Thursday, November 20, 2008

Magic's Pawn

By Mercedes Lackey

In a world of Heralds and Mages, out-of-control warlords and wild magic, Vanyel is 16, and a great disappointment to his father. He's not much of a fighter, and doesn't seem to be much of an heir. When he's shipped off to his Aunt at the High Court of Valdemar, he thinks he's finally going to get his dream... to become a Bard.

But those hopes are dashed when he's told he doesn't have the "bardic gift."

In the course of the adventure that follows, Vanyel meets and falls in love with another guy, forges a mental and emotional bond with a "horse," and may just be the last and most powerful Herald-Mage his world has ever seen.

A Fantasy book. With a Gay Main Character. How unbelievably cool. And, it's the first in a trilogy!

While "Magic's Pawn" wasn't released as a "Young Adult" title, it is really Vanyel's coming-of-age story, and as such I think it belongs in this collection.

Add your review of "Magic's Pawn" in comments!


Anonymous said...

I'm very much a fan of "Magic's Pawn." Although I've heard that some readers find Vanyel to be irritatingly angsty and too self-loathing and therefore feel he would negatively impact questioning teens. I, on the other hand, strongly identified with the character. Here are some comments I made in my blog:

"This first book of the Last Herald Mage Trilogy was first brought to my attention by my on-line friend Pat Nelson Childs who says Lackey's work was influential in his gay-themed fantasy series The Chronicles of Firma.

"I'm not going to do a formal review of Magic's Pawn other than to say I utterly loved it and read the final few pages through a veil of tears which is for me a rare feat, and in the realm of fantasy I've only been moved that much before by Tolkien. What made Magic's Pawn such a refreshing change for me, though admittedly I've not read a great deal of fantasy, is that it's all rather low key. That is to say toned down from the usual bloody over-the-top battle sequences that are the bulk of most modern fantasy. Lackey actually infuses another element that is practically null in most mainstream fantasy, and that is romance. Even with Tolkien it seemed like the platonic love between Samwise and Frodo was more intense than the romantic love between Aragorn and Arwen. What is impressive to me is that Mercedes introduced all these uncommon elements, including a gay central hero, into mainstream fantasy way back in 1989! It was very daring of her to venture outside the fantasy "box" when she had already established herself as a successful fantasy writer. One other unusual tactic in her writing is the degree to which she gets inside her characters' heads. It's not uncommon for writers to put a sentence or two in italics to indicate what a character is thinking at the moment, but Lackey has entire paragraphs and sometimes even pages of soliloquies going on in her characters' minds.

"Naturally I'm eager to dive into the second and third installments of the trilogy and I hope that they continue in the same low-key, romantic style of the first book."

Mark R. Probst
Author of "The Filly"

Anonymous said...

We read all of the Valdemar books several years ago and loved them.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love Vanyel. Just got through re-reading the whole trilogy in fact. To me, he has the same angst of most any teen with trying to fit in and being out of place no matter what he does. And he doesn't stand up for himself easily. It's something he has to learn how to do. Just like I had to learn how to do. He also has to deal with having his choices not be popular ones and when it's ok to be in the closet and when it's ok to come out. And he deals with people who don't mind his being gay and those who have the prejudice deeply rooted in their culture.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Oh, you DID review these! Awesome. I adored these books when I was in high school--and I loved the cover art, too. This was such a heartbreaking trilogy.

Anonymous said...

This trilogy was absolutely amazing and left me crying at the very end. It's too soon to reread them (just finished a month and a half ago), but I'm looking forward to it and also to reading some more of Lackey's work. Although I am no longer a teen by a number of years, I would not hesitate to recommend this for teens and older. This trilogy had me longing for more, and I'm still on the search for well-written, gay love stories. There's way too much fluff out there, but this series actually has substance.

Anonymous said...

I love the Magic's Pawn trilogy, as well as all of Lackey's books. I think this was the first LGBTQ book I ever read, way back before I knew I was queer, and I loved it. While this was her only trilogy where the main character is LGBT, Oathbound, also by Mercedes Lackey, is really good if you like books with strong female leads.

Kari Revenant said...

I'll be good, and limit my commenting on the series to here.

Mom gave me these books for the first time when I was young-nine, she'd started me with the Arrows of the Queen series, these fell in after that. I loved them. Even if I didn't fully understand some of the bad things that happened to him, I liked how seamless it was. He lived, he loved. That was it.

Rereading it years later was equally awesome. It's stuck.

The open culture is one I almost hope for, I think many people would be happier.