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Flight of the Nighthawks
Raymond E. Feist
HarperCollins Voyager, 420 pages

Flight of the Nighthawks
Raymond E. Feist
Raymond E. Feist has produced some remarkable novels. Most fall into his Riftwar Saga, consisting of Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Silverthorn, and A Darkness at Sethanon, along with his Midkemia series consisting of Prince of the Blood and The King's Buccaneer, plus The Serpentwar Saga, consisting of Shadow of a Dark Queen, Rise of a Merchant Prince, Rage of a Demon King, and Shards of a Broken Crown. He developed the basis for the award-winning game, Betrayal at Krondor.

Raymond E. Feist Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: King of Foxes
SF Site Review: Talon of the Silver Hawk
SF Site Review: Exile's Return
SF Site Review: Prince of the Blood
SF Site Review: Murder in LaMut
SF Site Review: Krondor: Tear of the Gods
SF Site Review: Krondor: The Assassins
SF Site Review: Krondor the Betrayal
SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Rage of a Demon King
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


'It was, as he had suspected, a death trap for anyone who walked through the passage without the proper key. He knew the artificers on Sorcerer's Island could duplicate the spells needed to pass through unharmed, but he didn't have the time for that, and was attempting to counter the magic with his own when the sewers rocked from the distant boom.'
Flight of the Nighthawks claims to be the first book of Darkwar, a brand new series, but directly continues the adventures begun in the three books that comprise the Conclave of Shadows sequence. As readers of that series already know, there are two problems troubling the Conclave, one of which threatens the entire world of Midkemia in a way not seen since the original Rift War. The lesser problem concerns the continued activities and political machinations of the evil sorcerer Leso Varen, aided and abetted by a resurgent group of Nighthawks. The greater threat is posed by the Talnoy, alien killing machines powered by trapped souls, or so it is thought. Thousands of them have been found in a cave on the continent of Novindus, (Midkemia's Australia), and are under guard by Nakor and Tomas of Elvandar.

The original lone Talnoy, as featured in Exile's Return, has been transported for study by the Great Ones on Kelewan. Unfortunately, one of the things they've discovered is that the creature is a rift magnet, and is causing random portals to the Dasati world to be generated, thus attracting deadly danger to the Tsurani world. At worst, such a portal might provide the means for the Desati to stage a full scale invasion.

Raymond E. Feist is back on familiar ground with this book, heavily featuring some of his most popular characters. Pug, Nakor, Kasper, Miranda, Magnus, Caleb, Tomas, Talwin Hawkins and Leso Varen are all in the mix. New characters include Tad and Zane, two boys belonging to Caleb's lady friend, and Ralan Bek, a disturbing young stranger first encountered by Nakor and Tomas in Novindus. With the boys, Feist is on autopilot, once again presenting the reader with bog-standard local yokels made good. But, like their tutor Caleb, they inevitably pale when one of the more dynamic, magical characters appears on the scene. Tad and Zane are extras, and never suggest they'll rise above that status. Unlike the other newcomer, Ralan Bek, who unexpectedly proves to be a test, even for the mighty Tomas. We learn that Bek has many things in common with Nakor, and that he contains the spark of a missing god. This makes him both more and less than human. The character comes across as being like a bomb that could go off at any moment, but also a living weapon that could be very useful if controlled and deployed at precisely the right time. Much of the action in Flight of the Nighthawks takes place in Kesh, the Saudi Arabia of Midkemia. Various characters attempt to track down the Nighthawks, discern Varen's plan, and finally see off the virtually unkillable sorcerer. Typically, it is the non-magical characters who catch all the flack. Those imbued with magical abilities flit back and forth, sometimes a little too easily, providing firepower at critical moments or saving injured Conclave members from otherwise certain death. Eventually, the depth and deviousness of Varen's schemes stands revealed, though for some it is too late.

As the first book in new series, Flight of the Nighthawks is vintage Feist, but those who read it as a direct successor to Exile's Return might be a little disappointed. The reason for that is the author's deliberate stalling of the main plot; the threat posed by the evil Desati and their Talnoy army. Similarly, the best new character, Ralan Bek, is quite clumsily put on hold for much of the book, ready to be used at a critical moment. Feist attempts to do just that, but when it happens the scene seems as if any one of half a dozen characters could've been substituted, and what we're presented with is just a taster. It's very clear that Bek has the potential to be a real loose cannon, and is quite possibly the finest new character Feist has created for a decade. From beginning to end, Flight of the Nighthawks rumbles along in customary fashion, and is never less than entertaining. But, the enticing promise of what is to come is always greater than what is actually delivered. Where the story goes from here depends on whether the author really wants to stretch his literary muscles, or play it by numbers. All the elements are there for Darkwar to become the most exciting, best conceived Feist series since the original trilogy of Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness At Sethanon.

Copyright © 2006 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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