Sparrowhawk: Book Two, Hugh Kenrick

Written by Edward Cline
Review by Mark F. Johnson

In this second novel of a series, the reader is introduced to Hugh Kenrick, a young man born into high society – but this auspicious beginning does nothing to convince young Hugh to follow in his father’s or uncle’s footsteps. On the contrary, much to his uncle’s chagrin, Hugh questions authority and the deference paid to royalty.

While attending an unorthodox school in London, Hugh becomes associated with a group of free-thinkers called The Society of the Pippin. Adopting club names so as to remain anonymous, these gentlemen debate ideas ranging from the existence of God to the right of the king to rule. When one of the members becomes disenchanted with the club and turns them in to the authorities, they are all charged with blasphemous libel, save Hugh and his friend Muir. Hugh’s attempt to right the injustice lands him in hot water with the law and convinces his father that Hugh would be better off in the American colonies.

While this novel stands well on its own, it would be helpful to first read Book One of the series (Sparrowhawk: Jack Frake). That story, like this one, is extremely well told and will lend insight into many facets of this continuing tale. Cline does an admirable job of character development and brings to life the harsh realities of London in the early 18th century. He keeps subplots to a minimum and deftly paints each scene with a master’s touch. His “Pippin” conversations sometimes require a dictionary close at hand, but this only adds to the realism of the scenes. I highly recommend this series and eagerly await the next installment.