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|Series||The Last Herald Mage|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Followed by||Magic's Promise|
Magic's Pawn is a 1989 fantasy novel by Mercedes Lackey. The first of The Last Herald Mage trilogy (followed by Magic's Promise and Magic's Price), it centers around a powerful Herald-Mage named Vanyel Ashkevron, in the kingdom of Valdemar; the planet is called Velgarth. Mages are those who can do magic. Heralds are people with extrasensory or psychic abilities who have devoted their lives to using their abilities to help others, specifically, the kingdom of Valdemar. A small number of Heralds have mage capabilities and are called Herald-Mages. Both sets of abilities are clearly and distinctly defined in the Valdemar universe.
Vanyel Ashkevron, age sixteen, is the heir to a great estate, Forst Reach, though he does not measure up to what his father, Lord Withen, deems to be a "proper" man. He is devoted to music and cultivating an elegant appearance. Withen sends Vanyel to school in Haven, the capital of Valdemar, under the supervision of Vanyel's aunt Savil.
Savil has little interest in Vanyel because he has no psychic or magic powers, but realizes he is not as arrogant as Withen described. Vanyel finds schooling at Haven more suited to his nature, but is told he does not have the Bardic gift, and cannot become a true Bard. Feeling he has lost his dream, he becomes depressed.
Vanyel develops feelings for Tylendel Frelennye, one of Savil's protégés. He learns that Tylendel is shay'a'chern, or homosexual. They become lovers and later find they are lifebonded, that is, soulmates. For the first time, Vanyel is truly happy. Tylendel introduces Vanyel to Gala, his Companion; one of the intelligent horse-like creatures that bond with Heralds.
Staven, Tylendel's twin brother, is assassinated by a family enemy. Tylendel senses his brother's death and goes mad with grief. Not understanding Tylendel's trauma, Vanyel continues supporting him as he seeks revenge. Using Vanyel's dormant energies Tylendel 'Gates' (teleports essentially) them to the enemy family. Tylendel casts a complicated spell summoning deadly wyrsa to kill members of the enemy family. Gala repudiates Tylendel and dies sacrificing herself to give time for Heralds to arrive to stop the massacre. Tylendel commits suicide, and the backlash from the 'Gate' spell tears open Vanyel's dormant magic potential.
Suffering from psychic and emotional damage, Vanyel is "chosen" by a Companion, Yfandes, who reassures him of her love and friendship and his worth. Vanyel begins recovering, but is unable to control his newly "opened" powers. He telepathically overhears thoughts blaming him for Tylendel's death. Vanyel attempts suicide, but is rescued, and the Heralds see that his love for Tylendel was real.
Savil, realizing Vanyel needs special assistance, takes him to the Tayledras, human beings who live in K'Treva, an environment immersed in magic. They teach him how to control his abilities, and convince him that being gay is not wrong or sinful. Vanyel does not want to be a Herald or a Mage, and suspects the people around him value his powers, not himself. He runs away, but as he thinks things over he realizes that Savil and the others have shown that they care about him. Just when he realizes that and moves to return he discovers a village being terrorized by a colddrake, a type of dragon. Before he can even think to do anything, he witnesses the dragon killing an elderly man. He pulls himself together and kills the dragon, but the unfortunate timing gives Vanyel the impression that he is a coward. The Tayledras later explain that he is not at all cowardly and that his reactions were normal.
The Tayledras, now aware that the drakes were gated in from Vanyel's experience, Savil and Vanyel set out to check on a village that was under Tayledras protection and has fallen under an enemy shield. Upon arriving at this village Vanyel is left to assist in protecting the village from minor harm and instead finds himself face to face with a Blood magic crazed wizard. In Vanyel's attempts to deflect the wizards magic he pulls on the power of a node and destroys the wizard with the raw power. He believes he will die as well, but is comforted by the thought that he will be with Tylendel. Vanyel wakes to find himself with his aunt in K'Treva as she presents him with the white robes of a full-fledged Herald-Mage.
- Mercedes Lackey, Magic's Pawn (DAW, 1989, ISBN 0-88677-352-0), p. 1-73.
- Magic's Pawn, p. 73-93.
- Magic's Pawn, p. 99-134.
- Magic's Pawn, p. 172-209.
- Magic's Pawn, p. 209-231.
- Magic's Pawn, p. 255-320.
- Magic's Pawn, p. 331-348.