Heralds of Valdemar Reviews: Winds of Fate

Winds of Fury
Mercedes Lackey
The Mage Winds: Book 3

This is the most memorable book in the Mage Winds trilogy for me. The protagonists’ journey across Hardorn as a troupe of entertainers stuck with me for years.

But I still find these book troublesome.

I feel like the more these books became showy high magic and big reveals—the gryphons are from the lost clan! Elspeth has the power of an adept! let’s spend chapters in the villains’ heads! the more boring they become.

BEYOND THIS POINT THERE BE SPOILERS

The exception was spending time with Vanyel, Stef and Yfandes in the Forest of Sorrows. That was fun. I like Vanyel.
When Lackey writes extensively in her antagonist’s point of view, I feel like it completely drains the tension out of the story. Maybe one of the reasons I didn’t really get into these books is simply because of how little tension there is. Now, Mercedes Lackey is a pretty ‘safe’ writer in that, while awful things happen to her characters, there’s usually no doubt that they’ll come out on top.

However, she usually does better than this!

Horrible things happen to Vanyel; but he chooses duty and life over death and struggles on. We’re never in the POV of his antagonists, so they’re always othered, and more fearsome because they are unknown elements. When Talia fights off her inner fears, they’re legit and relateable, because she’s dealing with her own shadow (to get all Jungian), and anyone who’s ever lived knows that your own fears can be far scarier and more destructive than any external force. But the external force in Arrow’s Fall is pretty damn scary: as soon as Talia and Kris reach the capital of Hardorn, they know something’s up. They make plans to make a break for it, but what they—and we—don’t know is that Ancar’s a step ahead. Kris and Tantris die, and Talia is taken away to be tortured by Ancar, who is a sick, sadistic bastard. Ancar is genuinely a scary, scary villain. So is Hulda, in her way, but Ancar is really frightful: a brutal, entitled, power-mad rapist.

In Winds of Fury, Ancar becomes a neutered puppy. Look how cute he is, he’s an incompetent mage who sucks as a villain and will always be second rate to Falconsbane. Hell, he doesn’t even figure out that a Gate is a teleportation spell! It’s such a let-down after the grim gritty end of Arrow’s Fall. Mornelithe is groggy and not himself so much that there’s no fear from that quarter.

And the plan that our heroes come up with? Works just as they planned. It’s no surprise they defeat the villain.

If you want want a fun, high fantasy romp, go ahead and read The Mage Winds. The books are fun. I enjoyed them—I just can’t take them seriously, and they’re absolutely not up to the same level as the Arrows books or The Last Herald-Mage or By The Sword.

And with that, I realize I’ve entirely forgotten to write up my By The Sword review! It should have preceded the Mage Winds. Stay tuned, it’s on the way.

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