‘Locklands’ by Robert Jackson Bennett: A Book Review

We’ve been waiting a full two years for the final installment of Robert Jackson Bennett’s Founders Trilogy to arrive, but now we wait no longer. Locklands picks up some eight years after the collapse of Shorefall, with our heroes regrouped and hiding from the entity, Trevanne. Buckle up for some high-stakes action, and world-altering shenanigans. Jackson Bennett has created a truly innovative magic system for his Founders series and in Locklands the whole of reality is at stake.

As this is the final book in the series, don’t start here! Instead, check out the excellent Foundrysidethe first book in the trilogy. It will have you hooked! 

Locklands: Where on Earth are we?

Well, of course, we’re not actually on Earth, so that’s a daft question, but two years, a global pandemic, and a whole load of other trials and tribulations meant I struggled to find my way into Locklands. 

The innovative and unusual world-building that Jackson Bennett brings us means that not only do we have to recall who is who, who killed whom, and who the bad people are, but we also have to remember how the physics and fabric of this fictional universe work. A quick recap at the start of the book would have been very helpful. If, as for me, it’s been a couple of years since you read Shorefall, I would definitely recommend rereading it, or, at the very least, having a flick through to remind yourself of its key players and events. 

Since eight years have passed since the events of Shorefall night, there is something of a big switcheroo for this third book. The technology and even the metaphysics that our heroes can employ in the quest for safety have improved dramatically. Unfortunately, it’s still a drop in the ocean compared with the arsenal that Trevanne can array against them.  

Why Read Locklands?

It did take me a while to find my way back into the book. If you can’t remember what happened in Shorefall, the opening 100 or so pages are filled with some rather abstract concepts and a lot of discussion of what the characters might do, without them actually doing very much. Robert Jackson Bennett, however, is a writer who knows how to exert a hold over his reader. He’s the master of the big concept, but also great at writing flawed characters that we can empathize with and want to learn more about. Characters we want to root for. 

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As Locklands progresses, it reminded me more and more of Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities trilogy. Whilst different in scope, the two trilogies are cut from the same cloth. Jackson Bennett quietly creates fantasy heroes from characters that traditionally wouldn’t be the “hero.” He pitches actions and interactions between characters that don’t conform to genre tropes. It’s all done rather quietly, but the overall effect is very impressive. 

I can’t give away too much, but Locklands turns out not to just be about a huge evil entity trying to take over the planet. It’s more about loss and atonement. The difficulty of putting right our mistakes. 

This third episode of the Founders trilogy once again demonstrates that Robert Jackson Bennett can expertly marry big concepts with great characterization—complex worlds with stories filled with human emotion. Both the Divine Cities and Founders books are deep, impressive works that give the reader something to chew over time and time again. Just when you think you understand what the novels are about, another layer is revealed and you have to shift your expectations. Robert Jackson Bennett novels are exceptional and I can’t wait to see where he’ll take us next.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Locklands, you can do so here, in the U.S. and here, in the UK.

If you enjoyed this review, check out my other book reviews.

Don’t just don’t make my word for it, check out these other sites from the Locklands blog blast. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review. 

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This post was last modified on June 27, 2022 2:03 pm

Robin Brooks

Dad of boys, player of games, and reader of books. GeekDad and one half of Agents of Sigmar. Prone to starting things I can't fin

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