In a distant land, high among the snow-capped mountains, a peaceful nation is mercilessly put to the sword...yet one will survive. Little more than a boy, Talon of the Silver Hawk must carry on until, someday, he can take vengeance. Leaving the icy vastness of his ancient home, Talon descends into the dangerous land of his adversary. Treading a perilous path, he must survive battlefields, court intrigues, treacherous enemies, backstabbing friends, and beautiful yet deadly women to discover the evil responsible for the annihilation of his people.
Bestseller Feist (Prince of the Blood) does an impressive job of developing numerous characters and elaborate social structures while holding true to established history in this fantasy page-turner set in Midkemia, the backdrop for his venerable Riftwar and Serpentwar sagas. As we follow Talon of the Silver Hawk through his adoption and training by members of the Conclave of Shadows (many of whom will be familiar to readers of earlier Midkemia books) and his quest for revenge after the slaughter of his tribe, places and people are fleshed out with neat thoroughness. The transformation of Talon, an innocent and untrained country mouse, into Talwin, an expert sword fighter, smooth seducer and faux nobleman, is extraordinary but completely believable, despite the compression or omission of a few years here and there, while the hints at the power and extent of the Conclave and its mission will leave readers hungry for more. Feist specializes in the careful and accurate portrayal of the thoughts and feelings of young men going through tumultuous life changes, and this effort is one of his best yet. (Apr. 20) Forecast: Conveniently for new readers and forgetful fans, the author's preferred editions of early Riftwar books have recently been released in paperback. A 10-city author tour will help lift this onto bestseller lists. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist
Shivering, the boy huddled close to the dying embers of his meager fire, his pale blue eyes sunken and dark from lack of sleep. His mouth moved slowly as he repeated the chant he had learned from his father, his dry lips cracking painfully and his throat sore from intoning the holy words. His nearly black hair was matted with dust from sleeping in the dirt; despite his resolve to remain alert while awaiting his vision, exhaustion had overcome him on three occasions. His normally slender frame and high cheekbones were accentuated by his rapid weight loss, rendering him gaunt and pale. He wore only a vision seeker's loincloth. After the first night he had sorely missed his leather tunic and trousers, his sturdy boots and his dark green cloak.
Above, the night sky surrendered to a predawn grey and the stars began to fade from view. The very air seemed to pause, as if waiting for a first intake of breath, the first stirring of a new day. The stillness was uncommon, both unnerving and fascinating, and the boy held his breath for a moment in concert with the world around him. Then a tiny gust, the softest breath of night sighing, touched him, and he let his own breathing resume.
As the sky to the east lightened, he reached over and picked up a gourd. He sipped at the water within, savoring it as much as possible, for it was all he was permitted until he experienced his vision and reached the creek which intersected with the trail a mile below as he made his way home. For two days he had sat below the peak of Shatana Higo, in the place of manhood, waiting for his vision. Prior to that, he had fasted, drinking only herb teas and water; then he had eaten the traditional meal of the warrior, dried meat, hard bread, and water with bitter herbs, before spending half a day climbing the dusty path up the eastern face of the holy mountain to the tiny depression a dozen yards below the summit. The clearing would scarcely accommodate half a dozen men, but it seemed vast and empty to the boy as he entered the third day of the ceremony. A childhood spent in a large house with many relatives had ill prepared him for such isolation, for this was the first time in his existence he had been without companionship for more than a few hours.
As was customary among the Orosini, the boy had started the manhood ritual on the third day before the Midsummer celebration, which the lowlanders call Banapis. The boy would greet the new year, the end of his life as a child, in contemplating the lore of his family and clan, his tribe and nation, and seeking the wisdom of his ancestors. It was a time of deep introspection and meditation, as the boy sought to understand his place in the order of the universe, the role laid before him by the gods. And on this day he was expected to gain his manhood name. If events went as they should, he would rejoin his family and clan in time for the evening Midsummer festival.
As a child he had been called Kieli, a diminution of Kielianapuna, the red squirrel, the clever and nimble dweller in the forests of home. Never seen, but always present, they were considered lucky when glimpsed by the Orosini. And Kieli was considered to be a lucky child.
The boy shivered almost uncontrollably, for his paltry stores of body fat hardly insulated him from the night's chill. Even in the middle of the summer, the peaks of the mountains of the Orosini were cold after the sun fled.