MADE IT! I was tempted to call my review: "HMT-Magic's promise: Everyone sucks Vanyel's dick, the book!" But the title had too many characters. So, I may have mentioned that, I bought the whole Trilogy in my last review of the first book in the series. They were all woven together and it was a purchase on my iPad. So, I got them all for the price of a single book in the hopes that I'd be reading about people blasting the shit out of each other with magic, fighting off demons, creatures of legend, becoming hardened warriors and defying their royal families priss. Y'know, old school Fantasy genre stuff. Being that these books were written 20 years ago, I expected something a little cheesy but ultimately, fun to read.
NO.NO.No.No.no.no.nooooooooooooooooooooooooo. So I read through the first book, which is in this review here. That book focused on Van getting sent to study with the uber-mages, his boyfriend getting killed, and then him becoming a Super Saiyan. You can read it, it's right there. I'll wait...okay I've waited long enough. Reviewing now! Okay so, Magic's Promise. Too bad it didn't live up to the "Promise" part. Essentially, this book takes place 10 years after the events of the first book. We literally land right on Vanyel as he's coming home from a mission. Now, over the past ten years, Vanyel has earned a fuckton of stupid titles to go along with him being a Gary Stu. There's NO question that he's a Gary Stu. Not at all. He's got the strongest power of everyone, his whole mission that he's coming home from stated that the people he was fighting, thought he was five mages, not one man. His main titles that we hear most often are: Vanyel Demonsbane, Shadow-stalker. Do we get to see how he earned these titles? NO. Do we get a story about how he earned those titles? NO. We just get to accept that he's got titles that are 'coooooooool' (as a certain orange glow, radio active-cat would say) and that everyone is afraid of him.
Good gods, we're still being TOLD. I WANT to see people fear him, and not from his perspective. I want to SEE their deference. Every time we're told that there's fear in someones eyes, it's literally Vanyel thinking to himself that he see's it. We don't actually see the respect Vanyel carries, it's just TOLD to us by people he randomly runs into. I've never seen Vanyel at court, I've never seen anyone shrink away from him in fear, I've only ever seen servants who are serving him act like servants and stay out of his way, but not because of who he is. We literally, ONLY have Vanyel's word that ANYONE Is afraid of him. And then we've got other characters putting on airs for him, people left and right falling all over him to extol how amazing he is but we've NEVER seen this ONCE. So, book start and he's going home to the family that hates him because...he wants to take a few weeks leave from his job and staying in the capital he'd only be summoned to do more work? Okay, why not just go visit those people you lived with in the end of the last book? They're not assholes and you hate your family, Van. Why? Oh because we need drama, JUST in case this series hasn't had enough of that.
Speaking of Drama, we get started right into that. Apparently the whole fucking world is going to fall apart if Vanyel isn't around, so he's been stretched thin. He's finally getting a break and everyone tells him "You look like hell" and feels sorry for him all over the fucking place. Oh and that life bonded couple that only showed up when plot determined there may be more than two people in the story? Oh they're fucking dead. Died offscreen with Van waxing all sympathetic and whiny about it. Well, seeing as how they were never really developed as full fledged, dependable characters, let alone friends, this rings as hollow as Tylendel's death. SPEAKING OF WHICH! Get used to hearing about that folks, it's literally the theme for the whole FUCKING book. Van spends this entire book feeling sorry for himself left and right and I feel like I'm still following a teenage boy. I don't feel like Vanyel has aged at all. He bitches and whines and bitches the whole time about how lonely he is, but he doesn't bother getting in love because "Oh my job." Though at this point, he's fathered 3 kids for three separate friends because, OKAY. They're all only given a half mention save one, and her mention is just to drum up MORE stuff for Van to whine about.
So, Van goes home to Forst Reach and essentially this book revolves around him making peace with his family. That wouldn't be too terrible, except that literally EVERYONE is on Van's side the instant he walks in the fucking door. Van, like the manchild he is, is thinking snipey things about the brothers and sisters that teased him, about his mother, about his father, their priest, the armsmaster, etc. He walks in the door in super pout mode. I'm fucking tired of this. I hate this. After I read the last book in this godforsaken series, I'm going to cleanse my fucking brain with bleach. When I read the Symphony of Ages, it became my favorite book series because EVERYTHING was so intricate, from the origins of the races of people, to how saying someones true name or even uttering lies to the wind had vast magical consequences for those of magic blood. The world is so vast, so beautiful and so well made that, just thinking about it makes me want to toss these books aside and go read the whole Symphony of Ages series again JUST because I want to read GOOD fantasy. For just FIVE minutes. Vanyel is now like, 38 years old and he still acts like such a petulant little bitch.
