'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 6 October 2017

Review: The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

To address the countless qualities of this stunning book is to first call attention to the magnificent illustrations/artwork of the greatly talented and versatile Bagram Ibatouille. 

You may recognize his name from the brilliant and unforgettable The Matchbox Diary, Crossing, or other works. Looking at the pages is like examining art in a gallery where beauty leaves you breathless; where your eyes are never filled with what they see. So you look on.

The words sit shyly in as small space as they can; appearing to avoid intrusion into the story the full page pictures are telling. The text is offered up in two forms. One is the girl’s narrative expressed in verse, and filled with emotion. Poetic and moving, each word is deliberate, forceful and significant. They stress the historical importance of this ancient art, and the father and daughter’s connection to it.

The second is a factual account of Medieval Falconry, its history, and the elements of training and keeping birds of prey. This is contained in a boxed frame, in small italic print.  Extremely detailed, it covers every area of the terms, handling, equipment, safety precautions, body structure and habits of the bird. Included is the selection and training of the hound used to retrieve the grouse that is used for food.

Castles and portions of them - internal and external, fill the pages. Wide expanses of countryside, with lakes flowing through them, add to the glorious panorama view. Decorative borders add elegance to each double spread.

The Author’s Note is as informative as the book, for story was taken from the author’s life and experiences. It contains Further Reading and Information, and an Index of Terms used in Falconry.

Title: The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry
Author: Danna Smith
Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline
Publisher: Walker Books, $24.99
Publication Date: April 2017
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781406376692
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Non-Fiction