A few months ago, Thea and I wrote a joint review The Poison Throne, the first book in the Moorehawke Trilogy by Celine Kiernan and posted the review over at Tor.com. I loved it (Thea not so much – which is fine, because this series has ANA written all over it) and vowed to read the other two books ASAP. I didn’t and that was only because I knew that I needed at least a good 10 free hours in order to do so: I had the feeling that once I started reading book 2, I wouldn’t stop until finishing book 3 as well. I was right: a couple of weeks ago I had a free weekend and found myself staying up until Sunday 4am to finish it all AND OH MY GOD, IT WAS SO WORTH IT.

Suffice it to say: in a perfect world, I would love all the books that I read as much I loved the Moorehawke trilogy. Furthermore, you know by now that I love Fantasy novels, LOVE them. But it is very, very rarely that they are character-driven and that is exactly the greatest strength of this series. I can always enjoy gritty, dark fantasy on an intellectual level but very rarely on an emotional one.

The beautiful Australian covers form a picture

The Moorehawke Trilogy is set in alternate Europe in what feels like the beginning of the Modern Era (circa 15th-16th century). Basically, in terms of plot and with as little in the way of spoilers as possible:

The protagonist-narrator, Wynter Moorehawke and her dying father, return home in The Poison Throne after a 5 year absence, eager to see her two childhood friends/brothers Razi and Alberon only to find the Kingdom in the throes of political and religious turmoil. The once kind and enlightened King Jonathon has become a tyrant who opened the doors to the Inquisition, subverting the previous order. Now, the Cats who used to communicate with people have been killed and the Ghosts of the Castle have been declared non-existent. Even more distressing is the political instability as Alberon, the official heir to the throne is nowhere to be seen and his half-brother (and bastard son), Razi has been proclaimed the new heir. The story follows Wynter and her father as well as Razi and his best friend Christopher as they are caught up in the middle of transition. After events in the end of book one, in The Crowded Shadows, the three amigos – Razi, Wynter and Christopher – set out (apart at first, together eventually) to find Alberon to try and make sense of what in the world is going on and why is he rebelling against his own father and what exactly is this Weapon that everybody seems to fear so much. And then finally in book 3, The Rebel Prince, they meet with Alberon and all of the plotlines come together and we learn the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

Even more basically: book 1, is set at Court, is full of social intrigue and is effectively the Mystery book. Book two is a on-the road-book but also the Relationship book. Book three is set mostly at Alberon’s camp and is the Politics book.

But more to the point: none of what I said so far reveals what really is the heart and soul of this series: its characters, their diversity (Razi is Arab for example and there are secondary gay characters in an awesome loving relationship as well), their struggles, the relationships. They are all well-drawn, from the three main characters, to the villains, to the secondary characters.

Wynter, Razi and Christopher are all in a way reluctant heroes. Wynter would much rather be working than being at Court; Razi is a doctor and does not want to take his brother’s place much less be in charge of a whole Kingdom; Christopher has his own agenda but will put it aside due to his undying loyalty to Razi.

Chris and Wyn, by the author

They are all terrified by what is going on but they take upon themselves to do something: for their Kingdom, for their friends, for each other, for Alberon, who is absent and who needs to be heard. Razi and Christopher have been through a lot of stuff together before the story even starts; Razi and Wynter are like brother and sister and their relationship is awesome and heart-warming and then there is the equally awesome and heart-warming romance between Wynter and Christopher that develops over the course of the three books (the scene where he asks her name and we learn that Wynter is not her real name – and why she is called Wynter in the first place is all kinds of amazing).

More than the main trio and their relationship with each other though, there are other characters that shone through: Wyn’s father, Lorcan; Razi and Alberon’s; Alberon, who was a huge surprise in the way that he was not what I expected at all and it took some time to warm up to him; and dear lord, the plethora of characters in the Merron’s camp (where a great part of book 2 is set). The Merron are a nation (to which Christopher almost reluctantly belongs to) of nomads who have their own religious beliefs (you can read more about them in the author’s website) and I thought this part of the story was absolutely fascinating: it revealed more about Christopher, it revealed more about the world-building; this is where Razi falls in love too:

Razy and Embla, by the author.

And it is all so heartbreaking and even more than that: there are huge plot twists in this part of the story and they are HORRENDOUS and it is even more awesome because even though these horrible things are perpetrated by the Merron people, still, the author makes it possible for the reader to understand WHY. This is no mean feat, because of what exactly I am talking about (clue: human sacrifice) .

