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Nightwings [Kindle Edition]

Robert Silverberg
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Old Earth has reached its Third Cycle, a tired planet basking in the faded glories of a lost civilisation. Long ago it had been great - but the pride and greed of its rulers had brought about a terrible downfall. And now Earth was threatened. Far out in space an alien race waited. Once they had been the victims of a crime perpetrated by the human race - now they were ready to return as conquerors. As a Watcher, Tomis had spent his life searching the skies for signs of the impending invasion. And when it finally came, it was to disrupt not only his world but his whole life in a way he had never dreamed was possible (First published 1969)


A tale of pilgrimage and hope, betrayal and transformation. It was Avluela the Flier's scarlet and ebony wings that lead the Watcher to the seven hills of the ancient city, leaving the skies and deep space unguarded. And so the invaders came and conquered and Avluela became lost in the turmoil.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 395 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway (29 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #150,453 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strength in Humility 6 Oct 2003
The ability to fly like a bird is one of man's oldest dreams. In the far future, when man has risen to giddy heights of technological accomplishments and due to insufferable pride has fallen back again, where Guilds segment man into carefully disparate work and life styles, the Guild of the Flyers is the only one devoted to pure esthetic enjoyment. A product of gene tinkering during man's great Second Cycle, the flyers can fly only at night, with wings so delicate even the pressure of sunlight is too much for them.
But the story is not about Flyers, or the Watchers who scan the universe with mentally enhancing machines looking for signs of the promised Invaders, nor even about the Dominator's rights to command material wealth and people for their own desires, but rather is almost a paean to what is best about the inner soul of man. Told from the viewpoint of one Watcher as he wanders a recognizable but very changed world from our own, from Roum to Perris to Jorslem, it is a voyage of self-discovery, of a delving into man's long past, while lust, greed, and acts of betrayal form signposts along his path towards redemption. A redemption for not just himself, but for all mankind, when it can recognize that all types of humans, including the most grossly misshapen Changelings as well as the most gorgeous Flyers, are part of man, and are all worthy.
Silverberg populates his world with some very real people. The character of the Watcher, later given the name Tomis by the Rememberers, is finely drawn, that of a man somewhat distanced from the world, an observer, who none the less has to come to grips with the realities of living, and who can find true love if he looks hard enough. The Prince of Roum is immediately recognizable if not very likable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF 4 Jun 2008
I loved this book. It hasn't dated one iota since it was published almost 40 years ago. Silverberg produced a string of classic books in the late sixties and this is one of his very finest. It's a complex, rich, and exciting narrative with a satisfying conclusion. I almost couldn't put it down. This is a must-read for sci-fi fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREATEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL 3 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To say that I love this book is not close enough. When I first read Nightwings, and even more so now as I come up to my 30th reading of it, it hold your emotions and mind in a way so few authors have over the years.
Winner of soooo many awards, and so concise and pure of skill and style, you deserve to read this if you are a true science fiction fan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fly On, Silverberg 8 Mar 2001
By Dave Deubler - Published on
In this exquisite gem of a novel, Silverberg introduces us to the world of the far future. In this mysterious and only vaguely familiar land, the social order is dominated by the Guilds, who exercise enormous control over the lives of their members, each of whom plays some small part in a grand scheme whose totality is shrouded in the mists of antiquity. Thus one of the main threads of the story is always "How did things get this way?" Silverberg uses the story of a simple Watcher to reveal a long and complex history of Earth's rise, foolish pride, and subsequent fall. The Watcher's job is to search the skies, but why and for what is not immediately clear. Against a backdrop of magic, sunken continents, alien creatures, ancient wrongs and endless wandering around what we would call the Old World (Roum, Perris, and Jorslem), we come to appreciate the Watcher as a human being. In his love for the Flier Avluela and his loyalty to the Prince of Roum, amidst his failures, betrayals, renewal, and redemption, we see a microcosm of the human race's own journey from arrogance to fear to humility and finally beyond. A quiet melancholy pervades this book, as our protagonist wanders among the remnants of Earth's glory years, now decrepit relics. Yet Silverberg finds a way to conclude with the promise of salvation. Despite the unfamiliarity of the social order and the slightly modified place names, the book is easy reading, even for younger readers. There is no over-abundance of action, or of science, either, really, so perhaps this book won't be a favorite of everyone. There is violent conflict aplenty, but much of it takes place "off-stage" so it won't overpower the fainthearted. The mild sexual content is handled pretty much the same way, making it acceptable reading for all but the most sheltered young teens. In short, Silverberg weaves a spell of quiet mystery, timeless beauty, and eternal human values that is sure to entrance.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that is strange, troubling and yet inspiring. 30 Jun 2003
By David Rasquinha - Published on
This set of three novellas grouped into a book is a strange and haunting work whose effect lingers long. The stage is Earth far in the future, but an Earth whose pride and will have been shattered by terrible reverses. Silverberg paints a picture of the aftermath of human hubris, whereby pride and technological prowess carried to an extreme have led to the destruction of the continents of North and South America and ultimately to a "bankrupt" earth being placed in celestial "receivership". Beaten down and dispirited, humanity has been splintered in to a number of profession-specific guilds in a reversion to feudal times, with loyalty to guild superceding all other loyalties. The story is told through the experiences of a "Watcher" who has devoted his life to scanning the heavens for the approach of a long anticipated punitive invasion from a planet mortally wronged by human hubris. The book tells of the aftermath of the fateful invasion, resistance to which is rendered impossible by humanity's own divisions, let alone its reversion to a technological stone age. We follow the Watcher as, post-invasion, he seeks a new life and ultimately redemption. The topography is familiar and yet different as Silverberg plays on the names of well known cities (the holy cities of Roum and Jorslem, the romance of Perris in the nighttime). In majestic metaphor, the Watcher, after having his life's vocation rendered meaningless, delves deep into the past for lessons and finally seeks a new redemption, literally and figuratively, in a new united vision of love, tolerance and humanity. A book that is strange, troubling and yet inspiring.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical post-apocolyptic story of love, loss and redemption 13 July 2004
By abt1950 - Published on
Long before Silverberg's Marjipoor Chronicles, there was "Nightwings."
This slim volume consists of three linked novellas that tell the story of a man who loses the woman he loves, and through one mistake, fails at his life's work and allows his world to be conquered. But ultimately, this is not a story about failure, but one about growth, renewal, love and redemption.
The story takes place on an Earth far in the future, one that has been brought to its knees by its own former arrogance. It is now a technological backwater in a large galaxy and has reverted to a medievalesque guild system. While some Watch the skies using intricate and decaying machinery, others Remember the world's history, and still others Dominate, using their position abusively where they will. The Fliers, descendants of genetically engineered humans fill the skies with beauty as they soar.
A Watcher loves the Flier with whom he has been travellling, but she loves another. He loses her in an invasion whose early signs he neglected to report. In the ensuing chaos, the Watcher becomes the unlikely custodian to a fallen Dominator and wanders the world trying to rebuild his life. He works as a Rememberer, learns the forgotten history at the heart of his world's downfall, and is ultimately purified, renewed, and given hope in the ancient city of Jorselm.
The story of "Nightwings" is simple and simply told, but it has a lyricism and beauty that make it memorable. Many of its themes resonate profoundly with contemporary concerns about cultural hubris, greed, and the growth of technology without the wisdom to regulate it properly. In the face of political devastation, personal redemption becomes intertwined with societal redemption.

