When I first heard of Emissary, Book 1 of the “Legends of the Realm” series, I was intrigued. I’m always a sucker for new fantasy worlds. In addition, new fantasies written from a Christian worldview are always interesting. Although Emissary is not marketed as Christian fantasy fiction, the author’s worldview is definitely faith-based.
In Emissary, author Thomas Locke obviously put a good deal of effort into world building. I like how the main character, Hyam, gradually finds out who he truly is. Much of the story centers around him discovering who he is and what his capabilities are, all the while building the stage for the main conflict of the book.
In fantasy fiction, the best magic systems always require the character to pay some kind of price to perform the magic. Unfortunately, too many authors resort to the trope that performing magic simply makes one tired. In that respect, I think this book falters a bit, however, I have to say that it is not so strong of a fault to interfere with the story. I think that in this case, the author pulled it off satisfactorily.
The author has built a successful career as Davis Bunn and it’s fun to see him branch out into a new genre under the pen name Thomas Locke. I look forward to seeing what comes next in this new venture of his. I give Emissary 4 out of 5 stars.
Thomas Locke has created a realm in which we find a young man, Hyam, struggling to discover who he really is in the midst of his whole world changing.
Emissary offers adventure and fantasy in a light, easy-to-read style. Longtime fans of sci-fi/fantasy might find it too light and perhaps lacking in emotion. But the overarching themes of identity and discovering one’s true abilities are relatable enough to keep the reader turning the pages.
This would be a good introductory book for readers who are new to the fantasy genre. Emissary doesn’t offer the reader the depth of details that someone like Tolkien would have included. Still, while some might salivate over Tolkien’s depth, those who prefer a lighter text would find Emissary enjoyable. In a sense it’s like Tolkien-light, and that can’t be a bad thing! :
Thomas Locke’s debut novel is a triumph for fans of the fantasy genre. It is a smart and inventive tale woven with mystery and a splash of romance that will captivate readers. Attentive to detail without bogging the reader down in them, Locke has crafted a coming of age story in a world that is intriguing and rich. As the characters seek to take their places in a society that they do not fit neatly into, they find themselves caught up in a grand adventure that will alter fate of their realm.
One of the themes that I found quite interesting was the main character’s search for his roots. In not having the sure knowledge of who he is, Hyam seems to feel uncertain at times about his role in the unfolding events.
It brings forth this wonderful question of where do we derive our identity as a person from. Is it from our family of origin or cultural and ethnic backgrounds? Is it our gifts and abilities or lack thereof that we allow to define us? And if we struggle with our familial backgrounds, how much of the identity we then strive to create is just a reaction to what we don’t like and how much of it is really us? I look forward to seeing that theme fleshed out in the coming installments of this story.
Emissary is an enjoyable read, and I very much liked the ending. A lot of the major plot points were resolved, and, thankfully, there was no great cliffhanger. However, there is still enough threads that weren’t tied off to keep the reader guessing and ready to read the next installment of the story. I think it is a superb story from an author who is new to the genre.
As someone who is very picky about fantasy novels, I found Emissary to be a great addition to my fantasy shelf. The story of Hyam is fast-paced however not because every page is filled with action. The dialogue is quick, even explanations are left blunt and to the point, which works very well for this book.
My only trouble was every so often I’d get so engrossed that I’d forget who was speaking and would have to backtrack a sentence or two as a reminder. As the book delves into Hyam’s adventure, we get the sense of how vast this world is without having to explain exactly how many days go by. Yet at the same time, it’s easy to realize that you haven’t seen that much of the world because only a few towns were visited. This, of course, is a great set up for future novels because we want to see more.
The only time I had a struggle with the fast-paced nature was in the beginning. Because Locke leads in with no explanation (relying on the idea that the reader should learn as he or she continues), the intro of Hyam is a little jarring. We learn right off the bat that his mom is dead and something about coming of age, but as these details seem unnecessary to the story we never learn more about them apart from his mother.
As I continued I was fine with it, but I do think some side additions (maybe just a paragraph) of how the village functioned might have added some depth to Hyam’s hometown. Of course, the limited knowledge is inherent of a third person limited view, so the book still succeeds regardless.
Locke also doesn’t flee from some of the topics of temptation and true love. Thankfully his novel also does NOT function like a teen novel where the plot really is “love first, save the world later.” Instead Hyam pushes the thought of love to the side knowing that the fate of the world comes first.
Also thankfully, neither Hyam nor the other woman feel as though they absolutely cannot survive without one another. The characters are strong enough to be separate individuals with lives, and their love comes second to that, a great departure from some of the sappy novels out there now.
Overall I really loved this book. It serves as a full, separate story while also acting as an obvious beginning to a series. The pace is fast but it still functions well. There is no crude humor. Hyam is a strong character with traits that one may question at times simply because he is not as much of an archetype. Love this book and could probably even say more but that would be spoiling it!