Just to make things clear: when I say that the characters are what made this series for me, this does not mean that the series is plot-less – this is far from the truth. It is just that the religious, political, economical issues are all felt and lived by the characters and they are the ones to move the plot forward not the other way around in a well-balanced story. It is interesting to note that out of the three books, The Crowded Shadows is by far my favourite: it is possibly where one can argue, “nothing” really happens, to wit I would counter argue that in fact, it is the book where the MOST AWESOME things happen, but they are all of the emotional variety.

In the end, it was hard for me to side with one side or the other – which to me just shows how really COMPLEX the running of a freaking kingdom is and how there are no easy answers. And I appreciated how the author never once let me down in this regard.

And not even the appearance of a last-minute deus ex machina that nearly BROKE MY HEART, was enough to bring down this series. I fully understood the necessity of said deus ex machina, even if the HOW it happens was not to my own liking. My reaction though, is admittedly a part of my personal emotional investment in this series. It is interesting, how that same sequence of events though, holds what is the ultimate, finest moment of each character.

And I shall leave you with my MOST FAVOURITE scene, in which Wynter (have I told you how awesome she is?) tells Christopher:

You listen to me, Freeman Garron. I am telling you now, I love you.

‘I love you’, she insisted, her face very close to his.’To court I shall always be the Protector Lady Wynter Moorehawke. To Razi and Alberon I shall always be Wyn – Razi’s baby, Albi’s little sis. These things are what I am, Christopher, and I am proud of them. But I am also your Iseult. You are the only man to whom I shall ever be thus, and I shall never let that go. We shall find our place,’ she promised. ‘I’m not yet certain how we shall find it, or where it will be, but wherever it is, we shall be together, Christopher; and whatever we are doing, it will not involve me sitting in a tent waiting for my menfolk to change the world.’

It is stuff to warm up your soul, y’all.


Because I love this series so much and want people to read it, I am giving away the entire trilogy to one lucky winner. The contest is open to EVERYBODY, and will run until Saturday December 18 at 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, simply leave a comment here. ONE comment per person, please! Multiple comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

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137 Responses to Smugglivus 2010 – I Love This Series: The Moorehawke Trilogy by Celine Kiernan + Giveaway

  1. LizSara says:

    Loving the covers with the sketchwork on them – consider me entered

  2. I read a preview of The Poison Throne and you just reminded me that I need to make sure I read it – obviously winning copies would be fab, but either way, it’s going on my list!

  3. Poppy says:

    These looks so cool! I’d love to win :)

  4. Lesley D says:

    I’ve heard such great things about this series! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Hannah says:

    Ah I have been wanting to read this forEVER! I would love to enter, thanks so much for the giveaway! (And reminding me that I want to read them; as if my TBR list wasn’t already ridiculously long!)

  6. KJ says:

    These sound great! consider me entered.

  7. Lisa says:

    I’m really interested in this series as I’ve read so many good things about it! I’d love to win!

  8. Chachic says:

    Oh wow, those Aussie covers look great! Thanks for the spoiler-free review. I believe I’ve seen reviews of the first book but I’ve avoided the ones for the latter books for fear of spoilers. I’d love to be entered in the giveaway. :)

  9. Jenn C. says:

    These look fantastic! I’m putting them on my library list right away (if they carry them).

  10. Ginny says:

    Sounds interesting. Love the beautiful Austrialian covers.

  11. Karissa says:

    Thanks for the contest, I have had this on my list to read for awhile! Please enter me :-)

  12. Lindsay says:

    I usually never enter contests, but you’ve sold me on this trilogy, so I’ll give it a whirl!

  13. Estara says:

    No entering for me, please, I already bought them all as ebooks ^^ – which means I was able to past the incredible Australian cover in, heh.

    I’m looking forward to the holiday, because I might also get around to book two and three then.

    The artist, Elise Hurst, doesn’t just have a blog but you can buy art of hers, no prints of those covers, though.

  14. Andrea Chettle says:

    Great give away – thanks for making it international – please add my name to the draw!

  15. Lindsay Elizabeth says:

    Three new books?! Count me in!

  16. Sara S. says:

    Thanks for bringing this trilogy to my attention. I doubt my library has them, would love to win!

  17. Rachel says:

    These sound amazing– count me in!

  18. Cheri H. says:

    Looks awesome!

  19. Su says:

    Wow, thanks for this contest. Even if I don’t win, I think that excerpt just sold me on them. On the TBR list they go!

  20. Sandy G says:

    This sounds like a good series. I like alternate history stories.

  21. Ashleigh says:

    I’ve somehow never heard of these books before, but now I would love to read them! I just got finished with a pretty bad book and could use a few good ones.

