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Apr 20, 2011

The Lancaster Rule by T.K. Toppin

The Pagan & The Pen Book Reviews

Title: The Lancaster Rule
Author: T. K. Toppin 
Buy Link  
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Romance/Time Travel/Science Fiction/Military Sci Fi/Political Sci Fi
Length: 380 pgs.
Reviewed by: C. LaForce

Cover: 4
Presentation: 5
Editing: 2
Story: 5
Writing Ability: 2

Overall Card Rating: 
About The Book:
The world loathes Josie Bettencourt's kind – pod-survivors from the past. When death is certain, an ex-military and friend to the pod-hunters, saves her life. Unfortunately, she is soon arrested and taken straight to the Citadel, the heart of the Lancaster regime where they have ruled tyrannically for over fifty years.

Now, young John is in power, hoping to make a change, to erase the wars, famines and unimaginable terror. When Josie meets the frighteningly powerful John Lancaster, she has to ask, is he really the so-called tyrants' spawn?

She soon discovers who the true tyrants are by unraveling a deadly plot to take over the world.

The Review:
When I read the excerpt I thought this story might be right up my alley of interest, and I was correct in that assumption! The Lancaster Rule is a tale of romance, friendship, and family loyalty told in the setting of a very believable future Earth. To make it even more exciting there is political intrigue and a revolutionary militia spilt by factions with differing ideals, all bent on overthrowing the regime. There are tales from the government’s point of view with insider perspectives of counter-terrorist operations. There’s love, family, religious fanatics, more love, chaos, confusion, changing loyalties, and uncertainty as characters struggle to figure out just who to trust, and who to demonize. There’s a whole pile of exciting hand-to-hand combat and bombs going off every which way too. It’s a wonderful plot, and the settings in which the story takes place are vividly portrayed.

From the author’s notes, I see that T.K. Toppin is a relatively new author. I want to congratulate her here and wish her luck on her endeavors! To be honest with this review though, I must say that this book was often difficult for me to read. It was almost as if I were reading an old silent film in which characters stop and pose dramatically every few steps, for a few seconds too long each time, and wildly exaggerate their facial expressions in order to ensure the audience gets the message intended. It bothered me, but the story pulled me along anyway, and I kept reading.

At times I felt as if three or four people were writing this book. Sections jumped suddenly from 1st person to 3rd person voice. The main character’s personality flickered as well… in one scene Josie would be the helpless, fragile heroine, swooning in abject fear and uselessness, her written voice coming across as that of a flustered and lost teenager. The tone of the next chapter would morph inexplicably and I’d be reading her thoughts as if from a memoir written by a much older, more mature version of the character, years after the fact and emotionally disconnected. Then it might jump to a secondary character’s point of view, which might also be as emotionless as a narrator of a dry text on ancient economic comparisons, or overly emotional, with teeth gnashing and white knuckles. I don’t mind this sort of jumping about, but not when it makes me stop reading, flip back pages, and wonder what the heck I’d missed.

Speaking of teeth gnashing, the guys in this book did a lot of that. There was much brooding, pacing, smacking tables, kicking chairs and scads of glaring about darkly. The main character, Josie, was a weak and helpless twit for most of the book, which is not my favorite flavor of heroine, but I suppose there might be something wrong with me as many readers apparently like that sort.  Look at the popularity of Bella in the Twilight series. Bella never managed to grow a backbone or the slightest speck of self-worth, while Josie eventually managed to find herself, albeit rather abruptly. She mutated from a useless waste of oxygen, whimpering on the floor and sucking her thumb, to a super powered ninja bitch, almost instantaneously, which, by the way, was rather awkward. I truly wish her character development had a chance to follow a more gradual and realistic arc. I was glad, and relieved, to see ninja bitch appear though, because if Josie had had yet one more hissy fit and hysterical meltdown, I would have put my e-book reader through the shredder in pure disgust. (I apologize, but I was unable to develop a sincere liking for Josie! Maybe in the second book of the series...?)

Ms. Toppin has the ability to paint brilliant detail with words, unfortunately, in this book, it got to be too much of a good thing for me. I’d find myself thinking that five descriptive phrases might suffice in places where the author had squished in twenty. Ms Toppin shows off her artistic expertise in describing the characters, and excepting Josie, I liked them all very much; the good, the bad, and those somewhere in between.  She also enabled me to clearly visualize the world in which the story took place. She has a skilled hand when it comes to throwing weaponry around, and in making all of the story technology as real as future tech from OUR reality might very well be, not pure fantasy plucked from make-believe alien lands.

I wish more ‘edges’ had been smoothed here. It’s an excellent story. It’s imaginative and engaging and I believe that this first novel is a wondrous precursor of what Ms. Toppin has to offer. As written I was not so happy with this book (the story, yes, the book, no) but I see potential in it. I’d read it again if it were polished up, and I’d even go out and watch a movie version of it as there were a number of parts that would make exciting scenes in an action flick! I see the potential for the series too. I’m keeping in mind the example of JK Rowling’s seventh book, which glowingly overshadowed her first, and I will be looking for Ms. Toppin’s name on the cover of future novels.

Pagan Elements: N/A


TK Toppin said...

Thank you so much for this very constructive review. I really appreciate it!! I can now take note of your points and hopefully improve on my future books. Again, thanks!!

Natasha Steer said...

Mrs. Toppin has optioned the screen rights for The Lancaster Rule and a script has been prepared so a film version of this trilogy will, hopefully, be in production soon.

Marie McGaha said...

How awesome! Congratulations, TK! I'll bet you're walking on air.

Rie McGaha

Anonymous said...

You're welcome and thank you. I absolutely loved this story! A fantastic adventure in a very believable future. I will definitely be reading your other and future books! I am also looking forward to this series in movie form. How very exciting! Best of luck! C. LaForce

TK Toppin said...

Thank you Rie! Crossing fingers and toes!!

TK Toppin said...

Thanks again! I really appreciate it. And Rie, fingers crossed for sure

TK Toppin said...

Hope this post goes through...been trying to reply for a bit..
Thanks again!! And, Rie, YES! I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed! Would be cool to see the title on a movie screen!

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