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The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Mer­duks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have cap­tured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Church seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon c The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Mer­duks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have cap­tured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Church seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon co-exist with werewolves and sorcerers. It is the turning point when two great religions will fight to the death and the common folk will struggle to merely survive.


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The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Mer­duks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have cap­tured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Church seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon c The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Mer­duks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have cap­tured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Church seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon co-exist with werewolves and sorcerers. It is the turning point when two great religions will fight to the death and the common folk will struggle to merely survive.

30 review for Hawkwood and the Kings

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patremagne

    Since this seems to be getting more attention lately, I'll add this: more people should start reading Kearney! http://abitterdraft.com/2013/09/hawkw... Didn't realize I never posted the review I threw together a year back for this. I actually read Paul Kearney’s Hawkwood and the Kings back in June(2013), but for some reason, even though I loved it, I didn’t end up writing a full review. The review is for the omnibus of the first and second books in his Monarchies of God series and for a good reason Since this seems to be getting more attention lately, I'll add this: more people should start reading Kearney! http://abitterdraft.com/2013/09/hawkw... Didn't realize I never posted the review I threw together a year back for this. I actually read Paul Kearney’s Hawkwood and the Kings back in June(2013), but for some reason, even though I loved it, I didn’t end up writing a full review. The review is for the omnibus of the first and second books in his Monarchies of God series and for a good reason. The end of the first, Hawkwood’s Voyage, has something along the lines of a cliffhanger, and while it’s not a “the main character has just been mortally wounded and now you have to wait X amount of time for the next book”, it still stands to reason that the books should have been published as one. I like to think of it in similar terms to Hyperion from Dan Simmons in that, from what I’ve heard (I haven’t read it yet), there is some sort of killer cliffhanger that people were likely to have been very upset having to wait the year or so it took for Simmons to release the sequel, but not quite as drastic. First and foremost, Hawkwood and the Kings is a definitive fantastical parallel to the Western Schism of the Christian church as well as the quest for the New World and the fall of Constantinople. There’s no beating around the bush about that – it’s a story of religious and cultural strife between the Ramusians (Christians) and the Merduks (Muslims). Even the map is a very thinly veiled Europe. The fact that the plot and world are so derivative do nothing to affect the ability of Kearney to tell a compelling story. The books sets a grim tone with the fall of the holy city of Aekir to the Merduk horde. The crumbling and burning city is described vividly and we are introduced to my favorite character of the series, Corfe. Corfe is a solider who has had everything ripped from his hands. His wife is believed dead in the fall of Aekir, his friends dead, his home burned. His arc is something of a cross between a tale of redemption and one of listing along to wherever his feet take him because he has been so numbed by his loss. Alongside Corfe, we have the mariner Richard Hawkwood, who is essentially coaxed into captaining a settling journey to the lands to the west, believed to be uninhabited – but are they? King Abeleyn of Hebrion is the typical young king, and that’s why I liked him. Kearney crafts Abeleyn into a person with whom the more you read about the more you empathize. The Ramusian church, after the fall of Aekir, conducts a series of chauvinistic purges of all who are not Ramusians and members of the Five Kingdoms as well as Dweomer-folk, or magic-users, in Abeleyn’s kingdom without his consent, and his story revolves around strife with the Pontiff (Pope) and internal conflict in his kingdom. This, specifically, is what compels me to read more and more about religious strife in fiction. The bigoted and prejudiced views of medieval religious fanatics, if done well, provide great storylines. Kearney also supplies a few other characters as protagonists, from all sides of the conflict, but to a lesser extent than the aforementioned three. As I said, Corfe was probably my favorite character, but Hawkwood’s journey to the New World was the one I was most eager to follow. I previously had a personal rule where I would not read two or more books in a series consecutively so as to preserve the story in my mind and keep me thinking that there’s still more waiting for me. Yeah, well that rule was broken for the only time this year in order to read the second half of Hawkwood and the Kings, The Heretic Kings. It’s something of a flintlock fantasy, but instead of muskets we have the more rudimentary arquebuses, and Kearney does the line-fire very well. If you’re not opposed to the fact that Kearney’s world is a very thinly veiled carbon-copy of ours in the 15th century, I highly, highly recommend this series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    4.5 stars. *No spoilers. I drafted this review while reading both omnibuses* Well, wow, where to start? I read the whole series straight and it was everything I could ask for in a fantasy tale: seafaring, battles in different terrains, much court intrigue, world-changing stakes, a brutal medieval Europe/Middle-East-ish setting and a good cast of characters involved in several intersecting storylines. There are lots of military minutiae, which I've a penchant for, not to mention some remarkable wo 4.5 stars. *No spoilers. I drafted this review while reading both omnibuses* Well, wow, where to start? I read the whole series straight and it was everything I could ask for in a fantasy tale: seafaring, battles in different terrains, much court intrigue, world-changing stakes, a brutal medieval Europe/Middle-East-ish setting and a good cast of characters involved in several intersecting storylines. There are lots of military minutiae, which I've a penchant for, not to mention some remarkable women, all finding agency within the limits of their societies and rank (no improbable girls in chainmail, basically) and all unique: I cheered for some and despised none. Same goes for the male protagonists who are all sporting the kind of grey morality I prefer in my adult epics: I couldn’t root for any of them unconditionally but I liked that they were striving for something without blind stupidity. There are no particular twists as the tale and all major plot threads unfold and yet the ensemble result is very engrossing, flowing with a steady pace even during the more lulling moments. I immersed in the story and kept up with the nuances without trying too hard, but at the same time I wasn't led by the hand and I always appreciate this kind of balance in my books. For full disclosure, I was able to read several hours a day and I’m sure continuity contributed to the positive experience. For the most part the tale is well-planned, full of beautiful descriptions, and the minor qualms I had did not mar the overall enjoyment, because I could easily overlook some scarcely examined subplot lines or a few simplistic resolutions, or even a bit of Gary-stuism, considering the quality of the work. However the last book of the Monarchies of God is not up to par: what started as the author not shying away from killing his characters progressively became a death spree, sometimes to raise the tension ofttimes for narrative expediency and this particular resolving plot device is not my favorite way to wrap things up. Also, in the last part the story loses some momentum and the narrative favors telling over showing unlike the previous installments; it is still good but less inspired. I ended up rating the second omnibus of the series 4 stars but Ships from the West alone was barely a three. What really irked is the demise-domino effect because really, while knowing nobody is safe usually keeps me on the edge of my seat, what happened was a touch overdone. Back to the good (and there’s plenty), I also appreciated that the novels combine familiar historical elements (Columbus' voyages, Europe's geography and society, the Muslim-Christian conflict etc.) with fantasy and alternate history events. From the ground of my profane sensibilities -and I hope I’ll never face such violence in my life- I feel the author managed to capture the never-ending horror of war, on both sea and land, not only throughout a series of ghastly images, but through the anticipation, the foreboding, the feeling of endless despair mingled with scant hope and all too real humanity (I know I'm biased, but the destruction of the Inceptine library was chilling to the core. Because books. There is also a brutal gang-rape episode, be warned). I really loved his care for details, down to the fact that a warhorse is not trained in a day and hardtack becomes home to weevils after a while. On the whole it was a wonderful journey; and better, I devoured the books: in spite of heavy authorial thumb stamping the ending, I truly enjoyed this complex, adult fantasy series and I would particularly recommend it to seafaring/military fantasy fans. I'll make sure to read more by Kearney. The company built their fires despite the fact that the sweat was dripping off their very fingertips. They needed the light, the reassurance that their comrades were around them. The fires had a claustrophobic effect, however, making the towers of the trees press ever closer in on them, emphasizing the huge, restless jungle which pursued its own arcane business off in the darkness as it had for eons before them. They were mere nomadic parasites lost in the pelt of a creature which was as big as a turning world. That night they were not afraid of unknown beasts or strange natives, but of the land itself, for it seemed to pulse and murmur with a beating life of its own, alien, unknowable, and utterly indifferent to them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alytha

