Review -- Hawkmoon: The Runestaff
THE RUNESTAFF is the fourth and final book of the Hawkmoon series by Michael Moorcock that Tor has been giving an upgrade and reprint to over the last year or so. These books hearken us back to the old days of classic fantasy fiction when the heroes were gallant gentlemen and their foes nefarious men of wickedness. Honor and virtue always triumphed over evil, and it was seeing how it would all play out this time around that always drew the readers in droves.
Dorian Hawkmoon and Huilliam D’Averc, friends and bretheren, have won the day and Hawkmoon has gained the Sword of the Dawn which allows him to summon a legion of supernatural warriors to his side when he has need of them. And though Hawkmoon wants only to return to Castle Brass and his lovely wife, the Runestaff has other plans for him–plans that will lead to one final fight with the wicked Baron Meliadus.
Reading this one was an interesting experience, as this part of the tale doesn’t really stand by itself very well. When taken into context with the other books in the series, however, and when viewed in light of the fact that each of them was similarly short, the capstone of the tale here stands just fine. So if you’re going to read this one, read the others beforehand. If not, I’m afraid that you’ll probably be sorely disappointed.
As a single book, it has a surprising lack of characterization. What little we get has Hawkmoon pining for his wife and whining about being manipulated by a supernatural item of power. As the climax of the series though, there is little need for more characterization, as it has already come in the preceding books. The story is pretty straight-forward, moves along at a fair clip, and still has that great sense of adventure written into its folds as so many stories of this era have.
This is a classic. High-level reading, heroic quests, magical items collected that will help the hero save the day, and of course, the eventual conquest of evil. (And no, that’s not a spoiler. You already knew it was going to happen.) In all honesty, I don’t know that a new story like this would make it in today’s publishing world. This one though, is something that’s there to remind us of where we’ve come from. Of what we were. It’s a way to remember the days when heroes were valiant and brave and strong.
As fantasy nuts, these stories are our history. Our roots.
And we are its legacy.
So even if you don’t go out and buy this book, take a look at your local library and see if they have a copy of the set. Odds are pretty good that you’ll be able to find something, as they’ve been getting print-time since the late 60’s. Just good, old-fashioned fun, and something we should all be a part of.
Recommended age: 14 plus
Language: A few mild epithets
Violence: Mild, some people die–a surprising number, actually
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