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The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy by Mercedes…
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I am so glad to see this collection. I want to read the books in one fell swoop and this makes it simple to do so.

In Magic's Pawn we meet Vanyel who will become the last Herald-Mage. Here Vanyel, a gay teen, grows from a young popinjay to the kind of person who cares for and protects others -- in short, a Herald.

Magic's Promise requires a tissue warning! Sometimes the middle book of a trilogy is a weaker one than the ends. This one is a powerful book in its own right. Vanyel has come into his own as one of the most powerful (if not THE most powerful) Herald-Mages ever. Valdemar is still taking the geographic shape it would have in the Arrows trilogy. This story is one of personal sacrifice made for the good of others.

Magic's Price is a strong and moving conclusion to Vanyel's story. I like Vanyel, in part because he does his best, but isn't perfect. His strengths and flaws make this book a powerful story of love (of people and country) and duty. There are some scenes of sexual violence that are more implied than graphically covered, but that violence is integral to the story.

If you enjoy fantasy and have not yet read this trilogy, then I urge you to do so. I don't think you will regret the time you spend reading it. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Feb 14, 2016 |
Omnibus volume, so I'm going to review it in parts as I finish them:

Magic's Pawn:

I still don't like teenagers that much, but there's a substantial difference between whiny teenagers and genuinely tragic ones, and Vanyel's definitely the latter. There's a certain amount of "don't do that, dumbass!" going on, but it's all pretty solidly supported by the character development and hangs together quite well. It's a book of its time, in regards to the gay issues, but certainly on the right side of its time - it won a Lambda Award for a reason. Not a happy book, but a solid one.

Magic's Promise:

The best of the three, no question (especially if you don't care for teenagers.) It's a little more mystery/adventure and a little less interpersonal angst, and the plotting is fairly tight. I also very much appreciated the resolution to some of the family issues brought up in the previous volume, and the whole family dynamic was realistic and ultimately very satisfying. This is not a happy trilogy, on the whole, but this is the happiest volume and therefore I like it best.

Magic's Price:

Magic's Price is rather uneven in tone - it begins as a fairly light-hearted, even slapstick romance, then turns darker and darker until the inevitable tragic end. (Not, I should say, tragic in the usual "gay man's lover dies" even though that's pretty much what happens - and more than once in this series.) There's one particular interlude that is fairly horrifying and not well-justified, I think, but while grim, the book holds together fairly well and the coda is really very charming.

All in all, a successful series even discounting the daring nature of the gay lead character for its time. ( )
1 vote JeremyPreacher | Mar 30, 2013 |
This series has got to be one of my favorite top 10 books. The writing is superb, the plot is comfortably unpredictable, and the characters are worth falling in love with EVERY time I read it. Even knowing Vanyel's orientation and having some fairly important information revealed early on in the book I sat balling for nearly an hour when I finished reading it for the first time. I remember it vividly. I was heartbroken for his story to be over. This is the book that hooked me on the Herald's of Valdemar series. Now I own just about every book in the series. (Actually I think I DO own every book in the series). READ IT! ( )
  xenacick | Jan 11, 2012 |
This is the quintessential trilogy of my youth. Perhaps because I had some familial issues myself, I wholly identified with Vanyel and his feelings of isolation and of being an outcast. It definitely expanded my world view and helped shaped my future opinions on a wide range of subjects. They even helped me fight against my own ice dream - held it off a few years anyway! I feel I should check out her other stuff since I love these so much, but I remember trying other series of hers and just not "getting them". If you like these I recommend the Arrows and Oath books also. ( )
  mossagate | May 22, 2011 |
The Last Herald Mage Trilogy was my first set of books in the Valdemar series (like many of the reviewers here.) It holds a special place in my heart for Magic's Pawn is possibly the second book I ever read with a respectable like-able gay male protagonist. It is singular in mainstream fiction for not only providing a gay protagonist (Vaynel) but also showing such a character in and out of committed relationships at varying point in his life. It is a refreshing departure from the usually inclusion of gay characters in escapist fiction. Vaynel's romantic interests are serious elements of the story without being the focus.

That being said it is not perfect. Mercedes Lackey constructs a fairly egalitarian world where the vast majority of the civilized inhabitants have no prejudice against alternate life styles. Yet places Vaynel in a childhood home that smacks of being a patriarchal and homophobic nightmare for him. Much of the later books spend considerable amount of time humanizing his extended family and having them warm to and accept Vaynel. Perhaps I am too cynical, but these bits were just a little too saccharine for my tastes.

And to be fair, the strange socially Utopian setting fixed in a pre-industrial and down right medieval environment is not uncommon in the romantic fantasy setting. It may seem a tad unreal at times but it makes an excellent backdrop for honor, nobility and sacrifice. The heralds of Valdemar fight for their country and it is a country that genuinely inspires and deserves the loyalty it is given.

The over arching story is excellent. Prophetic dreams from the first book come full circle in the last. Friends are made, sacrifices are many. The world and it's magic is compelling and consistent.

For a break down of each book I would recommend looking at their individual reviews. ( )
  satchmoz | Mar 7, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mercedes Lackeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, Jody A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, DawnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Your grandfather," said Vanyel's brawny fifteen-year-old cousin Radevel, "was crazy."
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Is Vanyel foreseeing his own doom, as he believes in his darkest moments?

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