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Birdwing by Rafe Martin
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Birdwing (2005)

by Rafe Martin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4651933,646 (3.81)8
  1. 10
    The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott (Rubbah)
    Rubbah: Both are based on the same Grimms fairytale
  2. 00
    Swan's Wing by Ursula Synge (HollyMS)
  3. 00
    Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (quigui)
    quigui: Based on the same fairy tale, but historical fantasy (set in Ireland)
  4. 00
    The Seventh Swan by Nicholas Stuart Gray (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Both continuations of the Six Swans fairy tale that focus on a boy who is left with a wing in place of one arm.
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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This was 100% good. It's a middle-grade retelling of the six swans tale (I keep calling it Seven Swans because of that Sufjan Stevens song lol) from the point of view of the youngest brother who is left with a bird wing because his sister didn't finish his shirt in time.

I don't have a lot to say about this book, because I just loved it. It was refreshing and full of feels and adventure and fairy tale vibes! I loved the dynamic between the brother and his sister and the tension caused by the curse she lived through and did her best to lift off her brothers. The main character, Ardwin is definitely a headstrong brat, but also someone who is bullied and shunned by many of those around him. He goes through some great growth throughout the story.

It's just an awesome read - I finished it in 2 days and it's one I definitely want to re-read someday. Certainly, it would be on a 'top whatever' list for fairy tale retellings from me. If you like MG, fairytale retellings and fantasy, definitely pick this up. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Dec 11, 2018 |
I have not yet read this book.
  LynneQuan | Oct 15, 2017 |
This is a very creative continuation of the fairy tale about the seven brothers who are turned into swans; their sister manages to free them from the curse, but the youngest brother is left with one wing in place of an arm.

The writing lacks sophistication, perhaps needed a bit more editing for form, but the content was imaginative and obviously geared toward younger readers anyway. Some plot points were a bit convenient, but it's a fairy tale, right? Overall I liked it and would probably recommend it to my niece, but I don't plan on ever rereading it myself. ( )
  JillianJ | Aug 15, 2011 |
By: Martin, Rafe, 1946-
Prince Ardwin, known as Birdwing, the youngest of six brothers turned into swans by their stepmother, is unable to complete the transformation back into human form, so he undertakes a journey to discover whether his feathered arm will be a curse or a blessing to him.
Lexile: 720 [view chart]
  211Fern | Dec 8, 2010 |
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.

Also at Spoilers and Nuts ( )
1 vote quigui | Feb 26, 2010 |
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For the wing we each have.
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Rain pelted heavily against the narrow, glazed window.
Quotations
“Tomorrow", said Peter when they reached the gate. "Same time. We'll meet here. No need for the yard."

"You'll... you'll take me?" exclaimed Ardwin."You'll take me as you student? Why? I was terrible!"

"Yes, you were. But you have perseverance, Prince Ardwin. You kept at it despite your lack of success. What's more, you made no complaint against the wind, and you damaged no arrows. When you failed, you made no moan. Bran broke a bow over his knee when he began, so frustrated did he become.”
Be brave, be bold, my dear, but do not be too bold. Do not go looking for trouble. It has a way of finding you on its own, soon enough.
-- Rose
Yes, Ardwin remembered. This is the way swans like to travel. A tailwind can make even the longest and riskiest flight possible.
It was a good sign.
He had lived cloaked so long, he did not know how to reveal his heart.
Young as I was that day Ardwin recalled, I could see the pain clearly on his face. Yet he did what justice demanded. What price did he pay? What price do people pay for their integrity? Ardwin immediately answered his own question. A lot, he thought. It is always hard won.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439211689, Paperback)

A boy marked by physical difference--one arm is an enchanted wing--finds his strength and purpose in this stirring fantasy. A Washington Post Best Kids Book of 2005 and Book Sense Winter Pick.



Once upon a time, a girl rescued her seven brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans. But one boy, Ardwin, was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp: one arm remained a wing. And while Ardwin yearned to find a place in his father's kingdom, the wing whispered to him of open sky and rushing wind. Marked by difference, Ardwin sets out to discover who he is: bird or boy, crippled or sound, cursed or blessed. But followed by the cold eye of a sorceress and with war rumbling at his kingdom's borders, Ardwin's path may lead him not to enlightenment, but into unimaginable danger.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Prince Ardwin, known as Birdwing, the youngest of six brothers turned into swans by their stepmother, is unable to complete the transformation back into human form, so he undertakes a journey to discover whether his feathered arm will be a curse or a blessing to him.… (more)

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