Thomas Locke

Flash Point, sequel to Trial Run, releases August 2

Flash Point, book #2 in the Fault Lines techno-thriller series, releases August 2, 2016.

Book 1 in the series is Trial Run.

Flash Point by Thomas LockeWhat if the limits of time and space were breached?

Junior financial analyst Lena Fennan loves managing risk and making money. Yet when she gets a mysterious invitation to take a leap into the unknown, she does not hesitate. Soon a series of events takes her to the brink of destruction. But Lena refuses to give in, entranced by glimpses of a future that redefine everything.

Reese Clawson emerges from prison gripped by the slow burn of revenge. She will track everyone who hand a hand in destroying her–and take them out. First on the list is Charlie Hazard.

As time and space become jumbled, Lena and Reese are pulled into a collision course that could alter the parameters of human consciousness.

Pre-order your copy

Flash Point is available for pre-sale in hardcover, paperback, and ebook from your favorite online bookseller:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christianbook.com

Why stories set in different worlds are popular

Why stories set in different worlds are so popular | Thomas LockeQ: Why do you think that stories set in different worlds, like much of sci-fi/fantasy, are so popular?

Thomas Locke: I believe the same reasons have been in place through the ages. People love fantasy and science fiction because it offers them an opportunity to reach beyond the limits of their reality. They come away from a good story with the sense that the unseen realms are almost within their grasp.

This re-interpretation of reality has its downside, however. Today’s young adults tend to see the world in negative terms: Things are not better for their generation than the ones which came before; the world’s problems are not being solved; the risk of economic collapse, political crisis, or even war is very real; environmental issues are being ignored; and so forth.

As a result, much of the science fiction and fantasy being written today reflects this dark perspective on the future.

There is an alternative.

In the early days of fantasy – we’re going back 4,000 years, to the original Greek epics – this kind of story represented a very different perspective. One with direct application to today’s world.

The Greek concept of democracy was under attack from within and without. The concept of personal freedom was being defined for the first time, and in doing so they threatened the concept of absolute rule in every neighboring kingdom. Their civilization, their very lives, were under constant threat.

The original Greek authors of fantasy saw their stories as a way to show how an average individual could overcome anything.

No obstacle, not even the worst beast they could imagine, not even the gods on Mount Olympus, could keep a determined and courageous individual from triumphing.

Key questions in Greek epic fantasy

The key questions all these fantasies asked was: could the main character of the story overcome internal doubts? Could the character grow beyond personal weaknesses, and become the hero that the time of crisis required?

I feel that there has never been a time when such story concepts hold more importance than now, for today’s generations.

“I’m blasting Thomas Locke across the world with my orb,” writes reviewer

I’m featuring three reviews of Merchant of Alyss, from Susan Essary, Stephanie Herron, and Eddie Gilley.

Merchant of Alyss is book 2 in the Legends of the Realm fantasy series. Book 1 is Emissary.

Merchant of Alyss, by Thomas LockeSusan Essary, on Goodreads:

“If you love a little mystery, romance, battles, and magic, woven into a captivating story, then you will enjoy this book immensely, as I did.”

Quote from Merchant of Alyss, epic fantasy by Thomas LockeStephanie Herron, on Goodreads

Before reviewing the Merchant of Alyss I went back and re-read Emissary (Book 1 in the Legends of the Realm).

This second installment is just as enthralling and so well written that I am not conscious of the words, just completely engrossed in the world and the story (which for me is a mark of great writing, as too often I become distracted from a good story by the pedestrian writing).

The locations in the book are so evocative that I felt as though I was there – looking into desolate valleys, walking in the bazaar or riding a camel in the scorching deserts.

The world building is wonderful, and integral to the story, rather than overwhelming the reader with details, and the focus of the story is the people – some we met before such as Hyam and Joelle but there are also newcomers such as Shona, Fareed and Selim (among others).

What I love about the story is that these characters feel like real people – they have real depth and the struggles they face are not only against the evil they are opposing, not just physical battles, but internal struggles with their own emotions – temptation, guilt, disappointment, grief and anger, as well as excitement over success and developing new skills.

Hyam gains some surprising new allies as well as experiencing devastating losses and struggling with the need to sacrifice personal desires and feelings (even at great cost) for the greater good and the chance to succeed in the battle against evil.

I have just finished re-reading Merchant for the second time and this series is now definitely ranking very high on my list of favourites.

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas LockeEddie Gilley’s blog:

If I were a mage and had an orb, I would point it at Thomas Locke and blast him right now half way across the world!

