The Bird King
From award-winning author G. Willow Wilson, The Bird King is an epic journey set during the reign of the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula at the height of the Spanish Inquisition.
G. Willow Wilson’s debut novel Alif the Unseen was an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and it established her as a vital American Muslim literary voice. Now she delivers The B...more
“The real struggle on this earth is not between those who want peace and those who want war. It’s between those who want peace and those who want justice. If justice is what you want, then you may often be right, but you will rarely be happy.”
3 stars. I have lots of positive things to say about The Bird King, but I am going to get what will surely be the main problem for many people out of the way first: this book is SO SLOW. I honestly considered not finishing it, which I hate to do for arcs. ...more
Fatima, the last concubine, and her friend Hassan, a mapmaker with the ability to open up doors to the Other, transforms this novel from a strict historical to an outright fantasy. But it happens slowly. The historicity of the world is rich and lush and it introduces the worl ...more
The Bird King was a historical fantasy book set in 1491 in Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain. There were many things I liked about it, however, there were also many things I disliked- that's why I gave it three stars.
It was about Fatima, a Circassian concubine who fled from the palace of Granada with her childhood friend, Hassan, who could make magical maps that altered the layout of places in real life. They were escaping from the Spanish Inquisiti ...more
Wilson blends fantasy and magic with history, morphing into an epic adventure, and I love that the story is told through two characters who have never been free until now.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy through Ede ...more
Thank you G. Willow Wilson for this beautiful and enchanting novel, written with rich history. The writing is absolutely magical and rich with emotion. The kind of writing that makes you go back and re-read parts of it just for the sheer joy.
Fatima is the last sultan’s concubine in a kingdom falling down to the Spanish Inquisition. Her friend, Hassan, is in danger for his crafting ability of drawin ...more
The Bird King tells us the story of Fatima, a royal concubine and Hassan a cartographer in the Muslim palace in Granada, Spain.
It is a setting filled with vivid detail where we learn about a time when Catholics take back the territory that Muslims conquered in the Iberian Peninsula, more specifically, the regions of Spain and Portugal. It tells us about the Spanish Inquisition, the radical persecution that they ma ...more
A Circassian concubine in Alhambra, at the time of the last sultan, learnes of a threat to her gay friend and decides that they must run away in order to save him.
The writing is beautiful and lyrical, and the story is a mix between historical fiction, fantasy and magical realism. The first part, taking place in Alhambra and the desert, I found very good and greatly enjoyed it, but the ...more
Trigger warning: Mention of war. Up till the point I read.
I received this E-ARC via Grove Atlantic and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was really looking forward to reading this! I've read and enjoyed Ms. Marvel. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy it.
I really enjoyed the friendship between the two main characters! However as I read on I started to lose interest. I didn't much care for the historical aspect or the war. I didn't care about the plot.
Overall this was a persona ...more
What a book. Wonderful prose, great characters, interesting setting...what else could a reader want?
Full review to come.
"The Bird King", set in the last days of the last emirate of Muslim Spain, follows two unconventional best friends-- Fatima, who is concubine to the sultan of said emirate, and Hassan, a map ...more
This was a heart-achingly beautiful book. I was drawn to this title because of the lovely cover and because there is a character who can draw magic maps. Ye all know how this Captain loves maps of any kind (Arrr!). And while I loved how the maps worked, turns out that they were the least awesome part of the book for me. Because the two main characters, Fatima and ...more
Fatima dreams of freedom despite being the favorite of the sultan’s court. Her friend Hassan, a mapmaker, has the uncanny ability to add to known maps and make new rooms and isla ...more
G. Willow Wilson has dazzled me since I read Alif the Unseen. She scored high in everything I want: characters, plots, worldbuilding (!) and dialogues. The ...more
I’m a huge fan of G. Willow Wilson’s Kamala Khan, so I was pretty excited to read this book. The writing is wonderful. There are numerous beautiful passages throughout the book, and I particularly liked the interactions between Fatima, the sultan’s concubine and unwilling slave, and Hassan, the sultan’s mapmaker. Hassan is more than a conventional mapmaker: he's able to create doo ...more
More once I get my thoughts organized.