  22. nicnix says:

    What an interesting series. Count me in please.:)

  23. Sarah says:

    This does sound like an amazing trilogy – thanks for sharing :)

  24. theresa_who says:

    You sold me on them! Can’t wait to win :D

  25. Veronica says:

    The first book is on my TBR list… winning the whole set would make this easier, haha! :) Here’s to hoping!

  26. Chrizette says:

    Please enter me as well :) Love the covers!

  27. Rene says:

    Thank you- I hadn’t heard of these, and win or not, definitely will check them out. The covers are fantastic. Love the author’s art, too.

    Thanks for doing this giveaway.

  28. Amanda Lee says:

    This sounds absolutely amazing, and those Australian covers are superb!

    You guys are the best. :)

  29. Amelia P. says:

    They look like interesting books! Never heard of them before, but would love a chance to win copies of them :)

  30. Noobling says:

    Wow, amazing giveaway! Please count me in. Thank you.

  31. kathybaug says:

    I would love to win these books! Thanks for the contest.

  32. Robin K says:

    I love the heroine cover!

  33. Eleanor says:

    I love reading your reviews, and this one was no exception. I am so excited about reading this trilogy that if I don’t win it I will just have to buy it.

  34. Hann1bal says:

    Sounds fascinating.

  35. Tina says:

    This sounds like an awesome series. I had seen these mentioned a few times on other blogs but I had not really been interested until I read your reviews. Thanks for introducing to a new trilogy :)

  36. raych says:

    Don’t enter me because I already own them BECAUSE THEY ARE FANTASTIC, I just wanted to come on here and shout about how fantastic these books are. Also I agree with Ana re: Crowded Shadows. Nothing happens! Still so great.

  37. Stacy says:

    Sounds like a great series! I would love to read these.

  38. Robyn B says:

    Enter me in, please! These books look intriguing. :D

  39. meredith g says:

    I have wanted to read this series for a while. I would love to win!

  40. shabbygeek says:

    I heard of this series from Adele over at Persnickety Snark. She sent me to the Australian cover art and gave high praises to the series. I was sold!

  41. Laura says:

    These books sound so good. I would love to toss my name in the hat for these. :-)

  42. Rebecca says:

    I love a good fantasy!

  43. CrystalGB says:

    These sound good. I love the covers.

  44. alana says:

    Fantasy will always be my favorite I think.

  45. brit says:

    Oh man, I’ve been wanting to read these. It would be fantastic to win them.

  46. jen says:

    these look really awesome, i’d love to try to win them before heading out to buy copies myself!

    the australian covers are soo great!

  47. Dana S says:

    Putting my name in for the contest. The books look to be awesome.

  48. Marie says:

    So Cool! love the Aus covers.

  49. Megan says:

    these sound awesome! i’d love to win!

  50. Michelle says:

    Thanks for this review! I’ve heard good things about the series, but it didn’t sound like it was my type. Knowing that the characters really feel like a part of the world, though, means that these are going straight to my TBR pile!

  51. Jennifer R says:

    You’ve sold me on this series. Please enter me to win!

  52. LiseO says:

    The way you talk about these books, one simply has to read the books! :D

  53. Mel S says:

    I’m a little Urban Fantasy’ed out so some good fantasy would go a long way! And a trilogy would keep me busy for a long time! :)

  54. Ceece says:

    These look amazing! I just had to enter.

  55. April says:

    I loved reading this review and those illustrations by the author are gorgeous. I’ll definitely be giving these books a try.

  56. Sarah D. F. says:

    This sounds like a great series!

  57. Rin says:

    You’ve got me pumped for this series!

  58. Barb says:

    Sounds like interesting series…and awesome looking covers.

  59. Dominique says:

    I think I’m taking a trip to the bookstore tonight… thanks for all the great recommendations!

  60. Marie says:

    This series has been on my TBR list for awhile. Though I do wish the Australian cover art was used in the U.S. as well – the U.S. cover art isn’t bad, but the others are much more striking.

  61. Peta says:

    Sounds fabulous and the Australian cover art is gorgeous! Want. Want. Want.

  62. [...] Celine Kiernan, Irish artist and author, writer of the fantabulous Moorehawke Trilogy (which Ana reviewed today with an added giveaway). Celine also blogs at All Things Moorehawke and [...]

  63. Ali says:

    I’d love to win these!

  64. Carolyn says:

    This series sounds fantastic, I’ve been searching for a good fantasy series lately. Thanks for the contest!

  65. Lisa says:

    Such a passionate endorsement! Can’t wait to dive into this trilogy! Thank you for entering me in the drawing. Happy Holidays!

  66. Jenni says:

    I’ve been wanting to get my hands on these books for over a year now! I would love to win these!

