I have been meaning to read Mercedes Lackey’s work ever since I heard one of the songs she wrote, The Cost Of The Crown. It is beautiful and haunting, which got me thinking, “Hey if this is what her songs are like, her books have got to be pretty good too”.
I was right.
Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey follows Vanyel Ashkevron. While he may be the eldest son of a noble family, he is isolated from the rest of his family. He has been mistreated and misunderstood his whole life, wishing to live a simple life as a bard. That is until his father sends him to his Aunt Savil, a famed Herald-Mage of Valdemar.
Herald-Mages are impressive fighters who not only defend the land with their blades but with powerful magic. They can read minds, teleport, manipulate lightning and sometimes more. Savil, in particular, is a straight-up badass, taking no-nonsense.
Under her care, Vanyel begins to learn more about himself. It seems that there is more to Vanyel than anyone first thought, especially himself. However, the path to self-discovery is never easy, that goes double when dealing with blood feuds, uncontrollable magic and a whole lot of agony.
Poor Vanyel rarely catches a break, and when he does, it doesn’t last long. His growth in this novel is astounding, from a lonely brat to a compassionate warrior. He is a bit of an oxymoron, acting arrogant often while being very insecure about himself, blaming himself for everything that goes wrong.
Magic’s Pawn might just be the most dramatic book I have ever read. So much angst and suffering from the start. Melodramatic as hell, something I don’t tend to care for, but I loved it here. Everything is high stakes, with little levity. The action is brutal and the mental anguish more so.
Minor spoiler, but I need to talk about this. Magic’s Pawn is only the second High Fantasy book I have read with an openly gay protagonist. Well, open to the reader, at least. Man, I was not expecting that. Hell, his gay panic scene when he realises he likes the handsome and oh so charming Tylendel was perhaps the most relatable thing I have read in a while.
Magic’s Pawn is the first in The Last Herald-Mage trilogy, thankfully I managed to get my copy in a set, so I have the following two novels, Magic’s Promise and Magic’s Price. It seems that it has gone out of print, or at least it has here in Scotland. If they are half as good as Magic’s Pawn, I will be content with them.
It turns out I picked a good time to read this trilogy as it is being adapted into a tv show. Considering how about a third of all the dialogue in the book is telepathic, I am not sure how they are going to pull that off. Still, I am cautiously optimistic about it.
Filled with angst, and sent in a lush fantastical world, Magic’s Pawn is an enchanting read. If you love High Fantasy, dramatic tales and great character building, you need to read it.