Image © Michael Moorcock. (Don’t know who did this cover art)
The second book in Moorcock’s “Hawkmoon” series confirms it as sword and sorcery, as well as a medieval war story. Hawkmoon triumphed over the vast armies of the Dark Empire of Granbretan in the first book, “The Jewel in the Skull,” but only momentarily. In this one he and his new friend the beast-man Ohladan are trying to get back to the beseiged land of Kamarg where his beloved Yisselda and her father, the country’s leader Count Brass are hopefully still holding off the forces of Granbretan against impossible odds. On their episodic journey they encounter helpful ghosts, berzerker pirates and more odd dangers before tackling the Mad God, who wears a magic amulet that Hawkmoon has been told will help his cause. Hawkmoon is at first reluctant to take on this side quest until he learns that Yisselda is a captive of the Mad God in his northern enclave. The mysterious Warrior in Jet and Gold arrives to give help and advice, though Hawkmoon is reluctant to trust him. A former enemy, French fighter d’Averc also becomes a companion for a while after Hawkmoon disgraces him in the eyes of Granbretan, another character hard for Hawkmoon to trust. In all, the hero is surrounded by enemies and finds his road a tricky one.
This book has fewer surprises than the first, as it must convey the main characters to a known conclusion, the return to Kamarg for the final battle with Granbretan. The end promises a new setting and situation in the third book, which I’ll read soon. In general this series is less thoughtful than the previous Moorcock trilogy I read about Von Bek, but still enjoyable reading.