The Last Herald-Mage series consists of three books, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise and Magic's Price. It tells the story of the last Herald Mage until Princess Elspeth in the Mage Winds series.
Magic's Pawn EditVanyel Ashkevron at sixteen, is the heir to a great estate, Forst Reach. However he doesn't measure up to what his father Lord Withen deems to be a "proper" man. Withen decides to send Vanyel away to school in Haven, the capital of Valdemar, under the supervision of his Aunt Savil.
Savil initially has little interest in him because he has no psychic or magic powers, but realizes Vanyel is not as arrogant as Withen has described. Vanyel finds schooling at Haven more suited to his physical and mental nature, but is told he doesn't have the Bardic gift, and so cannot become a true Bard. Feeling he's lost his lifelong dream, he drifts into depression.Vanyel begins to have feelings for Tylendel, one of Savil's protegés. Van learns that Tylendel is shay'a'chern, or homosexual. Eventually, they become lovers and later find they are lifebonded. This lifebond with 'Lendel produces the first happy time in the boy's life. Tylendel introduce Vanyel to Gala, his companion which is the intelligent horse spirit who bond with Heralds.
The happiness is short lived as Lord Staven, Tylendel's twin brother, is assassinated and drives Tylendel into an obsession for revenge. Vanyel is so naive as to not truly understand the path of madness his love is on and supports him in his quest for vengeance. Tylendel's revenge ultimately leads to Gala's and his suicide, and the backlash opens all Vanyel's magic potential as well as leaving him emotionally scarred by the loss of his lifebond.
Suffering from severe psychic and emotional damage, Vanyel is Chosen by a Companion, Yfandes, who reassures him through mind-speaking of her love and friendship and his worth. Unable to understand or control his newly "opened" powers, he "hears" angry thoughts around him, and despairs, attempting suicide.
Aunt Savil, realizing she cannot train Vanyel nor help him fully heal, takes Vanyel to the Tayledras, who are more advanced in Healing, Mind magic and Mage work.
Magic's Promise Edit
The book opens with Vanyel returning to his country Valdemar from an extensive campaign along the border with Karse, the neighboring enemy country. He checks in with Valdemar's King Randale and his lifebonded mate, Shavri, and their daughter Jisa. Only a select few know that Jissa is Vanyel's daughter. Because King Randale is impotent, he had asked Vanyel to father an heir. Now, Shavri confides in Vanyel her fear that Randale is mortally ill.
Vanyel and his mentor Savil return to Vanyel's family home at Forst Reach, where they find little rest or peace. His parents both try to change his mind about being shaych, or homosexual. Vanyel becomes somewhat confused about his own sexuality. He wonders if he is truly in love with Shavri. Yfandes, Vanyel's Companion, doesn't buy it and finds the situation amusing.
Vanyel also meets his illegitimate nephew, Medren. Medren is small for his age as Vanyel was, and like him it appears that he is often bullied by the armsmaster Jarvis. The boy has a powerful Bardic gift, and Vanyel sponsors him for the Bardic Collegium.
Vanyel confronts Jervis and learns that the armsmaster is not being intentionally rough. He also apologizes for beating Vanyel long ago, and explains his difficult position with Vanyel's father. He also mentions that he knew Vanyel was shay'a'chern from the beginning, but also knew from his army service that being gay does not keep men from being courageous warriors. Vanyel accepts this and they form an uneasy friendship.
The main plot focuses on how Vanyel assists young Herald-Prince Tashir. Vanyel and Yandes receive a psychic summons into the neighboring country of Lineas. Upon arrival, they find Tashir and his Companion, Ghost, being beaten by another Herald, Lores, who believes that Tashir is actually an evil sorcerer who has murdered his entire family. Vanyel immediately stops Lores and tells him to return to Valdemar.
Vanyel takes Tashir back to his home, but then returns to Lineas to gather information. In Lineas magic is taboo; no one is supposed to perform it for any reason, so when Tashir did so, it terrified the locals. It is also rumored that Tashir is a product of brother-sister incest, because he looks almost exactly like his mother's brother, Vedric—who is also a mage. To make matters worse, Tashir's mother was from Baires, a neighboring country where magic is allowed.
Vanyel finds that everyone living in the palace of Lineas is related, even the servants. Tashir's nervous disorders may have originated in his unstable home life, with an abusive father and a mother who tried to sexually seduce him.Returning to Forst Reach, Vanyel recruits Savil and Jervis to help. Together with Tashir, they return to Lineas, breaking through the palace's magic shields to search the place. They find a secret room which contains a "heart-stone", an ordinary rock with magical properties which is keeping a deep, dangerous fault sealed. As the stone was unstable and any magic done in the area could disturb it, a guardian family without magic was appointed. If the stone were to be removed, a giant earthquake would occur destroying Lineas, parts of the outlands, and the border of Valdemar. That was why magic was anthema in Lineas—and also why everyone in the palace was related.
