is there to help him.

Tylendel is the openly gay, Herald Mage trainee and one of Savil's favorite protegees.  It's Tylendel that gets Van to open up and start dealing with all the pain that has been eating him upside.  Reading how their relationship grows and develops is a joy to read and one of my favorite things about this book.  They make such an amazing couple that it's hard sometime to remember that they aren't real, that they only exist on paper and in the mind.  As a older gay teen reading this book, it helped me deal with my own issues and I'm grateful for that.  Now that I'm done injecting myself into this, let me move on.

When heartbreaking tragedy strikes (which makes me tear up every time) Van is forced to into his latent Mage and Heraldic powers that no one knew existed.  He is chosen by Yfandes, the oldest unbound Companion in the kingdom (she is on the cover with Van), and he is quickly thrust into a situation where he is not only having to heal body and soul but to figure out his own powers.  More importantly, he needs needs to realize why he should use them.  That self doubt is quickly tested after Savil takes him to a strange land to even stranger people to be healed and taught.

This is a wonderful beginning to a fantastic trilogy that explores one young man's journey through discovering who he is as a man.  The fact that the journey brings him a "life bonded" love and unbearable pain, which the author is able to take you into as if you where feelings the same emotions, makes the journey all the more special.  Van goes on a journey of self awareness and growth afterwards that you are left in awe at the strength that resides in him.  I'm not sure I could have accepted and dealt with what he is forced to do so at that age.  For that matter, I'm not sure I could do it now. 

What I do now is that I'm unable to fully articulate how wonderful this book is and why I feel everyone should read it, but I hope that I'm able to at least pique the interest of one person who has never read them to give it a try.

This will qualify for the GLBT Reading Challege 2010.


Pam said...

oh my god I want to read this right now I love fantasy and this is a very striking review.

Ryan said...

Pam, Thank you. I'm for some reason feeling like I didn't get what I wanted to across in this so I appreaciate the comment. I feel better now.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

You are as passionate about this book as I am about Queen of the Damned. I'm going to have to read it someday, partly because it sounds good, but also because you love it so much. It must be pretty good! Really insightful review...I enjoyed it.

Staci said...

As I've never read a book by Lackey I am going to find a copy of this one and read it!

Literary Feline said...

This book (well, the trilogy actually) made me fall in love with fantasy too. Your review makes me want to revisit Vanyel.

Ryan said...

Michelle, I really do think you would love this trilogy as well as the others books set in this world. They are beautiful and lyrical and full of some of the best characters I've come across.

Staci, I hope you get a chance to read them soon. They are moving and engaging on every level. I hope you like them once you get to read them.

Wendy, I'm glad to find someone else who loves them as much as I do.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Hey Ryan,

You always talk about this series of books. And it does sound amazing. I am going to have to give these a try some time. :) Thanks!

Lydia said...

I've..never even heard of Mercedes Lackey and I'm a fantasy fan - how horrible is that!

Putting this on my TBR list RIGHT NOW.

Raven Ivanova said...

Lydia...that truly IS horrible.

I sucked this trilogy dry as soon as one book after another was first published. Read them 100's of times over again before ever discovering Anne Rice....still I think I even prefer Vanyel over Lestat, to this day.

What an impossible choice - Vanyel over Lestat? But the Vanyel series is the only one that ever wrung tears out of me, and for the life of me I can't recall that happening before or since.

And Mercedes Lackey is the only author I ever sent a letter to (right after the books came out), thanking her profusely for writing something that emotionally powerful.
She thanked me right back, bless her.

Anonymous said...

I used to hate third person books and I didn't care for fantasy books that much, but last summer I was looking through my bookshelf and found Magic's Pawn. I read the first few pages and thought it seemed pretty boring, then Jarvis came. It has incredible depth and I also thought they were almost real when I read this book. I loved this book so much I made my mom get me the next book in the series as fast as she could ha ha. Mercedes Lackey is an amazing author. I also love the Mage Wars series you might what to read those too.