So we get to see him pout to his dad, we get to see him pout to his brother, and to the armsmaster and slowly they all start to see how right and unerring Van is, because he's the Gary Stu and can't make mistakes. He's just always been misunderstood. The Priest is suspicious because he doesn't like Van. 3 guesses as to who masterminds the force-feeding of plot we'll get later? Someone who doesn't agree with our prissy overlord? He's hella Satan! Oh, turns out Van's dad and his brothers crank out mage-babies like mad. Turns out there's another mage in the house hold, and he's a bastard. Now, Van feels bad for him and gets him a place at the institute he was sent to. Now, Withen, Van's father, has done a complete about face. In the first book, Withen wasn't happy with all the mage shit and he's still leery. HOWEVER, now he can't wait to send his second eldest son's bastard child to mage school. Yeah, alright. Also, again, Van's cranked out 3 kids of his own that he didn't want, he just fucked surrogates for a couple of his friends who wanted babies. Guess who else is mage-talented? All of Van's kids! So, we're up to our eyes in mages now. Yay us. Hope some of them have more to do than agree with everything Van wants. Van didn't even have to ARGUE with his father about it. Even VAN was surprised by this. Nope. Daddy agrees with NO information as to why. He just does!
Finally plot happens. Some magic splody shit is goin' on over the border and Van can't take that lying down! So he jumps the border into an enemy/hostile nation and wouldn't you know it, the whole ruling family has been magically murdered. Save one. Van discovers the heir to the throne is still alive, and so he rescues him and brings him back to his own fortress of feels while he and his Herald Mage buddies try to figure out who did what and why. Now, you'd think that because plot finally god the goddamned show on the road, we'd be getting somewhere right? NOPE Van has a few more pissy arguments with people before they all come around to see his way. Hell, his own father, not entirely stoked by the fact that now they've got ANOTHER untrained mage on their hands, he's also the son of an enemy king. Yet, because Van asked him to, Withen is guns blazing, balls out, ready to defend a kid he knows fuckall about because...about face. Honestly these characters are so fluid there's no consistency whatsoever. They just do whatever Mercedes was feeling in the moment would be cool, I guess.
So, now they're trying to make this kid (he's 16) Tashir, (Who looks just like Van's dead boyfriend. "OH THE MEMORIES OF THOSE 3 CHAPTERS WE SPENT TOGETHER HURT ME SO! OH HOW CAN I LIVE WITH YOU DEAD!" This goes on for CHAPTERS.) to remember what kind of magic murdered everybody while they figure out a way to sneak into the palace and discover the reasons why on their own or if there is another super seedy plot. But first! More whine! The anniversary of Tylendel's death happens, Vanyel whines MORE (if that were possible) and then he decides to jump the border to go gather intel. We see maybe a few pages of him pretending to be a bard to gather information, but instead of him having to actually WORK for that information, some randy fuck just tells him everything he wants to know. I'm not even kidding, some bitch sees him in a tavern working, somehow knows who he is, and then tells him everything. We don't really get to see him roughing it, we get a few TOLD TO US mention of things, and ultimately I don't FEEL what's happening AT ALL. Info wise: Ruler of another nation is trying to capture two kingdoms and put a single ruler at their head because of some old ass treaty that, for SOME reason, says "Oh yeah, if a bad thing happens, lets just COMBINE two kingdoms into one and plant a single ruler on the throne." ...Two kingdoms that DON'T get along... god. Damnit.
The logic fails in this book are gaping. The only reason that they are HERE to begin with is because Mercedes didn't want to write a fantasy novel, she wanted romance, I guess. Because so little of this book has to do with the actual fantasy elements. We FINALLY get told that, holy shit there's a lot of magic in this kingdom that hates magic. WTF why would they do that, it's such an abundant resource, right? Well, turns out there's a big magical node of magic that, if drained by mages using it up, would cause the whole city to collapse. Well shit, explains why using magic here can get you into some serious shit. So, Van enlists his aunt, his armsmaster, and Tashir to go to the castle and find out who killed the royal family. Gee, I wonder if it's the SINGLE person that's contracted to be put on the throne if the ruling family dies, or something. Just a thought. They get there, and because there's like, hardly foreshadowing in this book everything they learn comes out of nowhere or was so explained already, having it explained again is just irritating.
