The Black Hawks
by David Wragg
Kindle Edition, 429 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by HarperVoyager
Dark, thrilling, and hilarious, The Black Hawks is an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.
Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.
When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.
All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.
With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.
Prepare to join the Black Hawks
I received an eARC from publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
It’s been a while since I read adult high-fantasy so I’m super excited to read The Black Hawks. However, this ends up becoming a very conflicting read.
From the beginning, the writing style and dialogue really bothers me. It’s not overly descriptive, but it’s using uncommon words to describe common things. Which I guess do help people who enjoy HF but since it’s been a while, I’m confused and ended up skipping the description for the rest of the book. I also hate the amount of swearing this book has, everyone literally swears everytime they open their mouth! Everyone except Tarfel, I guess. It just really annoys me and seem really pointless other than to depict that this is an adult fantasy with cruel world and assassins, and that’s why they’re swearing 24/7 because they’re living this hard life.
I initially want to DNF it at 15% however, seeing the high rating (3.94!) made me pushed myself forward. And I kinda glad I did, as the plot started to move forward with the attacks and meeting the Black Hawks. From here, the pacing is really good and there are a lot of actions happening so I never get bored. As we are on a journey, we explore the kingdom and I find the world building really interesting. It filled with different factions and kingdoms, along with the church vs monarchy theme at play. But at the same time, we didn’t get a lot of information explicitly and has to figure who’s who on our own, which is frustrating as there are a lot of players grabbing for power in this book.
Personally, I think the plot is pretty generic but I love the twist and the ending! Did I see them coming? Almost. But that doesn’t lessen my enjoyment at all.
Our main characters are Chel and Prince Tarfel, as well as the Black Hawks company. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say a lot for them as we didn’t get to know them enough. Chel aspires to go home, but why he was in the Duke’s service from the beginning is unknown. So is his family. While his unknown motives and origin makes him an interesting character, his characterization throughout the story didn’t really stand out from the sea of protagonist. Tarfel really annoys me, but I think that’s mainly the author’s fault for making him so incompetent. I couldn’t understand this choice as it literally adds nothing to the story other than unbelieveable and causing a lot of problems for the trip. How could a prince can’t ride or read the room at all???
As for the Black Hawks, I love the crew and their interaction but we also don’t get a lot of glimpses of the characters as an individual. I’m intrigued with Rennic and kinda fond of him for how fast he grow a soft spot for Chel. Same with Lemon. And Foss our cute giant! I wish we get to know more on Loveless and Spider but yeah.
From the premise, it was clear that The Black Hawks have a lot of potential to be an adventurous, fun read filled with action and political intrigue. While it does fulfill the premise to some extent, it also failed to deliver in some major aspects. The dialogue was terrible, the characters are interesting but didn’t have enough time to shine, and the world building needs some more explanation. I’m definitely interested in the direction of the story, so hopefully the sequel will be a far improvement from this book.