Storm Breaking, by Mercedes Lackey

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Publication date – October 1, 1997

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) As Storm Breaking opens, the western allies, led by Karal, Karsite Sunpriest and delegate to the Valdemaran Court, and the Adepts Firesong and An’desha, have traveled deep into the Dorisha Plains to locate the ancient ruins of the Tower of Urtho, Mage of Silence, creator of the gryphons. Legend has it that below the Tower, deeply buried beneath the plains, is Urtho’s Vault, hidden stronghold of some of the most powerful magical weapons ever devised — weapons that Urtho himself felt were too dangerous to use. With the help of the Shin’a’in plainsmen, they have successfully excavated this ancient arsenal, and risked their lives triggering one of these antique but potent tools of death to unleash a monstrous burst of mage-energy. With this explosion of magical power, Karal, Firesong, and their companions have temporarily counteracted the ever-increasing waves of the mage storms. But they know that this desperate action will not save them — they have bought themselves precious time, but are still far from a permanent solution.

They know now that the mage storms are an “echo” through time of the prehistoric Cataclysm which destroyed Urtho’s Tower, created the vast and barren Dorisha Plains, and permanently warped their world more than two thousand years ago. And they also know that if they don’t find a way to banish these magical vibrations they will culminate in another Cataclysm — this time destroying their world for good.

But the Vault is not the only thing buried for centuries below the Dorisha Plains, and camped in the ruins of what once was the workplace of the most ingenious mage their world has ever known, the desperate allies soon come to realize that their solution may lie beneath the dust at their feet. The saving of their world just might be accomplished by the work of a man who has been dead for millenia!

Thoughts: The Mage Storms trilogy wraps up in an exciting way that was much more tense and action-oriented than the previous novel in the series, which I’m glad to see. The reader gets to see the world as it’s known change drastically. Iftel opens its borders, Hardorn gets a new King, the Empire suffers yet more turmoil (and not just from the increasing mage-storms) and most importantly, the structure of magic itself is shattered and must slowly reform. It’s all a very fitting finish for this chapter of Velgarth’s history, one that does justice to both the large and the small issues of all the major players in the tale.

(Poor Valdemarans, just rediscovering magic and then having to witness it getting scrambled up before they can really get a handle on it.)

But like all things, it has a drawback. In this case, the drawback is the fact that this book — or rather, this book and the book before it — were clearly not meant to be read independently of the Gryphon series, which was published round the same time. While the Storms trilogy deals with the echo of the Cataclysm, the Gryphon books deal with Cataclysm itself, and the events that followed. Publishing these series at the same time formed a nice symmetry, but things are mentioned in the Storms books that get no explanation, and the only way to really find out about them is to read the Gryphon novels. The makaar are a prime example of this. Normally Lackey is all over repeat descriptions in her novels, but in this case it’s almost like she decided to forgo that tactic in favour of getting people to buy both series for a full explanation. Only having read and remembered the Gryphon trilogy kept me from being confused a couple of times.

At the end of this trilogy, though, I have to say that if you’re interested in the Valdemar books, this is a trilogy you can’t miss. Not without leaving a serious gap in your understanding of the world and how it works. Though the second book may have been slower than the first, the third comes roaring back with more fascinating things, world-changing events, and the return of a few beloved characters that no doubt made more than a couple of people grin with glee. There are a few books in the Valdemar series that can be skipped without much problem, but this certainly isn’t one of them. A must-have for Valdemar fans!

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