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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,247 ratings  ·  169 reviews
A boy marked by physical difference -- one arm is an enchanted wing -- finds his strength and purpose in this stirring fantasy.

Once upon a time, a girl rescued her seven brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans. But one boy, Ardwin, was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp: one arm remained a wing. And while Ardwin yearned to find a place in his father'
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published February 1st 2005)
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Fairy tales & Retellings.
274th out of 381 books — 227 voters
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Fantasy Books Featuring Horses
89th out of 114 books — 114 voters

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Community Reviews

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Ardwin Birdwing is the youngest of the seven princes who were turned into swans by their evil stepmother. He is the one whose coat of nettles was unfinished when time ran out, and one arm remained a wing.

This story begins years after the enchantment has been broken. Rose, the savior sister, is married with children, as are most of the princes. They were eager to put the trauma and strangeness of their curse behind them. Ardwin cannot, since he is marked by physical difference and also by greater
The Wild Swans is one of my very favorite fairy tales, and this story takes off where that story ends. Only this time, we are seeing the world through the eyes of the youngest brother, in this story named Ardwin, whose knitted shirt was not finished in time and he still has the wing of a swan. The enchanted wing gives him a view into the world of animals, enabling him to hear their thoughts and to catch of glimpse of things to come.

Among his family and community, however, life for Ardwin is frau
This is without a doubt the worst retelling of this particular fairy tale that I have ever read. I'm usually a fan of reimagined fairy tales, but not when they are done as poorly as Birdwing This book is probably intended for a younger audience, but even taking that into account, this book is dreadful. The dialogue is awkward and forced, the pacing is inconsistent, and the main character, Adrwin, is irritating beyond belief. Fairy tales aren't supposed to be believable, but this story simply can ...more
When I was an aspiring playwright in my college days, and came across "The Seven Swans" in Grimms' Fairy Tales, I was haunted by image of the youngest brother who, at the end of the story, remained with a swan's wing. I imagined a sequel to that fairy tale, as a play, and even drafted several scenes. I never completed the darn thing, for two reasons, I think: one is that writing was damned hard work (and I was discovering my talent for improv gave me satisfaction with much less effort), and two, ...more
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This book was weird. It was kind of disjointed and had all these threads that would be opened and then juggled kind of inexpertly, but it still somehow kept me really interested the whole time. I could pick out really clunky dialogue and prose and sometimes Martin would kind of shoot for that Ye Olde Tale kind of language and not quite hit it, but yet I really enjoyed the whole thing. I'd still recommend it even with tons of problems in execution. That and it's like a 6th grade reading level so ...more
Similar to Shannon Hale (who wrote The Goose Girl) this story revolves around the retelling of a classic fairy tale. But in this case, what happens AFTER the "ever after". We follow Ardwin on his version of a Hero Journey where life lessons are learned and accepting yourself for who you are is the theme. It took me awhile to get through this book. I guess it just didn't have that spark and pull for me. But it is a good young middle reader book. I would recommend it as such.
Just Me
I have recently finished this book for the fourth time, and have come to find that my prior review was stunningly lacking. Even as I type, words are swirling around in my head as to what to say in this review, and I hope that I get it all down in an organized way (truthfully, probably not going to happen).

This book, like all books, has its faults. Faults that become clear after it has had time to sit and gather dust on a bookshelf as well as in my mind. Faults that spring out as I read it, as i
Birdwing picks up where the Grimm's "The Six Swans" tale ends. Rafe Martin proposes that the "happily ever after" ending might not have been so happy for the brother who was turned back into a human but left with one swan wing. Birdwing tells this brother's story (Ardwin) as he copes with the "curse" of the remaining wing that also gives him unique insight into the thoughts of living creatures around him.

