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The Last Hawk Mass Market Paperback – December 15, 1998

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Product Details

  • Series: Skolian Empire (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; Reissue edition (December 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812551109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812551105
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 2258 A.D., Kelric, a fighter pilot, crashes on Coba, an off-limits planet. He discovers a thriving civilization headed by women managers of 12 estates who want to keep their world hidden and free of domination by the Skolian empire. Choosing to spare his life, they detain Kelric as both honored concubine and prisoner for 20 years. As he is traded or sold to different estates, his knowledge of the physics-based quis dice game that governs Coba increases his value and power. Set in the same universe as Primary Inversion (LJ 2/15/95) and Catch the Lightning (LJ 11/15/96), this intriguing novel combines hard speculative science (Asaro is a physicist) with romantic adventure. Like the other two novels in the Skolian empire saga, it can stand alone. Recommended for larger sf collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another yarn set in Asaro's far-future Skolian Empire (Catch the Lightning, 1996, etc.). This time, Jagernaut Kelric Valdoria, the Emperor Kurj's half-brother, is attacked and disabled by Traders; he crash-lands on Coba, a planet run by women and protected by treaty from imperial incursions. For various reasons (not least because she falls in love with him), Coban Manager Jeha Dahl is reluctant to turn Kelric over to the Skolians. Independently intelligible but likely to appeal most to existing fans. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Catherine Asaro: Renassaince Woman

Propped against the bookcase in Catherine Asaro's home office is the framed diploma of her Harvard Ph.D. in chemical physics. Nearby, dangling from the doorknob, is a bag stuffed with the tights and leotards she wears when she pulls herself away from her writing for ballet classes. A former professional dancer, this California native has little time for the ballet barre these days. Instead, she's fielding speaking offers and meeting deadlines for her novels.

Winner of the Nebula (R) Award for her novel, THE QUANTUM ROSE, and her novella, "The SpacetimePool," Catherine blends exciting adventure, science, world building, romance, and strong characterization into her fiction. Her latest publication is The Nebula Awards Showcase 2013, for which she served as editor. Her latest books are the novel Carnelians (Baen) and the anthology Aurora and Four Voices (ISFiC Press). Her story "The Pyre of New Day," which appeared in the anthology The Mammoth Book of SF Wars, was nominated for the Nebula Award. She also writes thrillers, including ALPHA and SUNRISE ALLEY.

Catherine's short fiction has appeared in Analog magazine and various anthologies, including "Walk in Silence," "A Roll of the Dice," and "Aurora in Four Voices," which all won the Analog Readers Poll for best novella, and were nominated for both Nebula(R) and Hugo Awards. Her novella, "The Spacetime Pool" (Analog, March 2008), is currently up for the Nebula(R). Catherine has also published reviews and essays and authored scientific papers in refereed academic journals. Her paper,"Complex Speeds and Special Relativity" in the The American Journal of Physics (April 1996) forms the basis for some of the science in her fiction. Among the places she has done research are the University of Toronto, the Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She was a physics professor until 1990, when she became a consultant and writer.

Catherine also has two music CD's out and she is currently working on her thirds. Her first CD, Diamond Star, is the soundtrack for her novel of the same name, performed with the rock band, Point Valid. She appears as a vocalist at cons, clubs, and other venues in the US and abroad, including as the Guest of Honor at the Denmark and New Zealand National Science Fiction Conventions. She performs selections from her work in a multimedia project that mixes literature, dance, and music with Greg Adams as her accompanist. She is also a theoretical physicist with a PhD in Chemical Physics from Harvard, and teaches part time in the physics department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In Catherine's youth, the arts were her focus. She studied ballet from age of five, trained in classical piano, and spent hours curled up with books. She successfully pursued London's Royal Academy of Dance syllabus through the first professional level and enrolled at UCLA as a dance major. Then she discovered she loved math and science. "I hadn't studied it much in high school, but at UCLA I ended up taking a lot of science and math," she remembers. "I struggled at first and sometimes I felt like I had no clue. Then one day I read the chapter in my chemistry book on quantum theory--and I was hooked. It felt more right than any other subject I had studied." She went on to earn a BS with Highest Honors from UCLA, a masters in physics from Harvard, and a doctorate in chemical physics, also from Harvard.

Catherine attributes her ability to entertain a broad reading audience in part to her upbringing. "My father is one of the four scientists who postulated that a comet hitting the earth caused mass extinctions, including the demise of dinosaurs. My mother was a student of English literature who loved to write, so from the beginning I was influenced by both the sciences and arts." While pursing her degrees, Catherine continued to dance, founding the Mainly Jazz Dancers and Harvard University Ballet. Perennially on deadline, she now focuses more on her writing than research, but she often speaks on the intersection of science and art at venues such as the Library of Congress and Georgetown University.

Catherine is also proud to coach the Howard Area Homeschoolers, whose students have distinguished themselves in numerous national math programs, including the USA Mathematical Olympiad, MathCounts, and the American Regional Mathematics League. She has served two terms as president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA).

