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Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage Series, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – June 6, 1989
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From Library Journal
Vanyel's disdain for swordsmanship earns him an unexpected exile--at the High Court of Valdemar under the guardianship of his stern and implacable Aunt Savil, one of the legendary Herald-Mages. A young man's painful discovery of his own immense talents and his true nature form the core of this richly detailed fantasy, the first in a new series set in the same world as "The Heroes of Valdemar." Lackey's talent for characterization lends depth to this coming-of-age adventure that will appeal to most fantasy readers.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Praise for series:
"Lackey has written another intensely wrought, finely detailed story of heroic victims struggling to do the best with their fate. Vanyel’s magical strengths are countered by his very human insecurities." —VOYA
"Lackey’s characterization, plotting, and wit are all of a high order. A real page-turner for any fantasy collection." —Booklist
"Emotionally tense and full of drama and magic." —Locus
"In Vanyel, [Lackey] has created her most empathetic male character to date, making our emotions run high as he meets his fate. And best of all, the very last plot twist is one of haunting beauty that will touch your heart." —RT Reviews
"In this trilogy, Lackey reaches an intensity she had only begun to achieve.... The story of Vanyel is darker than her earlier books, and the pace is unrelenting." —American Fantasy Magazine
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Vanyel Ashkevron is the eldest son of a rather minor noble in the out country. His father is a rigid man, believing very firmly in certain things. And if you do not fall into his idea of what should be or what is right, then you are somehow lacking. This describes the relationship between Vanyel and his father for most of his childhood. His brothers and cousins, while not stupid, were far more interested in weaponswork and women than intellectual pursuits. Vanyel was intelligent and a gifted musician that took after his mother far more than his father. None of these things raised him in the eyes of his father. His mother, however, celebrated most of these things. She was a flightly woman who knew all too well how to play all of the "womanly" games and she loved having a son who could entertain her so well. However, she spent a lot of time throwing her lady's maid at him, despite his repeated assurances that he was not interested, often creating a bit of a mess for them both.
When Vanyel's father finally tires of trying to change him, he sends him to his aunt in Haven, a rather brusque woman who is a Herald. Vanyel knows, even as he lives the prison that ihis own home has become, that he is really only trading one prison for another. But things at Haven aren't what he expects and his life changes so very much.
I absolutely love the blend of characters in this book. No matter what your life story is, there is a character in this book that is relatable. No two characters are the same, giving a rich tapestry of characters in a wonderful story. I have heard many complain about the rather whiny attitude of Vanyel throughout the book. They are not wrong; he is whiny. But it is totally appropriate for the story. He is a young teenager, a fact easy to forget, and the reality is that he has a lot to whine about. I love that the character isn't portrayed to be perfect, that he is portrayed as realistic.
My Recommendation: As with every book in the Valdemar series, I am in love with this book. Such a wonderful epic read!
This review originally posted on my blog, The Caffeinated Diva reads.
As far as this book goes, I would give it 6 stars if the option was available. Yes, there is a lot of teenage angst and family issues, but Lackey puts just the right amount needed to build the story and develop the characters without making you want to strangle the angst-y teenager (as a mother of 2 teenage boys, I can relate to this feeling very well). I remember being surprised the protagonist was gay when I first read it, but seeing whereas I had no opinion regarding that particular issue in society at that time (I was a sheltered kid) and I was invested in the story, I kept reading. For those worried about homoerotic scenes - don't be. There is some flirting, romance, and a few suggestive lines between the lovebirds - that's it. Lackey translates the attitudes and reservations about homosexuality into this book well, giving the reader a chance to glimpse the thought process behind both sides of the issue, especially regarding parents coming to terms with their children being gay. Don't worry, the book is not entirely focused on that, either; it's just a vital element of how the protagonist develops into an adult, and into the use of magic. Overall, my emotions went through triumph and heartbreak and back again. It's a roller-coaster ride in a book, and I highly recommend it!
I first discovered Misty's Valdemar series as a young adult and have enjoyed her books for years.
Magic's Pawn is easily my favourite of her books. And having now (years later) discovered the audiobook I forsee even more time spent with Van and 'Lendel.