Top positive review
4.0 out of 5 starsAND...we're back in Valdemar!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 28, 2015
I can't *believe* I didn't realize there was a new Valdemar book until now. This was published seven months ago! Well, whatever; that oversight was corrected the very moment I found this.
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?