|Winds of Fate (The Mage Winds, Book 1)|
Date: 1992-07-07 — Book
I think the thing I love the best about the Mercedes Lackey books is how she leads you to expect that a subsequent series will be about a particular topic and it turns out to be on something else entirely. Instead of having this trilogy be primarily about the conflict with Hardorn (written about in Arrows of the Queen and By the Sword), it's about Valdemar's search for magical assistance, most notably in the person of its Heir, Elspeth.
Valdemar is rather shocked to understand the reality of magic despite its long tradition of semi-magical Heralds riding Magical Talking Ponies With Big Blue Eyes (aka Companions.) Obviously, there is some outside interference going on— and just as obviously, that interference, and the protection that goes along with it, is eroding. So Elspeth sets off on a Quest to basically be trained as a mage.
Except that Elspeth rather resents being the focus of a Quest. And she resents it to the point of railing long and hard about following the path laid down for her— and to finding a strange, though acceptable, alternative. That alternative leads them to the Tayledras, the magical Hawkbrothers of the magically ruined Pelagir Hills.
These books show their age in a couple of ways. The first is that the prose is much more difficult going than that of Lackey's later novels, and it feels as though she had too much to say. These books are not short and they don't read swiftly. The second is the interior illustrations by Lackey's husband, Larry Dixon... where the men all have strong jaws and mullets. I guess that's the only way he could imagine long hair at the time (the late 80s.)
I don't know what it is about fantasy, but it has certainly matured as a form. It's a much more interesting read when the writers relax.