Book: “The Faithless Hawk” by Margaret Owen
Publishing Info: Henry Holt and Co., August 2020
Where Did I Get this Book: Edelweiss+
Book Description: As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.
With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.
A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.
Previously Reviewed: “The Merciful Crow”
Review: I listened to the first book in this duology as an audiobook. And in my review I credited the narrator with really pulling her weight to imbibe this story with an extra level of emotion and sense of character that helped push the book forward past what, at times, was rather slow-paced storytelling. With that in mind, I was a bit nervous when I picked up this book as a standard e-ARC through Edelweiss. Would it hold up without the narrator’s perfect voice for Fie? Yes, yes it did and not only that, but it was better than the first in all ways.
With Prince Jasimir delivered to relative safety and with an army at his back, Fie’s hope for the future, a future where Crows are protected from the vicious groups that hunt them, seems within grasp. As a Chief now herself, Fie feels this sense of responsibility to her people more strongly then ever. But one things goes wrong after another, one devastating loss after another, until Fie wakes up one morning with her people in hiding and a choice of either a future of starvation and being hunted down, or of leaving her people and going into the heart of her enemy, the castle itself, to do what needs to be done. But even there, Fie must rely on half-lost Crow magic and unravel an erased history to truly find a path forward for not only her own people, but everyone in Sabor.
As I mentioned in my intro, while I did enjoy the first book this duology overall, I did finish it with some lingering questions about the book’s pacing and ability to carry a more plot-driven storyline. So I was incredibly pleased to see both of those issues fully addressed in this second book. Not only does this book have a more action-packed plot than the first, but the pacing was sustained throughout the book without any of portions that seemed to lag (something that happened for a fairly substantial portion in the middle of the first book.)
I also really liked how much this book expanded on the magic-system and history of Sabor. I thought the hierarchy system and the unique abilities assigned to each group was interesting in the first book, so I was really excited to see this book dive much more deeply into not only how it all worked, but in the history of the system itself. I hadn’t even realized until this book started answering them how many lingering questions I had had from the first book, particularly about the Crows and Fie’s own magic. And all of this information seemed to unfold in a very organic, natural way, without any infodumps or unbelievable revelations.
I also really liked Fie’s own part in the story. She takes on a very active role in this book and faces completely different challenges than the ones she dealt with the first go-around. We see not only how she is better prepared for these greater ordeals this time, but also how the increased feeling of responsibility and the new closeness to others affects her own abilities to trust and make decisions on a grand scale vs. personal feelings. Jasimer also featured more heavily in this book than I expected, and, as I didn’t love his character so much in the first book, I was extremely pleased with what we had from the character here. We got to see a lot of the growth he experienced in the first book pay off, and, overall, he was incredibly likable this go-around. Something about being a “cat wrangler” didn’t hurt my impression of him either!
I was also pleased with the romance in this story. Things definitely didn’t go the route I expected. But some of the “twists” here were also easy enough to see through that for those of us who were worried, you can rest fairly assured that all turns out well, though perhaps not how you expected.
Overall, I was really pleased with this book, both in and of itself and as a conclusion to the duology as a whole. There were some legitimate surprises and twists that I didn’t see coming, and those that I did were so purely satisfying that I didn’t care that I could predict them in advance. I think the author had a better handle on the pacing in this book and really came into her own with the strength of writing. For those who enjoyed “The Merciful Crow,” definitely don’t miss out on this one!
Rating 9: A completely satisfying conclusion in pretty much every way!
“The Faithless Hawk” is a new title, so it isn’t on many relevant Goodreads lists, but it is on “2020 YA Sequels.”
Find “The Faithless Hawk” at your library using WorldCat!