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The Sunbird

(The Lion Hunters #3)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Eleven-year-old Telemakos is the grandson of two royal men: one African, from the kingdom of Aksum; the other Artos, the fallen High King of Britain. He is also a remarkable listener and tracker. Now his country needs his skill. Even though there is a quarantine, plague is spreading through Aksum, leaving disease and death in its wake. Telemakos is recruited as the emperor ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 19th 2006 by Firebird (first published April 12th 2004)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  414 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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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
Sherwood Smith
Jun 24, 2009 added it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
It's been weeks since I read it and I am still FURIOUS at Medraut. ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Rachel Neumeier
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
For me, The Sunbird is Elizabeth Wein’s Prisoner of Azkaban: the third book in an already excellent series that goes out and takes it to another level. The first two books in her Lion Hunter series are beautifully written character studies and political intrigues, just like this one is, but they set up the backstory that allows The Sunbird to soar.

Like most Arthurian adaptations, The Sunbird is about a royal bastard who saves the kingdom. Unlike most Arthurian adaptations, this royal bastard is
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Aug 07, 2014 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
Nastya Gallagher
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
CONFOUND YOUR AMAZINGNESS MEDRAUT TELEMAKOS YOU CANNOT HIJACK MY LIFE LIKE THIS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGGG$&@*$&&&&&&$8@@:$2834828:&;!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
YA adventure set in the past in Ethiopia with references to the Odyssey. A quick, fun read.
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, american, 21c, teen
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
Karen Healey
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Once again Elizabeth Wein writes a winner. The series just keeps getting better as I go. I missed reading from Goewin's point of view. But Telemakos is an intriguing main character. He is young enough to go unnoticed by virtually everyone and it is fascinating to read the book from his viewpoint. He becomes heavily involved in the political schemes and Elizabeth doesn't sugarcoat the experience by any means; which I appreciate. All in all I loved it. ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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!
Rachel Brown
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
BANG! she did it again! I always enjoy how she puts the animal analogies in here and relates them to her characters! Perfection! And the leading up to Medraut finally speaking! Whew wee!
Sep 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ya fantasy fans
Hauntingly beautiful writing. One of my favorite 2005 titles.
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This trilogy was just astounding. Gorgeous writing and original plot.
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Other books in the series

The Lion Hunters (6 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)
  • The Lion Hunters Novels: The Winter Prince, A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter, and The Empty Kingdom

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