20 Feb 2020 ⬩ 2 minutes

What's it all about, then?

On the nature and un-nature of the Black Hawks

Magnificent post illustration

A fair number of people have remarked, in conversation, reviews and on one occasion from a passing car via megaphone1, that The Black Hawks wasn’t what they were expecting. Most have been kind enough to follow that up with “in a good way!”, but I thought it might be worthwhile to jot down exactly what the book is (at least in my view), just in case there are still people out there who are wondering if it would be their beverage of choice and aren’t sure what to expect.

Here follow a few items on what the book is, starting with what it isn’t.

It’s not a comedy

The story is serious, and plenty of nasty things happen: a light-hearted jaunt through Fantasy Pastiche it is not. I’d stop short of calling it Grimdark though (and not just because of my inherent squeamishness) - it’s more of a caper than a death-march2. The bulk of the book’s humour comes from the characters, who certainly have a lot to say for themselves (see subsequent points).

It’s not magical, or monstrous

It’s a second-world fantasy, no magic systems, no unfathomable beasts beyond the true horror of the darkness of humanity’s soul etc.3 There’s a bit of technology in there, though - the setting is on the brink of some seismic changes.

It’s not standalone

The Black Hawks is the first of a two-part story. Book two aims to be with us towards the end of this year (being 2020).

It’s not YA

I mean, it’s not for me to say who should read what at which age, but the opening line of dialogue is “Thrice-damned pig-fucker” and it’s all downhill from there.

It’s not just about the Black Hawk Company

Despite the name, the main character isn’t one of the gang as the book begins. Don’t worry, they show up eventually.

It’s very sweary

See previous point. Yes, my mother disapproves.

It’s an homage to what I read growing up

I read voraciously as a teenager, including swathes of terrible quest fantasy. The Black Hawks is my take on those stories, a playful examination and occasional subversion of my favourite tropes.

It’s really very sweary

Seriously, if bad language is a turn-off for you, I recommend moving swiftly on. Blame all my former colleagues and the appalling examples they set.

It’s timely

Although I wrote it a few years ago now, I hope the book’s message of “examine the unexamined” has some relevance today.

It’s really, really very sweary

Readers have confessed that the book actually made them swearier. You’ve been warned.


If, after all that, the book sounds like something you or an acquaintance might enjoy, or the perfect day-ruiner for an adversary, you can find purchase links on the Books page.


  1. not really 

  2. I mean, Fast & Furious 5 is technically a drama, isn’t it? 

  3. and wolves