Emissary by Thomas Locke — 4 out of 5 stars

I know you’re not suppose to judge a book by its cover, but really, what’s not to like about this gorgeous work of art? It’s the perfect marquee for this new fantasy series by Thomas Locke. It depicts the flavor and mood of this story perfectly. I don’t read fantasy as a rule, but because it’s such a popular genre for the younger set, including Millennials, I wanted to read it as a way get to know why they love this type of story. Walk into any bookstore these days and the shelves overflow with novels featuring wizardry and witchcraft. These books appeal to those who cut their teeth on Harry Potter and fantasy role-playing and video games.  They crave more stories that take them into the land of fairy tales and magic. I am one of the few who hasn’t read Harry Potter due to my own personal convictions. And I will admit being wary of this book. However, I do believe Locke has tapped into a market that desires a less dark fantasy experience. There is no overt Christian message, but there is definitely a main character to admire and a quest to be fought for. The thing to remember when reading fiction, Dear Reader, is that it is Fantasy. Locke himself stated on his blog that he wants to take his readers on a story journey similar to what he loved reading while growing up: “During our formative years – up until around age 30 – we are reinforcing our world view when we read for entertainment. But much of the fantasy that’s being published today doesn’t offer that sense of courage and inspiration that used to be prevalent in fantasy and science fiction novels. Of course, not all of the “classic” authors wrote uplifting work. Ray Bradbury is one example. But even Bradbury’s writing gave me a sense of mind-bending escape and the opportunity to dream and envision more than what was available in world around me. The books I loved most offered hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for growing into someone who could have these sorts of adventures. I want to infuse that hopefulness into my characters, and not give in to the temptation of creating characters who are only bitter and cynical. In Emissary, key themes include courage in the face of fear, travel to unknown destinations, and new personal avenues of growth and development. I’ve tried to bring each of these into a story structure that’s applicable to today’s culture.” I was quite surprised how quickly I was drawn into the story. Usually I read historical or political suspense, but I found myself smiling and turning page after page, eager to...

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