Monday, August 07, 2006

This is the inagural post for my new Fire & Sword blog. Given the great speed with which I write my reviews (as some may note from my grammar, spelling, and punctuation) , a blog format is the easiest way to get my reviews online. A nifty feature is that blogs can be interactive (not so with locked down html on a private site).

Please feel free to visit my site at for lots of other reviews, links, and some examples of my fiction.

Since this is the summer of piracy, without further ado here is my review of the splendid pirate tale, The Golden Hawk.

By Frank Yerby

Although little remembered today, Frank Yerby was one of the last great writers of swashbuckling adventure novels. In The Golden Hawk he tackled the quintessential swashbuckler subject, piracy on the high seas.

Kit Gerardo is the dashing young man at the center of the novel. He serves under Captain Lazarus, a leper buccaneer, together they quell a mutiny, survive the Port Royal earthquake, battle a Spanish galleon, and rescue a beautiful girl who drives Lazarus to suicide and shoots Kit in the head. And that’s just the first chapter.

The rest of the novel pretty much keeps up the pace. Kit and his friend Bernardo lead the buccaneers of the Seaflower across the Caribbean in search of vengeance upon Don Luis del Toro, the Spanish grandee who had Kit’s mother tortured to death by the Inquisition. Kit is also in quest of Rouge, the fieriest she-pirate ever to sail the Main, she also has a score to settle with Don Luis. On the other hand Bianca, Don Luis’ bride, becomes acquainted with Kit and ensures the very complex relationship between Don Luis and Kit doesn’t get any simpler.

Yerby was too good a writer to make his tale just about good and evil, so he keeps his characters hopping to show that good and evil aren’t always so far apart. Yerby also adds in the details that give his tale a richness beyond the usual cutlasses and pieces-of-eight business. I’d never heard of Caviedes the Mad Poet of Lima before, but he’s one of the most interesting characters in the novel.

The Golden Hawk is a rousing tale of adventure with a distinctive cut to its jib. While tales like Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean are well known, The Golden Hawk is realtively obscure. It’s a pity because the Hawk deserves to soar.
-Dave Hardy

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