Ok, I must admit that I did want to read The Good Hawk before I welcome the author, Joseph Elliott, onto the Pewter Wolf. But, alas, real life got in the way and so did my reading speed. I slowed down A LOT! But I really want you guys to know about this book as it sounds so good. Perfect for you Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver fans (another series I'm slowly working my way through. Will start book 3 soon. Honest!)
For those of you who don't know the book, let me explain. The Good Hawk is the first book in a new series set in the Stone Age Scotland. Agatha is a Hawk, protecting her clan by patrolling the sea wall, even though her people whisper about her and her condition. Jamie is a reluctant Angler, full of self-doubt and anxiety. And worse, he has been forced into a position that hasn't happened in generations: to marry.
But when disaster and betrayal strikes, the two are bound together and must embark on a journey to save the clan. But can a girl with Down's syndrome and a boy with anxiety be a match for a land where forgotten magic and dark, dangerous secrets that lurk in every shadow...
WHAT MORE CAN I ASK FOR IN A FANTASY BOOK?!
So, I am thrilled that Joseph has found time to write this as he's super busy. Teacher, author and actor (most of you might know him from CBeebies's Swashbuckle). So, before I hand you over Joseph to chat about one of the leads, Jamie, I just want to thank him for finding time to write this for my tiny little blog & to thank Rebecca at Walker for going "Sure, why not" when I asked if Joesph fancied writing a guest post.
Oh, if you want to say hi to Joseph, you can via his website - joseph-elliott.net - or you can say hi via his Twitter (@joseph_elliott) and Instagram (@joseph_elliott3). Oh, and if you want more info on Good Hawk, you can check out Walker Books.
Now, over to you, Joseph!
The Good Hawk is a sprawling fantasy set on the Isle of Skye in a mythical version of Scotland. The two protagonists are a feisty teenage girl called Agatha and an anxious fourteen-year-old boy called Jaime. When I’m asked to talk or write about the characters, most people want to discuss Agatha, probably because she is the first heroine in a mainstream teen fantasy series to have Down’s syndrome (that I know of). I adore Agatha and am so proud to have created a character that many people - both adults and children - will not have experienced in a novel before.
In this post, however, I want to talk about Jaime. He can often be overshadowed by Agatha – who is bold, brave and brash, in contrast to his pensive, self-reflective personality – but he is no less a hero. When disaster strikes and their clan is enslaved, the two must team up and make a perilous journey across the deserted Scotian mainland in an attempt to rescue them. Jaime considers himself the least suitable person for such a task, but he is more resilient and resourceful than he gives himself credit for, and never once gives up.
“Fear is weakness. Clann-a-Tuath does not feel fear.” This mantra has been repeated to Jaime his whole life and as a result, he is plagued not only by the anxieties he suffers on a daily basis, but by the knowledge that his clan would be ashamed at him for feeling them. He cannot talk about his worries because, as far as his clan is concerned, that fear should not even exist.
Mental Health has – finally – become more socially acceptable as a topic of conversation, but as a nation we still have a long way to go, particularly in terms of funding to support people who suffer from any of the many related conditions. Through Jaime, I wanted to show how damaging it can be when society encourages us to supress our feelings, and how important it is for all of us to own our emotions and speak about them to others – particularly if we are feeling anxious or depressed.
As Jaime’s journey progresses, he encounters people from other clans and tribes who have different ways of living and alternate views on the world. As a result, he is forced to question everything he has been taught up to that point, and must reassess his opinions on numerous topics. For example, at one point, he encounters a male character who casually tells him about his relationship with another man – something Jaime has always been taught is not “dùth”; not proper or right. Jaime’s initial reaction is one of aversion and mistrust, but as his friendship with the other character grows, he realises that his prejudices are the result of what the clan elders have taught him, not his true beliefs. He apologises and alters his behaviour as a result. My hope is that, rather than judge Jaime for the way he initially behaves, readers will realise that he was a victim of his upbringing. We’re all born inclined to love and accept, and it is the teachings of others that change that. As Jaime questions his deeply-ingrained beliefs, he proves that, just because you have always been taught something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true, and that it’s never too late to admit you were wrong and change your views, if you know deep down that they are misguided. That’s real strength, after all.