Book Review: Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey

Posted September 29, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Fantasy
Published by DAW on January 2, 1990
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond

Second in The Last Herald-Mage fantasy series for Young Adult readers revolving around magical adventures in Valdemar. The focus is on Vanyel Ashkevron, the last Herald-Mage.

If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take

Phew, there are so many fears in this. Vanyel is exhausted and worried over the number of Herald-Mages who have died, the exhaustion his aunt is suffering, the terror of a trip home, his fear for the king and Shavri’s worries, the secret of the child he helped create for the king and Shavri, his worries about the vicious “playfulness” of his brothers, Melenna’s shameless pursuit, and so much more.

Van’s father is worried about this stupid idea his son Mekeal has, and Van is surprised by Mekeal’s reasons. Another unexpected turnabout is Jervis. Wow. Makes you wonder how your childhood perceptions would be different from your adult perceptions of the same situations.

It’s one rescue after another, from one hideous situation to a panic-stricken other. All while trying to understand what is driving Tashir. And who (and why) is driving this rebellion. And it’s one huge learning experience Vanyel has that will change his life.

Lackey is using third person protagonist point-of-view from Vanyel’s perspective. And it’s handy that he sees ghosts and can mindspeak others so it’s still only what Van is part of.

It’s all about the horrors of ambition and family, character-driven and action-packed. Lackey keeps a good pace, but then I am partial to her cozy tales. Yes. Cozy. Despite all the violence, lol.

It’s a sad story of unhappy families with lots of worry. It’s also full of revealing moments that explain a lot about what happens in the future.

The Story

Vanyel has just returned from combat in which he held the positions of five other Herald-Mages while they recovered. He’s exhausted, and his family is asking him home for a visit.

A very troubled visit when a rebellion pops up in a nearby kingdom.

The Characters

Herald-Mage Vanyel Ashkevron, a.k.a. Demonsbane, is second to the King’s Own and gay; Yfandes is his Companion. An alternate character of his is Valdir, a scruffy minstrel. Savil Ashkevron is Vanyel’s aunt and has been a Herald-Mage for decades, a Guardian for a shorter time; Kellan is her Companion. Dancer and Megwyn are foals dropped by Van’s mare. Tylendel was Vanyel’s first love who died on Sovvannight; Gala had been his Companion.

Withen, Lord of Forst Reach, is Vanyel’s father. His mother is the flighty Treesa. Mekeal is Van’s brother who has mostly taken over for their father; Roshya is his red-haired wife. They have six children. Lshya is the Shin’a’in stud Meke bought. Guard-Captain Lissa is their sister and in command of a Guard Company of which Sergeant Grayse is a part. Deveral, Kaster, Charis, and baby Kylla are more siblings. Radevel Ashkevron is a cousin. Nerya. Medren is the bastard child of Mekeal and Melenna (Treesa’s maid who keeps chasing after Van) with a strong Bardic Gift. Jervis is the vicious armsmaster. Tam is Withen’s chief stableman and most trusted trainer. Father Heward down in the village dislikes that awful Father Leren who replaced the beloved Father Osen. Sondri is one of the maids. Lord Kernos appears to be a neighbor.

Haven, Valdemar, is . . .
. . . the capital of the Kingdom. Randale “Randi” is the current king and only a Herald with a Gift for FarSight and a lesser Gift of Mindspeech — and deathly ill. His lifebonded is Shavri, a Healer, and together they have a daughter, Jisa, who is actually Van’s daughter.

The Heralds include Tantras; Mardic and Donni, a lifebonded pair, were the first victims of the war; and, Lancir had been the King’s Own with Taver as his Companion. Taver Chose Shavri when he died. Regen, Dorily, Wulgra, Kat, and Pretor are more dead Herald friends. Jaysen “Jays” Kondre is one of Van’s few friends who is still alive. Guardians are always Herald-Mages and are tuned to the heartstone that protects all of Valdemar. Herald-Courier Sofya has her Companion, Gavis.

Bard Chadran is in charge of Bardic Collegium. Bard Breda wants more like Medren.

Highjorune, Lineas, is . . .
. . . the unhappy family seat of the Remoerdis family who all despise magic. Deveran Remoerdis of Lineas married Ylyna Mavelan of Baires to end their families’ war. Their oldest son, the newly Chosen Tashir, is said to have mage-power, Fetching, which is not possible. His new Companion is Ghost, a stallion who’s a MindHealer. The Inn of the Green Man is run by Bel. Tay and Ri are two of Bel’s kitchen help; old Petar also works there. Jonny is the next but last minstrel Bel had. The Page is a brothel for gay men. Renfry is an older minstrel at the Pig and Stick with good advice; Tel is the cook there. Reta used to be a maid at the palace. Karis is the old armsmaster. Asra is the guard on the West gate.

Herald Lores is King Randale’s envoy to the court of Lineas. And he’s gone nuts!! His behavior is driving his Companion, Jenna, into tremendous turmoil.

Baires is . . .
. . . the home of the Mavelans. Uncle Vedric Mavelan is fronting the rebellion.

The Taleydras are . . .
. . . also known as the Hawkbrothers who live in the Pelagirs in vales. Moondance k’Treva is a Healer-Adept and partnered with Starwind, another Adept who live in the Vale of the Tayledras k’Treva. They wanted a child and Van conceived twins with Snowlight for them. Brightstar is one of the twins.

Other peoples/places of interest include the Shin’a’in who are amazing horsemen and guard the Dhorisha Plains, a formerly thriving country far to the south of Valdemar. The Pelagir Hills were struck by magic and deformed a wide variety of beasts and people into changelings. Karse is a religious country that calls demons and hates Valdemar. Hardorn, Iftel, and Rethwellan are other countries.

Elspeth was the previous queen of Valdemar. Bard Kyran had been her love after the king died. Their son, the original Heir, had been Herald-Mage Darvi. The Halfway Inn is halfway between Forst Reach and the rest of the Kingdom. Master Rolf Dawson is a luthier, a craftsman of musical instruments. Krebain was a warped mage in Magic’s Pawn, 1. The priests of Astera are on a witchhunt.

The Companions only look like horses. They communicate psychically with their Chosen, the human with whom they choose to bond. The vrondi are mindless air elementals. Jonne was a sweet Guardsman.

The Cover and Title

The cover is split vertically with two narrow black bands on the left and right, filled with flowers on the bottom and black-and-white spirits on the top. The larger center is separate from the other borders by vertical coral rules. Within is an orange and purple sunset with a tall black keep with a silhouette of walls angling down from the keep. There is fire on the left with a Companion rearing up in the middle and a young boy on its back. Vanyel, in his Herald whites, his long black hair streaming in the wind, is facing us with his left hand up, palm facing us, a sword in his right hand. The author’s name is at the top in white. Two white horizontal rules separate the author’s name from the title with the series info in between. The title is also in white.

The title is Magic’s Promise , what Vanyel has promised to those who depend on him, on his strength. A promise he has not yet fulfilled.

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