Friday, 14 March 2014

Peace, Love and Good Books: HAWK QUEST by Robert Lyndon

Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon
As someone who likes to, and wants to, review every historical fiction book I read, it is no great pleasure of mine to review books that I have less than positive opinions on. In a perfect world I would love or like every book I read. Every review would be glowing. Faults would be minor and opinions on them would not be offensive to the author or his or her fans. Smiles all round. Peace, love and good books forever more.
It would make reviewing so much easier and I could move on guilt free to the next book. The next happy, positive review.
Only this isn't a perfect world. Books are not all equals. Authors are not all equals. And as much as I want to love or like every book I read, it simply is not going to happen.

Which brings me to my review of Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon. A book I had such high hopes for. Set in a favourite era and based on a journey. (Journey being one of my favourite devices in historical fiction).
It should have been a perfect match and by jove, for approximately 80 pages it nearly was. It had one of the greatest introductions that I have read for years. It was intoxicating.
The author's grasp of descriptive device was exemplary. Appealing to my every nuanced taste.
A few small examples;

He'd covered less than half the distance when the clouds snuffed out the sun. The temperature plummeted. A wind that started as a faraway sigh struck him with a blast of hail.


The squadron descended on them like a machine welded by flames, the torches roaring in the wind of their passing .

I admire great writing, great description and great imagination. If an author can combine this triumverate of greatness in the ways quoted above through an entire book, then I am putty in their hands.

But then what happened?? The book I was reading in those early pages transformed into something that was very nearly the antithesis of everything I loved about the first approx 80 pages.
Magical passages of description and beautifully devised scenes, were replaced by rushing, clunky sentences. Simplistic in nature and lacking in skill. The writing became a shadow of its former self. Dialogue became naive and unchallenging. 
It was choking on too many pointless plotlines. Bad passes of dialogue. Historical inaccuracies. Needlessness. Something went awry with this novel and it was a bloody crime to me.
The writer became his own obstruction and as a result, inconsistencies in writing qualities reigned supreme and I had to force myself not to abandon it.

This author has the ability to be quite brilliant. The talent is there. I have no doubt of that. Had the book been shorter, more refined, it would have given it a better chance and if only some of the scenes and storylines had been ruthlessly removed, this could have made it a magnificent specimen of the genre. 
It could have been the epic (a shorter one) that the author had wanted it to be. If only..if only...

I will not give up on him yet though. I have bought the next book Imperial Fire. Those glimpses of brilliance are enough of an incentive for me to believe this author will come into his own one day.
With experience and bucketloads of feedback from readers, this author will be a shining star in the genre of historical fiction. And I want to be there when that happens. To applaud it.

- MM

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