The amazon.com product description:
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 Haven and the Kingdom safe.First off, this was a fairly quick read. I finished it last night, so only two evenings. However, I think that's been true of the other two books in this set, starting with Closer To Home, as well as the previous Mags series (beginning with The Collegium Chronicles: Foundation). Regardless, one of the reasons it was a quick read is simply that I couldn't put the book down! Mercedes Lackey kept me guessing all the way through regarding who the villain was and their possible motivation.
His wife Amily, is growing into her position as the King’s Own Herald, though she is irritated to encounter many who still consider her father, Herald Nikolas, to be the real King’s Own. Nonetheless, she finds it increasingly useful to be underestimated, for there are dark things stirring in the shadows of Haven and up on the Hill. Someone has discovered many secrets of the women of the Court and the Collegia—and is using those secrets to terrorize and bully them. Someone is targeting the religious houses of women, too, leaving behind destruction and obscene ravings.
But who? 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? And what is this person hoping to achieve? It isn’t blackmail, for 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 evildoer. But just as they appear to be on the verge of success, the letter-writer, tires of terror and is now out for blood.
Mags and Amily will have to track down someone who leaves few clues behind and thwart whatever plans have been set in motion, and quickly—before terror turns to murder.
Closer To The Chest opened another window into Mags and Amily's lives together, one I really enjoyed reading. Based on the ending though, I don't know if there is going to be another book about these characters. Of course, I think I said that about the Collegium Chronicles a couple of times too, so I don't know. If not, I'm looking forward to seeing what aspect of Valdemar's history Mercedes Lackey chooses to write about next. I've grown to count on the yearly Valdemar novel over the last couple of decades.
There's been a trend towards Mags' type of character in the Valdemar world over some of the more recent books/story sets. We're on the third character of this sort now: Alberich in Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor, and also Skif in Take A Thief.
I think I'm going to end up going back and rereading all of the Mags books soon, if only to refresh myself on all the details I've forgotten. After all, the first book telling his story came out back in 2008! Honestly, that's something I try not to think about too closely, especially as I've been following the Valdemar novels since the Mage Storms and Mage Wars trilogies first came out.