“In The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions, Wein delights in taking strong characters, giving them solid ideals, setting them in the crucible of a challenging situation, and applying narrative torque until they are transformed, by pressure and heat, into purer metals. In The Sunbird, the character so transformed is Telemakos, the half-Ethiopian son of The Winter Prince’s anti-hero Medraut. Telemakos’s home, the Aksumite Empire, is under quarantine to block the plague, but salt smugglers are placing profit above the good of all. Still a child, Telemakos accepts his responsibility to use his stealth and tracking skills in the service of his emperor and is thrust into a dangerous game: to find the smugglers’ ringleader, he crosses the desert to spy on the salt mines but is captured and forced to endure horrific conditions as a mining slave. Blindfolded, shackled, desperately thirsty, sand and salt-burned, Telemakos feigns muteness, even under torture, to preserve his identity and his life, but still he fails to identify the traitor. It is left to his wits after his rescue to piece together the clues for a satisfying conclusion. Gripping and hard-hitting in Wein’s signature fashion, Sunbird has all of the richness and moral complexity of its predecessors, but with a more straightforward plot. Telemakos’s trials, though extreme, are never overdone, a testament to Wein’s skill: her knowledge of the human heart and her facility at exposing its inner workings through suffering is rare and noteworthy.”

—Anita L. Burkam, The Horn Book Magazine


(Click here to purchase The Sunbird as an e-book from Open Road Media)