Sunday, August 31, 2014

Valdemar 23: Mage Storms 3--Storm Breaking (Mercedes Lackey)

Rating: 5/5
Year: 1996
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Yes.

Three to go.

Team Karal headed a 'way down south to the Dhorisha Plains, all that remains of the great mage Urtho's domain after the Great Cataclysm centuries ago.

They were successful in finding a temporary "fix" for the ever-worsening mage storms that mark the rebound of the Cataclysm. Now, they hope to find something to help counter the Really Really Big Bang The Will Kill Everone And Everything Period coming at the end of this book. This means they're stuck in the middle of the Plains, in the wrecked remains of Urtho's Tower, in the worst winter storms any of them have ever seen.

Karal spends some time in recovery. The Big Fix at the end of the last book nearly fried him. If not for him, the rest of the team wouldn't have been able to direct the enormous force of one of Urtho's mage-weapons against the incoming storm wave. Now they've got some time (several hundred pages) to find the next one.

We're given a nice little walk-on cameo for Tarma of the "Vows and Honor" trilogy (books 8-10). She's a ghost now, but she still comes in, drops some Shin'a'in proverbs (a running joke in the Valdemar books) on Karal, and winks out.


Over in the Eastern Empire, the most useless people (the 1%!) in the realm are gathered for "Season"--the winter occupation of the wealthy and powerful (and, hence, most useless) wherein they bring their unmarried brats and try to curry favor with those of higher status. Every Mitt Romney, every George Bush, all the other toadies and suck-ups too stupid to go home when the storms started are now stranded in the capital city. Never mind that the Empire is crippled: the storms disrupted everything that depends on magic. The fabulous rich are reduced to using common fire their own food! They have to travel by horse or carriage. WHEELS! Those are for commoners!

Emperor Charliss is spending his energies just shielding against the effects of the storms. The spells that have preserved him over his 150 year reign are failing. Before the storms, Charliss had maybe 20 years before his spells could no longer sustain him. Now, though, he has much less time.

Outlying provinces of the Empire have revolted. With no ability to build magical Portals, there is no way to get troops into position to subdue the rebels. There's also no way go get food quickly into the cities. People are rioting and Charliss' center cannot hold.

Uneasy is the head that wears the crown, dude.

Charliss declares Grand Duke Tremane nameless for  turning against the Empire; in his place, he names Baron Melles the new Heir.

Melles, in true Imperial style, immediately begins maneuvering and politicking and intriguing, seeking out enemies and allies and garnering power.


Back west in Hardorn, Princess Elspeth is leading a small troop of guards and her boyfriend to meet with Grand Duke Tremane. The former Heir to the Valdemaran throne is to be the Envoy to Hardorn. Her boyfriend will speak for some of the other Allies. The guards will, of course, be guards.

On the road to Shonar, now the de-facto capital of Hardorn, she finds surprising, growing support for Tremane. The Hardornens have heard of Tremane's fairness and his real concern for his adopted People. They're not calling him "King" yet, but there are mutters in that direction.


Team Karal's numbers continue to swell over the course of the book. They started out with:

--Altra, a Firecat, a re-born Son of the Sun and representative of Karal's God.
--Florian, a horse-like Companion. Reincarnated Herald.
--Firesong, a Tayledras Healing Adept.
--An'desha, formerly possessed by the evil spirit of a near-immortal mage.
--Silverfox, the "healer" of the team.

They were joined shortly by:
--Lo'isha, a Shin'a'in scholar and shaman.
--Tarm, a Kyree (basically a calf-sized, intelligent wolf) scholar/historian.
--Lyam, Tarm's secretary, a Hertasi (your basic child-sized intelligent lizard).
--Sejanes, Grand Duke Tremane's  chief mage.
--Master Levy, a math/science/engineering teacher from Valdemar.

Lyam and Tarm have brought Need, the spirit of a priestess-warrior ensorcelled into a sword (and with us from Book 8 onward).

Near the end of the book, another five people join the team:

--the ghost of Vanyel, the Last Herald-Mage from books 4-6;
--the ghost of Yfandes, his Companion;
--the ghost of Tylendel/Stefan, his dead boyfriend/reborn boyfriend.


--Trevalen, the ghost of a Shin'a'in shaman who was killed several books ago, but now acts as the Avatar of his Goddess
--Dawnfire, the ghost of a Tayledras scout who was also killed several books ago, and who is also an Avatar of her Goddess.

With all these folks--and the little cameo from Tarma--we have cast members spanning the entire series' history and get to say goodbye to some of them.

No complaints, but the book ended just in time. I'm ready for something non-Valdemar after a months' worth of it in three thick books.

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