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Hawkwood and the Kings:
The Monarchies of the Gods Vol.1

      Century of the Soldier:
The Monarchies of the Gods Vol.2

Paul Kearney
      Paul Kearney
Solaris, 704 pages
      Solaris, 813 pages

Hawkwood and the Kings: The Monarchies of the Gods Vol.1
Century of the Soldier: The Monarchies of the Gods Vol.2
Paul Kearney
Paul Kearney was born and grew up in Northern Ireland. He lived for some years in Copenhagen before moving to the United States with his wife. As well as The Monarchies of God saga, he has written The Way to Babylon, A Different Kingdom and Riding the Unicorn, all published by Gollancz. He and his wife moved back to the UK and are living in Cambridge.

Paul Kearney Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Ten Thousand
SF Site Review: Hawkwood's Voyage
SF Site Interview: Paul Kearney
SF Site Review: The Second Empire
SF Site Review: The Iron Wars

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

Paul Kearney's The Monarchies of the Gods was originally published in five small volumes between the years of 1995 and 2002. The five volumes are Hawkwood's Voyage, The Heretic Kings, The Iron Wars, The Second Empire and Ships from the West. As you can see by the included links in our long illustrious history, SF Site has already reviewed three of the five volumes of this series and if you would like a more detailed account of some of these volumes feel free to go back and read some of our old reviews. Sadly, over the years several of Kearney's five volumes had fallen out of print and some very smart people over at Solaris decided to condense and reprint this series of books, assuring that future generations will have easy and manageable access to this fantastic set. Solaris has taken the five books of the original series and has reduced them into two big paperback omnibus editions, Hawkwood and the Kings comprises the first two volumes of the series and Century of the Soldier contains the final three volumes.

I knew nothing about these books when I received them and the only reason I chose them was that I noticed that both volumes one and two of a fantasy series were available to me on our reading list. When I received them, imagine my chagrin when the quote the publishing company chose for the cover was "Simply the best fantasy series I've read in years and years." from Steven Erikson, author of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. If you are like me and one of your favorite authors comes up with a quote like the one above about a series of books, you begin to read them immediately and when they are as good as The Monarchies of the Gods, you come up for air only when absolutely necessary. Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote SF Site. The quote Solaris used from Steven Erikson for the cover of both these books was pulled from an interview by our very own Neil Walsh way back in 2000. If you care to read this early interview with Steven Erikson, it can be found here.

The books themselves are extraordinary. They have just about everything fans of dark military fantasy will love. With Monarchies of the Gods, Kearney has created a complex society where the interplay between church and state creates plenty of lying, scheming and treachery among the upper power echelons, Kings, Queens, Pontiffs and princes all join in the fun and the backstabbing. Socially, the books take place during a time when gunpowder and iron are replacing magic and the practitioners of "dweomer" are ostracized and persecuted as heretics by the church. The novels are filled with massive military engagements where many heroes are born, foremost among them Corfe Cear-Inaf, a common soldier whose personal losses and fate lead him to greatness. Finally, there is Richard Hawkwood, a sailor who is tasked with finding the legendary western continent which may hold secrets that are the key to the events tearing apart his homeland. If the story sounds involved, it is, but is never difficult to follow in the hands of a writer as skilled as Kearney. He not only treats us to a complex and exciting story, but he does all of this while writing very real passionate characters whom readers are sure to care about one way or another.

There really isn't a whole lot not to like about Monarchies of the Gods. I thought the ending was a little bit abrupt, but that was about it as far as criticisms go. Through Hawkwood, Kearney shows off his knowledge of the sea and sailing and provides us with plenty of fantastic nautical action and through Corfe he demonstrates a firm understanding of land-based military tactics and he can write a battle scene with the best of them. All of these factors equal up to one thing, a very solid fantasy series. It has been nearly 10 years since Ships from the West, the final volume of Monarchies of the Gods, was published. This condensing and reprinting of Monarchies of the Gods assures future generations of fantasy readers will have the pleasure of reading these wonderful books. Kudos to not only Paul Kearney for writing a top-notch fantasy series, but to Solaris which, in its infinite wisdom, would not allow these books to remain out of print and have provided posterity with inexpensive manageable access to these great novels.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best."

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