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Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri October 19th, 2012, 6:07 am

I just finished Hawk Quest. The one thing that disappointed was the (rather info-dumpish) explanation at the end.

Lyndon seems to think that the Gospel of St. Thomas* would be considered heretical by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches because it refers to Jesus as 'the Son of Man' rather than 'the Son of God'.

Considering how much research he put into everything else, I am surprised he didn't pick up a Bible and flip through at least ONE of the Gospels. Jesus calls himself 'the son of man' in all four canonical Gospels. It was his most frequently used name for himself. In the Gospel of Luke, that term is used to refer to Jesus more than any other title.

Lyndon also has the monophysite controversy of the Byzantine church and the Nestorians mixed up a bit. But neither is quite so egregious as the 'son of man' screw-up. It isn't as though the story needed that windy and inaccurate explanation.

Other than that, it was a ripping good read.

*a real book, incidentally, which has been shown to have been written in Spain about the 8th century -- the agricultural references are from Iberia, not Palestine -- but that has nothing to do with the story problem, since of course the characters would not have known that.

annis
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Post by annis » Wed November 21st, 2012, 7:32 pm

Posted by MLE
Lyndon seems to think that the Gospel of St. Thomas* would be considered heretical by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches because it refers to Jesus as 'the Son of Man' rather than 'the Son of God'.
If Lyndon had had his fictional Gospel describe Jesus as say, King of the World (Rex Mundi), it would really have put the cat among the pigeons :)

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed November 21st, 2012, 10:18 pm

[quote=""annis""]Posted by MLE


If Lyndon had had his fictional Gospel describe Jesus as say, King of the World (Rex Mundi), it would really have put the cat among the pigeons :) [/quote]
Yes, he could have done so much with that plot thread and given how carefully worked everything else was, I was expecting something delightfully convoluted. To pick something perfectly ordinary and acceptable and label it 'dangerously heretical' was like being warned at length not to fall off a cliff and then discovering there isn't one.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Wed November 21st, 2012, 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Village » Fri January 18th, 2013, 2:06 pm

Agree. For me the lost gospel sub-plot was a real damp squib, the revelation adds nothing to the Hawk Quest story- better if the manuscript contents are never revealed to us at all and we are left to guess?

I also disliked
Having said that, these are fairly minor personal taste issued. Overall I'd rate Hawk Quest among the best I've read in a while, certainly in the last year. I thought his descriptions of the lands they are moving through are fantastic and the hawking passages are full of amazing levels of knowledge and detail without being a dull lecture. It's a first rate story, beautifully written. Bravo to the publisher too for letting it tell out over such a relatively long book and not chopping it down to more marketable size.

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Post by annis » Fri January 18th, 2013, 7:50 pm

While the relationship between Wayland and Syth is genuinely affecting, Vallon's abrupt affair with Caitrin never seemed totally convincing to me. They appeared to sincerely detest each other, without any of the sort of sexual tension you get in the tried-and-true romantic trope where the hero and heroine's mutual detestation is a cover for another sort of passion altogether :) However, as you say, a small quibble about a truly excellent novel.

I blame Dan Brown for the seemingly obligatory MacGuffin history-rewriting scroll/artifact which now gets tossed into many historical adventures almost as an afterthought. Just spotted another couple recently in Bernard Cornwell's 1356 - sword of mystical power - and Simon Scarrow's Sword and Scimitar - another damp squib secret scroll based on inaccurate assumptions.

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Post by EC2 » Fri January 18th, 2013, 8:23 pm

I shall have to try this one again. I began reading it but a clunky, almost silly description near the beginning made me put it down again. I may have been in the wrong mood. It happens. :-/
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Post by Carla » Fri January 18th, 2013, 8:49 pm

[quote=""annis""]While the relationship between Wayland and Syth is genuinely affecting, Vallon's abrupt affair with Caitrin never seemed totally convincing to me. They appeared to sincerely detest each other, without any of the sort of sexual tension you get in the tried-and-true romantic trope where the hero and heroine's mutual detestation is a cover for another sort of passion altogether :) However, as you say, a small quibble about a truly excellent novel.

I blame Dan Brown for the seemingly obligatory MacGuffin history-rewriting scroll/artifact which now gets tossed into many historical adventures almost as an afterthought. Just spotted another couple recently in Bernard Cornwell's 1356 - sword of mystical power - and Simon Scarrow's Sword and Scimitar - another damp squib secret scroll based on inaccurate assumptions.[/quote]

Agreed about the Vallon-Caitlin relationship, that was one of my few dislikes. (The St Thomas's Gospel thing didn't really capture my attention, it probably went over my head :-) ) I think there are a few hints of interest on Vallon's side, but they tend to get lost because Vallon has too many other things to think about, like surviving the next obstacle. If there had been a similar set of hints from Caitlin's side they might have reinforced each other and been more effective, but as Caitlin's thoughts never appear there's no opportunity for that.

Didn't Bernard Cornwell have a Holy Grail (the ultimate MacGuffin?) storyline in the first three Thomas of Hookton books? Maybe he wanted to do something similar again.

EC2 - I found the first few chapters of Hawk Quest difficult to get into, so it may not just be your mood. For me, the story picked up once they get away from the unpleasant Norman family and the great journey gets properly underway; I'd say it's worth hanging on til then before you make up your mind.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri January 18th, 2013, 9:25 pm

I agree with all of the above about the beginning. This is where reliable recommendations are effective at getting past a mediocre beginning. If it hadn't been for Ben Kane and Annis' superlatives, that dreary, vague start would have meant that the book went to the bottom of the nightstand pile, and probably from there to the black hole under the bed.

The price I paid to order the hardcover from the other side of the pond also kept me going, and it paid off. I do love a lively, accurate journey-quest.

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Post by EC2 » Fri January 18th, 2013, 9:59 pm

Thank you Carla and MLE. I will move it back up the TBR then. It's on my Kindle. I'm still research reading at the moment and then I have a novel to read for review, but after that I'll tackle Hawk Quest again.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

annis
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Post by annis » Sat January 19th, 2013, 6:37 am

Posted by Carla
Didn't Bernard Cornwell have a Holy Grail (the ultimate MacGuffin?) storyline in the first three Thomas of Hookton books? Maybe he wanted to do something similar again.


Yes I think it would be safe to call the Holy Grail the ultimate MacGuffin :)

The HG is a motif running throughout Bernard Cornwell’s Grail Quest trilogy, but without giving too much away, it’s not one which could be reprised for 1356, hence the sword of power to fill the gap. This sword (given the name La Malice by Cornwell) is supposedly the one St. Peter drew to protect Jesus at Gethsemane.

I have to say that I was grabbed right from the start by Hawk Quest. Nothing like a spot of cannibalism to catch the attention! That opening scene may seem outrageously OTT, but the terrible thing is that is does have a basis in historical fact. According to contemporary chronicler Florence of Worcester, after William the Conqueror’s genocidal Harrying of the North, "So severe a famine prevailed in most parts of the kingdom, but chiefly in Northumbria and the adjacent provinces, that men were driven to feed on the flesh of horses, dogs, cats, and even of human beings."

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