The Falconer’s Apprentice by Malve von Hassell
Publication Date: May 30th 2015
Publisher: namelos publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction / YA
“That bird should be destroyed!”
Andreas stared at Ethelbert in shock. Blood from an angry-looking gash on the young lord’s cheek dripped onto his embroidered tunic. Andreas clutched the handles of the basket containing the young peregrine. Perhaps this was a dream—
Andreas, an apprentice falconer at Castle Kragenberg, cannot bear the thought of killing the young female falcon and smuggles her out of the castle. Soon he realizes that his own time there has come to an end, and he stows away, with the bird, in the cart of an itinerant trader, Richard of Brugge. So begins a series of adventures that lead him from an obscure castle in northern Germany to the farthest reaches of Frederick von Hohenstaufen’s Holy Roman Empire, following a path dictated by the wily trader’s mysterious mission.
Andreas continues to improve his falconry skills, but he also learns to pay attention to what is happening around him as he travels through areas fraught with political unrest. Eventually, Richard confides in Andreas, and they conspire to free Enzio, the eldest of the emperor’s illegitimate sons, from imprisonment in Bologna.
The Falconer’s Apprentice is a story of adventure and intrigue set in the intense social and political unrest of the Holy Roman Empire in the thirteenth century.
*** Note: I received e-copy this book from Henry from Odyssey Books and PR manager for author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Henry and author. ***
The Falconer’s Apprentice was a historical and cultural adventure of falconer’s apprentice that take place in Holy Roman Empire in the thirteenth Century. The book was about Falconry, trade, life on road through Europe during the period of political unrest, humanity and compassion. A coming of age story of young boy who discovers a path of his life through this travel.
Writing was easy and engaging. It was not flowery and was pretty simple narration of the world and adventure yet it had that attraction that never let me lose a grip on story. The setting of Medieval Europe in 13th century was amazing. It was third person narrative divided in 9 parts, each containing equal number of chapters. Synopsis describes the story perfectly.
First few chapters set the base of the story introducing main character, Andreas, his life at castle Kragenberg in Germany as an orphan boy, working as kitchen boy, in mews as falconer’s apprentice, taking lessons from his uncle. Life was rough for him, he was often bullied by pages and other kids but he loved falcons and was grateful for getting work. His relationship with characters at castle was great. They didn’t show much affection to him but they loved him and helped him as much as they can.
When Count Cuno’s son ordered to destroy Adela,- a female Peregrine, Andreas’ favorite falcon- he stole Adela and planned to move out of castle. He got his opportunity when Richard, the falcon trader, arrived at castle. The next thing he was out on the road in Richard’s cart. When Richard discovered his presence, instead of kicking him out and back to Castle Kragenberg, Richard took him in. I was curious to see what he wanted from Andreas, a free helper or something else.
Andreas was just 14 yrs old when he left castle but he grew a lot in his journey. He was hardworking, passionate, compassionate, and clever. I didn’t understand why he had doubts about his life, he was good at falconry, he could be a great falconer. But during the journey he saw and learned many things that changed his perception. He discovered more about himself, life and what he wanted to achieve. As it was third person narrative with less dialogues, I couldn’t read his mind or feeling but I rooted for him.
Richard was great character and stern teacher. At first I found him mysterious and suspicious but he surprised me by teaching Andreas all that he knew and learned from his life of travel- falcons, trade business and trade routes in Europe. When his part in big scheme revealed he surprised me even more by giving choice. This character grew on me and amazed me more than once.
What I loved most about this book was history and plethora of information. Each section in the book started with a piece from Frederick von Hohenstaufen’s book, The Art of Falconry. In each section there was a bit more about Falconry along with Andreas’ experience with all the topics- different species of falcons and who can keep them, how falconer should train falcons, basic principles, how to feed them and treat them, their schedules on travel, how they are captured and how they should be released. It was all fascinating.
The culture, tradition and laws were equally fascinating. I enjoyed stories about Barbarossa, conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines, battle between Lomabard League, Frederick II and his son, and tortellini.
There was no romance or brutality. There was a mere mention of attempted rape and social differences between rich and poor but nothing detailed that makes the book perfect for readers of all age. There was no action or drama or anything suspenseful yet I found it gripping and loved reading characters’ journey.
I enjoyed Andreas’s travel and how he evolved by the end of the book. I liked the way it ended and what he decided to do with Adela and with his life.
Why 4 Stars-
I couldn’t know characters, especially Andreas, that deeply. I couldn’t say for sure how characters felt about their situation and about other characters in the book.
Overall, it was interesting historical book with amazing characters and their journey.
What do you think about the book and my review?
Have you read this book already? Are you going to add it to TBR?
Have you read a book set in 13th Century or set in Medieval Europe?
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