Talon of the Silver Hawk is the first book in Raymond E. Feist's Conclave of Shadows series. Set in the world of Midkemia about 30 years after the end of the Serpentwar Saga, it begins with a boy that is a part of a small tribe of people in the Eastern Kingdoms. Following the traditions of the Orosoni, the boy is waiting for his naming vision, after which he will be known as a man, and a wife will be chosen for him from among the local villages. However, as he is waiting, an army of mercenaries wipes out his village, along with the other villages throughout the land of the Orosoni. The young boy starts back at the allotted time without having had his naming vision, but along the way he falls, and wakes to see a silver hawk on his arm. The hawk talks to him, telling him to remember the feeling of the talon on his arm, and remember that talons can hold and protect, or they can rend and revenge. Running on to his village, young Talon gets there just in time to charge the attackers, and be shot with a crossbow bolt.
Talon then wakes up, and finds himself in the debt of Robert de Lyis for saving him from death in the village. He owes Robert a life debt, as well as owing a debt of blood against the men who wiped out his village. Robert starts training Talon in a multitude of different ways, and also lets Talon know that if he does well in the training, he might be able to return the debt owed against Raven and his band of mercenaries. Robert, however, knows that the debt goes deeper than that, and that he and the others of the Conclave of Shadows might be able to use Talon to strike at their enemy from an unexpected direction.
Talon is eventually trained in what he needs to know to become a minor Roldemish noble, and takes a place in the capital of Roldem. There he waits for both the opportunity to take revenge on those who killed his people, and his opportunity to follow the path laid out for him by the Conclave of Shadows.
This is a recently published book, so I won't tell anything more about the actual story than this. Some people have said that it is a return to form for Feist, after his Krondor novels, but I personally don't think that the character development was quite as good as Magician or Shadow of a Dark Queen, the other two books that begin a series. It does, however, set up quite the potential for upcoming conflict, and Talon remains a very likable character that should make the future books enjoyable as well.
Feist's first published book was set in the world of Midkemia, and he has continued to set most of his books in the same world. His first series, known as the Riftwar Saga, established the world and introduced us to some of the main characters and ideas. Pug, an orphan boy, becomes a magician, while his childhood friend Tomas becomes a famous warrior and decides to live among the elves.
In between the Riftwar Saga and the Serpentwar Saga are a few standalone books; as well as another saga that is not completely written, currently called the Riftwar Legacy. It is in these books that we first meet Nakor, an old man who does miraculous things, but claims that "there is no magic".
The Serpentwar Saga includes more information about Nakor, and also introduces us to Miranda, who will eventually become Pug's second wife. The events in the Conclave of Shadows series start off set 30 years after the end of the Serpentwar Saga.
Despite the somewhat sinister name, the Conclave of Shadows will have a number of familiar names in it. Headed by Pug and Miranda, the Conclave of Shadows is a number of magicians (and a few others) who are fighting the most recent entrance of evil into Midkemia. Somewhere near the end of the events in the Serpentwar Saga, Pug apparently decided that the recent history of the nations in Midkemia indicated that there was more happening than the usual interaction due to human nature. He, Miranda, Nakor, and some others founded the Conclave of Shadows to fight the evil that keeps trying to find footholds in Midkemia, and they have decided to use the Black Isle as a training place for people to become part of the Conclave. Two others that are fairly high up in the Conclave are Caleb and Magnus, the children of Pug and Miranda. Magnus is a powerful magician in the vein of his parents, but Caleb doesn't have the ability to do anything magical at all - despite Nakor's insistance that there is no magic, and only "stuff". Instead, Caleb has learned to hunt among the elves, and also has become a student of human nature and interaction.
- Talon of the Silver Hawk
- Conclave of Shadows, Book One
- Raymond E. Feist
- HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
- Table of Contents
- Part One: Orphan
Part Two: Mercenary
- Masters' Court