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on 5 May 2002
I bought this book on impulse, put off reading it for several days, and then finally got around to it on a wet Sunday afternoon. About four heart-rending, nail-biting, stomach-churning hours later I ran out of my house, got into my car, drove into town and bought the sequel. Then I went on line and bought the final installment of the trilogy from Amazon.
This book is, in a word, amazing. A review on the back compares it to Star Wars, and it is correct. The scope of this book is astonishing, and what is equally astonishing is how warm-hearted and human it manages to remain despite its epic qualities.
Having read several reviews here on Amazon that complain about unanswered questions in the book, I should like to point out that it is the FIRST in a TRILOGY. If all the questions were answered then why would you go back and read it's sequels? Of course some of the deeper and more profound themes are not neatly tied in a bow - though I can assure you that they are eventually. What is important is that the individual story-lines and character conflicts within each individual volume are satisfactorially resolved by the end of each book.
I would also like to say that while I enjoyed the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy from Phillip Pullman, I don't consider them superior to this series of books in any way, mostly because I found Pullman's grasp of children's development under pressure to be a little superficial. He does not convey, as Nicholson does, the way that people, regardless of age, can be transformed into something base, glorious or dangerous depending on circumstance, while still remaining themselves.
In closing, I would advise any parent to buy these books for their children - but don't let them get their hands on them until you've read 'The Wind on Fire' first.
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on 25 September 2010
This isn't so much a review as a re-assurance to people thinking of buying the book who have read some of the other reviews and can't quite make their minds up.

Having read some of the other reviews I noticed they base their criticism on personal preference as opposed to try and write the review from an empathic perspective, and to try and address this i will explain the 'writing format' of the book.

Some say the books in this series lack depth. I'm not sure what most of them mean - do they mean depth of character development, etc? or are they saying the plot is too predictable? Ignore these kinds of reviews that are vague as they are unhelpful and fail to explain why they believe what they do.

I read this as a teenager and even to this day I find the story well balanced. For kids it's fun, a lot of the subliminal messages about good/evil/morality and stuff will probably go right over their heads and some of the characters or events might not make much sense to them, but I hope they'll have a blast anyway because I think the story is fun, the characters likable. Some reviews say the characters are under developed, well again this is preference as I didn't have a problem in this area!

For adults it's quite fun and there are a lot of cryptic things going on in the book. For people who don't like being left in the dark and want everything answered this is probably not the book for you. It's about striking a balance i think - it can't be one big mystery but nor can it be so blunt and explained or it'd hardly require thinking!

I always like a book that gets you thinking, rather than explains the reasoning behind everything. I found the characters to be developed well enough for my imagination to create the remainders of them. Again if you're the type of person who likes every detail ironed out this book is probably not a wise investment, but if you like to imagine what goes in the blank spaces then it's worth it.

Ultimately my local Waterstones had this book in the Teenage Fiction area but the book had a lot of good vibe when i read it, and it got me trying to work out quite a lot of things going on, so yeah it's worth a read even if you are adult.

I also assure you that some of the unanswered aspects of the plot are answered in books 2 and 3 and personally I think mystery is a strong enticement to continue to book 2, but like i said before a lot of things are indeed left unanswered in the books. I do not see this as a bad thing. (i love it!)

Remember that, while some books have gaping flaws and inadequacies, for the most part don't take reviews too seriously because its all about your preference in the end. Most of the books 'flaws' are totally legit writing styles that will please different audience types.

True flaws to be found in books are unclear language, retcons (areas where the plot contradicts itself), plotholes (gaps in the plot that leave you wondering how events transpired, (it's a misconception that mysteries which complement the story rather than skewer it are plotholes when they are in fact not) slow progression, overdone descriptions, poor character execution, etc - these are all BIG flaws in literature that thankfully I did not notice them in any harmful way when I was reading TWS.

I don't doubt you may find some of these flaws while reading the book but I'm just saying I didn't find anything too serious, and even if I did find flaws with the book, I read for fun, I love reading. Some people are very cynical or pedantic and will end up finding more flaws in books than the average reader because they expect to find them whereas I tend to just enjoy the aspects of the book that aren't broken - and unless something is broken enough to warrant my attention then I believe it hardly worth worrying about.

