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Closer to Home

(Valdemar: The Herald Spy #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  4,676 ratings  ·  347 reviews
Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.

Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by DAW (first published October 1st 2014)
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Bear Field No, this is the next part of Mags' saga. In the last book about Mags, he was still officially a Herald-Trainee. This book picks up after his graduatio…moreNo, this is the next part of Mags' saga. In the last book about Mags, he was still officially a Herald-Trainee. This book picks up after his graduation from the Collegium.(less)
Hannah I started this before I knew about the previous books and whilst I did enjoy it there was a definite sense that I was missing something having not rea…moreI started this before I knew about the previous books and whilst I did enjoy it there was a definite sense that I was missing something having not read about what had happened before. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,676 ratings  ·  347 reviews

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Kylara Jensen
I can't not read a new Mercedes Lackey book. It's like something hardwired into my brain from back when I actually enjoyed her books, because they were good. But yeah, it's been forever since I actually enjoyed a new book she's written.

Allow me to present this scathing review in two parts.


Just stop it! No one cares about him any more. You stretched out his story which could have been told in 2-3 books into FIVE books and then, AND THEN, wrote another one. And for
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cinci-nook
It happens to every author of a large amount of books. How to put this gently? ML, Mags was an okay character. He never needed this many books devoted to his story. Put down the Harry Potter books. Instead look to the world you created and look for places and times that have not been explored. You are selling your land short. Remember how wonderful Heralds of Valdemar, Last Herald-Mage and Vows and Honor are? Do you know how many times I've repurchased By The Sword? Five times. Five times beca ...more
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Meh. I don't expect much from Ms. Lackey anymore since she's become so preachy. And what's the point of reading about characters that already know what to do and how to be? Where are the mistakes and the growth? Maybe that's why it took me 5 days to read a book that in the past would have taken me 1 or 2, because it was so dull.
And lastly why does Mags get 6 (and I'm assuming more) books about him? What about Talia or Kerowyn? They were much more interesting characters and I could understand wh
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: twenty-fifteen
There are parts I really like about this book, like the doing away of Lena and Bear. I am sorry I didn't care for them, they were asshats to Mags in the first series and never apologized for their behavior even when he apologized to them! I also like Mag's new rag tag bunch, I can't wait to see how they grow.
The biggest issue I have with this is the character Violetta. She pisses me off so much. I am sure that is what Lackey was going for...a kind of antithesis of her female main characters. May
For those unfamiliar with Valdemar I would not advise starting with this one. For those that are I think you'd enjoy this story more after reading Foundation, Intrigues, Changes, Redoubt.

This story isn't as exciting as some others in the Valdemar universe since there isn't a war going on, but I like the characters and enjoyed it well enough.
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I don't understand why this story needed continuing and haven't really understood why Mags' story needed continued past book 1. It picks up almost immediately after the end of the last book despite being a new series. The book basically seems to be a story of how can we make Aimly more interesting without actually killing anyone of import off and devolves into Romeo and Juliet with a twist (a big obvious twist). And the story has to take that devolution because there is nothing of note with the ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in a new series, following on immediately after "The Collegium Chronicles" left off. And I liked it much better than any of the preceding series which, though pleasant, was two books too long. This is an extremely promising start to the new series.

Following the events of "Bastion", Mags is now a full Herald, settled in his relationship with Amily, and home in Haven to take up his work as the King's...information gatherer. Midwinter is coming and the Kingdom's aristocracy i
Oct 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is not close to the writing that pulled me into the Valdemar world. I've looked all through the descriptions on several websites and I did not see anything describing this book as YA but that is the emotional and plot level of this book.
I won't cite specific examples to avoid spoilers but there is constant explaining and re-explaining of characters emotional reasonings and reactions. At times its like being hit with a hammer while someone yells " This is supposed to be emot
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review to come.

(view spoiler)
Kathryn Ford
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I love all of the books in the Valdemar series! Mercedes Lackey is definitely one of my favourite authors. This book was a bit slow at times. It was a real twist on a Romeo and Juliet type plot.
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Okay, so here's my opinion on Mercedes Lackey straight up. I LOVE her writing. Love it. But some of her more recent books have lost me. Then, in about 2000 or so, I found the Valdemar series was maybe getting a little worn out, and even had spelling and/or pretty obvious editing problems in some books. This horrified and saddened me, since the Valdemar books are my absolute favorite books and have been since high school.

Now here's the good news about this book in particular. It TOTALLY reverses
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: march-2016
I think my biggest complaint about this book is probably the fact that the back cover text has very, very little to do with the actual plot of the novel. And if that's my biggest complaint, I will definitely call this book a win. I've read every Valdemar book by Mercedes Lackey, many of the multiple times, and I have to admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the previous series that starred Herald Mags, mostly because I felt little to no new ground was covered in regards to world-building or characte ...more
Dami (Damiellar)
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
It's been many years since I read my first Mercedes Lackey story and for many years I was pretty much obsessive about grabbing each new release at the earliest opportunity (and let's not consider my reaction when one of her books 'disappeared' in a move). There's even several books held together with multiple applications of sticky tape that I can't bear to upgrade due to the associated memories.

I must confess though that lately I've been choosing other authors to spend my immediate dollars on a
Morgan Dhu
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Fluffy and lightweight as it has been compared even to other of her novels and series, I have been enjoying Mercedes Lackey's latest Valdemar-based Colliegium series about abused child labourer Mags saved form a nasty, brutish and short life through the miraculous appearance of one of those blue-eyed guardian spirits in horse form that serve as Companions to the Heralds of Valdemar. After several books exploring the personal growth of Mags and his friends and the development of the Collegium its ...more
Dawn Livingston
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-favorites
It's a stand alone book so if you don't read the series before this one starting with Foundation (the Collegium Chronicles) then you can still tell what's going on. But of course you'd be best off to read them first.

