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Hawkwood's Voyage (The Monarchies of God Book 1) Kindle Edition
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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.
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.
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.
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