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Firesong

by William Nicholson

ISBN 0749749164 / 9780749749163 / 0-7497-4916-4
Publisher Egmont Books Ltd
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Firesong is what publishers like to call an "event" book. Launched with huge razzmatazz, this weighty--at 350-plus pages--yet highly readable novel is a fitting conclusion to the story of the Manth people, and their long, dangerous and imaginative journey, Moses-like in scale, to a new and promised land. Highly-anticipated final books in big fantasy trilogies don't come much bigger than this and, reassuringly, William Nicholson's concluding instalment of his Wind on Fire sequence lives up to the immense expectation established by its excellent and award-winning predecessors The Wind Singer and Slaves of the Mastery.

The story picks up with the flight of the Hath family, and their crew of other willing Manth families and friends, away from the ruined Mastery. After the defeat of the Master, alone and displaced, they seek a new homeland but have no real destination and very little food. Ira Hath leads the way, prophesising their eventual success but also her own, sad demise. Bowman and Kestrel Hath, brother and sister, carry burdens of their own. Bowman, in particular, is anxious. He awaits a summons from the Sirene, and must make a great sacrifice for his people. The journey is long, and his preparation is tough--especially in the unforgiving hands of an unexpected teacher.

As with the previous two volumes, there are some wonderfully exciting moments of action, as well as vivid landscapes and colourful characters. Last time it was Mumpo in gladiatorial combat--this time it is the dramatic attempted rescue of the Manth women who fall into the grubby hands of a desert people.

So after all of this, the ending is definitely worth waiting for--and very emotional. There are some surprising twists and turns, and a truly satisfying conclusion. Yet, despite all three books being so immensely well-written and popular, it remains to be seen whether or not this author will continue to write novels for children as well as screenplays for Hollywood (his other job). Write to your MP if he doesn't, but make sure you read his next book if he does. (Ages 10 and over) --John McLay [via]