Top positive review
An old friend holds up relatively well after 20+ years...
Reviewed in the United States on February 21, 2016
These books are something of an old friend, which I first encountered in my teens, and I hadn't visited Valdemar in years. Coming back to them as an adult, I found that the books actually sort of remind me of the Star Wars trilogy in some ways: I loved it when I was younger, and as an adult I can still enjoy it but see the flaws as well. The books resemble Star Wars in another way as well, in that the second book, Magic's Promise, is perhaps the strongest and most enjoyable part to me now.
The setting is more about people and cultures than it is about geography, something of a departure for well-loved fantasy series set in a kingdom or land, and the protagonist and hero, Vanyel, is both a mage and homosexual in a land where tolerance is perhaps more successfully preached than it is practiced. A large part of the book deals with Vanyel's quest for acceptance and self-acceptance; if g-rated homosexuality bothers you, you will probably want to avoid this book. In addition to Vanyel himself, there are a couple of other major characters, some love interests and some friends, who are also homosexual. It is certainly possible to view Vanyel as tormented, whiny and self-absorbed, he's a genuine character with flaws as well as strengths, and on the whole he's more interesting for his flaws than he is irritating (though Lackey succeeded perhaps too well in capturing his teen angst).
The magic system is interesting and reasonably well-developed without destroying the mystic nature of magic; there are plenty of little mysteries and whatnot in terms of that to keep the reader interested. There's also lots of character development and introspection, sometimes to the detriment of robust conflict, but on the whole action, characterization and description are all well-balanced and generate an exciting story worth reading.
Finally, on a very positive note, while often older books and omnibus editions converted to Kindle format have significant issues with editing (i.e., there wasn't any, and someone trusted their optical character recognition too much), there is little to be seen in terms of errors here.