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Talon of the Silver Hawk: Conclave of Shadows: Book One    by Raymond E. Feist order for
Talon of the Silver Hawk
by Raymond E. Feist
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This first of a new series, Conclave of Shadows, begins in Midkemia, world of Feist's Riftwar and Serpentwar sagas. It opens with a quote from Walter Savage Landor, 'Death stands above me ...' The plot is initially reminiscent of one of David Gemmell's fantasies. A boy from a close Orosini highland community spends a night on the mountain as part of his coming of age ritual. He returns to find his people being slaughtered and is severely wounded.

Young Kieli of the hawk's eyes met his totem that Midsummer Night, a silver hawk who spoke to him of the choice to 'hold and protect, or ... rend and revenge.' Rescued and healed by passing travelers Robert and Caleb, Kieli calls himself 'Talon of the Silver Hawk'. Under life debt to them, he works at an inn and slowly learns that they plan for him 'to kill the most dangerous man living today'. Said plans happen to fit in with his own obligation to avenge his people.

Talon learns languages, logic and politics, and begins to see his people in a larger scheme. When the magician Magnus takes him to fish in the ocean, Talon's horizons expand further. After a vicious attack, Talon meets Pug, the 'Black Sorceror', a familiar figure in the author's worlds, and swears loyalty to Pug's Conclave of Shadows. He is trained in swordfighting, taught a hard lesson, and sent to pose as a minor nobleman in Roldem, there to prove himself 'the greatest swordsman in the world.'

As events unfold, Talon learns more of the epic struggle that he has joined between good and 'evil incarnate'. As this episode ends, he is poised to accept a role that will take him close to his enemy, but endanger his friends, who tell him about the 'parable of the scorpion'. Though Talon of the Silver Hawk builds slowly, this most intriguing finish sets the scene well for further episodes of the Conclave of Shadows, which will be eagerly awaited by Feist's legion of fans.

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