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Publisher's Summary

Dark, thrilling and hilarious, The Black Hawks is an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory - he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company - mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.

©2019 David Wragg (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"A remarkably assured debut...I can’t wait to see what happens next." (Anna Stephens, author of Godblind)

"Everyone loves a good mercenary tale, but The Black Hawks offers more besides: a protagonist who's refreshingly rubbish at fighting, a supporting cast who'd be fascinating if they were just standing around in a supermarket, and an author who knows when to dodge cliches, and when to jump in and splash like a kid in a puddle." [Nate Crowley, author of 100 Best Video Games (That Never Existed)]

"Check out The Black Hawks - it’s full of fun characters, mercenary antics, twists, turns, and contains my favourite fantasy lemon." (Peter Newman, Gemmell Award-winning author of The Vagrant and The Deathless)

What listeners say about The Black Hawks

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

TERRIBLE production quality

Seemed like it might have been an ok book but I can't say for sure, couldn't hear half of the dialogue, and if you try to turn it up next thing u know the narrator is shouting. Not the narrator's fault I don't think, just cheap or lazy production

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, uneven audio volume

Above average story well performed. While the twist wasn't mind blowing, it was good and a well thought out plot. The pace of the story was a bit rushed in the first few days depicted. Aside from that this was a great story and contains a fountain of lore the author masterfully weaved in to the dialogue. Highly recommend to anyone on the fence.

An annoying thing that may or may not be isolated to my experience was the uneven audio volume. I appriciate the reader varying his voice to enhance the experience but I had to turn up car and headphone volume to hear certain parts, then would be assaulted when he returned to a standard volume. Perhaps an audio mixing issue, or maybe just my unique situation.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story poor quality audio

I listened to this and it's a good story with nice twist to it, but the quality of the audio recording was truly garbage. It goes high in places then low in others and at times you can't even hear what is being said. I would turn it all the way up for a few sentences, then back down because of it being so loud in the next area. Get the quality of the recording better and this will be a good listen. I don't think it's the reader who is the problem I think it's the method of it's recording. Definitely doesn't work well in a car since you have other noise as well. Redo the quality and then it will be worth a credit until then I say nope.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An raunchy, incredibly fun read!

Are memorable crews of morally questionably people your thing? Do you love wonderfully painted high fantasy scenery accentuated by language foul enough to make milk curdle? Read The Black Hawks- this one's a keeper.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent!

Seriously the best thing I’ve read since finishing Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy. Comparisons tend to annoy me, but this was similar in tone, snarky banter, and characters you just can’t get enough of. It was very entertaining, action-packed, giggle-worthy in a lot of places, and chalk full of great characters. Word of warning, however, if you’re a little wary of profanity then keep that in mind – but for me, well, I just loved all the banter even if it is a little crude at times.

As the story begins we meet Chel, he’s about to find himself between a rock and hard spot, which is just par for the course, by the sounds of it. Chel is sworn under oath in the service of his uncle, which seems to involve, mainly, carrying clothes around – yep, that’s Chel, he’s like the newbie sent out for everyone’s coffee and believe me he doesn’t enjoy his role at all, it’s just not what he imagined! Then the City is attacked by the fire-wielding Norts and Chel attempts to flee before becoming a fireball himself. This is when he is unwittingly roped into the service of a young prince, Tarfel Merimonsun and their adventure really begins. Chel’s prior obligations are removed when the Prince makes a bargain with him – Chel will become the Prince’s protector, relinquishing the oath to his uncle and upon delivering the Prince to safety Chel will be released. By this time Chel has figured out the idea of ‘honor’ and ‘service’ are not what they were cracked up to be, so, wanting nothing more than to go home, Tarfel’s offer appeals and so the deal is struck.

Unfortunately for Chel it seems that there are other parties interested in the Prince and so it isn’t long before trouble catches up with them.

Enter the mercenary group known as the Black Hawks. There’s Loveless, Lemon, Rennic, Whisper and Spider. Every one of them is distinct and the author makes them easy to envision. Some you’ll love more than others but you will never tire of their presence, or their pithy quips. All are very different characters indeed and they have an easy camaraderie. I can’t deny that when they entered the scene they stole the show a little. But, that’s not to take anything away from Chel and Tarfel. Their story is very easy to enjoy and are the sympathetic characters you’d imagine. Chel, what he lacks in sword skills he makes up for in smarts and determination, a moral code and sheer good luck. Tarfel is completely clueless but very endearing in his gullibility. The relationship between the prince and protector develops throughout the story and is one of the winning elements to the book, as is their interactions with the mercenaries. As for the Hawks, they’re just so well ‘drawn’ and even the more brooding members of the crew will eventually work their magic on you or at least you’ll be relieved when they show up in the middle of a tight spot.

As to world-building, there is no magic or monsters in this one. Just lots of skirmishes, running, narrow escapes, injuries, fighting and a good deal of stabbing. I was constantly on the edge of my seat and a few times gasping in surprise or relief.

I enjoyed this so much so that about 40% of the way through, I ran straight to Goodreads and messaged the author to ask if he was working on book 2 because I had to know there wouldn't be a 2 year lag until the next book. Fortunately, the next installment will be out sometime late next year. Or so that seems to be the plan. I was ecstatic. And that was before I'd finished the book. And now? Now I'm OVERJOYED, because GOD! THAT! ENDING!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

pretty good story but volume changes on the audio

sometimes I couldn't hear what the voice actor was saying and other times it was way too loud

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not Bad

I enjoyed this audiobook well enough, as the performance was good and the storyline okay.

