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on 3 September 2002
After reading Honoured Enemy (Impressive return to form) and Murder in LaMut (Disappointing backslide), I was actually caught off guard by Talon of the Silver Hawk.
Feist has always had characters with high morals as central figures, and Talon is the most ambiguous character yet from Ray in the moral stakes. He is also the most compelling character, in my opinion, since Jimmy the Hand came into his own in Silverthorn and Darkness in Sethanon.
After the past few years of battling with well known personal problems, yet still pushing out books (I hate to say this, but the Tear of the Gods saga I found quite rubbish, but it did came at a bad time for him), Talon of the Silver Hawk finally places Ray back on track.
The characters all around are unique and varied, and from the very beginning of the book you are taken back into the familiar world of Feist, yet one of the best inclusions is the fact that this book *is not set in the Kingdom of the Isles*, nor is it set in some distant continent of which we are vaguely familiar.
Finally, we have a book dealing in many ways with the kingdom of Roldem and the far east dutchies - and the scope is wonderful - and yes, the map has been added to....
Rich, vibrant, and so good that I read it through in one night - which I havnt done with a Feist book since Kings Bucaneer.
Get it as soon as possible, you wont be disappointed. Not one bit.
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on 10 September 2002
"Talon of the Silver Hawk" is Feist back to his very best. Set after the Serpentwar, this first book of the 'Conclave of Shadows' suggests that we are in for a wonderful new saga.
Right from the very start, Feist introduces the main character and we immediately get a feel for him. It is this attention to character portrayal that appeared to be lacking from "Honoured Enemy" and "Murder in La Mut".
For the first part of the book, you are unsure whether dealing with good or evil, but have tantalising hints that leave you with eager anticipation of what is to come.
Old friends re-appear and, for me, felt like a family reunion. The new characters are so brilliantly depicted that they soon become firm friends.
As the story unfolds you feel the need to devour each page – but want to savour each moment.
"Talon of the Silver Hawk" will not disappoint any Feist fans. The one drawback is that we have to wait for the next instalment!!!!
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on 10 September 2002
After the rather disappointing "Krondor" books and collaborations, it is good to see Feist picking up some of the threads left hanging after "Shards of a Broken Crown". This new series, "The Conclave of Shadows", appears to be set around 40 - 50 years after the events of "Shards" and the story in this first book is told almost exclusively from the point of view of the titular character. A few old characters and locations crop up, but the book is largely set in previously unexplored lands near the Kingdom of Isles, populated with new characters. After a few minutes studying the maps, I had an idea of where on Midkemia I was.
As with "Shadow of a Dark Queen", there is the feeling that this is the set up for events in later books, however, the focus on Talon limits the sense of the great enemy that the Conclave is facing. It is clear, though, that the Conclave are manipulating Talon and moulding him into a formidable weapon to be used in the battle against the enemy. Our knowledge from the previous books means that we know more than Talon about the enemy he is being used to fight and why the Conclave is willing to be so ruthless.
I enjoyed the book immensely and am looking forward to the next book in the series, which will hopefully focus on some of the other new characters introduced in this book and expand on the threat faced by the Conclave.
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on 7 June 2004
Revenge-fantasy books are almost a dime-a-dozen (and almost as clichéd as the phrase "dime-a-dozen"). I don't know how many books have the main protagonist be the last survivor of his people, out for revenge against the bad guys who murdered them, but I do know that there are many. So when I heard that Raymond E. Fiest's Talon of the Silver Hawk was that kind of book, it already had one strike against it. Style can make up for a lot of things, however, and thankfully Feist's style brings this up a few notches. Not enough to make it an outstanding book, but enough to make it thoroughly enjoyable. It is part 1 of a series (Conclave of Shadows), however, so be warned. It is set in the Krondor universe, though it evidently takes place many years after the Riftwar, for those of you who are already fans of Feist.
