Fantasy elements: empathy, telepathy, mages, gods and goddesses, magic spirit horses
The earlier books tend to be focussed on one, or maybe two, major viewpoints, whereas the later ones try to tell a more complicated story with several viewpoints. I find this approach too jarring, as I get jolted from scene to scene, and lose my immersion in the story. The latest books still have multiple viewpoints, but seem to manage the transitions a bit more smoothly. But I still hanker for the earlier, simpler structures.
The saga seems to be regaining some previous form with Storm Warning and The Black Gryphon (Lackey and Dixon) after the disappointing Mage Winds trilogy. Some plot elements keep cropping up (no problem if you are a fan of those plot elements), as summarised in the hilarious filk song "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Valdemar"
Skandranon and Amberdrake's tale
Unlike the other Valdemar series, the three books comprising The Mage Wars don't form a single-story trilogy: they are three novels linked by the same major characters, but each book is a complete story, and each is on a completely different scale or action (Black Gryphon: major war and historical event of lasting significance; White Gryphon: murder mystery in a foreign culture; Silver Gryphon: two isolated characters coming of age).
Tells the tale of the pre-(Valdemar)-historic war between the mages Urtho and Ma'ar, which finally ended in a Cataclysm
The survivors of the Cataclysm have found a sanctuary, but must now make peace with the local rulers. A series of murders makes this difficult, since Skandranon is the main suspect.
Tadrith, son of the gryphons Skandranon and Zhaneel, and Silverblade, daughter of the humans Amberdrake and Winterhart, are feeling smothered living in their famous parents' shadows in the cliff city of White Gryphon. So when their first posting as Silvers, to a far-away outpost, comes through, they are delighted: freedom at last! But they never make it that far: something drains away their magic, and they crash, injured, lost, and unable to call for help, in a deep forest, stalked by an unknown enemy. Are their parents' worst fears for their safety about to become reality?
The Silver Gryphon is essentially a rites-of-passage story; unlike many such, the protagonists start out fully trained and competent, but they do still have some conflicts to be resolved, with themselves, with each other, but mainly with their parents. And, naturally, the peril in which they find themselves helps them to do this.
The multiple viewpoints, a feature I have complained about in the past, are handled much better here. There aren't too many changes, given the restricted cast, and when there are, the linking is smooth enough that the change didn't jar me out of the story. I found the ending a little rushed, and just a little too easy, but on the whole this was an enjoyable read.