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Book Review

Book Cover

The Locksley Exploit


Author: Philip Purser-Hallard
Publisher: Snowbooks
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 90967 942 9
Publication Date: 18 June 2015

Having left the circle, Jory is making a reluctant Robin Hood for the Chapel. As their operations continue the Chapel comes under increasing pressure from the knights of The Circle. Without a solution to the schism, the war between the two historical archetypes threatens to tear Britain apart...

The Locksley Exploit (2015. 436 Pages) is the second novel in The Devices trilogy, written by Philip Purser-Hallard.

To be honest if the introduction didn’t make much sense to you, you’re in the same boat as me, as I hadn’t read The Pendragon Protocol. Purser-Hallard has come up with an intriguingly fresh idea which allows him to create a mutli-layered urban fantasy story.

Central to the main narrative is the idea of The Devices. The best way to describe these is to Imagine Paul or Alia, in Dune having access to one single past life, a life which with training will not overwhelm the recipient, but will pressure them to re-enact certain aspects of that character's life as well as gaining some of the character's attributes and skills.

In The Devices Trilogy, the stories of Robin Hood and King Arthur are historical facts and while the society of Britain has developed along very similar lines to our own, it has at the heart of it these incongruous competing camps.

The knights represent order, stability and an authoritarian view or the world, albeit coloured by ideas of chivalry and honour. The Chapel, taking its lead from the stories of Robin Hood, represent free will; a collective structured anarchy.

The first half of the book examines how these two important historical stories could simultaneously exist and whether they shared enough commonality to fuse together to create a more harmonious whole.

Now this all sounds a little dry, but this is not how the book presents its ideas, with a schism comes conflict and the story keeps up a godly pace, although some of the descriptions can seem odd. The vision of forty armoured knights charging the Chapel, in a contemporary setting, is simultaneously strange to envision, but given that Purser-Hallard has gone to great pains in his world building, within the context of the book it does not seem out of place.

The book is broken down into two sections; the first details the fight between the two camps and the quest to find some device which might unite them, the second deals with the prophesied return of Arthur himself.

It would probably have helped to have read the first book, but this novel brings you up to speed quite quickly without having to resort to forced exposition. In this way it does work well as a stand-alone novel.

It’s refreshing to read an author who has genuinely come up with a new idea within which to set a modern fantasy story, in many ways the blend of urban fantasy reminded me of Sergei Lukyanenko’s novels, both authors providing something which is both fantastical and a pleasure to read.


Charles Packer

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