Seldom do I come to the end of a book with such a strong desire to flip back to the front and re-read the entire thing, just so that I can hang out with the characters some more, but The Last Motley was one where I was sorely tempted to do just that. However, I have other reading commitments at the moment, so re-reading this delightful adventure will have to wait. But I can relive it a little bit by telling you about it. I shall attempt to avoid spoilers…
Slide over, Tolkien, Lewis, and MacDonald, there is a new fantasy author on the scene and he deserves a spot at your table. This book is epic, poignant, and beautiful. The characters step off the page and into your heart, the language is crafted with care, filling the book with prose that reads like poetry, and the adventure is gripping and fast-paced, with a few twists and turns along the way.
The story revolves around Roderick, a simple tailor who happens to have a chance encounter with a Motley — a young boy whose skin is covered in a patchwork of colors and has a powerful, but dangerous, magic at his disposal. Roderick is not your typical fantasy hero. He is happily married and has a daughter, and all he really wants to do is stay home and take care of them. He doesn’t have much in the way of survival skills, early in the book he is considering how hard times are and the fact that he can’t just hunt for food like his father did, “He couldn’t shoot an arrow into the river if he was drowning.” However, when Jacob comes into his life and a mysterious group of scholars tells them that the only way to keep Jacob, and the world, safe from Jacob’s magic is to take a long trip to a place where they can safely remove Jacob’s magic from him, Jacob says he will only go if Roderick comes with him. Led by Master Kendall, one of the older scholars, the three unlikely companions begin the long journey across the world of Arinn.
Along the way, they will face nightmares, thieves, roving bands of wildmen, soldiers sent by powerful men to kidnap and harm Jacob, and skirt a sudden war in order to keep Jacob safe and reach their destination in one piece.
Of the things I loved about this book, Roderick was definitely my favorite. He was just such a refreshing character. A man of humility, integrity, and a strong nature bent on protecting those around him, Roderick is exactly the sort of person I’d want to go on a journey with. He reminds me a little bit of Bilbo Baggins or Sam Gamgee… maybe not the person you’d pick first for an epic journey, but once he’s there, he’s committed, 110%. I also loved how Edwardson wove in Roderick’s faith in Adonai seamlessly throughout the book in a way that was beautiful and compelling, and it never once seemed out of place. I also enjoyed that Roderick was a veritable repository of tailor-related sayings. “Oh, buttons!” is his catch-phrase throughout the book, but he also just sort of thinks in sewing-related terminology, and I LOVED that about him.
Jacob is another favorite. With his too-wise face that has seen too much sorrow already, I just want to scoop him up and give him a hug… pretty much on every page.
Along the way they meet a thief named Nagan, and he stole my heart completely, with his colloquialisms that don’t quite make sense, and his sense of humor, Nagan is in many respects the complete opposite of Roderick. He’s a shady fellow with a penchant for thievery, and a complete disregard for anything resembling integrity. However, falling in with Roderick and company does prove to be good for him, and in the end, his mettle is proved to be solid gold beneath the coarse exterior.
The world of Arinn is fascinating and epic and everything a fantasy world should be. The journey takes the reader across much of the map, and it is obvious that the author spent a great deal of time crafting this world and pouring thought and effort into the different cities and villages and areas, making them feel different and unique from one another while still obviously part of the same world. (As a side-note, the inns all have really fun names)!
I already mentioned the exquisite language of the book, and I just want to show you a small example of what I mean by sharing one of my favorite lines:
“By noon, the sun made a feeble attempt to push its way through the soggy rag which was gagging the sky.”
Isn’t that beautiful?
I loved how important family was in this story, and how the strength of his love for his family is what keeps Roderick going. He doesn’t just think about his wife and daughter with a sort of “oh, I miss them” kind of longing, but he sees their faces, he thinks about what his wife would say about various situations or people, or how his daughter would react to seeing certain things. He carries them in his heart, and it is beautiful.
Another thing I love about this book is the humor. It’s not always a laugh-out-loud sort of humor (though there were moments, like the line I shared earlier about Roderick’s lack of hunting skills, and most of the time when Nagan is talking), but there’s also this subtle, wry, whimsical sense of humor running throughout the story and I can just imagine the author grinning as he wrote the lines, hoping that his readers would find them as amusing as he.
Honestly, I could go on and on and on… but I’ve come too close to handing out spoilers already, and really, I’d rather you go out and buy yourself a copy of this epic, wonderful, GEM of a story than stay here reading my review of it! What are you waiting for? Go get a copy!
Five Dragon Eggs
Also, don’t forget that DJ is currently running a GIVEAWAY in conjunction with the release of The Last Motley, and the prizes are epic! The giveaway ends today, though, so get your entries in ASAP!