Swordbird is a fantasy novel about cardinals and blue jays struggling against an evil hawk and his crows and ravens; it is also about the legendary Swordbird, a supernatural hero. In this story, selflessness and courage, wickedness and cunning of the characters are blended into one message: peace is wonderful; freedom is sacred.
Some illustrations of SWORDBIRD © 2007 by Mark Zug
Reviews & Reports:
Sword Quest In this good-versus-evil story, a prequel to Swordbird (HarperCollins, 2007), readers see a legend taking shape as evil forces attempt to conquer the inhabitants of a bird world. Prophecy says a hero will emerge on Hero's Day, but no one knows who it will be. Scattered in unknown regions of the world lay strategically placed Leasorn gems that hold clues to where the hero's sword waits. It is up to the hero to discover where and to retrieve it. The archaeopteryxes, an army of birds intent on cruelty and destruction, support the desires of the villainous leaders. Maldeor, a leader with a batlike wing forged from evil magic, has cast his eye toward claiming the sword. But unlikely birds lay down their lives to uncover the clues so they might save the sword for its true master. Fleydur, eagle prince of the Skythunder tribe, Stormac the mynah, and Ewingerale the woodpecker all play pivotal roles as companions to 013-Unidentified, a dovelike bird trapped as a slave. Readers will find the characters credible and well suited for their roles in this fabled adventure. The tightly crafted story line is nicely executed, but the most important element, and one that truly touches the heart, is the underlying theme of love.
—Robyn Gioia, School Library Journal
Birds form the unusual topic of this quest novel, which begins with a prophecy that foretells the coming of a great hero. The archaeopteryxes’ dark empire is growing, and they have turned even the strongest species of birds, such as the crows, into slaves. 013-Unidentified, a strange white bird, is held in their captivity at the start of the book. As he struggles to free a fellow prisoner, he suddenly recalls the name his mother gave him, Wind-Voice. He escapes and grows strong again, reclaiming his true identity as Wind-Voice. Throughout the novel, he journeys across the land to stop the evil Maldeor from reaching the Hero’s Sword. This is a novel about recognizing the hero within and understanding what is truly important in life—such as family, friends, and peace, rather than power or treasure. Yi Fan’s writing is outstanding given her young age. I also loved Rioux’s exceptional pencil-drawn illustrations, which bring charming life to the characters. Together, they make this book an entertaining flight of the imagination. Reviewer: Laura Ruttig, Children’s Literature
SWORD QUEST is a thrilling adventure brimming with equal amounts of suspense and hope. Nancy Yi Fan’s prose and creativity take flight in this exciting prequel to the 2007 bestseller SWORDBIRD. We hope that this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful career for this talented teenage author.
The adventure that ensues pits good against evil in a tale that will appeal to children especially because the author of the book is a twelve year old girl. Those who like adventure or fantasy will find this book appealing.
-- by Kathy Palovick, Kutztown Book Review
“This avian fantasy is an engaging and propulsive read … an extraordinary accomplishment for a young author.”
“... the book will likely appeal to Redwall fans, and this young writer is worth watching.”
"Would be a standout even if it wasn't written by a 12-year-old."
"Swordbird has an old-fashioned sense of values, which is what a lot of the great writers have.
— Jane Friedman, President, CEO of HarperCollins (quote from Telegraph)
"Nancy Yi Fan introduces us to a bird world of discord, inhabited by warring cardinals and blue jays and accompanied by her own detailed line drawings. The goal is peace and freedom, and the vehicle is courage and friendship. A delightful debut!"
— Mary Ann Fraser, Sage Book Store, Shelton, WA, The Book Sense National Bestseller List
"One of the key morals of the story [is] that power and greatness can reside in each individual (even the smallest bird)."
— April Spisak, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 60(7), 2007
"The story is tidy, pleasant and compelling.... The book is brilliant in all of its detail and craft."
— Linda L. Lamme, Professor of Children's Literature, Ph. D., University of Florida
"It’s an extraordinary work, and would be an accomplishment for an adult author. That the writer was so young really makes this work remarkable. The bird characters, the juxtaposition of the Book of Heresy and Old Scripture sayings, and the almost allegorical tone give it a solid fantasy feel."
— Kevin Washburn, Ed.D.
I think that Nancy is an inspiration to a lot of people and she is proof that if you work hard and dream big, anything can happen!
— Jackie Chan, international martial arts film star
"She [Nancy Yi Fan] conjures an intricate bird cosmology and hierarchy as a background to the overall plot. The book moves swiftly from chapter to chapter with help from sheer brevity, copious action scenes, and illustrations. Novice readers will enjoy the large text and generous spacing and margins. Advanced readers can muse over the novel’s allegorical nature and literary allusions. The author provides a list of major characters to help keep up with the sizeable cast. Aficionados of Jacques’ Redwall series should enjoy this new offering to the anthropomorphized animal genre."
"This allegorical tale of warring birds and their struggle for freedom has attracted an unusual measure of attention because of the author's young age. But there is nothing childish about Fan's innate gift for pacing, characterization, or storytelling. We predict many more successes for this talented prodigy."
— Staff of Barnes & Noble. com
“Those who have seen it talk about it as the product of a mind as imaginative as some of the greatest names in children's writing.”
—Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent, The Observer
"At age 13, Nancy Yi Fan may be HarperCollins’s youngest author, but her fantasy novel about warring birds and their struggle for freedom is getting some adult-sized attention. As part of a five-city tour, Nancy discussed her book on Martha on February 12. There, the Audubon Society of Florida made her an honorary member, and a bald eagle from the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey was adopted in her name. "
"When a kid writes it, they have a direct connection," eighth-grader Safa Dadan said. "They know what it's like to be a kid."
Sixth-grader Alec Dickson agreed.
"She's [Nancy Yi Fan] a kid,"he said. "She knows what gets us interested. So she can relate to us and get us hooked to it."
— Tim Waldorf, Staff Writer, The Naperville Sun
Swordbird was published in the United States, United Kingdom, China and 50-plus countries of the British Commonwealth simultaneously in February, 2007. In China, an English-Chinese bilingual version was published by the leading publisher of China, People's Literature Publishing House in March, 2007. The Chinese part was translated by Nancy Yi Fan herself.
Sword Quest, a prequal to Swordbird, was published worldwide in January, 2008.