Welcome to BOOK #10 in the 2019 plan to read 16 Valdemar novels by Mercedes Lackey! It’s been six months so far, meaning Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku and I are half-way done. Since many of you are not following along with this series, I’m going to give you a very brief synopsis and then my impressions while reading.
Winds of Fury is the last book in THE MAGE WINDS trilogy. The villain trying to destroy a native tribe has been captured by the villain trying to destroy the city of Valdemar. Will they team up? Our heroine, Elspeth, uses all of her resources — human and magical — and gathers her team to leave Valdemar and trek the distance to the city where all three main villains reside to kill them and end the reign of human, magical, and environmental destruction.
Mercedes Lackey needed an editor so badly, one who was strong enough to care about the product his/her/their publisher was selling. There were issues with continuity and perspective. For instance, in chapter 8, Darkwind and Firesong know that Ancar has been using magic without protecting himself. There’s no reason they would know what Ancar is doing. Chapter 9 opens with Falconsbane standing in the open window, hair-whipping around, but in previous chapters the shutters were closed and absolutely forbidden from being opened. Small potatoes in the grand scheme, I suppose.
Lackey would get in a pattern of doing the same annoying thing repeatedly. She used the word “bitch” about 20 times in the first chapter and then stops. In one four-page section, she had five winks — some of them simultaneously. I remember in the span of a few pages she wrote something like “it would take a [adjective like stronger or colder] person than [character] to [do a thing]” three or four times. Where did these writer tics come from, and why didn’t an discerning editor notice?
The writing was never amazing in any of the books, but it was embarrassingly poor in Winds of Fury. Amateur mistakes like “two royal twins” would set my hackles up. I refuse to forgive a narrator who allows a writer to use a “big word” and then define it in the next sentence. For example, “And Falconsbane was capricious. He could change his mind at any time.” Although Lackey thanks her entire publishing and editing team at the end of my copy of the Winds of Fury, I steamed over blatant garbage errors like this one: “But the birds had human eyes — eyes as black as night, but spangled with stars.” So, not human eyes at all, right??
My main beef with Winds of Fury was the sexual content. It started with Lackey’s use of the word “pleasure.” It could describe damn near anything, from smiling to raping a slave, having consensual sex to a villain being waited on by endless servants. One instance made me wonder if Lackey even thought about what she was writing:
“. . .at the first, they had tried to force one of the women-contortionists to give them pleasure…”
The words she’s looking for are “rape” or “sexual assault.” Rape isn’t about “pleasure,” it’s about power, and the fact that Lackey perverted the word “pleasure” so greatly infuriated me. After a while, the word started to sicken me, the way some people feel a deep aversion to the word “moist.”
Although there were some great plot points, such as Elsepth’s ring and Darkwind’s feather, and discovering An’desha, I was distracted to pieces by Lackey’s insistence on inserting sex or sexual assault into everything. As Elspeth’s team travel for their suicidal mission, they make sure the couples fit in regular sexual activity. Also, Firesong’s focus is not on their objective, but how long he’s been celibate, and wonders if it is appropriate to have sex with his friend’s husband.
Even characters with histories of being sexually assaulted vigorously jump into physical relationships as a way to get over their rapes — and Lackey has a history of writing that line of reasoning. We saw it in Arrow’s Fall. I was left feeling rather gross, and none of the sexual situations in Winds of Fury served as an actual plot point.
The villains constantly use seduction (there’s another word I wanted to light on fire) to get their way. Imagine: “What if I get A to seduce B. . . or maybe B will seduce A first, and then they’ll both be seduced! Or I could hire a boy with a reputably big penis to seduce C, and then when he’s done, he can seduce me!” GAG. SO MUCH GAG.
This was the first Valdemar book that I was extremely disappointed in. I’m not sure if Lackey was getting famous and the books just kept coming without regard to quality, or if some poor publishing employee was too afraid to make comments to an author bringing in loads of money. But I do know I’m ready to move past THE MAGE WINDS trilogy and hope Lackey grew to be a more conscientious writer from one year to the next.