Friday, 26 February 2010

Birdwing By Rafe Martin

Birdwing by Rafe Martin


Based on the Six Swans fairytale, Birdwing tells the story of the younger brother that was left with a swan wing instead of an arm. It is mostly a story about growing up and accepting differences. But it is also an adventure story.

Ardwin, still a child when the spell that transformed him and his brothers into swans was broken, grows up different from everyone else, but chooses not to let his wing (and lack of arm) stop him from excelling in everything he does (and that includes sword fighting, lance throwing and archery). Even though he is a prince, he is met with disapproval and prejudice from other people and finds himself remembering the time when he was a swan and not different. He decides to return to the north where the swans stay, his departure fuelled by a gift from a neighbouring king of an mechanical arm. He sets off with his two close friends, but his plan is to follow by himself. Despite that, Ardwin makes new friends, human and animal.

I must confess I decided to read this book regarding it as a continuation of sorts to Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. Although both stories are based on the same fairytale, they are very different. And Ardwin, the main character is very different from Finbar.

Interesting is also the inclusion of the Goose Girl fairytale, but that I felt that was unnecessary.

A lot happens in this story, and is mostly told in rapid way. This does not mean it is rushed, apart from the ending that feels like the author either didn't know how to finish the story or couldn't be bothered to do it properly, so much of the ending is delivered by other characters telling it between themselves.

It is an enjoyable young adult read, Ardwin being a character easy to identify with. Other characters provide amusing moments. Horse (the horse, but that I kept picturing as Shrek's Donkey) provides much of the comic relief, while being a (somewhat) faithful companion.