Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Herald-Princess Elspeth and her beloved partner, Darkwind the adept, return to Valdemar to confront the evil and powerful Ancar, who once again is threatening her homeland.
Thoughts: Wow, that was an astoundingly lackluster summary…
Winds of Fury is the third book in the Mage Winds trilogy, and is not only a satisfying but also quite creative and interesting conclusion to that part of Valdemar’s history. The war with Ancar rages on, and the stakes are even higher now that, thanks to Ancar botching a spell, he has Falconsbane in his clutches and under magical coercions. Magic has returned to Valdemar and mages are being recruited from all over, and those with mage-potential are being looked for and trained. Everything’s leading up to a battle between not only Valdemar and Ancar, but also Falconsbane, and Hulda, three of the most powerful and pissy people that Valdemar has had to deal with in an age.
That alone would be epic enough, but Lackey takes it a step further by giving us the character on An’desha, the man whose body Falconsbane took over and is currently inhabiting, and who is trapped in a tiny corner of Falconsbane’s mind, his own personality intact but afraid. With the help of a little divine intervention, An’desha works to undermine Falconsbane’s plans from the inside while the heroes of Valdemar can attack from the outside.
I’ve always had a fondness for stories involving trapped mental presences, other people dwelling in minds where normally there’s just one personality present. (What can I say, MPD and DID have been pet interests of mine for a long while now.) An’desha appealed to me from the moment he was introduced for that reason alone, and that was just helped along when we got to see his backstory, find out how his body was taken over by Falconsbane/Ma’ar, and more interestingly, just how he managed to keep his own personality intact while quietly sharing headspace with an ancient psychopath.
If there’s one thing about this book that irks me, though, it was actually the divine intervention that did it. I have no problem with deities showing their hands, but I have to admit that some things seemed a little bit like a cop-out. Avatars assisting someone, fine. But the goddess reaching down and undoing most of the physical changes that were done to both An’desha and Nyara so that they no longer looked so inhuman seemed like things were being tied up too neatly. A good chunk of the Valdemar books stress that actions have consequences, but that’s just undone by admitting that sometimes your gods will step in and remove the consequences or the difficulties just because they feel like it. I’m not saying that An’desha and Nyara didn’t deserve pity for what had been done to them. It’s more like I’m saying it would have been far more interesting to see them continue to cope with what they had, come to grips with it, and moved beyond it. If you’re looking for inspiration in characters, removing their problems rather than having them get past their problems takes away that which could be incredibly inspirational.
It also raises questions. Why didn’t the goddess step in earlier and remove Falconsbane’s coercions from Starblade? Why didn’t she show up and smack Ma’ar down in one of his previous incarnations? Why use that great power for aesthetics? It would give An’desha and Nyara some comfort, no doubt, and was a nice reward for all that they had done to bring Falconsbane down, but it seemed rather arbitrary.
Aside from playing the deity card, this book was quite enjoyable, and a fitting end to the trilogy. It closes off that arc of the story nicely while still leaving some tantalising unanswered questions. If I didn’t know there were books in the series after this, I’d be able to make a pretty good guess that there would be at least one set soon after. (As it turns out, there’s another trilogy, which I will be getting to shortly.) Good Valdemaran fun, and this is pretty much where we get to see what I would consider the height of Lackey’s stylistic development in the Valdemar novels. Definitely interesting to see that progression.