Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey

Magic's Price is the third and final volume in The Last Herald Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, and it's the one that breaks my heart every time I read it.  This one will be a bit rambling and maybe even have a few spoilers in it so I apologize before hand.

The story takes place a few years after the events in Magic's Promise and Kind Randale is dying a horrible death that nobody is able to cure or even relief the pain he lives in every day of his life.  Every day for him is a struggle and with no hope in site is wearing everyone around him down.  When Medren, Vanyel's Bardic gifted nephew, brings an idea to him about easing the pain the King is suffering, Vanyel is a little more than dubious.  When that idea proves to be another young bardic trainee who can sing pain away, it seems to be a blessing in a time of great sorrow.

Nobody know how or why Stefan has this gift but the crown is quick to jump on it as it allows the King to function for periods of time.  The fact that the same young bard is gay and that Medren has been trying to figure out a way to get his Uncle and his roommate together, doesn't hurt either.

This is where the love story takes over and one that is sweet to read about.  Vanyel still feels a lot of guilt and remorse about what happened to Tylendel when they were together and he feels that he is betraying that memory if he allows anything else to come close to that relationship.  The fact that Stefan is quite a bit younger than him doesn't help either.  Of course what Vanyel doesn't know is that Stef is way more experienced then him and isn't in a state of hero worship that Vanyel suspects.  Their relationship starts of slowly, building a wonderful friendship, one of mutual respect and admiration.  The fact that they are both frustrated because they each want it to go further but both are too scared, for different reasons, to do anything about it, is wonderfully written and fully believable.

Thankfully for us (the readers) and them (the characters), Vanyel's parents invite them both to come home for a visit and actually put them in the same room.  This is the catalyst that finally puts them right where they need to be, which is a good thing because for the rest of the book they will need each other in ways they never imagined.  I do want to make a quick comment about something before I continue with the story.  The way the author explores Vanyel's relationship with his parents and the circumstances of how they finally are able to heal the hurts that have been between them, move me every time.  It's wonderfully done and from personal experience, very believable.

The rest of the story is fast paced thrill ride that will test the strength and courage of almost every single character and will push Vanyel, Stef, and Yfandes to their limits.  This is the book that takes all the foreshadowing, including some horrific dreams Vanyel had in the first one, and brings the story to it's logical conclusion.  This is where we find out how and why Vanyel becomes the last Herald Mage and what it takes in courage and sacrifice to protect the Kingdom he serves and the people he loves.  The journey the three of them take and the climax of the story will leave you feeling so many emotions you won't know what to think by the time it's all over.  What you will know is what a brilliant author Mercedes Lackey is and how wonderful Vanyel is as a character.

I want to leave you with a song that Bard Stefan wrote a year after the climax of the story.  It's called "Magic's Price" and I think it sums up the emotions and the story in a way I could never duplicate.

This will qualify for the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010.


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Was this the favorite book of yours you were having a hard time reviewing?

Yvette said...

I'm not familiar with this series, I think I'll have to take a good look. Sounds interesting. I'm not big on fantasy, well, I do read it, but not regularly. Funny I should say that Ryan because I'm going to recommend a few books to you and all are fantasy. Exception to the rule, I suppose. You're probably already familiar with them, but I don't see them listed on your blog.
Do you know Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series? (This is a series that DEFINITELY has to be read in order.) Book one is LUCK IN THE SHADOWS, then, STALKING DARKNESS, TRAITOR'S MOON and SHADOWS RETURN. I believe there is one more, the latest, but the title escapes me at the moment. This is a fantasy series featuring two wonderfully well written gay protagonists, Seregil and Alec. Take a look, see what you think. I recommend these books to anyone who likes fantasy adventure plus a great love story.

I'm also wondering if you know of Ellen Kushner's SWORDSPOINT. Another very imaginative gay-themed fantasy that is well-written.

Happy reading!

Yvette said...

Oops, meant to add that THE FALL OF THE KINGS, the sequel to SWORDSPOINT is now out. Reminder to self: Buy it.

Simcha said...

I never read these particular books but I loved reading Lackey when I was younger. Though this past year I had tried a couple of her books and I found them really boring. I couldn't tell if my tastes had changed or if her newer books just lack the magic of her earlier ones. Maybe I'll give these books a try and see if they are as good as I remember her books being.