Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E Feist

Rating 9.0/10
Feist is one the finest fantasy authors produced in the late twentieth century.

After bringing us the opening three novels concerning Tal Hawkins and Kaspar, Duke of Olasko, Feist opens his third great Midkemia series, The Darkwar Saga, by expanding on the discovery of the Dasati and their automaton army, the Talnoy. It is the greatest danger to face the conclave since Pug's involvement in the Serpent War and finds us delving into new dimensions for both Midkemia's and Kelewan's newest enemies, as Magnus discovers that the immobile Talnoy are acting as a beacon for the Dasati and rifts are beginning to form between the two worlds.

We commence in bucolic bliss as Caleb, the non-magical son of Miranda and Pug finds himself apprenticing the son and foster-son of Marie, Tad and Zane, two eager lads who have not much to do and an eye for trouble. After they save him from death at the hands of a bandit ambush, we then travel with them as they are turned from soft layabouts into hardened Conclave soldiers and we then learn of a series of murders of Truebloods in the Empire of the Great Kesh. The resulting concern finds Tal and Kaspar and Caleb entering Kesh at different social levels to track down the infamous lair of the Nighthawks, whom they believe responsible for the murders that seek to place Kesh in a state of civil war as the current Emperor nears the end of both his life and reign. In the meantime, Nakor has discovered greater powers are rumbling as he finds the tiniest spark of the Nameless One in the darkly Herculean Bek that promises that there could be a return for Ishar.

Political intrigue, sewer ambushes, tavern brawls and magical intervention that are all the hallmarks of a great Feist effort all follow as the Conclave discover that the inviolable magician, Leso Varen is behind the mayhem that seeks to disrupt Midkemia and move to deal with the threat.

Feist is one the finest fantasy authors produced in the late twentieth century and his works on the worlds of Midkemia and Kelewan remain at the peak of the genre. Characterisation is well drawn, we have an excellent mix of old, familiar and lovable characters with new youthful, impetuous ones that engender empathy. Old traditions hover in the background where needed without overshadowing the new bloods making their literary mark. The plot is crisp, the dialogue exciting and the old thrill of looking forward to reading this great Feist series rears its head.

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