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 ony to Vanyel but to others as well. So he is sent to be fostered with his aunt, Savil, one of the fame Herald-Mages of Valdemar. But, strong-willed and self-centered, Vanyel is a challenge which even Savil can not master alone. For soon he will become the focus of frightening forces, lending his raw magic to a spell that unleashes terrifying wyr-hunters on the land. And by the time Savil seeks the assistance of a Shin'a'in Adept, Vanyel's wild talent may have already grown beyond anyone's ability to contain, placing Vanyel, Savil, and Valdemar itself in desperate peril...
Well, now. This book took me to that magic place, the place where things happen in my head. How can you not love that?
Finally a boy who does not want to fight with swords and be the strongest, most badass and powerful man alive. No, Vanyel just wants to be a bard, to sing, he is a boy who has always felt left out, never understanding why, and who finally comes into his own. It is a high tale of fantasy, of magicke of the very best kind, of great endeavors and great pain. Of love for animals and people alike.
The language also needs mentioning: as always with my reading, it is the turn of phrase that captivates me, that makes me dream. The words that, when put together in exactly the right way, just transport me.
This story does that. It has made me soar and fall flat on my face, it has made me love and it has had me wailing in sorrow and loss. And quite a lot of anger. Yeah, suicide does that to me.
What about those words, then? Well, here are some sentences that need tasting, as per my usual M.O.—remember to read them out loud, taste them, swirl them around your mouth, on your tongue:
"Far off in the distance, Vanyel could hear the meadowswifts crying like the lost souls of ghost-children."
"And no god intervened to unmake the past."
"The sensation brought up memories that cut him into little shreds."
And then, how to describe what music looks like:
"Cool, green-gold music threaded into the darkness."
(I can feel the color on my skin, almost).
And further, how lost you can be!? How to describe it? Well, like this:
"I don't know where I'm going, I don't know what I'm going to do when I get there, I have no idea where I am." and he STILL goes on and DOES IT. Whatever it takes. Sheer brilliance.
When it gets difficult and hard, and it almost kills him, he hears from the one person he really admires, that he did well, as well as he could under the circumstances: "I think perhaps you have mistaken inexperience for cowardice, young Vanyel." That is confirmation right there. You did well, boy.
Beautiful words, all of them. And at the end you come to the conclusion that:
"If I can protect people like this from people like them—doesn't that mean—that I really have to?"
Yes, it does. The strong and gifted have to look after the ones who are not strong and gifted. Well done, young Vanyel. Well done.
I was NOT asked to read this book by anyone, and I paid for it with my own money. I promptly went out and bought the two sequels in the series, too. That's how I roll.
Thank you for reading, hope you liked this review.
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