The Bird King

The Bird King

A Novel

Book - 2019
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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 Bird King , a stunning new novel that tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret--he can draw maps of places he's never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan's surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan's gift as sorcery and a threat toChristian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

Publisher: New York :, Grove Press,, 2019
Edition: First edition, First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
ISBN: 9780802129031
Branch Call Number: FIC WILSO G


From the critics

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May 17, 2019

Colorful and full of adventure! It's a bit of a cat and mouse escapade via a fantasy medium. There seems to be more adventure and less plot yet the ride was immensely enjoyable.

NerdyMuslim Apr 27, 2019

"The Bird King" is a fantasy that incorporates aspects of Islamic culture and belief, but is quite different from her previous novel, "Alif the Unseen". The story is original, highly imaginative, and the plot flows along, at first as slowly as Fatima's endless, languid days in the harem, and then as quickly as her flight and search for the land of the Bird King. Wilson's writing style is engaging and brilliantly detailed. If you're looking to branch out from Wilson's comics (Ms. Marvel, Air, Cairo), this fantasy is a good place to start.

DCLadults Apr 24, 2019

A New & Noteworthy pick. Hassan has a secret. He can draw maps of places he's never seen and bend the shape of reality. Now that’s a good trick!

AshleyF2008 Apr 16, 2019

G. Willow Wilson has a lovely writing style. She doesn't waste words, even when describing the setting. The relationship between Hassan and Fatima is relatable and unique and complicated. My only slight complaint is that the plot moved a little slowly. But I enjoyed the journey.

noramw Mar 28, 2019

Lush and wonderful language, characters, and worldbuilding make this an enjoyable read for fans of historical fantasy. The relationship between concubine Fatima and mapmaker Hassan is multifaceted and compelling. A good choice for readers who liked Uprooted and City of Brass.

Phil_R Mar 21, 2019

Not quite the same packed type of action as Alif the Unseen, but really ramps up toward the end for a series of payoffs that truly got my heart pounding. Feels a lot like Pullman's 'Book of Dust', but I'd say this is a better novel.

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