This story is about a slave, and her fight for freedom. She is a member of the Tonk race. Rather than a nation, the Tonk are spread throughout the world. It turns out that there are quite a few Tonk among not only Hawkspar’s fellow slaves, but among the Oracles themselves. And one of them has cooked up a plot. Once the slave — who, through most of the story, doesn’t remember her name — takes on the Eyes, she becomes Hawkspar, and she immediately sets her predecessor’s plans into motion. Then, she cooks up a few plans of her own.
I love novels about oppressed people fighting for their freedom. And Hawkspar was as good as any I’ve ever read.
There’s a few things you can count on in a Holly Lisle novel. One is the great maps. There are two in Hawkspar— one a world map, and the other a zoom in on the mini-continent of Hyre. My main complaint here is that these maps appear to be for the first book in the series, Talyn. These novels stand alone — I didn’t at all feel like I had to read Talyn to understand Hawkspar, but the maps seriously needed to be updated. No cities mentioned in Hawkspar appeared in the map at all.
Another Holly Lisle trademark is the visual magic. In Hawkspar, there are two forms of magic. One form, used exclusively by Hawkspar, is a river of time, sketched so well that I could envision it. The second, used by the Tonk, manifests itself as brightly colored polygons and circles.
And finally a good sign of a Holly Lisle novel is the religion. And here I can see Lisle’s growth as an author since the last time I read her work. In The Secret Texts, I had a very difficult time accepting the religion, and especially the religious conversions. Most especially when the main characters converted. Here, Lisle was much more subtle. It reminded me of how they handed the Elysian Fields in the movie Gladiator.
I would definitely classify Hawkspar as an epic fantasy. I enjoyed Hawkspar a great deal. I understand from the author’s blog that the future of the third book, Redbird, is still undecided, and that’s a shame because there are some unfinished questions in Hawkspar for which I want answers.
FanLit thanks Tia Nevitt for contributing this guest review.