________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 6. . . . November 16, 2001

cover Slaves of the Mastery. (The Wind on Fire Trilogy, Volume II).

William Nicholson.
London, UK: Mammoth (Distributed in Canada by Stewart House Publishing), 2000.
339 pp., pbk., $19.99.
ISBN 0-7497-4152-X.

Subject Headings:
Brothers and sisters-Fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Jennifer L. Branch.

**** /4


On the island called Sirene three people stand between the high arched windows beneath the racing clouds, and sing together a wordless song. On either side of the woman who was the first to return stand a young man and an old man. All three are bareheaded and barefoot; all three wear plain woollen robes that reach to the ankles, and are held around the waist with a knotted cord. The song they sing sounds like the rustling of stream water, or the whisper of wind in the trees, but there is a melody here, a pattern of notes that follow after each other in tranquil cycles. It's the song of foreknowing. As they sing, their minds become clear and receptive, and they begin to sense what is to come.

They see the cruelty spreading over the land. They see cities burning, and people on the march. They see young women weeping and old women lying down to die. They feel the hatred in young men's hearts, and know the killing will go on until the time of consummation.

They hear a boy calling to them, crying out for help. They see a girl walking alone, feeling between her fingers of her hand a silver instrument made in the shape of a long-tailed S. They feel her anger, her weakness, her danger.

The burning city the people of Sirene see is Aramanth. The boy calling out for help is Bowman and the girl with the voice of the wind singer in her hand is Kestrel. Slaves of the Mastery is the second volume in the "The Wind on Fire Trilogy." The story continues five years after Kestrel, Bowman, and Mumpo return with the voice of the wind singer from their adventure with the Morah. The city of Aramanth is different; the houses are painted in a rainbow of colours, and there are no more examinations. Bowman and Kestrel are now fifteen years old, and their friends are getting engaged. But, the happy times in Aramanth don't last long.

     Marius Semeon Ortiz and his army attack Aramanth, steal all their food stores, burn the city to the ground, and enslave the people. Bowman and Kestrel see the evil in Ortiz, and both vow to free their people from the Mastery. The people of Aramanth are marched toward the city of the Mastery, and Bowman and his family is among them. Kestrel, however, is left behind in the destruction of Aramanth when she stops to rescue the voice of the wind singer. She is forced to follow along behind the slaves alone and without food.

     The people of Gang capture Kestrel when they find her asleep on the road to the city of the Mastery. Sisi, the Johdila of Gang, who is to be married to the adopted son of the Mastery, Marius Semeon Ortiz, befriends Kestrel. Meanwhile, Bowman, Mumpo and the rest of the Hath family have begun their work as slaves. Bowman can feel Kestrel getting closer to the city, and he sneaks to meet her as soon as she arrives. Together, they plan how they can escape.

     Slaves of the Mastery is a gripping and suspenseful read. The characters continue to be intriguing. Mumpo is selected to become a manac, a fighting machine, and this sport is a very interesting part of the story. Ira Hath, the mother, continues to share her gift of prophecy, and we realize that she is seeing her own demise. Hanno Hath, the father, is sent to work in a library and discovers some ancient Manth documents that were thought not to exist. These documents will no doubt prove to be important in the final novel.

     I found the second book even more exciting than the first. I highly recommend it and am anxiously awaiting the final book in the trilogy.

Highly Recommended.

Jennifer L. Branch is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies and the Department of Elementary Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. She is also the Coordinator of the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning Program

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364