Posted by: Mish | April 2, 2008

the Mage Wars trilogy

A few months ago I decided to revisit Valdemar, a magical kingdom created by Mercedes Lackey. I opted to read the series in chronological order, as opposed to random reads along Valdemar’s time line like the first time. I figure it’ll be easier to review the books in their respective “sets”, instead of 28 individual reviews, which may be a bit much. I’m also trying to avoid spoiling the much beloved series, by adolescents and adults alike, for those who haven’t visited Valdemar.

The series begins with the Mage Wars trilogy, a prehistory of Valdemar that begins a thousand years before the kingdom’s founding. As such, it fills in the blanks as to why some things are the way they are. Throughout the trilogy are the ideas of good vs evil, the reasons for war and how it impacts people directly or indirectly, leadership, the responsibilities of those with power (political, magical, or otherwise), and creators’ duties to their creations.

In the Black Gryphon, a war has broken out between two extremely powerful mages, Urtho and Ma’ar. Helping to defend Urtho’s land and their home, are humans and gryphons alike, the latter being Urtho’s pride and joy. Ma’ar’s forces include humans interested in power or survival and his fiercely-made makaar.

Black Gryphon themes:

  • War- life on and off the battlefield
  • Power- duties of those with or in power
  • Leadership- qualities and duties, whether by choice or not, followings based on respect or fear
  • Racism- non-humans are no better than chess pieces.

In the White Gryphon the refugees have carved out new lives for themselves. Not wanting to lose their new home, an envoy is sent to the court of the Black Kings to negotiate. But when mysterious murders occur fingers point to the foreign trespassers. Whodunnit?

White Gryphon themes:

  • War- life afterwards
  • Differences- racism, cultures, customs
  • Change- fighting and accepting it
  • Leadership- not all fun and games, why a leader is respected
  • Revenge

In the Silver Gryphon Blade and Tadrith fall into trouble during their first assignment for the guard. Injured and drained of magic, they become the prey of unknown hunters.

Silver Gryphon themes:

  • Coming of age- self-identity and forging one’s own path
  • Growing older- parenting, learning from experience
  • Power- right or wrong to use

A few quotes I felt worth saving.

  • “Change or stagnate. Keep moving or die.”
  • “Caught between glass and wood, that which breaks and that which bends, that which sings and that which survive. So our lives go.”
  • “When warriors feel afraid they lack something, it is only because they are forgetful. They have forgotten how capable they truly are.”

Though not my favorite in the Valdemar series, I flew through each book’s 400 pages in about a week. They were still as enjoyable as the first time around and I’ll probably read them again at another point in time. The series, along with many other books and short stories by Mercedes Lackey, are part of my permanent library.



  1. I remember being impressed with the idea of how the Black Kings viewed change. It’s so bizarre but interesting.
    The three books are so different from each other, not like her other trilogies I think… And now I feel like rereading them too!

  2. It is that. At the same time they seem to represent cultural change in general, even if at a quicker pace. There’s a lot of noise in Quebec because the government is working to keep the French language, so much that there is a “language police” to see that signs, employees, and such use it. It’s even going so far as having employers fire those whose French isn’t good enough, even if the main language used in the business and with customers is Chinese.

    It’s been so long since I’ve read the series I remember more the basic story lines than anything. But compared to Vanyel’s trilogy, yes.

    Happy reading, whatever it is.

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