The Emir’s Falcon by Matt Hughes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Three young people find their lives turned upside down when the search for a powerful falcon leads to dangers in bear country in the Canadian Wilderness in author Matt Hughes’s “The Emir’s Falcon”. 


The Synopsis

“She was raised to be free, not some rich man’s pet . . . It’s just not right!”

Bernie Cholach’s dad wants him to take over the family’s rural Alberta feedlot, but Bernie has other ideas: he wants to be a biologist, an interest sparked by his experiences as a volunteer bird handler at a Canadian Wildlife Service facility that breeds and rears peregrine falcons for release into the wild.

Sheik Nasur bin Mukhta, son of a Persian Gulf emir, studying petroleum engineering at the University of Alberta, dutifully accepts his life’s course, laid out for him by his traditionalist culture.

Rosie Leboucan, daughter of a Métis trapper, running her injured dad’s trap line in the Swan Hills, is focused on keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Then the Government of Canada decides to give the emir one of the peregrines as a diplomatic gift. It’s more than Bernie can stand. Impulsively, he takes the bird he has been tending—he’s named it Skyrider—and flees to a remote cabin in the Swan Hills wilderness.

The RCMP mount a search. Nasur, sent by his father to collect the bird, insists on being on the scene—which turns out to be both Rosie’s trapping territory and the territory of a hungry and dangerous mama grizzly bear with cubs.

The paths of the young people and the bear converge—and their coming together will send each in a new direction.

The Review

This was a brilliant and heartfelt narrative. The author did an incredible job of diving head-first into the powerful world of nature and the passion that people have for the creatures of this earth. The atmosphere and setting played heavily into the story, as the breathtaking wilderness of the Canadian woods and the animal life within it spoke to the powerful themes of animal conservation and not caging wildlife in general. 

I loved how the character drove this narrative. The multiple POVs of this novel allowed each protagonist to shine brightly and played well into the concept of culture and family and how those impact a person’s future and outlook on life. From Bernie’s family business and expectations put upon him from a young age to Rosie’s, inherent need to protect her father’s business and Nasur’s duties to his father highlight the expectations that father’s often put on their children, and the need to find one’s own identity as time goes on. This also plays into the narrative perfectly, mirroring the desire for Bernie to free the falcon in question.

The Verdict

Gripping, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Matt Hughe’s “The Emir’s Falcon” is a must-read YA-style adventure and survival story. The energy and tone the author infuses into the narrative bring both a sense of relatability and wonder into the story, and readers will feel a deep-seated connection to these characters as their paths converge and the shocking final pages change the course of their lives forever. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Matt Hughes writes crime fiction.

His crime novels are Downshift (Doubleday Canada, 1997, and Five Rivers, 2012) and Old Growth (Five Rivers, 2013), and One More Kill (PS Publishing, 2018).

His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s, Blue Murder, Storyteller, and a number of bestselling anthologies, including Rogues, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

He has won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada and has been short-listed for the Derringer Award.

Before turning to fiction, he was a journalist and freelance speechwriter in British Columbia and is the only person ever to have been both an assistant to the Canadian Minister of Justice and a teenage burglar.

His web page is at


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