Storm Breaking by Mercedes Lackey
The final book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE STORMS trilogy is Storm Breaking, which should be read after Storm Warning and Storm Rising. (Expect mild spoilers for those books in this review.)
In the previous books, we met some new characters, former enemies of Valdemar, who have now become allies and are working with our Valdemaran friends to stop the mage storms that threaten to destroy their entire world. At the end of both Storm Warning and Storm Rising, they had managed to temporarily delay the destruction, but now they know the worst storm is coming and they must figure out how to stop it or they’ll all die.
Some of our main characters, including Karal and Firesong, are now living in a tower which is buried in the Dorisha Plains. This is a welcome change of scenery (especially for someone, like me, who always loves an underground setting). The tower is where their quest led them in Storm Rising. Here they’ve discovered Urtho’s Vault, a storehouse containing dangerous magical weapons, one of which was used to temporarily stop the mage storms in the last book. While some of the team want to return home, others insist on staying to make more discoveries. The decision is made when the portals become unstable and they can’t get home.
Meanwhile Elspeth, Darkwind, and some others from Valdemar are going to meet their former enemy Grand Duke Tremaine. They’re traveling in winter and Lackey does a good job making me feel the cold. Tremaine’s men, who think they’ve been exiled from the Eastern empire, are treating him like their king. The folks from the village they’ve settled in are happy to welcome Tremaine as their new leader, too.
We finally get to see what’s actually happening back in the Eastern empire. The emperor is losing control as his health gradually fails and his people continue to have trouble dealing with the effects of the mage storms. When the emperor finds out that Tremaine has defected, he appoints a different heir — one that is not nearly as honorable as Grand Duke Tremaine. In fact, this new guy is quite anxious to ascend the throne and has no scruples about hastening the demise of its current occupant. This storyline is amusing and sometimes clever.
Fans of the VALDEMAR saga will learn a lot about the history of Valdemar, Karse, and the Eastern empire in Storm Breaking. Though there are some slow spots, especially when Firesong is pondering his life, the story is mostly entertaining. It’s a satisfactory ending to the MAGE STORMS trilogy.
I recommend the audio editions (Audible Studios) of the MAGE STORMS novels. They’re narrated by David Ledoux.