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Hawk by Marie Powell
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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had worried that this book was going to be one where it was difficult to keep track of the characters considering that it started with a cast list complete with pronunciation. I skimmed this, but I knew it wouldn't be much help to me since I have a hard time flipping back to indexes and glossaries with ebooks on my Kindle. (I love ebooks for convenience, but sometimes physical copies make things easier, but I digress.) Luckily I had nothing to worry about. Powell did a great job giving the characters personalities and identities, so I didn't need to flip back to figure out who was who and who was related to who. The names, though Welsh, were fortunately also not a problem in the slightest. I'm always happy when fantasy is easy to follow!

Back to the characters, the author did a wonderful job bringing them to life. The chapters alternated between a pair of siblings and I enjoyed this style, probably because I liked both of the characters and was invested in what was happening to both of them. I tend to like multiple viewpoint stories, anyway, but this was well done. The secondary characters were pretty well-rounded, too, which is likely why I had no trouble keeping track of who was who.

I don't read a lot of historical fiction/fantasy (usually just plain fantasy) and I wasn't disappointed in this approach to magic. It blended well with the historical aspects of the story. I don't want to get into spoilers, but I particularly liked how Hyw (one of the main characters) learned how to work both his animal-related magic and the magic that helped his prince.

The story had a nice pace and with short chapters, it sped along and kept me interested. The only minor issue I can bring up is that the end of the story felt a little rushed. I guess I wanted to know more about what happened with the characters and their magic! The story ending where it did was understandable, though, considering that Powell was working with a specific time/event in history. If there's a sequel, you can bet I'll be reading it. I'll give this four and a half stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy YA fantasy or historical fiction with a side of fantastical. ( )
  merigreenleaf | Jan 13, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book (eBook format for iBooks) as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers programme, and was pleasantly surprised. While it took me a few tries to start, mostly because I was worried I would have to keep track of who all the characters were (they are introduced, with a pronunciation guide, before the first chapter), once I gave up on that and just started, I was quite compelled to keep reading.

What I liked: the main characters were fairly well developed, and interesting, and mostly likeable. The history was interesting. the magic was (mostly) believable, up until nearly the end of the book. The story moved forward, and you knew where it was going. The writing was easy to read.

As a fan of fantasy and historical fiction, this was right up my alley, and it delivered. I can easily recommend this book. ( )
  peralb | Nov 26, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I got this book in exchange of an honest review. I found the book well researched and I enjoyed the Welsh lore. The only thing that irritated me a little is the monotonous alternating between Hyw and Cat telling of the story.It takes the suspense from the story,it makes it kind of impersonal, turning down the pace of the story even when it calls for action. ( )
  lnrcta | Sep 26, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Hawk, by Marie Powell, tells the story of Hyw and Cat, two teenaged siblings growing up in Northern Wales in 1282, when Edward I of England was invading and destroying that country. Each sibling has a special gift: Hyw can move into the minds of animals and birds, to see what they see and feel what they feel, whereas Cat can "see" events occurring far away. They are both in the household of Prince Llywelyn, the ruler of Wales, although Hyw has only recently returned there after spending some years in the court of one of the English Marcher Lords on the border with Wales. Still, he and his sister must do what they can to help the Prince defeat the enemy, even though some of those enemies are Hyw's friends. When the Prince is himself killed unexpectedly in Hyw's presence, to his surprise the boy finds that the spirit of Llywelyn has lodged itself in his mind. What the siblings must do next to protect the Prince's family becomes the stuff of legend.... This YA fantasy is rooted in real-life events and also borrows a lot from Welsh (and other Celtic) mythology, in addition to bits and pieces of Tolkien (what fantasy author does not owe a debt to him?) and other fantasy series such as Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. As someone who created her own undergraduate degree in comparative mythology (particularly Celtic, Greek and Native American), I very much appreciated the accuracy and scholarship that went into this story, and I was also very happy to see an extensive bibliography at the end. If you know nothing of Welsh history or mythology, then this book will be a treat for you; if you know a lot, you'll probably enjoy it even more. It appears that a sequel, Hawk and Crown, is in the works, and I look forward to reading it. Recommended! ( )
  thefirstalicat | Sep 9, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Lacking in drama. Even when there really ought to be some, there's just no engagement or emotion from the characters. Which is a shame because otherwise it's quite fun. Perhaps it's just too short. It's set in 1600s Wales, at the time of the english invasion. The author freely admits to inventing various concepts, but has otherwise tried to stay within the known bounds of history. It's not an area I'm able to judge, but reads well enough in line with the little I know. It's told in alternating chapters between brother and sister of a well regarded guard family within the Welsh prince's court. BOth children have inherited their matrilineal gifts of 'powers' Huw can influence the mind of any surrounding creature, and Cat has the Second Sight.

The story opens with Huw returning to his family at his Coming of Age, after a period of several years fostering with a local friendly english lord. He's disappointed not to be given the sash of a warrier and is only treated as a squire by his father. However the english are discontent again and manage to ambush and kill the Prince of Wales, which Huw witnesses. This is about the only drama in the book, the rest of the time is spend running from castle to castle and not standing or staying to battle the invaders. Cat is concerned about her future husband, and looks after the children.

The magic is well realised and manages to grow with suitable constraints. But the lack of emotion really tells. Nobody is surprised, everyone just accepts that this is the way things are (although only one small clan know about it). Huw spends a few key periods of time unconscious which is very dull for a leading character as events happen, and he (we) only find out in retrospect.

Probably most appealing to those with an interest in the novelization of welsh history. ( )
1 vote reading_fox | Sep 7, 2015 |
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