Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey fantasy book reviewsWinds of Change by Mercedes Lackey fantasy book reviewsWinds of Change by Mercedes Lackey

Winds of Change (1992) is the middle novel in Mercedes Lackey’s MAGE WINDS trilogy, which is part of her larger VALDEMAR saga. I wasn’t impressed with the first book, Winds of Fate, which was a standard high fantasy novel that didn’t stand out in any way. I decided to read book two anyway because I already owned it at Audible and I wanted to review it for FanLit.

In this sequel, Elspeth and Skif are living with the Tayledras clan. The novel starts with quite a bit of recap of previous events and then the preparation for a ceremony in which Elspeth and Skif will be welcomed as clan members. All of this takes about two hours in the 19.5-hour long audiobook.

Finally, something starts to happen when Darkwind and the griffins begin training Elspeth to be a mage. The magical training is all about hooks, shields, ley lines, power sources, energy daggers, lightning arrows, fireballs, and other common high fantasy concepts. The magic system has been carefully thought out by Lackey and there were some parts of this that I found interesting, but mostly I was bored during Elspeth’s training.

Soon Darkwind is brooding about how Elspeth is so irritating because she’s usually right, she’s teaching him things about magic that he didn’t know, she’s innovative and amazing, etc., etc. He’s also annoyed that Elspeth keeps acting like a princess and he tries to takes her down a few pegs. In my experience with Lackey so far, this kind of interpersonal conflict is foreshadowing that indicates the pair will be in bed together within the next several chapters.

The Heartstone of the Tayledras has been cracked, so one of the major tasks in Winds of Change is to try to fix it. To that end, a related clan sends them their best healer, a flamboyant handsome mage named Firesong who begins training Elspeth. This makes Darkwind jealous, so we get to listen to him brood about that. This storyline ends up being a bit humorous (though predictable and a bit stereotypical, too).

Meanwhile Skif, who was totally in love with Elspeth in the previous book, is now totally in love with Nyara, the girl who was given exotic feline creatures and made into a sex toy by her father, Mornelithe Falconsbane, the over-the-top evil mage they defeated in the previous book (or did they?). Nyara runs away, and Skif and some of the Tayledras try to track her down. Lackey uses this storyline to highlight the evils of prejudice and discrimination. The lesson is that we should not judge people because they look different. However, at the same time, the magical sword is slowly “healing” Nyara to make her more human-looking, so it seems like that kind of undermines Lackey’s message. To be fair, Nyara was born human but had been changed by her evil father’s experiments so it could be argued that the sword is merely putting her back to normal, though her sheer relief about now looking like other people seems to belie Lackey’s lesson.

In Winds of Change we also see some progression in the story arcs for Darkwind’s father, Starblade, (again with obvious foreshadowing) and Darkwind’s former lover, Dawnfire. We get an interesting backstory on Mornelithe Falconsbane and learn why he hates the griffins. At the end of Winds of Change, significant event occurs indicating that there will be a major change of scenery and, I assume, cast of characters in the next book, Winds of Fury. I look forward to that because, though Winds of Change seems carefully planned and executed, I can’t say that it’s very interesting.

I listened to Karen White narrate Audible Studios’ version of Winds of Change. I liked her better in this book because I thought she tweaked Skif’s voice in the right direction. She doesn’t enhance the story, as some narrators can, which is unfortunate because this story could have used some help.

Published in 1992. 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.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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