Tag Archives: silverwing

Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel

As you can tell by my recent Kenneth Oppel onslaught, I pretty much had a weekend marathon of reading all of his bat books. I was mislead, however, to believe that Darkwing was somehow a continuation of the Silverwing series. It isn’t. In fact, as a stand-alone book I think it’s better.

It follows our strange protagonist, Dusk, in a nearly post-dinosaur world set sixty-five million years ago. He’s a chiropter (a small species of gliding mammal). But something about Dusk is different. Instead of the sail-like membranes his family uses to glide from tree to tree, he has stiff membranous… wings. darkwing

Rather than embracing Dusk’s differences, his colony is disgusted and suspicious. It’s only the fact that Dusk’s father is the colony’s leader that’s kept him alive so far. It doesn’t help that the birds are suspicious too and don’t take kindly to sharing the skies. When the colony is forced out of their home sequoia after a vicious attack by a new breed of carnivores, the chiropters must rely on Dusk’s unique abilities to help them find a new home.

But will that really be the key to acceptance?

This was a GREAT book. I was supremely interested in Oppel’s prehistoric world and all the strange creatures in it. They were all based on animals that existed during that period, and I enjoyed the fable-like quality of the story. I could totally see “How the Bat Got it’s Wings” or “The First Carnivore.” Awesome.

I was also really surprised to see some really great illustrations at the start of each chapter and scattered throughout the book. That really added something special. Plus, Dusk accidentally went “tripping” on psychedelic mushrooms–how funny is that?

But most importantly, it seems like the common theme in Oppel’s bat books are that it’s ok to be different. It’s ok to be the small one, it’s ok to be the strange one, it’s ok to have big ideas. Follow your heart. There is someone for everyone. Love conquers all.

And that’s something I think we can all get behind.

5 sails of 5

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The Silverwing Trilogy by Kenneth Oppel

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved these books growing up. I got Silverwing by chance at one of those old school Scholastic book fairs. (Those were the shit, right?) Suffice it to say, I couldn’t put it down and rushed out to buy Sunwing as quickly as possible. Flash forward about, umm… 15 years. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that Oppel had reopened that little batty vault of his and unleashed Firewing on the world. I was STOKED.

OppelSilverwing

Too bad I could hardly remember what had happened to my favorite little nocturnal protagonist Shade 15 years prior. So of course, I had to reread them.

The first two books in the Silverwing trilogy follow a little bat named Shade and his misadventures and near brushes with death. He was the runt of the newborns, but from the start he was the most clever and the feistiest. Too bad that boldness caused a war between the bats and the owls when he decided to steal a forbidden glimpse of the sun, thus breaking an age old law. When his colony’s nesting tree is burned down by the angry birds (haha) the bats must migrate south immediately. Of course Shade gets lost on the way.

sunwingOh yeah, did I forget to mention the escapee cannibalistic bats? And the royally pissed birds that are on to the bats’ every move? But don’t worry, there’s a cute female bat named Marina and an all-seeing albino bat named Zephyr to help him along the way.

The third book is actually just a companion novel, not a continuation of Shade’s story. It follows his son Griffin, who accidentally gets sucked into the bats’ version of the Underworld. It’s up to Shade to save him within two days, before the life is extinguished from both of them and they’re forced to stay forever.

SO GOOD.

I was really worried that rereading this series would be one of those adult let downs. You know when you watch a cartoon from your childhood and then think, Man, I remember that being a lot funnier back then. I was concerned I’d read Silverwing and go eh… 

Luckily, they were just as good as I remembered them. Although geared for middle grade children, this trilogy can be enjoyed by adults and kids of all ages. It’s full of action and plenty of wholesome adventure. Silverwing does for bats what Watership Down did for rabbits. Anthropomorphism at its finest. Firewing

I don’t really want to color the series by saying there’s a religious undertone to them, but you can clearly see the parallels at some points. The “good” bats worship and have faith in Nocturna, a benevolent yet silent bat goddess. The cannibal bats worship Cama Zotz, ruler of the Underworld, who is trying to use his minions to help him “kill” the sun. Shade and his friends find their faith tested when all appears to be lost and Nocturna is nowhere to be found. Zotz has helped their enemy, yet they are left to their own devices.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I enjoyed it as a child and rediscovered it as an adult. Parents should really consider reading this trilogy to their kids because it’s not only interesting, but very educational as well. Without question it should be a new children’s classic.

5 tiger moths of 5