|Swords of Haven |
The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher, vol. 1
|Simon R. Green|
|Roc Books, 540 pages |
|A review by Todd Richmond|
"Hawk was tall, dark, but no longer handsome. A series of old scars ran down the right side of his face, and a black silk patch covered his right eye. He didn't look like much. He was lean and wiry rather than muscular, and he was beginning to build a stomach. He had only just turned thirty, but already there were streaks of grey in his hair. It would have been easy to dismiss Hawk as just another bravo, but there was something about Hawk; something hard and unyielding and almost sinister."
Isobel Fisher, his wife, is just as interesting:
"She was tall, easily six feet in height, lithely muscular, and her long blond hair fell to her waist in a single thick plait, weighted at the tip with a polished steel ball. She was in her mid- to late-twenties, and handsome rather than beautiful. There was a rawboned harshness to her face which contrasted sharply with her deep blue eyes and generous mouth. Somewhere in the past, something has scoured all the human weaknesses out of her, and it showed."
Like all of Green's heroes and villains, they are a cut above the ordinary man. Unlike many of Green's other protagonists, however, they have no special powers or abilities. They accomplish their extraordinary tasks with plain muscle, steel and sheer determination. They work the streets of Haven, a grim, dark city that is a seething cesspool of corruption, crime and betrayal. (If you are familiar with the Deathstalker series, Haven is the Mistworld equivalent.) The city Guard is a small beacon of light in Haven's darkness, trying to bring a bit of peace and justice to the city's harsh streets. Hawk and Fisher are two of the main torch-bearers.
Now that you know the cast and setting, what about the plot? The three books that make up this volume, span quite a range. In Hawk & Fisher, the husband and wife team are forced to play detectives and solve a murder mystery. After a leisurely day of vampire killing, Hawk and Fisher face the excruciating ordeal of babysitting a city Councilman at a dinner party. Before the first course is served, however, the Councilman is dead and Hawk and Fisher must discover the identity of the killer before dawn. The list of suspects is small, consisting only of the guests at the dinner party. But unfortunately, they include a sorcerer, a witch, several ambitious politicians, the Councilman's wife, a powerful lord who hates Hawk, and the most renowned hero in the Kingdom.
Winner Takes All takes a look at Haven's most popular spectator sport -- politics. Once again Hawk and Fisher are expected to play bodyguard for one of Haven's politicians. This time their charge is James Adamant, the Reform candidate for Haven's Council. Seems simple enough, but in Haven, politics is a blood-sport and everyone plays for keeps.
In The God Killer, Hawk and Fisher are temporarily assigned to the Deity Division on the Street of Gods, aka "The God Squad" which exists to keep order on the Street of Gods. There are always three core people on the God Squad, a sorcerer, a mystic and a warrior. As individuals expected to deal with the extraordinary Beings on the Street, the members of the Squad tend to be exceptionally powerful. So what are a couple of ordinary guards like Hawk and Fisher doing there? It appears that they are too honest for their own good and someone wants them out of the way for a while. What better way to put them on an impossible case -- someone is killing the Gods of Haven and it is up to the God Squad, and Hawk and Fisher, to stop them.
If you are looking for incisive social commentary or deep contemplation of life's great issues, keep looking. Simon R. Green's books are fun books that grab you, suck you in and don't let you go. They are always a lot of fun and the Hawk & Fisher books are no exception. Hawk and Fisher are a couple of honest, straight-talking, tough-as-nails Guards who use steel as often as wits to keep themselves out of trouble. They bully their way through situations, often just letting their reputations work their magic. The plots are straight-forward, with just enough of a twist to keep you guessing until the end. If you've read and enjoyed Green's other books, you don't want to miss these books. If you haven't read Green before, Swords of Haven is a good way to get a taste of his style of writing. As for me, I'm hoping Swords of Haven is followed up by a compilation of the other three Hawk and Fisher books, because I've been looking for Wolf in the Fold for years
Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.
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