Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey
Series: Mage Winds, Valdemar
Published by DAW on August 1, 1993
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With Valdemar in dire peril – threatened by the malevolent spellcraft of Ancar of Hardon – Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has come to the Vale of the Tayledras Clan to seek training among the magical Hawkbrother Adepts. But instead of finding a haven, she is whirled into a maelstrom of war and sorcery as the Vale is attacked by a mysterious Dark Adept from out of the "uncleansed lands."
And when the Heartstone, the source of magical power for the Clan , is warped by evil sorceries and turned into a dangerous rouge disabling the most powerful of the Hawkbrother Adepts, Elspeth – still only a half trained mage – and the renegade Hawkbrother-Adept Darkwind must struggle to tame the rouge Heartstone before the next strike of the Dark Adept, risking the perils of the unknown in a desperate bid to save both of their people.
Note: There will be light spoilers for Winds of Fate in this review. Please read Winds of Fate prior to reading this review.
The ending of Winds of Fate left the K’Sheyna Vale and its inhabitants in chaos. Darkwind’s father, Starblade, has been freed from Mornelithe Falconsbane’s control but still deeply damaged. Nyara – Falconsbane’s abused daughter – has gone into hiding with Need and the gryphlets have been cleansed from Falconsbane’s taint. Unfortunately, Falconsbane is still alive, the Heartstone is still damaged and damaging, and Ancar of Hardon is still trying to consume Valdemar.
Elspeth, Skif, the Companions and the Shaman Tre’valen all are sworn in as Wing-Sib[lings] (they become members of the clan) and pledge their assistance with healing the Heartstone. As Wing-Sibs, Skif can stay in the area to search for Nyara (who he has fallen in love with) and Elspeth will receive training.
A lot of action takes place in Winds of Change: K’Sheyna Vale reaches out for help with the Heartstone and receive Firesong K’Treva, an immensely powerful and creative Healing Adept. Need takes Nyara under her wing to being both healing and training as the Shaman Kethra heals Darkwind’s father. Elspeth’s training includes border skirmishes and the reader learns that there is more to the Companions than meets the eye.
As the work on purifying the damaged Heartstone continues, Falconsbane attacks the Vale by trying to kill Starblade and destroy the Vale via a link he tied from Starblade’s life force to the damaged Heartstone. This action forces K’Sheyna to confront Falconsbane. The confrontation with Falconsbane shows everyone that the time has come to work together because they are all at risk:
“All peoples face a grave threat from the same source, but three stand to lose the most; the Shin’a’in –”
“For what we guard,” he completed. That was a truism, and always had been.
She nodded emphatically. “Yes. The Tayledras, also, for what we know – and the Outlanders of Valdemar, for what they are. And somehow those threats are as woven together as the lives of the Outlanders and the Sundered Kin have become in these last few days.”
The winds of change have come and they will not be denied. The three peoples come to realize their fates are tied as one. And only as one will they survive.
I really enjoy Winds of Change. Surprisingly, it’s my favorite book in the Mage Winds trilogy. I say “surprisingly” because it’s the “middle” book but I feel it really moves the plotline along. I love the background the reader gets into Need and her history as well as the story-line about Dawnfire and Tre’valen. My favorite part – hands down – is the tiny cameo by Tarma (Vows & Honor, By the Sword).
There is a good deal of heavy-handed foreshadowing for the following Mage Storms series but it’s palatable.
Reading Winds of Change has been an excellent trip down memory lane…and not a Suck Fairy in sight. Of course, as with most Mercedes Lackey series, readers have to ignore and/or overlook continuity issues within the Valdemar universe as a whole.