March 6, 2013

Reminiscing: Master of Hawks


Anyone else remember this? My sister gifted me a copy of this way back in the 70’s, and I read it to death. Other reviews of it I found online were mixed, but I still remember Linda Bushyager’s Master of Hawks with the same fascination I had as a kid. Perhaps because, like so many of my books, I had to abandon it some time ago due to mildew.

In brief, the book follows the adventures of Hawk, a bird telepath, as he undertakes various missions for his lord during a feudal war. Hawk is an orphan with a unique talent for making telepathic contact with, and commanding, birds of all kinds, but works most with raptors. This was one of the cool ideas I liked in the book: telepaths imprint on the first kind of creature they make contact with, so that ever after they’re pretty limited to telepathy with that creature.

Hawk is sent on a secret mission to contact and make allies of the Sylvan, a reclusive arboreal race that have the mental ability to shape trees and wood. The Sylvan tree-shapers have a decisive role in the climactic battle. As this book came out in the mid or late 70’s, I’m wondering if it predated the introduction of the druid class or had an a influence on it.

Another D&D-ish trope explored here was the coexistence of purely mental powers such as telepathy with magic.  They seem to blur into each other, though, and it seems ability in one can lead to aptitude for the other. At the end of the novel Hawk acquires a powerful spellstone from a rival sorcerer-bird telepath, learning of his true heritage and his hidden potential at the same time.


  1. I was certainly alive and reading F&SF when this one came out, and feel like I should recognize it. Just drawing blanks at the moment. I will look for it in our local SF store, which carries a lot of used books.

  2. Good luck - and may you find a copy in good condition! Used-book stores saved my sanity in a place where the big bookstores stock only a very limited F&SF selection -- unfortunately they also contributed to my asthma.


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