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Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage #1)

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  20,257 Ratings  ·  632 Reviews
n Magic's Pawn, an ancient age in the history of Valdemar comes to life--an age when the kingdom was ravaged by the ungoverned fury of bandit warlords, ferocious ice dragons, and the wild magic of wizards. A new addition to Lackey's Valdemar kingdom--and her most powerful series to date
eBook, Adobe Digital, 295 pages
Published June 6th 1989 by Daw Books (first published 1989)
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David Williamson I agree with an earlier answer as to why you thought the book was boring. I have read all of the Valdemar books, and many other of the series she has…moreI agree with an earlier answer as to why you thought the book was boring. I have read all of the Valdemar books, and many other of the series she has written. I just love her books. I am waiting always for her next book.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 21, 2008 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel the need to explain myself. First, I read this when I was fifteen. The rating I gave it is the one I gave it when I first read it. And I admit, I still love it, even though I am a more discerning reader and can tell it's really not as great as I thought it was when I was only a squealy fangirl. End Discaimer.

The main character is Vanyel Ashkevron; he's the eldest son of a minor noble. Vanyel's not like the rest of his brothers or cousins, who take after his father; they're all tall, stron
Dec 19, 2007 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adolescents who think they might be gay or who are put upon
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
By popular demand (ok a friend asked me to "do the one with the blue-eyed telepathic horses and the owls you could ride on"), a review of the Vanyel books. This series, with it's billowing clouds of adolescent angst, gay boys, and yes, blue-eyed telepathic horses, basically got me through my teenage years. I would lock myself in my room and sob. Oh the tragedy! Oh the gayness! Oh the telepathic horses!

Note: I don't think the owls were in this series. Or the magic valleys where there were lizard
Noah Soudrette
Dec 08, 2008 Noah Soudrette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
What can I say about this book? I'm torn between being serious here, or funny. How about both?

First, let me warn you: This book is gay. Really, really gay. Gayer than He-man, gay. So, if you can;t handle lots of gay in your books, skip it. I find it a bit refreshing, if not amazingly melodramatic. That's this books big problem. The story is fine and simple, but boy oh boy, it is as melodramatic as it is gay. This book definitely falls under guilty pleasure, and is probably only a few tiers up fr
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Mar 11, 2008 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2008
Vanyel, only fifteen, is the oldest son and therefore heir to a Holding. His mother is seemingly weak-willed and obsessed with her vapours, while his father is such a Man that he needs must push Vanyel into Manly pursuits as well, which includes letting the incompetent and ignorant Armsmaster beat the crap out of him. Vanyel is more interested in music. He's also self-absorbed, introspective, selfish, arrogant, a bit petulant - in other words, young and spoilt, as well as very handsome. His fath ...more
Feb 16, 2017 Wanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: NPR list of Science Fiction & Fantasy books 2011
Oh, what a validating novel this would be for a child who had no sports talent, but was being forced to participate anyway! Every boy convinced by his father to set aside his violin or book in order to fail dismally at baseball or hockey would be able to relate to Vanyel. Music is everything to Vanyel with academics running a close second, but his father only wants him to become a brutal swordsman.

Others who may relate: those who excelled in their own small pond (small town or small school), but
Spider the Doof Warrior
No! That blurb gets the book all wrong. What really happens is Vanyel is a young, somewhat vain, interested in music teenager at odds with his warrior father who sends him off to Savil because he doesn't know what else to do with him to make a REAL MAN of him. Vanyel reluctantly falls in love with a Herald in Training Tylendal who turns out to be his life bond soul mate. Then a tragedy strikes and THAT gives Vanyel his powers.

Dang. Who writes these things? Also Tylendal was a guy because Vanyel
Jun 28, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of histrionic fantasy
Shelves: fantasy
Melodramatic, over-the-top, and as subtle as a brick to the skull, this is nevertheless an engrossing read. Vanyel's journey from a spoiled, effeminent musician-wannabee to a heart-broken, effeminent Herald-Mage is really engaging. Teenagers will especially find themselves drawn to this story. The one truly boring part is Vanyel's time spent healing with the elves (or whatever they're called--they're basically mystical Native Americans with equally mystical white hair and magical birds).
C Hellisen
This is the first Mercedes Lackey book I have read.

First of all, this review might have been pushed up a notch if I could have had an ebook version and stripped it of all italics ever. As it was, my eyes were bleeding from being stabbed repeatedly by little slanted daggers. For emphasis.