When Ardwin is faced with the prospect having his wing forcibly removed in order to be repl
Ardwin is stuck between two worlds. He once flew the skies with his five brothers, under the spell of a witch who turned them into swans. His sister rescued them all, with one minor hitch - Ardwin was left with one wing instead of an arm. Now that he's passing from childhood to manhood, Ardin must figure out what the wing means to him and how he will live his life. Turning away from his family and friends, Ardwin goes on a quest to find himself and his place, but it is not as easy as he imagined ...more
This book was amazing. This book is from the Brother's Grimm tale of the six swans. I had never heard of the story before. My 6th grade daughter brought this book home from school and suggested I read it. I love the characters in it. I really liked Prince Ardwin's story. He really struggled with having a swan's wing instead of 2 healthy arms. The wind had some wonderful abilities, though, and enabled him to be able to communicate with animals. There were a lot of times that Ardwin saw this wing ...more
"Birdwing" is a magical tale of Prince Ardwin who is not fully transformed from a swan into a human. It is search for self/quest story that young boys and girls will relate to. Characters are multi-dimensional and are seen for their admirable traits as well and their disappointing qualities. I like this real look at people. Who among us are totally selfish or without altruistic motives? I recommend this to young people 10-18 and the adults who love them.
I really like books that take classic fairy tales and write them as in-depth novels, sometimes with a character that most wouldn't immediately think of their story and continue to after the fairy tale ended. This book definately delivered. Light and entertaining but with a few layers of how one looks at oneself, this is a very good read that I would recomend to most anyone.(Horse is my favorite!)
A pretty good story for mature 11 yr olds or 12 yr olds. It's got a little something in it for boys and girls. I thought it was a bit of a slow starter. In other words, it's easy to put this book down until around the 4th chapter. Probably a good book to have on hand for a child on vacation who needs some rainy day reading....
Sharon Hughson
There was too much introspection and too much of a meandering plot in this book. The themes were incredibly relatable for teenagers, but most of the kids in my book group couldn't get past the first five chapters.
It starts slow and doesn't really get moving until about the 60% mark. Even then, there are too many superfluous events and conversations that slow the story pace to a crawl. Not enough tension, not enough conflict, not a character I could like or understand.
Also, I felt like the resolu
Samyuktha jayaprakash
My first real experience with fantasy ( new ones) and omfg was I blown away. I appreciate authors who acknowledge the readers's intelligence and Rafe Martin has mightily impressed me. His way of writing has captured my heart and imagination ^_^ I truly love this story! =)
Delicious blend of The Six Swans and Goose Girl, liberally sprinkled with The White Snake and featuring a delicate hint of Bearskin. My favorites of the non-Disneyfied fairy tales, gathered together in a "what happened next" tale that is just marvelous.
Melissa T
Interesting expansion of an old fairy tale, but when it came down to it I wasn't too attached to the characters. The developing plot and creative ideas weren't quite enough to bring the somewhat flat characters to life for me.
April Brown
I loved this book because my daughter loved it and it spawned beautiful conversations between her and me about what it is to be human and how we each deal with our gifts and our wounds.
It's based on the legend of the six brothers who were turned into swans by their stepmother and freed by their sister---all but the last, who ended up with one swan's wing in the place of his arm. The story follows that youngest brother as he struggles with his wing. The moral message is rather too obvious, the beginning would have been better as a straight quotation from the Brothers Grimm, and I thought the ending was way, way too neat, but overall I really liked the book. It takes a myth I re ...more
"There were consequences always. They could be bad or good. It all depended on what you did and what choices you made." This book taught me exactly that. No matter where you come from, you can be whoever you aspire to be. And most importantly, you can always be happy. You've just got to make the best out of what you've got. I recommend this book to fiction lovers and all teenagers in general. This was definitely an amazing book. I got to love every single character and I can honestly say that I ...more
Rafe Martin

Based upon the fairy tale, “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm, Birdwing by Rafe Martin, and set sometime before electricity, and when torches were used to light castles, Ardwin, an adventurous young prince, runs away from home to a mythical land upon learning that his father has ordered his left wing be cut off and replaced by a mechanical arm that has been invented by Belarius, a clever old man. As he searches to be reunited with the other swans Ardwin discovers
Kenneth Lapuz
Birdwing is a very captivating novel full of lessons and magic. It is a continuation of a Grimm brother’s tale of six boys turned into swans. In this fable, their sister breaks the evil spell and rescues all of them except for Ardwin who returns to human form with a swan’s left wing. The reader becomes quickly immersed into Ardwin’s own world where he is given the nickname, "freak" and is at conflict with his father, the king. Arwin flees from his family’s royal castle to recapture his sense of ...more
May 18, 2011 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA fantasy&older kids fantasy readers, Grimm fans
Recommended to Jessica by: Mom
I picked this up at a garage sale, thinking the cover looked sort of interesting. (When people say not to judge a book by its cover, they are wrong. Everyone judges books depending on its cover.) Most definately worth the dollar I spent! The story is based off a Grimm fairy tale about six princes who get turned into swans. In Birdwing the author tells us the story of what happened to the youngest prince, whose left arm was to bs forever a swan's wing. As Ardwin swiftly leaves off to quest for Ev ...more
Well, I tried. I got little more than halfway before I began furiously flipping pages, just to find out what happens.

The main issue that I had with this book was that I do not like the main character. That's a pretty tough issue for a reader to overcome, and usually the unlikable part gets developed further at an earlier point in the plot.

Ardwin is a reflection of the swans he so desperately wants to reunite with: selfish, suspicious, quick to anger, and really just doesn't think. Allow me to p
This book really didn't grab me, and it took me a long time to read it, putting it down to read other books. The main character didn't feel "real" to me, though he had to have many trials and there was a disability theme going on. His girlfriend/wife felt tacked on and not fully developed. It is stated that she was based on another fairy tale character. Plus, there was elements of Mowgli having an animal mother, an unbeatable maze from Greek mythology, a wizard that reminded me of Leonardo Da Vi ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Cheryl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Picked up at a Scholastic warehouse sale
Overall, this was a nice book and an interesting addendum to the original story. Not particularly memorable but I liked the way it depicted the road to self acceptance. The book had enough twists to make it easy for me to finish. I especially liked how the author dealt with the inevitable issues that happen when someone's happy childhood memory is revisited.

I'm not sure why the trival inconsistencies on the cover bothered me so much. Everytime I picked up the book, my mind started again. It is
I picked this book up in our neighborhood "Free Little Library", a book written for middle school kids. I've never heard of this fairy tale, so it was all new to me.

I had to put it down for a couple of weeks as I had to read my book club book, but I easily picked it up again, no problem and got back into the story.

I would had given it a 3-1/2 star, as I quite enjoyed the story, that is until the ending, the last chapter or two, and that's when it lost that 1/2 star. The ending seemed to have wr
Fred Gorrell
This story begins with an idea from the Brothers Grimm, developing and exploring it in a way that will be very powerful for many young readers. A family lost in the woods is compelled to cut a deal with a witch: the princes are turned into swans, to be returned to human state only if the princess can spin magical thread, weave cloth and make shirts for each brother. She nearly succeeds, but one brother is returned to a quasi-human state, as one wing remains instead of turning back into an arm; t ...more
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what would have happened if ardwin had never been cursed? 5 29 May 05, 2014 09:37AM  
Just wondering... 6 38 May 05, 2014 09:14AM  
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This professional storyteller lives in Rochester, New York.
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