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The Black Hawks by David Wragg. Book review

October 4, 2019

Book cover for The Black Hawks

Vedren Chel is supposed to be training as a knight. Supposed to be… The reality is somewhat different. In a dead-end indenture, he dreams of going home. The problem is he cannot break his oath of allegiance to his step-uncle any time soon. However, when the kingdom is invaded and the opportunity to be released presents itself, Chel takes it with both hands. But like everything in his life, this doesn’t work out quite the way he intended. Kidnapped by a murderous band of misfits and pursued by ruthless assassins, Chel has just jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

In The Black Hawks, David Wragg is not reinventing the wheel in terms of fantasy writing. Yet, by paying close attention to excellent character development and a frenetic plot of constant peril and close calls, The Black Hawks entertains in a way that, before you know it, the story has finished, and you want to know what happens next.

I did like Chel. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong, standing his ground valiantly against injustice but more as a knee jerk response, rather than thinking through the potentially terminal consequences of his actions. There is an interesting internal juggling act between his bravado, sense of duty and desire to save his own skin.

All the main characters have something to commend them in terms of depth. Even the spoilt and whinging Prince Tarfel, whom Chel has sworn to protect, has his merits. The band of mercenary misfits who are keeping Chel and Tarfel one step ahead of the assassins are nicely fleshed out and have an intelligently considered mix of personality traits and fighting skills.

I enjoyed that the fact that we were not neck deep in wizards and magic. The plot relies instead on good old-fashioned stealth, intrigue and hand to hand fighting, as well as healthy portion of wry humour, courtesy of Chel, who largely saves the day more by incompetence and accident than well thought out strategy.

The Black Hawks is an easy, entertaining and smooth read that will appeal to a wide audience from older young adult to adult.

The Black Hawks was courtesy of Harper Collins.


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