Hawk, by Steven Brust

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

So first things first: the direct, word for word, Burn Notice pastiche does not last more than about a page and a half, if you open this book and are worried. If you haven’t watched Burn Notice, it’s a perfectly sensible way to reintroduce the events of the series, a sort of Where We Are And Where We’re Going. If you have watched all of Burn Notice, however…there’s this moment of…”Oh, Steve, did you really want to associate your long-running series that does a bunch of cool stuff with a long-running series that did a bunch of cool stuff and then completely tanked its ending? You did your death-and-sarcastic-shenanigans first and better!”

But as I said, that only lasted a few pages, and then we are into the plot moving forward, really moving forward–giving Vlad progress on things he values, seeing old friends without it being a string of pointless cameos and without edging out room for new things, plotty new magic problems and a return to Vlad’s assassin roots without a return to Vlad’s assassin state of mind. There is, as one would hope for the book centered around the House of the Hawk, magic theory. There is Daymar and his (???) sense of humor. Hawk has, in short, all sorts of the things you would want it to have, and it has them in the right quick-beats moving-along setting-up-other-things sort of way.

This is clearly the latest in a long series, but you know what? It’s the one of the most recent entries I would feel best about handing people and saying, “ready set go.” They would miss a lot–who are these people? why is it such a big deal for Vlad to contact that person? why is she so terminally upset at that other person?–but y’know, sink or swim, kiddo, you want to start a series this late, you’re probably a person who’s okay with some hard knocks, and the crucial “why the heck should I care” is pretty neatly handed to you for this one. Here: care. Good. Onwards with the stabbing and the shenanigans with the improbable musical instruments.

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