Kieli is about to become a man by going through the vision quest that his people, the Orosini, use to mark the onset of adulthood. After they have their vision, boys come back to the village, having received their adult name in their vision, and find out who their parents have chosen to be their bride. However, Kieli doesn't have time for all this. Right after his vision, he sees smoke from his distant village, runs there, and arrives just in time to almost be killed along with the rest of his people. In fact, he's left for dead. Found by a kindly yet secretive old man, who's much more then he appears to be, the newly christened Talon of the Silver Hawk goes through years of vigorous training to fulfill his duties to his rescuer. He becomes a member of a super-secret organization, a secret weapon in a fight against evil. He creates a new identity to ingratiate himself in high society in order to keep close to the evil-doers. In his service to this organization, he will take his first steps on the road to vengeance for his family and his people. But will he lose his own identity in the meantime?
It's a good thing that Feist can write an interesting yarn, because there is nothing in this book that's very original. As I said, we've seen the "last member of a people out for revenge" story before. We've also seen the "secret organization on the side of good but can do some shady things" before. The setting is almost Dungeon & Dragons with the serial numbers filed off. In fact, this organization almost reminded me of the Harpers in the Forgotten Realms series of books. Thus, the book bears a heavy burden on its rise up the hill of quality.
Thankfully, Feist makes the book a lot of fun and Talon is actually quite the interesting person. There is a bit of a culture clash between his own people and the society that he ends up trying to infiltrate. He has to learn a lot of things, including the art of seduction. His people don't believe in sex before marriage, but the character he becomes has to become a lady's man. His first two "conquests" actually conquer him, and they couldn't be any more different. One's blond and beautiful and the other is brunette and kind of mousy. He eventually doesn't avoid promiscuity, but he still has to be taught a harsh lesson in love and loss before he can be fully ready for his role.
The characters aren't really anything special (with the exception of Talon, of course). They fulfill their roles admirably. The duke is subtly evil rather than twirling his moustache, but then he's only the ultimate goal of the series, not for this book. The main villain for the book, Raven, doesn't get much characterization at all. It doesn't really detract from the book, however, since it makes it almost a force that Talon is fighting against.
There are both good and bad things in the structure of the book. The good thing to mention is an interesting stylistic choice. Every chapter starts with a one sentence paragraph, along the lines of "Talon waited." Most of them are two words, though occasionally there are more, like "Talon sipped his wine." I don't know why this style intrigued me so much, but I really got a kick out of it. The main problem I had with the book, however, is that Talon almost seemed too perfect. He rarely makes a mistake, and when he does he's able to rectify it pretty quickly. This isn't so much the case when he's being trained, but it certainly is afterward. He's a great hunter, bowman, swordsman, he has ladies falling all over him (once he's in society). It just doesn't appear to be a lot of work for him.
As I said, the only time this doesn't happen is his training, which actually does take up a large portion of the book. I started out thinking that it was too drawn out and much more could have been glossed over in favour of an interesting story afterward, but the more I read, the more I was intrigued. There are almost sub-stories in the whole thing, the most interesting being his doomed dalliance with a fellow student. After it was over, I was glad it all had been included. We learn bits and pieces about the Conclave of Shadows as Talon does, and it makes it more interesting.
Ultimately, I just have to say that this is a fun book. That's the only reason that I'm giving it four stars, as going strictly by quality, I'd have to say it's between three and four. I'm glad I read it, and I'm eagerly devouring book two now.
David Roy
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on 11 September 2002
For years I've waited for the type of book Raymond Feist has just written.
The book begins similar to the beginning of his first book, Magician. Talon of The Silver Hawk is a boy turned man, soon to be put into another life that was not meant to be his. The book portrays the learning of this new life in a clever Feist-like way that leaves you wanting more at every turn of the page.
Bringing back some classic characters Like Pug, Miranda & Nakor but not making them the main part of the story was a nice touch. The new characters he's created in this book go back to the characters he was creating during the early riftwar books. Each have their own nich, and the way Feist brings each of them out can make you laugh in his usuall way.
There are a few acton/combat section of the book that were gripping and appropriate. Can't wait for Jimmy The Hand!
An all around great book. A must buy for any Feist or Sci Fi fan.
