Thomas Locke

7 Canadians Review ‘Emissary’

Many thanks to readers in Canada who reviewed Emissary. Here are excerpts from seven Canadian reviewers. Please click the title of each blog to read their full reviews.

Emissary by Thomas Locke

The Talen’s Tales

“This is seriously one of the best books I have read in a long time. I swept up in this world and the characters.”

Christian Fiction Addiction

“From page one, I was captivated by Hyam and his story, as his status as orphan garnered my sympathy while the explosion of his powers onto the scene held me captive to the point I simply couldn’t put the book down.”

All This Crazy Grace

“There is all kinds of magic and wizardry in Thomas Locke’s story if that is something you have trouble with you may want to stay away but if you like a little historic sci-fi (can’t think of another good name for this genre) then dig in! You’re going to have trouble putting it down!”

Elizabeth’s Book Reviews

“This is one series I can’t wait to get the rest of the books from as they come out. This first book was really well written and the plot was extremely captivating.”

Janet Sketchley

Emissary is mainstream fantasy fiction, in the classic reluctant hero’s journey style. It’s been called epic, but I wouldn’t go that far. It’s a fun read with plenty of action and struggle, enjoyable characters and a well-developed world and magic system, but epic fantasy has a weight to it. Emissary, for all the great danger Hyam faces, is a lighter read.”

A Novel Undertaking

Emissary promises an epic journey and it fulfills.  I was swept up in Hyam’s quest for his true heritage, that eventually leads him to a brewing battle of epic proportions between good v. evil.”

Will Blog 4 Books

“It took me a while to understand what was happening in this novel but once I was immersed in the culture and world Locke created, I couldn’t put the book down.”

Thomas Locke Skypes with Alton Gansky on Writer’s Talk

I recently had the honor of doing a Skype interview with Alton Gansky, host of Writer’s Talk. You can watch the video on YouTube (below) or download it from iTunes, Stitcher, or Podbean.

We talked about loads of topics, including Legends of the Realm (my new fantasy series) and Fault Lines (my upcoming techno-thriller series), both published by Revell.

Pamela Morrisson Reviews ‘Emissary’

Emissary by Thomas LockeBy Pamela Morrisson, Guest Reviewer

This review was originally published on the Daysong Reflections blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.

I have read and enjoyed novels by a certain well-known Christian author since approximately 1990 and have learned that I can expect an excellent story that is well-written and well researched each time I pick up one of his books.

It doesn’t matter if it is contemporary fiction, historical fiction from various areas of the world, Biblical fiction, political fiction, fiction written with another well-known author, etc. It is all quality fiction and I never question whether I should invest in his latest offering.

This particular author has just released the first volume of a new epic fantasy series that targets the general market. Although the reader will not find an overtly “Christian” message in this novel, it is a classic story of the battle between good and evil and should appeal to those who have enjoyed tales from C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Those who have a problem with magic, wizards, and elves, etc. should probably skip this one but fantasy lovers may find themselves with a new favorite to add to their collection.

Emissary features two primary characters, Hyam and Joelle, two young people who have never really fit in with the rest of the world that surrounds them. Separately they each have been endowed with unique gifts that have equipped them for the destiny that draws them together in order to fight the malevolent forces that threaten the entire realm. Alone the challenge is impossible but together, along with others called to risk everything for their kingdom, there might just be a slim chance to overcome the evil that draws near.

This novel is written in a manner that drew me into the action almost immediately. Hyam and Joelle were characters that I could care about. Neither of them were perfect, in fact the opposite was true. Both had been sorely mistreated in the Long Halls where they were apprenticed and each found it difficult to trust others. Nevertheless they did not shrink from the call on their lives but bravely marched forward to even the possibility of death.

I find myself lacking in the eloquence needed to adequately describe Emissary. It encompasses the best of classic fantasy with beautifully descriptive passages, gallant characters, and a cause to die for. What more can a reader ask?

Reviewers Say Emissary is Suitable for Young Adults

Emissary by Thomas LockeToday we hear from two reader reviewers: Cindy Anderson and Judith Barnes. Both of them believe Emissary is appropriate for young adults and homeschooled teenagers.

Cindy Anderson:

Emissary has everything a fantasy lit fan can ask for. It is fast-paced and has just enough characters to keep it moving without having to make a chart of who’s who and what their purpose is in the story.

Neither does it dwell on long drawn out descriptions of landscapes and irrelevant histories of the characters or the reason for their position in the plot. With a little bit of imagination and a few choice words, the reader is able to create their own landscapes and fill in any blanks about which other authors tend to overwrite.