Hope this helped you make your mind up and remember ultimately it might be best if you go rent this from the library or find an excerpt somewhere just to get an idea what to expect!
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on 27 February 2001
Let me start by saying this is a book for someone with a broad imagination,and if you want to believe in this book,why not? It's about city and this city is abit different from other citys:It's divided into four district White,Maroon,Orange and Grey(being the lowest) now if you did bad in the High Examination you'd be moved down a district(meaning you'd live in worse conditions)Well one day a girl named Kestrel is had enough of this;She runs away from school saying she won't do any more exams.If she finds the voice of the sacred wind singer and all will be well but the Chief Examiner:Maslo Inch has some suprises...
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on 5 September 2001
William Nicholson grabbed my attention from the first page and didn't let go until I had read the final word. The characters were believable and I was swept into their world of excitement.
Kestrel Hath was a likeable character and the story was full of suspense. Although I knew how the story would end, I didn't know how events would unfold.
I can't wait to read Slaves of the Mastery.
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on 14 February 2004
FANTASTIC! This book is the first in "The Wind On Fire" trilogy by William Nicholson, and I must say, this book is really worth scheduling some reading time each day.
Set in the city of Aramanth, The Wind Singer has not sung for a very long time. Kestrel Hath, along with her brother, Bowman, and local school drop-out Mumpo, must travel to the mountains of the north and retrieve The Wind Singer's voice so that all hatred in Aramanth will be no more.
Along the way they will meet many new and great friends, as well as vicious enemies. This book is recommended to anyone over the age of 11, although I think anyone could enjoy it.
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on 25 January 2002
This is an amazing book filled with excitment, tension and adventure. If you enjoyed Harry Potter well this matched or maybe even beat it.
It's an epic adventure about a brother and a sister on the quest to get the wind singer's voice. It is just waiting to ambush the bestseller list unless it already has.
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VINE VOICEon 15 July 2001
...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 13 March 2001
If you like the work of Philip Pullman you will love this exciting adventure story. You will find it hard to put down. A definite page turner. The Wind Singer is the first volume of The Wind on Fire, and I hope the next one is as gripping as the first! There are three main characters, a brother, sister and their friend who could be just like your friends at school. However, they live in another world in a different time, where their life is governed by rules, exams and performance. These are all set by the Chief Examiner who is an impostor and 'bad guy'. The sister hates this regime and she persuades her brother and friend to join her on the quest to change or destroy it. The characters somehow find the true ruler of the their land. The ruler gives them a map which they use for their quest. A major and exciting part of the story is the characters eventful and perilous journey, by foot, across the wastelands. Which in the end should bring them to the key which will be the end of the regime. But will it?
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on 31 October 2003
In the story of Wind Singer, the twin siblings Kestrel and her brother Bowman, live in the strange, dystopian city of Amaranth. Ruled by slogans reminding its citizens to strive harder and aspire to create the perfect community, Aramanth's psychic atmosphere is somehow contaminated by the evil influence of the Morah. This place is every child's ultimate nightmare of a rigid, never ending system of school and examinations. Each individual and family is continually graded, and moved up and down in the ranks (color coded) of their society, depending on exam results. The twins are part of a loving family of five who just do not fit into the system.
After attending her two-year-old sister's first (disastrous) test, Kestrel rebels, gets herself and her family in serious trouble, and wins the dog-like devotion of the sniveling underachiever Mumpo. A series of bizarre events result in the three children (Kestrel, Bowman and Mumpo) fleeing the city (where Kestrel's parents struggle on, attempting to foment rebellion) on quest to the Halls of Morah to regain the silver voice of the wind singer. This missing piece is essential to bring back kindness to their city.
As Kestrel says to her brother 'You're the one who feels, and I'm the one who does.' Her talent for action and his telepathic ability to commune with the minds of others slide them through a series of exciting and dangerous adventures in the salt caves, with the mud people, and across the barren plains to the Great Way. They travel by land-sailer and on the backs of wolves and eagles. Following close on their footsteps are first the 'old children' whose very touch is debilitating, and later the endless and unstoppable Zars, who chant 'Kill, kill, kill.'
The quest brings about a transformation of Mumpo, first into a skilled mud diver and 'rainbow porcupine' and eventually into an important participant, whose positive attitude forces the other two to re-evaluate their early contempt and pity for him and to wonder about his origins. This is an unusual fantasy, Wind Singer is a compelling read, full of surprising encounters and fast-paced action.
I recommend this book specifically to those who enjoy fictional novels with lots of adventure. However, I can imagine lovers of other genres also enjoying this book. The author uses descriptive words and flowing ideas, making the book engaging and easy to read. Although fiction, Wind Singer shows the reader a real side of human behavior. A book for all ages, Wind Singer can be a philosophical tale or merely a fun story to read. I enjoyed reading Wind Singer, and I recommend this book to others that might enjoy it as well.
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on 30 May 2001
Having read Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy the reviews on this book made it impossible to not buy it. It is indeed a fast paced adventure and very readable, BUT, it is no match and should not be compared with Pullman's writing. It is clearly for younger children and lacks all the depth of narrative and richness of character portrayal which the reviews had lead me to expect. It is an enjoyable book, but seriously lightweight and left me with all sorts of questions which I know (from the style of story telling) will not be answered in the subsequent books.
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