In the first of his fantasy (also known these days as "speculative") series, Legends of the Realm, Thomas Locke (aka Davis Bunn) introduces us to a fantasy realm where magic can still be found. A great evil has arisen, so powerful that neither humans nor any other race can stand alone against it. The young man Hyam, who as a youth studied among wizards, had always expected to farm his family's land where his ancestors have always lived. However, in his twenty-first year, a power - forbidden and impossible - awakens in him, sending him on a journey far from his home and pushing him into an ancient role for which he has had little preparation - Emissary, the powerful link between races.
Emissary is christian fiction in the same way that The Lord of the Rings is - written by a Christian author, instilled with values aligning with Christianity, yet not actually containing a word about God, Jesus, or the bible. In fact, religion has no part in the tale, so the highly controversial meshing of God and magic is not an issue. And unlike CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, there is no obvious allegory, for which I was grateful, as allegory is not my favorite subgenre. What is leaves is a good, clean fantasy that can appeal to adults and young adults alike.
So while there is nothing overtly christian about the story, the characters still exhibit qualities that any can admire, such as self-sacrifice: Hyam would like nothing more than to seek out the mystery of his heritage, but the reality is he can either do that or accept the role foisted on him and work for the greater good. There isn't time for both, and Hyam, though the mystery pains and plagues him, knows he must do what he has been called to do. The characters are also all too human (more or less), some wounded, some unwanted, some homeless, some complacent.
To make my husband happy, the author does a good job explaining where the magic comes from and roughly how it works (and hopefully this will continue to be hashed out even further as the series progresses, as Hyam is a bit of an anomaly, plus there are other races that could be explained further). Locke does a good job fleshing out his world, making it unique but believable. As befitting a series of high fantasy, the end is not so much The End, but a decent place to pause and wait for the next book, which I do with much anticipation. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings (the plot, if not the prose) or other high fantasy, then I definitely recommend the novel.
Thank you Revell for providing a free book for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
For a free glimpse of the novel, one can read "The Captive," a short e-book comprised of excerpts from Emissary following the character Joelle, a young woman who is imprisoned in a
school of wizards. She is a prisoner (condemned to death if she leaves),
something of a servant, and definitely not a student - certainly not
allowed to be taught magic, as much as the head wizard would like to.
But she has special powers too, which have allowed her to glimpse an
evil growing far beyond the college walls. It can be downloaded for kindle for free on Amazon.
Legends of the Realm:
2. Merchant of Alyss
3. (coming winter 2017?)