Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Closer to the heart by Mercedes Lackey

Closer to the chest is the third book in The Herald spy series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** about what happens in Closer to home and Closer to the heart - you can read this story independently but you will enjoy it more if you have read Closer to home and The Collegium chronicles which is the story about how Mags came to be a Herald of Valdemar.

Being a Herald is challenging at the best of times, always working tirelessly for the good of the Kingdom of Valdemar - but when you are husband to the King's Own Herald and working as a Herald spy it is even more challenging.  Herald Mags has become used to living multiple lives at once, but that doesn't mean it is pleasant - when he walks the streets of Valdemar in disguise he learns a lot about the streets of Haven, but it also leaves him open to attack from people who don't appreciate his meddling. 

Harkon let's Mags move about with ease, but his habit of collecting street urchins from masters that use and abuse them has drawn some nasty attention his way and Mags can't afford the distraction.  Someone is targeting the women of the Court and the Collegia, leaving nasty notes that criticise them for being harlots and stealing from men, hate filled rhetoric designed to rip women down and remind them of their proper place.  For some women it seems like a nasty joke that they shrug off and laugh away, but for others it is a crippling blow that strips them of their confidence.  Not content with the use of mere words, the damage soon escalates to attacks on businesses owned and operated by women, and exclusively female religious orders.

The arrival of a new religious order, Sethor the Patriach, seems to logically link to the attacks but neither Mags nor Amily can find a link between the attacks and the order.  If anything, the priests of Sethor appear to be doing a lot for the men of their local neighbourhood.  There is something festering under the surface in Haven, and the mood is not helped with the sweltering heat of summer.  With the attacks escalating Mags and Amily are running out of time to solve the mystery before someone dies.

I love Valdemar - stated boldly to be upfront about my bias when it comes to reviewing Mercedes Lackey books!  For the first time, we really get to experience what it truly means for Valdemar to have no one "true way" when it comes to religion, which makes it rather tricky for the characters to deal with this time.  I may struggle a little with the way Mags speaks when he is being "common" (as I have noted in previous reviews) but I just adore the relationship between Mags and Dallen - and I have to say that I think Dallen is my all time favourite Companion.  The interplay between Mags and Dallen rings completely true for the relationship between a Herald and their Companion, partly helped because of a particularly strong gift for Mindspeech. 

It has been an incredible journey over the past few years as Mags has established himself as a Herald and a trusted member of the King's inner court, and there are hints that there is more to come.  The time they live in is one that has not been explored before, and it is unusual to spend so much time with a single set of characters - although their world does shrink and grow like it would in real life, with characters arriving and departing as their lives dictate.  I hope that Lackey continues to work with their characters (even if that is because I want to see more of Dallen!).  This is a highly recommended world for readers who enjoy their fantasy with real characters, real situations, and real challenges.  It is difficult to hate people because of their race, religion, or sexuality after reading about the world of Valdemar!

The Collegium chronicles:
  • Foundation by Mercedes Lackey
  • Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey
  • Changes by Merdeces Lackey
  • Redoubt by Mercedes Lackey
  • Bastion by Mercedes Lackey

The Herald Spy:
  • Closer to home by Mercedes Lackey
  • Closer to the heart by Mercedes Lackey
  • Closer to the chest by Mercedes Lackey

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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