Robert Lyndon has been a falconer since boyhood. A keen student of
history, he was intrigued by accounts of hawks being used as ransoms
during the Middle Ages. Some of the scenes inHawk Questwere inspired
by Lyndon's own experiences as a falconer, climber and traveller in
Hawk Quest was born out of a long
involvement with falconry, a love of wild places and a weakness for epic tales
of historical adventure. One book that definitely inspired me was Frans G
Bengtsson’s classic The Long Ships, a
reworking of the Norse sagas which I read at about the same time I trained my
in the Middle Ages were used not only for hunting, but also as royal gifts, a
form of taxation, and as ransoms. At the end of the 14th century,
for example, the Ottoman sultan Beyazid turned down the Duke of Burgundy’s
offer of 200,000 gold ducats as ransom payment for the duke’s crusader son.
Instead, the sultan offered to free his prisoner in exchange for a dozen white
Hawk Quest is set three centuries earlier and tells the story of a band of
adventurers who travel to the ends of the known world in search of four falcons
demanded as ransom for a Norman knight captured by the Turks. The journey lasts
a year and takes them to Iceland and Greenland, the White Sea and Rus, and down
the River Dnieper to the Black Sea and Anatolia.
the book took me ten times longer than that journey. I wrote it in stages, laying
it aside for months on end while I scraped a living doing everything from
driving a truck to teaching creative writing. The research probably took as
much time as the writing. Initially I planned to retrace part of my characters’
route, but soon discovered that the medieval word in which they travelled had
changed beyond recognition. The Dnieper, a major route used by Viking raiders
and traders, is now one of the most polluted rivers in Europe, and its
legendary rapids, with names like the ‘Gulper’ and the ‘Insatiable’, were
drowned under a hydroelectric scheme in the 1920s.
just finished the sequel to Hawk Quest.
Imperial Fire involves another epic
journey – this time from Constantinople to China. It was a lot easier to write,
my main difficulty being how to do justice to four rather than three Point of
View characters. Now I have to decide whether to complete a trilogy or allow my
characters to slip back into the mists of history.