Friday, August 20, 2010

Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey

Tonight I will be giving you a brief overview of the second book in The Last Herald Mage trilogy, Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey.  In most trilogies the middle book is normally the filler that sits in between the introduction of the first and the climax of the third.  It's generally more of a transitional book than anything else.  In Magic's Promise, while Mercedes Lackey may do a little of that, the story is more about building an image in our minds of who Vanyel Ashkevron has become.

The story takes place about 12 years after the conclusion of Magic's Pawn.  Vanyel has become one of the most powerful Herald Mages in Valdemar and he is quickly becoming the most important as well.  Off page a few of the characters of the first book had been killed in a war with the bordering kingdom of Karse and Vanyel had been sent to take their place.  He had not only done that but had hunted down the mages responsible for those deaths, earning him the nicknames of Demonsbane and Shadow Stalker (if you click on the nicknames it will take you to youtube videos for two of the many songs that Mercedes Lackey wrote to go with the series). 

The story starts as Vanyel is entering Haven on his way back from the border.  He is tired and worn out and is barely able to stay on Yfandes' back.  He doesn't appear to be the mighty Vanyel of songs and stories, instead he appears to be worn out and in great need of a vacation.  However once at court he quickly notices how sick the new king, Randale, is becoming, and as both a Herald and a friend he is concerned.  Shavri the one and only Herald Healer is Randale's lifebonded and also Vanyel's friend.  She lets Vanyel in on the truth and you can feel the anguish that Vanyel goes through trying to weigh his personal needs against those of his King and friend as well as those of the kingdom.  Does he stay and help out or does he do as suggested and go home for an extended vacation?  Through the encouragement of both the King and his friend and his more formidable Aunt Savil, Vanyel sets out to join his family.

Now things are still strained between him and his father Withen.  His father is still uncomfortable with Vanyel being gay and is convinced Vanyel spends most of his time chasing boys into bed.  His mother, Treesa, is still throwing women at him trying to cure him and Vanyel isn't convinced he will be able to rest with all that going on.  Luckily for him things aren't as bad once he gets there.  He's drawn into a few family arguments and deals with discovering an illegitimate nephew who is Bardic gifted and needs to go to Haven to be trained.  I could talk about how he deals with Jervis and Father Leren, who are the keeps arms master and priest, but I don't want to get into too much of the relationship dynamics.  Mainly because I want you to discover them for yourselves, but also because I could write way to much about it, you would get bored and stop reading the review before I was even half way done.

The rest of the book finds Vanyel and Savil, who joined him on vacation, dealing with a crisis across one of the borders.  The royal family of a neighboring kingdom was slaughtered down to every last man. woman, and child in the castle, save one.  Tashir Remoerdis, the oldest living son who had just been disinherited for fear of being fathered by someone else, is the only living person in the castle.  He is only 16 and has shown to have strong Fetching (telekinesis) powers and had just been Chosen by a Companion after the carnage.  Vanyel quickly takes the young man into his care and takes him back to the families keep.  Because of the political ramifications of the act Vanyel, Savil, and a few others must quickly figure out what happened before it's too late.

This is a brilliantly written book about family secrets and dynamics and what happens when those dynamics break down and the secrets are too dangerous to allow to come out.  It's also about the power struggles that take place within a family and the ramifications of what happens when those struggles get out of control.  It's a brilliantly written book and unlike most "middle" books, it stands on it's own and is just as strong as the first and last.

This will qualify for the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010.


Ladytink_534 said...

I've only read the first book in her Halfblood Chronicles but I really loved it which reminds me, I need to finish those!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ryan!

I had no idea that Mercedes Lackey composed songs. This is why I read your blog - because I'm always learning something.

Alexia561 said...

Great review! Have only read a few Mercedes Lackey books, but remember them being good so not sure why I haven't read any more? You're so right about middle books usually being filler, so this one sounds promising! Hope you'll write a review for book three as well!

Ryan said...

Lady Tink, I think you would love this series if you ever get around to it.

Stephanie, Her songs are beautifully written and she has written albums full to go along with her Valdemar books. I hope you liked them if you listenend to them.

Terri, My review of the 3rd one should have been on Sat. but I got really busy so hopefully in the next few days I will be able to post it. I think you would really like them if you got ahold of them.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Another great review! Your passion for this series really shows.