I finished the third book in The Mage Storms trilogy, Storm Breaking (fantasy 464 pages), by Mercedes Lackey yesterday, which was my next book in my Heralds of Valdemar marathon.
“As mysterious, magical onslaughts ravage Valdemar and the kingdoms of the West, the western allies have traveled far to locate the ruins of the Tower of Urtho, Mage of Silence, and excavate his legendary Vault, hidden stronghold of some of the most power magical weapons ever devised. They now know that the mage storms are an ‘echo’ through time of the prehistoric Cataclysm which permanently warped their world more than two thousand years ago. If they don’t find a way to stop these magical vibrations they will culminate in another Cataclysm – this time destroying their world for good. But Urtho’s Vault is not the only thing buried below the Dorisha Plains, and camped in the ruins of what was once the workplace of the most ingenious mage their world has ever known, the desperate allies soon realize that their solution may lie beneath their feet. The saving of their world just might be accomplished by the work of a man who has been dead for millennia!”
I think I would consider this entire trilogy a lot of really good insights into the way positive religions should actually work. All three of the books in this series have a lot of heavily religious commentary, but I think that this is probably my favorite series of books that deal heavily with religions. The world-building flawlessly incorporates a very diverse cast with vastly different belief systems who all learn to work together and also who all learn how to open their hearts and minds and work towards understanding why people believe the way they do. The whole premise of the Valdemar books is that there is no one, right way and that everyone should be able to live together and work together without discrimination.
The character arcs throughout this series are incredibly accurate. Karal demonstrates what devotion looks like, which shows his own internal questions about faith and those who are supposed to be the spokespeople for those faiths. An’desha learns to walk his own path and how to be grateful for all the experiences that led him to the path he’s on and that feelings can change depending on circumstances. Firesong sees what life is like without people around to admire him and he learns about how easy it is to slip into a pattern of thoughts and behaviors harmful to others and that some people have to work extra hard to not walk those paths. Tremane’s character development is always focused on finding a just and honest answer in a world built on duplicity and treachery, but he always finds a way to take care of the people with him. There are so many characters who are alive and have their own perceptions that they could never be confused for any other character in the story, which is kind of amazing to me sometimes, that an author would be able to make so many realistic people in one world without any duplicates.
I also really like the view of history in this series. On page 273, Lyam’s passion for history is almost a tangible thing. He talks about every day objects, such as the brushes found in Urtho’s work room, with a reverence and a passion that I often find lacking in many of the popular books I read these days. How many of the popular genre books out there have romantic or sexual interests and you just don’t feel any chemistry? For me, it’s most of them. But the way Lyam talks about history and the presence of history in just this one section makes you feel so strongly about simple things like the note-taking equipment of a servant, hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Overall, I’d say this series is a solid three on my rating scale. I’m glad I own it and I will very likely reread the whole series, including this book, again in the future.
Works cited: Lackey, Mercedes. Storm Breaking. New York: Daw Book, Inc., 1996.