Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) The final chapter in Mercedes Lackey’s spellbinding fantasy trilogy! The Herald-Mage, Vanyel, and his Companion, Yfandes, are alone responsible for saving the once-peaceful kingdom of Valdemar from the forces of a master who wields a dark, forbidding magic. And if either Vanyel or Yfandes falters, both Valdemar and its Herald-Mage must pay the ultimate price
Thoughts: The final installment of the Last Herald-Mage trilogy is one that I can never read with comletely dry eyes. The whole story in the trilogy comes to a head when, after a series of assassination attempts and successes, Vanyel learns that he is the only Herald-Mage left in Valdemar. Not only that, but that the enemy who has been gradually picking off the Herald-Mages has also been murdering unChosen children with the Mage-Gift, to ensure that no more Mages get trained in Valdemar’s borders. Coupled with the plight of a dying king and war on the border, Vanyel decides, rightfully, that he is the only one to deal with this enemy.
Interwoven with this story is Vanyel new relationship with the Bard Stefan, who, as we learn later, is the reincarnation of Tylendel. Yes, it’s sappy, and no, it never fails to bring a little smile to my face when I think about it. The reasoning behind the reincarnation was explained quite simply, in that there was a good amount of unifinished business and guilt in Tylendel’s heart when he died, and, as Vanyel confirms at the end of the novel, Heralds are given the choice to come back after they’ve died, if they so desire. It may not be an original reason, but at least it’s a reason.
The part of this book that never fails to tug at my heartstrings is when Vanyel realises that in saving the kingdom, he will, without fail, go to his death, and yet he keeps on pretending, for Stefan’s sake, that things will be fine. And the bitter triumph when Yfandes comes to his aid at the very end, providing him enough strength to be sure he’ll take out the enemy when he goes…
Yes, when you end up grieving for fictional characters, you know the author’s done something right.
It’s interesting to note that, as in many other novels of Valdemar, Mercedes Lackey includes song lyrics in the back of the book, relating to the trilogy that has just finished. Most of them are songs of Vanyel’s exploits, but one, My Lady’s Eyes (well-known to be Vanyel’s mother’s favourite song) has commentary before it that I believe we’re supposed to infer was written by Stefan. It’s a nice touch, and lends a bit more of a connection to the song lyrics we’re seeing and the time they came from.
A great ending to a great trilogy. Lackey did not only tell Vanyel’s story, but also did a wonderful amount of explanation and set-up for the future of Valdemar, which is a delight for fans of the series to see and to be a part of. Well worth reading!