- Batman: The Court of Owls.
- Greg Cox.
- 336 pages.
- Fiction / Superhero / Batman / Adaption.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
For generations, an apocryphal cabal has controlled Gotham from the shadows, wielding fear and violence through its undead assassins, the Talons. THE COURT OF OWLS.
Dating back centuries, its leaders are men and women of wealth and influence who meet in secrecy, hiding their identities behind stark white masks. Employing science and alchemy, they sought to kill Bruce Wayne who, as Batman, dealt them their greatest defeats. Even then they faded back into the darkness, and he could not eliminate them entirely.
Now, Gotham City is plagued with a series of brutal murders in which mutilated bodies are burned almost beyond recognition. Batman and his allies—including Nightwing and Batgirl—quickly realize that the Talons have returned, yet the reason for the killings remains tauntingly unknown.
As the heroes seek answers, their path stretches back more than a century. Should the Owls obtain what they seek, it could grant them power that no one could counter. With each moment that passes, more victims appear.
Batman must stop the Talons before they kill again.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Batman and a spate of brutal murders?!? Yes please, sign me up!
A university student’s thesis into Percy Wright, one of Gotham’s pre-eminent sculptors from over a century ago brings to light a forgotten mystery involving the Court of Owls. It is a mystery that members of the Court would prefer to be left alone, kept away from prying eyes and buried in the dark depths of Gotham’s past. Wright has many prominent monuments, sculptures and statues spread across Gotham and the new research into his work could help to unlock a mystery that the Court has been unable to solve. The whereabouts of a power that has been hidden from them, a power that has remained out of their grasp for a century and a power that would grant them unimaginable power.
The Court of Owls was first thought to be a myth, an urban legend that had been devised to scare young children but they are real and they have been lurking in Gotham’s shadows for centuries.
Owls are a natural predator of Bats and the secret society of the Court of Owls are a fantastic foe for Batman. They are an insidious global society with eyes and ears everywhere not just found in Gotham and consist of those families of wealth and power who focus on control, influence and manipulation through killing, kidnapping and extortion. Seats on the court are passed down through the bloodlines from one generation to the next with the family seat being inherited. There is a Grandmaster of the Court who presides over the proceedings and all members hide their identity behind white porcelain owl masks.
The justice met out by the Court of Owls is delivered by Talons. Talons are highly-skilled and lethal electrum-infused assassins who have both enhanced healing abilities and enhanced strength making them nearly unkillable. Talons aren’t nameless fodder, a gang of henchmen or goons that are easily and swiftly despatched by Batman. Talons are a deadly adversary and each fight with one of them is a challenge and a fight for survival for Batman as they are his equal. The action, combat and fight scenes in The Court of Owls are plentiful, they well-written by Cox and you can feel every blow, kick, punch and hit during them.
The Court of Owls is told through two timelines. In the present, the Court of Owls wants the student and their research. While Batman who along with his cape and cowl puts on his detective hat with help from Nightwing and Batgirl attempts to stop the Talons, stop the killings, put together the pieces and solve the mystery before the court does. In the past, we get a glimpse into the life of Percy Wright, who he was, his dealings with the Court, his scientific work, his experiments, his sculptures and ultimately, the events that he was embroiled in that led to the forgotten mystery.
Sometimes, to find answers in the present you have to look to the past and in The Court of Owls, this is very true. The dual timelines are used to great effect by Cox, I enjoyed both and found them equally gripping to read. When I was in the present with Batman I couldn’t wait to get back to the past and see what happened next. Likewise, when I was in 1918 I couldn’t wait to get back to the present and see what happened next. That’s the sign of a good story, you keep turning the pages and you always want to come back for more! I will say that there’s far more action in the present but in the past, the story of Percy Wright is absolutely fascinating to read about and discover.
Cox doesn’t flesh out the character of Batman or add anything new to the mythos. Most people are already familiar with Bruce Wayne, his past and Batman and if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, what Cox does and he does it extremely well is focus on the story that he is telling and gives the reader a layered and sinister mystery to solve that is worthy of gracing the pages of any crime thriller.
On the whole, the writing in The Court of Owls by Cox is stellar and he has a good story-telling ability. Batman is brooding and stoic, the Court of Owls and the Talons are menacing, Gotham a gloomy and stormy well-depicted and atmospheric setting and the story itself is delectably dark. My only slight niggle with the book (his writing not the story) was the occasional name dropping of characters that he used. There’s a couple of instances throughout where names are dropped (Selina and Clark) by Batman that add nothing to the story. Their inclusion seemed unnecessary and simply like they were used to get those characters mentioned. It’s only a small thing but, for me, the references wouldn’t have been missed and they weren’t needed. Other than that, Cox does a damn fine job with the book.
The Court of Owls is dark, exciting, full of mystery and provided me with a thoroughly enjoyable Batman fix.
Pre-order Batman: The Court of Owls released February 19th, 2019.
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