The palace also contains a trap-spell, which targets one person and also kills the target's entire family. Tashir's family were the victims of the trap-spell, which was placed by Tashir's uncle Vedric—whose intention is to control both Lineas and Baires. Vedric tries the same trick on Vanyel, who has already caught on and sent Savil away, along with Tashir, while keeping Jervis with him. In defending himself, Vanyel ends up killing most of the Baires family as well as Vedric.
Exhausted and mortally injured, Vanyel falls unconscious, and is given a choice by the "Shadow Lover" -- i.e., Death -- of whether to die, or to continue living. Vanyel chooses to live, since his life will help others. Before he "returns" to life, he is visited by his friend Herald Jaysen, who was killed by the trap-spell demons, but tells Vanyel that he "will love again."
Now king of both Baires and Lineas, Tashir considers himself too young and inexperienced. He allows King Randale to annex the two smaller countries into Valdemar. Vanyel finally sorts out that he actually is "shaych", and that Shavri is just a good friend.
Magic's Price Edit
The story begins with the last four Herald Mages, Vanyel among them, creating a magic barrier around their nation of Valdemar. This barrier prevents hostile mages from using magic. Vanyel intends to add other defenses when he has the time.
Valdemar's King Randale is dying of a mysterious ailment. He is barely able to move from bed and only has a few years to live. Vanyel has taken over nearly all the responsibilities of the throne, while young Prince Treven is trained.
A young bard named Stefen is discovered in the Bardic Collegium. He has the unusual ability to block pain with his music. Vanyel arranges for Stefen to play for Randale during an official audience, proving his ability.
Stefen is openly shaych (homosexual) and falls in love with Vanyel. Vanyel hesitates to love anyone because he fears his enemies will attack those he cares about, but finds that he and Stefen have become lifebonded -- a type of psychic link. It is unheard of to have more than one lifebond in one lifetime, and Vanyel had already had such a link with (now dead) Herald-Mage apprentice Tylendel when very young.
While visiting his family with Stefen and his aunt and mentor Savil, Vanyel wanders alone to think things over and is ambushed by a rogue mage, whom he overcomes and delivers to the family priest. The mage escapes and attacks a group of women who are listening to Stefen's music. Yfandes tries to help but is injured; Vanyel shows up just in time to step in front of a thrown dagger meant for his mother.
Savil recognizes the dagger as a leech-blade, which sucks life energy from its victim. Savil Gates away to the land of the Tayledras Hawkbrothers, to ask for help; she returns with Moondance and Starwind. They discover that Vanyel's lifebond with Stefen may have saved his life and speculate that Stefen is the reincarnation of Tylendel. Vanyel is not told, as the Hawkbrothers think it would complicate his relationship with Stefen.
Vanyel, Stefen and Savil return to Haven, bringing Vanyel's parents along for their protection. King Randale has deteriorated further. Queen Shavri has decided to provide him with strength through a psychic link. When Randale dies, so will Shavri.
To make matters worse, Karse, the traditional enemy of Valdemar, is about to declare a holy war. Vanyel departs to negotiate a treaty with the land of Rethwellan.
Upon his return he finds that Herald-Mages are dying in what look like accidents. Savil doesn't believe it and asks Vanyel to strengthen the protective wards around her home. Vanyel is tired and puts it off; the same night a mage-made creature murders Savil. Vanyel is now the last Herald-Mage.
Vanyel sets out to find the mage behind the deaths, followed by Stefen. They are ambushed by bandits who work for the mage, whom they call Master Dark. As instructed, Stefen runs away to hide and returns later. He finds Yfandes injured and Vanyel kidnapped.
A blocking spell has been put on Vanyel to prevent him from using his powers. The bandits rape and beat Vanyel savagely and he nearly dies; they send for a healer to revive him. This man sees the magical block on Vanyel's mind and removes it. Vanyel revives, and temporarily loses his sanity, killing everyone in sight. Stefen and Yfandes arrive and so do a pack of kyree, who take the humans in and help them.
Vanyel is healed, but is determined to find "Master Dark", whom he now suspects of having been behind a number of mysterious deaths in Valdemar. Vanyel finds a mountain pass, where the mage intends to take his troops down into the heart of Valdemar. Vanyel sends Yfandes and Stefen to the guard post for help; knowing he may never see them again.
