1. Winds of Change, The Mage Winds Trilogy # 2
Dates Read: December 23 – January 3, 2016
Oh, oh, oh! I haven’t been this excited about a couple in literature since Vanyel and Tylendel / Stefen from The Last Herald Mage trilogy, which was, ironically enough, written by the same author as The Mage Winds trilogy! Mercedes Lackey is nothing if not a fantasy author, but she also creates some of the most touching and memorable couples I have encountered… and I am romance cynic!
Elspeth and Darkwind. Two powerful warriors from two completely different worlds now thrown together in a joint effort to save Valdemar and Darkwind’s land, the k’Sheyna Vale, from dark and even more powerful enemies. Elspeth’s journey to find a Mage to bring back to Valdemar has brought her full circle for she has learned she is the most powerful Herald-Mage since the legendary Vanyel. But she is untrained and there is only one Mage that can teach her: the Hawkbrother Adept, Darkwind.
Darkwind has discovered he did not destroy the k’Sheyna Vale’s Heartstone as he long believed, but rather his father Starblade did, although the latter was being controlled by the ruthless Mornelithe Falconsbane – a Mage so dark and so powerful, the Hawkbrothers don’t think they can defeat him. But try they must because Falconsbane is set on acquiring the power in the broken Heartstone, and he is already virtually indestructible. What kind of terror will he cause with the Heartstone’s powers behind him?
The Mage Winds trilogy is classic coming-of-age, although Elspeth herself is already an “adult” when the series starts. But the journey she undertakes through these first two books is as coming-of-age as any Disney film, and her character grows and develops in profound ways (excepting the obvious, “oh yeah, she’s a powerful sorceress,” part).
Watching Elspeth on her journey has helped me with my own, and lessons I have (re)learned in Winds of Change helped me make some key decisions in my life. For that alone, I will love this trilogy forever. But Lackey has worked her rare brand of romantic magic again… I haven’t laughed, cried, and rooted for a literary couple more since Vanyel and Tylendel (and later Stefen), and as I mentioned above, I am a romance cynic. I roll my eyes more often than not when two people are coming together in such torrid, star-crossed stories (star-crossed for the most part because of their own tremendous stupidity), but not so with Lackey’s partnerings. Maybe because they can take their time to get there, but not because one or the other is an idiot. Maybe it’s because both partners in the couple are distinct, independent characters who have more to live for than the other person. Or maybe because the world of Valdemar is a magical universe and so much of the coupling comes from the powers around the characters…
I can’t put my finger on it, but suffice it to say: Romeo and Juliet- you two could learn a thing or two from couples like Elspeth and Darkwind, or Vanyel and Stefen.