Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


*****The Sunbird

by Elizabeth E. Wein

Reviewed June 5, 2004.
Viking, New York, 2004.  184 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #1, Young Adult Historical Fiction

This book moved to the top of my list when we had a bomb exercise at the library.  Fortunately, I grabbed the most interesting new book I was processing before we evacuated, and I got to spend more than an hour out on the grass reading The Sunbird.  The only bad part was that when I had to go back to work, I found my mind still in the book.

Elizabeth E. Wein is getting better and better.  The Sunbird is the third book in her cycle of stories about the descendants of King Arthur.  It’s listed as a “companion novel,” and you really don’t have to have read the earlier books to enjoy this one, but I do think the ending resonated all the more because I had read the first two books.

The Sunbird, like A Coalition of Lions, takes place in the kingdom of Aksum, located in Africa in what is now Ethiopia.  Prince Telemakos is the son of the daughter of an Aksumite noble and Medraut, son of King Artos of Britain.  I was glad that his aunt, the Princess Goewin, is still in this book.  She’s a strong woman, who must wield political power shrewdly.

The empire of Aksum faces the danger of plague.  On the advice of Goewin, the emperor imposes a quarantine.  However, someone in the capital, along with some salt traders, is conspiring to get rich by circumventing the quarantine.  This could mean the doom of the kingdom.

Although he is young, Telemakos, a loner, has trained himself as a tracker and a listener.  Now he has the opportunity to be the emperor’s most important spy.  Who would suspect a child?  However, the hardships he must face go far beyond anything anyone had anticipated.  Can he persevere and save the kingdom?

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as the previous ones, since I wanted to hear more about Goewin, not Telemakos.  However, Elizabeth Wein again weaves her spell and transports the reader to long-ago Aksum.  I was completely caught up in the story, and it will stick with me for a long time.  I hope that there will be more to come.

Reviews of other books by Elizabeth E. Wein:
The Winter Prince
A Coalition of Lions
The Empty Kingdom
The Pearl Thief
Code Name Verity
Rose Under Fire
Black Dove, White Raven
A Thousand Sisters
Code Name Verity

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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