The story is standard fanfic fare - super emo kid is hated by everyone, is sent off to "become a man" by his evil dad, falls madly in love with the Most! Beautiful! Guy! EVA! after 3 seconds, is bonded for life b
Pat Childs
Mar 04, 2008 Pat Childs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this series because I was in the process of writing a fantasy novel with a gay hero and I wanted to see what other works were out there. I had never read Ms. Lackey's work, so I didn't know what to expect. I was not just pleasantly surprised by this trilogy, I was completely captivated by it and very sad when I reached the final page. The plot is interesting and the pace is quick. The characters, especially the hero Vanyel, are extremely sympathetic, primarily due to the fact that th ...more
Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌

If you're a spoiler tag reader like I am, then I will tell you now that my spoiler isn't going to be a spoiler spoiler. It just very obviously hints at some incredibly frustrating events, which you will stab yourself for if you ruin it for yourself.

(view spoiler)
Jul 14, 2010 Elise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Gary Stu does shonen ai. Although this book contains no unicorns, there are still too many unicorns.
Jun 09, 2010 Bibliotropic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: valdemar
(Reread in 2016, just because)

Okay, my first thought is that description for GoodReads actually only barely touches on the time period in which the book takes place, and even then still gets a lot of things wrong. Kind of sad, given that it's only a paragraph long...

Now, onto the real review.

This was the first Valdemar book I ever read, and it was the one to hook me, reel me in, and never let me go. Every time I pick it up and read it, I'm taken back to a hot lazy summer in which my friend hande
Jan 13, 2011 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Magic’s Pawn is absolutely brilliant! It took me about 100 to 150 pages to finally get into it, (when Vanyel finally meets his aunt Savil and her Herald trainee Tylendel, (too dangerously close to the OTC Tylenol)), but once I did I couldn’t let go. Mercedes Lackey had me smiling as I read, falling in love, crying my eyes out, and joyously cheering Vanyel on. It’s one of the best emotional roller coasters I’ve read.
I’ve only read her work The Obsidian Trilogy, which I loved and there are just a
Jenni Lea
Jun 10, 2014 Jenni Lea marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

I could have been reading M/M back in the 80's? Mercedes Lackey was always on the shelves next to Anne McCaffrey in the bookstores and library. I always chose Anne McCaffrey. Not sure why I never read anything of Lackey's. Look what I've been missing!
Feb 17, 2010 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's lots of praise and lots of laughing about Mercedes Lackey's books, either of which apply for those of her books I read alike. But still, despite constantly reoccuring elements that would bug me into stopping to read other books altogether, I never can put one of her books down. It's no different with Magic's Pawn, first in the trilogy on Vanyel, a character in the Valdemar universe.

This book has everything. Absolutely too many italics AND BOLD PRINT, angst, more angst, over the top magic
Aug 16, 2009 Mira_natural rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, gay, 2009
It was one of the worst books I've ever read. I read it because many people told me it was great, but, really, it was pure masochism. That level of stupid angst is almost unbearable. The worst things happen to the main hero and he's totally emo all the time. Oh, and tries to kill himself all the time. I was hoping for some light reading; instead, I ended up with a book that made me want to bang my head into the nearest wall because of it's sheer stupidity.
Gorgeous cover. Reminds me of long forgotten children's books.:)
I liked Vanyel. Goodreads consensus seems to be that he's a whiny little shit, and I'm not saying that's not true, but I liked him for his being a whiny little shit. Once in a while you're allowed to be.

Vanyel has bad luck with pretty much everything. He doesn't like up to his father's inflexible ideas of masculinity, he's being beaten for being effeminate, and no one understands him. Two out of the three are actual legitimate grievances, and if you think this angst is overblown just wait until
Anna Kļaviņa
I was reading Limyaael's rants and she mentions this book

Oh, Teh Tragedy! Oh, Teh Doom! Oh, Teh Angst!

Here’s something I don’t get: Why, in fantasy worlds where the balance of sexuality is different and the society is portrayed as less prejudiced than our own modern one, do gay and lesbian characters wind up living incredibly over-angsty lives anyway?

(view spoiler)
Oct 10, 2011 Contrarius rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

I just finished this book, and I gotta say that I can really see a high school girl swooning over it. Soooo much angst, sooooo much melodrama, sooooooo much pretty ponies, soooo much....well, adolescentness. I can see it all the way.

OTOH, as an adult, I have to do a lot of head shaking. For some of the very same reasons. The main character, Vanyel, is a self-absorbed self-pitying jerk of a teenager for most of the book. Fortunately, he's SUPPOSED to be a self-absorbed self-pitying jerk of a
Mar 27, 2008 Sianeka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-themed, fantasy
I don't normally like Mercedes Lackey books. I'm not certain why, but most of her stories leave me cold, and I forget about them shortly after I close the cover of the book. But Magic's Pawn is different.

