2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2010
Hawkwood's Voyage is a story of war, politics and discovery. It is mainly set within the 5 kingdoms of normannia where there is fighting in the east, race purification in the west and a power struggle between the church and the kings of the land.
The book has a few different character POV's, but it primarily centres on Hawkwood, Corfe and King Abelyn. Corfe is fighting the Merduk invasion in the east but is struggling to choose between his duty as a soldier and his own personal safety. Abelyn's kingdom is in turmoil as an internal war is being waged against the church who are sending all the heretics and dweomer folk (magical people) they can get their hands on to burn in the pyres. Hawkwood is a captain of two boats whose crew is full of the so called heretics, so when he is offered the chance to take ship in search of new land with a few of the kings choice passengers he takes it with both hands.
This book is comparable to George RR Martins A Song Of Ice And Fire series in a few ways, namely the scope of the story and the fact that there isn't so much a good side and a bad side, but good and bad on both sides. It is also similar to Joe Abercrombie's work in that it is blunt and to the point with a bit of sex and violence as well.
Although I am not a fan of sailing myself and I am not clued up on the terms of sailing (he uses quite a lot of these) I was very impressed with the way the portions of the book set at sea were written, the explanations of life at sea were very vivid and made me feel claustrophobic and at times even sick (in my opinion a good bit of writing). He also writes exciting battle scenes that make you feel like you are in the thick of the action.
This is a great opening and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2002
A highly recommended book (and series for that matter). The only reason I haven't given it 5 stars, is that the comparison that springs to mind is George R. R. Martin's Clash of Kings. Hawkwood's Voyage offers the same in terms of scope but George Martin delivers more detail and deals will a larger cast. That said, this is a great and engrossing read and Paul Kearney delivers the story at breakneck speed. After reading this and the other books in the series, I'm amazed at how much he manages to pack into every chapter. So if you found Clash of Kings or the like a bit slow, add a star!
There are two main storylines in the series. The first deals with a clash of empires which parallels Europe's history enough to be familar (which helps the imagination fill in the details that Paul Kearney can't cover given the breakneck pace) but for me was the most gripping of the two tales. This is pretty much pure tactics and brute force; little scorcery creeps in.
If you like you fantasy, magic heavy, not to worry, Paul Kearney covers both bases. The "title" storyline involves a sea voyage undertaken by persecuted users of magic ... While this is the tale the title refers, it difficult to appreciate in just this single novel, as it plays a much larger role in the series.
This book and the rest of the series is worthwhile addition to your library!
Ship owner Richard Hawkwood's return to Abrusio (capital of Hebrion and greatest port in the Five Kingdoms) coincides with the middle of a religious purge orchestrated by the fanatical and ambitious Prelate. Those from non-Western lands or able to use Dweomer (magic) risks being burnt alive - including Hawkwood's own crew. Worse, the Five Kingdoms find themselves threatened by the Merduk who have already taken the previously impregnable holy city of Aekir and intend to move against the rest of the West in the name of their Prophet yet the monarchs of the Five Kingdoms find themselves pitted against both each other and their own church hierarchy.
Hebrion's young king, Abeleyn agrees to support an expedition under the command of the ambitious Murad who has a ledger purporting to give the location of a new western continent and Hawkwood's ships are hired for the purpose. With Murad and Hawkwood's fates intertwined, the course of their voyage mirrors the fate of their homeland.
Given that this is the first in a 5-book series, it is unsurprising that this is a book that's mainly set-up as Kearney seeks to not only introduce his world but also all of the main players within it. For the most part, he does a good job - keeping the different strands spinning without confusing the reader (although I would still have liked a character list).
Hawkwood's story runs front and centre through the action and he is not an easy character to like. Although he's strong, determined and ambitious, he's cold towards his wife and has a passionate relationship with Jemilla - a widowed and ambitious aristocrat who is also Abeleyn's lover. Abeleyn by contrast is a pragmatist keen to distance his kingdom from the religious fanaticism of the Prelate because of the trade and political damage it is causing.
First published in 1995, Kearney draws a parallel between the Merduks and their faith and Islam and there are hints of a twist in the basis for the two main religious faiths being depicted here. However, it is a bit disturbing to have the Merduks shown as the villains and hope they'll be fleshed out more in the future books.
All in all it's a solid read with plenty of political and religious strife to hold the interest and a solid naval adventure at its heart. I will definitely be reading on.
on 22 September 2014
I have to admit I am a Paul Kearney fan. I had just read the three books in the 10 thousand series and was blown away by his writing style and the pace of the stories. Just damn good fantasy work. So looking for more I found the 5 book Monarchies of Good.
It was different from the work I head read previously in so far as it’s more epic fantasy, the story is more global and involves many more main characters, than the Macht books. But once I got into it, which doesn't take long with this authors writing I just couldn’t stop. I have always been put off by multiple book series; somehow it feels like I’m committing too much time to one thing. This series of 5 is well worth the reader’s time. Mr Kearney manages to involve the reader in a 5 kingdom continent complete with court intrigues, voyages of discovery to new lands, an approximation of 17th/18th century European warfare, the detail interestingly written of a long sea voyage, loves separated, loves lost, magic, some superb heroes and equally developed villains, Just a wonderfully written story. My deepest regret is that I finished all five. I shed tears of joy and sadness and after five wonderful books the very last paragraph slew me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mr Kearney.
on 18 May 2011
There is a lot packed into a small book.
The pace is quick with plenty of action.
The view switches for character to character regularly, with each of the characters getting some real depth and personality.
The core plot is quite interesting with a battle between competing religions as well as between church and state.
There is manipulation and politics going on at every level.
The characters are all believable, they act in their own best interest or the interest of their beliefs with no simple black and white or clichés.
There is none of the space filling descriptions of settings that often slows fantasy novels down, the descriptions are always focused on the story and what we need to know.
There are a few twists and the ending has a few surprises.
Dark, smart and a really good read.
If you like Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan or Georg R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire then you should enjoy this.
on 6 November 1998
Paul Kearney, comes close to Elizbeth Moon in his gripping detail of fantasy wars. The book has 3 main story lines, a war, a ship voyage and a Kings attempt to hold his throne in the middle of a vicious religeous schism. Hawkwoods voyage is a gripping read and with the interlacing story lines (a.k.a R Jordan or G Martin) and the well written narrative, this along with Book 2 (and I hope book 3 ) is a must read for all Fantasy readers.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2001
This novel is set in a fantasy world somewhat similar to medieval Europe. It vividly portrays the competing religious and political powers in the storylines of several participants from uncommon soldiers, monks, royalty, sailors and (here's the fantasy element)wizards. My only complaint is that the storyline of Hawkwood's voyage to find a new land is the least gripping.
on 19 December 2014
I have the several Paul Kearney kindle/paperbacks and I have found that while each one is totally different thy are all well plotted ,characterisation is believable and they are always a good read. A very slight drawback is sometimes that there is a slight lack on continuity, but that did not justify giving a lower score.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2000
Let me put it this way...it's intoxicating. However,if up until this point you have been reading Gemmil or Kay,then turn away...or you'll suddenly realize how dull they are compared to this young writer...
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2002
The whole of the Monarchies of God series is excellent and deserves to put Paul Kearney into the big league of fantasy writers. Great ideas, great writing and (in Corfe) one of the best heroic characters in a long time. Highly recommended.