Hawkmoon: the Jewel in the Skull
Tor, Jan 2010, $13.99
The Dark Empire of Granbretan has devastated their opponents who have tried to overthrow their harsh subjection. One such loser the Duke of Koln Dorian Hawkmoon attempted unsuccessfully to destroy the empire, but instead failed and became their pawn.
When Count Brass the lord of the city Kamarang rejects an offer of an alliance with Granbretan, imperial Baron Meliadus sends former rebel Hawkmoon to kidnap Brass' daughter, Yisselda. However, Hawkmoon has problems with carrying out the abduction order that goes against his values; besides his attraction to Yisselda, her father treats him with respect and kindness; reminding him of his original vow to destroy the evil Empire and his deep humiliation of bowing down to Meliadus.
This is a fast-paced, action-packed reprint of a 1960s sword and sorcery thriller that holds up nicely though contains little insight into life under the Black Jewel sorcery rule as the plot is linear. The hero makes the story line work as he believes his ultimate abjection is a betrayal of his own soul and when he meets the last holdout, Hawkmoon knows how far he has fallen in disgrace. Fans will enjoy Dorian’s efforts to regain what he lost when the Empire defeated his army; his impetus is the father and daughter who shower him with adulation and respect while he feels he deserves contempt. Future Europe has rarely looked as dark as the continent that Hawkmoon traverses.