    Finally finished the combined first two novels of the Monarchies of God series by Paul Kearney. And, good gods, what a piece of crap that was. I can only conclude that all those recommendations floating about are some kind of practical joke by other disappointed readers. If you really feel that you need to waste precious time of our life with this novel, you're welcome to my copy for the price of shipping to your place. Plot premise in a nutshell: The holy Ramusian Church is getting one of those ur Finally finished the combined first two novels of the Monarchies of God series by Paul Kearney. And, good gods, what a piece of crap that was. I can only conclude that all those recommendations floating about are some kind of practical joke by other disappointed readers. If you really feel that you need to waste precious time of our life with this novel, you're welcome to my copy for the price of shipping to your place. Plot premise in a nutshell: The holy Ramusian Church is getting one of those urges again to do away with all people who are different, and starts buring witchy people en masse. The slightly enlightened king of Hebrion doesn't like that, and sends two shipsfull of them into the unknown west. At the same time, the Merduks, who worship a different flavour of Prophet, decide to attack the Ramusian kingdoms. The main seat of the head of the Church is destroyed, and thousands of people flee, among them the young soldier Corfe and the after all not quite dead Pontiff, whose lucky survival will lead eventually to the whole political union falling apart into civil war, because another ambitious cleric lets himself be crowned Pontiff too as soon as the news of the destruction of Aekir is in, and half the kings declare for one, half for the other. Messy stiff ensues. Meanwhile, the expedition to the west discovers that they should better have stayed home. The following contains spoilers. The first thing that annoyed me was the incredibly lazy worldbuilding. Look at the map. Does it remind you of anything? Except for the fact that Italy seems to have sunk, and there's a random mountain range west of the Netherlands, it's pretty much Europe. It has Italiens, Spanish, Brits, Vikings, Catholic and Muslim peoples, by any other name. The northern Barbarians worship a horned god called Kerunnos. No, really? If I were too lazy to create my own fantasy world, why not go all in and do it as an alternative world? You have your fanatical and corrupt Catholics, the Muslim threat, and Columbus, er, Hawkwood, sailing off to America, er, the unknown West to save all the witchy people. The only things that don't match are that according to my knowledge, the Maya were not werewolves. But, as I said, in an alternative history setting it wouldn't be so bad. I am aware that Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn did much the same with its powerful Church, Celts, Viking, etc derivatives, but there it didn't annoy me as much. Secondly. there is no indication that God exists within the framework of these novels. However, Dweomer is very real. Isn't the main reason why the Catholic church took over the shop in our world that magic doesn't work? Why do they Dweomer just let themselves be burned without fighting back? For hundreds of years, no less? Thirdly. The terrible stilted and unnatural dialogue. Most of it is just corrupt churchmen orally masturbating about how great they are. For pages and pages. bla bla bla heretics bla bla bla fire bla bla bla... Also, while I'm not fond of your cliché fantasy infodump, it would have been nice to be told in some way what was going on and who was who withim the dozen of kingdoms of varying allegiance. Very confusing in the beginning. The descriptions are in a kind of wannabe epic style, except that they don't work, and at times appear like self-parodies. Terrible writing style. Fourth: 99,5% of all characters are complete and utter idiots and bastards (and not the magnificent kind), or boring and pathetic as hell. The other 0,5% are dead, except Jemilla, who will probably cop it in childbirth, as they do. I just couldn't make myself feel for any of them. They're also all utter and complete cardboard cutouts, with no originality whatsoever. I liked the imp, but he's dead too. The only halfways interesting part was Hawkwood's voyage to the West, although you need a bloody nautical dictionnary to follow what's going on there. Unfortunately, the confrontation between the colonialists (conquistadores?) and the Maya werewolves was clichéed as hell. The only redeeming feature were the chapters with the two young monks exploring a long-forgotten temple in the library of the Vatican, er Charibon. But, what do you know, they're dead too now. All in all, a complete failure. 2/10

