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The Seventh Swan

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  104 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The background of this tale of adventure is 16th century Scotland, in the Highlands of the clan feuds and cattle-reiving days, and it has a sinister undertone of witchcraft and sorcery. Most of us are familiar with Hans Christian Anderson's great story, The Wild Swans, but how many have wondered what happened to the youngest, the one whose shirt was not finished, the one w ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published by Ace Books (first published January 1st 1962)
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Keturah and Lord Death by Martine LeavittSummers at Castle Auburn by Sharon ShinnThe Seer and the Sword by Victoria HanleyFire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne JonesThe Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
Hidden Gems: YA-Fantasy Novels
315th out of 1,532 books — 3,499 voters
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The Wild Swans/The Six Swans Retellings
12th out of 23 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

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Apr 15, 2010 robyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fairytales, quest
Once upon a time... seven brothers were doomed to fly as wild swans during the day, and return to their natural form at night. They were saved by their sister, who wove shirts out of stinging nettles, but was unable to finish one sleeve of the last shirt, and so the youngest brother was left with a swan's wing. End of story. Except for the youngest brother, of course.

This is a children's story, but with an adult sense of consequences and prices to be paid. I was young when I read it, and it was
Joy Everafter
Apr 01, 2014 Joy Everafter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tween-fantasy
The traditional fairy story ended with the mute Queen succeeding in freeing her brothers from their swan forms by throwing them the nettle shirts she had made with her bare hands. Because she had been condemned to die, she could wait no longer, so the last brother's shirt was unfinished and he was left with a swan's wing forever. Of course this showed she had been virtuous all along and everyone lived happily ever after.

Mr Gray is the only one who worries about the fate of that seventh, youngest
Apr 16, 2016 Tracey rated it it was amazing
From the old standby, Wikipedia: "Neil Gaiman has written that [Nicholas Stuart] Gray 'is one of those authors I loved as a boy who holds up even better on rereading as an adult'."

This is such a perfect quote - it's wonderfully true. Given some of the events in Susan Dexter's The True Knight, I thought of Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Seventh Swan, and pulled it off the shelf.


The book uses one of my favorite devices: it takes a well-known story, in this case a fairy tale, and pushes it out f
Arlene Allen
Jul 28, 2010 Arlene Allen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I loved this absolutely wrenching re-telling of the Wild Swans/Seventh Swan. This was part of a wonderful fantasy series primarily aimed at teens in the early 1980s - back when teen fantasy was more than chaste vampires and boys in magic schools.
Aug 20, 2015 Melissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-in-japan, fantasy
I fell in love with the Wild Swans story through Juliet Marillier's The Daughter of the Forest, so I was excited to find this book detailing what happens to the one-winged brother afterwards. I really really wanted to like this one. Alas, it had an amazing premise, but unfortunate execution.

First of all, at no point did I feel affection for Alasdair. His social anxiety seemed like such a shallow plot point compared to what could have been focused on. What about the fact that he was only 3 years
Jan 20, 2009 Kathryn rated it it was ok
What little I remember of this book was...oddly unsatisfying. It started with a great premise: after the fairy tale of "The Seven Swans" ended, whatever happened to the one prince who's shirt wasn't finished? He wound up with a swan's wing instead of an arm, but nothing more was ever said about him.

Well the book tries to answer this, but it fell flat because I just couldn't care about the characters. The prince with the swan's wing was bitter and miserable and kind of a whiner through the whole
This book had an interesting idea. The story of the seven swans, and one at the end who still has a swan's arm... I can't remember any origin or location for this story, originally, but it's interesting that this version seems to be set in Scotland. It's odd, though, because there's a very feudal system, with clan wars and sieges and so on, but as well as swords there are guns... It seems a little anachronistic, although, heh -- I never got on well with history, certainly not with the little det ...more
Mary Miller
Nov 16, 2011 Mary Miller rated it it was amazing
I love books that are retelling of fairy tales and the variations on the swan stories are among my favorites. "The Seventh Swan" takes the end of the story as its jumping off point. Set in the highlands of Scotland in the late 1600's (another point in its favor for me), the author asks what happened to the brother whose wing was not completely transformed? His sister, now happily married and talking, decides to seek help for him.
But something happens as the story goes on. The characters develop
Jennifer Heise
Good premise-- what happened to the last swan-boy who was left with a wing? But I spent the whole book wanting to slap him for being so self-pitying; I guess it takes one to know one, right?
I kept the book because it's part of the MagicQuest series and almost all the other ones in the series are amazing.
Oct 21, 2015 Lea!_killjoy rated it really liked it
This book was intriguing and on all accounts beautiful. I enjoyed reading this thoroughly.
Nov 05, 2011 Thomas rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books of my youth. I recall reading it over and over more than any other book in my collection. There's something about the main heroine that's endearing and sweet, which the world she inhabits is dark. The balance of the two reads nicely, which the "seventh swan" has a nature that's both unlikable and yet not unattractive.

However, I tried reading it as an adult a few years ago and couldn't quite make it through the entire thing. I loved it years ago, but don't care fo
Kate Forsyth
Oct 08, 2011 Kate Forsyth rated it it was amazing
Oh I loved this book so much! Nicholas Stuart Gray is truly a magical writer. I loved his books as a child and I think I love him even more as an adult, because he writes in such an effortlessly enchanting way, and I know now just how difficult that is. I’ve wanted to read this book for many years and at last ordered it over the internet – I’m so glad I did. It makes me want to track down more of his books.
Mar 26, 2013 Ariel rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, mg
A fantasy adventure about an enchanted boy who pities himself overmuch, set in fairytale Scotland. Shot through with moonlight magic as one might expect from the author of GRIMBOLD'S OTHER WORLD, one of my favorite childhood reads.
Dec 08, 2013 Ruth rated it liked it
I really liked this one a lot when I was a kid. It's an old-school fantasy about a guy with the arm of a swan, the result of a spell gone wrong.
Apr 06, 2011 Lydia rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
Really liked this and would recommend it. I love all things Celtic and old fashioned children's books so it is perfectly suited to me!
The Fairy Godmother
Based on The Wild Swans.
Ellie marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2016
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Nicholas Stuart Gray (23 October 1922, Scotland - 17 March 1981) was a British actor and playwright, perhaps best known for his work in children's theatre in England. He was also an author of children's fantasy; he wrote a number of novels, a dozen plays, and many short stories. Neil Gaiman has written that Gray "is one of those authors I loved as a boy who holds up even better on rereading as an ...more
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