BOOK REVIEW: Firesong (The Wind on Fire #3) by William Nicholson

This review does not contain spoilers.

firesongIn a time of cruelty, the Manth people seek their homeland. Only Ira Hath can lead them there. But she grows weak …

Kestrel dreads reaching the homeland. She is afraid of what it will mean for her mother—and of something else …

Her twin, Bowman, eagerly awaits his summons. He prepares to make the final sacrifice for his people, his family. And all the while, the wind is rising …

After the thrill of Slaves of the Mastery, I had a feeling that Firesong was going to be a letdown. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a good book. It’s just not as good as Slaves of the Mastery.

With most of Firesong spent following the journey of the Manth people to their elusive homeland, reading about it begins to feel like a long and arduous journey in itself. Of course, William Nicholson breaks up the monotony with some interesting diversions to the plot but I feel that these come too close to the beginning and too close to each other. With Ira Hath’s prophecy still fresh in mind from Slaves of the Mastery, these bumps in the road seem easily surmountable and meant only to add some intrigue to what might otherwise be a very long and boring trip.

As Bowman begins to master his special abilities, the language used to describe mind control and ‘singing’ often becomes confusing. While inner monologues explain how characters know things they’ve never been taught, the characters still cover their learning in leaps and bounds. Readers are left to stumble behind and grasp the basic principles of things a few chapters later.

The concept of the wind on fire is explained a few times and yet still only exists as a vague notion. The flowery description confuses the climax of the novel, and even by the last page it doesn’t feel like everything is over and the danger has passed. Perhaps, though, that was the point. I understand enough of the wind on fire to know that the battle between the Singer people and the Morah is a circular one, destined to repeat itself forever. But I’m still not sure if I can reconcile that notion with how the novel makes me feel.


The verdict

Ultimately, the end of the trilogy is satisfying. Though I didn’t enjoy Firesong nearly as much as Slaves of the Mastery, I certainly didn’t hate it. The characters end up in their expected places, living the life expected of them—expected mostly because Ira Hath prophesises their futures towards the end of the book. There are still some parts of the action that remain confused but, by the last page, I think I had stopped stumbling and managed to cobble together those basic principles I was looking for.


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