Saturday, September 17, 2005


By Rafe Martin


Booklist said...

"Martin's interpretations linger long in the mind."

The cover said...

Once upon a time, seven brothers were turned into swans. And once upon a time, the spell was broken, giving back to each brother his human form...all except for Ardwin, the youngest. He was left with one arm enchanted, forever a wing.

And so he grows up, marked by difference, a prince struggling to find a place in his father's kingdom while his wing pulls him toward the open sky. Ardwin barely knows how to speak to his family, yet his wing gives him the power to understand every other creature in the forest.

Half the time Ardwin wishes his wing were gone. Yet when he learns that his father plans to have the wing severed, he knows he must save his life and to find his way.

Birdwing is the story of a boy who falls, half-healed, out of myth and into the world. Can a young man like that find peace? Or will his very existence become grounds for war?

Rafe Martin said...

BIRDWING, my mythic, heroic novel, has just been published by Arthur A.
Levine Books/Scholastic Publishing. Arthur is not only my editor, but
is also J.K. Rowling's, and has published all the HARRY POTTER books as
well as Philip Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS - so I feel that I am in
very good company.

BIRDWING is now available at, Barnes & Noble, and through
all independent booksellers and their

You can read all about BIRDWING, and even find an excerpt from it at my

It is a book I am very excited about. It began as the germ of an idea
some five years ago, and has finally come to full life. Advance readers
have reported that the book is powerful, well-written, and meaningful.
If it can be summed up, it might be said to be a story about our
differences, and how the very things that most isolate us may become
the sources of our healing. It is the story of a young man who has a
wing instead of a left arm. He has fallen out of myth, once could fly,
but now must find his way on the ground-like each of us. But he has the
additional burden of being a cripple and a freak. A lot goes on in the
process of his finding his unique way. Dangers and destinies unfold.
There are surprises and revelations in store. describes it
like this:

"Once upon a time, a girl rescued her six 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."

Writing BIRDWING, meeting the characters and living with them these
last five years, has been an adventure of the deepest sort. In many
ways I see my previous work as an apprenticeship for this book. So I'm
very happy to now be able to share BIRDWING with you.

May your own journeys, including your journey with BIRDWING, prove
equally valuable, and exciting.

All best

Rafe Martin

Anonymous said...

"An emotive fairytale extension thoughtfully explores the life of Ardwin, a prince with a swan's wing instead of a left arm . . . The
journey holds . . . surprises . . . [with] memorable images created along the way as Martin touchingly weaves together fairy tale, the wildness of animals and lyrical characterization." (Fantasy, YA).

"In a magical tale woven by master storyteller Rafe Martin, characters have "fallen out of legend" into a tale of extraordinary beauty and philosophical depth. An evil queen, an enchantress, a winged warrior, a gray-eyed goose girl who's really a princess, a snow lion, giants, mechanical men, and a sarcastic talking horse mix it up in a fairy tale
adventure as inventive and soaring as Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. . . Martin has made a fairy tale world completely believable and readers, . . . will ponder deep questions of what it means to be human, whether differences are curses or gifts, and how to make one's life a worthy story."

The Pick of the Literate--Baker Books Staff Picks said...

Handpicked by Gretchen, Bookseller and parent
Specialties include childrens books and elementary education

Rafe Martin
Scholastic © Oct. 2005
$16.99 hardcover

Rafe Martin has written an absolutely faithful and exceedingly satisfying continuation of The Six Swans, which happens to be one of my favorite fairy tales. In the original telling collected by the Grimm Brothers, six brothers turned into swans by an evil stepmother are rescued and mostly returned to their humanity through the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of their sister. Only the youngest brother's left arm remains a wing -- an ending that I always found utterly charming.

As Martin explores in his book, however, being a teenager and then young man with a swan wing isn't exactly "charming." Reminiscent of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Adventures, we travel with our good-hearted hero, Ardwin, on his coming-of-age journey as he struggles to discovers whether he is man or bird, gifted or cursed. Along the way, he encounters delightfully memorable friends (humans and beasts) and nasty foes who provide rich, but seamless, layers to the main plot.

I absolutely loved this book. Martin does a superb job of unfolding -- rather like Ardwin's wing, actually -- the essential birthright challenge each of us has to come to terms with who we are, who we are becoming, and how we fly. Ages 10+