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4.0 out of 5 stars34
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on 27 March 2005
This well crafted fantasy adventure story begins in the city of Aramanth where everything is based upon exams and family ratings. So to end this hated lifestyle Kestrel, Bowman and the hilarious Mumpo must find the voice of the wind singer, so the city will finally be free of the morah and the invincible army of zars.
I enjoyed reading the wind singer because the characters were well thought and they developed their own individual characteristics throughout the story. The author uses very descriptive language and gripping words that help you to visualise and make you feel like your actually there.
However, in my opinion when you look at how much time the author had spent writing the beggining and middle of the book (which is evident when you read them), the ending does seem rather rushed. BUT don't let this put you off buying the book.
Overall, the Wind Singer is worth reading due to the great story structure and interesting plot, and once you've started to read the wind singer you won't be able to put it down again. I highly recommend this book to others.
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2002
...I've read most of Philip Pullman's books, the Harry Potters and several others, but there is something about the writing style of this book (and the sequel) that sets it apart - it has that undefinable quality of picking the exact words to fit a situation, thus rendering long descriptive passages unnecessary; it has fast-paced excitement and best of all, it is not predictable.
On the face of it, some of the characters seem very one-dimensional - intentionally so, as we then explore why they are like that and see them develop into more rounded characters; OK, there is a slight moralising influence here, but certainly no more than C.S. Lewis, or Tolkein for that matter.
This is one of those few books that transport you into a different world, completely visualised in your mind's eye, knowing exactly what the characters look like (probably different for each reader!) and almost compelling your interaction with the personalities of the characters.
Thoroughly recommended!
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on 5 October 2006
The book is about a girl called Kestrel and her brother Bowman. They are in the middle of school term and they are sick of it and having to obey everyone! Kestrel leaves her class and gets her and her family in big trouble. The powerful chief examiner humiliates her father. Then Kestrel finds out about the mystical Wind Singer, the evil Morah and the Emperor. With the help of a map, Kestrel and Bowman head north to save Aramanth from danger.

I thought the book was filled with fantasy and action. The ending was as tight a battle for saving Aramanth as it could possibly be. My favorite parts of the book are the old tiny people, the ending of the book and when Kestrel rebelled. I thought the author brought you into the book perfectly.[...] My favorite character was Mumpo[...] I would recommend this book to anyone as it is a great read.
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on 21 April 2008
This is one of the most original childrens books I have ever read. Truly different and utterly brilliant! Nicholson is an Oscar winning screenwriter and his foray into kids books is fab! If you hate exams and the current culture of examining and testing everyone from a young age, this book is for you. Not like the derivative Potter books at all. Pongo to that! The city of Aramanth is divided into sections, and it depends on how well the entire family, even toddlers, perform in citywide tests to designate where you live and what social status you are. In the middle of the city is the mysterious Wind Singer...protecting everyone from the Zars.... Kestrel Hath is quite rightly fed up with all the constant tests and judgements and rankings, so she rebels and gets everyone in her family punished. Kestrel and her twin Bowman end up on a quest for the nutty emperor, locked in his tower. Along with their odd friend Mumpo they have some serious adventures and face terrible dangers! All for their close family. But this is just the start of something bigger, and more epic..... This is great, read the full trilogy!
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on 26 March 2008
I loved this book when I was younger. I read it in the space of two days at the age of 11. However, i agree with Bill of Norwich that this is a kids book and is unlikely to captivate older teenagers or adults.

The novel delivers for its target audience though- its main charcter is a child who rebels against the rigid society in a fantasy city. Definately a winning formula for a kids book. The Wind singer is not without depth as it satirises bureaucracy, the class structure and modern society's tendency to put academic qualifications above all else. These are unusual themes in the fantasy genre, let alone children's fantasy.

