Thursday, 17 February 2011

Review: The Hawk and His Boy by Christopher Bunn

The Hawk And His Boy (The Tormay Trilogy)Christopher was kind enough to let me review this book for him and I don't know whether I have ever been so exited about a review-book. It has everything I would expect in a fantasy-book and it's an amazing first part of a trilogy.

The Hawk and His Boy consist out of four different stories that are all interlinked. The first and most central is the story of Jute, a boy who is part of the Thief Guild. He has to steal a box, but he ends up being "killed". He isn't however and falls into the hands of Nio, to whom the box belonged. Another story line follows Nio's "quest" to get the box back. He is a magician, who uses his magic for his own purposes, leaning on the Dark for this.

The Dark is what combines all these stories. Levoreth, the niece of the Duke of Dolan, is a reincarnation of the Levoreth that lived years ago, as were all other Levoreth's before her (every daughter is named Levoreth in this family). She turns out to be much more than just a Duke's niece and her story is intertwined with the Dark. Before I tell you the entire story here's the "official" summary:

One night, in the city of Hearne, a young thief named Jute is instructed to steal an old wooden box from a rich man's house. It should've been an easy job. Down the chimney, sneak through the house, find the box, and get out fast. On pain of death, Jute is cautioned to not open the box. Being a boy, and being rather curious, he can't resist a peek inside.
What Jute discovers in the box sets in motion a terrible chain of events that soon has him on the run for his life. Everyone wants him dead, from his former masters in the thieves guild, the rich man (a rather vindictive and unscrupulous wizard), to the anonymous client who hired the thieves guild for the job in the first place. The client just happens to be the Lord of Darkness himself, and he'll stop at nothing to have Jute dead, even it means plunging the whole land of Tormay into war.
Jute's odyssey brings him unusual companions: a guilt-ridden assassin, an overly talkative ghost, a self-doubting wizard who really isn't sure if he's a wizard or not, and a hawk who just might be able to teach Jute to fly. When Jute opened that old wooden box, he also opened the door to a strange and terrible world. And some doors, once opened, can never be shut. 
So what did I think of this book? Well, before I tell you let me tell you who Bunn was inspired by: J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald. If you are inspired by these men you can't really go wrong. And Bunn hasn't. His book blew me away. The stories were rich and unique in a sense that they conveyed a universal message in a way I hadn't read before.

His style of writing is very accessible which is sometimes not the case with fantasy books that are so complex as this one. By keeping his use of works "simple", meant in a positive way, he is able to convey much more than if he had used lots of difficult plot twists and weird words. I think he has also achieved to tell multiple stories at the same time without confusing the reader. That is an achievement on its own, yet it does add to the credibility of the book. In a normal world several things would be happening at the same time and it's the same here. All stories have certain elements in common, such as place and theme, yet are different which keeps you interested.

My favourite storyline is probably the one following Levoreth. She is this Ur-woman who, I think, embodies Mother Earth in a way. I found her fascinating. She is one of these characters that doesn't let you go. While I loved all the other story lines and characters as well I found myself wanting to read about her more. This might just happen in the next two books because she's very important to the story. I also loved the Hawk. I think this has to do with the fact that I love hawks and always wanted by own, the way that Harry has Hedwig. The Hawk in this book had me doubting sometimes as to whether he was good or bad. That might just be my paranoia or the author's genius, but it's a good character.

I was especially proud of myself for recognizing the language in which some of the ancient words in the books are written. These are mainly spells and names of books, yet the characters' names are also inspired by ... Old English. I think this is one of the best foundations you can have for a book and a character. A character's name should represent part of his identity, just like Saruman in the Lord of the Rings.

I'm going to shut this review short now because otherwise I'd go on forever! I give this book ...

4/5 Universes!!!

I didn't want to go for the entire 5 Universes, because I think a book or author should maybe have withstood the test of time a little bit longer before falling into my 5 Universe-category, but I did love this book.

So what do you think? Have I got you exited for this book?

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