This is the first book in a five book series called the Monarchies
of God. It is a fantasy story. The world it portrays is deliberately modeled on Renaissance
Europe. The voyage of Hawkwood is meant to parallel Columbus sailing to the new world. Meanwhile,
the city of Aekir falls to the Eastern threat - which is an analog of Constantinople's falls to
the Turks. There are corrupt popes, vying kings, heroic soldiers. But Renaissance Europe is just
a foundation for Kearney's tale, the energetic story he spins is entirely original.
There are multiple story threads to follow in this book, and presumably throughout
the series. The first thread is Hawkwood's story. Hawkwood is the captain of a merchant sailing ship for
the kingdom of Hebrion, on the western edge of the continent. There is no known land to west of Hebrion,
but an old ship's log has been found which describes a journey to vast and distant western continent. The
king of Hebrion enlists Hawkwood to sail an expedition of colonists to this new land (the expedition is
under the command of the noble Murad, but Hawkwood is the captain of the Osprey) Murad is the sole keeper
of the ancient log, and he hides it's contents from Hawkwood, because not only does it describe a journey
to a new continent, it describes the destruction of that expedition by a werewolf. Yes, Kearney populates
his universe with sorcerers and magic. There are shapeshifters, demon familars, and some spell casting.
Kearney throws everything into the book, but he makes it work.
The second story thread tells of Corfe, an officer at Aekir, who flees the city when
the Merduk's over run the defenses. We meet Corfe as he trudges along with a throng of refuges, as they fall
back to the Ormann Dike. Amongst the survivors, Corfe falls in with an old man who was blinded by the Merduks.
The old man claims to be Macrobius, the pope! Corfe escorts this old man to the Dike - if he is indeed the pope,
then his presence will greatly increase the morale of the defenders against the onslaught of the Merduks.
Another story thread involves two young monks at the religous city of Vol Ephrir. One of
the monks is a devoted librarian, he loves to explore deep into the catacombs, examining old texts that haven't
been seen in centuries.
We also follow the story of young king Abelyen, who reigns over sailing kingdom of Hebrion.
Because of the robust trade, his land is populated with folks from many nations, including "dweomer" folks - those
who can practice some form of magic. The church considers magic users to be heretics, and urges that dweomer people
be burnt at the stake unless they repent. The leader of the church in Hebrion, the Prelate, is intent on using the
issue of heresy to enhance his own power. And when of the fall of Aekir comes, and thus presumable the death of
Macrobius, the sitting pope, the Prelate puts his schemes into action, hoping to become the next pope himself.
Despite all the story threads, Hawkwood's Voyage is not confusing. Each story is arc is clear,
the characters well defined, so when the tale returns to their story, you pick right up from where you left off. The
story has a nice sweep to it; Kearney is attempting something grand in his recreation the Renaissance. This is a fun
adventure story, I like how it is developing. I am certainly keen to read more of this series.