The Wounded Hawk by Sara Douglass is a continuation of the Crucible Series, with The Nameless Day being book one. In the last book, Thomas Neville cast aside his friar robes and reclaimed his Lord title and lands. He is still arrogant but he grows more likeable in The Wounded Hawk: he is now married to Margaret, the woman he detests, but as he discovers more about her and her desire for his love, he, oh so gradually, softens! He still seeks the casket that contains the books to cast demons into Hell, but the quest somewhat slows as other dire events call his (and all of England)'s attentions.
All the major characters return, and the focus is on certain people and relationships; the last book was mostly spent on Neville but not this time! The newly crowned Richard II, with his promotions of his lover Robert "Robbie" de Vere, is causing nobles to grumble, especially Hal Bolingbroke (Duke of Hereford) and Neville, who still thinks that Richard is the Demon-King that will threaten mankind. The peasant dissenters that seek freedom from serfdom rise and deal some damage to the English kingdom. Douglass also turns our attentions more to the Maid of France, Joan of Arc. There is an interesting scene where the ladies inspect Joan and find out why, exactly, she really is a virgin. We also examine Hal (who seems too good to be true, until chilling confessions are made), Margaret (is what you see what you get?), Catherine (the ambitious sister of the meek Charles. She loves Hal but who exactly is she?), and so many others.
I cannot lie and say, "There is never a dull moment." Overall the plot is moving but there are sections of the book that failed to make an impression on my memory. There are also actions and dialogues that seem incongrugous in respect to their characters. One minute so-and-so is brash, the next minute he whimpers and sheds tears.
In The Wounded Hawk, the plot, richly woven with history, advances greatly, with so many of its characters coming into bloom (and a few to their demises), but of course Douglass keeps readers wanting more by omitting certain explanations of key people. The question of who is truly good and evil is blurred. People that seemed like, well, angels, may not be the saints we think they are. Even St. Michael and Jesus Themselves are put up to scrutiny, and trust me, it is shocking.
Oh, and the epilogue is perfect: karma comes to haunt a man who had caused hell on earth for a certain woman.
I highly recommend this series: some parts are slow going and there are flaws in the plot and character development, but overall, it will keep you enraptured as I was: going for hours at a time just reading, reading, reading!