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Hawksong : The Kiesha'ra: Volume One…

Hawksong : The Kiesha'ra: Volume One (Kiesha'ra) (edition 2003)

by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

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Title:Hawksong : The Kiesha'ra: Volume One (Kiesha'ra)
Authors:Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Info:Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2003), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

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    Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (Jenson_AKA_DL)
    Jenson_AKA_DL: Both of these books have to do with shapeshifters facing problems in their society. Great books!
  2. 01
    Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (LucyClements)

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Hawking opens centuries into a bitter feud between the Avians and Serpiente, two shapeshifting societies. The novel follows Danica Shardae, future of the Avians, who has lost almost all of her family to the war. When the heir of the Serpiente initiates peace talks overseen by a society strong enough to wipe out both warring factions, she begins to hope. Their solution consists of marrying the two hers and is not well received by either faction. The main characters do not know one another well, do not like one another, and Danica is more often than not terrified of the Serpiente as a whole. Nevertheless, when the Serpiente leader approaches her with the statement that he could never like her offered together with a marriage proposal, she cannot see any other path to peace. Their plan is a marriage neither family believes in performed, not out of love or affection, but from a shared desire to end the war by any means possible, including a political match that will force hostilities to cease.

The cultures come to life through Danica's eyes as she begins to migrate between both worlds and see them from the perspective of a member of both rather than an Avian leader at war. The sequel, Snakecharm, begins soon after Hawking ends and continues to follow both Zane and Danica as they attempt to meld their cultures together amidst a backdrop of assassination plots and prejudice.

The novel is a quick read with likable characters and an interesting take on shapeshifting societies. For a young adult novel, the world building is well done, providing incredibly different cultures treated with equal care and consideration. The last is seen even more so as the series continues and the complexities of a marriage between two rules of different societies is explored, and as different characters narrate tales from their own perspectives. ( )
  Ailinel | May 2, 2015 |
I absolutely loved this book. The war, the politics and fragile peace, Danica's bravery in trusting the enemy not to hold her hostage or kill her. It was amazing. There was only one small thing that I wanted to see - Zane and Danica consummate their relationship at the end. I know this is a young adult book but that would have been the icing on the cake for me. 4.5 stars. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
This one was a reread. I think I read it when it first came out. For some reason, I never read any more of the series or any of the author's other books.

The avian shapeshifters and the serpiente have been at war for so long that no one can remember how the fighting started. Danica, soon to be named leader of the avian shapeshifters, is tired of all the killing. Zane, the leader of the serpiente, feels the same way. A political marriage between the two of them may be the solution they're looking for, if they can overcome generations of hatred and their own feelings of distrust.

This book had several things going for it. It was incredibly readable – I gobbled it up in a day. It featured a tense political marriage that eventually blossomed into affection and love – yay! And it had unusual shapeshifters (birds, serpents, and, briefly, tigers).

As smoothly as this story went down, it was not without its problems. The world-building was pretty weak. Some might be shocked by this statement. “But look at the family trees at the beginning of the book! Did you see all the avian and serpiente cultural details in the story? And, ooh, the acknowledgments were written both in English and the avian shapeshifter language! Or maybe the serpiente language.”

It's quite possible that the world is fleshed out more in later books, but, in this one, all readers learn is that there are at least three groups of shapeshifters – birds, serpents, and tigers. Humans existed in this world but were barely mentioned. I can't even tell you during which human time period this book was set - probably not modern day, because there was no mention of cars or planes. It was humans that prompted the tiger shifters to relocate to their current home, which seemed to indicate that they posed a threat to shapeshifters, but apparently not so great a threat that anyone needed to think about them much.

I assume all the various types of shapeshifters can interbreed, because, when the possibility of a political marriage between Danica and Zane was first brought up, no one said a thing about their future children and heirs. I was a little confused about how the marriage was supposed to work. What would their schedules be like? Would Danica and Zane spend a few weeks with the serpiente and then switch off and spend a few weeks with the avian shapeshifters? Would they appoint people who could make decisions in their place in case they were at one location or the other when an emergency arose? Nothing was said about any of this.

