August 8, 2014

Review: The Sunbird

The Sunbird Book three of the Lion Hunters
By Elizabeth Wein
Available now from Open Road Media
Review copy
Read my review of The Winter Prince

The first three books of the Lion Hunters series switch focus between three members of a family: Medraut, then his legitimate half-sister Goewin, and then his son Telemekos.  This means that although the books build on each other, they also stand fairly well on their own.  (The last two books focus on Telemekos and should be read as a duology.)

Hosted by Angie
THE SUNBIRD first came out in 2004, and in some ways feels dated despite only being ten years old.  It is very short compared to most current YA novels, although it cannot be confused with an MG novel despite Telemekos's youth.  (He's eleven.)  The Lion Hunters novels address some very dark themes, including torture and dehuminization in this entry.

The start of the series plays with Arthurian mythology, but the series does not stick to a traditional path.  THE SUNBIRD takes place in Aksum, now known as Ethiopia.  Telemekos is half-British and half-Aksumite, but he is still accomplished at hiding in plain sight despite his distinctive pale hair.  It is that skill that causes the Emperor to recruit him.  Plague is spreading through Europe, and quarantine has been instituted to protect Aksum.  But there are those who would take this as a chance to make money on the black market, no matter the risk of spreading disease.

In THE SUNBIRD, Elizabeth Wein skillfully weaves together an espionage adventure with a coming of age and the story of a broken but loving family.  Medraut does not speak, and Goewin is a princess of Britain first, grooming her nephew (who is unknowingly the heir apparent).  Fans of her breakout novels CODE NAME VERITY and ROSE UNDER FIRE will not be surprised at the depth of emotion in THE SUNBIRD nor the exploration of darker themes.

This historical fantasy will appeal to fans of Megan Whalen Turner and Jennifer A. Nielsen, which also feature clever and secretive young boys having adventures with consequences for entire nations.  I do recommend reading THE WINTER PRINCE and A COALITION OF LIONS first.  It is not necessary to understand THE SUNBIRD, but it makes the experience richer.  Plus, they're also terrific novels.  This series is criminally underrated.


  1. I don't know these; that's so cool that Elizabeth Wein wrote this.

    1. It is! She wrote some nifty stuff before she got popular! (Not to say that her popular stuff isn't good.)

  2. THIS is an Elizabeth Wein series I can see myself reading with gusto. I go through patches where I lovvvvvvve nothing more than historical fantasy... I'll have to put this one on the list for the next time that happens!

    1. Best of all, they're pretty short so you don't have to commit a ton of time!


Thanks for commenting! To reduce spam I moderate all posts older than 14 days.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...