Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Audiobook Review: Closer to the Heart by Mercedes Lackey

Closer to the Heart

Mercedes Lackey
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Series: The Herald Spy (Book 2)
Publication: Audible Studios (October 6, 2015)
Length: 10 hours and 33 minutes

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: This second volume in the Herald Spy series has as a central focus Mags and Amily's wedding. The king wants to use the occasion of the marriage of the King's Own Herald to do some political things. Mags and Amily put Lady Dia in charge and know that all they will need to do is show up. Both Amily and Mags are busy with their day jobs; Amily is learning her role as a the King's Own Herald and setting up a spy network among the impoverished young women of good family who are poor relations of little hope and prospects. Mags is busy working with his own spy network of orphans that he plans to train and put in households where he needs information.

Mags keeps having feeling that something is going to go wrong with the whole wedding. So he convinces Amily that the two should just slip off and get married. They won't tell anyone. But if something goes wrong with the spectacle that is being arranged, at least, they will already be married.

And something does go wrong. Someone is trying to force Valdemar to go to war with its neighbor Menmellith. Menmellith currently has a boy king who is in the care of the council and a disgruntled relative has taken the opportunity to try to foster a rebellion. Menmellith is certain that Valdemar is behind the potential usurper because his troops are using Valdemaran weapons. The King and council know very well that they haven't sanctioned this plan in any way. Heralds are sent scurrying including Mags and his new father-in-law to try to find out who is leading and funding these plan.

I especially liked seeing Mags go back to the area where he started his life and get to see what a well run mine that cares for its workers looks like. We also get to see Mags and some of the younger sons of the mine owners get all involved in Kirball.

This was another excellent story about the Heralds of Valdemar.

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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