Bookworm, writer, radio host—I blog about history, fiction, and publishing in the Internet Age. You can find the full blog on my website. This space is for books.
I can't say I love this book, although I wanted to. The translation is wonderfully fluid, the setting is interesting and unusual, the history seems sound. I can imagine that many people will enjoy it. But for me it has too many information dumps and too many explanations that seem to come out of thin air. I also found the main characters rather flat, despite obvious attempts to round them out. Still, I give the author credit for tackling a murder mystery/political thriller/family drama set in 8th-century Central Asia. How many people would have the nerve?
Fully realized scenes (that didn't include long political explanations) kept drawing me back into the story every time I was ready to give up. There just weren't enough of such scenes to make Pet Hawk a gripping read.
Five stars for the translation, three for the novel—hence the average of four for the whole.