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The Wind Singer (The Wind on Fire, Book 1) Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 1, 2000
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In the city of Aramanth, the mantra is, "Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today." Harder work means the citizens of Aramanth can keep moving forward to improved life stations--from Gray tenements and Orange apartments, upwards to glorious mansions of White. Only some families, like the Haths, believe more in ideas and dreams than in endless toil and ratings. When Kestrel Hath decides she is through with the Aramanth work ethic, she is joined in her small rebellion by her twin brother Bowman and their friend Mumpo. Together, they set the orderly city on its ear by escaping Aramanth's walls for an adventure that takes them from city sewers to desert sandstorms. Guided by an archaic map, they know that if they can find the voice of the Wind Singer, an ancient and mysterious instrument that stands in the center of Aramanth, they can save their people from their dreamless existence. But the voice is guarded by the dreaded Morah and its legion of perfect killing machines, the Zars. Are three ragtag kids any match for an army of darkness?
Like Lois Lowry's The Giver and Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, The Wind Singer is a rich, multilayered fantasy that can be read on many levels. With this first volume of a planned trilogy, British author William Nicholson deftly illustrates such fundamental values as tolerance and the importance of individuality, without sacrificing a bit of the novel's breathless adventure. Watch out, J.K. Rowling! If the rest of The Wind on Fire trilogy is as amazing as this debut, Nicholson's books may be the next hot English export. (Ages 10 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Nicholson's (Shadowlands) highly imaginative debut YA novel, the first in a planned trilogy, starts out tantalizingly but eventually neglects its internal logic. In the dystopian city of Aramanth, family ratings determine position, housing and privileges within the society's color-coded caste system. As the novel opens, the Hath family brings two-year-old Pinpin for her first day of "testing"Awith comically disastrous results. Shortly after, Kestrel, the Haths' strong-headed and brave daughter, stages a rebellion in a riotously depicted scene at school and eventually ends up climbing the wind singer (a giant archaic structure whose history is nearly forgotten) to hurl curses at the town. Events escalate, and soon Kestrel, her twin brother (who has supernatural abilities to empathize with others) and a learning-disabled classmate, Mumpo, find themselves on a quest to retrieve the wind singer's voice; according to legend, it will restore harmony to Aramanth. Nicholson is at his best when he adheres to Kestrel's point of view; occasional shifts in perspective may temporarily break readers from the author's spell. Highly original characters, such as the loving "Mudpeople" who inhabit a world under the city's grid-like streets, and "old children" whose touch zaps the life from normal humans, exert a powerful fascination. However, there are inconsistencies (Why, when Mumpo turns into one of the "old children," is he exempt from the laws that govern them?) and unexplored elements (e.g., Kestrel's mother's ancestry and gifts as a prophetess). Perhaps these curiosities will be explained in subsequent installments, but they come across here as loose ends. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 10-14. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is one of those books which I believe has been unfairly overlooked by readers, as well as one which I hope to see in the limelight someday. To anyone willing to give it a chance, enter the world Nicholson created for this series. I promise, you won't be sorry.
Perhaps the most prominent of these is the family of Kestrel and Bowman, who defy many rules and the lifestyle of those around them. Kestrel is kicked to the bottom of her class, alongside amiable idiot Mumpo. But after she snaps and shocks many people in a public display alongside the wooden Wind Singer, she is banished to an entirely different kind of school - one populated by "old children." She escapes and is given a mission by the ancient, hermit-like Emperor: Find the voice of the Wind Singer, and defeat the demonic Morah and its evil Zar army.
Kess does so, with Bo (and Mumpo) in tow. Her father is arrested and put in a prison with other men who dream but cannot ace the tests. Kess, Bo, and Mumpo must brave underground sludge civilizations, evil government officials, warring plains tribes, and the life-draining "old children." Will they triumph over the Morah?
Why four stars? Aside from the repeated references to bodily emissions, the writing style was quite stark and did not give us much insight into the characters' inner thoughts. Though perhaps since Nicholson is a screenplay writer, this is unsurprising. In addition, the last fifty pages feel like Nicholson was told, "You've got to speed things up, you're almost through the allotted pages!" Very fast. There was also a bit too much of a happy ending for everyone concerned, but somehow it fitted.
However, the concept and execution are delightful. We are transported into a whole other world with a rigid caste system (I get the feeling that Nicholson really hates "overachiever yuppie moms"); to the underground "mud" village; to the plains of the Baraka/Omshaka. His descriptions are really stellar. And the "old children" are the most horrifying supernatural henchmen I've read of since the Black Riders; the Zars are chilling.
This book is an excellent read for any fantasy reader! A must-buy...