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The Sunbird (The Lion Hunters #3)

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  335 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Telemakos is the grandson of two noble men: Kidane, member of the parliament in the African kingdom of Aksum, and Artos, the fallen High King of Britain. Telemakos is also an exceptional listener and tracker, resolute and inventive in his ability to discover and retain information. Now his aunt Goewin, the British ambassador to Aksum, needs his skill. Plague has come to Br ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published April 12th 2004 by Viking Juvenile
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(showing 1-30)
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Sherwood Smith
Intense, spare and vivid, this story builds, with subtle characterizations, and some sharply dramatic and painful moments.

I've recommended it to readers who like Megan Whalen Turner's work, and heard back that this was a successful pairing.
Katie Montgomery
Kim (magicsandwiches) Lawyer
Megan Whalen Turner was once asked if there was one book she evangelized and she replied, "The Sunbird by Elizabeth Wein." After reading it, I know why.

My favorite of the Lion Hunter's series, The Sunbird is an amazing adventure story told through the eyes of Telemakos, an intelligent and nimble eleven year old boy. As a member of the royal household and one who often roams the palace freely, Telemakos fades into the background as a natural part of the landscape. Because no one takes notice of h
Rachel Neumeier
Jul 01, 2011 Rachel Neumeier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not the first in the series, but it stands alone and it's my favorite (though I like them all). Ordinarily I think doing any kind of spin on the Arthurian legend is a bad idea, but Elizabeth Wein can handle it -- and anyway, The Sunbird is pretty far removed from the legend.

The writing is superb, Telemakos is one of my all-time favorite YA protagonists, the setting -- the African kingdom of Aksum -- is fabulous. But there is some grim, grim, grim violence in this book, some of the worst I've eve
Feb 20, 2012 TheBookSmugglers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

The Sunbird is the third book in Elizabeth Wein’s Arthurian/Aksumite cycle of stories which follows the descendants of King Artos of Britain and their lives in sixth century Aksum, Africa (present-day Ethiopia). Although part of an ongoing series, The Sunbird can definitely be read as a standalone (although I did have a few questions about previous happenings in the series, the most urgent one being: how and why exactly did the descendants of King Arth
Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms)
Jan 10, 2013 Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms) by: Chachic
Third book in the series and could not put it down. Would not have thought the tale of an eleven year old boy would draw me in like this one did. But of course it is the continuation of a fascinating story, and I am already drawn into the lives around him. These books are very roughly based on the Arthur legend, particularly Mordred although he has a different name in these and is called Medraut. He also has a far different role in the story that began in The Winter Prince where the tense and an ...more
I think I liked The Sunbird best of the series so far. It goes even further from Arthurian myth -- the only character from the Arthurian canon is Medraut -- but in the process makes an enchanting narrative. Young Telemakos is growing up and showing all signs of inheriting his father's ability to stalk prey, but he uses his skills politically.

The story of his search for the figure called the Lazarus, and what happens to him there, are compelling. The darkness from the other stories remains here.
Read this again for EWein Special Ops. It was just as good as I remembered. I was still afraid for Telemakos even though I already knew what was going to happen.

EWein Special Ops


2010 review: Originally posted here.

Ms. Wein blends Arthurian legend and sixth century Ethiopian history in her books. Telemakos, the main protagonist of this book, is the son of Medraut (Mordred, Arthur's son). If you're a fan of Arthurian novels, I definitely recommend Ms. Wein's novels. But even if you aren't, I st
Nastya December
Sep 19, 2012 Nastya December rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CONFOUND YOUR AMAZINGNESS MEDRAUT TELEMAKOS YOU CANNOT HIJACK MY LIFE LIKE THIS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGGG$&@*$&&&&&&$8@@:$2834828:&;!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 07, 2014 Liviania rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first three books of the Lion Hunters series switch focus between three members of a family: Medraut, then his legitimate half-sister Goewin, and then his son Telemekos. This means that although the books build on each other, they also stand fairly well on their own. (The last two books focus on Telemekos and should be read as a duology.)

THE SUNBIRD first came out in 2004, and in some ways feels dated despite only being ten years old. It is very short compared to most current YA novels, alt
Aug 04, 2008 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kitri
This is the third in a loose series - following The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions. I say loose because while many characters repeat from book to book, and each one resolves but leaves you hanging a bit, like a good series, each one is unique in plot and mood. These are no cookie-cutter series titles, but filled with well-developed characters, intrigue, and fascinating settings. By this book, the story has moved fairly far from the Arthurian legend roots of The Winter Prince, but a few o ...more
Maureen E
I think the most important thing to say about these books is that they’re not The Winter Prince. They certainly build off of that story, and I would most definitely read it first. But The Winter Prince is one of those books that I don’t think you could write a real sequel to. Nonetheles, A Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird are both fascinating and well-written. Telemakos is a wonderful character who’s reminding me more and more of Megan Whalen Turner’s Gen. I’ve got the next one ordered and I c ...more
Apr 18, 2008 Joy rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, fantasy, american, 21c
I can't figure out if I should label these as "Arthurian" now that we're so far removed from the original legend. I found this to be an improvement on A Coalition of Lions, but still lacking the tense focus of The Winter Prince. Telemakos here, and Goewin in the previous book, both lack the foil that Medraut had in Lleu. I liked how the Odyssey themes were played here, but wished here was more focus on Telemakos as himself rather than Telemakos has his father's son and aunt's nephew.

Re-read 8/1/
Wein's writing as always is lovely. In this particular case, that talent is used to lovingly describe the protagonist's wounds, down to every last bleeding scratch and emotional trauma. Almost as many pages are devoted to those wounds--and to the way the protagonist's family coo, cluck, and weep over them--as to the plot.

