Winds of Fate follows on the heels of By the Sword by picking up at the point where Elspeth becomes the acknowledged protagonist. She has been protagonisting covertly since the day she put a knife in Orthallen, an event she never speaks about. Observant readers might have noticed that Elspeth did not appear in the Last Herald Mage trilogy. But whatever. We knew how that story was going to end years in advance. The narrative purpose of that trilogy was to make sure we all know that Vanyel is one of Elspeth’s ancestors. Elspeth also played a minimal role in By the Sword, the book that ensured that she got a magic sword. Winds of Fate is the first book to deal directly with Elspeth being a Mage.
The book opens with Elspeth fending off an assassination attempt in her pottery studio. Faithful followers of the Valdemar re-read will have noticed that I am deeply suspicious of Companions. At this point, I suspect them of taking out the hit on Elspeth themselves. It’s not that the Companions want Elspeth dead. She is the prettiest princess in the land, and absolutely their favorite. They want her (and Gwena, her top-secret Grove Born Companion) packed off to Rethwellan to train her Mage-gift.