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Cover image for Firewing




Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ©2003.
Physical Description:
270 pages ; 22 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
Griffin, a young bat, is sucked into the "Underworld," and his father follows to rescue him.


Call Number

On Order



The forest heaves and splits in a terrible quake, and Griffin, a newborn Silverwing, is sucked deep into the earth. Drawn into the underworld, he must confront the ghosts of his father's past before they threaten to take him, too.

When Griffin is sucked into the Underworld, his father Shade must act fast--for legend says that if the living stumble into the land of the dead, they only have a short time before death claims them as its own.

But something else is hunting Griffin, too. Something dark. Something sinister. Something buried deep in a past that Shade hoped he'd never have to revisit. Who will find Griffin first? And will it even matter if none of them can make it back into the land of the living?

This thrilling companion novel concludes the Silverwing series.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-With this sequel to Silverwing (1997) and Sunwing (2000, both S & S), Oppel begins a second cycle in his bat-centered, metaphysical fantasy, rearing up a new generation of good guys to face the older one's villains. Regarding himself as a more cautious sort than his famous father Shade, young Griffin tends to gabble his way through difficulties: "All right? What we have here is a cave-in kind of situation. Perfectly straightforward." Plunged into a barren, starlit Underworld created by Mayan bat-god Cama Zotz, however, Griffin finds plenty of opportunities for heroism. A rare living bat in a land otherwise populated entirely by the dead, he picks up a plucky sidekick, Luna, then joins a motley band of "Pilgrims" journeying to a fiery place of promised rebirth created by Nocturna, rival Goddess of Life. Bent on rescuing his son, Shade follows, but ranged against them are not only the god of death, who has designs on Nocturna's realm, but also Shade's old nemesis Goth, a ferociously predatory bat killed (temporarily, as it turns out) in a previous episode. Plenty of rousing action; special effects on a grand scale; a leavening of humor as well as stimulating thoughts on the nature of life, death, the afterlife, loyalty, courage, honesty, and other essential topics more than compensate for iffy internal logic.-John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this third title in the series begun with Silverwing and Sunwing, Firewing by Kenneth Oppel features young Griffin, son of the bats Marina and Shade. When Griffin is swallowed by the "Underworld," his father must rescue him before it's too late. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Middle School) As the offspring of Shade and Marina, the bat heroes of Silverwing (rev. 11/97) and Sunwing (rev. 3/00), Griffin has a lot to live up to. His first adventure, however--stealing fire from humans--ends disastrously, with his best friend Luna mortally burned. In grief, Griffin flees into a crack in the earth where he is sucked down to the underworld realm of Cama Zotz, the bat god of death. Together with Luna's ghost, he must find his way home, making friends with sympathetic ghost bats and avoiding the ghost of Goth, his father's mortal enemy. Shade is also in the underworld, trying to find his son, and in his final battle with Goth he takes on--and (momentarily) defeats--Cama Zotz himself. Challenges and hairsbreadth escapes keep readers turning the pages, as the sympathetic characters forge bravely forward despite their fears and inadequacies. Fans of the first two books will find that this new adventure, with its compelling geography and cosmology of the underworld, takes them places Silverwing and Sunwing never dreamed of. Plus, with Goth on the loose again, having stolen a life for himself, they can certainly look forward to another installment. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

His mother's a hero, his father's a legend, and he's named after the mythical griffin-half eagle, half lion. But Griffin, the newborn bat, is not strong, powerful, or heroic. He is a "little bat who wasn't special in any way." Better to have been named Twig or Weed, he tells himself. When Griffin fails in his one attempt at impressing his friends by stealing fire from the humans, he horribly burns his best friend Luna and sets into motion a harrowing journey through the Underworld of the evil bat lord, Cama Zotz. This third installment in the series continues the story of Shade, who arrives on the scene in time to attempt a rescue of Griffin. Lurking in the Underground with Shade is Goth, the cannibal bat from Sunwing (2000). At the same time, Lord Zotz has a deadly ambition: "I will rise and kill the sun. The two worlds of the living and the dead will be collapsed into one, and I will reign." Oppel's writing is beautiful in its evocation of the bat world, especially of flights through the moonlit forests, the bat community at Tree Haven, and the bats' use of echo vision. However, there is a problem with voice in the story. When the author has Griffin talking to himself about the effects of an earthquake, the bat says, "What we have here is a cave-in kind of situation." Later, he notices "an escape kind of situation." Readers are told that Shade's facing a council of elders "freaked him out." Such inelegant writing is unfortunate in the midst of a fine tale that fans of the series will eagerly anticipate. (Fiction. 10-12)