Posted by: Mish | April 9, 2008

the Last Herald Mage trilogy

Upon starting Magic’s Pawn for the second time, I was instantly whisked away to the fantasy realm. Tears welled up from sadness, laughter, and joy as I reunited with friends, adventure, and magic. Mercedes Lackey has a magical way of drawing the reader in fast and deep. I burned many a midnight candle reading “just one more chapter” of the Last Herald Mage trilogy, which is a favorite among the Valdemar series, even after the second time around.

Taking place about 750AF, this particular trilogy acts as a bridge between Valdemar’s prehistory and the continuing storyline. It portrays how events from the Mage Wars trilogy effected the land and its inhabitants as well as sets the stage for future occurrences. Throughout the Last Herald Mage trilogy are the ideas of good vs evil, growth and coming of age, the responsibilities of those with power (political, magical, or otherwise), how power can isolate, love’s different forms and strengths, and grief and mourning. Last, but certainly not least, music flows through the trilogy in the guise of bards and song, portraying why music is enjoyed and necessary.

In Magic’s Pawn, Vanyel, a self-centered peacock, doesn’t want to lead the life chosen for him. Frustrated by Vanyel’s queer ways and bardic nonsense, his father has him fostered by his “cold and unforgiving” aunt, a famed Herald-Mage. When Vanyel’s wild and untrained abilities are cracked wide open all of Valdemar lies in peril. Aunt Savil seeks assistance from the only source left, Mage Adepts that most only hear stories about.

Themes in Magic’s Pawn:

  • Coming of age and self-identity
  • Vengeance
  • Shamanism

In Magic’s Promise, Yfandes and a few others have a mass murder case to solve. Fingers point to Tashir, the keep’s sole survivor and heir to the throne. Whodunnit?

Themes in Magic’s Promise:

  • Duties to oneself, family, and others
  • Ways of coming into power

In the concluding book, the king’s death approaches while Valdemar is besieged magically and physically. Challenged, choices need be made. Such is Magic’s Price.

Themes in Magic’s Price:

  • Music’s power
  • Love’s power
  • Moving on
  • Fate

Growth and self-identity are a part of life, whether we like it or not. Most have felt lonely and grief at some point. The yin and yang of good and evil is a constant, whether social, religious, or political. Love and relationships of all kinds can be painful, but they can also be the only things to keep us going. Similarly, music has powers of its own. Lullabies, the sirens of yore, and music therapy come to mind.

The contents within the 1,020 pages are those readers can relate to and identify with. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the Last Herald Mage trilogy is a favorite among the Valdemar series, not just for myself, but numerous others.



  1. I loved your review. I just finished this trilogy and you made me want to go back & read them all over again. I think this is possibly the best “book” that Mercedes Lackey has written. I love all her Valdemar, but Vanyel can still make me cry.

  2. Thank you. I agree with it being her best. Years down the road Vanyel’s tale will still tug at the heart-strings. I really do need to finish my current Valdemar circuit…

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