The Owl Mage Series

Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Owlflight (Daw, 1997)
Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Owlsight (Daw, 1998)
Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Owlknight (Daw, 1999)

Having previously only read the immensely enjoyable Diana Tregard series by Lackey, I had high expectations for this series. The Owl Mage books weren't entirely bad, but neither were they very good.

Owlflight introduces us to a young unwanted orphan named Darian. His parents are missing and presumed dead, and he's been forced into an apprenticeship with the local village mage. Darian's treatment by the villagers, and even the mage he has to live with, is so unjustifiably bad as to feel unbelievable. These arenít bad people, and yet they show no sympathy or understanding for a grieving boy. When we meet Darian, he is well on his way to an emotional and psychological crisis. Owlflight is the rehashing of a story most of us have read many times before, and adult readers may find Darian's story to be too predictable, as he makes the transition from unwanted orphan to hero, eventually finding the love — and, of course, fame — that he deserves. However, since Darianís story is a common fantasy for teens and preteens, who often feel under-appreciated and misunderstood, many young readers will relate to Darian and enjoy this book.

At about age twelve I would have enjoyed Owlflight quite a bit, as it is vividly written and moves along at a fast pace, with plenty of adventure to be had along the way. The same cannot be said for the second book in this series. Owlsight falls to the very bottom of that pit that often catches the second book in a trilogy. Owlsight introduces us to Keisha, who will eventually become the object of Darianís affections, and we spend a great deal of time getting to know her. Beyond introducing us to some new characters, the bulk of this novel is description. There is a great deal of description in all of the Owl Mage books, but the situation becomes ludicrous in Owlsight. Whole pages are devoted to the fine details of a single outfit, or what someone's home looks like. This book is a transitional novel that spends nearly four hundred pages setting the scene for the more exciting third novel. I felt like I was trudging my way through this book, which took me weeks to read. Honestly, had I not been committed to reviewing this series, I would have given up halfway through this story, and would not have been likely to bother with Owlknight.

The saving grace of all of these books, and the payoff for plodding through the lengthy and flowery descriptions of clothing, plants and lodging, is that the reader is left with a crystal clear vision of Dixon and Lackey's world. By the time I began reading the final book in this trilogy, Owlknight, I had resigned myself to forcing my way through it, but was happy to have a thorough understanding of Darian and Keisha's environment. I picked this book up with the goal of finishing it as quickly as I possibly could. In Owlknight, we find Darian all grown up and quite the important figure. He's achieved the status of Master Mage, and also become a knight. We are told that he is very handsome and that any young girl would be thrilled to be with him. Even his girlfriend seems to have placed him on a pedestal. If Darian attended your high school, he'd be Homecoming King, class president, captain of the football team and valedictorian all in one. In fact, young Darian's status has reached a point where any adult reader will be rolling their eyes and saying, "Enough already! We get it!" Fortunately, as much as this last book is all overkill in building Darian up as an important figure in Valdemaran society, it's also packed with all of the action, excitement, and romance that any reader could ask for, as Darian finally embarks on his most important quest yet.

It should be obvious that these books just didnít do much for me. However, the followers of Lackeyís Valdemar books are many, and I imagine most of them will enjoy these books to a certain extent. Additionally, although these books are evidently intended for adults, there is a definite audience among teen and preteen readers who will find much to relate to and admire about the heroic young Darian and his girlfriend Keisha.

[Christine Doiron]

Mercedes Lackeyís official Web site is here.