Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hawkwood and the Kings by Paul Kearney

Hawkwood and the Kings, the omnibus of Paul Kearney's The Monarchies of God, Volume 1, contains the first two books of the series, Hawkwood's Voyage and The Heretic Kings. It's a heroic fantasy war epic with the feel of a genuine history. There are kings, mages, werewolves, boats, and guns. It is visceral, clever, and believable.

An explorer called Hawkwood sets off from Abrusio in Normannia towards a new world, the unexplored Western Continent. This voyage is sanctioned by King Abeleyn of Abrusio, so a Lord is aboard ship. There are also mages called Dweomer folk aboard, who are fleeing from the persecution of the Inceptine Church. Ironically, though, there is an Inceptine priest aboard, too. From the beginning, the voyage is fraught with tension and potential for disaster.

In the east, Merduk invaders attack, destroy, and threaten Torunna, one of the main territories of Normannia. The stronghold of Aekir has fallen and the next in the line of defense is Ormann Dyke. Corfe, the last survivor of the fall of Aekir, returns to Torunn with the surviving High Pontiff, Macrobius. At the conclave of kings in Charibon, a civil war between the five kingdoms begins because the Inceptine Church doesn't believe that Macrobius could have survived the fall of Aekir. 

There are a ton of compelling, interesting characters and even a few more plot threads. Kearney weaves them all together seamlessly, while the plot is still complex and varied. The transition between the two books was smooth, although each novel has a shape to its plot.

There are completely excellent battle sequences. The era is based roughly between the Age of Discovery and the Age of Sail. Ships have cannons and soldiers have arquebuses. Yet aside from a few elements of historical realism, it is staunchly a fantasy. In fact, the magic system deserves to be mentioned because it is interesting and even now remains mysterious. 

Overall, Hawkwood and the Kings is somehow both complex and extremely readable, which is not always an easy balance to strike. It's an awesome, enjoyable adventure. The omnibus is published by Solaris Books.

1 comment:

Yagiz said...

I absolutely loved the series. Epic at its best!