Magic’s Pawn, by Mercedes Lackey

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Author’s website
Publication date – 1989

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In Magic’s Pawn, an ancient age in the history of Valdemar comes to life–an age when the kingdom was ravaged by the ungoverned fury of bandit warlords, ferocious ice dragons, and the wild magic of wizards. A new addition to Lackey’s Valdemar kingdom–and her most powerful series to date! Reissue.

Thoughts: Okay, my first thought is that description for GoodReads actually only barely touches on the time period in which the book takes place, and even then still gets a lot of things wrong. Kind of sad, given that it’s only a paragraph long…

Now, onto the real review.

This was the first Valdemar book I ever read, and it was the one to hook me, reel me in, and never let me go. Every time I pick it up and read it, I’m taken back to a hot lazy summer in which my friend handed me a copy and said, “I think you’ll like this.” It got me interested in the series, in the author, and was without a doubt the first book to really kick off my obsession with fantasy novels.

Ladies and gentlement, the book that started it all.

This is also the turning point in the Valdemar series, where you can really tell that Lackey has found her voice and has settled into a comfortable and refined style that carries her through the rest of the books she writes. It’s smooth, it’s detailed, and it’s captivating. The way she handles deep emotional scenes is wonderful, and I’m always entertained by the way she writes the thoughts and observations of the character whose viewpoint we’re seeing. Unlike some, who will only write the important and relevent thoughts of a character, Lackey will take the time and space to have them seem realistic in their random observations and jokes and misconceptions. Some may consider it a waste of space, but I consider it a sign that the author has a good handle on how people actually behave and think.

True, there are problems with this book. It has its inconsistancies, as I think every Valdemar novel has by this point, but it even makes a few internal flubs, such as referring to a period of 60 minutes as an hour instead of the series-established candlemark. But the internal errors are few and far between, and most of them are only evident if you’re really paying attention for them.

Maybe people who dislike this trilogy do so because Vanyel’s a whiny little brat and they can’t stand his emo tendancies. I have to admit, they do have a point. Even other characters point out that he’s a brat. In fairness to him as a character, though, a large part of his bratty nature was posturing, another large part was because he had a screwed up set of circumstances and issue that don’t end up getting resolved until well into adulthood, and thirdly, he was 15! Think back to when you were 15, and I bet you were brattier then than you are now. For this, I cut the guy some slack.

And luckily for me, the way Lackey writes pulls me through the story so swiftly that it doesn’t feel like an entire book has passed before I get to see him grow up and mature!

Even though this book has its issues, it will still always hold a special place in my heart and on my shelves, and I still highly recommend this trilogy to those who enjoy Lackey’s other works, and to those who want to give Valdemar a try but don’t want to sit through a less-polished writing style.

2 comments on “Magic’s Pawn, by Mercedes Lackey

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