Read again? Yes
The 20th book. Third in the "Mage Winds" trilogy. Six. Six! SIX more books left, but after this one I'm taking a break, considering that I've done 10 Lackey books in a row.
We begin with King Ancar of Hardorn. He's been at war with Valdemar for a decade and is fed up with his lack of progress. He's been learning magic, but his teacher has been holding out on him, and he's fed up with her, as well. When the evil, cat-like Mornelithe Falconsbane falls at his feet after a dangerous experiment, Ancar can't believe his good fortune. He wastes no time getting controlling spells into place--and now Ancar has an Adept--and through Falconsbane, the power he's always wanted.
Next, we return to Elspeth as she and her merry band prepare to leave the Vale, finally headed back to Valdemar to start protecting her country from Ancar's depradations. They get hijacked by an old friend of ours: Herald-Mage Vanyel, whose body died centuries ago (in a battle with Leareth, a previous incarnation of Falconsbane), but whose ghost protects the northern border of Valdemar. After some important plot points are laid in, they finally get back to the capital and get to work training new mages.
And now, our third major character, An'desha. It seems that this young Shin'a'in lad owns the body that Falconsbane has been living in for several decades. And now things are happening that might get him that body back. All An'desha has to do is feed information about Falconsbane to representatives of his Goddess, who will get that info to the folks in Valdemar who need it.
This book went by a lot more quickly than the previous two did. The only real nitpick I have is with a pretty important plot point. Just before the big confrontation at the end, we're told that Nyara--Falconsbane's daughter--is able to bear children. It's used as a reason for the good guys to destroy his spirit before he can be reborn. Okay, okay, fine--but Nyara was established as unable to have children in the previous book.
I won't kill any points over that, though; not because I'm being nice, but because I know how hard it is to keep plot points and details straight over several years of writing, even between just two books in a series, or even between chapters. All things considered, Lackey has done a good job keeping the story going.
All the same, I'm glad to be nearly done with the series. It's one thing to read-and-forget, but blogging about it makes me have to think about what I'm reading.