Books

Books : reviews

Simon R. Green.
Shadows Fall.
Gollancz. 1994

Simon R. Green.
Mistworld.
Ace. 1992

rating : 3.5 : worth reading

Simon R. Green.
Haven of Lost Souls.
Millennium. 1990

Simon R. Green.
No Haven for the Guilty (== Hawk and Fisher) .
1990

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 1 September 2001


In which we are introduced to Captains Hawk and Fisher, husband and wife team, and about the only honest Guards in the hell hole town of Haven. They are assigned to bodyguard a politician, Councillor Blackstone, but very soon he is dead. So instead they end up investigating his murder -- which allows Green to write a fairly classic "locked-room murder mystery" -- but there's nothing classic about the setting, with magicians, werewolves, vampires, and legendary heroes being stirred into the plot.

The prose is fairly pedestrian, but the plot rattles along at a good pace, with all the action set in one night. It's not a particularly convoluted problem -- I managed to spot most of the clues (except, to my embarrassment, the big one of how the door was locked from the inside), but it makes for a fun detective story set in an exotic locale -- with the odd sword fight thrown in for good measure.

Simon R. Green.
Devil Take the Hindmost (== Winner Takes All) .
1991

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 2 September 2001


It's election day in Haven, and Captains Hawk and Fisher are again assigned to bodyguard James Adamant, candidate for the Reform Party. Given their recent experience, they are determined to keep this subject alive. But Councillor Hardcastle has other ideas, and he's willing to use any trick in the book, up to and including illegal magic, to remove his opponent before the polls open.

An inside look at corrupt Haven politics, a guided tour of some of the weirder parts of the city, including the Street of Gods, and several sword fights, make for an amusing afternoon's reading.

Simon R. Green.
The God Killer.
1991

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 4 September 2001


Someone is killing the Beings on the Street of Gods, and Hawk and Fisher are seconded to the Deity Division (better known as the "God Squad") to find the murderer before a riot of divine proportions ensues. Again, the action takes place over a single day, although, on the Street of Gods, time can run at its own rate.

More views of Haven, some extremely bizarre supernatural Beings, and their even more bizarre worshippers, and more sword fights, keep up the standard of these tales.

Simon R. Green.
Fear and Loathing in Haven.
Millennium. 1991

Simon R. Green.
Vengeance for a Lonely Man (== Wolf in the Fold) .
1991

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 15 September 2001


Hawk and Fisher track down a badly-wanted spy, but he gives them the slip, and hides out in the MacNeil family Tower. As "reward", they are sent into the Tower undercover, masquerading as Quality, where they discover that not only do they have to track down a spy, but also settle a deadly family curse. Added to which, if they are exposed, the penalty for pretending to be Quality is death by dismemberment, and their chief has promised to disavow any knowledge of their actions. And Fisher's in a skirt -- without a sword!

Yet another "locked Tower" mystery, a device used to gather all the suspects in one place, kill them off one by one, while Hawk and Fisher race against time to uncover the villain(s). The background to Haven is being deepened, and what looks like the foreshadowings of important events put into place.

Simon R. Green.
Guard Against Dishonour.
1992

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 7 October 2001


Peace talks are underway in Haven, but powerful forces are out to sabotage them. Hawk and Fisher find themselves at the centre of a plot to distribute a terrible new super-drug that will tear the town apart. Their attempts to uncover the perpetrators are rather hampered by them being the prime suspects.

The foreshadowings of important events in the previous book take a step further forward here. And Hawk and Fisher's position in the Guard is looking more and more untenable. Another readable plot -- with more fighting and less mystery than usual.

Simon R. Green.
Two Kings in Haven (== The Bones of Haven) .
1992

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 15 October 2001


The Peace Treaty is about to be signed in Haven, but very powerful forces are out to sabotage it. Hawk and Fisher again find themselves at the centre of the action, as terrorists plot to assassinate the two Kings before they sign the treaty. But before the day is over, something much more terrible than a simple assassination will be started.

Yet another readable plot -- with much more fighting, of some quite grotesque creatures, and much less mystery than before. Also the deepest exploration of Hawk and Fisher's relationship yet -- it must come to nearly a page, all told.

My Hawk & Fisher titles were perfectly acceptable to my British publisher, but not to the US. No Haven for the Guilty became Hawk & Fisher. Because: it was the first of a series starring Hawk and Fisher. The second H&F book, Devil Take the Hindmost, became Winner Takes All. Because: the publisher believed most Americans wouldn't know what hindmost meant. Book 4, a gothic romance pastiche, was Vengeance for a Lonely Man in the UK, and Wolf in the Fold in the US. Because: the title was too long for the spine. And Book 6, Two Kings in Haven in the UK, became Bones of Haven in the US. Because ... I haven't a clue. Anti-monarchist feelings?

-- Simon R. Green, Ansible 169, August 2001

Simon R. Green.
Blue Moon Rising.
Millennium. 1991

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 11 March 2001

Prince Rupert, unwanted second son, is sent on a hopeless quest, to kill a dragon. But nothing goes as planned, and he ends up rescuing the dragon from the Princess Julia, and returning home triumphant. In the meantime, the Blue Moon is rising -- the Darkwood has started growing, and demon attacks are increasing -- and so he is sent on another hopeless quest, to find the High Warlock and bring him back to save the kingdom. But nothing goes as planned...

This starts out relatively light-hearted, as sarcastic unicorns, farmer goblins, butterfly-collecting dragons, and sword-wielding Princesses defy stereotypes. As the story progresses, the tone darkens considerably, but the stereotypes keep being defied. There are interesting characters, lots of gory battles against hopeless odds, oodles of plot twists, and a fascinating castle architecture. A great page-turner.

(Although there are further books set in the same world, this story is stand-alone.)

Simon R. Green.
Beyond the Blue Moon.
Gollancz. 2000

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 20 October 2001

(Warning: spoilers for the Hawk & Fisher stories)

King Harald has been murdered, and the Forest Kingdom is in turmoil, so a Questor is sent out to bring home Prince Rupert and Princess Julia. But they are not interested in becoming rulers, so Captains Hawk and Fisher go instead, to track down the murderer. When they arrive, however, they find it harder than usual to apply their no-nonsense style to the Forest Kingdom court -- their Haven reputation has not preceded them. Yet they soon realise that finding the murder is the least of their worries -- the Blue Moon is about to rise again, threatening to destroy the entire world, with Hawk and Fisher the only ones who can stop it.

We get to see how the Forest Kingdom has changed in the 12 years since the previous battle against the Blue Moon, and how many of the heroes of that time have not fared well. The sparse clues for the murder are in place (it helps if one has read Blue Moon Rising), but the main focus is on the riddle of the Inverted Cathedral. The baddies are rather easier to defeat this time around, and there are some slightly implausible character shifts in the denouement, but lots of loose ends are neatly tied up.

I've read the entire Hawk and Fisher series over the last few weeks, because I wanted to read this sequel to Blue Moon Rising, and the blurb makes it clear it is also a sequel to those Hawk and Fisher tales. And getting a good idea from that blurb, and from the cover art, of what the precise relationship between the Guard Captains and the legendary Rupert and Julia is, it was interesting spotting the clues sprinkled through those six volumes.

Simon R. Green.
Blood and Honor.
Roc. 1993

rating : 3.5 : worth reading

Simon R. Green.
Down Among the Dead Men.
Gollancz. 1993