Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw
Publication Date: September, 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Format: Paperback, 384 pp
Genre: Historical Fiction
(E-Arc, received for review from Sourcebooks)
Synopsis (courtesy of Publisher's Weekly):
Bradshaw's Hopwood-winning series starter returns to shelves 30 years after it's original release. Gwalchmai aka the legendary warrior Gawain, tells the story of how he came to King Arthur's court. In boyhood, he studied sorcery with his mother, Morgawse, nearly falling under the spell of darkness before devoting himself to the light. He believes the powers of good want him to follow Arthur, but his path is blocked first by enemy Saxons and then by the king's own rejection. Bradshaw paints a Roman Arthur, determined to rebuild the fallen empire, against the backdrop of Irish mythology. Gwalchmai is an honest narrator who allows hindsight to creep in only rarely; his voice simple and earnest. Written when the author was a teen, this engaging and enchanting retelling of the Arthur legend will appeal to adults and young readers alike.
Bradshaw has down an excellent job of making Irish mythology and the legends of King Arthur come to life. Gwalchmai, Sir Gwain was one of the legendary knights of the round table and is portrayed in Bradshaw's book much like we have heard him before. Strong and loyal, but Bradshaw also shows a different side of Gwalchmai, when she shows us what he was like before he came to Arthur's court. How he trained in sorcery and almost chose a different path. Going against his mothers wishes he believes that Arthur's court is where he should be.
I really felt that Gwalchmai's character was still young and very impressionable. Our experiences mold us into the kind of people we become and it's interesting to see the influences that Bradshaw shows in this characters life. Not sure if he can live up to the warrior like abilities of his brothers, he chooses a different path. But his mother is a very frightening character, you can almost feel the evil exuding from Bradshaw's descriptions of her. Not someone you want to cross, but he somehow find the strength within himself to do what he had to.
I also really liked the way Bradshaw portrayed Arthur. She focused more on Arthur as a character and not on the circumstances he was in. She didn't spend a great deal of time on the love triangle with Gwenivere and Lancelot but she showed us Arthur as a man and a leader of his people. We see the reasons behind some of the great legends we hear about Arthur, as we see what kind of man he was. I really enjoyed that break from tradition from most stories about Arthur.
I recommend this one to anyone who is interested in stories about Arthur and his knights, including Sir Gwain. You may think you know where this one is going, but it has some twists you probably wouldn't expect.
Hawk of May is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
This one gets 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Here is some additional information about Gillian Bradshaw.
Gillian Bradshaw was born in Falls Church, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Michigan, where she won where she won the Hopwood award for Hawk of May. She is the author of 25 other novels.