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Closer to the Chest

(Valdemar: The Herald Spy #3)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,007 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
Herald Mags, the King of Valdemar’s Herald Spy, has been developing a clandestine network of young informants who operate not only on the streets of the capital city of Haven, but also in the Great Halls and kitchens of the wealthy and highborn. In his own established alternate personas, Mags observes the Court and the alleys alike, quietly gathering information to keep Ha ...more
Kindle Edition, 381 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by DAW
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Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm)
Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for giving me this book to review.

Closer to the Chest is a very enjoyable book which goes at a variable pace which starts off slow and builds to a crescendo by the end. The story can be a bit predictable as it follows the outline of many other Mercedes Lackey books, it does not mean it is any less enjoyable for that.

My favourite character is Nicholas, because whilst most Heralds are meant to be practically perfect, Nicholas shows that they still
...more
Liana Smith Bautista | Will Read for Feels
***I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review, which was first posted on book blog Will Read for Feels.

***Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Any release of an all-new book set in Valdemar is cause for celebration in my book, and Closer to the Chest, book 3 in the Herald Spy series, is no exception. Valdemar is Mercedes Lackey’s fantasy kingdom where spirit-horses called Companions p
...more
Lara
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Got somewhat determinedly preachy in spots--Rolan reminding Amily that there is no "one true way" in Valdemar, the constant repetitions of "we think the person writing all these hateful obscene letters to women and trashing shops owned by women and burning woman-shaped effigies is a man, but in fairness, it could be a woman"--but there is 99% less Kirball, and multiple people actually do things as opposed to sitting around talking about them.

Also, please have more Companion Seraf, let her Choose
...more
Dawn Livingston
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim Lucier
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Each and every one of Lackey's Valdemar novels feels like home. I did enjoy this book, but what I write here is in comparison to the other books which are Absolutely Brilliant. If you're like me and you've read and re-read every single other Valdemar book... You know you've got to pick this one up too, because it's going to be new. If you're looking at these as a first-time reader, let me instead recommend the Arrows of the Queen trilogy or Brightly Burning as a stand-alone. (personally, I start ...more
Silvara Wilde
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Check out my other reviews, discussions and link ups at Fantasy of the Silver Dragon.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book wasn't as fast-paced as most Valdemar novels. It was still interesting and kept my attention, but if you love the ones full of action, this book is more in the line of intrigue. Mags, Amily and a number of their friends from the last book, spend most of
...more
annapi
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Mercedes Lackey seems to be running out of really good fodder for her Valdemar series. Lately her books have been less than stellar - good enough for fans but with too much contrivance to be excellent. I enjoy them still, but not as much as her earlier stuff.

She's really milking this character for all he's worth - this is the eighth book starring Mags, the orphan boy who was Chosen to be a Herald and who eventually becomes a spy for the king. A bit of a Gary Stu but not enough to be overly annoy
...more
Jenna
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoy Ms. Lackey's series ever since the first book about Herald Talia.
And I really enjoy Mags and Co.
However, I admit to be a trifle disturbed/perplexed by how closely this particular book follows the plot of Dorothy L Sayers's most famous work Gaudy Night: Lord Peter Wimsey Book 12, down to the discussion of the Poison Pen, discussions of whether or not the servants could be responsible, burning effigies in the yard, and debates about the position of women in society and whether someone is a
...more
Sean Talbot
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
The third in the Herald Spy series which deals with two of my all time favourite characters in Mags and Amily.

I was a bit disappointed as something was missing from these two amazing characters as they seemed to be a shadow of themselves.

The story itself was interesting and dealt with many of the wondrous things that always happens in Valdemar. it just had something missing and really is a 3.5 star read.

I am looking forward to more of these characters and can't wait to see what's next.
Jon
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it
The pacing was much better in this one, I feel. It still wrapped up a little rapidly, and the foreshadowing was super heavy, making this one (again) feel like YA. Maybe they are, and I've mis-read the target audience.

