The amazon.com product description:
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.Storm Rising is the second book in the Mage Storms trilogy, following on Storm Warning. This one and it's sequel are two of my favorites as well. One big reason for that - and the reason I spent several years tracking down the hardcover editions of the whole trilogy: some of the best artwork inside. My favorite is the image from chapter seven of the two firecats. Unfortunately, in the paperback editions (which I'd bought first), these beautiful grayscale illustrations had pretty much become obscured into gray squares.
So, for this trilogy, I highly recommend getting the hardcover editions.
Another fond memory from this series: these were the first books I was reading and having to wait for the next book to be released - the same year I started reading Mercedes Lackey's books altogether. I remember that waiting to know what was going to happen next and knowing it was likely to be at least six months, if not a year before I'd find out. On the up side at that point, there were two series on the go. IIRC, this was the same time the Mage Wars trilogy was being released.
Storm Rising picks up with Karal having been confirmed as the Ambassador from Karse after the death of his friend and mentor Ulrich and the effects of the mage-storms have been temporarily halted. That's on the Valdemar/Karse side of the story. Grand Duke Tremaine has settled into Shonar for the winter, still feeling the growing effects of the Storms, including some truly horrific weather.
This is where the story really starts tying the "prehistory" of the world together with more "current events", as more and more connections with the end of the Mage Wars and the Cataclysm are being made. Hints of it were made through the earlier trilogy of the Mage Winds series, but now it's all being put together.
In terms of reading, I strongly recommend starting with Storm Warning for this trilogy, otherwise it's going to be confusing. I got away with it this time because I've read the whole series several times now, but even so, I found myself trying to remember events every now and again - usually with little luck.