Not because I am disappointed in the writing of the second book in the series, Merchant of Alyss, but simply because he hasn’t finished the last one yet and the ending of this one is just not right!

I won’t give up the ending, but let me just say that I don’t think you will be happy either for the same reason. The anticipation is too much to endure. The story is too great; we must have the conclusion!

Merchant of Alyss picks up the story of the hero Hyam after the conclusion of the first book, Emissary. In the second book in the series the reader meets some new characters and continues to learn the stories of many of the characters in the debut book.

As usual, those characters are well developed and contain complexities that make them lovable and intriguing.

The plot is woven delicately through their stories or maybe the intersection of their life stories forms a perfect plot.

There is romance, adventure, magic, and intrigue in Merchant of Alyss. If you really engage in good fiction, then I doubt you will be able to put this book down for long. Each chapter leaves the reader longing for the next and to discover what is just around the next ridge or beyond the next vale in the journey.

The thing I like most about the writing style of Thomas Locke is that I don’t read the book, I imagine the story. I see the colors, feel the air, cower in fear, and relish in the life that is described on the pages.

I read The Hobbit when I was in high school a long time ago and wondered if they could ever capture that on film. I was not disappointed when it finally was released. I feel the same way about the series being released by Locke. I know how I imagine the characters would look, but I hope one day that I will be able to compare my vision with the realized image on the big screen.

There is no need to read the first book in order to understand the journey the second takes the reader on, but if you haven’t read it, I think you will want to after completing The Merchant of Alyss. I would be willing to bet that if you read this one, you will be pre-ordering the third in the series as soon as you put down The Merchant of Alyss.

Oh, and Thomas, if you don’t hurry, there might be more than one orb blast coming your way!

Michael Crichton: My inspiration for techno-thriller writing

Behind the Mind of author, Thomas Locke

In this new feature, I’m responding to reader questions about writing – specifically, writing fantasy and techno-thriller novels. Here’s today’s reader question… and my response.

Q: Author Michael Crichton has been an inspiration to you. Can you elaborate on that?

Thomas Locke: When I started writing, I read how 90 percent of a professional athlete’s exercise time was spent on strengthening the 10 percent weakest part of his or her abilities. Every author has weak points.

As I struggled to learn this new craft, I had to come to terms with what my weaknesses were. Before I could correct them, I needed to identify them. Which was very hard indeed.

The creative work is not something “out there.” It is visceral, which means I was not criticizing a work external to me and my character. It is at the heart of who I am and the life I yearned to begin.

One issue I identified was a need to craft my characters more swiftly. How to merge this hunger I had for living breathing people who literally rose from the page, to a swift-moving story.

Michael Crichton was a master at this. His dialogue and his descriptions carried great depth, while being very terse, very taut. Like his plots. I modeled my early work on his example, and gradually learned how to form my own voice.

Your turn!

Ask me anything about writing, about my writing techniques, about writing fantasy and techno-thrillers. Watch for my responses in upcoming blog posts.

 

 

Readers join the quest while reading ‘Merchant of Alyss’

Merchant of Alyss reviews continue to come in! Today, we’ll hear from:

  • Robin Bunting
  • Jeannette Conver
  • Edward Arrington
  • Mary Arndt

“What a truly satisfying story. Locke’s use of vocabulary paints such a great picture, I felt as though I was really taking part in this quest.

Magic, enchantments, dragons, good vs evil are all in this fantastic book. The story builds slowly and increases in intensity as it moves along. I thoroughly enjoyed this epic tale and can hardly wait for the next in the series.” 5 Stars

–Robin Bunting, Amazon

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke“I could hardly wait for the second Legends of the Realm book to be written. The Emissary characters were already my friends and it was easy to pick up with them where Book #1 concluded.

This band of friends face horrific new challenges and battles on their quest for healing of both their friend and their world under siege. They also face their own personal demons and learn how to be vulnerable with each other.

Their mutual loyalty and authenticity win through as they struggle with impossible odds. Sometimes they are seduced by evil beings who appear harmless or helpful, but they have each other’s backs and are willing to risk their lives to pull each other out of harm’s way.

There are enough supernatural creatures, other races, and magic to satisfy any fantasy lover. Their world captured my imagination with its well-conceived multiple cultures. I was drawn into their puzzlement as the band of adventurers tried to understand the customs and languages of the beings they encountered.

This is no light-weight adventure with one-dimensional bad guys. Evil characters are really frighteningly strong and the odds against the team sometimes seem impossible.

