RoH Reviews

Some choice reviews from Good Reads:

P.J. O’Brien‘s review:

When Drake’s Time Speaker series was recommended to me, I hesitated after reading the blurb. I’m generally not attracted to rapid-fire constant action books with high body counts. But after noting Ms Drake’s positive reviews of several books that I’d also liked, and considering that Richard McGowan, a writer that we both admired, was the one recommending the series, I decided to give Rise of Hawk #1 a try.

I’m glad that I did. Admittedly, I found myself mentally flinching and dodging bullets that were flying from the very start. As I mentioned: I’m not an action book fan. Fortunately for me, Drake does an admirable job of developing characters while still keeping the story moving in high gear.

Her created setting is particularly intriguing. Rise of Hawk follows a small band of rebels with a variety of psychic and kinetic abilities who are resisting The Agency, a powerful entity that seeks out anyone with extraordinary talents and forces them into its ranks to quell opposition to its dominance. Some of the rebels are those who’ve escaped their forced service to the Agency and there’s the constant tension of having to judge who is sincere and who is a spy or an assassin trying to infiltrate the group.

I was quite intrigued with the culture, languages, and political dynamics of the Time Speaker world. I appreciated the care that was taken in developing dialects and I happily noted the helpful glossary of translations of the various levels of swearing. The list of characters was helpful too, but I rather wished it had been in the back of the book. I did need to consult it a few times and accidentally saw a few listings that I wished I hadn’t. I caught glimpses of information about characters that were not yet revealed in the story.

I think what I appreciated most about Rise of Hawk was that the rebel protagonists were not single-minded. As the stakes got higher, the potential for innocent lives to be lost increased. As it did, they struggled to reconcile their consciences in choosing an action that they knew would cause the deaths of many in the hopes of preventing an even greater number of deaths if they did nothing. While I wasn’t as convinced as they were that they had only one course of action, it was reassuring that the decision was difficult for them, that they did what they could to mitigate the impact, and that they didn’t convert a destructive act to something heroic or glorious. In fact, one of the rebels, a rather gentle healer named Nalana, says very passionately when she overhears two others trying to think of a way to make what they’re about to do seem right to themselves:

“Don’t you dare make this right! We’re helping to kill innocent people and that’s not right, not by any measurement. If you make it right in your head you’re no better than the Rona-Abaan!”
Taelin sat back and stared at her. “But—”
“It’s not right,” she interrupted. Her voice softened and Taelin sensed a pulse of sadness. “But it is necessary. That’s how you can accept that it’s going to happen. It’s not right but it’s necessary.”

This book would be a good read for those who like a well thought-out fantasy with fast-paced action. But it also reads well for those who like speculative ethnologies, hopeful dystopias, and ethical dilemmas. As of this review, the ebook is available for free download at the author’s website. (The site is rather fun to visit in itself, particularly after you read the book and understand the references.)

Richard‘s review:

This is one of two books so far in Drake’s epic new series. This volume traces the ascent of the title character, Hawk, an emerging rebel leader with a number of secrets. For generations, society has been torn apart as people with all types of psychic abilities have been rounded up and coerced into the service of a central agency. This is the evil that Hawk seeks to destroy, hoping to avert a catastrophic future.

Drake’s prose style is lean and direct, proceeding in a series of scenes tightly focused on the actions of her characters–propelling the reader forward. She deftly handles a variety of psychic phenomena in her characters, with strengths and limitations, all in believable and compelling detail. We catch enticing glimpses along the way of religion, history, social depression, and upheaval in a city littered with the detritus of abandoned industry. Momentum builds to a pivotal event, laying groundwork for a sweeping tale that continues in “Time Speaker”.

Five stars for Drake. I want to read more about this universe, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next volume.