Born in Oakland, California, Asaro grew up in El Cerrito, north of Berkeley. A challenger of rules since her childhood, she explores the boundaries of genre fiction in her novels. "It's like stretching different muscles for dance class," she says, adding that dancing and math aren't as dissimilar as people may think. "There is a beauty in seeing a math problem come together just as there is in performing a ballet. And the discipline it takes to do ballet well is similar to that needed to do math." But no matter what the style of her novels, she writes from the heart. "The flashy adventure is fun," she says, "but the characters mean the most to me, both as a reader and as a writer."

Visit Catherine Asaro Visit her at www.facebook.com/Catherine.Asaro

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on August 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Last Hawk takes place roughly at the same time as the action of Catherine Asaro's first novel, Primary Inversion, but on a completely isolated planet. The connection to her other Skolian novels is that the protagonist, Kelric, is a member of the Ruby Dynasty, ruling family of the Skolian empire. He crash-lands on an isolated, restricted, planet, Coba, and becomes a pawn in an extended power struggle.
The novel is really concerned with the social and political setup on this planet. The society of this planet is female dominated, and a powerful male like Kelric is a threat, both to the societal structure, and to the political independence: this last because if he is found by the Skolians, the restricted label is likely to vanish, and Coba will be absorbed into the Empire.
There are other key aspects to the social structure: Coba is dominated by a number of Houses, each with a female head. The planet has replaced war with a game called Quis. Each House has some first rate Quis players: the Head of the house, and members of her household, especially including her "husbands" (or "akasi"s). Information is transmitted by Quis playing, and very good players can influence "public opinion" by innovative playing. I found this concept fascinating, though in the end quite unconvincing. An important aspect of this is that a Calani (male Quis player) from one household is very valuable to another household, because of his "inside knowledge", as it were, and a certain flexibility he seems to gain from being exposed to different styles of Quis. Thus these Calani become, essentially, prize commodities, tradable for money or political favors.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Kraft on December 1, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Last Hawk is the third Asaro novel I have read, and while they each stand alone (Primary Inversion & Catch the Lightning being the other two) they also build a fascinating description and time-line of an alternative universe. The Last Hawk focuses on what happens to our hero after he is forced to crash on a planet in which matriarchy is the dominant social form. Asaro reminds me of early Joanna Russ & Ursula LeGuinn in her handling of gender issues, which jolt us with their unfamiliarity and make us look at our unbidden assumptions. There is a lot of action here, but a lot of subtlety also. One of the central themes has to do with a planet-wide game which also serves as communication net -- rather as if chess & go were a primitive form of the internet. Ian Bank's "The Player of Games" comes to mind. If you like adventure, alternative realities, personal stories and social commentary in your science fiction, this is a must read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Last Hawk is about the brother of the main character in Primary Inversion and The Radiant Seas. He crash lands on a planet that has a matriarchal society in which a few men are treasured, the men who can play a game that determines the course of the future. Kelric is a natural at this game. He is a pawn traded from kingdom to kingdom, from queen to queen, as his influence as a player grows.
The book contains an interesting examination of male/female roles by making males subserviant to women. The game is also fascinating. It seems to be based on quantum physics, but I don't know enough about that area to be sure.
The book is good SF. It was also a great read. I picked it up thinking I wouldn't like it (after I'd read some of the reviews below) and couldn't put it down.
I think that there's a difference between great literature and great reading. I give books that I enjoy more stars than books I should enjoy but don't, so Proust (boring) gets 1 star and The Last Hawk (thrilling) gets 5. By the way, the SF I've liked includes Endymion, Neuromancer, Snow Crash, The Forever War, Rendezvous with Rama, The Left Hand of Darkness, Babel-17, The Man in the High Castle...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Tramposch on November 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE LAST HAWK is the fourth installment in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. It stars Kelric Valdoria Skolia, Jagernaut Tertiary, third heir to Skolian Imperator, Kurj. The story takes place during the same period as the two tales of his sister Sauscony and Jabriol Qox II, PRIMARY INVERSION and THE RADIANT SEAS. Having said that, THE LAST HAWK is a vastly different sort of tale from the aforementioned titles.

When Kelric's crippled starfighter kicks out of inversion in an unfamiliar part of the universe, he realizes that he must find a place to land or perish. Already injured he crash lands on Coba, a planet on the ISC restricted list.

Quarantined by their own request, the Coban's are forbidden to interact with Skolians. Thus defines the conflict when the crash is viewed and the rescue team realizes that the victim is indeed a member of that race. Should they break the rules and save his life, or deliver him to the starport assuring his death?

It is clear early on that the inhabitants have descended from the same ancestors as the Skolians. Through geographical isolation their society had developed quite differently. They have not yet attained the technical advancements of Kelric's world. Though they possessed fliers, the had not achieved space flight. The planet's restricted status is basically unnecessary, as Kelric would soon learn. In order to preserve their freedom, Kelric's is forfeit. They save his life but he will never be allowed to return home.

Coba is under matriarchal rule; women being the more aggressive sex. They hold the power, ruling the estates, making all of the major decisions. The men are either, demure and virginal mate prospects, kasi/consorts, prostitutes, or Calani/ master Quiz players.
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