Monday, January 19, 2015

'Emissary' by Thomas Locke


2015 Reading Challenge Week 3 - A book with magic

This novel fits the bill. I'm taking 'magic' in the literal sense of the word, rather than simply a book which appeals to us. That's what I think we're meant to do.

Hyam is a likeable lad who will make a fine farmer someday. But he carries a burden few can fathom. As his mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall, where he spent five years as an apprentice. It was there that Hyam's extraordinary capacity for mastering languages came to light--and soon cast him into the shadows of suspicion. How could any human learn the forbidden tongues with such ease? When Hyam dares to seek out the Mistress of the Sorceries, her revelation tears his world asunder.

He has no choice but to set out on the foreboding path--which beckons him to either his destiny or his doom. An encounter with an enchanting stranger reminds him that he is part hero and part captive. As Hyam struggles to interpret the omens and symbols, he is swept up by a great current of possibilities--and dangers.

Hyam's mother dies the week he turns 21, and he returns to a Long Hall where he used to be an acolyte, to tell his father of her passing. He hates having to go back, as he has traumatic memories concerning his time spent there. Hyam learns that his father is deceased, but that he himself was actually an orphan with unknown origins who his parents took under their roof. Although Hyam is willing to return to his village and farm his land, his magical heritage catches up with him now that he is of age. In fact, his powers turn out to be so vast that he must fight to ward off evil powers which are threatening the whole world.

Allies he teams up with along his journey include his faithful animal sidekicks, Dama, his wolfhound and Matu, his noble steed. They are joined later by Joelle, the beautiful young woman Hyam rescues from a hostile Long Hall, and Trace, the wise old Mage.

I've got to admit this isn't one of my favourite fantasies. A fair chunk of the magic seems to happen unintentionally, giving the plot an impression of randomness at times. The astral travel which both Hyam and Joelle embark on at different stages seemed so out there (excuse the pun), my head was spinning. I found this way of whizzing out of their human bodies to be present at various significant gatherings verged on making discoveries a bit too convenient at times. Sometimes it even happened while Hyam was trying to have a good night's sleep. Having said this, there were always huge challenges ahead of the protagonists, no mistaking that. To judge from other reviewers, it seems I might be in the minority with these misgivings anyway, so you may choose to take them with a grain of salt.

This novel's author and publisher are Christian, and I found the themes to be hidden rather than in-your-face. Some of the imagery and storyline I did find interesting include the following.

* The user/bearer of the powerful orbs is the one who determines how the force is to be applied. The power is present for anyone who can tap into it, and the orbs take on the colour red for those who wish to use them for destruction.
* Hyam gets a chance to reveal the supposed experts, the controlling mages of the Long Hall, to be not as adept in their magical arts as they think they are.
* The setting has a Medieval feeling I liked a lot.

Yet overall, although there's a lot that's good, I'm not sure I'll be interested enough to read the sequel.

Thanks to Net Galley and Revell for my review copy.

3 stars


  1. Paula, I think I enjoyed this one a bit more than you, but I will say, every point you made is true. And it's got me rethinking some

  2. :) Fantasy isn't the main genre I read, so when I get started on one, I find I either love or hate it. Not that I hated 'Emissary'. It had some great parts. It's an interesting genre, to have that polarising effect though.