The last few years have been hard on Herald mage Vanyel - the land of Valdemar is facing challenges from all sides and it is only his powerful combination of gifts that keeps the enemies at bay (or so it seems). To ordinary people and Heralds alike he is a living legend, someone they look upon with awe and more than a little fear. Luckily his Companion Yfandes helps him keep his feet on the ground, otherwise all the attention might go to his head. Each year there are fewer and fewer Herald Mages to protect the borders of Valdemar and the lands of their allies, it is a troubling trend that has Vanyel worried on multiple levels. His magic and skills, alongside those of the other Herald mages can only protect them all so far, and with other Heralds feeling like they are less because they are not mage Gifted it is a real concern.
The rapid decline of his friend and King only adds to the stress - for Vanyel, the other Heralds, and the King's family. King Randale is in constant pain from a mysterious illness that is slowly draining his life away, and it seems like a miracle when Vanyel's nephew Medren introduces him to Stefen another Bardic trainee. Stefen has the near magical Gift of being able to relieve pain while he is playing. With Stefen in attendance Randale is better able to cope with the challenges of his illness and running a kingdom, but that still leaves plenty of work for Vanyel. As one by one his friends and fellow Heralds fall it falls on him to face his fears and face the dreams that Foresight have shown him - but he will not be alone in his fight. Evil is stalking the land of Valdemar and one man must pay magic's price.
I knew (absolutely knew) how Magic's price was going to end as this is not the first time I have read the trilogy - but I still, still got tangled up in the story and got emotionally involved with the characters and the sacrifices they all faced. I feel a little sheepish admitting to tears in my eyes at certain parts, but it is very hard not to get involved in Vanyel and his story - especially knowing that he walks into the events of the story with the knowledge that something bad is going to happen because of his Gifts.
This is a bitter sweet finale for a trilogy that gets me every single time I read it, not just because it is a well written fantasy series, but also because of the circumstances and choices the characters have to make. No one is perfect, no one is on a pedestal, and even though people in later years sing songs about the great legend of Vanyel, the reality is a man who is fragile, fallible, and very tragic in his loves and losses. Some people I know didn't like this particular series that much because the romance was shaych (gay) and that is their choice, but one of the things I have always admired about Mercedes Lackey (and her Valdemar series in particular) is that relationships are treated equally whether they are man-woman, woman-woman or man-man. I read a lot of Lackey novels as a teenager and I would credit the Valdemar series in particular with making me less judgemental of people because of who they were destined to love, or because they have different religious views.
It may be too late, but if you get emotionally involved with your characters I suggest you have tissues handy for certain parts of this story because you will most likely need them!
- Magic's pawn by Mercedes Lackey
- Magic's promise by Mercedes Lackey
- Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
- Burning brightly by Mercedes Lackey
- Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
- Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
- A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J. Maas
- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
- Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
- The diamond throne by David Eddings
- Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
Reviewed by Brilla