Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In The Mage Winds trilogy, which began with the best-selling novel,Winds of Fate, author Mercedes Lackey continues the epic that started with her first published book, Arrows of the Queen introduced readers to the remarkable land of Valdemar, the kingdom protected by its Heralds–men and women gifted with extraordinary mind powers–aided and served by their mysterious Companions–horselike beings who know the many secrets of Valdemar’s magical heritage. None but the Companions remember the long-ago age when high magic was lost to Valdemar as the last Herald-Mage gave his life to protect his kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries.
But now the protective barrier set so long ago over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperiled by the dark magic of Ancar of Hardorn, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.
Thoughts: The second book of the Mage Winds trilogy expands on a great deal that was hinted at in the first book of the series, and includes a great many more hints about things to come. Among others, the developing romance between Elspeth and Darkwind, the further healing of Starblade, and matter of the Heartstone, Tre’valen’s thoughts and feelings towards the now-Avatar Dawnfire, and of course, Skif’s hunt for Nyara.
And the arrival of my dear dear Firesong. Honestly, who doesn’t love Firesong?
Mercedes Lackey often takes the middle of things, be they books or trilogies, to expand on things rather than to focus on big action. The initial conflict is set up in the first book, and this book paves the way for the third book. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is open to interpretation and personal taste. While many things within this book are essential to the plot, it could, realistically, been tightened and shorted and perhaps the trilogy could have been a duology.
But to have that happen, you sacrifice a lot of character development and interaction, which I personally find quite entertaining.
Especially when you learn about Falconsbane’s origins and his continued reincarnations, and you see the list of names that he once had and a familiar one just pops out: Leareth. I remember reading that passage for the first time and flashing back to the Last Herald-Mage trilogy and feeling my jaw drop in surprise at the tie-in. Leareth’s presence in that trilogy could have been easily contained within those earlier three books, but Lackey chose to bring him back, a mere mention that spoke volumes.
And fortunately, that isn’t something that fell prey to the numerous internal inconsistencies within the Heralds of Valdemar series.
Falconsbane/Ma’ar is definitely a fascinating character, once that I’ll probably talk about in depth after I finish the trilogy proper. The name he takes for himself, Mornelithe, established as meaning Hatred-that-Returns, is all too apt, and has layered meanings that make him well worthy of a discussion all on his own.
The Mage Winds trilogy, as I said previously, is definitely one that can’t be missed for anyone who likes the Valdemar books. It may not be one of my favourites, but it is fascinating, and essential to understanding a good deal of the history of the world that Lackey sets up.