Storm Rising by Mercedes Lackey
Storm Rising is the middle book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE STORMS trilogy which is part of the VALDEMAR saga. You’ll want to read the first book, Storm Warning, first. (There will be spoilers for that book in this review.) You don’t have to read any of the previous VALDEMAR books, but it would be helpful to read the MAGE WINDS trilogy, even though it’s (in my opinion) an inferior story.
The mage storms continue to increase across the land, wreaking havoc and endangering the entire world. Not only are there numerous natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, but there are mutated animals preying on humans.
Here’s the status of our main characters:
Grand Duke Tremaine’s army has been cut off from the Eastern empire and he’s not sure if his emperor, who led Tremaine to believe he would be the heir to the throne, has purposely set him adrift. He’s also starting to realize, as so many of Lackey’s characters eventually do, that Valdemar is not the evil place he’s been taught to believe it is. He is beginning to rethink his prejudices as he works to get his men settled in a foreign country. Tremaine is a tough, practical, and compassionate leader and I am enjoying his storyline.
After the assassination of his mentor, young Karal Austreben is now the sole Karse ambassador to Valdemar. He feels inept and unqualified and is subject to other people’s bigotry, but he has the backing of the queen he serves. Karal is well on his way to realizing that his own prejudices about Valdemar were totally wrong. Now he’s working with Valdemar scientists to try to find new ways to fight the mage storms, but it turns out that he will have an important role that he could not have predicted.
An’desha continues to brood, interminably, about how he was possessed and possibly contaminated by an evil wizard in the previous trilogy. Meanwhile his lover, Firesong, spends huge amounts of time thinking that he’s losing An’desha, who’s becoming more independent. He wonders if he should use his powers to keep An’desha in love with him, or if he should use dark magic to make himself immortal so he can find his life bond. He’s also feeling distrust toward the scientists who use math and logic to try to fix the mage storm problem. Firesong wants to prove that using art and intuition is the only right way to approach the problem, plus he thinks that will impress An’desha. All of this brooding and thinking about dark magic is very much out of character for Firesong and is only meant to drum up some drama in this boring storyline. It could be (and is) argued that the mage storms are changing his personality, but I didn’t buy it. The worst part of this storyline is that most of it happens inside the characters’ heads, a technique of Lackey’s that I despise.
Eventually our three main characters, as well as their friends and allies, will come together to work on the problem of the mage storms. A quest ensues. I thought the quest would be the subject of the next book, Storm Breaking, but instead it happens very quickly at the end of this one, making the pacing of Storm Rising feel quite off balance.
The audio version of Storm Rising, narrated by David Ledoux and produced by Audible Studios, is excellent except that Ledoux pronounces duchy, a word that is used several times, as “ducky.”