Sunday, February 19, 2006

Flight of the Nighthawks

Sunday, February 19, 2006
Flight of the Nighthawks is the first volume in Raymond Feist's new trilogy the Darkwar Saga. Set two years after the conclusion of Exile's Return, the story here takes what we knew of this new threat to Midkemia in the form of the Talnoy and a race called the Dasati and expands upon it. Where the Conclave of Shadows series turned out to be nothing more than a long three book prologue for this series and featured almost exclusively all new characters, Flight of the Nighthawks opens with the now famous first line to Magician "the storm had broken..." and features Pug dreaming of that very event.

Finally after many books and decades in the world of Midkemia, the magician Pug is a major focus of the book because now there is a threat vast enough to warrant Pug's direct intervention. The Talnoy are like overgrown suits of armor but are immensely powerful and extremely hard to kill and the Dasati (beings not only from another world, but another dimension) employ these killers in a blitzkrieg fashion and all who stand before the Talnoy will be crushed...and the fear is that Midkemia will fall prey to the Talnoy as there are already dormant Talnoy on the planet. How and why is a matter to be discovered.

The way the story is told here deals with Pug and the magicians of the Conclave trying to discover exactly how the Talnoy will be brought into play and what the deal is with these new rifts that are appearing on Midkemia and Kelewan and their apparent connection with the Talnoy. Also, we are introduced to Tad and Zane, two boys raised in Stardock village and soon to be adopted by Pug's son Caleb. These two boys will also have a role to play.

In all honesty, Raymond Feist is giving us a lot of tell with not much show here (and from what I remember it is supposed to be the other way around). Feist is telling us a lot of what is or may be going on, but we don't really see it happening. He really did hit the high water mark with Magician (as fond as I am about Darkness at Sethanon) and everything else is only trying to measure up. With that said, the fact that Feist is letting Pug and Nakor telling us these details is a treat. Pug has long been my favorite character of the series and I have missed Pug being a major character in the Riftwar novels. Nakor, when he first was introduced, is arguably the most entertaining character Feist has created and he is also far more than has been revealed. So, the prominence of these characters excuses many flaws that might otherwise be obvious.

I was disappointed by Feist's Conclave of Shadows trilogy, but I thoroughly enjoyed Flight of the Nighthawks. It's not a perfect novel, but it is a lot of fun revisiting these characters and this world and see what else Feist can create and show me about Midkemia. When he is actually telling a grand story (such as with the Riftwar Trilogy and Serpentwar…and not the Krondor or Conclave books), Feist rips a good yarn.

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