01/10/2010. Contributed by Ewan Angus
pub: TOR/Forge. 207 page illustrated enlarged paperback. Price: $13.99 (US), $16.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2474-0.
check out website: www.tor-forge.com
So whilst his essays in the wonderful ‘Wizardry And Wild Romance’ gave a solid, powerful argument for fantasy as genre and against ‘The Lord Of The Rings’, this book merely shows how wonderful Michael Moorcock is at his craft. I say merely but there is nothing mere about this book. Again, like the wonderful book precluding this one, ‘The Jewel In The Skull’, it clocks in at a little over two hundred pages and within there is a magnitude of events that kept me glued.
The second of a proposed four books in the Hawkmoon Cycle has the titular Duke Dorian Hawkmoon continuing his fight against the twisted and mental Dark Empire of Gran Bretans (I still think this is genius) and making new friends along the way.
There is treachery, there is violence, there are ghosts and there are disappearing cities. What more could you want? Well, there’s also an endearing love story, insane pirates, lots of war and chase scenes and that is to simplify it massively.
Having taken the option to return to Yisselda and to aid Count Brass in the siege against his adopted home country of Kamarg, Hawkmoon and Oladahn make their way back from Hamadan via the ghost town of Soryandum. With echoes of Viriconium or an Arabian Gormenghast, the city holds the key to the struggle with the Dark Empire, except Hawkmoon is unaware of this. Whilst journeying back to his prized Kamarg, Hawkmoon becomes sidetracked as it seems that Yisselda has got herself kidnapped by a powerful being known as the Mad God. So he sets off to do battle with the forebodingly named bad guy and comes across yet another puzzle alluding to the enigmatic Runestaff.
Throughout the novel, we are given tentative hints as to the mystery of the Runestaff and how Hawkmoon, one of Moorcock’s eternal champions, is linked to it. The theme of the Eternal Champion runs through many of Moorcock’s novels and is the origin of the Multiverse. These are multiple universes co-existing side by side and the Eternal Champion is a chosen warrior with a universe who must fight the metaphysical fight of Law and Chaos.
These hints are dropped by the enigmatic Warrior In Gold And Jet who should win an award for the coolest but equally stupidest name in a fantasy novel. It’s not so much a name as a sentence that repeatedly describes him in place of a name.
Vance Kovacs is also back with his marvellous depictions of scenes and his drawings have a simple kind of magic to them, they give the book a warm and endearing feel.
Throughout this surprisingly short novel, the prose and style is paced beautifully. It is a magnificently simple novel to read and like its predecessor, ‘The Jewel In The Skull’, I was through it in a matter of hours. It really is that good that’s it’s hard to put it down.
Again, with this Hawkmoon novel, Moorcock has worked a kind of literary magic that will encapsulate the reader and take them on a fantasy journey that is both awesomely realistic and beautifully fantastic.
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