Storm Warning by Mercedes Lackey #ReadingValdemar

Storm Warning is the first book in the Mage Storms trilogy. If you’re looking for reviews of the books in the previous series, look no further:

Ah, a fresh start with a new trilogy! I’m so glad, because the previous trilogy was getting both too stale and sadistic for my tastes. Storm Warning gives fans a new character to root for, Karal, a secretary to a priest from Karse who is serving as the envoy in Valdemar. The novel opens with Karal and priest-mage Ulrich being escorted to Valdemar. When they get there, Karal will be surprised to learn how diverse Valdemar is compared to Karse, a homogeneous country that used to be Valdemar’s sworn enemy. A boy of about fifteen, Karal is both eager to help his mentor and plagued by homesickness.

But everyone has bigger problems after a something like an earthquake disrupts all the countries, friend and foe. All magic spells are destroyed, patches of land are oddly changed, animals become vicious, mages are physically sicked by the “wave” of power. . .

Though the focus is not an individual villain like in previous books, Storm Warning opens with the bad guy: the king of the Eastern Empire. Mercedes Lackey’s description of how the empire is run and who the king is made me fear his abilities. He’s logical but ruthless, trained to be a strong king without getting too greedy like the dunderheads in previous trilogies. His people use magic for everything, including transporting entire armies and supplies, and in a way that is unknown to mages in Valdemar. Right away, I knew this was going to be an exciting story if the king of the Eastern Empire is the foe. Their reliance on magic, though, is a massive issue when the first “wave” hits.

But the focus is Karal, a teenage boy, suggesting Lackey’s focus will always be young people discovering their identities. Tasked by Karse’s leader, the priestess Solaris, with caring for Ulrich and taking notes at every important meeting, Karal seems like a “nobody” at first. But he’s loyal and practical. He connects the mages in Valdemar and the math fanatics, whom mages and heralds ignore, to solve problems. Acknowledging his feelings as needed and looking past them to do the right yet challenging or scary task, Karal is someone readers easily care for.

Since Storm Warning is from an outsider’s perspective — that is, Karal is from the sunlord-worshiping Karse, has never been to Valdemar, doesn’t know the language well, was raised to think heralds and companions are demons — the story feels fresh. Characters carried over from previous novels seem new through Karal’s eyes, especially Firesong, who can only be described as a well-intentioned know-it-all. Talia, who hasn’t really been a big presence since her own trilogy (The Heralds of Valdemar) is a friend and mother-figure to Karal, drying his tears and helping him make friends. I forgot how she was different from Elspeth, as in the last trilogy the two characters seemed to serve the same function, but they are decidedly individual people now that Lackey has remembered to emphasize each character’s unique personality.

Most exciting is the plot. After the first “earthquake,” one of the villains thinks Valdemar has attacked them, but it doesn’t make sense. He receives reports from messengers from his different armies explaining what happened after this first disruption that destroyed all mage spells across the globe:

There are places where rocks melted into puddles and resolidified in a heartbeat, sometimes trapping things in the newly-solid rock. . . . Strange and entirely new insects and even higher forms of life have appeared around the camp. . . . Roughly circular pieces of land two and three cubits in diameter appear to have been instantly transplanted from far and distant places. There are circles of desert, of forest, of swamp — even a bit of lake bottom, complete with mud, water-weeds, and gasping and dying fish.

An exciting story, indeed, one that shows mages and mathematicians working around the clock to learn when the next “wave” or “earthquake” will strike, and where, had my eager to turn the pages.

Please share the URL to your Storm Warning review with this LINKY to enter into the giveaway of a copy of the EXILES OF VALDEMAR omnibus! Winner will be chosen randomly December 10th.

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8 comments

  1. I’m glad you seemed to enjoy this one more than the last couple in the series. There’s nothing worse than a big series going stale halfway through, but already feeling committed to reading the whole thing! Hopefully things are back on track now.

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  2. I can never get into magic because it has no limits, or the limits are arbitrary, set by the author to suit her purposes. But yes, I can see how if an author invents a universe with a particular set of rules they can just go on filling that universe with stories. And I enjoy that you see the author ‘forgetting’ and re-remembering certain characters. You have a unique way of looking at what the author is doing (which reminds me, Milly has just bought Rilla of Ingleside – I must send her your review).

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    • Honestly, Rilla of Ingleside was my favorite Anne of Green Gables novel! Most people are die-hard Anne fans, but I thought Rilla was like her mother, only more interesting.

      It’s true that the author will change the magic system to suit her purposes from book to book, but don’t authors of realistic fiction do the same thing? Notoriously, there are loads of books in which the character’s cell phone breaks, or can’t get reception, or the WiFi is down, which changes the outcome — whether we’re talking romance, a thriller, or literary fiction. In Victorian literature, people were constantly missing each other (or a messenger) by moments to build tension.

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  3. Oh man! I just realized that both Storm Warning and Winds of Fury started with the “Big Bad”‘s perspective. Fury started with Ancar. And in both of these books I started the novel thinking, “Oh man. These are the Big Bad!” and by the end of the novel, I realized there were much bigger fish to fry. Fascinating.

    Talia’s reintroduction is incredibly meaningful to me. I’m glad to see that her role as an extreme Empath is taken seriously and she has a chance to shine. All the characters keep alluding to that Talia did in Karse during her diplomatic mission that resulted in the treaty– Apparently one of the Valdemar short story collections includes this tale! I really want to read it. How did Talia become a priest of Vkandis? What happened to convince her that this is a serious role to uphold? Why is her priesthood so different from those who defected from Karse many years ago?

    Also– neither of us mentioned Firecats in our review! I didn’t, as I expect we’ll learn more in future books and there was so much that happened in this book. Oops. Don’t worry, Firecats, you’ll get your day. 😉

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    • I felt like the Firecat was quite similar to a real cat — comes around when it wants something and then disappears. It’s not like he hung around like the Companions do. Even when a Companion isn’t around, it will appear in the thoughts of the herald. Thus, it was easy for me to be both impressed and “meh” by the Firecat, lol.

      I’m kinda of bummed that we would have to get a whole other book to read about Talia becoming a priestess and working out the peace accord! I mean, come on, Lackey! Do you know which book the story is in, or if it is available online?

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