  4. 5 out of 5

    Benji Glaab

    A fantastic epic read. Since I heard through the grape vine he's a grossly underated author I embarked on my first Paul Kearney experience. Complete with an endorsement signed Steven Erikson I was totally roped in. And lets face it this was like candy for me. It has all the components I look for in a political/ military fantasy. Hawkwood and the Kings oozes and gushes my kind of book. We get the story of a Continent in peril being pulled to pieces by war, and conflict as well as a group of advent A fantastic epic read. Since I heard through the grape vine he's a grossly underated author I embarked on my first Paul Kearney experience. Complete with an endorsement signed Steven Erikson I was totally roped in. And lets face it this was like candy for me. It has all the components I look for in a political/ military fantasy. Hawkwood and the Kings oozes and gushes my kind of book. We get the story of a Continent in peril being pulled to pieces by war, and conflict as well as a group of adventurers seeking a new continent. Church viying for power. A super power invading from the east, and three young Kings holding what's left in tact. Honestly people the plot is too complex for me to put into words at risk of making me sound like some burned out pot smoking hippie. So I'll just focus on the books merits. What will you be treated to? Explosive military sequences, (literally) flintlock before it was cool. Arquebuses, cannons, artillery, sabers. "Present pieces..., give fire..., out swords... follow me". Kearney's tactical/historical knowledge is phenomenal this element felt real all the way. With a huge cast of characters, and 20 some odd pov's we get to see all sides of the conflict, every corner of the continent. All the characters/ factions are pinned down tight all their political choices affect the next making all their actions rationalized. This really highlighted Kearney's prowess as he at no point in time why's away from this book's massive scope. Furthermore he accomplishes this in a very small page count. The entire series is roughly 1600 pages. A challenging read plain and simple. Me personally I like the challenge every so often. This book beat me up here and there. Extreme description, a trade off for a great visual. The pacing is comparable to ASOIAF 1 book = 3 month timeline. So we get to see the world changing, and the ramifications of our amazing characters. Sensitive readers beware. No humour not much wit not really hip Can't say I was surprised but we get a weak representation of female characters once again. Whores, sex slaves, women who use their lady parts to gain political advantage. So if you're the kind of reader who can't stand this shit beware. Brutal blacker than black imagery this book is sick and twisted at the best of times. If you're scared go to church. Kearney has managed to uproot religion as a solid theme in this novel. The fictional religion closely resembles Christianity, and is adulterized continually in this novel. So if this offends you beware. So it would seem that Kearney writes a fairly unaccessible style, and tells a story that appeals to a smaller market of readers. Fortunately I'm one of those readers, underated I don't think so just misunderstood. If this book sounds like you're kind of thing you are in for a treat. Enjoy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    As George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series became a popular success, each novel debuting higher on the bestseller list, the fantasy genre saw a predictable stampede of derivative imitators. Epic sagas with dozens of characters rooted more firmly in historical fiction than in conventional fantasy. Political scheming, gory battles, and morally-dubious characters fighting it out in narratives told through many POV characters using a close 3rd person stance. By 2012, the fantasy shelves of bo As George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series became a popular success, each novel debuting higher on the bestseller list, the fantasy genre saw a predictable stampede of derivative imitators. Epic sagas with dozens of characters rooted more firmly in historical fiction than in conventional fantasy. Political scheming, gory battles, and morally-dubious characters fighting it out in narratives told through many POV characters using a close 3rd person stance. By 2012, the fantasy shelves of bookstores were stuffed with series hoping to catch the Martin updraft. This isn't one of those books. Published in 1994, Hawkwood's Voyage is a pre-derivative Song of Ice and Fire. Paul Kearney brought all the elements Martin does to the page a year before Game of Thrones was published. And yet Martin's work went on to become a world-wide phenomenon, while Kearney toils away as an obscure mid-list writer. Who said publishing was fair? The world we're introduced to in this first book of the Monarchies of God bears much resemblance to 17th century Europe. The Merduks, analogous to the Ottomans, are on the march. The kingdoms of the West are wracked with religious persecution and strife. And explorers looking to the West for riches find a world far stranger and daunting than they expected. But this isn't paint-by the-numbers historical fantasy. While Kearney draws on a strong historical knowledge of the peoples who inspire this saga, he breathes originality and life into them. Their values and conflicts. Fears, jealousies, and hatreds. Magic is subtly interwoven into the story, both a recognized part of this world and a strange, dark power that is to be feared. Kearney doesn't go overboard with the world-building. He gives us just enough background to get on with the story, which he tells with great pace and verve. No meandering 300 page setup here. Kearney's prose is assured. The quality of wordsmithing he brings to the page far surpasses the dismal norms of fantasy fiction. He presents believable characters and psychologically resonant drama. His descriptions and metaphors are vivid without being pretentious or self-conscious. Kearney is clearly a fan of Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Aubrey-Maturin books, and I'd say the fan isn't far off the master in his writing chops. Besides the obvious comparison of Martin, this novel also brings to mind Guy Kavriel Kay's fine historical fantasies. Though for my money, I prefer Kearney. He's darker, faster-paced, and tighter in his storytelling, without losing anything in quality. It's puzzling that Kearney never caught the popular imagination the way Martin or even Kay has. But I'm always pleased when I discover a new-to-me writer whose work I can expect to enjoy for years.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Clansman Lochaber Axeman

    Hawkwood and the Kings is an omnibus of Hawkwood’s Voyage and The Heretic Kings, first released in the mid-nineties to critical acclaim but limited commercial success. Paul Kearney is, to the detriment of readers of fine fantasy, one of those authors who ran into publisher difficulties. Had the publisher actively marketed the original releases of The Monarchies of God, the books would have sold well and would unquestionably be considered classics alongside other great adult fantasies like George Hawkwood and the Kings is an omnibus of Hawkwood’s Voyage and The Heretic Kings, first released in the mid-nineties to critical acclaim but limited commercial success. Paul Kearney is, to the detriment of readers of fine fantasy, one of those authors who ran into publisher difficulties. Had the publisher actively marketed the original releases of The Monarchies of God, the books would have sold well and would unquestionably be considered classics alongside other great adult fantasies like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Steven Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Unfortunately, Paul Kearney is among the more unnoticed and underrated authors of epic fantasy today. Hawkwood and the Kings is set in a parallel to our world’s late fifteenth century. This is a fantasy with gunpowder and magic as well as clashes between Church and State, Church and Magic, and East and West. Kearney deftly weaves a story that uses the schism of the 13th century, the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the voyage of Columbus in 1492, and the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Church in the 1530s. There are four major story lines in Hawkwood and the Kings. Richard Hawkwood is forced to undertake a dangerous journey into the unknown West with a man he detests. King Abrusio of Hebrion leads a revolt against the Ramusian Church (loosely based on the Christian Church). Corfe is a young officer who flees the destruction of Aekir instead of joining the last stand of the defenders against the Eastern Merduks (though Corfe later helps with the defense of the kingdom of Torunna against the Merduks). Finally, there is the story of the monks Albrec and Avila, who uncover an ancient document that goes to the heart of the dispute between the Ramusian Church and the Merduk’s faith in their Prophet. Kearney has written a tightly plotted, character-driven epic fantasy that reflects something of our own world, but he makes his story entirely new and exciting. Hawkwood and the Kings kept me awake at night turning pages, and it is one of the best books that I have read in recent memory. It is adult-level fantasy that does not pull any punches. Kearney’s writing is gritty, realistic in its blood, violence and sex, but also shows how humans can, once in a while, shine. Kearney builds a fantasy that demonstrates clearly that a series need not be epic in size to be truly epic. Kearney’s battle scenes are the best I have ever read in fantasy, or even empirical history, and that includes the likes of Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin. His battle sequences are clear and descriptive in a manner that is at once exciting and horrifying. However, Kearney is not a glorifier of violence, and it is clear that he views war in all of its forms as a very poor way of resolving disputes, which is a major theme of the series. My only complaint about this book is that the publication value by Solaris is a little low. The words are crammed on the page, the print is small, and the number of typos is excessive for a book that has already been published once. However, this is easily overlooked when the quality of the story is considered, and the cover to Hawkwood and the Kings is simply gorgeous, which made me wish that the covers of Kearney’s The Ten Thousand series were half as good. I read Hawkwood and the Kings together with Century of the Soldier, which is the concluding omnibus of The Monarchies of God, and the pace does not let up. Though that is a separate review, I rate the entire series at five stars. Paul Kearney has become one of my favorite writers, and I eagerly look forward to his new novel in the The Ten Thousand series, Corvus. I strongly recommend readers of good epic fantasy everywhere to buy The Monarchies of God, now. Angus @ www.FantasyLiterature.com

