Friday, 24 April 2015

The Mage Winds

The Mage Winds
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

High Magic was lost to Valdemar centuries ago, when the last Herald-Mage gave his life to save the kingdom from dark sorcery. But now the realm is at risk again, and it falls to Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, to defend it. Abandoning her home, Elspeth seeks a mentor who can awaken her untrained mage abilities, and soon learns that others, too, are being caught up in a war against sorcerous evil. The Tayledras scout Darkwind is the first to stumble across the menace creeping forth from the Uncleansed Lands. As the dark sorcery begins to take its toll, Darkwind must battle an enemy able to wreak greater devastation with spells than with swords, and is forced to call upon powers he has sworn never to use again. The Mage Winds omnibus follows Princess Elspeth, future Queen of Valdemar, as she masters her mage gift and defends her threatened kingdom.

In Winds of Fate, Elspeth, the Herald who also happens to be the Heir, is in the midst of her training, but when an assassination attempt is made, one that has something to do with magic, she starts to think about the magical situation in Valdemar. Her conclusionThe protective magic is changing and it's high time Valdemar started using mages. Elspeth finally gains her mother, and the council's permission to go on a  quest, to find a mage strong enough to get through the protections of Valdemar and help them fight against Ancar, training any Heralds with possible Mage gift. On the journey it becomes apparent Elspeth has a large mage gift, and decides to forge her own path, instead of the one laid out for her. When Elspeth makes it to her destination, she finds herself faced with new allies, a new group of people, and a battle with an evil Mage, Falconsbane. 

Darkwind is dealing with his father's changes since their sacred Heartstone shattered, he is the first to notice the evil brewing beyond their borders. When he saves a change child who happens to be the daughter of Falconsbane, they have an insight in to their foe, but with Nyara being Falconsbanes daughter she can't resist his call. When the Gryphons and their gryphlets are attacked and the evil mages mark put upon them, as a way to get to their magical node, and a friend of Darkwinds is trapped in her bond bird, the truth about Darkwind's father and the shattering of the Heartstone comes out. Just as well that Elspeth arrives, ready to help take down Falconsbane. 

In Winds of Change, Elspeth is in the Vale being taught magic by Darkwind, who is also learning himself, and Hydona when help from another clan arrives, powerful Adept Firesong. His purpose is to help Starblade and the Heartstone, but in order to help heal the Heartstone he will need the help of the only other two Adepts in the Vale...Elspeth and's safe to say their teacher kicks their training up a notch! Unfortunately, Falconsbane isn't as dead as they where hoping, and the gang have to face him in battle again.

Meanwhile, pre-battle with douchey Falconsbane, Skif is on a mission to find Nyara and bring her back to the Vale, while Nyara is undergoing an attitude change courtesy of Need, and just in time. They will need Nyara's help to take down her father once and for all. 

In Winds of Fury, Elspeth and the gang head back to Valdemar to deal with Valdemar's newly created Heartstone, and find out why, exactly, the power transferred there instead of to the new Vale. The answer is something they certainly weren't expecting, something ancient and spiritual, shall we say. When the shield around Valdemar has to come down, it's a race against time to train up and gather as many mages as they can to help defend Valdemar from Ancar. 

Meanwhile, Ancar finally rears his ugly head, and he's not alone. When his magic goes wrong, he finds himself with a  new best friend. Falconsbane. A very knackered Falconsbane, but still. Falconsbane is under Ancar's control, but not as much as Ancar believes, however, Falconsbane also has the remnants of the person who's body he stole, still floating about in his head....and he wants to fight back. 

As the two kingdoms prepare for battle, Elspeth and co find themselves travelling undercover to Hadorn to deal with Ancar and Falconsbane once and for all. 

Okay so this was a great omnibus and I need to read the first omnibus as soon as possible and then the next one! I think I'm going to be reading all the other books this author has to offer as well because this book was so good, and so engrossing and it sucks you in to this incredibly imaginative world and keeps you there the entire time you read. 