  67. Leah says:

    I have been wanting to read this trilogy for some time now. It looks wonderful. Great giveaway!!

  68. Amy says:

    These books have been in my TBR pile for ages! I can’t wait to read them!

  69. Michelle M says:

    Wow, that artwork is lovely. It looks like this one needs to go on the list for sure! Thanks!

  70. Kate says:

    This series sounds awesome, and the Australian covers are unbelievably gorgeous! Thanks for the review and the giveaway!

  71. Nicole says:

    Your excitement for them, has me really interested. Once my TBR pile shrinks these will be added.

  72. I love the special way Irish writers have with words so although I have not read any of Celine’s books, I would dearly like to try these.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it up to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail com

  73. mara says:

    I love those Australian covers, I just wish shipping costs weren’t so expensive… Maybe I should check the Book Depository.

  74. Maya M. says:

    This may be a first – I like the covers for both national editions. The series sounds great, and I’m hungering for some good fantasy after a very disappointing recent read erroneously described as fantasy romance. It was heavy duty romance with some fantasy elements tossed in.

  75. This sounds like an amazing series! I’d love to get my greedy little hands on a copy! Thanks for the chance to win!

    mleger0546 AT rogers DOT com

  76. J says:

    This series sounds amazing. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them.

  77. pscott says:

    I’m sold on them. I’ll have to buy them as soon as I get my tbr pile down to a managable size.

  78. Michelle says:

    Well, I have to say, after reading this review you have me completely sold on this series!

  79. Nicole says:

    I’ve heard good things about this series, and I’d love to get a chance to read it. Thanks for the opportunity!

  80. katsie says:

    These sound fascinating, I do hope I win. :)

  81. notunlikely says:

    I find that picture of the combined Australian covers to be AMAZING.

  82. Jocelyn C. says:

    I really enjoyed the first book, and I’d be thrilled to win my own copies of the whole trilogy. Please enter me in your drawing.

    Thanks for the great blog–you’re one of my favorites. :)

  83. S.S. White says:

    Please enter me in the contest. :)

  84. Breanne M. says:

    I have the first book in my TBR pile but I think I need to move it up in the list – thanks for the contest!

  85. DeAnn Fontanella says:

    I can’t wait to be the newest fan!!

  86. SaraC says:

    These look great!

  87. Indigo says:

    Wicked cool! I would love a chance to read this series. Thanks for the giveaway. (Hugs)Indigo

  88. Linda Henderson says:

    I haven’t read this series, but I would certainly love to. Thank you for the generous giveaway.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  89. Doreen R says:

    I would really enjoy this series. Thanks so much. :lol:

  90. Stephanie K. says:

    I would love to try this series.

  91. Stephanie says:

    I’d love to win! :D

  92. miji says:

    I would love to read it! ill try finding them after finals to read~!! (unless i win)
    its cute that she illustrates

  93. Tiffany M. says:

    I’d love to win the trilogy, and I love the pictures. :)

  94. Cindy says:

    Great scene! I’d be very interested in reading this trilogy. Thank you for the giveaway ! :D

  95. Dovile says:

    Awesome, thanks!

  96. mo says:

    These books were amazing and display Celine Kiernan’s mastery of character development. She made you care for the characters, and invest in their outcome. And like you said Ana, her secondary characters were just as compelling as the main ones.

    I can’t wait to see what she has in store next.

  97. Aik says:

    This series sound awesome! And the covers sure are gorgeous!

  98. Courtney says:

    One comment. Yay…I hope I get them!

  99. clemmie3e says:

    Oh yes, please.

  100. Lucia says:

    This sounds so cool! I haven’t read the book, there is always some titles that I forget to put in my wishlist but I really like the post, so I guess I must read it! I’d love to win :)

  101. mikhaila says:

    I like the cover art, and i’d love to win them

  102. Margot says:

    Now this seems to be a great series. I’ve ran out of good fantasy titles to read so sign me up :D

  103. Robi says:

    The Australian covers are great, thank you to make this giveaway international.

  104. Maureen says:

    It looks like an amazing series.

  105. natalie23 says:

    I love the australian covers. I can’t wait to read this series, but my library only has the first in the series, so they are on my to buy list.

  106. Don’t enter me for the giveaway as I already have these books.

    I enjoyed reading this review! I loved the first two books of this series. They are wonderful character driven books. I fell in love with them and can’t even truly tell why. :) I have the third here on my shelves and can’t wait to get into it.

    The picture of Chris and Wyn hugging is a new one for me. :) I’ve seen a few others from the authors blog but some how I’ve missed this one. :)

    Great review!