I got the impression that the author had created detailed notes on the bits of the world that interested her and chose to neglect the less interesting parts. Thus, we got a couple family trees, a language of some sort (which was used more in the acknowledgments than anywhere else in the book), and a few defining characteristics of the avian shapeshifters and the serpiente, while all kinds of practical details about the alliance were ignored.

The avian shapeshifters and the serpiente were set up as complete opposites. Avian shapeshifters believed in keeping their emotions tightly controlled, while the serpiente put their emotions on display for all to see, the good as well as the bad. Avian reserve unnerved the serpiente, while the serpiente habit of casual touching scandalized the avians.

I enjoyed reading about Danica trying to adjust to serpiente behavior and culture, and there were a few moments that were kind of sweet, like when she began learning serpiente dancing or when she made a conscious effort to be more physically affectionate. I did irk me a little that, although Danica learned about and even began to enjoy serpiente culture, there were no examples of Zane doing the same with avian culture.

It's weird. Although I sped through this book in a day and kind of want to read more, my feelings about a lot of it are lukewarm. Danica and Zane were both saintly leaders, willing to do whatever it took to achieve peace. Danica spent a lot of time fretting over her people, trying to convince her mother and her guards that the serpiente could be trusted, and fretting that she had trapped Zane in a loveless marriage that would bring him nothing but pain because she couldn't be open and affectionate like a serpiente woman. The assassination subplot was there, but Zane and Danica just let their own people handle it (because investigating it themselves would have ended things much sooner), so it was kind of easy to forget about.

I think this would make a great recommendation for a reluctant teenage reader looking for easy-to-digest fantasy mixed with romance and a bit of intrigue. As for myself, I'm not sure whether I'll continue on with this series, but it was incredibly refreshing to be able to plow through a book so quickly. I do kind of want to see how Zane and Danica's relationship develops now that they've finally said "I love you."


At the beginning of the book, there are two family trees, one for the serpiente and one for the avian shapeshifters. The avian shapeshifter family tree is confusing. If you look closely, the bit dealing with Erica Silvermead and her family is included twice, once for a closer view of her father's side of the family and once for a closer view of her mother's side of the family. Erica, by the way, is a very minor character in this book, so a closer look at any side of her family was unnecessary. The very general way the dashed lines are defined makes it look like Erica could be a cousin of Danica's, but I don't think that was actually the case.

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | May 7, 2014 |
The Good: Hawksong does a fine job of taking something serious like stereotypes and prejudice and turning it into something easily digestible without being preachy. Moreover, Danica's fears and misconceptions of Zane and his people are understandable and even acceptable given the pretext of the book itself.

The Bad: You have to really be into shapeshifter stories to enjoy this series. Not lycanthropic stories, but true animal shifting stories, based on the biology of the animals in question. I'm just not, at least not based on snakes and birds. The romance was lacking in Hawksong, which severely impacted the believability of the story in general. While it made sense that Zane and Danica could come together as a political move, nothing was every portrayed in a convincing fashion that they would even be able to have a functional, lasting, romantic relationship. ( )
  TequilaReader | Jan 2, 2014 |
I love this book so much. I love shape shifters book and this one is one of the best I read so far. The story between Zane and Danica is so sweet and beautiful. ( )
  Melody05 | Oct 22, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amelia Atwater-Rhodesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Hawksong is dedicated to my mother, Susan Atwater-Rhodes, for everything she has given me and everything I am now.
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They say the first of my kind was a woman named Alasdair, a human raised by hawks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385734921, Paperback)

DANICA SHARDAE IS an avian shapeshifter, and the golden hawk’s form in which she takes to the sky is as natural to her as the human one that graces her on land. The only thing more familiar to her is war: It has raged between her people and the serpiente for so long, no one can remember how the fighting began. As heir to the avian throne, she’ll do anything in her power to stop this war—even accept Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, as her pair bond and make the two royal families one.

Trust. It is all Zane asks of Danica—and all they ask of their people—but it may be more than she can give.

A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

A VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List selection

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a land that has been at war so long that no one remembers the reason for fighting, the shapeshifters who rule the two factions agree to marry in the hope of bringing peace, despite deep-seated fear and distrust of each other.

(summary from another edition)

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