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Review: The Bird King

Book: The Bird King

Author: G. Willow Wilson

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 3/5

The Bird King was a historical fantasy book set in 1491 in Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain. There were many things I liked about it, however, there were also many things I disliked- that’s why I gave it three stars.

It was about Fatima, a Circassian concubine who fled from the palace of Granada with her childhood friend, Hassan, who could make magical maps that altered the layout of places in real life. They were escaping from the Spanish Inquisition who wanted Hassan dead as they claimed he was a sorcerer. They went on a sprawling journey through Spain with the help of the jinn and people they met along the way to seek refuge in Mount Qaf, a mythical place which they had read about in a poem called The Conference of the Birds that was supposedly ruled by The Bird King.

I liked the way Fatima pursued the hope of a better life and took her life into her own hands. She definitely came a long way in the book as she went from a sheltered girl to a fierce woman who knew her own worth. However, she was a bit annoying at times and the entire book was from her perspective so that did frustrate me slightly.

The plot of the book was very, very slow-paced and although the writing was simply gorgeous there were lots of things that happened that just felt a bit unnecessary and could have easily been missed out without affecting the understanding of the story and characters. Also, many parts of the book were really confusing and even when I reread the same bit again and again I still had no idea what was going on! The magic was barely explained and the ending happened so quickly I barely understood what was happening.

I loved the message of the book though. It was a message of tolerance. Whether you’re searching for Mount Qaf or Avalon or Antillia, it’s all the same, we all just want to have peaceful, safe lives no matter which name you give it. The book showed people from all corners of the world who were completely different living in peace without any hate and that’s the kind of world we have to try to create. We’re all humans- no matter what we believe or look like- and that’s what matters most.

Thank you to Grove Press and G. Willow Wilson for providing me with an e-arc of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.


The Bird King is being released tomorrow so look out for it! Although I gave it three stars it is still a book I would recommend due to its important message.

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