  107. Nikki Egerton says:

    This trilogy sounds flipping amazing and I would love to win it. Character driven fantasy ftw!
    :o) xxx

  108. Jodie says:

    Soooo many comments. Crosses fingers for the win.

  109. Debra says:

    Enter me, please! This series sounds awesome.

  110. Arief Zainal says:

    Intriguing. I’m interested. Count me in!

  111. jennygirl says:

    Added this to my tbr forever ago so I would love to win this series. Thanks girls and Happy Holidays :)

  112. Victoria Zumbrum says:

    The whole series sounds really good. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read the entire series. Tore923@aol.com

  113. Maryam H says:

    These books look amazing!

  114. Sarah C. says:

    I love it when fantasy novels are character driven! Been stuck in a rut of fantasy novels that get bogged down in world building and general epicness. Not that I object to those things, but it’s hard to keep me reading unless I care about the characters.

  115. Ddana says:

    I don’t usually read the full review, istead I skip to the rating and put the good ones in my “books to read” list. But this time I actually read the review and now I really want to read it now! …which is why I don’t read the reviews immediately since I don’t have the time or the money to read them all. I hope I win!!!

  116. Ellie says:

    Owwww, this books sound soooooo good!! Hope I win!!!! :mrgreen:

  117. Mollie says:

    If I don’t win, I’ll definitely still be checking this series out!

    bookfaredelights at gmail dot com

  118. Claudia says:

    I just found The Book Smugglers today – what a great site!

    This series has been on my TBR list for a while now, I just haven’t had the time to get to it!
    ama_bling-bling AT hotmail D0T com

  119. Stephanie says:

    Great giveaway, I am excited to read them.

  120. IsabeLeeta says:

    Interesting and diverse characters, adventure filled stories, romance, what’s not to love! I would love to have a copy of this trilogy. Thanks for the giveaway!!

  121. morganne says:

    Looks amazing! :lol:

  122. Amy C says:

    Christopher sounds like the kind of character I would love; I just hope he doesn’t die as all my favorite characters seem to do…

  123. jennifer says:

    Hi! :P
    Looks like an insanely awesome trilogy :)

  124. tania says:

    this sounds like a really cool series, very tamora pierce-ish. i can’t wait to read it!

  125. Eva SB says:

    I love the time period. This looks like a great trilogy!

  126. These sound good. Please enter me in the giveaway.

  127. Amy C says:

    I borrowed the first one and had a fantastic time reading it but I’ve never the chance to read the last two yet-and yet your review made me want to dash out to the bookstore this moment and purchase them- if not for the fact that most stores are closing at this time of day. So, giveaway is much anticipated!

  128. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been a long time fan of sci-fi & fantasy since I was a teen in the 80s reading the wonderful works of Anne Maccaffery and Marion Zimmer Bradley, I read & re-read their books, and still recommend them today to those just discovering SF&F or looking for something excellent to read in the genre.

    Speaking of a recommendations, I’ve got a series for you, ladies, that I’d love to see you review. Piers Anthony’s INCARNATIONS OF IMMORTALITY Series:

    1. On a Pale Horse
    2. Bearing an Hourglass
    3. With a Tangled Skein
    4. Wielding a Red Sword
    5. Being a Green Mother
    6. For Love of Evil
    7. And Eternity Morrow

    I can’t give a decent synopsis as it’s been a few years, but I do remember the pleasure this series brought me. The many nights I stayed up late to read “just a little more.” Hope, if y’all read ‘em, they bring you as much joy as they gave me.


    P.S. Love the content you guys post, the reviews rock! :D

  129. Sparkles says:

    Wow! They sound really interesting. Thank you for the giveaway. :D I hope I win it :mrgreen:

  130. Becky says:

    How generous to give away the entire series! I hope I win!

  131. CherylS22 says:

    I also love reading fantasy novels & would love to read this series. Thanks for the chance…..
    Happy Holidays!

  132. Lyl says:

    This trilogy sounds amazing. Thanks for reviewing it and offering the giveaway!

  133. A'lina says:

    Wow this sounds like a totally awesome trilogy! I can’t wait to read these! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  134. Those Australian covers are to die for!

    Also this series looks fabulous!

  135. Ashley says:

    Count me in – I love those Australian covers!

  136. Allison says:

    I just spent the last couple of days GLUED to this series…once I read this review I knew I had to start it immediately…and once I did, I got sucked in and couldn’t stop until I’d finished all three books.

    Such a brilliant series…it is really a gift when you find one like this that can so completely suck you in. Thanks for the rec!

  137. [...] Celine Kiernan, lovely Irish author, writer of the awesome Moorehawke Trilogy , one of Ana’s all time [...]

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