The Last Motley by D.J. Edwardson, available on Amazon.
Despite the unexpected health issues that forced an unplanned hiatus from going online for part of 2018, I was still able to download a number of books! Among the new (to me) titles I read, a few stood out: in particular, Jack Lewis Baillot’s wonder-filled retelling of Beauty and the Beast/Christmas novella Finding the Magic, Intisar Khanani’s magical fantasy novel Memories of Ash, Ness Kingsley’s zany comedic fantasy quest Our Intrepid Heroine, and Suzannah Rowntree’s novella-length retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, the darkly fantastic The City Beyond the Glass.
The very best story I read in 2018, however, was The Last Motley by D.J. Edwardson. Here’s why:
1) It is a well-written, classic fantasy quest set in a well-wrought world. (Check out its page on Goodreads, where it is receiving stellar reviews! Many describe what a good read The Last Motley is in far more erudite prose than I will ever produce.) If you love this type of story, The Last Motley is well worth the price of admission. The Epilogue alone is one of the most beautiful passages I’ve read in years.
Moreover, the focus of the quest is a child in peril, which is not a scenario this reader is likely to walk away from without seeking resolution! The inherent tension and sense of threat build from the very first chapter – and just at the point where I started to feel I could use some relief….
2) Nagan appears on the scene. He was totally unexpected, and turns out to be one of the funniest characters I’ve encountered in recent books. Many of his lines are LOL hilarious! I was not expecting this, nor would I have believed so much humor could be woven so seamlessly into a plot that is overshadowed by so many real dangers.
Nagan himself is not immune to these threats – nor is he merely a comedic prop, for his character follows an arc I found myself caring about very much. The author does a masterful job of making comedy and potential tragedy work together in a single multi-layered tale. It just works on every level, and the book is all the richer and more engaging for it!
3) But what elevates this story above the horde of fantasies being published these days is the author’s choice of protagonist: instead of the standard-issue, know-it-all, angsty/callow youth, the protagonist of The Last Motley is a mature man of faith, a devoted husband, and a loving father. In fact, it is his fatherly instinct that makes him peculiarly suited for this particular quest.
Today’s popular culture all too often gleefully depicts fathers as the butt of a cosmic joke, the epitome of idiocy compared with their all-wise progeny. While it is true that many men never live up to their responsibilities to their offspring (choosing instead to bury themselves alive in their careers, or spend most of their free time vegetating in front of a wide screen as gamers or passive media consumers), the unsung heroes of our day are those men who quietly do their duty by their children, shaping their lives in countless positive ways–including their willingness to confess their faults and take steps to correct them.
For all of these reasons, I encourage you to read The Last Motley, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it!
Finally, I just want to thank you, D.J. Edwardson, for singing the virtues of flawed but faithful fatherhood in your beautiful story. I hope you go on to write many more equally edifying and encouraging works!