Title: Song of Locke: The Dark Empyrean
Author: J Washburn
Publisher: Lost Boys Ink
Length: 440 Pages
Locke loves stories—they fill him with a longing he can never quite describe—but he’s not the sort of kid who actually lives adventures himself. That is, until a bloodthirsty band of marauders passes near his home and Picke, a musical sylfe, dares him to follow. In hopes of fulfilling his longing, Locke accepts the dare. This leads him on a quest where he must face snarling wolves, wield a magic blade, and risk his life to rescue a Goddess—a girl he hardly knows but who he can’t stop thinking about. In the spirit of Legend of Zelda and Peter Pan, SONG OF LOCKE portrays a detailed fantasy world, somewhat grittier than its forebears and drenched in human emotion. The tale has sword fights, witty banter, crushes, and even some subtle philosophy smuggled in. It’s an epic for everyone who loves good stories—for anyone who has longed for something that seemed forever out of reach. SONG OF LOCKE is also an artisan book—written, illustrated, and typeset by the author, a masterpiece handcrafted from beginning to end. The first 50k-word draft was written for NaNoWriMo in 2013. In November 2014, a crowd of Kickstarter backers provided the initial funding for publication (see kickstarter.jwashburn.com). It was published 4 August 2015.
A friend of mine from college wrote Song of Locke, and I had the opportunity to help in the editing process. It was such a pleasure to read this book- not only is it fun, but being able to see close up some of the process of writing was a really awesome thing for me.
Song of Locke is a fan fiction work that throws back to the Legend of Zelda. I’m not a hardcore Zelda fan, but I definitely recognized some of the references and deeply enjoyed this book.
Song of Locke is a fantasy- and Washburn does a fantastic job of setting up the world where the story takes place. The characters were well-developed and complex- with clear moral dilemmas happening as the story progresses. I love it when characters have internal moral battles- and it was nice to see growth as the book went on.
The writing was spot on. Nothing dull- and it was full of showing instead of telling, which is unfortunately common in a lot of the books hitting the market today. He defines elements of his world piece by piece, so as a reader you feel like you’re organically getting to know the environment instead of getting a ton of information thrown at you.
What Washburn did with the main character Locke was really cool- it was more a duo than a single person. Every Elfe has a personal fairy-type creature, and Locke’s is one named Picke. Each part of the whole are definitely separate and distinctive, but they create a fantastic single character full of conflict, flaws, and many redeeming qualities.
I would have liked to see a little more character development on the villain and potentially some of the other side characters. That definitely doesn’t take away from what is otherwise an awesome book.
The book had a great plot with unexpected twists to keep things interesting. The themes were relatable, the foremost one that I took away was the main character trying to establish who he was and what moral beliefs he would abide by. It’s a fun read full of mystery and questions and awesome characters. I definitely recommend it!