Welcome to the first of our two-day feature of Lucas Trent: Guardian of Magic by Richard Blunt as part of his blog tour. If you’re new to the site, we hope you stick around. Richard will be showing up tomorrow to provide a guest post, but in the meantime, read on for a review of Lucas Trent. To learn more about Richard and his Lucas Trent series, visit his website at LucasTrent.com.
Lucas Trent: Guardian of Magic
YA / Fantasy / Magic
I should have seen it coming – this is the beginning of a series. I'm pretty sure I knew that at some point, but forgot. I mean, the entire idea of the book sets up the potential for an on-going story and yet I was still a little surprised to be twenty pages from the end with a million things that needed to still be wrapped up. Another thing that I’d forgotten that would have allowed me to get into the story earlier than I did was that the characters were British. Not being British, I was thrown by the manner in which the teenaged characters spoke as well as their incredibly flexible school schedules and the occasional other cultural difference.
So remember – first of a series and British. Moving on.
Lucas Trent is a sixteen-year-old boy who believes in mystical things, mostly magic. When he visits a Pagan chat room (literally a room in a pub where people gather to chat – cultural difference), he meets five other people who wish to learn more about magic as well. They quickly develop airtight bonds of friendship and create a circle where they will learn magic together, occasionally visited by the mysterious Angel (not an actual angel as far as I could tell), who gives them cryptic advice on their journey. If you haven’t figured out by now, magic is real is this world, though tied to the manipulation of natural energy found in all things. Adventures ensue. Trouble is gotten into. There’s a mystery involving an environmental science company’s bankruptcy. Yes, you read that correctly - a enivornmental science company's bankruptcy. And it works.
As the first of a series, Richard Blunt focuses more on developing his characters and their relationships for a significant chuck of the book. It doesn’t take long before each of the six teens are distinctive individuals, though mysteries are left to explore in future books, particularly with the two boys featured the least. Despite being distinctive, that doesn’t necessarily mean all the characters are three dimensional. Considering the book is told from Lucas’s point of view – though in third person narrative – not a lot of back story is given for his friends, which prevents some of them from becoming more than faces with cool magical abilities.
The concept of magic in Blunt’s world entertained me the most. Each kid has their own talent associated with what they’re interested in – Lucas wants to protect people so he’s the Guardian and has protective spells; Jasmin is interested in psychology, so she’s an empath that can influence people’s minds; Marcus is a jock who loves running, so he can move very quickly; Cedric loves the wind, so he can manipulate it; Stephanie wants to become a doctor, so naturally, she’s the healer; Darien is the smart physics nerd who wants to understand how magic fits into science, so he gets the ability to see the energy around him that they manipulate to perform magic. I really enjoyed that the magic produced by the characters often told you more about the characters themselves than any dialog did. This change alone allows it to remain far away from Harry Potter territory. There are no wands; simply kids with enough focus and determination to manipulate forces around them.
Blunt often fell into a couple of “new author traps” including telling what’s happening instead of showing it, which bogged down the story at times, particularly the beginning. As the action began to build, however, things moved more easily. He also underestimates the appeal of a simple “[insert character’s name] said” after a quotation. Instead characters declared, questioned, huffed, added, continued, commented, remarked, acknowledged, affirmed, demanded, answered, explained and a whole lot of other things, but rarely just said something. While all those other descriptive versions of saying something have their place, simply using “said” tends to fade into the background, allowing for a more natural flow in read conversations, while those other words often can disrupt. Or perhaps that’s one of my college professors talking through me…
Also, as this is the first in the series, our main bad guy is barely introduced at the end of the book and there are shadowy characters occasionally watching our circle of six magicians, who are not explained and speak in cryptic phrases. While I liked the cryptic “watchers” who might be secretly leading the kids down a pre-determined path, I wish the main bad guy had been introduced earlier on and given more of a role in the story. While it’s insinuated who the character is, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s only around for five or six pages.
For the most part I would say that this is a suitable and exciting read for younger teens, but a few instances of sexual innuendo and the discussion of potential rape make me hesitant on recommending how young. If you’re British or willing to forgive things that might seem culturally at odds to what we here in the States are used to, this could be a compelling and fun read for those looking for something in the teens-discovering-magic genre.
Shows a lot of potential with interesting characters and world building; distracting writer habits that sometimes gets in the way of narrative flow
A copy of this book was sent to me as part of the Pump Up Your Book blog tour. Thanks you to PUYB for allowing me to participate in this tour!