Essentially, they discover a trap spell in the castle that'll kill anyone of a magic bloodline who steps through it and everyone related to them that possesses magic. They also discover something called a "Heart stone" which, I don't think they've ever mentioned these before but Van starts going on about a heart stone he'd used once. Y'know, I really wish that first book was based on LEARNING. I could've figured out so much about the world this book tried to build if Mercedes had just BUILT it. But no, we're introduced to all of these random things that Van knows about and ONLY when they're convenient and not before. We don't see him study or anything. He just pulls the knowledge out of thin air, thus destroying any potential for foreshadowing that existed in the first book. So, Van talks to the heartstone and learns that, the magical node under the city is holding the damn thing up and could actually destroy half the country side including parts of neighboring countries if destroyed. So, they have to unweave the trap spell and then find a way to protect the heartstone.
Then, dun, dun, dun, the bad guy shows up. He's been name dropped throughout the book, but because he wasn't a credible threat I just rolled my eyes. Vadric, the dude who would be contractually obligated by the treaty if the royal family was dead, to take over the crown, is the bad guy. What a shock, didn't see the obvious bad guy as being the bad guy. Well, he's a mage and he wanted the nodes power, not realizing that it's very use would destroy his country. Not giving two shits though, he attacks everybody. Van's aunt and Tashir escape, Van and the armsmaster stay and fight. Because fight scenes suck in this series, we get overlong descriptions of how much pain Van is in, yet he's still kicking Vadric's ass. Because, y'know, once you're level 100 it doesn't fucking matter. Well, Van then just randomly discovers that Vadric is drawing magic from a family bond and that his whole family was in on the scandal. So Van does the only logical thing. He uses the magic from the node and laser eyes it into Vacric's face. This kills Vadric and anyone linkd to him by way of magic. OH it also drains the node. Oh shit, looks like the country is gonna blow up.
Wait...it doesn't? Why the hell didn't the fucking fire and brimstone happen that Van SAW was going to happen? Ah that's right, Van can do no wrong. Node didn't break because the good guy used it. Good to know. So Van teleports himself and armsmaster with him. When he comes out of the portal whoopsie, he's just been stabbed in the gut. Turns out evil priest was evil and shivved him. What a dick. So, Van uses magic and uppercuts the prick before passing out. We then get to have him having this fever dream while everyone tries to save him. (I swear to the gods, both of these books have spent SO MUCH TIME with Van being passed out, waited on, people fussing over "OMG IS HE OKAY!?" and how important he is, he should just be in a padded room somewhere, JUST TO PROTECT OUR UNIQUE LITTLE SNOWFLAKE.) So he finally wakes up, everyone is fawning over him, he feels sorry for himself (big shock) and then HE relegates someone to take both thrones in the other country because I GUESS he gets to do that because VAN said so and VAN is never wrong. And then the story ends.
Yeah like the plot showed up in the last fucking chapter. Not even kidding. Gods this was a slog. 500+ pages is nothing for me, normally. I can read at LEAST 400 in a day (and not because I'm so AHMAZING but because, if the book is good enough you just can't leave it alone. No food, no breaks, just REAAAAAAAAD!) so having this second book take me more than a day is just sad. It also speaks to how incredibly BORED I am with it. This entire book was just Van whining about not being loved or appreciated enough and how lonely he is despite that EVERYONE around him has gone out of their fucking way and sings his praises. We get to hear how there are bards running around Valdemar writing and singing songs about Vanyel's adventures. I mean, if any of us readers had ever actually BEEN on one of those with him, we could figure out why. Instead we're just told he's important and shown that he's still a childish, whiny, self-loathing little bitch all the time. Wow, so, literally NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE HAPPENED. Welcome to the Herald Mage Trilogy. It's gonna take me a while to get on that 3rd book. I need to read some Symphony of Ages to get my faculties back.
- Listening to: Sound
- Reading: Magic's Promise
- Watching: Book
- Playing: Games
- Eating: Food
- Drinking: Coffee