Title: Magic’s Pawn
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: The Last Herald Mage #1, Valdemar #4
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Daw fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: She watched the power-barrier he had built about himself with her Mage-Sight, and Saw the pale violet half-dome waver as he turned his attention to her question and lost a bit of control over the shield.
Though Vanyel has been born with near-legendary abilities to work both herald and Mage magic, he wants no part of such things. Nor does he seek a warrior’s path, wishing instead to become a Bard. yet such talent as his if left untrained may prove a menace not only to Vanyel but to others as well. So he is sent to be fostered with his aunt, Savil, one of the famed herald-Mages of Valdemar.
But, strong-willed and self-centered, Vanyel is a challenge which even Savil can not master alone. For soon he will become the focus of frightening forces, lending his raw magic to a spell that unleashes terrifying wyr-hunters on the land. And by the time Savil seeks the assistance of a Shin’a’in Adept, Vanyel’s wild talent may have already grown beyond anyone’s ability to contain, placing Vanyel, Savil, and Valdemar itself in desperate peril…
This is one of the most hard-hitting books that I’ve read in a long time. Ever since I read The Pact by Jodi Piccoult, actually. I think that it probably impacted me so heavily because Lackey investigated ideas of depression and not really believing that you are worth the air you breath. Feelings that I experienced a long time ago. This reminded me of those moments, but it also reminded me that I got through it and the strength that it can take to overcome such a debilitating illness.
This book for me was about not only dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, but also about coming to terms with who you are. Which, for me, is a large part of overcoming such mental illnesses (I am well aware that this is different for everybody). Vanyel does this through the acceptance of his sexuality – as I said, this is a pretty hard-hitting book, not only does it investigate mental health, but also the struggles of the LGBTQ community. I haven’t read many books about this aspect of life that I have enjoyed so thoroughly and that have made me think and connect with my LGBTQ friends.
At the beginning of the book, Vanyel appears to be a very selfish, and almost unlikable hero. But, as it develops, you understand this is a coping mechanism (we all have them, and it’s fascinating how different people cope in different ways). Following him on his journey you discover more about how systematic abuse can seriously damage and change people and how the understanding of self and sexuality can be so integral to a healthy outlook on life and self. Thus far in reading the Valdemar books, Vanyel is definitely the most flawed and damaged hero. But in the end, this unique vulnerability and incredible journey is what really pulls on the heartstrings.
I haven’t felt so emotionally distraught and vulnerable after reading a book in a long time, and for that I’m glad. This was a book that made me think about my own past experiences and sympathise with what others around me are going through in their quest to accept themselves.