In short, this is hurt/comfort through and through. And while there is nothing wrong with h/c as a genre, it is profoundly not my genre of choice.

I did quite like the beginning
Mar 05, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Young Telemakos is an absolutely amazing character, and Wein is an amazing writer. She packs such emotional, moral, and social complexity into this brief book. If you like historical fantasy in the Megan Whalen Turner or Hilari Bell mold, you must read these books! However, although the main character is a child, there are some really harsh scenes here - scenes I had trouble reading. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone below 12 or 13. Adults who give the series a chance may get a lot out of i ...more
Karen Healey
This is a *really excellent* book, so I point out once again that the star rating relates only to how much I like something, not how good it is.

Because it's really good! The plot is excellent! The setting is fantastic! The writing is technically proficient! The style suits the subject matter! The characters are really believable!

The character torture is sickening and it made me feel physically ill.

So if you are not a wimp like me and you can handle really very awful things happening to child pro
Jul 13, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh. My.

Telemakos is my hero. This book took my heart and ripped it to tiny little shreds and here I am, begging Elizabeth Wein for MORE! Her characters with their sense of right and wrong (and all the grayness in between) pulled me straight into their story and will not let go.

I feel like a total dork for waiting so long to read this outstanding book (especially as Chachic has been pimping it FOREVER) but, I'm a total Gen-in-Africa convert now.
Feb 18, 2010 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think that this was my favorite book in this series by Elizabeth Wein. This is book 3/3 of the first series of the which actually continues with two more books that you can read separately (which I did but then I found out about the first three and went back to read them). Great story...kept me turning the pages. Fun to learn about 6th century Ethiopia!
Dec 28, 2013 Hoolie rated it really liked it
Shelves: reco-to-friend, ya
Compelling mix of Anglo African legends. Kingdom politics young spy trials and hardship, self awareness and honor make better stories than 2.5h of listening to Scar-Jo pretend to have a high IQ in Her.

Bottom-line: Gen in Africa for The Thief fans.
Rachel Brown
Jul 23, 2012 Rachel Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Telemakos, a brilliant boy – but still a boy – volunteers for an absolutely harrowing spy mission in ancient Aksum (modern Ethiopia). It’s a great story, but very intense and angsty, the more so because Telemakos is so young.
Oct 06, 2008 June rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great if somewhat harsh adventure story where the young protaganist becomes a spy to discover who is spreading plague in the kingdom. He is captured and tortured.
Feb 12, 2009 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book. It opened my eyes to a different world, and to me that's a valuable thing. I enjoyed reading it.
May 19, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 20, 2007 elissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ya fantasy fans
Hauntingly beautiful writing. One of my favorite 2005 titles.
Nov 25, 2013 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This trilogy was just astounding. Gorgeous writing and original plot.
Maya Chhabra
Book three of Wein's Arthurian/Aksumite series takes up the story of the next generation, with Medraut's twelve-year-old son Telemakos as protagonist. Unlike the first two books in the series, it is told from the third-person point of view, and unfortunately, I think that made it less interesting. The protagonist was less complex than in the other two books and the plot less original in structure, though in substance it was quite interesting: the very young Telemakos becomes a spy to figure out ...more
Apr 29, 2011 heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper
This is one of those series where you don't wish desperately that you hadn't dropped into the middle of it. Although it is related to some other books I haven't read, it stands alone pretty well.

Our protaganist is of the small, cunning variety, raised by people who value strength, cunning, and sneakiness. The setting is imperial Ethiopia, a sophisticated and world-ranging empire. The negusa nagast (King of Kings) finds him sneaking around and spying, and sets him a more difficult spying task. Wh
I didn't know this was part of a series before I started reading it. It is the third book in The Lion Hunter's book series, but I read this book only and I'm satisfied that it could be read as a stand-alone. Telemakos is a young prince of mixed race. His father is English and his mother is African. Thus, Telemakos has the dark skin of his mother but the blond hair and blue eyes of his father. Because of his appearance, others consider him a freak, but Telemakos is very good at blending into his ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
The third in Wein's ‘Aksum' trilogy, this works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel. In these books, Wein mixes the history of Greek legend with Ethiopian history, creating an interesting and unusual milieu.
Telemakos, named after the son of Odysseus, is a half-Greek, half-Ethiopian boy, grandson of the Aksumite king, and nephew of the British princess, Goewin, who is the ambassador to Aksum (Ethiopia). Regardless of his unusual appearance, which sets him apart, Telemakos learns to hide and spy
I received a copy of Sunbird via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I didn't realize that this book was the third in a series when I requested it. Still, not wanting to put off reading it any longer I forged ahead. The book grabbed my attention immediately and didn't let up until the very end. It was fascinating and heartbreaking, with vivid descriptions of an early, almost fantastical Africa and its inhabitants.
Telemakos is the kind of character that I expect in any book written by Eli
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"I have seen many peices of cheese in my life but of all the peices of cheese I have ever seen you are the biggest peice. I hate to waste a peice of stationary on you but I will."

- annoyed reader to F Scott Fitzgerald
More about Elizabeth Wein...

Other Books in the Series

The Lion Hunters (5 books)
  • The Winter Prince (The Lion Hunters, #1)
  • A Coalition of Lions (The Lion Hunters, #2)
  • The Lion Hunter (The Lion Hunters, #4)
  • The Empty Kingdom (The Lion Hunters, #5)

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“Here he comes, moving among the enemies all on his own. Do you see? He acts alone, but he is not alone. He has an army behind him, also, my army; and with our lives we will fight to defend him.” 1 likes
“That would be a slow and cruel death," said Gebe Meskal quietly. "He may survive a week on such a regime, but so little of a skin is not sufficient water for a man laboring in the desert."

Telemakos said through his teeth, "It is for a child.”
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