Closer to the Heart - Mercedes Lackey

Closer to the Heart

By Mercedes Lackey

  • Release Date: 2015-10-06
  • Genre: Epic
Score: 4.5
From 76 Ratings


New York Times-bestselling author Mercedes Lackey's Herald Spy series, set in the beloved fantasy world of Valdemar

Herald Mags, Valdemar’s first official Herald Spy, is well on his way to establishing a coterie of young informants, not only on the streets of Haven, but in the kitchens and Great Halls of the highborn and wealthy as well.

The newly appointed King’s Own Herald, Amily, although still unsure of her own capability in that office, is doing fine work to support the efforts of Mags, her betrothed. She has even found a way to build an army of informants herself, a group of highly trained but impoverished young noblewomen groomed to serve the highborn ladies who live at Court, to be called “The Queens’s Handmaidens.”

And King Kyril has come up with the grand plan of turning Mags and Amily’s wedding into a low-key diplomatic event that will simultaneously entertain everyone on the Hill and allow him to negotiate behind the scenes with all the attending ambassadors―something which had not been possible at his son Prince Sedric’s wedding.

What could possibly go wrong?

The answer, of course, is “everything.”

For all is not well in the neighboring Kingdom of Menmellith. The new king is a child, and a pretender to the throne has raised a rebel army. And this army is―purportedly―being supplied with arms by Valdemar. The Menmellith Regency Council threatens war. With the help of a ragtag band of their unlikely associates, Mags and Amily will have to determine the real culprit, amass the evidence to convince the Council, and prevent a war nobody wants―

―and, somewhere along the way, get married.


  • A mess.

    By zenfrodo
    “Closer to Home” started out promisingly for this series, which follows the adventures of former mine-slave Mags, now grown up & a spy for the King. This story, though, takes that promise and goes nowhere with it. In the midst of the King & Co. trying to plan Mags’s and Amily’s wedding, the couple have to uncover and stop a plot to…um…invade Menmellith? Take over Menmellith? Take over Valdemar? Usurp the Guard? Kill all the Heralds? Maybe all of the above? I’m not quite sure exactly what the villain was trying to accomplish, but then again, we don’t get introduced to him until well over midway through the book. It’s a bad sign when the official description of the book here doesn’t give you a plot summary. That should be your first red flag. This book is all over the place. The story wanders all over the landscape, with little focus: we get more Kirball (UGH) for no real good reason, more extraneous characters that aren’t developed, storylines and subplots that go nowhere, are hard to follow, and tedious — ye gods. We open with Mags giving new assignments to his little band of street urchins, and given that this book is set only a couple months after “Home”, the urchins in question grew up awfully fast — really, Lackey? One of the small children with Aunt Minda at the start of “Home” is now a young lady on the verge of puberty??? Amily’s being bored in Council and decides to open a spy school for young ladies (with Dia and her now-introduced husband, who turns out to have been Nikolas’s spy-teacher and who has an extensive network of his own. We get another subplot with some gentle-giant autistic inventor-genius and his friend who get recruited to make things for the Heralds. Then a highborn young lady figures out what Amily & Dia are doing and begs them to take her on, because she has no other option. Oh, and Mags & Amily’s wedding plans. And into this drops the threat of an invasion — or, rather, Menmellith is in the middle of civil war, and its Ambassador turns up at Valdemar’s Court to accuse the Valdemarians of funding the rebels…which means that Mags & Dia’s husband and the cast-off highborn lady and one of Mags’s urchins go off to “mine country” to see if the funds are coming from there….which COULD have led up to one helluva story with Mags confronting his former “owner” Cole Pieters (who was noted in the very first book as having had some “powerful people protecting him”)…but nope, after lots of Kirball playing and paragraphs of incomprehensible accents, the Spy Group ends up in a “nice” mine who have nothing to do with the rebellion directly and were duped by the real Villain…and…and…yeesh, I hope you’re following this, because even after three read-throughs, I’m still lost. And somehow, after the “villain” is revealed (or not-revealed, because no one’s ever seen the man before), Amily defuses yet another side-plot with Rethwellan getting involved, and Mags decides to run back to Haven…where he gets swept up in a rehearsal for his Official Wedding for Amily. Then, somehow, amidst all the fuss and PEOPLE and HERALDS and COMPANIONS and GUARDS, yup, the Villain manages to kidnap Mags & Amily and spirit them off to some remote location (Lackey doesn’t even bother to figure out how this happens; Mags just wakes up & he’s in a cell), where he monologues his whole Big Bad Plan at them, conveniently forgets that Monarch’s Own Herald Amily can TALK TO HER COMPANION & SPREAD THE INFO RIGHT TO THE KING and…and…why was this guy a threat again? Seriously, if my review makes no sense & is muddled, that’s exactly how the book is. Too many unimportant characters who add nothing to the story and only dilute it, too many subplots dropped or handled clumsily or left hanging, too much “nothing happening” and too much freakin’ Kirball AGAIN. Pass this one up. Get it from the library if you absolutely must read the whole Valdemar ‘verse, but save your cash.