Reviewed by Holly White
Magic’s Price is the third and final book in the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, part of the Valdemar series. In it, we see Herald-Mage Vanyel as he cooperates with the other Herald-Mages to protect the Valdemarian borders and aid its dying king. Between these problems and his own loneliness, Vanyel fights battles on several fronts, physical as well as mental and emotional.
Then a young Bard appeared whose music was so Gifted, it could soothe the king’s pain long enough for the monarch to hold court as he had when in health. And against all hoping and longing, Vanyel finally finds love again. Even though he and his lover must keep their love a secret from most, and even though Vanyel’s work keeps them apart for long periods of time, Vanyel finds happiness at last.
But something or someone is attacking the kingdom in the most insidious way. The attacker is using magic to kill off Heralds and make it look like an accident. The attacker is even killing small children who have begun to show Herald or Herald-Mage potential, also making it look as if it happened by chance. So much so, that no new Heralds have appeared with the Mage gift in several years. So subtly diabolical is this plan that no one even suspects what’s happening until the magic sneaks right into the palace itself and kills a Herald-Mage.
When all the rest of the Herald-Mages also die off in suspicious accidents, leaving Vanyel as the last Herald-Mage to protect Valdemar, he knows what he must do. But he cannot convince either the King or the Council that taking the battle to the enemy is the best thing. They want him to stay and use his powers to protect Valdemar. Finally the Companions convince King and Council that the best way Vanyel can protect Valdemar is by seeking out this enemy and defeating him before he can ever get across Valdemar’s borders. What the King, the Council, and Vanyel all fail to realize is the extent of the danger that this threat poses, both to Vanyel and to Valdemar itself. And what truly is, for all of them, magic’s price.
Magic’s Price was a bit darker than the Mercedes Lackey books that are truly my favorites, although it certainly had its light moments. One thing the author does, though, is she makes you care about those characters so you keep reading through all the darkness to find out what happens to the characters, who are your friends. You don’t want them to hurt, you don’t want them to be lonely, you don’t want them to suffer injustice, and you want them to succeed and find happiness. That is one of the main things that keeps me reading Mercedes Lackey’s books. I feel like I know her characters personally. I would recommend this book to adults, or perhaps young adults, especially those whose taste runs toward books that are a bit dark.
The previous books in the series are Magic's Pawn and Magic's Promise.
The next review will be for By the Sword, which is a Valdemarian stand-alone book about the granddaughter of Kethry, a character in the Oathbound trilogy I recently reviewed. Look for it on the first Friday in February!