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Nicholson, William. The Wind on Fire Trilogy. The wind singer: an adventure, Book One.

NICHOLSON, William. The Wind on Fire Trilogy. The wind singer: an adventure, Book One. 358p. c2000. 0-7868-1799. Slaves of the mastery: an adventure, Book Two. 434p. c2001. 0-7868-1800-X. Firesong: an adventure, Book Three. 431p. c2002. 07868-1801-X. Hyperion. $11.99 each. JSA*

Nicholson's Wind on Fire trilogy tells a dramatic, original and compelling story over its three volumes, exploring the themes of the individual vs. society, freedom vs. security and prophecy vs. self-determination. In the first volume, The Wind Singer, ten-year-old Kestrel Hath and her twin brother Bowman live in Aramanth, where the citizens are strictly segregated into districts based on the scores of annual examinations. Kestrel. like her mother, the outspoken Ira Hath, is particularly resistant to the restrictions placed upon her and her family. When her stubborn nature gets her into trouble, she and Bowman run away with the class outcast, the simple-seeming Mumpo, tagging along. They are seeking the "voice" of the wind singer, the strange structure in the town lacking the silver piece that acts as its larynx. Their quest brings them into contact with some of the other intriguing societies before their climactic conflict with the Morah, a destructive force, as well as the beautiful and single-minded killers, the Zars, before their final and triumphant return.

Slaves of the Mastery takes place five years later, when Aramanth, now a city of kindness and happiness, is destroyed by the army of the Master. Those not killed in the attack are rounded up and marched off to become slaves in the city of the Master--all except Kestrel, who follows the prisoners as far as she can in hopes of rescuing her friends and family. At the same time, the twins' mother, Ira Hath, begins to have visions of a homeland beyond the City and a chain of events is set into motion coincident with her prophecies. Bowman believes himself to be part of that destiny and his belief gives him the strength to pursue a plan to overthrow the Master.

The concluding volume, Firesong, finds the survivors of the city pursuing the land of Ira Hath's prophecy. Beset by bandits, cold, hunger and strange individuals and afflictions, they struggle onward, persevering in Ira's vision. Bowman steels himself for his role in the prophecy, but when the time comes for him to leave the group. Kestrel goes with him, driven by her strong connection with him and her sense that this is something she must do.

Nicholson's storytelling is vivid, powerful and poetically spare; he creates scenes and characters in deft cinematic strokes. He laces the novels with humor, lending humanity to the characters; in fact. the only characters without humor are those who have lost part of their humanity. The story are remains fresh and lively throughout, without the second book "slump" that plagues many trilogies. Each novel tells a full story on its own, yet the continuity does not waver. Each could be read independently, hut the story is far richer when read across the trilogy. The paperback editions contain a discussion group guide to further enhance the books. The Wind on Fire trilogy is thoughtful and original fantasy at its best and a first pick for any library. Donna Scanlon, Children's Libn., County Lib., Lancaster, PA
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Author:Scanlon, Donna
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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