I was absorbed and on the edge of my seat throughout the story. There were enough subtleties in the plot that I would not hesitate to read it again (and I rarely feel that way about any story). There are unanswered questions and unsolved problems, so I was left feeling impatient to read the next book in the series.

I found myself wishing I had a fellowship of friends that were this trustworthy and committed to one another and a common cause.

I can recommend this book to anyone who enjoys escaping into another world full of adventure and suspense with strong and complex female as well as male characters that display tenderness, despair, fear, weakness, courage, and trust.” 5 Stars

–Jeannette Conver, Amazon

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke“I enjoyed trying to picture the creatures, characters, and settings that he described. After all, who has ever seen Elves, Ashantas, Milantians, golems, mages, and all those interesting vales, mountains, deserts, seas, etc. that he describes?

Reading Locke’s stories makes me feel as if a spell has been cast on me and I have to finish reading to be released from the spell. His imagination and ability to communicate in a way that brings it to life astounds me.” –Edward Arrington, Goodreads

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke“I was impressed with the theme of temptation, and how it played out in this book. I felt it was so true to real struggles we have today.” 5 Stars
–Mary Arndt, Amazon

New Feature: Behind the Mind of Thomas Locke

Behind the Mind of author, Thomas LockeI asked readers to send me your questions about writing – specifically, about writing fantasy and techno-thriller novels – and you responded.

Here is our first reader question… and my response.

Q: How do you research sci-fi, considering most stories in this genre are futuristic? How do you keep it real while inviting the reader to go on this journey?

Thomas Locke: The answer to both these questions is the same. For the reader to be willing to make the fantastic journey, it has to be anchored in a reality they recognize.

This is most especially true when it comes to the characters. They must resonate with readers and be emotionally structured in a way that makes their journey through the impossible become possible.

Research extends from this point outwards. Is it an extension of current directions in Quantum Theory? Again, there are hints in our world of things to come.

This can be applied to both fantasy and science fiction. But it all must start with that emotional bonding between character and reader. This is the point at which the gift of trust is established.

Your turn!

Ask me anything about writing, about my writing techniques, about writing fantasy and techno-thrillers. Watch for my responses in upcoming blog posts.

Merchant of Alyss is a “well-written portal to another world,” says reviewer

Today, I’m featuring blogger reviews of Merchant of Alyss. We’ll start with Kate Donovan’s full review, published on her Fiction Aficionado blog, and move on to excerpts of reviews from Phillip Cole and Jasmine Augustine.

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas LockeReview by Kate Donovan:

“It came to Hyam like a scent carried on a war-torn wind. But there was no hint of breeze within the city walls. Nor did he actually smell anything. But he knew it nonetheless, the electric potency of a spell not yet cast. He had almost forgotten how tantalising the flavour really was.”

To read Thomas Locke’s Legends of the Realm series is to immerse yourself in another world – one that owes its magic to Mr. Locke’s writing as much as it does the mage-force that operates within it. His writing is not just descriptive; it is atmospheric. For this, and many other reasons, Merchant of Alyss was a very engaging read.

When I say it was an engaging read, I do not simply mean it captured and held my attention. I mean that it is the kind of story that meets the reader half-way; the kind of story that does not explain everything to you, but draws you in to discover for yourself as you become immersed in the story.

I deliberately slowed down my reading rate in order to give myself the time to absorb everything in the writing, and even then I think there will still be things to take in on a second or third reading.

Hyam is a hero to the citizens of Falmouth following his defeat of the crimson mage (detailed in the first book in this series, Emissary), but while his physical wounds have healed, the loss of his mage-powers has left an ache that not many people can understand. When a dusty wagon full of scrolls arrives in Falmouth he is drawn by a sense of unleashed power emanating from an ancient scroll inscribed “Property of the merchant of Alyss.” As he studies the scrolls he discovers spells of warcraft – though no scroll holds a complete spell, and only two scrolls in the entire collection form a complete spell.

The morning after Hyam finishes sorting the scrolls he begins to be visited in his dreams by a dragon carrying a scroll marked in the same script as the ones in the wagon. Everything points Hyam towards Ellismere, the vale of woe; the place where the wasteland begins. But it is a long and arduous journey; one that will force him to face a heritage he has tried to deny, and may exact a high personal price.

Locke’s characters are well-drawn, and I particularly love the way in which he conveys the depth of Hyam and Joelle’s love for one another (but don’t worry, it’s not a ‘kissing book’!)

Shona was the other stand-out character for me – a strong young woman who experiences unrequited love but rises in the face of this to accept her destiny.

