October 05, 2011

The Hound and the Falcon by Judith Tarr

This novel was actually three novels in one. It is comprised of The Isle of Glass, The Golden Horn, and The Hounds of God. While it was interesting, it wasn't what I've come to expect of fantasies.

The Isle of Glass
In this book we are introduced to the main characters. Thea, an elfen-like creature who has a wicked temper and a free heart. Jehan, a young boy at a monastary whose dull features belie his superior intelligence. And the main character of all, Alf, a monk who has seen many years but not aged and is able to do things that go against God. When compelled by a monk over him to go out in the world to prevent a war, Alf learns just what type of creature he is. It is up to him to decide if that creature is good or bad. With his companions Jehan and Thea, he helps King Richard the lion-heart to bring peace to three warring countries.

The Golden Horn
The next installment in the series it continues Alf's journeys. This time in the Holy Lands and eventually Byzantine, where a Holy Crusade is about to take place. Still struggling with his inner monk and love for Thea, he is taken in when wounded by a kind family who adopts him as a brother. While just trying to remain hidden and help heal those in the hospital he works, Alf finds himself in the middle of the Crusade and trying to save his family with it.

The Hounds of God
The last part of the series, Thea has recently given birth to Alf's twins when they are forcibly captured and taken to Rome. Another crusade is starting, but this time it is against Alf's homeland and the fair folk who live there. He has to try desperately not only to save his people, but his family as well.

While the premise of this story was interesting to me, I thought it could have been written much better. There were parts that I skimmed through because it was dull and also parts filled with so much religious quotes and theology that I felt overwhelmed at times. The characters, while described in great detail, didn't make me feel much for them. While they had hardships at times and experienced a range of emotions, I just wasn't drawn in enough to the book to sympathize.

The writing was well done. Told in the third person it had rich detail and was paced very well. My only complaint about it is the author gave us too much information at once. Each of the individual books started with more information than it should have and the reader has to spend several pages trying to figure out whose who as the author just jumps right in assuming we already know the characters. I would have preferred a better lead-in that didn't leave me so confused at first.

For fantasy this ranks average for me. There are much better books, but there are certainly much worse. If you are already a fan of this author's style, you probably can't go wrong reading this book.

The Hound and the Falcon
Copyright 1985
728 Pages

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