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The low fantasy of Simon Green

Sunday, February 8th, 2009 | Posted by Theo

Simon Green is primarily known for his urban fantasy series, Nightside, these days, but in the past he has been guilty of committing a different form of urban fantasy rather more in keeping with Black Gate’s favored genre.  His Haven series, also known as the Hawk and Fisher series, are seven books telling the tale of a pair of city guards who spend their days and many of their nights patrolling a large city that is caught somewhere between the medieval and renaissance eras.  One has the impression of a place rather like Sanctuary, only significantly less schizophrenic and god-bothered.

The books borrow liberally from both mystery and cop genres, but the overall feel is unmistakeably low fantasy.  It’s not going too far to describe it as a modern buddy cop series set in a medieval environment with magic, but that would leave an unfairly critical impression.  Hawk and Fisher are a married couple, arguably the most prosaic husband-and-wife team in fiction, and they are as wedded to their mission of keeping Haven’s streets temporarily free of the worst of its criminals as they are to each other.

Neither of them is particularly bright nor unusually skilled; what sets them apart from the rest of Haven’s security forces is their dedication and reputation for a willingness to resort to extreme violence.  This lack of superlative ability actually makes them more interesting and sympathetic characters, and also allows Green to provide them with a variety of temporary partners who make up for their various deficiencies depending upon the situation.

Green is a good storyteller, and if the Haven books show the usual fantasy series tendency to get ever larger in scope, his plots actually get more interesting from book to book, with the exception of the fifth book.  I particularly enjoyed #4, Wolf in the Fold, which could easily have dissolved into farce in the hands of a less competent author, but was surprisingly gripping in an Agatha Christie-like manner.  I would readily recommend the Haven books to anyone who liked the Thieves World anthologies.

Style: 3 of 5

Story: 4 of 5

Characters: 3 of 5

Creativity: 3 of 5

Overall Rating: 6.5 of 10

5 Comments »

  1. Hawk & Fisher were also the main characters from Green’s Blue Moon Rising novel (and series). That was a fairly entertaining book, as well, even if the last book in the series (Beyond Blue Moon) ended kind of lamely.

    Comment by braak - February 8, 2009 11:52 pm

  2. Green writes 65K-word, repetitious mind candy, and I love it. Unlike, say, ERB, who used the same plot over and over and over again, Green uses the same moments over and over and over again. And they’re great moments, whether set in Nightside or Haven.

    While I agree Fisher & Hawk books have a low-fantasy feel to them, it’s probably a good idea to point out that the setting is very high fantasy. Wouldn’t want to confuse people.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - February 9, 2009 4:05 pm

  3. No, it isn’t. There is nothing at all high fantasy about Haven. You are the one trying to confuse people. :)

    Comment by bluetyson - February 10, 2009 3:02 am

  4. Haven is a dirty but high-tech world, with magic subbing for technology. You can’t swing a lich in Haven without hitting a mage. And while the protagonists are a hard-nosed pair (good for head-butting bad guys), their morality isn’t squishy around the edges.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - February 10, 2009 10:57 pm

  5. Now you are making even less sense. :)

    Comment by bluetyson - February 13, 2009 11:28 pm


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