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Closer to the Heart:
Book Two of the Herald Spy
by Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books, $7.99, 359pp
Published: October 2016

This is a sequel to Closer to Home: The Herald Spy (click here for review), the story of the scrappy miner youth, Mags, who became a Herald and received a Companion, Dallen. He is now the Herald Spy for the Kingdom of Valdemar.

He and the King’s Own Herald, Amily, have gotten more comfortable in their relationship, established in the first book. So much so, that throughout the book the two must deal with the delightful take-charge Lady Dia who is arranging everything about their large and fancy wedding planned for right after the popular Spring Fair.  But as always, things are not as peaceful as they could be.  Someone is selling Valdemarean arms to a General Tallan who is raising a rebel army to take over the small kingdom of Menmellith who has a very young king who rules with a Regency Council.

So Mags, Amily, and Amily’s father Herald Nikolas, among others, spread across the land trying to discover where the weapons are coming from and who is funding them. This takes Mags and Amily and the powerful Lord Jorthun (husband to Lady Dia) along with the Lady Kiera to the mining center of Attlebury. They figure precious stones would make the best means of payment - untraceable and valuable no matter where you go.

Mags, hoping to get close to the working folks of Attlebury and discover any information is in disguise as Jorthun’s man; and he becomes friendly with the miners and other working class folk. To make it easier to find out what might be happening, he even gets involved in a game of Kirball. The whole town is mad for the game which sounds like a cross between soccer and polo as horses are used.

Finally, they get a lead that takes them to the nasty General Tallan who is no idiot and kidnaps Mags and Amily. There is a deadly confrontation at an old little-used Valdemarean Guard station on the border near Menmellith and another small kingdom, Rethwellan.

This is a delightful story; loads of intrigue and shenanigans as the Heralds unravel the plot to take over Menmellith and blame it on Valdemar by using weapons that appear to be made in Valdemar. Great fun. ~~ Sue Martin

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