This delightful fantasy series has many wonderful elements familiar to those of us who have been longtime fans, and this story showcases several of them, including the stalwart and impressive Companions who continue to provide transportation, back-up, mentoring, and act as sounding boards—packaged inside of beautiful blue-eyed equine bodies who can communicate telepathically, and a plethora of special gifts that various Heralds are so adept at using. It is heartwarming to see the deepening of the relationship between Mags and Amily and their increasing comfort in their roles and confidence in their choices.
I was gratified to have the opportunity to see that Amily is capable of showing that she has the ability and willingness to fight to defend those she cares about and it was intriguing to see Mags return to his roots and utilize the talents that he has acquired and honed since his very humble origins.
The story itself was more of a gentle buildup as a mystery is revealed and investigated, and the action did not become intense until the final few chapters, which was a little disappointing, but I always enjoy a chance to revisit this remarkable world. I think it probably would be a bit difficult to read this book as a stand-alone, since there are so many references to prior events, but I enjoyed the opportunity to get a look at another section of Valdemar and hope that there will be many more stories about this remarkable couple and, hopefully, cameos by some of their charismatic friends as well.
“Closer to the Heart” by Mercedes Lackey is Book Two of ‘The Herald Spy’ series and continues to follow the adventures of both Herald Mags as he continues to establish his network to follow in the footsteps of his mentor Nikolas, and his fiancée Amily, who is adjusting to her duties as the King’s Own. Their upcoming nuptials are not high on their list of priorities, but inevitably develop more significance for Valdemaran society than they ever dreamed. Ostensibly humble folks become invaluable assets and every resource must be marshaled to combat a threat that may endanger every being in Valdemar, including the Companions.
Mags was a Herald of Valdemar. But he had once lived the brutal life of a child slave. When he was Chosen by his Companion Dallen, his young life was saved, and he slowly adjusted to being well fed, educated, and treasured as a trainee in the Herald's Collegium at Haven. Singled out by the King's Own Herald, Mags would thrive in his secret training as a spy. His unusually strong Gift—an ability to Mindspeak and Mindhear anyone, not just others who were Gifted—made him a perfect undercover agent for the king.
Sequel to Mercedes Lackey's Closer to Home, this adventure continues Mags's journey as Valdemar's herald spy.