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I have a bit of a thang for epic fantasy. I love a tale of love, lust, blood, guts and demons so when I saw Talon of the Silver Hawk in Waterstones as part of a 3 for 2 offer last summer I had to pick it up. Raymond E Feist is a name I recognised (and a name most Fantasy readers would know) but surprisingly I had never read any of his books before.
This book looked slick. The striking all black cover has the Authors name inscribed in thick commanding silver lettering, the title in a bold white and right between the 2 an illustration of a soaring Silver Hawk. It is something a bit special compared to the busy-ness of your typical heroic fantasy cover.
A quick read of the back blurb and I was sold. The cover price of the Paperback is £6.99 which I would almost never pay for a paperback on its own, but I did get this as a 3 for 2 offer.
Now it is testament to my fickleness that although I bought this last August I didnt pick it up to read until a few weeks ago. Now it starts off quite promising; our young hero Kieli is sat upon the sacred mountain awaiting his naming vision. When he receives this he will have his adult name. You find out a lot about him and his tribe in this first chapter. The Orisini are a simple tribe and you immediately think of the Native Americans as you read about their way of life and traditions.
Young Kieli has his vision and receives his name Talon of the Silver Hawk but when he descends from the mountain a mass tragedy is in progress. You can tell from the moment he notices smoke coming form his village that all is not going to go well for Young Talon and it really isnt a surprise when you find his Orisini home being destroyed by marauding foreigners.
Talon throws himself into battle but his inexperience goes against him and he is cut down like the rest of his clan. Talon some how manages to live. He is found by Pasko and his Master Robert and taken to an Inn, miles away from his home, a place where everyone speaks a strange language and the culture is very different. Talon holds a life debt to Robert and so becomes his servant.
Talon is taught many things by Robert and the others at the Inn. He is taught how to speak in several languages, how to cook, how to hunt and how to fight with a sword. It is unclear to Talon why he is being taught so many various things but he continues to learn with one thought in mind. Once he pays his debt to Robert he must revenge his destroyed clan by killing those who came and slaughtered them upon his naming day.
The storyline is fairly basic fantasy fodder and is not particularly challenging to read. It is however (in the start) adequate enough to keep you reading. A lot of questions are left unanswered and you continue to read to see what happens. However this is a painfully mediocre read. It isnt badly written, in fact you can tell the Feist is a good writer as he crafts characters with ease and paints scenes which are easily drawn to mind but he just doesnt seem to be trying very hard to stretch himself here.
The language is flat and un-inspiring, the descriptions are adequate but are lacking the seasoning, so although its good it isnt quite right. Also, as you go along you begin to feel hes really not involved in the story. He reveals things to the reader earlier than he should. Keeping us in suspense over a few things would add to the tension and readability but he just keeps slipping the plot answers in here and there, often before that part of plot has even happened.
I found myself getting more and more frustrated the closer I came to the end. In fact, there was a little hope in one scene towards the end. Heart, passion, feeling and real flowing and dramatic language. I thought Feist was going to finish on a high but no. He doesnt keep it up and the end is just a predictable link to the next book in the saga.
This book wasnt bad. It was worse than that it was a good book, or at least it was nearly a good book. It would have been amazing with just a little more effort from the author. I was just so frustrated, constantly thinking If I were writing this Id not say that here. or If I were writing this Id say this now, this way. I was actually angry when I finished reading. I felt cheated somehow and very unsatisfied. Not a good way to Leave this lady Im afraid!
I honestly cannot recommend this book to you, and I can tell you Im definitely not going to look into the other books in the series. I am not sure if I would try a Raymond E Feist title again, part of me wants to give him the benefit of the doubt and try something else but another part of me just doesnt want to be so frustrated again.
If you want really good heroic fantasy stick to David Gemmell. He gives good gore. If you really want to try this title then I suggest looking on Ebay, my used copy will be on there soon and there are a few others already, starting at 99p and £2.50 respectively. Please, please dont pay full whack, possibly buy it on a 3 for 2 (if the other two books are exceptional and you just dont know what else to decide on) but otherwise leave well alone. Youll only be disappointed.
ISBN 0-00-716185-9 (paperback)