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The Bird King

The Bird King


Book Overview: The Bird King

A fantastical journey set at the height of the Spanish Inquisition from the award-winning author of Alif the Unseen and writer of the Ms. Marvel series, G. Willow Wilson's The Bird King is a jubilant story of love versus power, religion versus faith, and freedom versus safety.

G. Willow Wilson's debut novel Alif the Unseen was an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and it established her as a vital American Muslim literary voice. Now she delivers The Bird King, a stunning new novel that tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret--he can draw maps of places he's never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan's surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan's gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

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"I loved this book so much . . . The Bird King is ostensibly the story of a journey, of the limits to escape--but it is also a journey into story, and faith, and refuge, the family we choose and the friends we find. It's deeply beautiful and wondrously sad, and I can't tell if it ended too quickly or if I just needed it not to--if I just wanted to dwell in a home built out of story for a little longer yet."--NPR

"I truly cannot remember the last time I read a book that made me feel the way The Bird King made me feel . . . No summary, no quotes, no analysis of this book can communicate the all-encompassing pleasure of reading it, paragraph after paragraph, page after page. Read it, and treasure it."--Arts Fuse

"The Bird King is a compelling, beautifully paced, and beautifully written historical fantasy . . . Wilson skillfully navigates the dualities of love and hate, freedom and captivity, faith and doubt, choice and obligation, and finds all the shades of gray between them. I laughed, I cried, I bit my nails in terror, and I wanted nothing more than to continue spending time with Fatima, Hassan, and their merry band of misfits. An amazing new book from a genuine talent; and while I love her comics work, The Bird King makes me hope that we won't have to wait another 7 years before her next novel."--Book Riot

"Steeped in magical realism . . . [and] enchanting otherworldly trappings, it is primarily a novel of ideas. [The Bird King] grapples with who we are, how we love, [and] why we worship . . . [with] prose so vivid and original that one can only read it with envy."--Tor.com

"The Bird King is marvelous in the deepest sense--a treasure-house of a novel, thrilling, tender, funny, and achingly gorgeous. I loved it."--Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy

"A gorgeous, ambitious meditation on faith, platonic love, magic and even storytelling itself, with a trio of unforgettable personalities serving as its beating, endlessly vital heart. The Bird King is a triumph . . . Wilson has once again proven that she's one of the best fantasy writers working today, with a book that's just waiting for readers to get happily lost in its pages."--BookPage

"A fun, immersive adventure that moves at a brisk pace through lush settings, across dangerous terrain, and eventually out to the open sea . . . [The Bird King] will appeal to readers of S. A. Chakraborty's City of Brass, Helene Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni, and Naomi Novik's fairy tale-esque Uprooted."--Booklist (starred review)

"The Bird King takes a time period that's passed into cliché and makes it new and strange again. In this novel, the real runs alongside the fantastic, one informing the other, G. Willow Wilson's eye for detail and her titanic imagination pumping together like pistons. She's incredible. The Bird King has big things to say about states and souls, and it's going to take you on a rollicking ride while it says them. I was fascinated and riveted and, by the end, deeply moved."--Robin Sloan, author of Sourdough

"A breathtaking historical fantasy . . . To say Wilson is a talented storyteller does not adequately capture the magnificent dimensions of her work . . . The Bird King [is] a more-than-worthy follow-up to Alif the Unseen. It's not necessary to read one before the other, but only a fool would miss them both." --Shelf Awareness

"Teeming with secrets, violence, and magic, G. Willow Wilson's characters come alive in a backdrop of 15th century Spain that is at once sinister and lush. By turns humorous and heartbreaking, the world held me captive and I'm haunted by it still." --Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes

"A lovely fable set during the final days of the Reconquista . . . [The Bird King is] a thoughtful and beautiful balance between the real and the fantastic."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] swashbuckling second novel amid an epic clash between cultures."--Publishers Weekly

G. Willow Wilson is a highly acclaimed American author, revered for her significant contributions in comic writing, particularly in the realm of modern superhero stories. Born on August 31, 1982, Wilson initiated her writing career by penning articles and essays for renowned publications, but her trajectory took a dynamic turn when her fascination for comics led her to redefine prominent superheroes through her narratives. She is the visionary behind the reinvention of Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her comic series—Ms. Marvel, which won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. In addition to comic scripting, her talents extend to writing riveting novels, highlighting her formidable skill of interweaving complex themes with engaging storytelling. Her debut novel, "Alif the Unseen," received the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was acknowledged as a "Top 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Book" by renowned publications. Her exceptional abilities extend beyond the fantasy genre to include prose, essays, and critical and political commentary, embodying her deep insights and astute observations on culture and society. Despite Wilson's resonance in the world of comics and novels, what truly sets her apart is her ability to break barriers and challenge traditional perspectives via her work. As an Islamic convert, her experience infuses richness and authenticity in her narratives, offering unique cultural representation and inclusivity. Ultimately, G. Willow Wilson is a transformative figure in literature, pioneering the creation of diverse and inspiring narratives that alter the landscape of comic book and novel writing.


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