Fantasy lit is one of my favorite genres of writing. I enjoy reading it as an escape from the real world in which we are forced to live. If only I had such special powers to use to make this bad world better!

Because I have read a good bit of fantasy lit—especially by Brooks, Eddings, Jordan, and of course Tolkien—I found several similarities to these fantasy adventures, but this in no way detracted from the enjoyment I received when reading this book. At first I thought it showed a lack of creativity on the part of the author, but later on I decided that in some ways it allowed the reader to tie their past readings from other authors with this new one and feel a sense of continuity with regards to special powers and how they are manifested. After all, in the world of fantasy, magic is magic, or so it would seem.

As with any fantasy lit story, someone, or multiple someones, must have powers that are not the norm for everyone. The fact that Locke allowed certain characters to have powers, and to use them to fight darker powers without writing to be excessively dark, is a plus in my opinion. I have read fantasy books before where I felt my skin crawl because of the occult nature depicted in the writing. Needless to say I didn’t read more writings of authors who took fantasy to the realm of downright evil.

As a homeschooling parent, I was impressed by the way Locke handled the relationship between Hyam and Joelle. All too often, books that I thought my children would enjoy reading ended up not being given to them because the plot included sex scenes, discussions, or innuendoes that I didn’t feel were necessary to the storyline and definitely not something about which I would condone my children reading, and I’m talking teenagers here.

The fact that Hyam did not take advantage of Joelle’s apparent lack of a moral upbringing is a positive that is needed in literature today regardless of which age category it may be meant. Maybe if more secular as well as Christian writers would embrace this fact, my daughters wouldn’t have such a hard time finding a Christian young man who behaves as a Christian young man should behave. If more young girls would read this as a lesson that one should not “throw” herself at a man in order to get his attention, more young girls would manage to keep their purity longer and preferably until they married. A gold star should indeed be given Mr. Locke for his ability to point this out in a fantasy adventure story without being preachy about it.

To say I am looking forward to the sequel would be an understatement. A bit of a preview of what is to come was given at the end of the book and I can’t wait for the second book to make its debut. All in all, this was a wonderful book for escaping, imagining, and enjoying. I so appreciate having been given the opportunity to read it.

Judith Barnes:

Normally, fantasy is not my preferred genre. However, I jumped at the opportunity to be a member of the launch team for Emissary.

The writing style is straight forward, and the plot is easy to follow. The story is enriched with appropriately spaced lyrical descriptions, such as “the light was cathedral soft” and “the city of the elves was a poem of natural beauty.”

The characters are deeply developed and a pleasure for the reader to meet. Locations are clearly described and identified.

In spite of Emissary being identified as fantasy, there are moral messages tucked away in this superbly crafted novel.

While marketed as a novel for adults, it is also suitable for mature young adults. The battle scenes are written with a minimum of horror. There is just the right balance of action, romance, and humor.

I look forward to reading book two in Legends of the Realm.

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Describe Your Creative Process in Inventing Three Races

What was your creative process in inventing three racesQ: How did you come up with the idea of the Milantian race – “a mighty warrior clan who once brought havoc and woe to the realm”?

Thomas Locke: The basic rule of thumb in writing drama is that there must be a balance of forces. The greater good must be matched with a greater evil.

Hyam, the protagonist, is the first mage in 1,000 years who can sense currents deep in the earth. If I was going to give Hyam unlimited power I needed to counteract that power with something that would be great enough to threaten his life. The Milantian race and all they represent is that counter force.

Q: You also introduced humans, elves, and Ashanta. Tell us about your creative process in “inventing” the elven and Ashanta races.

TL: I like what Tolkien did with elves in The Lord of the Rings, and I wanted to do something different. So I introduced them as a race that didn’t exist. They had been destroyed by the Milantians (so everyone thought), and because they were so few in number, they hid. Hyam is the first person in 1,000 years – besides the occasional secretive tinker – who comes in contact with elves.

The development of the Ashanta race was very different. Readers may wonder: Are they human? Or are they not human? I don’t bother to answer that question, because it’s not important to the story.

I wanted to create a race that considered themselves superior, so I gave them telepathy. I made them proud and stubborn – a pain in the neck.

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‘Emissary’ Casts a Spell on Non-Fantasy Readers

Emissary by Thomas LockeMore than a few of the people who volunteered to review Emissary confessed that they do not normally read fantasy stories. But they were willing to give Emissary a shot. Some of them are now converted to reading fantasy fiction!

Following are excerpts from several reviews. Click each reviewer’s name to read her full review.

Jasmine Augustine:

I have never been big on fantasy stories but in recent years I have discovered some wonderful fantasy books from publishers I enjoy and trust, and Emissary is one of the best.

