My girlfriend has a great affinity for finding slashy books that make our hearts palpitate and keep us entranced for the duration-- if not longer. This is one of those books.
I know that if not for this book, I'd never have gotten into any of the Heralds of Valdemar books. The idea of a young man pressured into a mold he does not fit and punished for that which he cannot help is something many people can sympathize with.
Vanyel is a young boy whose only intrest is music -- he longs with all his heart to be a Bard; however, he is heir to his father's holdings. Withern, Vanyel's father, has for all of Van's life tried to make the boy fit a mold he was never meant to fit. His trying does more harm than good and fed up with the inability to make Vanyel into the man he thinks Van should be, sends him off to be fostered at Valdemar's capital with the boy's Herald-Mage aunt, Savil. In a stunning tale of romance, Van's life whirls out of control and into 'unforseen' directions for the young man.
After rereading this book too many times to remember, it does seem a little trite and simplistic -- but I think that's what makes it so dear to me. Yes, by the covers of the following books in the trilogy you know that somehow Van becomes a Herald-Mage (assumably the Last Herald-Mage, by the title of the trilogy), but how things occur and the pain or joy of each happening is just wonderful. I read the back of this book then started it and found myself asking "ok, I thought he was a Herald... what gives?" But it all comes together in this beautifully written story.
My problems with Mercedes Lackey's works aren't really tied to the errors in the printing or anything like that, it's the time frame jumps between certain books. Particularly in the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy. Ten years between book one and two, quite a few more between books two and three... And Van changes ever so much between books! I die to know more details about Van's adventures. And even as much as that frustrates me, makes me utterly curious, I still find this trilogy to be one of my all time favourites.
If you love to feel all gooey inside and get torn to tears at times, this is a GREAT book for you. Personally, I like Pawn and Price best of the three, and in my opinion, you could skip Promise entirely and have a complete and wonderful story. But then what's the fun in that? The more Vanyel, the better!