Image © Michael Moorcock.
This third of four books about the warrior Hawkmoon’s struggles with the empire of Granbretan is very much a segment of the larger story. It begins with a synopsis of what happened in the first two volumes, and ends with an unsatisfying “to be continued” non-ending. That aside, it was entertaining, though not as good as the first book of the quartet, “The Jewel in the Skull.” It remains to be seen how satisfying the final book will be when I read it.
Hawkmoon, Count Brass, and the entire city of Kamarg have escaped the domination of the evil Granbretan empire by slipping into an alternate version of their Earth which seems to have no human inhabitants. It’s quiet and rather boring to the warriors of Kamarg, and even to the regular folks there. When a new person shows up on the border of the city, Hawkmoon is quick to investigate, and soon a troubling alternate method of reaching them is revealed. Hawkmoon and his friend Huillam D’Averc decide they must return their own world to investigate, try to find the sorcerer who has pierced their hiding place, and retrieve his devices and knowledge. The process is made easier by the fact that nearly everyone in Granbretan’s capital city of Londra wear ornamental masks covering their entire heads, a handy plot device. The quest and pursuit of Hawkmoon and D’Averc of the sorcerer, and themselves by their arch-enemy Meliadus of Granbretan, make up the first half of this volume. The second half dumps them in a distant land they know nothing about where they must contend with desert predators, river monsters, and pirates before reaching a special sword that can help them on a larger quest engineered by a mysterious figure who keeps popping up in the series, the Warrior in Jet and Gold.
The story and characters are appealing, the action and adventure keep things moving, but overall this entire book feels like the middle section of a long movie, and had me wishing for some resolution that won’t arrive until the final book, “The Runestaff,” apparently.