The first book built the world fantastically around the plot and the action, you see the different areas of it and the world is created so vividly you feel like you're actually there. It's an impressive show of imagination and one that reaches out to your imagination, and brings it to life as you read. The world created is expansive, with a rich history and mythology and background to it that comes across in the story, alongside the plot. The first book is a perfect set up, moving the characters where they need to be for the next part, while explaining what's going on in the world politically and in general and while filling you in on the history. 

But all of this information works because it's compelling and fascinating and you want to read about it as much as you want to read about the characters and what they're doing. Somehow all this background information is twined with the plot and the action so you get a huge understanding of the world without being bored. 

The world sucks you in as much as the characters do, but what I loved was how original, at least to me, the books where. I loved the idea of the Heralds and their Companions and why they exist and how they came about and how the current set up of the kingdom came about. I loved the idea of the Hawkbrothers and their Bondbirds, and this series is so full of awesome! 

I need to read the other two omnibus's and pretty much every other book the author has written because I want to know more about the world and the background and the history, I want to see other parts of the world, other lifestyles. 

The politics, history and mythology to the world are not only rich, they're complex, and very well detailed and explained. I came away from the book with  more understanding of the goings on of the world in the book than the one in my own. 

There was some romance in the book but it was very subtle and secondary to the main plot of the book, I enjoyed the romances, they where natural, realistic, they developed realistically and where just so cute and adorable. 

There's plenty of action in the book, as well as the splashes of romance, enough to keep you turning the pages, and reaching points where it really is impossible to put the book down. There's plot twists all over the place, the type where you're gasping out loud and like "oh hell no" and you're totally blown away. I could never tell what was going to happen next, it's like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded. 

There where multiple POV's, these where marked in the first book, but in the second they where changing without saying the character, but the characters where all so well written that each one had a distinctive voice and you could tell which was which without having to be told. Each had an engaging narrative that added insight to them as well as other characters, there was no doubling of scenes with word for word dialogue, each POV had a fresh scene. Once they came together as a group the POV changes didn't need to be announced as it where. 

Anyways, the POV's where mainly Elspeth and Darkwind with a couple of pages from another character, and once we hit the third book you get huge chunks that are from Ancar and Falconsbane's POV, which was interesting because Ancar wasn't as badass as I was expecting. I thought it was a great build up saving Ancar for the last book, you finally meet him and you know things just got real. Each POV change was smooth and seamless, at exactly the right moment. I enjoyed the interludes in the first book, they where very intriguing. 

The characters are all utterly fantastic. They're so well written they practically come to life in front of you, each one is so different from the other and they have so much depth it's incredible. I connected with Elspeth immediately, she's definitely my favourite character, she's also very interesting in how she acts and behaves at home and then on the road, and then in the other books coming back to being more like her usual self, and her reasoning behind her actions. She's the kind of awesome fleshed out character that actors dream of getting a crack at. You can empathise with her so easily. 

Darkwind is also very well written, you feel for him, he and Vree make you chuckle just like Elspeth and Gwena. Both Darkwind and Elspeth have had difficult lives, or at least difficult periods, and it comes across in them and their actions. Skif was interesting, but I loved Elspeth so much I found myself adopting her point of view of him at more than one point! He was kind of adorable though, but I felt like I didn't really get to know him that well, he clearly has an interesting backstory that I'm dying to know! 

I really loved Kero and I wanted to see more of her, which is why I need to read the other trilogy I think! And the voices of Need and the companions and the Gryphons where just perfect. They came across on the page so well, and there was no confusion about who was speaking when it was all in mind speech, and I just really want a Companion okay. 

There's excellent continuation throughout the three books, the first book starts with a prologue that's kind of like a "previously in history" bit. You learn more about the characters and their origins as the books go on, and you never fail to have surprises thrown at you. As well as the romances developing very nicely across the three books. There's three very distinctive parts to the series, the first setting everything up, the second being the Rocky training montage and the third being the conclusion and the final showdown. 

This book has it all, action, adventure, romance, quests, magic, gryphons, fire birds, change creatures, ghosts, and everything under the sun. The author has created a colourful world with colourful characters that gives your imagination a stretch and sucks you in for hours on end. Thank God the version I read is an omnibus because I didn't have to faff about waiting for the next book and being agonised in the waits in between books, I could just keep reading and it was awesome. 

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