This review does not contain spoilers.
When the ruthless soldiers of the Mastery strike, the city is burned, and the Manth people are taken into slavery. Kestrel Hath is left behind, separated from her beloved brother Bowman, and vowing revenge. Now Kestrel must find Bowman again, and Bowman must learn the secrets of the Singer people. Only then will they break the power of the Mastery.
Oh. My. God. I thought The Wind Singer was surprisingly dark for a children’s book but Slaves of the Mastery completely exceeded my expectations. William Nicholson pulls no punches with the situations in which his characters find themselves. Every day they are in a life or death situation without ever having done something to warrant it.
While the writing in The Wind Singer reminded me of The Hobbit, Slaves of the Mastery leans more towards the tones of the darker books in the Chronicles of Narnia. I want to say that there is no way this is a children’s book—that it’s too mature, and too dark for younger readers. But William Nicholson handles his words with enviable grace and ease, evoking vivid imagery but never going so far as to make it too graphic. He trusts his young readers to absorb what they can and to reject what they can’t and that’s why this book is amazing.
All of the familiar characters return in this book, and new characters quickly join the ranks of the well-loved. Five years have passed since the events in The Wind Singer, which means that Kestrel, Bowman, and Mumpo are all 15 years old and baby Pinpin is now Pinto, a young girl of seven. The emotions and desires of characters drive the plot of this book far more than in The Wind Singer and watching them grow and develop, hardening under pressure, is thrilling.
I am in love with this book. I did wonder if the childlike fairy tale tone of The Wind Singer would endure as the characters aged but the narration has evolved perfectly. William Nicholson has created a sequel not only worth of its predecessor, but, in my view, far greater, and I’m eager to start on Firesong, the last in The Wind on Fire trilogy.