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This omnibus was a little bit of a slog to get through, as the length of time it took me to read it will attest. It didn't feel like the story was dragging, but there was such a lot of it, and the authors writing style is rather dense. The magic system is only lightly touched on, which is a shame, since it looks fascinating, and the being onset by all sides is murderous to my nails if I was a nail biter. I think once I digest everything that has taken place in this omnibus that I will continue t This omnibus was a little bit of a slog to get through, as the length of time it took me to read it will attest. It didn't feel like the story was dragging, but there was such a lot of it, and the authors writing style is rather dense. The magic system is only lightly touched on, which is a shame, since it looks fascinating, and the being onset by all sides is murderous to my nails if I was a nail biter. I think once I digest everything that has taken place in this omnibus that I will continue the series, thought likely in single book form.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Prohobo

    After reading Game of Thrones (and of course watching the series), I was looking for something similar. Hawkwood and the Kings is book one of the (Monarchies of God). Original a multi-book series that has been complied into two books, the first being Hawkwood and the Kings and the second being the Century of the Solider. The author weaves some core elements of real history - predominately the Crusades. Additionally the world is, in some ways, very reminiscent of our own (Old Europe, Middle East, After reading Game of Thrones (and of course watching the series), I was looking for something similar. Hawkwood and the Kings is book one of the (Monarchies of God). Original a multi-book series that has been complied into two books, the first being Hawkwood and the Kings and the second being the Century of the Solider. The author weaves some core elements of real history - predominately the Crusades. Additionally the world is, in some ways, very reminiscent of our own (Old Europe, Middle East, the New World) - which I find makes things easy to keep track of. There are three main story archs and it is somewhat complex. War is raging between the East (Merduks - similar to the Middle East during the Crusades), who have invaded the West. The main character it follows is Corfe, the last survivor of a the first battle of the Merduk invasion. He starts off retreating with the people, but emerges a great leader in battle. We also follow the leaders of the Merduks as well. While the five kingdoms attempt to repel the advances of the Merduk's, the Church is vying for power to control the West. A new High Pontiff has taken control and he wants to bring the full power of the church to bear. He has started burning the heretics and anyone that has any "magic" powers. Part of the story of the church follows a monk who has discovered a secret in the catacombs that could bring the church down. Lastly we follow ship's captain Hawkwood, a salty smuggler type, who has been commandeered to lead a group of soldiers and a group of "magic folk" across the Western Ocean in a Columbus type of expedition for the New World - what they discover could change the course of everything. If you enjoyed Game of Thrones, like reading different POVs, and enjoy a fast pace near-real fantasy, this is it - or your can wait a few years for the next book in the Game of Thrones series.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    Paul Kearney is not a big name in fantasy but after having read The Monarchies of God series I believe he really should be. The first book does initially feel a little disappointing - as if the author has taken a chunk of European history and re-worked it into his fantasy world. You have the conflict between East and West, the unknown continent across the ocean, two rather familiar monotheistic religions engaged in a war over a great besieged city. It all sounds a bit too familiar, however after Paul Kearney is not a big name in fantasy but after having read The Monarchies of God series I believe he really should be. The first book does initially feel a little disappointing - as if the author has taken a chunk of European history and re-worked it into his fantasy world. You have the conflict between East and West, the unknown continent across the ocean, two rather familiar monotheistic religions engaged in a war over a great besieged city. It all sounds a bit too familiar, however after the story develops the world begins to take shape and the comparisons become fewer. The real strength of the story is the descriptions of sailing ships and land combat. Here Kearney produces some of his best and most exhilarating writing describing in great detail many a muddy and violent battlefield, and although there are elements of politics throughout the story I would say it is overwhelmingly a military fantasy. I would also say there is an element of tragedy about the story, which becomes more apparent in volume two. Happy endings are few and far between, however I never quite felt the author quite managed to shock and surprise the reader by killing off a much loved character in the same way that perhaps George R R Martin has done. My only other criticism would be the disjointedness of the story. Hawkwood's voyages, although fun to read, feel somewhat redundant and his entire narrative could almost be removed from the volumes without massively affecting the rest of the story. This disjointedness is perhaps realistic in a world full of millions of people where many parallel lives exist, but as part of a story it feels as if it's been tacked on in order to accommodate the character. In summary, although Kearney's two volume series is perhaps not the most original fantasy story to have emerged, it is extremely well written and well worth reading. It's definitely been one of my favourite fantasy reads to date.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fantasy Literature

    Hawkwood and the Kings is an omnibus of Hawkwood’s Voyage and The Heretic Kings, first released in the mid-nineties to critical acclaim but limited commercial success. Paul Kearney is, to the detriment of readers of fine fantasy, one of those authors who ran into publisher difficulties. Had the publisher actively marketed the original releases of THE MONARCHIES OF GOD, the books would have sold well and would unquestionably be considered classics alongside other great adult fantasies like George Hawkwood and the Kings is an omnibus of Hawkwood’s Voyage and The Heretic Kings, first released in the mid-nineties to critical acclaim but limited commercial success. Paul Kearney is, to the detriment of readers of fine fantasy, one of those authors who ran into publisher difficulties. Had the publisher actively marketed the original releases of THE MONARCHIES OF GOD, the books would have sold well and would unquestionably be considered classics alongside other great adult fantasies like George R.R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE and Steven Erikson’s... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Simon

