From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10–This fantasy continues the Grimms' tale of The Six Swans, in which six brothers are turned into swans. Through the great sacrifice of their sister, the spell is broken, but the youngest is left with a swan's wing. Ardwin is torn between his life as a prince and his yearning to take to the skies and rejoin his avian companions. Believing his father will force him to replace his wing with a mechanical arm and marry a rival king's daughter, he flees. His friends Stephen and Skye (on whom he has a secret crush) accompany him. Feeling betrayed after finding them together as a couple, Ardwin goes his own way, hoping that by switching horses with Stephen, he'll elude his father's pursuers. His adventures have only begun as he seeks out the swans he once knew, is attacked by a lion, and rescued by the same wizard who designed the mechanical arm. He also meets the wizard's automatons, his enchantress stepmother, an unusual horse, and a goose girl who is not who she thinks she is. In true fairy-tale fashion, all's well in the end and Ardwin wisely realizes that his wing is a blessing, not a curse. Like all fairy tales, there are lots of plot twists and turns and perhaps that contributes to the sometimes meandering narrative. Overall, this is a well-realized, but unexceptional story.–Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton
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Gr. 5-8. This coming-of-age novel begins with a retelling of the Grimms'fairy tale "The Six Swans," in which six princes are transformed into swans by their stepmother, and even after they are saved, the youngest brother retains a wing instead of one arm. Now 14, Prince Ardwin must deal with everything his wing brings: the taunts of cruel boys, his longing to rejoin the swans, his secret power of understanding animal speech, and a neighboring king's "gift" of a golden arm and a princess to wed if the prince is severed from the wing. Ardwin begins a journey that takes him into peril and leaves him with greater self-acceptance, fuller knowledge of his past, and, eventually, the girl he loves. Martin deftly weaves fairy tale into fiction, giving the novel a rich context and Ardwin a familiar past. Though the happy-ever-after ending lasts a whole chapter, readers won't begrudge their beleaguered, sympathetic hero his measure of happiness. The many original characters and unusual adventure scenes ensure that readers will remember this well-paced fantasy. Carolyn Phelan
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