I love all of the series and singles that make up the entire Valdemar saga, and this one has always been one of my favorites. Vanyel is a character that I think, in some way, is a universal character that we can all identify with in one way or another.
Vanyel Ashkevron is the eldest son of a rather minor noble in the out country. His father is a rigid man, believing very firmly in certain things. And if you do not fall into his idea of what should be or what is right, then you are somehow lacking. This describes the relationship between Vanyel and his father for most of his childhood. His brothers and cousins, while not stupid, were far more interested in weaponswork and women than intellectual pursuits. Vanyel was intelligent and a gifted musician that took after his mother far more than his father. None of these things raised him in the eyes of his father. His mother, however, celebrated most of these things. She was a flightly woman who knew all too well how to play all of the "womanly" games and she loved having a son who could entertain her so well. However, she spent a lot of time throwing her lady's maid at him, despite his repeated assurances that he was not interested, often creating a bit of a mess for them both.
When Vanyel's father finally tires of trying to change him, he sends him to his aunt in Haven, a rather brusque woman who is a Herald. Vanyel knows, even as he lives the prison that ihis own home has become, that he is really only trading one prison for another. But things at Haven aren't what he expects and his life changes so very much.
I absolutely love the blend of characters in this book. No matter what your life story is, there is a character in this book that is relatable. No two characters are the same, giving a rich tapestry of characters in a wonderful story. I have heard many complain about the rather whiny attitude of Vanyel throughout the book. They are not wrong; he is whiny. But it is totally appropriate for the story. He is a young teenager, a fact easy to forget, and the reality is that he has a lot to whine about. I love that the character isn't portrayed to be perfect, that he is portrayed as realistic.
My Recommendation: As with every book in the Valdemar series, I am in love with this book. Such a wonderful epic read!
This review originally posted on my blog, The Caffeinated Diva reads.