Juanita Paslay:

Emissary is high adventure in a strange world where evil wars against people of the realm… I normally don’t read fantasy, but I’m hooked and look forward to the next book in the series

Cindy Steib:

I do not read much fantasy so I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of using magic to get power. However, the story was interesting and it drew me forward to find out what would happen next. There were elements of romance, adventure, action and suspense.

Terri Wangard:

Fantasy is a genre I rarely read, but I’m familiar with and enjoy much of the author’s work in other genres. Emissary held my attention from start to finish. I did read slower to be sure I understood everything. It is a bit like being dropped into an alien environment.

No mention is made of God or Christianity, but the theme of good and evil is familiar. Hyam doesn’t view himself as a hero or spokesman, but he agrees to the role of emissary because it’s the right thing to do, even if he loses his life, as he expects he will. I am reminded of Isaiah: “Here am I. Send me.”

Pam Graber:

Fantasy books are not my thing, generally. Give me a good romantic suspense or some good Amish fiction and I’m your reader. So, when I was invited to review Emissary, I was skeptical about not just enjoying it but even getting through it seemed a stretch.

I shouldn’t have worried. Emissary kept me up at night reading “just one more chapter” until I finally finished. This book had all the excitement and mystery that I look for in the suspense novels I read while taking me to a medieval world where wizards, Elves and glowing orbs of power are the norm.

The characters in this book were finely wrought and it was always very clear who the “good guys” were and who the “bad guys.” Hyam gradually picks up an entourage, starting with his destrier, Matu and his huge wolfhound, Dama. He then gains the sorcerer, Trace and the Lady Joelle, both of whom saw his coming before he ever arrived at their Long Hall.

The women, for the most part, are every bit as strong as the men and always have as much say in decisions that are made. Hyam vanquishes foe after foe using his wits far more often than his brawn. His impeccable logic and ability to think through problems also gains the respect of town leaders. His kindness and fairness to the underdog gains him the adoration of the people.

I would definitely recommend this book to the fantasy book lovers out there and since it is such a clean read, I wouldn’t have any qualms about pre-teens reading this.

Since some of the battle scenes are a bit gory, I don’t think the very young reader should tackle this but 11- or 12-year-olds would definitely be OK with this. I would also say this is a great book for those who, like me, have really not read the fantasy genre. Pick this one up! It was a 5-star read for me.

Tina Hunt:

I hate to admit it but I used to be a cross between a literary snob and a fantasy virgin. Emissary was my first venture into the fantasy genre. Somehow I felt stories needed to be based in reality to be worth reading.

I was wrong.

This story by Thomas Locke is described as a “contemporary thriller that harkens back to classic fantasy.” That comparison may make sense to some, but I have nothing to compare it to. What I can say is that it was a thrilling and totally engaging read.

The author does an excellent job of weaving the themes of courage in the face of hardship, growth, and change into this tale. The main character begins this journey not realizing what he will be called upon to do. The fact that he is a reluctant hero makes all the more relatable.

Emissary cast a spell on me and I couldn’t put it down. And I can’t wait to read the next installment.

If I could give this book more stars, I would.

Thank you, Mr. Locke, you made a fantasy convert out of me!

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Have You Ever Owned a Wolfhound?

Have you ever owned a wolfhoundQ: Hyam’s canine companion is a young wolfhound. Have you ever owned a wolfhound or other breed of large dog?

Thomas Locke: I’ve had a lot of dogs, but never a wolfhound. For this story, I wanted to use a breed of dog that carried a sense of the impossible, yet was easy for readers to identify with.

Hyam also rides a warhorse – a destrier. The concept of a warhorse has become so antiquated that it doesn’t even exist in some dictionaries. But for centuries, the destrier was the Ferrari of horses. I was looking for that same sort of “feel” when I chose a wolfhound.

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Fantasy Fans Review ‘Emissary’

Emissary by Thomas LockeToday’s post features reviews and review excerpts from avid fantasy readers.

Dona Watson:

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.

Sandra Dimas:

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! :

Mary Esque:

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.

Victoria Janacek:

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!

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Is ‘Emissary’ a David vs. Goliath Story?

Is Emissary a David vs. Goliath storyQ: The leader of the enemy’s army thinks Hyam is insignificant. Is this a David vs. Goliath story? Frodo vs. Sauron?

Thomas Locke: I wanted Emissary to have that “everyman” feeling. Instead of building muscles or learning battle techniques or studying hard or raising himself up by his bootstraps, Hyam is someone who happens to have a gift, and he uses that gift to become a strong wizard. As a result of accepting his higher calling, he fails in some areas of his life and succeeds in others.

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