Series: Last Herald-Mage, book 3
Year of publication: 1990
I’m angry at this book, but I feel like I shouldn’t be surprised. The plot of this series was always a bit weak and juvenile, the writing always a bit too melodramatic; but things didn’t really tank until the last 1/3rd of this book.
A powerful and mysterious enemy is killing off Herald-Mages. No one knows who he is, or why he’s doing this, or where he comes from, or how to stop him. After all the Herald-Mages are dead except for Vanyel, the “Last Herald-Mage” sets out to track down the bad guy and kill him. Along for the ride is Van’s new love, Stefan, who is supposedly the reincarnation of Van’s dead lover.
This was all fine, and I might have given the book 3 hearts if it hadn’t bombed at the end. It was the rape thing that really threw me. Vanyel is a crazy-powerful herald-mage, who could level a city with is mind, but he gets gang-raped by a bunch of bandits? WTF? I’ve read plenty of books that feature sexual violence, and although it’s definitely not something I like to read about, it doesn’t make me hate the whole book on principle. In this case, it was just so random and out of place. It didn’t do anything for the story or the characters, at least that I can see, and it just seemed like such a weird thing to make Vanyel’s character deal with at that point in the story.
Looking back over the series, I see that Vanyel is basically a perpetual victim. Even when he’s powerful, he’s a victim of “fate,” or “duty,” always being made to suffer for one reason or another. Maybe that wasn’t such a cliché for gay character back in the late eighties and early nineties when this series came out, but it’s definitely cliché now.
Maybe I’m not judging the series on the right criteria — or maybe it just hasn’t aged well. I can imagine being a young teen at the time this came out and absolutely loving it. Now, with so much more great quality stuff to choose from, I guess I’m just not impressed.