I acquired Mercedes Lackey's "Last Herald-Mage" trilogy on a hunch several years ago. To this day I am grateful that I followed intuition as I've rarely read such a sad, but beautiful story. I was sceptical about other readers recommending having loads of tissues ready but never has anything been more true. Mercedes Lackey tells the story of Herald-Mage Vanyel Ashkevron with a skill and beauty, it's a joy to read. Her words paint the world of Herald-Mages with such an intense emotion, I was hardly able to stop reading to get something to read. There are authors describing a tragic event and I as the reader follow said tragic event intentently but do not get emotionally involved. Then there is Mercedes Lackey. While I was well within book 2 of the series, I was still breaking into tears every time I thought about the tragic happenings in the first novel. This speaks highly of the author's skill to capture her audience. Bravo!
"The Last Herald-Mage" follows the life of Vanyel Ashkevron over the course of approx. 20 years. "Magic's Promise" takes place 10 years after the first novel. Vanyel with his beloved companion Yfandes has become the most powerful Herald-Mage in Valdemar. Not much reminds of the insecure boy of ten years ago who was hiding behind arrogance and disdain to protect himself. On the one hand he has grown much stronger. Everyone in Valdemar will recognise the powerful Herald-Mage with the strange silver eyes and white locks in his otherwise raven hair. On the other hand the scars from events back in book 1 still have not healed over. Scabs are likely to break open at any time and they will when he meets Tashir while scouting Valdemar's borders. Tashir who looks hauntingly like his lost bond-mate Tylendel. Vanyel's sanity has to rely on the love of his companion and dear aunt Savil. Once again it would be unfair to tell more. It would spoil the story. "Magic's Promise" does take a quieter route than book 1 and 3. That doesn't mean its less compelling though. Another beautiful read.
"The Last Herald-Mage" trilogy although part of Lackey's Valdemar-series can be read on its own without fear of missing anything important in this universe. And even to this day it is still the most beautiful tale in the chronicles of Valdemar. A well deserved 5 stars for all three books.