This is not the same cover that this book had when I first held it in my eager reader hands. That cover looked like this:
Let's take a moment to talk about the importance of cover art, shall we? I will confess to feeling a bit sentimental about that original cover, but to be completely honest?
I didn't like it.
In fact, this book sat unread on our bookshelf for much longer than it might have because there was something about the cover that I found off-putting. If this book had the cover my current copy has, I might have read it sooner; as it turns out, the sort of cheesy cover that I didn't enjoy kept me out of a trilogy of novels that I would grow to adore.
The Hound and the Falcon is an omnibus edition that contains the novels The Isle of Glass, The Golden Horn, and The Hounds of God; it is set during the reign of King Richard in England (he makes an appearance) and then moves to the crusades and the fall of Constantinople. Those are interwoven with Tarr's take on the magical Welsh literary character of Rhiannon; Tarr creates a world in which there is a kingdom called Rhiyanya, with magical fair folk as their nobility and ruling class. Their struggle to keep their place in the mortal world, and to reconcile who they are with the Catholic Church, makes up a goodly portion of the conflict within the novel.
These novels contain a lot of good stuff: Romance. Fair Folk. Magic. Battles. Kings. Kingdoms. Good Guys. Really Bad Dudes. I was thrilled by Tarr's writing when I was a kid.
So you're probably wondering: does it hold up?
And I am SO PLEASED to be able to tell you: YES. YES IT DOES.
Getting my hands on this as an adult was a gift. Tarr's writing is better even than I remembered it. Alf is more interesting, more rounded, than I remembered. His love interest, Thea, is more clever and well crafted than I recalled.
There's something magical about re-discovering that a book you enjoyed as a child is equally, if not more, wonderful as an adult. If you haven't re-read anything in a while, maybe give it a go.
And if you've never read The Hound and the Falcon? Definitely give it a try.