Title: The Faithless Hawk
Series: The Merciful Crow #2
Author: Margaret Owen
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: August 18th, 2020 (Henry Holt & Co.)
Synopsis: As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s ruthless bid for the throne.
Queen Rhusana wins popular support by waging a brutal campaign against the Crows, blaming them for the poisonous plague that wracks the nation.
A desperate Fie clings onto a prophecy that a long-forgotten god will return and provide a cure to the plague. Fie must team up with old friends and an old flame to track down a dead god and save her people.
Having bargained Hawk protection for her band of Crows in exchange for delivering Prince Jasimir to safety, Fie and her Crows take to the road again. But when the plague beacons are lit for King Surimir, Fie knows that this is part of Queen Rhusana’s ploy to seize the throne, using the King’s death to turn Sabor against the Crows. On top of it all, Fie discovers that she has been reborn many times over and failed to fulfill an ancient oath, which still hangs over her head. Faced with an unexpected betrayal, Fie must venture into enemy territory – the capital city of Dumosa – and keep the Prince safe even as the plague continues to spreads across the land.
In hindsight, I probably should have reread The Merciful Crow before starting this book, because although it was interesting, I had a really hard time getting into the story since the characters and plot had largely faded to the back of my mind. But the best part was that so much of how this world is built makes more sense now! Every single vague plot point I griped about previously was cleared up, and considering that this turned out to be a duology where, for some reason, I was expecting a trilogy, it was very good to see everything tied up so neatly.
I loved how the world-building was expanded into not only the history of the Crow caste, but also tying it back to Phoenix history. The magic system is also much clearer now and I was able to enjoy the story this time without trying to puzzle out background minutiae. As for the truth behind the castes, I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say while I wasn’t entirely surprised with the concept, I am extremely impressed at the thought that has clearly been put into this. The Faithless Hawk continues to delve into the themes of discrimination and oppression, neatly tying them into the tale and still keeping it as the underlying conflict of the story.
Fie was as much of a spitfire as I remember, and it was interesting to see her grow as a new chief with the weight of added responsibilities on her shoulders. I absolutely loved the friendship between Jasimir and Fie and it was honestly just perfect. Tavin and Fie’s romance on the other hand, was largely relegated to the background as the plot took centre stage, but what we did see of them was lovely. The pacing was the one thing I wasn’t too happy about though. To me, it felt like Fie spent an unnecessarily long time in the palace, which, after the constant travelling in The Merciful Crow, was comparatively boring. The other thing I will say is that there was perhaps a little too much foreshadowing. After a point, this hints just seemed to be extremely obvious and I was convinced there was going to be a double cross out of the blue.
The book is largely plot heavy and the action only really begins towards the end. And what a chaotic, action-packed and glorious ending it was! I’m sure there are several deeper plot points I’ve missed here since I was speed reading to find out what happened next, so I’ll have to come back for a reread at some point. Though this has been confirmed as a duology at present, I would not say no to another book, perhaps a novella to see how things work out for our characters and for Sabot. Overall, this was a wonderful sequel and conclusion to this duology and I would highly recommend it!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: The Merciful Crow