Other parts of the story annoyed me as I found them unneccessary. The underground mud people and the sail-powered moving cities who went to war without a single casualty just seemed to be there to add spectacle and fantasy to the book, rather than move the plot along. The unstoppable army which threatened the city of Aramanth was laughable and not scary- how could they be with a name like the Zars?
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on 18 December 2007
This story starts off very imaginatively, with loads of clues thrown out and a lot of mystery, some of which is developed later in the book and some of which is never explained. The three children at the centre of the story evidently have a zest for life and refuse to live in the norm of the society, which is great. I wasn't enthralled by the long section involving life in a sort of below-city sewerland (too much detail) but the cities which fought across the plains in wind-propelled boats and without anyone being killed was very well imagined. The journey continues and gets rather involved and a lot darker - some of the images are very bleak, but it all ends happily in the fantastic predictable fashion of a fairy story. It would have been nice to have had a final twist to complete the story. However I think I shall read the next in the series, because the characters and their development over time is so well developed.
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on 11 October 2005
There's a lot to like in this fantasy adventure. Kestrel Hath is an anomaly in the city of Aramanth, like her father but more overtly rebellious. In a city where all citizens strive to be the same, to take exams and to work their way up the system, Kestrel rebels against the long struggle to 'improve', supposedly to make life better for all. Instead Kestrel begins a series of events that sees her entire family punished.
A good deal of the strength of the book is the Hath family. Their enduring love for each other, and the way they do not cast blame but instead are proud of each other for their differences. Thus although the 'system' punishes the Hath's, Kestrels family do not blame her for what she did. Kestrel, however, cannot endure the thought of being removed from her family, and neither can her twin Bowman bear to be separated. Together with unlikely companion Mumpo the twins begin a quest for the Wind Singer on behalf of their damaged Emperor, believing that if they bring it back the Hath family will be reunited. But a quest is never straightforward and easy, and many dangers and adventures face the trio, dangers that many adults would run from...
It's a different story - very 'big brother is watching you'. Aramanth is a frankly frightening kinda place to live. Kestral and her family, on the other hand, together with Mumpo's relationship, are the best part of the book. The ending is exactly what the reader hoped for, but a bit over the top with the hundred eighty degree turnaround and struck a strong note of discord with me, hence 3 stars. After all, the end of the book is what we are left with and leaves us with a smile or frown. The ending here did not make me smile. If not for that, the storyline, the journey, dangers faced and adventure, but especially for the characters would have made me give the book a much higher star rating.
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on 21 July 2003
The Wind Singer is the first book in the "Wind on Fire" trilogy. It is set in a city dictated by rules, and more importantly exams. The class of the citizens depends upon exam results, which are taken throughout life by everybody. The story follows the Hath family, in particular Kestrel and her brother Bowman. They believe the city to be evil and so set out to escape and find the source.
This book starts off with some very interesting and original ideas, but this soon moves over and lets the action and adventure begin. The author, William Nicholson, who has written for many television programmes and films (including Gladiator), brings the story and settings to life. This book, although aimed at a younger audience, is extremely enjoyable and highly recommended.
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on 15 May 2004
This totally absorbed me when I first read it, and I just couldn't get enough of it.
It really is truly amazing and groundbreaking; I can't remember reading anything like this before. Some of the ideas are so epic and huge I couldn't believe them, for example the giant wheeled cities (I won't give anything else away!).
You should definitely read this if you want fantasy adventure that is a little different to anything else you have ever read.
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on 27 August 2008
This is very much a children's book and that would be the only reason I did not rate it 5 out of 5. I just seem to relate better to teen or young adult fiction.

Having said that, this is a masterpiece of a book and definitely deserving of the awards that it won (the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Blue Peter Best Book Award). William Nicholson has invented a world and a society completely unlike our own. His ideas are absolutely unique and often quite surreal. The city of Aramanth is (according to Wikipedia) a meritocratic dystopia and coupled with the urban setting, it reads almost Kafkaesque at times.

The story follows the journey of three children as they escape the city and search for the mystical Wind Singer which they are told will heal the city of it's evil and ambition. They encounter strange and wonderful cultures which Nicholson describes in great detail and they travel through underground mud mines, deserts and forests in this epic journey.

All in all a great story and I give it 4 out of 5.
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