Saturday, December 6, 2014

Book Review: Emissary by Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke delivers something to his readers that, by all measures, is really quite good. Mystery embedded in mystery. Adventure in fantasy. Love in trust. Story in words.

Instead of giving you a book summary like many of the other reviews, I’ll give you a more analytical/critical review to help you gauge (not whether it will be a riveting story, but) whether you want to read this philosophy over-against competing philosophies.

Book Philosophy: Greater good can be had in denying myself, even being willing to sacrifice everything, and pursuing the cause of the outcast and the downtrodden; in pursuing good for goodness’ sake.

Main Point:
Sacrifice self, pursue good
Supporting Points:
            There are greater things at stake
            People follow whom they can trust
            Every individual needs others
            There are mysterious, guiding forces at work

Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Setting: Medieval world, undefined universe
Plot Flow: Ascending, monochronic; Rags-to-riches; quick-paced
Additional literary elements: Self-discovery, community building, battle

The primary characters presented offer the antitype Hero-Leader, Chaos-Villain, comforter, and sage      

Cultural Target: youth, young adults, fantasty

A few mechanical corrections need to be made—there were several times in the first 50 pages that a sentence felt cumbersome or lacking in a word. But after these first few, the writing style and sentence structure was flawless. So perhaps it was simply that I needed to get accustomed to the way Locke was writing, but nonetheless: there were a few times I had to reread a sentence because I couldn’t distinguish subject from object or distinction of antecedents.

Along a similar vein, there were several times in the book that I thought the plot developed to quickly—almost like there were gaps in the plot development (not to be confused with plot holes!). It occasionally thought: “There wasn’t enough time for Hyam & Co. to determine that course of action. He didn’t even have a chance to think through the events.” Hyam seemed to respond too quickly and adeptly—he’s not done these things before, but he is somehow the perfect leader in every situation and knows how to react to things that are coming his way. If it were intended in Hyam’s characterization, he would appear haughty and presumptuous, but the characterization of Hyam was humble and compassionate (albeit holding grudges).

And occasionally it seemed like Locke didn’t spend enough time staging and describing the scene—this critique I know will be dismissed by most because many people want to ‘get to the story/action’ and find description overbearing, but I sometimes found myself rushed from one area to another without ever getting a chance to ‘look around’ as it were, and experience. Now this was not always the case, but I think more often than not the pace of the story was too quick for enjoying the world… and to be honest it was never quite clear in the story why there was such a rush. It seemed like Hyam ‘just knew’ that everything had to be done as expeditiously as possible without a clear plot element that gave cause.

And yet! All these critiques being leveled, the story was so good that all was quickly forgiven. The problems didn’t really even matter because the whole package was so enjoyable the whole time. In fact, all you have to do is read other reviews to understand the things that are so excellent.

I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to any fantasy readers as young as age 10.

Thomas Locke's book Emissary is released January 6, 2015
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

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