Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Review: Closer to Home by Mercedes Lackey

Closer to Home
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Herald Spy (Book 1)
Publication: DAW Hardcover (October 7, 2014)

Description: Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.

Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags' mentor, King's Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King's Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?

My Thoughts: Mags and Amily are back in Haven after there year on circuit. Both are ready to settle in with their new adult responsibilities. Mags will continue to apprentice as Royal spy under the tutelage of Nikolas, Amily's father and King's Own herald. Amily will be working as a chronicler in the Royal Archives. They are looking forward to a quiet period in their lives. However, that isn't what happens.

Nikolas is in an accident during which he almost drowns. He dies but is revived by Mags who saw the accident. When he died, his bond with his Companion Rolan was severed and Rolan chooses Amily to be his new Chosen. That makes her the new King's Own which causes all sorts of chaos until Mags straightens out the thinking of the King and the Court. One of the first things the new King's Own has to deal with is a family feud that could cause all sorts of problems in Haven.

The story has a Romeo and Juliet vibe as the youngest daughter of one of the feuding families falls for the son of the other. This leads to a lot of discussion of the marriage customs of the high born in Valdemar which follow a medieval pattern. Young women are given in marriage by their fathers for reasons that have nothing to do with love. There is a lot of conversation about the role of women in this society.We see Mags building his spy network in Haven and get a look at what life is like for the poor too.

Both Amily and Mags are very busy keeping this feud from exploding but are still blind-sided when things they hadn't anticipated happen.

This was a book that was more about social issues and about Mags and Amily learning their new jobs. There wasn't a big political plot in this one. Fans of the Valdemar books will enjoy this one because it explores topics not seen before.

Favorite Quote:
Things were, or were not. When the Monarch's Own died, he had the good sense to stay dead and not get resurrected to be Chosen again by a different Companion. Of course, no one was crass enough to put it that way, but it was clear enough that was, more or less, the way their troubled and muddled thinking was going. Everyone was concentrating on what had "gone wrong" and not on the bloody miracle they'd all been given.
This one comes from my TBR mountain. You can buy your copy here.

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