Although there is no specific mention of religion in this book, there are still some fine Christian principles woven into the story, most notably the idea that there is a greater good that must be considered outside of our own needs and desires, and that we can and must persevere in the face of hardship in doing what is right.

And just a warning – Hyam’s journey is not finished yet. I have to say I am partly relieved by this, because there were some moments at the climax of the novel’s action where I feared that things had resolved a little too easily. I wouldn’t say this novel left me hanging, but there are some matters that I am keen to see resolved. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the next part of the journey!

If you are looking for a well-written portal to another world, this is your opening. 5 Stars

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke“Hyam faces many challenges, both internal and external, and he has to reconnect with the fact that he has a purpose. Through following along with his struggles, we can see things that we face. He has to change how he looks at himself; instead of basing his identity on his abilities, he has to base it on who he is.”

–Phillip Cole’s blog

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke“Merchant Of Alyss is definitely what I would call epic fantasy. It isn’t one of those dauntingly thick paperbacks of years gone by, but it is an all-encompassing, all engrossing tale. Complete in 350+ pages and yet with the perfect, almost cliffhanger, ending to draw you onward in anxious anticipation for the next book.”

–Jasmine Augustine’s blog

Q&A: What question about ‘Merchant of Alyss’ do you wish someone would ask?

Q&A with Thomas Locke: What question about MERCHANT OF ALYSS do you wish someone would ask?

Thomas Locke: I wish someone would ask these two questions:

How did you develop such a sense of natural flow out of a realm that doesn’t exist?

How did you manage to structure a fantasy where the logic and surprise fit together powerfully?

I feel this is a crucial element of both Emissary and Merchant of Alyss. And with these two books, the answer is extremely different.

With Emissary, it came together as naturally as breathing. This happens sometimes. I wish it happened more often, but that is really in God’s hands.

With Merchant of Alyss, it was the exact opposite. I burned with this story. I had to write it. The passion and the joy were immense. But it was still such a struggle. And the first draft reflected this.

So I completed the work. Then I set it aside. Six weeks later I did a full-bore redraft. Then I set it aside again.

Six weeks later I did another total redraft. Then I sent it to the editors, who said, “Don’t change a thing.”

Then I did the entire process a third time. It went into line edits. And I did it a fourth and final time. A lot, lot, lot of work to make it as smooth and simple as Emissary was at first draft.

Your turn to ask a question!

Do you have questions about the Legends of the Realm fantasy series? Ask away in the comments, and I’ll respond in future blog posts.

‘Trial Run’ ebook $2.99 for 4 days

If you haven’t read Trial Run (book 1 in my Fault Lines techno-thriller series), you can get the ebook version for only $2.99 from February 18-21, 2016.

Trial Run by Thomas LockeLinks to the ebook edition of Trial Run:

Amazon – $2.99

Barnes & Noble – $2.99

ChristianBook.com – $2.39

Introducing book 2: Flash Point

Book 2 in the series, Flash Point, comes out August 2, 2016, so now would be a good time to get caught up so you’re ready for the next installment.

Flash Point by Thomas Locke | Book 2 in Fault Lines techno-thriller seriesTrial Run Trailer

Click here to view the Trial Run trailer.

An Analytical Review of ‘Merchant of Alyss’

cover-merchantReviews that point out a book’s flaws are painful for authors to read. But, wow, I certainly learn a lot from my readers!

In this analytical review of Merchant of Alyss, Emmanuel Boston says, “My goal here is to help you understand in which ways you will be influenced by this book (in addition to offering a few suggestions at a literary level).”

This review was first published on Emmanuel Boston’s blog, Preparing for Eternity. Reprinted with permission.

Merchant of Alyss is the second in Thomas Locke’s “Legends of the Realm” series, and the book picks up right where the first one left off… in fact, it picks up almost too quickly expecting you to remember the names and relationships of half a dozen characters in the first several pages.

Perhaps that’s my fault, but having read the first one a year previous, I would like some overlap reminding me of past events and persons. Nonetheless, the book begins with a couple interesting scenes that ‘hook’ and then progresses into a plot structure best described as a ‘journey’ motif.

The cohort of primary characters (which features a slight upgrade in diverse characterization from the first book) journeys from one place to another, and another—experiencing new locations and persons everywhere they go.

The Characters’ Motivation

Evil is on the rise again, and a mysterious dream spurs Hyam into action. In fact, one of the major themes revealed through these pages is “Purpose” or “Motivation.” They do something because they must.

