Top critical review
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Let imagination take flight
on 15 September 2012
Peter Sis presents a graphic adaptation of the 12th century poem "The Conference of the Birds" by Attar of Nishapur. The story follows that all the birds of the world, sick of all the misery and suffering on Earth, set out on a lengthy journey to find a king, Simorgh, who will put things right. Along the way they journey through 7 valleys: Quest, Love, Understanding, Detachment, Unity, Amazement, and Death.
Much of the poem is missing from this book as the focus of this book is Sis's artwork - and what artwork it is! The conference of the birds at the start is extraordinarily detailed with a double page look at thousands of birds of all species in one open plain and Sis has drawn every one so they are all distinct. The valleys are all beautifully painted to reflect the various themes, and the mountain of the king at the end is particularly haunting.
This is a parable and has that dreamlike element of all great parables where reality and fantasy fuse wonderfully - but I found the ending to be a bit... trite? I realise this is a nearly 1000 year old story but the message at the end was still a bit cheesy, the kind of payoff Khalil Gibran and Paulo Coelho made famous in their books. If you enjoy those writers and wonderful artwork, this book is for you. For me, the artwork makes this book worth picking up.