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on 16 July 2003
Thank the Lord Feist has returned. After the terribly average Krondor series and the so so Tales of the Riftwar books, I thought we had lost Feist for good. It is with great relief to see he is getting back to form.
Set 30 odd years after the Serpent War, Talon whisks us away from the Kingdom and takes us East and gives us a new map to explore. Very much a new beginning. With echoes of Magician we follow a young boy's development from orphoned village bumpkin to court wise assasin. If you were expecting to regoin Dash and Erik Von Darkmoor prepared to be disappointed. We learn of the death of one major character from that series and it is clear that things have moved on.
This is a very short book and is clearly designed to set the stage for our new hero. Think Rise of a Merchant Prince rather than Sethanon and you will know what to expect. Still the book is very good. Incredibly descriptive, moving in places and intriguing enough to make the next book a must read. It seems that the bad days have passed. Feist is back and we can all look forward to more "Ripping Yarns". Shame about the cover though. Bring back Geoff Taylor!. Without doubt the best book since Shards of a Broken Crown and a welcome return. Enjoy.
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on 9 January 2003
In "Talon of the Silver Hawk," Raymond E. Feist returns to the saga format of his classic novels after several disappointing novelizations of computer games. The Riftwar Saga ("Magician," etc.) introduced his main characters and the world of Midkemia, and the Serpentwar Saga ("Shadow of a Dark Queen," etc.) added new characters and brought the next phase of the epic battle to a raging climax. Feist then wrote three novels set after the Riftwar, two as book versions of video game plots set in his world but created by the game developers. Perhaps due to the non-linear nature of video game plots or the distraction of a divorce, none of these had the storytelling skill of his previous work.
"Talon of the Silver Hawk" starts a new saga with a new main character, Talon, and as such draws comparison to Feist's two other saga founding books, "Magician" and "Shadow of a Dark Queen." The boy Talon survives the massacre of his isolated tribe, and he is raised by strangers in a more developed society that he must learn to understand. This takes the entire first part of the novel, well told from Talon's point of view, but the narrative plods along as this boy learns the dull lessons of childhood crushes, respect, and social status. This part of story is set in a far eastern area of Feist's world that has not been used before, a chance for the author to develop and describe something completely new, but this region comes off as an ordinary, quasi-medieval fantasy kingdom.
The second half of the novel focuses on Talon's integration into the Conclave of Shadows, the evil-fighting group founded by Feist's heroes at the end of the Serpentwar Saga. The view from Talon's eyes of previous Feist heroes like Pug and Nakor shows a different side of these long-time characters, but they are appropriately relegated to minor roles. Talon's coming of age predictably traces through trials of combat and adolescent love. His few friends are thinly drawn characters present only for short sections of the novel, too short to establish any meaningful relationship with Talon and further develop either character.
Finally, Talon is sent out into the world on a mission, taking up residence in Roldem and fighting in a dueling tournament. As with the far Eastern kingdoms, Feist misses the chance to make this second newly featured locale unique and different, and it feels like a stock medieval city. The action continues afterwards as Talon returns to his homeland to exact revenge, in a typically fantasy hero way, upon the mercenaries who massacred his people. The duels and battles are classic Feist combat narrative, exciting and skillfully written, especially the long finish to the final battle. However, ultimately these clashes don't go anywhere or stir the reader to the larger cause that is being championed.
"Talon of the Silver Hawk," solid on its face, unfortunately falls flat in starting this new saga compared to "Shadow of a Dark Queen" starting the last one. In "Shadow," the new characters Erik and Roo were more thoroughly drawn, their motivations more concisely developed, and their coming of age / training phase didn't have the monotony of Talon's Tarzan-like integration into society. In addition, after this growing phase, the places and tasks Erik and Roo went off to were far more exciting and better detailed than the rather simple and brief mission that Talon is sent on. Also, the greater purpose behind the actions in "Shadow" was clear to the reader and also the characters. "Talon" only sets up a minor villain, with virtually nothing on the major villain who is assuredly behind the scenes, who was trumpeted as such a dire threat when the Conclave was founded. This vague coverage of the ultimate reasons for the Conclave's existence and Talon's actions leaves all his struggles seeming poorly justified.
