Title: Closer to Home: Book One of the Herald Spy
Author: Mercedes Lackey
As a long-time fan of the Valdemar series, I hated to admit that I was disappointed in the last few offerings in the world (The Collegium Chronicles). However, when a book (or books) is full of filler, with an ending that was rushed and completely reeked of deus ex machina, I kind of have no choice. But since I have always been such a fan, despite that disappointment, I decided to check this book out from the library and was pleasantly surprised.
The story picks up where the Collegium Chronicles leave off, and relies upon previous knowledge from that series (especially at the beginning, as there is really very little introduction of the characters), but quickly heads into its own plot. The Collegium mystery arc has been resolved, which leaves room for a new arc to begin.
Mags and Amily are home, and starting to settle into their lives. Then Amily’s father is nearly killed, and Amily’s life is sent in a completely different direction. She is quickly swept up in the political intrigues of the highborn, while Mags is learning the steps of being the official Herald Spy.
While the Romeo and Juliet subplot felt a little trite at times (and at others made you want to shake all of the characters involved), it resolved in a (mostly) unexpected way. The ‘main plot’ of the book (which got much less screen time than the Romeo and Juliet plot) was mostly laying groundwork for the Herald Spy mystery arc, but what little we got was interesting and well-written.
The story holds together well and unlike its predecessor series, I did not walk away from the book feeling that I had read 200 pages of filler with 50 pages of action.
Though there were places that made me roll my eyes (just because your *mind* knows how to do something does not mean your *body* has the muscle memory to do so), and other places where I wished that there had been more of a focus on, Lackey’s writing covers many of the minor problems. Fans of Valdemar do not need to fear picking up this newest offering.