Archive for May, 2013

Tom Lloyd – The Dusk Watchman

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Another one of my top read series has reached its end. This time it is all over for The Twilight Reign, an epic fantasy series by Tom Lloyd after five books. In the series he has mixed familiar elements like elves, vampires and crystal skulls in a refreshing concoction of his own. Nevertheless, none of these take a central role. A large cast of characters plays is handled well by Lloyd. It consists for a great deal of powerful or skilled heroes and brutal or cunning villains who go all the way to reach their goal. Those who hesitate or show weakness are trampled upon. Handling a large cast and a grand plot does cost some on the attention given to the characters. Most remain cursory. Lloyd does his best to give each some quality time, but this remains limited and some characters from previous novels have a far less prominence in this one. That is always a choice one has to make as at a certain point one will have said everything worthwhile about a character. More would become repetitive. As it has been a while since I’ve read the previous book, The Ragged Man, my memory was hazy so that I could not place all the characters that well.

The atmosphere is dark and gloomy. I wouldn’t call it gritty as most of the characters manage themselves better a normal human would as many are of heroic proportions. We see little of the common man or soldier. Should they be there? It is not a requirement and it is refreshing that they are not the focus for a change. I’ve read plenty of fantasy stories revolving around the normal persons in which the heroic characters seemed aloft and their acts strange and mysterious. In The Twilight Reign this is turned around. Now we get a different perspective which is interesting in itself and leads to a change in pace and mood.

The final installment is titled The Dusk Watchman (2012). Lloyd gives some more attention to characters which didn’t get so before so we learn a bit more about them. Overall most of the backgrounds remain a mystery. Lloyd doesn’t delve much into the recent history and old relationships of his characters. He sticks to what is relevant to the story. As this is the closing volume everything needs to be wrapped up. Lloyd makes things easier for himself by making anyone who was still not part of the two main groups join either of them. These are just minor storylines before they join up with the main storyline which is rather straightforward. Even so the pages are easily filled as Lloyd tries to cover all the essential details. However, this is where things go a bit awry. Once passed the one third mark I started to get the feeling that I was missing some little things. What happened to this or that which was mentioned before? Why is nothing mentioned of what happened here? Shouldn’t there be some after effects? To me it seemed that some chapters or scenes are missing and that a brutal editor has cut down the story without making sure continuity was preserved. To me it was: Why keep this, which could just as well be skipped, but throw out the other? I don’t not have the feeling that these scenes were forgotten. They really seemed to be missing. This last book is a bit bigger than the others, but with the common size of fantasy novels it should not have been a problem to extend it more. It was sort of a let down and I was not used to it.

Besides the missing scenes there were some other things that bugged me, especially as they were never explained. Lloyd pulled out a fair number of rabbits out of his hat, things that came out of nowhere. The lack of explanation afterwards which could have straightened some things out would have fixed the issues I had with them. Usually I can think of some things that could have solved the mystery. Now after more than a week I still have no clue. This is a big disappointment as all other great events and surprises of the previous books had a decent explanation or solution to them. I couldn’t find them here, which makes this last book one with quite some holes. I did enjoy the ride as a whole and there were quite some nice scenes, but it was not as impressive as any of the earlier novels of the series.

Lloyd thus does not manage to deliver with The Dusk Watchman. I enjoyed the journey a lot and the quality and originality of the series is certainly above average and well written. So anyone looking for a gloomy series that contains a strong story with familiar elements in a strange mixing pot will not be disappointed, despite the flaws in the last book. The series however cannot match with the best, but Lloyd has the potential to get there. The series is pretty good and well done, so I’ll certainly want to read new novels by his hand.