Hawkwood and the Kings: The Collected Monarchies of God (Volume One)

Praise for
The Monarchies of God


"Paul Kearney's
Monarchies of God
is simply the best fantasy series I've read in years and years."

Steven Erikson


"One of the best fantasy works in ages... Tough, muscular realism... Kearney paints the gore, the sex, and the lust for power in vivid colour."



"Impressive for its human insights, its unusual take on the use of magic and its fine blending of historical elements with sheer invention."



"I found it more or less impossible to put down the books... I can honestly say that I have not enjoyed a fantasy series this much in a long time."

Fantasy Freaks


"Action-packed, fast-paced fantasy adventure."

SF Site


"A bold, strong new voice in fantasy."

Robert Silverberg

Hawkwood's Voyage

For the Museum Road bunch: John, Dave, Sharon, Felix and Helen;

and for Dr. Marie Cahir, partner in everything.


The Heretic Kings

For my brothers, Sean and James Kearney.


This omnibus first published 2010 by Solaris, an imprint of Rebellion Publishing Ltd, Riverside House, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX1 0ES, UK



ISBN (.epub version): 978-1-84997-206-2

ISBN (.mobi version): 978-1-84997-207-9


Hawkwood's Voyage
© Paul Kearney 1995

The Heretic Kings
© Paul Kearney 1996

The right of the author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owners.

Designed & typeset by Rebellion Publishing


and the


Paul Kearney



The first omnibus in
The Monarchies of God
series, collecting the novels
Hawkwood's Voyage
The Heretic Kings





They that go down to the sea in ships,

that do business in great waters;

these see the works of the Lord, and

his wonders in the deep.


- Psalm 107:23-24 





the dead, it coasted in on the northwest breeze, topsails still set but the yards braced for a long-lost wind on the open ocean. The yawlsmen sighted it first, on the eve of St. Beynac's Day. It was heeling heavily, even on the slight swell, and what was left of its canvas shuddered and flapped when the breeze fell.

It was a day of perfect blueness - sea and sky vast, even reflections of one another. A few gulls flapped expectantly round the silver-filled nets the yawl crews were hauling in hand over fist, and a school of gleaming oyvips were sporting off to port: an unlucky omen. Within each, it was said, howled the soul of a drowned man. But the wind was kind, and the shoal was large - it could be seen as a broad shadow under the hull, twinkling now and then with the bright flank of a twisting fish - and the fishermen had been here since the forenoon watch, filling their nets with the sea's uncertain bounty, the dark line of the Hebrionese coast a mere guess off behind their right shoulders.

The skipper of one yawl shaded his eyes, paused and peered out to sea, blue stone glinting out from rippled leather, his chin bristling with hairs as pale as those on the stem of a nettle.

Water shadow writhed luminously in the hollows of his eye-sockets.

"There's a sight," he muttered.

"What is it, Fader?"

"A carrack, lad, a high-seas ship by the looks of her. But the canvas is hanging in strips off her yards - there's a brace flying free. And she's made a ton of water, if I'm any judge. She's taken a pounding, all right. And what of the crew? Unhandy lubbers."

"Maybe they're dead, or wore out," his son said eagerly.

"Maybe. Or maybe sick of the plague as I hears ravages them eastern lands. The curse o' God on unbelievers."

The other men in the yawl paused at that, staring darkly out at the oncoming vessel. The wind veered a point - they felt it shift out of one eye - and the strange ship lost way. She was hull up, her battered masts black against that uncertain band of horizon that is either sea or sky. Water dripped from the men's hands; the fish flapped feebly in the nets, forgotten and dying. Droplets of sweat gathered on noses and stung their eyes: salt in everything, even the body's own water. They looked at their skipper.

"It's salvage, if the crew's all dead," one man said.

"It's an unlucky ship that coasts in from the empty west and no sign of life aboard," another muttered. "There's naught out there but a thousand score leagues of unsailed sea, and beyond that the very rim of the earth."

"There may be men alive aboard her in need of help," the skipper said sternly. His son gazed at him with round eyes. For a moment, the stares of all his crew were fixed on his face. He felt them like he did the warmth of the sun, but his seamed visage revealed nothing as he made his decision.

"We'll close with her. Jakob, set the forecourse, brace her round. Gorm, get these nets in and hail the other boats. They should stay. There's a good shoal here, too good to let by."

The crew leapt to their tasks, some sullen, some excited.

The yawl was two-masted, the mizzen stepped abaft the rudder head. She would have to beat into the landward breeze to board the carrack. Men on the other boats paused in the hauling of their catch to watch as the yawl closed on her goal. The bigger vessel was broadside on to the swell, listing to starboard as the waves broke on her windward side. As the yawl drew close, her crew broke out sweeps and strained at the heavy oars whilst the skipper and a few others stood poised on the gunwale, ready to make the perilous leap on to the side of the carrack.

She towered darkly above them now, a looming giant, her running rigging flying free, the lateen yard on her mizzen a mere stump and the thick wales that lined her side smashed and splintered as though she had squeezed through a narrow place. There was no sign of life, no reply to the skipper's hail. Surreptitiously, men at the sweeps paused in their labour to make the Sign of the Saint at their breasts.

The skipper leapt, grunted at the impact as he hit the carrack's side, hauled himself over her rail and stood panting. The others followed, two with their dirks in their teeth as if they expected to fight their way aboard. And then the yawl drew off, her mate putting her about on the port tack. She would heave to, keep the wind on her weather bow and ride out the breeze. The skipper waved at her as she eased away.

The carrack was wallowing low in the water and the wind was working on her high fore- and sterncastles. There was no sound but the hiss and lap of the sea, the creak of wood and rigging, the thump of a staved cask that rolled back and forth in the scuppers. The skipper raised his head as he caught the whiff of corruption. He met the knowing gaze of old Jakob. They nodded at each other. There was death aboard, corpses rotting somewhere.

"The Blessed Ramusio preserve us, let it not be the plague," one man said hoarsely, and the skipper scowled.

"Hold your tongue, Kresten. You and Daniel see what you can do to put her before the wind. It's my belief her seams are working in this swell. We'll see if we can't get her into Abrusio before she spews her oakum and sinks her bow."

"You're going to bring her in?" Jakob asked.

"If I can. We'll have to look below though, see if she's anywhere near settling." The roll of the ship made him lurch a little. "Wind's picking up. That's all to the good if we can get her head round. Come, Jakob."

He pushed open one of the doors in the sterncastle and entered the darkness beyond. The bright blue day was cut off. He could hear Jakob padding barefoot and breathing heavily behind him in the sudden gloom. He stopped. The ship heaved like a dying thing under his feet - that smell of putrefaction, stronger now, rising even over the familiar sea smells of salt and tar and hemp. He gagged as his hands, groping, found another door.

"Sweet Saint!" he breathed, and pushed it open.

Sunlight, bright and blazing, flooding through shattered stern windows. A wide cabin, a long table, the gleam of falchions crossed on a bulkhead, and a dead man sitting watching him.

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