Quote from Merchant of Alyss by Thomas LockeThe impetus shifts in several key moments, but the motivation always boils down to responsibility: I do this because I must do this, and I must do this because I ought to do this. In painting this theme throughout Merchant becomes an interesting narrative of ‘doing’ even if sometimes I don’t understand why I’m ‘doing’, how I’m doing, or even what I’m doing!

Sometimes this works; it provides an interesting compulsion for the characters to do. But other times it sets up the narrative to show its gears—moments when it becomes clear this event happened simply to move the story along, or when there’s a logic gap in the lore (and I’m left wondering with the characters who don’t see the obvious…because it’s not there).

And other times it forces the characters to discover certain innate abilities far too easily. This character suddenly finds he can understand and speak a language after hearing it 6 times. That character suddenly discovers they have mage ability to rival the masters of a school and thwart a hag who’s spent decades in practice. And that one is suddenly thrust into rulership when never would an earthly kingdom have been so hasty. All because the plot and the timeline demand this character be so capable.

Primary Theme

I think the second primary theme expounded and woven throughout the book is the ’need for newness’ in pursuit of future hope. Time and again the characters proclaim, “Wonder upon wonder,” or “The legends come alive” or “A thousand years of decrees and more have been broken,” and all of them serve to point us to the fact that the times are changing.

A new time requires new rules; the traditions were good for the time that is now passed, but they aren’t sufficient to guide us in the new days. This too is an uncommon theme which I found refreshing in the narrative.

Unlike the first theme, however, this theme is consistent throughout and doesn’t create plot holes or logic gaps. The world is in tension… the old still exists and to a certain extent binds the world and characters to it, but there is a newness that supersedes the old—in what ways it can. And it sets the stage for a momentous occasion that will color “the Realm” for all time to come.

Quote from Merchant of Alyss, epic fantasy by Thomas LockeOther themes play lesser roles, but nonetheless add color to the characters and actions. Themes of temptation, true knowledge of others, love, sacrifice, unification; each affords memorable, surprising scenes and are quick to illuminate similar scenes in my own life. Each serves to engrain the readers with the book’s philosophy of life and the world:

Selfless love for others exceeds all trials and paves new avenues of hope for a better life.

And the broader philosophy of the whole series:

Evil threatens to overtake life and good, but through the bonds of love, friendship, and hope, evil is vanquished.

Both are much needed in our culture. And I think the influence this book will have upon readers of fantasy is “not every temptation is worth the cost; selfless sacrifice achieves more good than selfish indulgence” even while every hopeless romantic is taught “not every desire receives its own happy ending”—truths well worth my time and consideration

Final Thoughts

A few final thoughts before I offer my commendation.

  1. It’s often hard to track the physical surroundings. Now, I’m a fan of Tolkien’s pages on trees, so I know I’m partly biased, and yet I found myself unable to imagine where the characters were and what things looked like. Oftentimes there would be a quick 1-2 sentence description and the dialogue would move on… then it would refer to some physical aspect I never even realized was there. This was particularly troublesome in battle scenes when something would interact with the landscape and I had to go back three pages to reread the brief sentence describing the area.
  2. At the risk of sounding contradictory, I really enjoyed the portion of the book that took place in the desert. I often find desert travel skimmed or avoided completely, and found Locke’s description about desert navigation fantastic! And yet… I still couldn’t quite imagine the whole surrounding area, or the physical trauma the characters experienced.
  3. Too often the characters seemed to know all the same information. Page after page characters would finish one another’s sentences. There was hardly any learning from character-character interaction. Everybody already knew it all (the exception being when Hyam would connect the dots and I was left with the characters still ‘not getting it’). Give us a good monologue or two, or five! In fact, there was a distinct lack of long paragraphs, long thoughts started and carried to conclusion, no soliloquys. And again, I recognize my bias: I enjoy Shakespeare. And characters can be left in mystery, uncertainty, and ignorance—it is no flaw or sin.

Comparison to Emissary

So, how does this compare to the first? Pretty similar in plot and style, though better in characterization; fresh and exciting in themes; lacking in dialogue; disjointed at times, and yet the ‘big picture’ fits surprisingly well with the mosaics.

Most of the book feels like it’s setting us up for something bigger, and so in the way of many sequels: it’s a slight dip in anticipation of something pretty remarkable.

I give it 3.5/5 stars, but I round up (particularly because how credible the temptation element was, and powerful the scenes of self-revelation).

I recommend this book to readers of high fantasy, with an emphasis toward the 15-21 age range.

Despite its flaws, this book helps me evaluate decisions I make in my own life; relationships I have, and what they are built upon. And I with Hyam and the others look forward with hope beyond the evil, where every foe is vanquished and life restored.

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