I enjoyed the journey the company took together, but the story on either end of the traveling parts felt slapped together to me. The last few chapters did feel dull despite obviously being intended to be dramatic.

The chemistry the members of the company have with each other is the best part, and any part where they weren’t together as a group for a while felt dull by comparison.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Bad audio

Could finish nor even get into the story because the audio is too bad. I made it about 2 hours. Inconsistent volume makes listening a chore and too many parts were too quiet to hear. Id love to rate this higher since to story i did hear wasn’t bad, but I’m not looking to change the volume on my end every 30 seconds. Thats an exaggeration, but still.

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Brilliant story, fitting narrator

Love the story, it's gritty action and twisted realism. The perfect mercenary anti hero story, where everything is just shades of grey and the next paycheck and innocence doesn't survive contact with political reality.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Collin Mace makes the story, as he always seems to

If not for Mace narration I don't think the story would have been as good, reading this instead of listening may have even been tedious at times. I will probably get the second book just to see where it goes.

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  • waster196
  • 10-30-19

Frustrating

Firstly, the story itself. Wragg is clearly a solid and talented writer and has created a band of likeable and well developed characters, in a world I was keen to explore. The story progressed a little slowly, but kept me interested.

Secondly, the narration. Mace gave life to these characters and for the most part I enjoyed the narration. This is the first narration I have listened to by Mace, and I will try more. However...

The main reason I am writing a review is because of the quality of the production. Sound quality et al is fine, but I could not possibly recommend this audiobook unless you are fine with having your hand on the volume dial constantly, as Mace (or the production, I honestly don't know which is to blame) goes from too loud to too quiet almost constantly throughout the book, particularly when voicing characters. This was particularly prevalent in the final quarter of the book.

This made for an incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable listen which I just could not enjoy and I found myself wishing it would just hurry up and end.

I recommend a different format for this book as I'm intrigued by any sequels and will be continuing, just definitely not with audio.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-21-20

A promising start to an interesting new series

STICK WITH IT!
When I first started listening to this audiobook, the first hour or so was oppressively slow, but soon enough I started to really enjoy the characters and their interactions. This culminated especially with the arrival of the titular 'Black Hawks', who are some of the most endearing and likeable characters in any book I've ever read. The story is also good, engaging and fun throughout with nice twists. When I finished the book, I was actually sad it was over, eagerly anticipating the sequel.

Colin Mace does a stellar job at narration and really shines when voicing the Black Hawks.

I cannot recommend this book enough!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Laura
  • 06-14-20

Why is it so quiet?

Story is good, performance is good, could have just done with being a lot louder

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for TW
  • TW
  • 12-31-20

Very good!

Really enjoyable with great characters & a good story. Can’t wait for the next instalment!
Great narration by Colin Mace bringing the characters alive with great accents & personalities.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lesley
  • 10-12-21

Another sleepless night!

what an excellent book!
I can only recommend that you don’t start it in bed as a means to go to sleep ( as i did) because you will not get any as it is too good to turn off.
I became completely involved in the plot, all the swordplay, and even all the swearing as i could not turn it off because you never knew what was going to happen next.
I have just purchased book 2 “the righteous” which means another night with no sleep LOL

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Swords and Spectres
  • 04-29-21

Slow, and rather bland

The Black Hawks is marketed as a book that fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch will love. My being a huge fan of those two particular authors dove into this book as soon as I saw that tag line. I wish they hadn't put that tag line on. Not only did I not love it, but I just downright wish I hadn't bothered. I feel the truth had been somewhat abused by that sales pitch.

Abercrombie's books are filled with rich, detailed characters and a world that feels as real as the one we live in. It's also brimming with clever turns of phrase and witty banter that doesn't rely solely on swearing. Lynch's books are, similarly filled with wit and you can't help but grin at most of the stuff written.

With The Black Hawks I never really felt in anyway attached to the characters nor did I find any similarity in turns of phrase or level of wit that might make someone liken it to Abercrombie or Lynch. There was wit, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't. But what wit there was relied heavily on swearing to get the humour across which, when done sparingly can be effective. But, when done as heavily as I just mentioned, falls flat and loses its appeal quite early on.

I also feel as though the main character had nothing that made him stand out as a main character. Nor did he have anything to really give him any form of character. He was just there and, despite knowing why he was there I just couldn't see why he had to be. Had he died early on, I can't imagine the book would have suffered anything for it. For the vast majority, he just felt like a total nonentity. A frustrating nonentity considering his was the overall POV.

Sadly, to my eyes at any rate, this was a flaw experienced by most of the characters within the book. I usually like a mercenary company style novel, but this one didn't have any of the flavour or shine to it that other such books do.

The character of Lemon was my favourite and I found that parts with her in went down an absolute treat. It's just the rest that seemed utterly grey instead of brimming with colour. I never really felt fully attached to the story either. I can see why, if someone were enjoying it, the plot points and events throughout would be enjoyable. But, to someone like me, who was struggling to keep interested, they did very little to keep that interest from waning.

I've since read several reviews for this and they are generally positive. So it's just one of those cases of one size not fitting all. 

I felt the narration was lacking as well. Colin Mace has a very good voice for general narration, but his overall vocal range for character voices wasn't very deep. He also frequently took pauses where there was no punctuation. It sounded like a man who was reading, got to the end of the page and had to wait until it was turned to carry on. It really hit the pacing and, considering how often it happened, felt quite jarring.