I mean, it's more books in a world I love, but I'd like something that feels a little more grown up.
eyes.2c
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, fantasy
An agreeable addition with a few twists, some new characters and same old favorites.
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
...more
Imogene
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love that she’s tackling toxic masculinity and the worst of the men’s rights and the repulsive incel issue.
She’s always had great female and lgbt characters, but extra respect right now
Kathy Davie
Third in The Herald Spy subseries and eighth in the Collegium Chronicles, both of which are a subseries within Lackey's overall Valdemar universe. This subseries revolves around Mags and his Companion, Dallen.

If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take
As angry as the conflict made me, Closer to the Chest is a story with a warm and cozy feel for its day-in-the-life of Mags, Amily, and the royals, as Mags and Amily and the king and his son and
...more
Anne Morgan
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
People who have read Lackey's Collegium Chronicles in the Valdemar series (Foundation, Intrigues, Changes, Redoubt, and Bastion) will already be familiar with almost all of the characters. That series followed Mags and his friends as they came to the Collegia for school and, in Harry Potter-like fashion, had adventures that shaped them into the adults we see in The Herald Spy series. That said, there are definitely references to events that a reader starting off with Closer to the Chest will not ...more
Kim
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Jamieson
A new religious order comes to the city, and strange things begin to happen. Prominent women begin to get Poison Pen letters, discussing their secrets and saying vile things to insult them and undercut their confidence. Two women's religious orders have their temples desecrated. Women owned shops are vandalized, night after night.

Mags uses his contacts and goes undercover to discover the source. Amily uses her network in the Court to examine things from her end as well. Could the new religious o
...more
Glennis
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The third book of the second trilogy featuring Mags has him very much in the roll of King’s Spy. The main baddie in this book has been leaving nasty messages to women all over the Palace and with the trainees at Bardic, Herald and unaffiliated students. Some of the notes actually reveal secrets no one should know about. Overall the story was ok but came across as a bit preachy about the villains. In a way it is nice that the kingdom isn’t in the balance in this story. It was more of a keeping pe ...more
Cecilia Rodriguez
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Mags and his wife Amily are back. This time, they are investigating a series of Poison Pen letters sent
to several women at Court.
Lackey's plot is timely, given the present hostile political environment which has seen some very
cruel attacks against women.
I loved that Lackey sneaked in a quote from Maya Angelou.
Megan
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Mercedes Lackey is still frustratingly predictable and one-note when it comes to her religious villains, who basically spend their entire lives talking about how awful women are and how they need to put uppity women in their place. The whole thing would actually be a hilarious parody if Lackey didn't play it all too seriously. The threat is simultaneously too nebulous (there will be civic unrest?) and too over-the-top (did anyone seriously think (view spoiler) life was in ...more
Solstice Hannan
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
I find myself really frustrated with the Herald-Spy books. Mags feels like a watered-down version of Skif-mixed-with-Alberich, making me wish for stories of Alberich and Myste working together in Haven, or even Kerowyn taking up Alberich's network of contacts. Amily is plot-expedient, but she doesn't seem as interesting as a King's Own as Talia did. One character's favorite food feels like a cartoonish catch-phrase.

But what really makes me sit back and question if the same author who wrote the L
...more
J.L.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: november-2017
4.5 stars

It's taken quite a few books, but I think Lackey is back on her stride with her long-running Valdemar series. While I still noticed a few editorial discrepancies, I enjoyed this novel a lot more than any of the previous books that featured Mags and Amily. This particular story acts as a culmination to what both characters have been working toward for years. Now, they are full Heralds who have come into their own, both in the work that they do and in their relationship.

Valdemaran courtly
...more
Lauren
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, I finally got my hands on our library's copy of Closer to the Chest, and it's a doozy. I know some people are sick and tired of Herald Mags, but it's nice having characters I already know. In fact, it's almost getting to the point where I need a persona dramatis or a reread to keep everyone straight.