    Paul Kearney is a grossly underrated author. This series is a great place to start for new readers. To be honest this first collection is weaker in comparison to the second Omnibus. I say this because the first book is a bit slow in my opinion. However, The second book is a huge step up and the second omnibus is unbelievable start to finish. If you like fantasy literature with an emphasis on the military then this book and this series is for you. I would give this first collection 4.5 stars but t Paul Kearney is a grossly underrated author. This series is a great place to start for new readers. To be honest this first collection is weaker in comparison to the second Omnibus. I say this because the first book is a bit slow in my opinion. However, The second book is a huge step up and the second omnibus is unbelievable start to finish. If you like fantasy literature with an emphasis on the military then this book and this series is for you. I would give this first collection 4.5 stars but the series as a whole would be closer to 5 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    edifanob

    This omnibus contains the first two books in The Monarchies of God series. Epic fantasy at its best!!! Absolutely awesome. Full review in progress ....

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rodney

    Great read. Kearney is a master of prose.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adam Whitehead

    The continent of Normannia is dominated by the five great Monarchies of God, five kingdoms and myriad duchies and principalities united in the worship of the Word of God as revealed by the holy messenger, Saint Ramusio. But now, five centuries after Ramusio's passing, that union is fracturing. The Merduks of the east have taken the Holy City of Aekir and put it to the sword and the flame. The Kingdom of Torunna stands open to their armies, with only a scant defence being mounted at the fortress The continent of Normannia is dominated by the five great Monarchies of God, five kingdoms and myriad duchies and principalities united in the worship of the Word of God as revealed by the holy messenger, Saint Ramusio. But now, five centuries after Ramusio's passing, that union is fracturing. The Merduks of the east have taken the Holy City of Aekir and put it to the sword and the flame. The Kingdom of Torunna stands open to their armies, with only a scant defence being mounted at the fortress of Ormann Dyke. But rather than reinforce Torunna, the Church is instead sending its Knights Militant into the other kingdoms, determined to root out heretics and burn them at the stake. In Hebrion King Abeleyn, determined to reassert the secular rule of kings over that of the Church, sets his will against that of Prelate Himerius, who is determined to continue the burnings of heretics, magic-users and shapeshifters. As part of these intrigues, Abeleyn authorises his cousin Lord Murad to outfit an expedition across the Great Western Ocean in search of a new landmass rumoured to exist there. Captain Richard Hawkwood is commissioned to lead this expedition, but once to sea it becomes clear that someone, or something, is determined to see it fail. For his part, with the Fall of Aekir and the apparent death of the High Pontiff, Himerius is determined to rise to high office and see the entire continent ordered to his design. As the Merduk armies dash themselves against the walls of Ormann Dyke, a young cavalry officer, Corfe, last survivor of the Aekir garrison, emerges as a canny warleader who may hold the key to saving Torunna and Normannia. For in his party from Aekir is an old man who claims to be the High Pontiff Macrobius, and the revelation of his survival will splinter the continent in two and unleash turmoil and strife the likes of which have not been seen in centuries. Hawkwood and the Kings is an omnibus edition containing the first two volumes of Paul Kearney's classic Monarchies of God series, Hawkwood's Voyage (1995) and The Heretic Kings (1996). Long out of print, this reissue is a very welcome move from Solaris. If it wasn't for poor sales (despite heavy critical acclaim), this series would be mentioned in the same breath as A Song of Ice and Fire and The Malazan Book of the Fallen as one of the strongest epic fantasy series of the past fifteen years. Kearney's writing style, which comes across somewhere between Martin, David Gemmell and Bernard Cornwell, is brutal and direct. This is not a pleasant world and all of the characters are flawed individuals developed with complex motivations. Lord Murad, for example, is initially portrayed as an antagonist but by the end of the book he has gained more of the reader's sympathy, whilst our erstwhile heroes Hawkwood and Corfe both have plenty of negative traits (Hawkwood treats his wife badly, whilst Corfe fled Aekir rather than stand and fight). In this sense the series withstands comparison to A Song of Ice and Fire, although the (relatively) slim page count-per-volume means that the series cannot build up the same kind of unstoppable momentum. Still, the complex politics and characterisation will appeal to fans of that work. An area which Kearney could have badly fumbled is in his treatment of his source material. The Fall of Aekir is modelled after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, with the Merduks standing in (fairly obviously from the name) for the Ottoman Turks and hence Muslims. Kearney avoids this by showing the Merduks to have honourable generals and soldiers amongst their ranks even as their leaders are shown to be a mixture of the corrupt and the competent. He could have tipped this in the other direction with the Ramusian Church, a clear stand-in for Christianity, portrayed too villainously, but solves this by adding sympathetic POV characters within the Church's ranks (particularly Albec and Avila), showing the internal dissent and strife that have driven some in the Church to the current extremism. Kearney handles the politics, characters and religious material deftly and also delivers great battles, whether on land or at sea. More common now, Monarchies was unusual when it was published in being set further up the technological ladder than most epic fantasies, with gunpowder, arquebuses, culverins and mortars being the weapons of choice. Fans of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books or C.S. Forrester and Patrick O'Brien will be very happy with Kearney's depiction of combat, the life of a soldier and life at sea. Those readers tired of interminable thousand-page epic fantasy novels will also find Kearney's laser-like story focus and relentless pace refreshing. Hawkwood and the Kings (*****) is epic fantasy at its very best, combining strongly-realised characters with epic battles, complex politics and a compelling storyline. This new edition will hopefully lead to a resurgence of interest in this over-neglected series. The omnibus is available now in the UK and USA from Solaris Books.

