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Storm Breaking
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books, 463 pages

Storm Breaking
Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey was born in Chicago, IL and attended Purdue University. She worked as an artist's model and a computer programmer before turning to writing full-time.

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A review by Todd Richmond

Let me start off with a disclaimer: I have not read the first two books of The Mage Storms series. So I cannot comment on whether this book advances the series, or whether it strays from the facts we learned in the first or second books. Why review it then? Have you ever been stuck in an airport or even a small town, and only had a limited selection to chose from? Or have you ever wondered if you should read the second or third book of a series, when you don't have the option of reading the first books? Well, this type of review can tell you that. Granted, you won't have the review in hand when you're in that airport, but maybe you'll remember this review. That said, on to the book.

Storm Breaking is the third book in The Mage Storms series by Mercedes Lackey. The beginning of the book has an official timeline that places the books of the Heralds of Valdemar series in their correct chronological order. If you are wondering, The Mage Storms trilogy takes place in the Reign of Selenay, the very last chronologically. The book is basically divided into three parts. The book begins with Karal, a Channel, and a group of his friends and comrades at the Tower of Urtho, Mage of Silence, attempting to excavate his legendary Vault. They hope to discover a tool there that will allow them to halt the deadly mage storms which sweeping across their world and threatening to destroy it. The mage storms are never really explained in this book, perhaps because they have been thoroughly explained in the previous books. Karal is recovering from being used as a Channel, because in the second book they presumably succeeded in breaking the mage storms, at least temporarily.

The second part of the book is about the Herald Elspeth and the Hawkbrother Darkwind and their journey to Hardorn to act as envoys to Grand Duke Tremane. Tremane had been sent by the Emperor Charliss to conquer Hardorn for the Empire of the East. His conquest had been halted however and his army abandoned by the Emperor. Tremane and his army revolted and now, seemingly, he wishes to make amends for what he had done.

The remainder of the book concerns the intrigue and manipulation taking place at the Emperor's court. Charliss is slowly going insane and blames Valdemar for the mage storms, thinking that they are some sort of magical weapon aimed at his Empire. He is also enraged by the desertion of Tremane, whom he once considered appointing his Heir, and wishes revenge upon him. He declares Tremane's name anathema and appoints Count Baron Melles his Heir, awarding him all of Tremane's lands and possessions. Melles is not content waiting for the Throne, however, and begins his plans to become Emperor by removing Charliss.

Storm Breaking is a good book, but not one that should be read without reading the others. It fails to stand on its own because there is just too much background that isn't covered. The plot is fairly complex and it is obvious that Mercedes Lackey has a very rich background of people and places to base her stories on. But that richness and complexity also makes it impossible to just pick up one of her books and fully appreciate the story. The mage storms, the very thing that Karal and the others are trying to stop from destroying their world, are never really explained. Some of the underlying principals of magic and how it works are brought up, but never in detail. I assume that's because the other books have explained it and shown how magic works. Heralds and Hawkbrothers are not explained either. It is obvious from the reactions of the characters in the book that the Heralds are something special, but unfortunately I couldn't determine how or why. For the most part the intrigue at the Emperor's Court stands alone, mostly because it does not depend on what has happened previously. We can all understand why Melles is impatient to rule.

I enjoyed Storm Breaking, but I don't think that I will run out and pick up the first two books in series. I think that the book ended far too quickly, and I feel sorry for those that waited three books for it. I'm sure Mercedes Lackey fans will want to finish the trilogy, but I don't think I can recommend it to those who aren't fans already, or those who haven't yet started the trilogy.

Copyright © 1997 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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