The book is certainly topical - it deals with religious fanaticism manifesting as extreme misogyny. Someone is dropping nasty notes to women in at Court and defacing the Temples of female order
...more
Denicemarcell
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
For the first time in a long time I was binge reading.
At the start I was "this plot is totally from Gaudy Night", then I reminded myself there are only so many plots in the world and Ms. Lackey did make it her own as part of the Valdemar Universe.
Frequent references/remembrances to other books in this world but no mention so vital you needed to recall the whole plot of any other book. Am wondering if not knowing would increase the mystery of the stone table?
Good story about community cohesion a
...more
Flewts
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading a Mercedes Lackey book is like getting together with friends you care about. You know you'll enjoy their stories, you know you will like the characters you meet, you know there will be a problem/mystery that will have a satisfying resolution by the conclusion, and you know you'll want to go out and get another Mercedes Lackey book right away!

This is the conclusion of the the Herald Spy trilogy, focusing on Mags and his (now) wife Amily. Someone(s) is bullying women in a secretive and nas
...more
Melanie
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This book fit the pattern of Ms. Lackey's "recent" Valdemar books perfectly - she takes a story from another book or play (not written by her), transports it into Valdemar, gives it enough twists and differences to avoid actual allegations of copying, does a great deal of preaching, makes several editorial mistakes, does only a very little character development, does a *lot of obvious and long-winded plot development, builds to a climax that is all over far too quickly with no denoument, and lea ...more
Darlene Wilson
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
The days of the Poison Pen - - destruction and obscene letters.
But who's writing them? Someone at the Court? A disgruntled Palace servant? One of the members of the Collegia? Someone in the patriarchal sect of the god Sethor? Could the villain be a woman? what's this person hoping to achieve? It isn’t blackmail, the letters demand nothing; the aim seems to be the victims’ panic and despair. But why? Mags and Amily take steps to minimize the damage while using both magic and wits to find the evil
...more
Bibliotropic
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
(Full review here: https://bibliotropic.net/2016/12/05/c...)

I don’t enjoy Lackey’s books as much as I used to. It’s difficult to tell whether the change is in me, her storytelling, or a bit of both. But I enjoyed Closer to the Chest more than I expected to, despite its moments of unsubtle moralizing, and it made me feel a renewed interest in the series as a whole. That alone is something to be grateful for, so far as I’m concerned. As I said in the beginning of this review, it’s not a fantastic
...more
Kris Irvin
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Mercedes Lackey Takes on the Patriarchy!

It's hard to say which of The Herald Spy books was my favorite, but this one is a pretty strong contender. It was a little long, but had enough going on that I was never bored during it.

My favorite part of any book with Mags is his relationship with Dallen, and I felt like this book really strengthened the bond between Amily and Rolan as well. I loved reading their conversations, and I really really loved how much sarcasm and indignant snorts there was.
...more
Elizabeth
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it
While I continue to enjoy that these books don't follow the normal formula, I am ready for something different. I knew exactly what was the ending in chapter 1. The author didnt even try to make any twists or keep us on our toes. It's almost as if she is bored and just churning something out. There are so many directions she could take. More hawkbrothers or gryphons or mages, what happened to Hardorn in some of the chronologically more recent stories? I will keep reading, they are easy pallet cl ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #28 Closer to the Chest by Mercedes Lackey 1 3 Feb 19, 2017 02:42PM  
Play Book Tag: Closer to the Chest by Mercedes Lackey - 3.5 stars 1 11 Nov 13, 2016 09:20AM  
Goodreads Librari...: New ISBN 2 14 Oct 04, 2016 07:04AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add ISBN 3 11 Oct 04, 2016 03:52AM  
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6,443 followers
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 &am ...more

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“There was nothing we could do to stop whatever was going on, and there was no point in trying to imagine what was being done. I come from farm folk, Herald. We know when there’s nothing to be done you might as well get some sleep, because when there is something to be done you’re going to wish you’d had some.” 1 likes
“when there’s nothing to be done you might as well get some sleep, because when there is something to be done you’re going to wish you’d had some.” As” 0 likes
More quotes…