- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Voyager - GB (23 September 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0008331413
- ISBN-13: 978-0008331412
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 240 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Black Hawks Paperback – 24 Sep 2019
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‘Reminds me of Abercrombie’s THE BLADE ITSELF’
Nicholas Eames, author of KINGS OF THE WYLD
‘Refreshing and entertaining, like a cross between Nicholas Eames and Joe Abercrombie; THE BLACK HAWKS is simply a joy to read’
Peter McLean, author of PRIEST OF BONES
‘Wragg captures the classic fantasy spirit of adventure and exploration, wraps it with stabbed backs and cannibals and gifts it to you on a bed of action’
Ed McDonald, author of BLACKWING
‘Everyone loves a good mercenary tale, but THE BLACK HAWKS offers more besides: a protagonist who's refreshingly rubbish at fighting, a supporting cast who'd be fascinating if they were just standing around in a supermarket, and an author who knows when to dodge cliches, and when to jump in and splash like a kid in a puddle’
Nate Crowley, author of 100 BEST VIDEO GAMES (THAT NEVER EXISTED)
‘Check out THE BLACK HAWKS – it’s full of fun characters, mercenary antics, twists, turns, and contains my favourite fantasy lemon’
Peter Newman, Gemmell Award-winning author of THE VAGRANT and THE DEATHLESS
‘A remarkably assured debut…I can’t wait to see what happens next’
Anna Stephens, author of GODBLIND
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As the story begins we meet Chel, he’s about to find himself between a rock and hard spot, which is just par for the course, by the sounds of it. Chel is sworn under oath in the service of his uncle, which seems to involve, mainly, carrying clothes around – yep, that’s Chel, he’s like the newbie sent out for everyone’s coffee and believe me he doesn’t enjoy his role at all, it’s just not what he imagined! Then the City is attacked by the fire-wielding Norts and Chel attempts to flee before becoming a fireball himself. This is when he is unwittingly roped into the service of a young prince, Tarfel Merimonsun and their adventure really begins. Chel’s prior obligations are removed when the Prince makes a bargain with him – Chel will become the Prince’s protector, relinquishing the oath to his uncle and upon delivering the Prince to safety Chel will be released. By this time Chel has figured out the idea of ‘honor’ and ‘service’ are not what they were cracked up to be, so, wanting nothing more than to go home, Tarfel’s offer appeals and so the deal is struck.
Unfortunately for Chel it seems that there are other parties interested in the Prince and so it isn’t long before trouble catches up with them.
Enter the mercenary group known as the Black Hawks. There’s Loveless, Lemon, Rennic, Whisper and Spider. Every one of them is distinct and the author makes them easy to envision. Some you’ll love more than others but you will never tire of their presence, or their pithy quips. All are very different characters indeed and they have an easy camaraderie. I can’t deny that when they entered the scene they stole the show a little. But, that’s not to take anything away from Chel and Tarfel. Their story is very easy to enjoy and are the sympathetic characters you’d imagine. Chel, what he lacks in sword skills he makes up for in smarts and determination, a moral code and sheer good luck. Tarfel is completely clueless but very endearing in his gullibility. The relationship between the prince and protector develops throughout the story and is one of the winning elements to the book, as is their interactions with the mercenaries. As for the Hawks, they’re just so well ‘drawn’ and even the more brooding members of the crew will eventually work their magic on you or at least you’ll be relieved when they show up in the middle of a tight spot.
As to world-building, there is no magic or monsters in this one. Just lots of skirmishes, running, narrow escapes, injuries, fighting and a good deal of stabbing. I was constantly on the edge of my seat and a few times gasping in surprise or relief.
I enjoyed this so much so that about 40% of the way through, I ran straight to Goodreads and messaged the author to ask if he was working on book 2 because I had to know there wouldn't be a 2 year lag until the next book. Fortunately, the next installment will be out sometime late next year. Or so that seems to be the plan. I was ecstatic. And that was before I'd finished the book. And now? Now I'm OVERJOYED, because GOD! THAT! ENDING
Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Black Hawks (Articles of Faith #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.
David Wragg’s debut was an enjoyable fantasy romp rife with morally ambiguous characters, sarcastic and witty banter, and enough swordplay to keep Inigo Montoya entertained. While I have seen it compared to Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames and Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy, The Black Hawks stands on its on merits and creates a new fantasy realm that will astound readers who dare to take the plunge.
The Black Hawks themselves remind me of a mix between the mercenaries found in Fletcher’s Manifest Delusions and Selby’s The Winter Road. A mix of hardened killers with zero filter, exceptional skills with blades/axes, and motivation that is only fed by stacked coinage. To say they are likeable is an overstatement, but to say they don’t grow on you as the story unfolds is a straight up lie.
Then you have Chel. Sort of a Aethelwold-ish character (not that he has nay claim to anything) but is sort of a down-on-his-luck drunkard who is thrust into the spotlight when he stumbles upon the prince and guides him to safety. From there, you have what feels like a coming-of-age story (it isn’t) where Chel is forced into facing a reality he would rather stray away from: protecting a prince at all costs across a country full of murderers, thieves, and wolves.
I feel that the comparisons under-deliver in ways that aren’t necessarily fair to the author and may leave *some* readers wanting more. The Black Hawks does not contain the over-the-top, consistent hilarity or battles that you get with Kings, nor does it plunge you into the minds of some of the best characters ever created in The First Law World. Having said that, it does have its fair share of humorous one-liners from the mercenaries, several intense, small-scale combat scenes, and Chel is a very likeable character that I would like to see more from. In summation, just don’t go into it thinking it is going to be exactly what you expect based on media marketing.
All in all, I highly suggest you give The Black Hawks a go. It is a little slow on takeoff but you’ll be hankerin’ for more once you cross the halfway point. The mercs themselves are plenty of reason to grab this book and give yourself plenty of belly laughs, and the ending will have you waiting on pins and needles for the sequel.