The dark mage's army shows up. Vanyel defeats them and finally faces Leareth, "Master Dark" himself. Yfandes returns and together they invoke the ultimate spell, Final Strike, which kills not only one's enemy but oneself. Vanyel and Yfandes die together. Stefen, who has felt Vanyel die, finds only a cracked and burned amber focus-stone -- a present he had given Vanyel -- and a few strands of blood-soaked horse hair.
Some months later, King Randale and Queen Shavri have died. Lost in grief and despair, Stefen returns to the site of Vanyel's death, intending to commit suicide, but Vanyel's spirit appears before him. Vanyel tells Stefen that in order for Stefen to be free to join him, he must convince all of Valdemar that Herald-Mages are no longer necessary, and that Heralds are enough; a nearly impossible task. Stefen agrees and spends the rest of his life working for this change, until his death when he is able to join Vanyel on the other side.
Characters in the Last Herald-Mage series Edit
- Andrel - healer
- Herald Andros - Companion Toril
- Aroon - kyree
- Herald Arved - Seneschal
- Arven - Vanyel's child
- Asheena - Starwind k'Treva's gyrfalcon bondbird
- Ashkevron family
- Herald Ariel Ashkevron - Companion Darvena
- Charis Ashkevron
- Deleran Ashkevron
- Heforth Ashkevron
- Joserlin Ashkevron
- Joserlyn Ashkevron
- Kaster Ashkevron
- Lissa Ashkevron - Vanyel's older sister, joined the Valdemaran Guard
- Mekeal Ashkevron
- Ria Ashkevron
- Roshya Ashkevron
- Lady Treesa Ashkevron - Vanyel's mother
- Withen Ashkevron - Vanyel's father
- Asra (Guardsman) - member of the Lineas guard
- Astera - goddess
- Bel - innkeeper in Lineas
- Berd - palace servant
- Berte - beggar
- Bard Breda
- Brightstar k'Treva - Tayledras, Vanyel's child
- Brightwind k'Treva - Tayledras adept mage
- Old Man Brodie - healer
- Countess Bryerly
- Lady Cedrys
- Bard Chadran - Collegium teacher
- Dancer (Companion) - Yfandes foal
- Darvena (Companion) - Herald Ariel Ashkevron
- Herald Mage Darvi - prince, brother of Herald Randale
- Herald Mage Deedre
- Delian (Companion) - Herald Tantras
- Bard Dellar
- Demonsbane - nickname for Vanyel Ashkevron
- Deveran Remoerdis - nobility of Lineas
- Herald Dominick
- Herald Donni - lifebonded to Herald Mage Mardic
- Herald Dorilyn
- Dreamseeker k'Treva - Tayledras scout
- Queen Elspeth
- Lord Enderby
- Bard Erdane
- Erek - guard
- Eren (Companion) - Heir Presumptive (later King) Treven
- Esten (Companion) - King Randale
- Archpriest Everet
- Featherfire k'Treva - Tayledras mage, Vanyel's child
- Felar (Companion) - Herald Mage Jaysen Kondre
- Fireflight k'Treva - Tayledras adept
- Firesong k'Treva - Tayledras guard
- Forten (Companion) - Herald Mardic
- Gala (Companion) - Herald Mage Tylendel Frelennye, repudiated
- Garth - guard
- Gavis (Companion) - Herald Courier Sofya
- Lady Gellwin
- Gelmar - bandit
- Geof Larimar
- Gerth the Axe - bandit
- Grayse (Sergeant) - guard
- Hawkflight - Tayledras
- Heverd - bandit
- Father Heward
- Hyrryl - kyree shaman
- Herald Mage Jaysen Kondre - Companion Felar, guardian, Seneschal's Herald
- Jenna (Companion) - Herald Lores
- Jervis (Armsmaster)
- Jess - bandit
- Herald Jisa - Vanyel's daughter, Chosen by Grove-Born Companion Taver upon her mother's death to become King's Own, married to Heir-Presumptive (later King) Treven, gift of Empathy
- Jonne - guardsman
- Jonny - minstrel
- Joserlin Corveau
- Herald Joshe - Seneschal's Herald, Companion Kimbry
- Guildmaster Jumay
- Herald-Mage Justen - guardian
- Karis (Armsmaster) - Lineas
- Herald Kat
