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Windhaven Mass Market Paperback – April 29, 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If Windhaven weren't a fantasy book, it would be a selection for Oprah's books club, in the best sense. It tells the life story of a girl whose desire is so strong that it literally changes her world.

Maris wants nothing more than to fly. But she is land-bound: she was not born into a family of flyers, those who inherit their wings from their ancestors and convey messages, songs, and stories between the isolated islands of Windhaven. She convinces the flyers to break their ancient dynastic traditions for a selfish reason--to gain a pair of wings. In so doing, however, she opens the skies to all the hopeful land-bound, with serious social and political repercussions for both populations.

Each of the five chapters relates a different incident in Maris's struggle to first become a flyer and to then open the skies, and the flyers' minds, to the rest of the land-bound. They are told in sequential order as Maris ages, but resemble short stories featuring the same character more than chapters in a novel. Although the background in each certainly enhances the understanding of the following one, this knowledge is not at all essential to appreciating each chapter as a discrete entity that can stand alone.

Windhaven is a thought-provoking book, challenging us by depicting the potential consequences when young idealists break ancient traditions. The authors gave us a heroine, a planet, and a story that teach as they entertain. --Diana M. Gitig --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Rereleased 20 years after its initial publication, this gentle tale of a woman's quest to live out her dream to fly by award-winning authors Martin (Sandkings, A Storm of Swords) and Tuttle (Lost Futures) concerns the hard choices that come from having a vocation. On stormy Windhaven, the descendants of long-ago stranded star sailors live on widely separated islands. Lacking metals to sustain industrial technology, the inhabitants depend on flyers, humans with wings made from the original star sail, to bring news and carry messages, uniting far-flung communities. Maris, a land-bound female adopted into a flyer family, loves to fly. But when her stepbrother, Coll, turns 13, he stands as first-born to inherit the irreplaceable wings, even as he dreams of being a traveling singer instead. When Maris tries to resolve both quandaries by stealing the wings, she challenges not only flyer law but the basic assumptions of Windhaven society. Establishing competitions to win wings and training academies for students from non-flyer families, and defending a "made" flyer accused of treason for stopping a war, Maris faces the lifelong consequences of talent come into conflict with privilege. Although Martin and Tuttle make the correct choices rather clear, they never ignore the costs. With a well-constructed plot (with only minor slips in logic) presented in prose that reads as fantasy, the book will appeal to a YA audience in addition to Martin and Tuttle fans.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553577905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553577907
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,319,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Don't buy this book expecting the Song of Fire and Ice. This is a much simpler story or collection of stories depending on your point of view. The story revolves around the life of Maris a land-bound who wishes to join the fliers (society's elite), and it is broken up into three sections at different stages of her life. As with his other books, Martin lays out the issues and lets the reader decide if the heroine's actions are for better or for worse. Much as with real life, the answer is not always clear. I thought the main point of this story was the idea that an individual's action have reprecussions. You can't just change one thing and expect everything to stay the same.
The characters in this book are simple, but developed enough in the time you read about them to develop an attachement to them. I thought the characters also acted realistically in many different situations.
I have read already a negative review of this book and I had to laugh. Just in general, can we stop comparing every fantasy novel to Tolken please! Yes, we all know how good Tolken was. And, yes The Lord of the Rings will probably sit atop the fantasy book pile for the rest of eternity as king, but let's give it a rest.
This book is a good, short, simple, light fantasy story. If you have not read any of Martin's Song of Fire and Ice, I would highly, highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
It seems unfair (or perhaps just ignorant) to criticize a book based on its author's other works, but Windhaven's faults are made all the more apparent because thanks to "A Song of Ice and Fire" we know what George R.R. Martin is capable of. If Windhaven were simply different because of style, approach, or content, it wouldn't be so easily comparable to his latest works. As it is, the same elements are there: a unique world, sympathetic characters, attractive yet conflicting philosophies. But unlike in "A Song of Ice and Fire," it's not taken far enough, and the reader never inhabits the story in the same powerful way.
The world of "Windhaven" is engaging; a mostly oceanic globe dotted with island archipelagos. The seas connecting these scattered homes are perilous, and ship travel chancy and slow. The bulk of inter-island contact is made via Flyers; an elite group of men and women trained to ride the constant winds on wings made from the remnants of the spaceship which first landed there. Flyers in Windhaven are nobility of sorts, with the precious wings handed down to the firstborn of each generation. The rest of the population is "land-bound," with a Landsman leader for each island, but mostly appearing to be merchant and peasant classes.
Maris is one of these peasants; a fisherfolk daughter. Although she is land-bound she worships the flyers and eventually gets the use of a pair of wings. As it happens she is a brilliant flyer, no happier than when in the sky. However, the surrogate father who lent her wings eventually has a trueborn son, and plans to strip Maris of both wings and title of Flyer, as tradition mandates.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
In the world of Windhaven, freedom lies in wings. The area is composed of islands, some farther from others. Ships take time to travel and can't risk the open seas due to storms or fierce sea monsters. To relay messages quickly, the people of the islands rely on flyers, those who use an apparatus called wings to soar from isle to isle.

Maris is a young land-born girl who loves to watch the flyers. By chance, she is taken in by one and is allowed to use the wings, learning to fly as she grows older. But because she wasn't born into the family, her younger brother is the one who will inherit the wings and gift of flight when he comes of age.

"Windhaven" is divided into three central stories (as well as an introduction and epilogue) detailing the life of Maris as she changes the world, for better or for worse. She dreams of being a flyer and will go through anything to achieve that dream. She loves flying, and the threat of that freedom being taken away frightens her.

This book touched me. Realizing how much Maris loves flying and then realizing how it's going to be taken from her is heart-breaking, and her determination is endearing. A diverse cast of characters from different points in Maris's life flesh out the story with strong personalities. Maris meets friends and foes of both flyers and land-bound, trying to sort out the problems of her world and the barriers between people, even under the threat of death and exile.

I felt a personal connection to the descriptions of Maris's flights. One of my old childhood fantasies was to have wings and be able to fly, to feel the air around me and see everything below. This book grabbed onto the old love, making the story all the more endearing.

There are a lot of garbage fantasy books out there.
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Format: Hardcover
The great thing about George R.R. Martin is his uncanny ability to write superb books in different sub-genres. Windhaven is a classic tale of a pebble generating massive waves in a placid pond. Till Maris rebels, the placid populace of Windhaven never thinks to question the feudal hold of the flyers and their hereditary rights. Even Maris rebels not so much on general principle but because she is personally impacted. However as the story progresses, she grows in maturity till by the end, her battle is totally on account of principle. As with change in any feudal society, you have the classic instances of resistance by vested interests, friends unable to understand, relationships being broken because the non-revolutionary partner cannot or will not mature along with the rebel, the sheer horror when choosing principle over sentiment can mean the end of a lifelong friendship. Science fiction or fantsay may be the genre, but Martin's stregth is the painting of Windhaven, its way of life, its people. There are no "bad" characters as such, just ordinary people, each with their own circumstances and motivations. Here is Martin's forte: in explaining the various motivations, he brings the characters to life and makes it easy to identify with this world, totally alien as it may be. The juxtaposition of the familiar and the strange is so well done as to be almost seamless. The end too is inspired. This is not the traditional "lived happily ever after" tale. As with most events in the book, the end is bitter sweet and reflective of real life. Recommended to any fan of good reading, science fiction of otherwise. Thios is an author who is much under-rated.
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