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Hawk of May (Down the Long Wind) Paperback – September 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Down the Long Wind Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bradshaw's Hopwood-winning series starter returns to shelves 30 years after its original release. Gwalchmai, aka the legendary warrior Gawain, tells the story of how he came to King Arthur's court. In boyhood, he studied sorcery with his mother, Morgawse, nearly falling under the spell of darkness before devoting himself to the light. He believes the powers of good want him to follow Arthur, but his path is blocked first by enemy Saxons and then by the king's own rejection. Bradshaw paints a Roman Arthur, determined to rebuild the fallen empire, against a backdrop of Irish mythology. Gwalchmai is an honest narrator who allows hindsight to creep in only rarely; his voice is simple and earnest. Written when the author was a teen, this engaging and enchanting retelling of the Arthur legend will appeal to adults and younger readers alike.
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"Fights, battles, loyalties, magic, wonder, family ties and so much more." - Night Owl Romance

"Courage, darkness, magic, cruelty and kindness, justice and liberation... all the things that you have come to relish in the tales of King Arthur and his brave knights." - Yankee Romance Reviewers

"A brilliantly told fantasy novel swirling in the mythical land of King Arthur's Britain... A must read for Arthurian legend fans." - Queen of Happy Endings

"The book is stock full of adventure, magic, and struggles and leaves you feeling like you are one of King Arthur's retinue." - The Book Tree

"Hawk of May makes an excellent start to an unusual Arthurian trilogy. " - BookLoons.com

"compelling and magical. The character of Gwalchmai pops off the pages and shines... Beautifully descriptive, a must read for any Arthurian fan." - Anna's Book Blog

" This fantastical legend is a rich one, and I'm enjoying Gillian Bradshaw's presentation of it." - The Calico Critic

" Gillian's a truly talented writer with an amazing ability to entertain. I can't wait to read the other two books in this trilogy! " - Readaholic

"Bradshaw has done an excellent job of making Irish mythology and the legends of King Arthur come to life. " - Debbie's Book Bag

"What a great writer Gillian Bradshaw is... one of the most vivid books I've read in ages. " - She Read a Book

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Product Details

  • Series: Down the Long Wind (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402240708
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402240706
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am disappointed that this novel is currently out of print, as it is one of the better written of the Arthurian novels. The first Gillian Bradshaw novel I have read, this will not the be last.
The Hawk of May is Gwalchmai, son of Lot (possibly) and Morgawse, sister of Arthur and daughter of recently deceased High King Uther. At the beginning of the novel, Gwalchmai has met neither of his more famous relatives, but he knows that both are greatly hated by his parents. Gwalchmai, more familiar to students of Arthurian romances as Gawain, is here the middle son, between his older brother Agravain, and his younger brother (and definitely not the son of Lot) Medraut. Gaheris, normally Agravain's twin, and Gareth are noticeably absent in this rendition. Unlike Agravain, Gwalchmai is not good at the manly arts of war. He is a gifted bard and horseman, but the Celts have not yet adopted battle on horseback yet. Gwalchmai is disappointed in himself and he knows that Lot and Agravain despise him. Finally deciding that he will never be man enough to be a warrior, Gwalchmai agrees to study the black arts from his mother, and discovers that he has a talent for them. He hates his choice, and desperately tries to protect his beloved younger brother, Medraut from them. Medraut, unlike Gwalchmai, has demonstrated that he will be an excellent warrior. When Gwalchmai realizes he failed in preventing Medraut from taking up the black arts, Gwalchmai flees his father's palace, and after a meeting with the forces of the Light, Gwalchmai decides to become one of Arthur's followers.
Until this point, the book is fascinating and can't be put down. Gwalchmai's meeting with his ancestor, Lugh, is one of the best written set ups for the Celtic Otherworld I have read in a while.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was a double winner for me. I bought it used on Amazon.com for about $1 and it was GREAT! I liked the new perspective on the sons of King Lot. If you are familiar with the basics of Arthurian legend, you know King Lot's sons have played key roles in the legends in one form or the other. They go by different names, the quantity of sons differs occassionally, as does the name of their mother. In this case, there are 3 boys mothered by Morgawse and fathered by...???...well, raised by King Lot. Hawk of May focuses on the second son...Gwalchamai or "Hawk of May". In perhaps typical middle child uncertainty, he doubts his ability to follow his elder brothers warrior prowess and seeks his own identity by bonding with his beautiful yet frightening mother. However, the author takes us to the brink of darkness and sorcery only to deliver Gwalchamai to a more divine destiny. The journey is not nearly that simple, however.
The book is an enticing and enjoyable read. The author provides a beneficial note on the pronounciation of the Welsh spellings used and I found them to be not the least bit daunting. In fact, I liked the change to an otherwise very familiar legend. I found that the name and location variances kept me from "assuming" I knew where the story was headed. I like the author's descriptions of key characters and was excited that Guenevere received barely a nod in this book with no sign of Lancelot yet. Too many authors put too much into the love triangle and miss the mark when describing Arthur. Bradshaw has done a marvelous job...I found myself torn between disliking Arthur and sharing in the feeling of awe that he inspired amongst his men and his people.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must admit to a bit of confusion about the way Amazon is referring to this book, since it's subtitled "Down the Long Way 1), but apparently the series title is "Down the Long WIND".

At any rate, it takes a fresh look at the Arthurian Legend, approaching it through the eyes of young Gwalchmai ap Lot, whom readers may more readily recognize as Gawain. As the son of King Lot of Orkney and the sorceress / general s*** disturber, Morgawse (Morgan LeFay), young Gwalchmai has a pretty tough row to hoe in general, and being notably untalented in the warrior department doesn't make things any easier. Ultimately he sets off on a journey which -- not surprisingly -- ends in manhood and acceptance to Arthur's warband.

It's a long, cold, violent trip to Arthur's inner circle, however, and Bradshaw does a good, if somewhat slow, job getting him there. There are many of the magical traditions of the Arthurian cycle present here, but Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, and Excalibur are notably absent. Arthur is mostly offstage except for the last third of the novel, and when he does appear, he's presented as a stubborn, suspicious, and surprisingly ill-tempered young monarch. One must wonder why Gwalchmai is going to all this trouble to win a place at his side.

All in all, it's an engaging read. Bradshaw includes introductory information to help readers tackle the pronunciation of some of the more difficult words, though in the Kindle edition, it's a bit cumbersome to refer back to them. Arthurian completists will probably want to go on to the next two books, but the casual reader can be satisfied with this story as a stand-alone tale.
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