Title: The Faithless Hawk
Series: The Merciful Hawk #2
Author: Margaret Owen
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Court intrigue, secrets, and betrayal abound in this thrilling series ending.
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 the 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.
As 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 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.
The Merciful Crow was one of my most favorite titles to come out last year. I loved its world, its story and characters; I loved the romance and the found family element of it but above all I loved Fie. She’s feisty and sharp and so, so, so righteously angry. I loved her every thorny bit and her hidden soft side. So when the chance to read its sequel early came up I grabbed it with both of my greedy, impatient hands. (I might have used my feet, too. That’s how much I wanted it!)
And, all the merciful gods and goddesses, this book was everything!
The Faithless Hawk solidified TMC‘s place as one of my forever favorite series. It tied the whole duology neatly, picking up the threads left over from the first book for a most satisfying ending.
But not without putting Fie, Tavin, and Jasimir through the grinder first.
The story hits the ground running, loaded with explosive revelations even from the very first chapters. Fie, now chief of her band of Crows, meets one of the old Crow gods and receives some very cryptic stuff about the Crows’ birthright, the oath she thought she’d already fulfilled, and, most important of all, about herself — who she was, is, and her possible future self. With the knowledge that more rides on her making good on her part of the bargain and with Queen Rhusana becoming bolder and more ruthless in her quest to grab power, Fie reunites with Tavin and Jasimir to save the Crows and, in turn, the whole of Sabor.
Switching up from TMC‘s quest-type adventure where she took us on a trip throughout Sabor, Margaret Owen seamlessly takes readers deeper into the more intricate parts of the world she has created, exploring the complexities of court politics and social class workings. It was an interesting change, one that I enjoyed very much as it made me understand Fie’s world better — how it worked from the inside, why things were the way they were. Coupled with what had been already laid out in the first book, the new insights TFH gave me made me appreciate Owen’s worldbuilding work and plotting even more. I was detailed, well-planned, and executed with careful precision.
Amazing worldbuilding and plotting aside, what I loved most about this whole series were its characters. Having been thrown together in book one and going through some really tough stuff, Fie, Tavin, and Jasimir formed a strong bond. That bond, however, was tested throughout TFH. I don’t want to go into details because I might accidentally spoil something, but the trio do come through it — bruised and battered, but also a little bit wiser and a whole lot tougher and stronger.
Looking back to the start of their stories, Fie, Tavin, and Jasimir have all grown so much, Fie most of all. While she’s pretty much the same Fie we’ve known and loved from the first book, she’s more vulnerable in this sequel, unsure of herself, and, behind the tough exterior, scared for everyone she loves. But she’s also more open, more in touch with her powers as a Crow witch, and still as relentless as ever in fighting against the injustices done against her people. Of course, though the trio often find themselves in some very dangerous situations in this book, everything is not all doom and gloom all the time. Owen generously injects much-needed levity and humor throughout TFH. Honestly, she got me cackling my head off a lot of times while I was reading this book.
The Faithless Hawk is a gem of a sequel and ending to an amazing series. It tackles issues that hit too close to home sometimes, especially given the state of our own world. Margaret Owen shines as a writer in this one. With her expert plotting and worldbuilding, and especially her characters — from the mains to the secondary ones — she breathes life to such a special story, one that I will be coming back to again and again.
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, MARGARET OWEN first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-tern hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.
Giveaway ends August 29.