As the second book in The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, Magic’s Promise is more of the same (check out my previous review of the first book, Magic’s Pawn). The novel takes place twelve years after the first book and continues to follow Vanyel (our gay main character). A lot of it centers on some politics between Vanyel’s home country, Valdemar, and other countries across the border along with some conspiracies within said countries. …That’s pretty much it.
I’d say I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s really not much to spoil. The main conflict is figuring out if the heir to the throne of a country bordering Valdemar actually killed his whole family…again, that’s pretty much it. Despite that, I really enjoyed the book – I read it in about two days, yet there’s so little meat to it that I don’t think this is going to be much of a review.
For now, I’m going to say that I like how Lackey doesn’t make too big a deal of Vanyel’s sexual interests. Sure, she hits home on common prejudices and writes how he deals with them beautifully, however, it’s not thrown in your face all the time; it’s really only there as much as any hetero flirting might be in a book.
Other than that, this novel takes place twelve years after the first – that bothers me. Why? Because Lackey drops tons of hints and references to Vanyel’s adventures over that time and even goes so far as to say songs have been written about him. ……Why are we skipping the good stuff?! Apparently he spent an entire year fighting of evil alone, but do we see it? No! We start the book with his freakin’ homecoming! Arrgghhh! And the ending made me mad too, but whatever!
Anyway, I’m pretty sure Lackey’s writing maintained its style in the second book, but I have to say I found it far more engaging than the first. Whether it’s because her narrative was of a more mature character or I was simply more familiar with her style by book two, I can’t really say for sure. At the very least, it was a decent read even though the ending sucked (not in any unpleasant way, I just thought it was anticlimactic). I feel like I might end up being more disappointed, but I’m definitely going to finish this trilogy.
For a more detailed review, check out my YouTube video here. Warning: video contains spoilers.