Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Magic's pawn by Mercedes Lackey

Vanyel Ashkevron is the oldest son, the heir to the family holding - and a constant disappointment to his Lord father.  His father is a force of nature, huge and powerful, a man who has literally and figuratively fought for the family holding.  In contrast Vanyel is slight and pretty, more interested in music and scholarship than fighting, a masculine version of his lady mother.  The only person who seems to understand him is his older sister Lissa, and she can do nothing against their Lord father, she can only be there to pick up the pieces when things go badly.  When his arm is broken by the brutal arms master intent on moulding Vanyel into a man, it is the start of a downward spiral that see's Vanyel exiled to the tender care of his Aunt Savil in Haven.

On the journey to Haven Vanyel closes himself off from his emotions, determined to be made of ice and stone so nothing can ever hurt again.  When he arrives in the capital he is cold and distant from his Aunt and her students, protected from the pain of human contact, but also cut off from any chance of human warmth and companionship.  As time goes on Vanyel finds himself forming a relationship with Savil's student, a young man named Tylendel who is fighting demons of his own.  When a single moment of madness leads to Vanyel's gifts being violently awoken everyone is at risk unless Vanyel can see through the pain and the loss and find a way to tame the magic and power that is coursing through him - because without control his power could destroy him and everyone around him.

The last Herald mage series is one of the most important series to read in the Valdemar universe as it provides a lot of the background for the future series - both in terms of the events that echo from this time, but also because it is one of the series that shows the amazing depths of the lifebond relationships.  Through Magic's pawn we are introduced to Vanyel, the damaged and lonely boy who will become one of the most famous Heralds of all time.  As with many of Mercedes Lackey's young characters he is damaged and more than a little broken by his upbringing - an abrupt and dominating father who tries to force him into this own image, and a self centred mother who is as damaging with her demanding neediness and lack of concern for Vanyel's needs.  While they are not outwardly violent and physically abusive, anyone who has dealt with damaged teens knows that words and isolation are as damaging as weapons and physical violence.

It is has been a few years since I last read this series and I had forgotten how emotionally draining it is to read this early part of his life, the lack of love and isolation right through to the incredible sense of loss and wish to die.  I read this series for the first time as a teenager, and while I would class this series as adult fantasy now, there are a number of teenagers who would be able to cope with the emotional baggage that comes along with this series.  I am about to jump straight into book two to continue to story while it is still fresh in my mind - and as this is one of the series I own I don't have to wait for a library copy to appear. 

This is a highly recommended series, but just be warned that you are in for an emotional roller coaster ride with this most famous of Heralds.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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