Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review by JD: Hawkmoon ~ The Sword of the Dawn by Michael Moorcock



This is the third of the Hawkmoon books, which is itself part of Moorcock’s huge and interconnected world of Eternal Champions. It seems to be archetypical Moorcock, where the hero warrior battles against overwhelming dark forces - a combination of science fiction, fantasy, swords & sorcery, and the early seeds of steampunk.

John’s Blurb:  In this series of books the role of the Eternal Champion is played by Duke Dorian Hawkmoon von Kőln. As the book starts, the forces of the evil Dark Empire led by Baron Meliadus have already conquered much of the known world, and Hawkmoon and his allies have only managed to escape by using the ancient machine of the wraith-folk to shift the last free city into another dimension of the Earth. But fearing that it is only a question of time before the Dark Empire finds a way of following them, Hawkmoon and his friend Huillam D’Averc go on a dangerous quest to find the one man who seems to hold the key to connecting the two dimensions – a man who lives in the home country of the Dark Empire. The book follows the heroes as they travel through time and strange lands and encounter a mystifying range of people and creatures, both good and bad.

Thoughts:  This is my first encounter with Moorcock, and my reaction is a bit mixed. On the one hand there is a wonderful imagination at work, and there’s a dizzying display of characters, concepts, landscapes, machines, ideas and plot lines. Moorcock’s worlds have a nice mix of the medieval and futuristic fantasy - while there may be some mind-boggling technology around, everyone fights with swords!

On the down side there is so much crammed into 220 pages that everything feels a bit shallow, and in particular the characters are very two-dimensional. An enticing storyline or character is introduced, but before it develops into something really interesting you are suddenly zipped on to the next situation. In places I found myself longing for Moorcock to slow down and dig deeper – which is odd as this is just one book from a series of four, and that series is itself part of a much larger body of connected work.

I don’t know if this pace and style is common to all of his work; I kind of get the feeling that it is, but perhaps I’ve just chosen the wrong place to enter the world of Moorcock. I will try again, as some of his ideas and creations are quite brilliant. In the meantime, I’d rate this book 3 stars.

Now for a bit of “musical geekishness” via John. Moorcock has worked a lot with the rock band Hawkwind, writing lyrics for them, adding vocal tracks and sometimes even appearing live during their concerts.

Here is a link to one of their songs associated with Moorcock’s Eternal Champions series. Taken from the band’s album “Warrior on the Edge of Time”, Moorcock is reading his own lyrics. Sadly the “video” is only a picture of the album cover; we did find a great video clip of him appearing live with the group but unfortunately it was one of those where the download/re-post function was disabled. Nevertheless, this is still a wonderful piece of 1970s sci-fi/fantasy rock and roll.

Believe it or not John and I still listen to this stuff; we love it and still rock on!

Please note, if your are receiving this post via email the video will probably not show ~ so link to the blog, take a break, sit back, turn up the volume, and enjoy!

Hawkmoon: The Sword of the Dawn ~ by Michael Moorcock

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Originally published in 1968

Amazon links for US/UK/Canada.

The first and second books of the series are listed here:

  • The Jewel in the Skull ~  Amazon links for US/UK/Canada.
  • The Mad God’s Amulet ~ Amazon links for US/UK/Canada.

If you would like more information about this series please link to the preview post which includes all three books for this extensive series.

Stay tuned for more “classic” Sci Fi/Fant/UF recently republished by Tor.

  • Karl Shroeder’s ~ Virga series
  • Philip José  Farmer’s ~ Riverworld series
  • Niven and Barnes’ ~ The Barsoom Project (the sequel to Dream Park)
  • Mercedes Lackey’s ~ Trio of Sorcery (three new stories based on older characters)

As always John/JD will be addressing any comments around this book so don’t forget to click the follow up box to get his response.

Thanks for reading.

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