The Black Hawks / David Wragg

Title / The Black Hawks
Author / David Wragg
Publication Date / 2019
Page no. / 429
Overall Rating /

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*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This is the first book in the adult fantasy series, the Articles of the Faith, and it is the author’s debut book. It is a quest-centred fantasy that follows Chel, a knight who early on in the book finds himself bound to deliver a young prince to safety. The duo soon meets the Black Hawks Company, a mercenary group, and they find that their paths are intertwined. The story continues on from there. To avoid spoilers, I will not be discussing the plot in any detail. It is published by Harper Voyager, who have also acquired the rights to the sequel. I have to admit that I was initially drawn to this one because of the cover (art by Richard Anderson).
While it did initially take me a little bit of time to get into this one, after a couple of chapters I was invested in the story and the characters. One of my favourite things about this book was the Black Hawks Company and we don’t get to meet them until roughly 70 pages in. The group is full of unique and interesting characters that really draw you into the book. The interactions between Chel and the various members of the company was so entertaining to read, and I loved how their relationships developed throughout the book. Since Chel and the prince, Tarfel, are virtuous, it was interesting to see their interactions with the company, since they have little to no loyalty to anything. Throughout the book you can see the duos influence slowly rubbing off on the company. There are quite a few characters to keep track of, but I found them to all be distinct, so I didn’t have any issues with remembering who’s who. One thing to be aware of though, if you don’t like swearing then this is not the book for you. It doesn’t bother me, but I know some aren’t a fan of it and most of the company curse a lot, Lemon in particular.
The quest-centred fantasy story is pretty traditional in terms of the fantasy genre, but Wragg manages to deliver an engaging read using the quest as the base of the story. There is plenty of action packed into the 429 pages of this book. After the first few chapters, I found that I was completely invested in the story and I didn’t want to put the book down. The last section of the plot, in particular, was very compelling. This one does end on quite a big cliff-hanger, which made me very excited and impatient for the continuation of the story, however I know that some readers aren’t a fan of cliff-hanger endings. The world-building is good, but I would say that the main focus is on the characters and the plot. Past battles are referenced, and we learn a little about the religions and races, but we don’t get a whole lot of depth to it. Humour plays a key role in this book, but the world itself is quite a bleak one. If you are big on world building in your fantasy books, then this one may not be the right book for you. It is a pretty standard fantasy world, completely inhabited with humans, but Wragg manages to keep it fresh and interesting. Don’t expect any monsters or fantastical beasts in this book though. It avoids being dense and I never felt it dragged. Hopefully in book 2, we’ll get more of an understanding of the world. The e-ARC I received did not contain a map, but I hope that the finish book will have one, as I think maps in fantasy books are always helpful and interesting to refer back to.
Overall, I thought this was a fantastic debut and I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series. It is a remarkably assured debut book and I look forward to seeing Wragg progress as a writer. There is a fantastic cast of characters, an engaging plot and great action scenes. If you enjoy fantasy with a darker side and/or fantasy with morally ambiguous characters and great dialogue, then I highly recommend checking this one out. It is currently planned as a duology, but as of writing this there is no information about the name or release date of the second book. The author is also working on a standalone book set in the same world. Hopefully we’ll get the sequel sometime next year, since everything was brilliantly set up for it in this first book. I cannot wait to see how things progress with the characters and to see where the plot will go next. Have you guys read this one? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

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