I was looking for another medieval mystery, and I wanted to try another new author--so I perused the offerings and saw a cover that I liked with an interesting book description for 99 cents. I had such great luck with the Jason Vail books that were also Kindle 99 cent downloads and decided to The Bishop of Canton a try.
The Bishop of Canton, the first book in the trilogy featuring Quinn Hawk, is set in a fantasy medieval world. There is no magic, but the medieval world Pugmire created is excellent and highly entertaining.
Written as one book of over 600 pages, the decision was made to divide the original manuscript into two books: The Bishop of Canton and The Baron of Eastcastle. At some point, the author decided to continue the story, and The King of Dalatia completed the trilogy.
The story follows young Quinn Hawk who, at thirteen, cannot read and has no skill with weapons. His parents are dead; his uncle, the Duke of Eastcastle, is resigned to the fact that Quinn will be neither scholar, nor warrior.
This is a series that improves chapter by chapter and book by book. The author begins a bit slowly, but then seems to find his way deeper and deeper into the story and the characters. Quinn, of course, gets the most attention,, gaining confidence as the book proceeds.
Plot: Instead of traveling with his uncle to the Spring Festival, Quinn has permission to go with his uncle's Weapon Master and his son. Bastian and his son, Alexander have been Quinn's best friends and supporters for most of his life, and the trip takes on an added excitement for the two boys. When problems with a wagon wheel develop, Alexander and Quinn decide to take a brief outing while they wait for the repairs. To their shock, they discover a cart of sacrificial wine and a dying man. The Bishop of Canton, who has been beaten and fatally wounded, manages to tell Quinn that he has information about his parents' murders. Quinn has always believed that his father parents (the former Duke and Duchess of Eastcastle) drowned at sea.
Alexander goes for help while Quinn remains with the dying Bishop, but when wolves threaten him, he is saved by Rowan, a passing ranger, who is very curious about what the Bishop may have said before he died. Although grateful to the ranger for saving his life, Quinn is reluctant to give information.
Alexander returns with help, and eventually, Bastian and the boys reach Bridgewater where the festival is held. While there, the boys meet Rhiannon, an orphan who picks Quinn's coin purse, which the boys recover. Now, we have most of the main characters in play.
Quinn persuades Rhiannon to come with them to Eastcastle. There are a few more adventures before this book ends in a cliff hanger (remember, the original manuscript was divided into two books) that is resolved in the next book.
The Baron of Eastcastle begins by recounting some of the events in the previous novel--nothing lengthy--before continuing with the story. (Yep, I downloaded it immediately, and yes, when the book always refers to the Duke of Eastcastle, I'm not sure why the cover reads Baron.)
Quinn, Alexander, and Rhiannon have returned to Eastcastle where Quinn continues to ponder the mystery of his parents' deaths. In spite of his uncle's request that Quinn drop the matter, Quinn and Rhiannon decide to follow up on one of the clues. They sneak away to see if they can get further information, but when Quinn's uncle realizes where they've gone, they are pursued.
The mysterious ranger appears again; Rhiannon disappears; Quinn is sent to Maladria as a kind of ambassador. More danger around every corner, but the mysteries concerning his parents and several other deaths are solved. I hate to skim over all of the adventures, but this is a pretty long post, and some of the adventures result in spoilers. No cliffhanger; all is wrapped up.
The King of Dalatia takes place four years later. Quinn is now at the King's Academy in Roseland. When he is recruited by the king to find the identity of "The Voice of the People" more danger ensues. New adventures and resolution.
I really liked these three books. So much so that immediately on finishing one, I downloaded the next. This is an excellent series for young and old.
"Jim Pugmire's Quinn Hawk series provides young readers with three outstanding historical novels featuring the adventures of a teenage boy who was born the son of the former Duke of Eastcastle but must make his own way through a troubled world of intrigue, deceit, and danger. The three deftly crafted novels set in a medieval era include "The Bishop of Canton"; "The Baron Of Eastcastle"; and "The King Of Dalatia". Author Jim Pugmire has a positive knack for engaging his young readers with believable characters in a deftly woven, complex, unpredictable story line that is solid entertainment from beginning to end. This outstanding trilogy is very highly recommended for school and community library historical fiction collections."
-Midwest Book Review
Although my copies are on my Kindle, I've ordered the first two books for my granddaughter in hopes that she will find them as good as I did.