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In Storm Rising, mysterious mage-storms are wreaking havoc on Valdemar, Karse, and all the kingdoms of the West, plaguing these lands not only with disastrous earthquakes, monsoons, and ice storms, but also with venomous magical constructs - terrifying creatures out of nightmare. Both Valdemar's Heralds and Karse's Sunpriests struggle to marshal their combined magical resources to protect their realms from these devastating, spell-fueled onslaughts. But as the situation becomes bleaker and bleaker, the still fragile alliance between these long-hostile lands begins to fray. And unless Valdemar and Karse can locate and destroy the creator of the storms, they may see their entire world demolished in a final magical holocaust.
Lackey's latest continues the old-fashioned, simple-is-as-simple-does tradition that has made her numerous series set in and around the kingdom of Valdemar so accessible to so many readers. Her bloated prose is balanced by two-dimensional caricatures such as those of Karal, the diplomat who ``knows he is too young,'' An'desha (``Do I want to be--alone?'') and Firesong, who is prone to neurotic ramblings. Expectedly, Firesong's ills are not of his own making; he and the good characters here are uniformly good, lacking any shades of gray to give them depth. Even Grand Duke Tremane, who ordered murders in this novel's prequel, Storm Warning, has a heart of gold. Above all, this volume suffers from lack of a proper villain. Perhaps the windup to this promised trilogy will be more engaging; meanwhile, this middle volume fits Karal's description of a council meeting: ``very little accomplished and nothing really settled.''