  15. 4 out of 5

    BookWarden

    In Hawkwood and the Kings, we obviously have two novels stitched into one volume. The books being Hawkwood's Voyage and The Heretic Kings. After a brief setup, I'll talk about each book, then the volume as a whole. THE SETUP A Merduk horde numbering in the hundreds of thousands has come sweeping out of the East, conquering the borders of the Western kingdoms, or, the Monarchies of God. They capture cities and castles, enslave or execute any who survive, and generally cause a whole lot of troubl In Hawkwood and the Kings, we obviously have two novels stitched into one volume. The books being Hawkwood's Voyage and The Heretic Kings. After a brief setup, I'll talk about each book, then the volume as a whole. THE SETUP A Merduk horde numbering in the hundreds of thousands has come sweeping out of the East, conquering the borders of the Western kingdoms, or, the Monarchies of God. They capture cities and castles, enslave or execute any who survive, and generally cause a whole lot of trouble for everybody involved. Meanwhile the Ramusian Church (a power structure similar to the Catholic church, I imagine) is burning wizards and foreigners and anybody not very Ramusian (Christian, I think) by the hundreds on massive pyres. AND the king of the westernmost Ramusian country gets word of an unclaimed continent across the western sea, and so sends a couple ships over to check it out. That's as basic as I can get. * * * * * * HAWKWOOD'S VOYAGE The first book sets the stage well. (Better than I did!) It introduces every core character you'll meet in this volume, and there are a LOT. The plot moves very quickly, jumping between the half-dozen or so major characters as they move about the continent and the sea just trying to survive. The Merduk horde is severely destructive, and Kearney does a fantastic job describing the utter chaos, misery, and violence that accompanies these characters. He also is very good at environmental description, telling us about landscapes and castles and armies and battles. Any flaws in the book\this section of the volume involve weak characterization. The main characters don't differentiate much from each other, and any non-POV characters are basically names that occasionally do things, rather than anybody interesting. THE HERETIC KINGS Book 2 (being the last 30-40 percent of the volume) slows the story way down, for the most part. Certain plots feel less significant, with characters taking long absences. Book 2 is shorter, and thus has LESS characterization, and also loses a lot of the grand prose that vividly painted the events and landscapes of the first book. In the first book, Kearney could write a well-realized battle scene and castle. In Book 2, the city is hard to imagine, and the battles even harder. That said, while some plots flounder, the Western Continent plot is absolutely riveting. Lots of mystery, drama, small character moments, and high tension. HAWKWOOD AND THE KINGS So the volume as a whole I would say is very good, almost bordering on great in some moments. (namely the Western Continent in book 2 and the Merduk invasion in Book 1) Although the events of the first book feel more significant, and the ending is better, leaving the back half of the volume\book 2 feeling underwhelming and ending weaker. The characters never quite become more than subpar, save for maybe two or three (of the dozen-and-a-half POV\side characters). The biggest weakness in this lack of characterization comes in the villains. The "heroes" range from dull to kinda-interesting, while the villains range from dull to cartoonishly evil. This at least is true of the PEOPLE that serve as the villains. There are no "hero must defeat villain" plots in these books thus far. Instead, the driving forces of tension, chaos, violence, destruction etc seem to be more CONCEPTS. Sauron from Lord of the Rings serves as a good example. He exists merely as a name to drive the forces of evil, and Monarchies of God works the same way. The MERDUK INVASION is the "villain", not the LEADER of the Merduks. The Pontiff\Pope is a bad guy, sure, but it's his CHURCH and its MASS PYRES that are the true threats. Magic plays a part in the story, but not a massive part (until a certain section of book 2). Characters spend a majority of the time running through war-torn countries, trying to survive desperately in a single location, or plotting how to handle the myriad of threats that burn and kill their way through these two books. Plenty of swords, lances, cannons, ships, half-armors, and royal meetings everywhere. All in all, definitely a worthy read for large-scale war fantasy. Not great with the characters, but fantastic with the plot of its massive multi-sided war and backstage magical mysteries....

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chernz

    I’m not sure how I initially heard of Paul Kearney and his Monarchies of God series because it seems like he’s slipped under almost everyone’s radar. And despite being very similar in many ways to ‘Game of Thrones,’ Kearney’s novels haven’t found their place at the edge of the spotlight just yet. Not like they were big when they were published either- from what I can tell, Kearney wrote these novels in pieces for submission to a fantasy magazine, and only after making significant headway, did he I’m not sure how I initially heard of Paul Kearney and his Monarchies of God series because it seems like he’s slipped under almost everyone’s radar. And despite being very similar in many ways to ‘Game of Thrones,’ Kearney’s novels haven’t found their place at the edge of the spotlight just yet. Not like they were big when they were published either- from what I can tell, Kearney wrote these novels in pieces for submission to a fantasy magazine, and only after making significant headway, did he decide to publish each novel by itself. This bind-up called ‘Hawkwood’s Voyage’ is an even later publication that combined Books 1 and 2 in an attempt to condense and streamline the series for the ease of the readership. Books 3, 4, and 5 are in their own bind-up, the sequel novel to this one called ‘Century of the Soldier.’ Summarizing the plot of this series is going to be difficult just because Kearney’s world is so large. The bind-ups themselves aren’t particularly massive (each book comes in maaaybe at around 250 pages) but a ton of stuff happens in each one. This isn’t a long series but my god, is it a dense one filled with a large cast, multiple sprawling plotlines, and a world that mimics medieval Europe but with just enough differences that it takes some learning on the reader’s part. The very general gist of the whole thing is that there’s growing conflict between the King and the clergy over how magic users in the kingdom should be treated and perceived. Because other kingdoms are coming under attack from a spreading invading nation, the Church recommends a period of non-leniency, where potential sorcerers are rooted out before war erupts fully across the land. The monarchy disagrees and decides to remove the magic users not by executing them as the Church desires, but by sending them across the ocean to hopefully colonize a continent (that might or might not exist) leagues across the sea. Hawkwood’s the Captain chosen to lead a small armada of ships peopled with sorcerers and soldiers, and that’s where the ‘Voyage’ part of the novel’s title comes in. Although this is one of the most captivating plot lines it’s not the only one and Kearney weaves a massive story about war, conquest, and politics that bounces from soldier, to priest, to king with ease and grace. At the risk of spoiling things I’ll stop my crude summary there and instead pay my respects to Kearney’s prose. In terms of the visceral reaction, of the physical expression of a place or a person or an event, Kearney is one of the most talented authors I’ve ever read. I have no idea how he prepared to write these novels but at times it reads like he actually lived them. There’s a believability to every scene he writes whether it’s sailing a big galleon through a storm, orchestrating a siege, leading an army through a deadly mountain pass, or exploring a rainforest that’s just alien enough that it borders on uncomfortable. At first, it can read a little bit too technically (as in, do I really need to know what we call *that* specific part of the ship?) but he quickly hits his stride as the series continues and it becomes impossible to imagine these books written any other way. I want to mention too that, having spent a large chunk of my childhood trailing after my biologist parents in tropical rainforests, Kearney’s description of this kind of habitat was spot. on. Granted, he took certain liberties with some fantasy elements, but the way he wrote about the killer humidity, the torrential rain that starts and stops in an eyeblink, and the feeling of walking under a canopy that’s so oppressively dense it almost becomes haunting… it was incredible. I’d almost say this series is a must read just for that section. (And it’s funny too because since I finished this series I’ve read the Vorrh by B. Catling and I think Kearney does the ‘creepy, forest with a secret’ theme much better than Catling did, even though that’s the Vorrh’s big ‘claim to fame’.) There’s an authenticity to Kearney’s prose that’s unique to this series and it made the whole thing come alive and feel genuine. I’d recommend these books just for the way he writes even if that was the only thing they had going for them. Thankfully it’s not, and the Monarchies of God series also offers up a host of interesting and sympathetic main characters. One viewpoint in particular broke my heart then broke it again then took the stringy, bloody pieces and fed them to hyenas. Another, made me realize how much I enjoyed hating someone even as I grudgingly had to respect him and hated him for that too. Another one ended way too soon and I’m still in a bit of shock almost a year later. It was an engaging, tragic, diverse cast of characters that was a bit on the large side but never felt overwhelming or redundant. I’m not going to review ‘Century of the Soldier’ (the second bind-up) because I feel like a lot of what I just said is applicable to the concluding arc of the series, but I WILL mention that the second half is a lot weaker than the first. And I will say that although I mentioned viewpoints abruptly ending, there’s really no warning for the massacre that takes place during the 5th book except the one I’m giving you now. So be warned. Even Kearney himself considers the last book something of a disappointment in some respects and he openly acknowledged that he was working on lengthening and revising it- which, if you make it that far, you’ll see is sorely needed. All that I can tell you is that, despite this diluted ending, this series is absolutely worth reading- just be prepared for it to all end with a sad little whimper (probably originating from you).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kes

