Book: The Bird King | Author: G. Willow Wilson | Publisher: Grove Atlantic | Release date: 22nd March 2019 | Pages: 440 | Genre: Historical fiction, fantasy | Rating: ★★★★★/5
What is it about?
Hassan makes maps. But special ones, of places he’s never seen but that are real or become real through his works. When the Inquisition discovers his talents they want to kill him. Hassan flees Granada together with his friend Fatima, the last concubine of the Sultan of Granada. Even though they get help along the way to freedom, their Spanish pursuers are always close, sometimes too close.
What did I think?
Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy of this book. This will by no means have any influence on my opinion.
I can’t describe this book in another word than beautiful. Because it truly is. Beautiful and magical. I loved the mix of history and magic and how slowly the story unfolds. In the beginning it was a bit hard for me to stay focused for that reason though. I wasn’t sure where the book was going and because it was so slow and detailed, it could not keep me for longer than a few pages. But once I decided I really wanted to read this book and explore its characters, I somehow fell in love with it. The slow pace radiates more of a tranquility you can float on, moving you forward through the story, than a boring piece of writing. The heat of southern Spain, the brutality of war, the innocence of the main characters. Everything is wrapped in such beautiful words, woven into this story at exactly the right points. I could imagine everything so well, the places, the characters, the magic. Oh, the magic. It was a thing of beauty, subtle, not visible for everyone. Perfectly integrated with history. It was a big part of the story but it never took away the focus from the characters and their relationships.
The characters were what pushed this story forward, not necessarily the plot around them. The book focused on the people and their development, from innocents fleeing a palace and becoming survivors who find ways to fight for their freedom, their love and the good in the world. All the while staying themselves. I also loved how diverse the book was, with characters of different sexualities, ethnicities and religions, all of them coming together in war and love and companionship. They learn from each other and grow with each other.
I really grew into the story. If you plan to start the book, please don’t let its inital slowness keep you away. It just makes the right feeling for this book. It just fits everything so well and I don’t know what else to say. The Bird King was a fantastic read with history and magic beautifully mixed up with strong, growing characters.