Slaves of the Mastery

Slaves of the Mastery

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, The Wind Singer. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Slaves of the Mastery was written by William Nicholson and first published in 2001. It forms the second part of the critically acclaimed Wind on Fire Trilogy and was preceded by Smarties Book Prize winner The Wind Singer (2000) and followed by Firesong (2002). The story picks up five years after the conclusion of The Wind Singer and I would strongly advise reading this novel first as Slaves of the Mastery does not really stand well on its own.

Following the defeat of the Morah, the Manth people have enjoyed five years of peace and happiness. Although the city is prospering, Kestrel and Bowman both feel uneasy. As they are now fifteen society expects them both to find a partner and settle down but they do not seem to fit in with the other teenagers. They feel almost as though something is missing from their lives.

The harmony of Aramanth is destroyed in an instant as they are invaded by the vicious forces of the Mastery. Led by a young general called Marius Semeon Ortiz, they burn the city to the ground and take all of the survivors captive. Separated from her family, Kestrel is forced to survive in the ruins of her home. She knows that she must find her family but things begin to look hopeless as hunger and thirst set in.

Meanwhile, the rest of her family have been taken to the High Domain, seat of the Mastery’s power. They know that they must escape but the Mastery’s wealth is seductive and the Manth people soon feel reluctant to leave. It is up to Bowman to learn the secrets of his Singer heritage in order to free them from the clutches of the terrible Master.

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The Wind Singer

The Wind Singer

The Wind Singer is the first instalment of William Nicholson’s Wind on Fire Trilogy. It was first published in 2000 and was followed by its two sequels Slaves to the Mastery (2001) and Firesong (2002). It was awarded both the 2000 Smarties Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award in the category of “The Book I Couldn’t Put Down”. Since publication, the novel has sold over 600,000 copies word wide and remains an incredibly popular young adult novel today.

The story largely centres on a dystopian city called Aramanth. This city is divided into colour-coded districts (from the grey outer ring where to poorest people reside to the elite white class that governs the city). The district that a family is assigned to determines their lot in life, governing every aspect from what colour clothing they are allowed to wear to what kind of jobs they are allowed to perform. In order to rise in rank, every citizen must succeed in regular written examinations. To fail in these brings shame on a person’s entire family and can result in being shunted to a lower station.

The Hath family – Hanno, Ira, Kestrel, Bowman and Pinpin – have gradually grown disillusioned with how their society is run. When she is angered by her teacher in class, Kestrel public declares her hatred of the city and in doing so brings shame to her entire family. Her frantic escape from the city guards brings her face to face with the Emperor of Aramanth who entrusts her with a quest. She must seek out an artefact that was stolen from the city many years before – one that will enable the wind singer (a mysterious pillar that stands at the centre of the city) to play its song of peace.

But the quest to restore the wind singer is not an easy one. The device was originally disabled to prevent an ancient evil (known only as the Morah) from destroying Aramanth and if this entity discovers their intention to restore the wind singer there will be nothing to stop it from unleashing its merciless army on the city…

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