    I can see why this would have the makings of epic fantasy - it's set in an alternative 15th century. There's magic (seven branches, including shapeshifing and wizardry), there's the growing power of the (corrupt) Church and their desire to burn the Dweomer-folk, the launch to the New World in the undiscovered West, there's the Merduk (aka Muslim) army, and there's the old Roman Empire with their armies. But mostly, I read it and was like... meh. I don't care about these characters or their motiva I can see why this would have the makings of epic fantasy - it's set in an alternative 15th century. There's magic (seven branches, including shapeshifing and wizardry), there's the growing power of the (corrupt) Church and their desire to burn the Dweomer-folk, the launch to the New World in the undiscovered West, there's the Merduk (aka Muslim) army, and there's the old Roman Empire with their armies. But mostly, I read it and was like... meh. I don't care about these characters or their motivations.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    This is a good book. It follows flawed characters and examines themes such as persecution, genocide, war and political bickering. It has interesting magical elements and has left me wanting to read the next book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ctgt

    9/10 Great military fantasy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cal

    Oustanding! Truly epic, thrilling story and characters. A must read for fantasy readers. History readers will also find much-deserved entertainment here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Volpot

    5 stars. Good book

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kman

    good story, good characters, ok writing. i enjoyed the action and the main characters were well defined. i found the actual writing a little clunky at times.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    With a setting that is a mixture of the Crusades, the Ottoman wars, the discovery of the Americas, the fall of Constantinople, the Catholic/Protestant schism, a touch of the Roman Empire and plundering bits of European history all the way up into the 16th Century and perhaps beyond, Kearney weaves his stands together and presents us with a world which is... Very obviously and clearly based on our own. He does it well, for the most part, and it has a consistency and feeling which is very real - p With a setting that is a mixture of the Crusades, the Ottoman wars, the discovery of the Americas, the fall of Constantinople, the Catholic/Protestant schism, a touch of the Roman Empire and plundering bits of European history all the way up into the 16th Century and perhaps beyond, Kearney weaves his stands together and presents us with a world which is... Very obviously and clearly based on our own. He does it well, for the most part, and it has a consistency and feeling which is very real - perhaps because we are familiar with Popes and janissaries and the Catholic Church's suppression of 'heretical' texts (whether from history books or from The Name of the Rose) or the idea that the world was widely held to be flat at the time Columbus sailed West. However, the thing which kept bothering me was quite simply... why? It seems that Kearney could have written a much better book if he had actually written an alternative history fantasy, instead of cobbling together what he deemed to be the most interesting parts of European history to write what a sort of political war thriller, one where the events take centre stage in the story and the characters are merely supporting props. It seems at first there might be a number of strong and interesting characters, but then they generally fail to develop. They experience events, they do things, they travel... but I did not really feel that they take on much in the way of layered depth. At the end of the book, we can probably sum up the characters in a few sentences and those would fit equally well at the beginning or the end. Meanwhile, a good many of the supporting cast are caricatures of various tropes. A moustache twirling villain who laughs maniacally and ties women to railway tracks would be more obvious, but in some cases not by much. It is very, very clear which characters we are supposed to like and which to hate. Where the real meat of these books lies is with the unfolding story and political drama which plays out on a stage which spans nations and even continents. The clash between East and West, Church and State is by far the most interesting parts of these books. Sadly, the fantasy element and the whole journey in search of an undiscovered continent parts of the book rapidly becomes less interesting and while there is probably an eventual tie in back to the more interesting events, they fail to grab. However, on the good side, the books are actually quite nicely written and are very easy to read. The prose in interesting and Kearney sprinkles historical nuggets through the unfolding story without belabouring or lecturing. While certain parts drag a little as our interest in the characters fails to grab and the events are not really that exciting, in others they draw us along at a quick pace and we want to find out what happens next, to the extent that even before I had finished the second book in this collection, I had downloaded the concluding three books to my Kindle. So, there is definitely something to these two books - but I found myself curiously unable to put my finger on what I really liked about them, but on the other hand I found it all to easy to see what I found rather lacking. While there is not much which is really so bad, and I have probably been overly harsh in this review and this collection probably deserves an extra star... yet I cannot quite bring myself to do so. I am oddly torn with this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robert Negut

