Dark, thrilling, and hilarious, The Black Hawks is an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.
Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.
When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.
All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.
With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.
Prepare to join the Black Hawks.
1. For those that haven’t checked out The Black Hawks yet, how would you sum it up?
Hi! The Black Hawks is a work of (extremely) low fantasy, about a young man who falls in with a feeble prince and a dysfunctional mercenary company, and tries to save the kingdom in his own inept but well-intentioned fashion. It has intrigue, shocks, ambushes, wolves, weather and a whole lot of furious swearing.
2. What was your inspiration for book?
The story is both a misty-eyed love-letter and a contrarian take on the kind of fantasy I grew up reading. It’s firmly quest fantasy with a journey (both geographical and emotional) at its heart, but also a reaction to all the things I found wearing or just a bit naff about Classic Fantasy Works – the main character has no particular skills or knowledge, he’s just a young fellow with some ideals, and most of the characters in the world are just trying to get by.
3. What drew you to writing fantasy books?
I adore genre fiction, and my early life was steeped in all things fantastic and science-fictional. I grew up on SFF books, pen & paper RPGS, board games and video games (I dread to think how many hours I’ve sunk into computer RPGs over the last decade alone), and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. Second-world fantasy in particular is fascinating as a way to explore themes and ideas – the other side of the coin from SF in that regard – but sometimes you just want to put characters in ridiculous situations and enjoy what happens next.
4. What was the writing process like for the book? Did you map everything out or just let it flow?
I wrote the first draft in 2015, when I was young and full of hope, based on an idea that had been kicking around for at least 5 years before that (I wrote some other stuff in-between as practice). I mapped out what I thought would be a quick-ish outline, spent several months reading research (13th Century Georgia and northern Turkey, for reference) and drawing up maps and family trees, then went for it. It took about 9 months, and stuck *more-or-less* to the outline. Then after a quick hiatus to have another child, I started planning the sequel.
5. What have you found hardest about writing The Black Hawks?
The opening. One problem with having an idea in your head for a long time is that it becomes part of your narrative bedrock, never to be questioned, and the rest of your work builds up from there. This can make it a real challenge when you realise that the weakest ideas are the earliest ones, and they could do with tweaking or replacing, because you’ve built a ridiculous narrative house of cards on top of it and the slightest change will bring the entire plot crashing down. I hope I’ve learned something from the process!
6. What are you working on next?
Black Hawks 2 is now with my editor, and I’m currently working on a standalone follow-up in the same world, set a while after the events of the second book. It’s set in the wild, untamed plains to the far north, and is a sort of fantasy western: think True Grit meets Terminator 2, with a bit of Fury Road thrown in, but with swords.
7. Finally can you recommend a good book you’ve read recently?
A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Somatar. It’s both a ghost story and an adventure, with spectacular, lyrical prose and an abiding respect for the power of the written word at its core, and about the closest thing to a literary hallucination I’ve experienced.
Massive thank you to David for answering my questions – The Black Hawks is publishing today from HarperVoyager.