Those of you who remember my reviews of the installments of the Conclave of Shadows series doubtless recall how disappointed I was in Raymond E. Feist. That trilogy was a lackluster effort, if ever there was one. Hence, it's easy to understand why I was loath to read Flight of the Nighthawks when it was initially released, even though the buzz surrounding the first volume of the Dark War Saga was quite positive.
With the release of Into a Dark Realm just around the corner, I was nevertheless reticent to give this novel a shot. After all, I have dozens of "good" novels awaiting my attention in my ever-growing "books to read" piles.
Well, for those who -- like me -- have grown disillusioned with Feist's two latest series, I'm happy to report that Flight of the Nighthawks marks the return of the Raymond E. Feist who captured the imagination of millions of readers worldwide with the Riftwar Saga and the Serpentwar Saga. And yes, it's about time!;-)
While I was forced to plow through the author's last two trilogies, Flight of the Nighthawks basically read itself. A hidden threat seeks to plunge the Empire of Great Kesh into civil war and complete chaos. The Conclave of Shadows must act before all is lost, especially since the Brotherhood of Death -- the Nighthawks -- appear to be behind the plot.
There is very little worldbuilding to speak of, if not for Feist's fleshing out of the city of Kesh. It was nice to return to that place, which was reminiscent of Prince of the Blood.
Relatively short chapters with a rapid pace keep you turning those pages. It's been years since I've enjoyed a Feist offering this much.
As is often the case with Feist, it's all about the characters. Old favorites such as Pug, Miranda, Nakor, Caleb, and Magnus all have an important role to play in the story. The book also marks the return of Kaspar and Talwin and their cohorts. New and interesting characters include a few youngster like Tad, Zane, Jommy and Ralan Bek. All in all, a very nice cast of characters.
As the first volume of a trilogy, Flight of the Nighthawks pursues a number of storylines introduced in Exile's Return. Yet Feist doesn't elaborate a whole lot, seemingly content to set his pieces on the board and keep the surprises for the sequel.
A very satisfying read from an author who truly needed to regain his erstwhile form. This is Raymond E. Feist's best novel since Shards of a Broken Crown.
The final verdict: 8/10
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