As the first traditional high fantasy quest books Mercedes Lackey introduced me to, the Mage Winds trilogy did not disappoint in the slightest. This was actually my first exposure to high fantasy quests. I know many people of all ages begin their high fantasy journey with the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien, but somehow I managed not to even hear of him back in the day. Lackey was the one who led me along the path of quests with high magic stakes, nations to save, and a group of disparate, sometimes desperate characters with a singular goal in mind—defeat evil at all costs.
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Date Published: 1991, 1992, 1993
Genre: High Fantasy
Number of Times I’ve Read It: At least 20—I honestly have no idea
Content Warning: Mentions of non-consensual sexual acts, trauma recovery discussions.
Accessibility: Available in eBook, audiobook, and print as individual books or an omnibus
Winds of Fate (4/5 Stars)
Lackey, who has enchanted readers since the publication of her first novel, Arrows of the Queen in 1987, scores another hit with the paperback release of the first book in an exciting new series. High magic had been lost to Valdemar when Vanyel gave his life to save his kingdom from destruction by the dark sorceries. Now it falls to Elspeth — Herald, heir to the throne — to take up the challenge and seek a mentor who will awaken her mage abilities.
Winds of Change (4/5 Stars)
In The Mage Winds trilogy, which began with the best-selling novel, Winds of Fate, author Mercedes Lackey continues the epic that started with her first published book, Arrows of the Queen introduced readers to the remarkable land of Valdemar, the kingdom protected by its Heralds—men and women gifted with extraordinary mind powers—aided and served by their mysterious Companions—horselike beings who know the many secrets of Valdemar’s magical heritage. None but the Companions remember the long-ago age when high magic was lost to Valdemar as the last Herald-Mage gave his life to protect his kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries. But now the protective barrier set so long ago over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperiled by the dark magic of Ancar of Hardorn, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.
Winds of Fury (5/5 Stars)
Valdemar is once again in peril, threatened by Ancar of Hardorn, who has long sought to seize control of the kingdom by any means at his command.
Yet this time Ancar may well achieve his goal, for by harnessing the power of Mornelithe Falconsbane, the Dark Adept, he has set into motion a magical strike against Valdemar the like of which hasn’t been attempted in more than five hundred years—not since Vanyel, the last Herald-Mage, shielded the kingdom from attack by the deadliest of sorceries.
And with Valdemar’s ancient spell-generated protections finally breaking down, Queen Selenay, Herald-Princess Elspeth, and their people could soon be left defenseless against an enemy armed with spells no one in Valdemar has the knowledge to withstand.
But as the long dormant magic of Valdemar begins to awaken, Elspeth finds that she too has a mysterious ally—a powerful spirit from the long-forgotten past…
Unlike the Vows and Honor, Last Herald-Mage, and By the Sword, the Mage Winds trilogy pushes the storyline of Valdemar forward past the original Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. The main character of this trilogy is the princess who Talia helped set to rights in the Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy, now grown up in her early twenties and suddenly told that she can wield magic. If you’ve seen my other reviews, you know that pure magic has been missing from Valdemar since the time of Herald-Mage Vanyel, centuries prior. It is Elspeth’s destiny to become the first in a new order of Herald-Mages.
In Winds of Fate, we see Elspeth at first accept her own in order to protect her kingdom and end the war begun years previously during the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. Apparently, the Companions, the white avatar horses who Choose Heralds, have laid out what they deem to be the best path for her. However, Elspeth soon veers from their guidance and forge her own way in finding a teacher to help her learn to wield her power. By the end of Winds of Fate, she’s found the teacher but has a long way to go in order to master magic. This book is almost completely a journey book with little action until close to the end.
Winds of Change has more action but is still more about Elspeth’s training and her growth as a person. From slightly pampered princess who, since she’s grown up, has always excelled at the familiar things she’s needed to learn to a complete novice, she finds the change difficult. This is also where a romance subplot is introduced, honestly one of my favorites in the series. It shows how two people can grow in a relationship without deliberately trying to change each other. At the same time, they fight against an evil force bent on their destruction and try to undo wrongs committed years prior.
The third book, Winds of Fury, shows Elspeth and her much larger group show up in Valdemar. Now fully trained, if a little rushed, she and her companions have to face the threats which drove her to seek training in magic. They travel under cover in order to attack at the heart of the enemy kingdom.
I’d recommend this trilogy for those who enjoy a good high fantasy quest. As usual, Lackey’s characters shine through, but there’s plenty of action for those who prefer that, too.
I suggest reading in publication order the first time trying to get through all the Valdemar series simply due to the way that she developed some details and how they’re introduced or mentioned in each trilogy. However, that isn’t a requirement, and there are plenty of people who have started chronologically or who just pick up somewhere in the middle.
© Allyson Pauley 2021