Sometimes it helps to sit back and actually think about what you've just read. When I first finished this I was basking in a warm glow of having read an intelligent, intriguing book. Now, several days later, I realize that the book didn't stir me emotionally. I liked Fatima and Hassan well enough, but there was something that kept me from relating to them as rea ...more
The Bird King is a historical magical realism fantasy set during the last days of the Reconquista. In the beginning of the book, there is an element of despair and melancholy as the combined forces of Castile and Aragon start to close in on Granada.
The book stars Fatima, a slave in the sultan’s harem and her dearest friend, Hassan, a mapmaker who can create maps of places he’s never s ...more
I do not like DNFing books that I get sent for review. It feels disrespectful to me for someone to go out of their way to send me a copy and then for me not to take the time to finish it. However, I am in no mood to force myself to finish something that I am not feeling. I feel another serious bout of depression coming on, and so I don't think it would be good for my health to do anything that brings me down these days. I'm truly ...more
I gave this book my full attention until the 80% mark after which I mostly skimmed because having called out who the Bird King was in the first couple of chapters I felt very meh about the entire thing being revealed. The fact that it got really preachy really quickly didn’t help either:
“Fear only God,” murmured Vikram, pulling her onward. “Not man, nor beast, nor jinn, nor death: fear only God and you will be safe.”
The things I liked about The Bird King :
▪ the w ...more
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Death, Slavery, Harem, Torture, Violence, Attempted Rape, Alcoholism, Religious Persecution/War, Adult Content
This review may contain spoilers!
”Long ago, all the birds of the world began to forget their history and their language because they had been leaderless for so long. So a brave few sought out...more
The Bird King is a historical fantasy novel which follows a Circassian concubine in the royal court of Granada. It's a beautifully written book, and - as far as I know - also a well-researched one; it mentioned a lot of things I know from reading nonfiction about Genoese history (the Genoese were the ones who sold Circassian slaves to rich people, including Sultans - just one of the many awful things they did to make money).
Unfortunately, this kind of slow-paced, detailed historical fict ...more
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson was one of my most anticipated novels and I'm honored to have been approved. Luckily for me, Wilson's new historical fantasy novel really delivered. Wilson's writing is absolutely captivating. I adored all of the historical detail and the research that clearly went into the novel. It really makes me want to learn more about the Emirate of Granada. That said the mythology and magic featured in the ...more
The book is set in 1491 Granada and tells the story of Fatima who is a Circassian concubine. She fled from the palace along with her friend, Hassan, who could make magical maps. They were fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition that wanted Hassan dead because they see him as a sorcerer. Because of Hassan, this book just turned from a Historical fiction to Fantasy.
And I liked it.
Fatima is a ...more
Where do I even start with this review? I have had such a hard time trying to put my thoughts on this book to words. Every time I start to write it all out I end up deleting and starting again. So this time I'm just going to be brutally honest and let you know where my brain is at while I write this because otherwise it may never get written. My brain is confused. A jumbled mess, because this isn't a bad book. In fact it has a great message, an ...more
This is a beautiful, beautiful story filled with despair and hopelessness that's buoyed by faith and longing for freedom—a freedom that might only be found in death but remains freedom. I know that sou ...more
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!
CW: homophobia, alcoholism, harem, and religious persecution
When I decided to go for this ARC, I wasn’t entirely sure that I would love it. It sounded interesting, but magical realism isn’t usually my thing. However, the book called to me. I knew that I had to read it.
And, I wasn’t disappointed.
The book takes place in late 15th century Spain, around the time of the Inquisition, when Jews we ...more
Fatima was one of the least powerful in the Sultan's household, a slave whose beauty made her a favorite concubine. Fatima lived a life of luxury, dining on sweetmeats and dressing in the finest clothes, always indoors and barefoot, even while outside the palace walls the Moorish Empire was falling to the Catholic Spanish army. What she lacked was self-determination and the ...more
"They were probably women," muttered Fatima, fanning her face with the sleeve of her robe. "If they were men, we would remember their names.”
"Does it?" Vikram stretched his toes, revealing a row of claws as black as obsidian. "Once a story leaves the hand of its author, it belongs to the reader. And the reader may see any number of things, conflicting things, contradictory things. The author goes silent. If what he intended matter so very much, there would be no need for inquisitions, schisms and wars. But he is silent, silent. The author of the poem is silent, the author of the world is silent. We are left with no intentions but our own.”