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Closer to Home (Valdemar: The Herald Spy) Hardcover – October 7, 2014
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
Praise for The Collegium Chronicles:
“Returning to her beloved Valdemar universe, Lackey opens her new series at a pivotal time in the history of Valdemar.... Series fans will enjoy the variations on a familiar theme, while enough information is presented for first-timers to discover a world of high adventure and individual courage. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“A real page-turner.... Outstanding characters, especially Mags, will greatly please Valdemar fans.” —Booklist
“An enjoyable and pleasant read.... Mags is an appealing protagonist facing challenges (and successes) with which readers will empathize." —RT Book Reviews
"An entertaining fantasy starring a likable lead character." —Midwest Book Reviews
"Top Pick! ... A wonderful amalgam of fantasy and character study." —Night Owl Reviews
About the Author
Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds Of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots. She can be found at mercedeslackey.com.
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With regards to the reviews that wanted more big battles, country level conflicts, etc… this book style is consistent with the first books in earlier series like Magic’s Pawn and Arrows of the Queen where the big conflicts usually came later in the series and the first books were almost always building the framework and setting. Another reason, I’ve used the term “classic” in this review.
In closing, it is great to see the author back to her earlier form. I’m not sure what was going on over the last few years with the prior Collegium Chronicles but upon reflection, an author cannot work for as many years as the Valdemar series has been going without having “real life” disruptions intrude and getting derailed for a time. Unfortunately, I know from my background in academic libraries that publishing is a major business with deadlines and contracts that must be met. Whatever the situation was, I’m just really glad it appears to be resolved and that I went ahead ordered this book. I will be waiting impatiently for the next book to come out in a year or so.
I liked it. I think I like it better than I liked the Collegium Chronicles (the previous series, which calls on the same cast of characters), actually. The Collegium Chronicles got pretty lazy at times (book 2, I'm looking at you in particular), giving the impression that some of the characters' behavior was happening not because it fit the story, but because it was simpler to write. This one didn't irritate me nearly as much, and I don't think it's *only* because I was so hot to read a new Valdemar story.
In this first Herald Spy book, Mags has graduated and is on his way back to Haven at the end of his training circuit, suggesting that little time - perhaps a year? - has passed between the end of Bastion and the start of this book. His girlfriend Amily is still there, and Jakyr and Lita, their mentors, are with them, but Bear and Lena have gotten themselves proper grownup jobs and are no longer traveling with them...which, I have to say, is a relief. That sense of laziness I mentioned before seemed to be most pronounced around Bear and Lena...and even when they were acting realistically, I found them both kind of annoying. So, anyway, they get back to Haven, report to the King's Own to receive their own grownup jobs, and settle in.
And then, naturally, everything turns upside down.
I didn't bother reading the other reviews before buying this, so I can't say for certain that that first OMG moment hasn't been spoiled...but just in case, it won't be me that ruins it. I will say that there's a whiff of that same laziness in that scene - the outcome was just a leeeettle too convenient - but...I overlooked that.
I'll assume that anyone reading this is long-familiar with Valdemar (if by some chance you're not, start with Arrows of the Queen), so I'll just focus on the differences between this and the others. For starters, this book is the first that really flips between multiple points of view. The Vanyel books, for example, might have occasionally flipped us to Savil's POV for a page or two, but Vanyel was clearly the main character. Closer to Home actually has three main characters - or maybe 2½ - and gives them roughly equal air time. One is Mags, naturally, one is Amily, and I'll let the third be a surprise...though I'll say it's not a Herald. I admit, I was a little nonplussed by the split stories at first, but by the end I'd decided that I was happy Lackey'd decided to write it that way.
Hmm...another change is that we've really only had glimpses of the nobility up until now. Brief conversations with Vanyel, or the nobility as seen through a Herald's eyes. Closer to Home takes place at court, and...let's just say the fairytale of the nobility is completely dashed by the end. And this is probably the first Valdemar book that so blatantly plays on another well-known story - namely, Romeo and Juliet. I always thought Shakespeare's play was pretty gag-worthy, though, and I'm happy to say that though Lackey borrows from the original, it's not just a re-write.
So far, I doubt I'll be quite as enamored by the Herald Spy books as I was by, oh, the Arrows series, or the Mage Winds (probably my favorite)...but I sense a sharp uptick in quality as compared to the Collegium Chronicles. (Which, I should point out, I still read and liked just fine.) But, when you get down to it, if you're a fan of Valdemar, is there really even a question as to whether you'll read this?