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Magic's Pawn

(Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage #1)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  23,718 ratings  ·  816 reviews

Though Vanyel has been born with near-legendary abilities to work both Herald and Mage magic, he wants no part of such things. Nor does he seek a warrior's path, wishing instead to become a Bard. Yet such talent as his if left untrained may prove a menace not only to Vanyel but to others as well. So he is sent to be fostered with his aunt, Savil, one of the fame
Mass Market Paperback, 349 pages
Published June 6th 1989 by DAW Books Inc
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Curly Carla Celebrity Readers This is my favorite book by Mercedes Lackey. If you don't like this one you may have a hard time liking the others.
That being said, Winds of Fate has…more
This is my favorite book by Mercedes Lackey. If you don't like this one you may have a hard time liking the others.
That being said, Winds of Fate has a completely different world within it. It has herald mages but takes place outside of Valdemar. You could try that one. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  23,718 ratings  ·  816 reviews

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Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Noah Soudrette
Dec 08, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of histrionic 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).
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
C Hellisen
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
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
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
3.5 stars

Well, I was all ready to go with this one, geared up to finally get to this trilogy which has been on my Kindle for the last three years, actually looking forward to one of these - and then my friends "helpfully" reminded me of how the trilogy ends. Granted, there was a very brief detailing of Vanyel's legend in the Arrows of the Queen trilogy, very early on, but I had managed to forget it completely by this point. Being reminded - accidentally, granted - right as I was starting this bo
Pat Childs
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Huh. I didn't read the blurb when I shelved this because I read it years before goodreads, but after reading Spider's review I notice that yes, the blurb is quite misleading. The main character is not sent to his aunt to get his magic powers trained. He doesn't have magic powers until SPOILER way later in the story. He is sent away from home because his father doesn't like that he is interested in music and clothes and books rather than sword fighting and knocking up the maids like a man should ...more
Aug 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
James Chatham
such a melodramatic joy of a book
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)
Final Rating: 4.25/5
Final Rating for the whole series: 4.25/5

"There is no shame in loving. (...) This I think I have learned: where there is love, the form does not matter, and the gods are pleased. This I have observed: what occurs in nature, comes by the hand of nature, and if the gods did not approve, it would not be there. I give you these things as food for your heart and mind.”

This book should be illegal. Call the police, because it just killed all of my feelings and did more
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
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Gary Stu does shonen ai. Although this book contains no unicorns, there are still too many unicorns.
Carolyn F.
Previous review Misunderstood youth who find his true love and other special powers at his aunt's place. Good book. More Young Adult than I thought it would be, but still good. 3-1/2 stars.

Current review - AudiobookI didn't realize when I read the book versus listening to the book how much whining and passing out went on in this book. (view spoiler)
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Carolyn F.
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Previous review Misunderstood youth who find his true love and other special powers at his aunt's place. Good book. More Young Adult than I thought it would be, but still good. 3-1/2 stars.

Current review - Audiobook I didn't realize when I read the book versus listening to the book how much whining and passing out went on in this book. (view spoiler)
Jenni Lea
Jun 10, 2014 marked it as to-read

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 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
When I first read Lackey's Cute Magical Horseys, Magic Schools for Angstier-than-Thou Kids and also Occasional Off-Page Orgies (which is how I remember this series from my childhood, okay), I ended up reading Arrows of the Queen and a few later volumes quite a few times, but somehow *never* made my way back to one that is perhaps among the best-known parts of the series: The Last Herald-Mage trilogy.

First, I didn't read them because they weren't available in my favourite library. Then, I didn't
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it

this, to me, wasnt the most groundbreakingly original fantasy novel (i´m especially tired of random nonsense made up languages that appear and have all these apostrophes and aren´t translated in any way and make zero sense)
also, for a short fearful moment i almost thought this was going to be a really sexist world setting but it wasn´t, at least not more sexist than our beautiful actual universe is either, plus it actually features badass female characters, which is rlly a good aspect

good th
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
Smothered by his oppressive country family, Vanyel is given a second chance when he's sent to the city to live with his aunt, a Herald instructor. But his maturation begets tragedy, and magic, and perhaps war. Magic's Pawn seems intended to be a powerful emotional journey of love and loss, but Lackey expresses almost no understanding of human emotion. Vanyel lives in emotional extremes, his character growth is delineated and repetitive, and most of all his experience and reactions are both so tr ...more
Naomi Waters
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of high fantasy and stories of growth and healing
Perfection, utter perfection.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Allison Hurd
An emotionally destructive book. It started out so typically YA and then was like "surprise! Not a YA, this is open heart surgery. BTW we just ran out of anesthesia. Strap in!"

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things to love:
-Van and Lendel. They are a great young couple who work to bolster each other. It's wonderful to see relationships built on mutual respect and affection, when so often in books it seems there's a skewed d
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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The Sword and Laser: Lackey's The Last Herald Mage series & gay characters in SF/Fantasy 11 130 Dec 28, 2015 08:52AM  
Companions 7 47 Aug 05, 2013 11:32AM  

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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 & M ...more

Other books in the series

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

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