Imaginative World Inhabited by Rough-Hewn Characters
by Thomas Locke
Series: Legends of the Realm (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Length: 384 pp
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Except for the healing arts, magicking is a punishable offense in the realm. The only places it is still practiced are the Long Halls scattered throughout the land–isolated haunts of wizards called mages and their long-suffering students.
But hidden rivers of power course deep beneath the earth, and not everyone has obeyed the edict banning magic. Vixens lie in wait on the Galwyn road. A mysterious race of telepaths comes and goes invisibly. It is even rumored that Elves still hide among the wizened trees. And somewhere beyond the badlands, a growing menace threatens the hard-won peace of the realm.
This young man could stem the ominous tide . . . but only by turning away from everyone and everything he has ever known. And facing dangers he cannot fathom.
Emissary is the latest effort by Davis Bunn, written under the pseudonym Thomas Locke to reach a broader market and differentiate the author’s first fantasy effort from his previous work.
Nearly all the pieces of classic epic fantasy may be found in Emissary: mystery, magic, a young questing hero with uncertain parentage, and diverse races coming together, some more reluctantly than others, in a battle between good and evil. Unfortunately, what it lacks prevents the novel from being not only gripping, but memorable. While Locke took great effort to build a captivating world, he didn’t spend adequate time developing his characters. Maintaining tension and forward plot momentum while taking time to allow readers to forge bonds with the characters is a tightrope act all authors must perform. When readers are given more intimate access to the characters, they feel as though they are not merely viewers but participants in the narrative action.
Although I spent much of the book enjoying the journey, I never quite knew where it was all headed. At the novel’s beginning, our young hero Hyam is bitter and angry. But his feelings go unexplored, so we don’t quite understand why. And when his journey begins to take on shape and purpose, we don’t know how he arrived there, either. Similarly, Hyam’s love interest Joelle is a sorely missed opportunity for a uniquely compelling character. But again, her feelings are never shared beyond the surface. And when the two fall in love, it feels sudden and unconvincing. As such, the romantic element adds little to the overall drama.
Still, despite the novel’s flaws, the prose reads effortlessly and the world captures one’s interest and imagination. If only the author had captured my heart by sharing more of the thoughts and motivations of his characters, I would have been more invested and the book might have been something remarkable. Given that Locke is just getting this new series started, I hope that in future installments world building won’t dominate the story to the detriment of character development.
— Dawn Teresa
3 of 5 Hearts. Imaginative World Inhabited by Rough-Hewn Characters.
Thomas Locke’s Emissary presents a carefully drawn world filled with magic, mystery, action, and suspense while neglecting to expand on the inner workings of those who inhabit it. More likely to find favor with youthful male readers who prefer their readings heavier on action than emotional resonance.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above book for free from Edify Media in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”