"Talon of the Silver Hawk" sees Feist returning to the epic fantasy saga, outclassing his mediocre recent video game novelizations, but as an introductory novel, it still cannot compare to the opening book of his last saga, "Shadow of a Dark Queen," and nothing he's written since can compare to the opening book of his first saga, "Magician."
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on 23 September 2002
"Talon of the Silver Hawk" is an OK Feist book. Since "Magician" I've come to expect an awful lot from Mr. Feist. His last few books have been extremely dissapointing (with the exception of "Honored Enemy") so I approached this book cautiously.
The epic scope of previous Feist works like "A Darkness at Sethanon" or even "Rage of a Demon King" is strikingly absent, instead we get a sober story about a young boy whose entire way of life is snatched from him. Vowing revenge, he is eventually brought into a group called the Conclave of Shadows, led by the legendary Pug. All of this is OK, but the book is lacking in solid introductions to newer characters. In many Feist novels there are several main characters, and the action and character development are spread around many individuals. The entire focus of this book is Talon, who is interesting, but he is no Tomas, Pug, Arutha, Jimmy, or even Erik Von Darkmoor.
There are several minor characters (most notably the children of Pug and Miranda) who are extremely intriguing, and I wish more time could have been spent with them. Also, as is becoming more typical in the world of Feist, the mega-powerful Tomas and the elves are not even mentioned. It's nice to see old friends like Nakor and Pug, but they only make fleeting appearances.
I didn't like the first book in the Serpentwar Sage as much as I liked the last two, so maybe the series will progressively get better. There is a lot left unsaid in this book, hopefully the anwsers to those questions will be a lot more interesting than the path we've been led down so far.
A great book for Feist fans, and almost a return to form. For new readers, start with "Magician" and work your way forwards.
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2003
It's really good to see Feist back to writing books himself , and approaching the standard of the original Riftwar saga. That series and the Serpentwar saga just left readers wanting more, and so many, like me, have probably read most of the ones since. They were good stories, but always seemed a little lame. The co-written books like Jimmy the Hand and Murder in Lamut gave the impression that he had franchised the world out to all comers, and some of the other books like Krondor the Betrayal just seemed like tack-ons.
Talon of the Silver Hawk finally seems like a return to a proper series, rather than the individual stories of recent years. Talon is the last of the Orosini, a hill tribe massacred by unknown assailants for unknown reasons whilst he was on his manhood quest. He is saved by mysterious benefactors, seemingly to start a new life as a tavern boy. Eventually the training he is receiving begins to make sense - he becomes an expert tracker, hunter and fighter, with all the refinements needed to enable him to have a society life. He sets out to become Talwin Hawkins, the best swordsman in the known world, via the Masters Court of Roldem, as the first stage on a journey that he hopes will see him revenge his fallen people.
The story is just a little too pat at times. Tal never even looks like losing, not even with the contestant who is out to kill him, or the hill village he is defending against impossible odds. I always prefer to see the hero or heroine have to work at least a little for their victory - with Tal, even breaking a sweat would be nice! However, it is good to finally see the promise made some time ago (I think it was in the last Serpentwar book) of Pug's Conclave of Shadows. For everyone who enjoyed the Midkemian universe, these books are a pleasant return - and in fact introduce us to new parts. For people who've never visited Midkemia before, I'd recommend that they start with Magician.
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The problem with Feist is that we all know how good he can be and all his works will be measured against his best. His recent output has been weak but in the forward to this book he talks about changes in his life so I hoped his troubles may have been reflected in his recent books and now we would see the return of the brilliance we know he is capable of.
er, no such luck. Sole survivor of tribal massacre is brought into the fold of the good guys and transformed into a 007 like figure who can do anything. Talon, the main character, is too perfect, endlessly patient, hard working, good at everything and at times I just wanted him to be a bit more human.
Talon ends up as an agent of The Conclave, a force for good and while the story purrs along nicely it is missing tha magic that we expect. The characters do not engage and the story does not quite grip enough. By any other author this would have been okay, but from Raymond Feist it is a weak offering.
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