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"[Todd Lockwood's] strength is in his artist's eye, offering beautiful description beside precise characterization."
Todd Lockwood is that artist.
If you're reading this blog, you're probably a gamer, and if you're a gamer, you've seen Todd's work--from the industry-altering 3rd edition D&D to gaming powerhouse Magic the Gathering. Even if you aren't a gamer, you're a reader and Todd has produced some of the most dynamic, intricate and stunning fantasy covers of the last decade. So why am I talking about an artist in a book review?
|Drizzt Do'urden and Artemis Entreri from R.A. Salvatore's|
The stories in Tales of the Emerald Serpent take place in the city of Taux. Though there is little introduction to the world in which Taux exists, I appreciated the sense that I had been dropped into a living world that I had to experience first hand. Though I might have benefited by reading the anthology from cover to cover, I fought instinct and skipped straight to Todd's story.
"Between" opens on a woman named Torrent (pictured on the anthology cover), a human from a race known as the Corsairs, newly out of work and passing time gambling in the Emerald Serpent. When we meet her, she's betting a powerfully built regular that she can best him in an arm-wrestling competition. It's here that we learn Torrent possesses a subtle magic--she can manipulate water. I say subtle because she can't summon elementals, or topple ships with tidal waves. In fact her powers are limited to chilling tankards and cramping her opponent's muscles. That's where her 'friend' Savino comes in, offering her access to a gem that will enhance her abilities in exchange for helping him escape a duel he'll most assuredly lose.
Todd Lockwood is a storyteller, whether through art or prose, and the evidence is clear in "Between." His strength is in his artist's eye, offering beautiful description beside precise characterization. In a previous life I was a marine biologist and my appreciation for aquatic elements in stories is well documented; an appreciation that is rarely satisfied, I might add. When Torrent connects with the gem near Taux's bay, the description of her link to the water brings depth, not only to the story, but to the magics that lay behind the city itself. I wanted to know more about the watery world Torrent glimpsed and I hope Todd gets the chance to take us there again.
|Concept art for Ember, one of the iconic|
characters from 3rd edition D&D
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Check out more of Todd's art and prose at: www.toddlockwood.com
Additional praise for Tales of the Emerald Serpent and "Between" by Todd Lockwood.
Lou Anders, award-winning editor at Pyr Books, via Goodreads:
"The big surprise for me was artist Todd Lockwood, who contributes the story "Between." Todd labored under the constraints of having to tie his tale directly into two other stories, but he does an admirable job. More importantly, his character of Torrent (the woman pictured center on the cover above) is marvelous--he can really write character--and I hope he gets to write about her again. Lockwood has long been regarded as one of the top illustrators of our genre, but I suspect, with his recent novel sale to DAW, that he will soon have a reputation as a writer as well."