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Mercedes Lackey has been a prodigious American author of fantasy fiction since the late nineteen eighties, her greatest body of work revolves around her tales of the land of Valdemar comprising of several sets of trilogies which detail the land's history over a three thousand year period.
The Mage Storms (2015. 1016 pages) is a collection of one of the trilogies and covers the last portion of the Valdemar chronicles. The collected set consists of Storm Warning (1994), Storm Rising (1995) and Storm Breaking (1996).
Valdemar is just one continental kingdom, surrounded by the countries of Iftel, a bit of a mystery at the beginning of the book having blocked itself off with a barrier, but vital to its conclusion; Hardorn (I kid you not), which plays a significant role; Karse, from whence the stories main point of view character appears; and the old Empire, who under the aging Emperor Charliss sends his potential successor, the Grand Duke Tremane, to subdue Hardorn, which acts as a catalyst for much of the action.
As one can imagine as this represents the forth trilogy in the series much of how the world works has been covered in previous novels, but Lackey provides enough information for the novice reader to get a feel for the land. The world is, unsurprisingly familiar, with its faux medieval tone, as well as the inclusion of various forms of magic, deities and supernatural creatures.
One of the main driving forces in the books is the idea that the world is troubled by magic storms. These are destructive and there is concern that should they return they may well become strong enough to totally destroy the world, this and the political instabilities are what drive many of the characters.
There is a peculiarity in the novel in that Lackey spends a long time setting her characters up, meaning we spend a lot of time in their heads while little else is going on. Obviously she wanted this trilogy to answer many questions raised by the previous books, such as what are the storms and where do they come from, as well as tying off many of the plot threads. The problem is that the end of the third book reintroduces characters from previous trilogies in such a way as to make them feel more like a theatrical curtain call than a necessary inclusion.
It’s not a bad trilogy, but the intricacies of the world which Lackey has constructed really call for the reader to start at the beginning with Arrows of the Queen (1987).