Storm Warning by Mercedes Lackey
Storm Warning is the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE STORMS trilogy which is part of the VALDEMAR saga. MAGE STORMS can be read without reading other VALDEMAR novels but, because it features many characters from other trilogies, it would be best to read it directly after reading the MAGE WINDS trilogy (Winds of Fate, Winds of Change, Winds of Fury).
I was not a fan of MAGE WINDS. I didn’t care for the characters or Lackey’s style. I picked up Storm Warning because I already owned the MAGE STORMS trilogy at Audible and, I guess, for a sense of closure and completion. Also, I was hoping that a new trilogy, with an injection of new characters, would improve the story…
… and it does. In Storm Warning we meet Grand Duke Tremaine, a potential heir to the throne of the Eastern empire. The current Emperor, whose magic-induced longevity is quickly expiring, sends Tremaine to Hardorn, the country that the evil wizard Ancar was ruling in the MAGE WINDS trilogy. Tremaine must discover what happened to the sorceress Hulda during the events at the end of Winds of Fury. She was the emperor’s agent in Hardorn and he wants to know if she is a traitor who is trying to frame Valdemar for Ancar’s death and, thereby, start a war between Valdemar and the Eastern Empire. He also wants Tremaine to get Hadorn under control and, if possible, to set up a spy in Valdemar.
On the other side we meet Karal Austreben, a young scribe and scholar who is studying to be a Sun-Priest in Karse, a country that was, until recently, an enemy of Valdemar. Karal is accompanying Ambassador Ulrich to a conference in Valdemar. This is an eye- and mind-opening experience for the young man who was brought up to believe that the Heralds and Companions of Valdemar are demons. As he meets and interacts with Heralds, Companions, and other characters we already know, Karal’s beliefs and prejudices will be challenged.
Another point of view character is An’desha, the Shin’a’in whose body had been taken over by Falconsbane, one of the evil wizards from MAGE WINDS. An’desha is now free from possession and is in Valdemar with his lover, Firesong, but he feels out of place and lonely. He frets, thinking that he’s been forever contaminated by Falconsbane, and he senses that something bad is about to happen. He worries that these feelings signify that Falconsbane may come back.
The parts of the story from An’desha’s perspective are long and broody, something I complained about in the MAGE WINDS trilogy. He spends pages and pages thinking about how awful he is, how embarrassed about his former behavior, how he can’t believe that Firesong is interested in him, blah, blah, blah. I had to agree when he declared “Oh, I think too much!”
The new characters, Karal and Tremaine, are more interesting. Karal’s story is quintessential Lackey — young man learns about Valdemar, the Heralds, the Companions, the griffins, the Shin’a’in, and meets all the characters we already know. We’ve seen it all before, but Karal is appealing and we learn a few things about Lackey’s world that we didn’t know.
Tremaine, the character I found most intriguing, is also learning and/or wondering all about Valdemar. When a mage storm knocks out all his communications, he starts to worry that either he’s being attacked by Valdemar or, even more alarming, his emperor is trying to get rid of him. His reaction will have a major impact on our other characters.
As the mage storms increase, everyone starts to worry that a major backlash of mage storms is coming. Will they be able to stop them before their entire world is destroyed? This will be the main concern for the rest of the trilogy.
It took a long time for Storm Warning to get interesting, but finally it did, so I’ll read the second book, Storm Rising, next. The audio version of Storm Warning, narrated by David Ledoux and produced by Audible Studios, is excellent.