Official Review: The Falconer's Apprentice

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Official Review: The Falconer's Apprentice

Post by chytach18- » 26 Dec 2015, 09:59

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Falconer's Apprentice" by Malve von Hassell.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Falconer’s Apprentice by Malve von Hassell has met all my expectations of a good historical book. The book is well-structured, well-researched and very well-written. It explores the last years of Frederick II as the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The time is the middle of the 13th century. The setting is the road from Castle Kragenberg (North Germany) to Castel del Monte (South Italy). Once the great domain, the Holy Roman Empire now suffers from political and social turbulence. People are divided. Some stay loyal to the aging emperor; many want change which they see in Pope and Catholic Church. But the protagonist of The Falconer’s Apprentice is not Frederic II or Pope. We explore real and fictional events through the eyes of Andreas, 13-years old orphan, the falconer’s apprentice.

Count Cuno, the landlord of Castle Kragenberg, is away. In his absence, his teenage son Ethelbert invites some noble neighbours for hunting with falcons. Andreas is helping Oswald, the falconer, to prepare the birds. Adela is a beautiful falcon but she still is very young and a little inexperienced. She ignores Ethelbert`s orders and goes for her own prey. Annoyed by her behaviour, angry Ethelbert pulls on Adela`s rope too forcefully. Upset and confused, Adela scratches his lordship’s face. In a rage, Ethelbert orders Oswald to destroy the bird. Young Andreas, who adores Adela and who witnessed the incident, is desperate to save her life. When Richard, the trader, comes to the castle, Andreas takes it as his only opportunity to find a better life for himself and Adela.

So Andreas`s journey, both physical and emotional, begins in the trader`s cart. He passes the mountains and the sea. He meets people, good and bad. He celebrates the St Valentine’s Day (I was fascinated how little the celebration had changed since the medieval time). He even meets the emperor himself. On the road, Andreas gains knowledge of the complexity of political and social life in the 13th century Europe. As they continue to travel, he finds out that Richard is not an ordinary trader, but he has another, very important mission – the trader gathers information for the emperor. Andreas`s development as a character is shown in a very subtle and gentle way. The boy is not fighting or chasing, or winning in a big battle. He is rather an observer, but very thoughtful and reflective observer. But by the end of the book, Andreas is not a naïve boy anymore. He is still kind and caring, but in a different, grown-up way.

I liked how Hassell has structured the book. The Falconer’s Apprentice is organised into eight parts, each of them preceded by a paragraph from the real book written by FredericK II on falconry. That rhythmic structure mirrors the steady tempo of the road journey. I think it was a very clever idea. Hassell chose paragraphs from The Art of Falconry which were beautiful on their own, but they also became extended metaphors to the themes of the following chapters of her book. That was another clever idea to write a book.

I am delighted to say that I could not find any faults within the book. Andreas seemed a very likable character, yet Malve von Hassell had never presented him in a didactic, finger-pointing way. And therefore Andreas looked both as a character from the distant history and as a very modern boy. I think he could be an inspiration for modern teenagers - how to pursue their dream whatever the dream could be. I would strongly recommend The Falconer’s Apprentice for wide readership, particularly for young adults who are interested in history. With great pleasure, I give The Falconer’s Apprentice four out of four stars.

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The Falconer's Apprentice
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Post by Levi » 27 Dec 2015, 17:30

This does sound like a unique way to structure a book as you mentioned! The book sounds very interesting, and I believe I will add it to my list. I am a fan of fantasy and adventure too, but I like the thought you had about him growing by being a thoughtful observer. Well done, and congrats to the author!
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Post by gali » 28 Dec 2015, 00:56

Sounds good! Thank you for the well-written review. :)
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Post by chytach18- » 28 Dec 2015, 05:48

Thank you both.
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Post by Malve396 » 28 Dec 2015, 13:35

Thank you for this very thoughtful, careful, comprehensive review. :D

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Post by chytach18- » 29 Dec 2015, 06:19

You welcome, Malve. I really liked reading your book.
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Post by Tanaya » 30 Dec 2015, 10:49

It does sound like a clever book, based on your descriptions. One thing I do enjoy about historical fiction is being able to relate to characters from a different place and time, so I like that you highlighted that aspect of the book as well. Great review!
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Post by chytach18- » 31 Dec 2015, 08:03

Thank you. Tanaya.
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Post by literarycat » 31 Dec 2015, 10:46

This sounds like it would be right up my alley, I'll have to have it to my list, thanks for the great review
The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken points ~ Ernest Hemingway.

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Post by chytach18- » 01 Jan 2016, 07:18

Thank you, literarycat.
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Post by kimmyschemy06 » 05 Jan 2016, 08:50

I love historical fiction because they usually turn out to be not only entertaining but also informative. I like Andreas' character based on your description and I think I'm going to like this book. Great review!

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Post by chytach18- » 05 Jan 2016, 11:49

Thank you, kymmyschemy, I'm sure you'll like reading the book.
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Post by Rachaelamb1 » 05 Jan 2016, 21:04

Sounds like a wonderful book! I love anything to do with birds and medieval times. You have me curious about St. Valentines day! I'm going to put this on my to read list.
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Post by chytach18- » 06 Jan 2016, 09:13

Thank you, Rachealamb.
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Post by literaturelover » 06 Jan 2016, 13:08

sounds amazing! I was a history major in college, with ancient and medieval being my niche! I certainly would like to check this book out based on your review! great job.
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