    It's a good idea to have these two lumped in a single book, seeing as individually they're short by high fantasy standards. Still, this reduced size is probably what makes the story somewhat fall apart at the seams at times, as the author is trying to cover too much action, and too much ground, in too few words, and some similar names and characters that are presented far too briefly certainly don't help. On the other hand, this is more or less the only complaint I have, as otherwise pretty much It's a good idea to have these two lumped in a single book, seeing as individually they're short by high fantasy standards. Still, this reduced size is probably what makes the story somewhat fall apart at the seams at times, as the author is trying to cover too much action, and too much ground, in too few words, and some similar names and characters that are presented far too briefly certainly don't help. On the other hand, this is more or less the only complaint I have, as otherwise pretty much all the right elements are there, presented coherently and in a way that makes sense. No complaints about the writing style either, and seeing certain scenes and actions that many others would perhaps focus too much on presented so matter-of-factly is, at this point, refreshing. In addition, at least so far, certain parallels that can be drawn between the story and "reality" seem to send a message that I can agree with. Whether I'll say the same after the next book as well remains to be seen.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip Chaston

    A strong parable on the dangers of phanatickal religion encoded in fantasy, placing all belief systems on the same plane in terms of moral valuation. The Ramusians (Christians) are violent, heretical and theocratics. The followers of Ahrimuz are imperialist and aggressive. The peasants, as noted in foreground descriptions, have no stake in religious beliefs imposed upon them. How does a fantasy bounded by rationalist assumptions read? This is it. Religion becomes an elite activity. Theology is le A strong parable on the dangers of phanatickal religion encoded in fantasy, placing all belief systems on the same plane in terms of moral valuation. The Ramusians (Christians) are violent, heretical and theocratics. The followers of Ahrimuz are imperialist and aggressive. The peasants, as noted in foreground descriptions, have no stake in religious beliefs imposed upon them. How does a fantasy bounded by rationalist assumptions read? This is it. Religion becomes an elite activity. Theology is less important than power and the social institutions that run the churches. Those who believe lack thought or depth; their motives are either cynical or powered by a conspiracy. If you want to understand how modern perspectives on religion can shape fantasy, this is the book; if you want to understand religious belief, go elsewhere.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James

    An invasion by the heathen Merduks from the east, divisions within the powerful church, a bloody purge of the magic-wielding Dweomer folk and rumors of a vast unexplored continent across the western ocean - this book (actually an omnibus of the first two books in the series) was so full of plot that at first it was difficult to keep track of what was going on and what was important, the author kind of dives in and doesn't look back. Ultimately the story coalesces into two main threads: the voyag An invasion by the heathen Merduks from the east, divisions within the powerful church, a bloody purge of the magic-wielding Dweomer folk and rumors of a vast unexplored continent across the western ocean - this book (actually an omnibus of the first two books in the series) was so full of plot that at first it was difficult to keep track of what was going on and what was important, the author kind of dives in and doesn't look back. Ultimately the story coalesces into two main threads: the voyages to the Western Continent (Hawkwood) and the various battles / intrigues related to the Merduk invasion (The Kings). Both plots are interesting and the author balances them well, but ultimately the major flaw in the book is that I finished it without a sense of how they tied together.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Derek Perumean

    Great series! This is the series Tolkien should've read before writing Lord of the Rings. Then we would've been spared boring songs and poetry about what plants Elves and Hobbits use. European history serves as the backdrop for some of the machinations of the series and the play out in very believable ways. Also, Kearney has some of the best battle scenes I have ever read. And at the very end he gives a portrait of the afterlife for some characters that is a beautiful view of a heaven I would li Great series! This is the series Tolkien should've read before writing Lord of the Rings. Then we would've been spared boring songs and poetry about what plants Elves and Hobbits use. European history serves as the backdrop for some of the machinations of the series and the play out in very believable ways. Also, Kearney has some of the best battle scenes I have ever read. And at the very end he gives a portrait of the afterlife for some characters that is a beautiful view of a heaven I would like to see. After you graduate high school and have grown weary of the boy's adventure story that Tolkien wrote, you should pick up this series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John

    This book took me a while to get into, but after about a 150 pages its picking up the pace. This is the second Kearney book I've read (The Ten Thousand being the other) and I'm cautiously optimistic that he may partially fill the void left by Gemmell, Jordan, and Feintuch's fairly recent deaths (or even Martin's presuming he's stopped writing Song of Ice and Fire). I was really on the border whether this was a 3 or 4 star book with 4 barely getting the nod. I really wish that the half star was a This book took me a while to get into, but after about a 150 pages its picking up the pace. This is the second Kearney book I've read (The Ten Thousand being the other) and I'm cautiously optimistic that he may partially fill the void left by Gemmell, Jordan, and Feintuch's fairly recent deaths (or even Martin's presuming he's stopped writing Song of Ice and Fire). I was really on the border whether this was a 3 or 4 star book with 4 barely getting the nod. I really wish that the half star was an option.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yagiz Erkan

    Hawkwood and the Kings contains two of the first books of The Monarchies of God series. It is a pretty long book but I'm sure you'll be sorry when you turn the last page and want more. I loved the setting, the multiple story threads, the brilliant characters, the plot, the court intrigues, the religious conflicts, the war and the mature tone of the story. Paul Kearney seems really underrated to me. I cannot recommend this book enough. I'm already itching to read the next installment. Hawkwood and the Kings contains two of the first books of The Monarchies of God series. It is a pretty long book but I'm sure you'll be sorry when you turn the last page and want more. I loved the setting, the multiple story threads, the brilliant characters, the plot, the court intrigues, the religious conflicts, the war and the mature tone of the story. Paul Kearney seems really underrated to me. I cannot recommend this book enough. I'm already itching to read the next installment.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven Poore

    Brilliant and deserved reissue of the first two volumes of the Monarchies of God. Kearney's writing is taut and pulls you into the story, while his were-beasts would wipe the floor with the sickly and anaemic creatures that inhabit so-called "modern" fantasy. If there's one gripe, it is that the three major viewpoint figures - Hawkwood, Abelyn, Corfe - tend to much the same, but this hardly impairs the narrative. First rate fantasy, and a worthy successor to Gemmell. Brilliant and deserved reissue of the first two volumes of the Monarchies of God. Kearney's writing is taut and pulls you into the story, while his were-beasts would wipe the floor with the sickly and anaemic creatures that inhabit so-called "modern" fantasy. If there's one gripe, it is that the three major viewpoint figures - Hawkwood, Abelyn, Corfe - tend to much the same, but this hardly impairs the narrative. First rate fantasy, and a worthy successor to Gemmell.

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