I truly care about Vanyel Ashkevron, the main character of this series. He is handsome and proud and arrogant and lonely and desperate and scared and insecure, all at once. There are moments in the story when I wish he would be a little less insecure and chin up, but those moments are rare. Most
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2016 fleurette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I have liked this book more than I have expected. I'm not a typical fantasy fan and I have never read anything by Mercedes Lackey.

First of all, the person who wrote the blurb should be banished from writing anything else in his or her life. We have undoubtedly read two different completely books! The blurb says Vanyel is some kind of self-centered prick who was born with a great magical power while in my book he is a very miserable boy who has never known he has magic in him, and who probably wo
Nov 03, 2015 Connie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my gosh were do I even begin. I cried a lot reading this book I connected to the main character on a very deep level that is very personal to me. I don't no what to say about this story except that it was beautifully sad. It could just be that I'm an emotional sap and that's okay. This book also gave me more respect for same sex relations not that I ever had any thing against same sex relationships but theirs always that little voice in the back of my head that (most strait people have) tells ...more
Magic, love, tragedy, courage, magic creatures and a fantastic world building... What else should I want from a fantasy?
Nothing... It has all.
Loved it.. And I want to read more to know how the saga will end... I fear it. Van's path is full of wonders but also pain... And I felt his pain in this book. Will the next hurt and bring so much join again? I have to read to know... And I will.

5 stars
3.75 stars. 1.25 star off for too much hurt, for Lendel and for the very weird lull in the middle of the book.

Liked it otherwise, will probably read it again, just not the rest of the series, seeing how the author likes to do away with the characters we get attached to.
Deja Dei
Apr 23, 2011 Deja Dei rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read these forever ago and they'll always have a special place in my heart.
May 23, 2017 Drew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much of this book was so irritating but something kept me reading and engaged in the story. The mind-speak is the worst. Not only is the concept of it annoying but that it's stylized with colons and italics. The companions are horrible flat characters. All the men are "beautiful." She uses excessive quotation marks for no reason (It "felt" like Yfandes)and all of the magic terminology drives me crazy, (they used mind-speak in "private mode" at one point, seriously? That's the terminology you' ...more
Anne Freya
Feb 21, 2016 Anne Freya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, lgbtqqiaap
If it weren't recommended by C.S. Pacat , I won't even find this Valdemar universe in Goodreads.
The Last Herald-Mage series is one of the sub-serieses of Valdemar series but as I gathered from Valdemar's fans, it's not necessarily to read the sub-serieses in chronological order to dive into Valdemar easily, so I skipped its predecessor : The Mage Wars series entirely and started from this series instead.

Needless to say, the world building is magnificent. The Companion and its Chosen, the
Aug 08, 2008 Ash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got the strangest urge to reread this trilogy today. It seems like a bad idea. I loved this in highschool but I am sure it is not going to live up...................................

Here is everything that I disjointedly remember about these books:

They are basically a torrid gay love story for teenage girls. Vanyel is the main character and he is very pretty and VERY angsty and NO ONE UNDERSTANDS HIM so he goes to live with his aunt or something. He wants to be a Bard - Bards are like magical
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The Sword and Laser: Lackey's The Last Herald Mage series & gay characters in SF/Fantasy 11 116 Dec 28, 2015 08:52AM  
Companions 7 41 Aug 05, 2013 11:32AM  
  • Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner, #2)
  • Lord of the White Hell, Book 2 (Lord of the White Hell, #2)
  • Mariner's Luck (Scarlet and the White Wolf, #2)
  • The Fire's Stone
  • The Virtu (Doctrine of Labyrinths, #2)
  • Crescendo (Song of the Fallen, #2)
  • The Archer's Heart
  • Elvenborn (Halfblood Chronicles, #3)
Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &am ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...

Other Books in the Series

Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage (3 books)
  • Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)
  • Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3)

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“The great love is gone. There are still little loves - friend to friend, brother to sister, student to teacher. Will you deny yourself comfort at the hearthfire of a cottage because you may no longer sit by the fireplace of a palace? Will you deny yourself to those who reach out to you in hopes of warming themselves at your hearthfire?” 160 likes
“[...] what the hell do I do about a broken lifebond?"

He shook his head, obviously at a loss. "I can't tell you; I don't know. I don't Heal minds, I Heal bodies. And I don't know of anyone who Heals hearts.”
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