- Kayla - weaponsmaster
- Kef Hairlip - bandit
- Kellan (Companion) - Herald-Mage Savil
- Lord Kendrick
- Herald Kera
- Kernos - deity
- Herald-Mage Kilchas - mindspeaker, guardian, Companion Rohan
- Kimbry (Companion) - Seneschal's Herald Joshe
- Krebain - mage
- Bard Kyran
- Kyliera Grove Brandewhins
- Herald Lancir - Queen's Own, mindhealer, Companion Taver
- Leareth - mage, incarnation of Ma'ar
- Father Leren Penevy
- Queen Leshia - Herald
- Leshya (Companion) - Herald Tashir Remoerdis
- Liam - healer
- Herald Liam - Companion Orser
- Liaven Cedrys - mercenary
- Herald Mage Lissandra - Companion Shonsea, guardian
- Herald Lores - Companion Jenna
- Bard Lynnell
- Queen Lythiaren
- Herald Mage Mardic - lifebonded to Herald Donni
- Margret - housekeeper
- Master Dark
- Medren Ashkevron - Bard
- Megwyn (Companion)
- Melenna - Medren's mother
- Moondance k'Treva - Tayledras healer adept, lifebonded to Starwind
- Duke Oden - collegium weaponsmaster
- Orser - armsmaster
- Orser (Companion) - Herald Liam
- Father Osen
- Priest Owain
- Lord Preator
- Herald Predor
- Rainstar- Tayledras adept
- King Randale - Companion Esten, lifebonded to Herald Healer Shavri
- Lord Resel
- Herald Regen
- Renfry - minstrel
- Resley the Liar- bandit
- Reva - nobility
- Lord Marshal Revan
- Rohan (Companion) - Herald Mage Kilchas
- Herald Rolf
- Rolf Dawson
- Herald Mage Savil Ashkevron - Companion Kellan, Vanyel's aunt and teacher, guardian
- Herald Seldasan
- Shavri - Herald-Healer, lifebonded Randale, Grove-Born Companion Taver, King's Own
- Herald Shallan
- Shonsea (Companion) - Herald Mage Lissandra
- Snowlight - Tayledras
- Herald Sofya - courier, Companion Gavis
- Starwind k'Treva - Tayledras Adept, lifebonded to Moondance k'Treva
- Staven Frelennye - Tylendel's twin
- Bard Stefen - lifebonded to Herald Mage Vanyel Ashkevron
- Stormwing - Tayledras adept
- Suncloud - Tayledras scout
- Sunsong - Tayledras Adept
- Tallo - Moondance k'Treva's former name
- Tan Twoknives - bandit
- Herald Tantras - Companion Delian
- Herald Tashir Remoerdis - Companion Leshya, ruler of Lineas-Baires
- Taver (Companion) - Herald Lancir, Herald-Healer Shavri, Herald Jisa
- Lord Taving
- KIng Tavist
- Queen Terill - Herald
- Toril (Companion) - Herald Andros
- Herald Treven - Heir Presumptive and later King, lifebonded to Herald Jisa, Companion Eren
- Lord Trevor Corey
- Herald Mage Tylendel Frelennye - Companion Gala, repudiated, lifebonded to Herald Vanyel Ashkevron
- Father Tyler
- Valdir - Vanyel's disguise
- Herald Mage Vanyel Ashkevron - lifebonded first to Herald Mage Tylendel, then to Bard Stefen, Companion Yfandes, all gifts
- Vedric Mavelan
- Veth Kethren
- Windblade k'Treva
- Wulgra (Herald)
- Ylyna Mavelan
- Yfandes (Companion) - Herald Mage Vanyel Ashkevron
Places in the Last Herald-Mage series Edit
- Abyssal Plane
- Anderlin's Freehold
- Ashkevron manor
- Bachelor's Hall - part of Forst Reach
- Baires - small country bordering on Valdemar
- Clan Keep Voorthayshen
- Crookback Pass
- Exile's Road
- Forest of Sorrows
- Forest of Wendwinter
- Forst Reach
- Great Hall of Justice - Highjorune, Lineas
- The Great Pass
- Hight Court of Valdemar
- Highjorune - capitol of Lineas
- Ice Wall Mountains
- Inn of the Green Man - Highjorune, Lineas
- Lake District
- Long Meadow - at Forst Reach
- Old Palace
- The Page - an Inn in Highjorune, Lineas
- Pig and Stick - tavern in Highjorune, Lineas
- Prytheree Ford
- Qorthes- Baires
- Red Nose Inn - Haven
- The Row - Highjorune, Lineas
- Southron Keep
- Westrel Keep
- White Foal Pass
- Work Room
- Wyrfen Woods