"Nightwings" is a haunting and perceptive book. It made quite a splash when originally it was originally published, and the first part won a Hugo for Best Novella in 1969. It is good to have it available in paperback again.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Nightwings" is a classic story, but available elsewhere . . 5 May 2005
By Brandon Kempner - Published on
The opening story of this collection, "Nightwings," is a classic: dealing with a decayed Earth, sexaul jealousy, a fascinating "guild" system, and alien invasion, it is one of the high points of the post-Golden Age era. The other two stories in the collection, while not terrible, do little more than flesh out the world. The major problem here is that "Nightwings" is avaiable in Silverberg's excellent collection _Phases of the Moon_; if you like science fiction at all, that book should be on your shelf. As such, it renders this collection somewaht unnecessary.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One for my all-time best list! 21 Aug 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Robert Silverberg is possibly the most underrated sf writers of all time considering how long he has been at it and the numerous awards he has won and been nominated for. For some reason he just does not seem to be "in vogue" these days. It is a pity that most of the younger generation of sf readers today have never read anything by him.

What Silverberg does better than almost any sf authors writing today is to write short stand alone novels with very strange plots and excellent characterization. His special talent us to drop the reader right in the middle of a strange place and time of his imagining and gradually acclimatize you through his story telling skills rather than just making an infodump.

Nightwings is set on Earth but in a future so far flung and strange that it may as well be an alien planet. There are many guilds and mutants and genetically modified humans populating the earth which is about to be invaded by rather reasonable aliens! This novel is both post-apocalyptic and dystopian. It all ends rather optimistically with redemption for the flawed but lovable protagonist. It is astonishing how much plot, grandeur, ideas, subtext and characterization Silverberg managed to squeeze into one short novel. This book easily goes to my all time best list!
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