This book is not groundbreaking, riveting, fast paced, complex.

This book is a good book to curl up with. It's an engaging book with decent characters and a decent though simple plot. I read it in about four days. And it was refreshingly comfortable, comforting, relaxing, enjoyable.
Nov 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I can't really rate it, as I got it from the library, excited to have a new Valdemar book.... Until I actually read the blurb, realized it was another Mags book and stuck it back in my book bag to go back unread. That is just how much I HATED Mags and his loooooooooooooong, boring stories throughout The Collegium Chronicles (5 books! Why??).

And now I am sad, because I wanted to like the new book. Disappointed does little to describe what I am feeling.

This is Book One of a series within the Vald
Kathy Davie
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
First in the Herald Spy fantasy series which continues Mags' story from the Collegium Chronicles series, and both of which are a part of the larger, overall Valdemar series. This particular subset of the series revolves around Mags, a unique young man who will be called upon to display yet more responsible choices along with his mate-to-be, Amily.

My Take
I do adore the entire series, and I was thrilled when I heard of Closer to Home and that it carried on with Mags' story — I'd been so depressed
Joanna Esco
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
I rarely review a Lackey book. Mostly because I'm extremely biased. I love her books. But this one? Those 4 stars should be read like this 2 because of Amily's Gift, and the other 2 because I cannot bring myself to give Lackey less than 4 stars. Those are loyalty stars, pity stars even. I must say that I have no real problems with this book. It was just lackluster? It was Romeo and Juliet but not really. No characters grew and developed... Except perhaps the remaining parents of Romeo and Juliet ...more
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
CLOSER TO HOME, Mercedes Lackey, 2014
Book one of The Herald Spy.
I thoroughly enjoy all of Ms. Lackey’s books about Valdamar and its citizens, royalty, Heralds, Healers, Bards, and Companions.
Megs, now a Herald of Valdemar, has no memory of his parents or homeland. He did, however, have a powerful Gift: he could Mindspeak and Mindhear anyone, not just other Gifted. During his years of training at the Herald’s Collegium in Haven, the King’s Own Herald, Nikolas, had selected him for secret spy trai
Oct 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014, read-2020
Never trust a wedding feast in a fantasy book.

Even though I read these because I want stories where good triumphs and evil gets its comeuppance, I find myself wishing that the characters were more nuanced, and not so purely Good and Evil. Won't stop me from getting the next book in the series, though.

If you read Mercedes Lackey, you'll know exactly what to expect when you open the first book of a new Valdemar sub-series. And it's here. Good and Evil, the place of women in Valdemaran society, a g
Jayme(the ghost reader)
This is the sequel to Foundations and it starts right up where it ends in the previous series. Mags is a full herald and is the protege to the former King's Own. Mags has plenty to do keeping two feuding families from fighting. Also, Amily, Mags's girl friend and daughter of the King's Own has been chosen to follow in her father's footsteps. Amily has developed some suprising gifts of her own which helps her in her new role. ...more
Chris Presta-Valachovic
Dec 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Olga Godim
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
I wrote the same review for all three novels of this series. I actually liked these books. The writing is lousy, explaining why I didn’t read this writer for so long, but the stories are interesting. They kept me reading till the end.

What I didn’t like:
Too much moralizing and explaining, as if all the readers are fools and need all the pontifications they can get from the writer. If Ms. Lackey cut off all her preaching and explanations, the books would’ve been much shorter and much better.
Also I
Text Addict
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sff2018_f
Eventually I realized that I *had* read this before, several years ago.

Not Lackey's best (too many recycled ideas for my taste) but not her worst by a long shot.
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remarked - to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they were listening - that I couldn'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
Dec 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "I've just sucked away two hours of your life, how do you feel?"
Shelves: shelf-of-meh
The only reason I didn't put this on my "gouge my eyes out than read" shelf is because a) I finished it, & b) Mercedes Lackey was my introduction to the fantasy genre - in particular, the "Arrows of the Queen" series, which knocked the socks off of 11-yr-old me who had never supposed there were fairytale-like books for adults. So basically sentiment & gratitude to the author for helping me visit other places where magic existed keeps me kinder to this book than I'd be otherwise.

My issue is this:
May 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

Despite having a somewhat unorthodox upbringing and a shiny life respectively, Mags and Amiliy have gone though a variety of challenging situations together. Upon their return to Haven and their Whites, they have to balance their private and public selves to provide a stable face for the kingdom.

Ok, so the summary I just gave you is probably a li
Feb 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was so hopeful that maybe this series would get back to the "real" Mercedes Lackey and everything I love about Valdemar, but this book is just terrible. I slogged through the other Mags stories in the Collegium Chronicles, which got progressively worse with each book, but now I'm just done.

I'm so tired of Mags. He was interesting for a couple of chapters, but he hasn't grown or changed in any meaningful way since his first appearance SIX BOOKS AGO. The dialect changes in his speech are unneces
Ria Bridges
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Even though I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the last 5-book Valdemar set, figuring that it could have been cut down to 4 books if there weren’t as many long descriptions of sports games or copy-and-past flashbacks from previous books, I still knew that I was going to end up reading the latest book in the very large series, Closer to Home. It was still a Valdemar novel, and even if some of the stories haven’t impressed me, the world probably always will. As with the Collegium Chronicles books, Clo ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #183 - Closer to Home 1 2 Nov 03, 2015 09:00AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Closer to Home by Mercedes Lackey 3 5 Nov 03, 2014 08:32PM  

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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & M ...more

Other books in the series

Valdemar: The Herald Spy (3 books)
  • Closer to the Heart (The Herald Spy, #2)
  • Closer to the Chest (The Herald Spy, #3)

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