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The Bird King (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Set in the last moments of Muslim rule in Spain, at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, this is a story about love and friendship and survival. It centers on Fatima, a concubine of the royal household who has never set foot outside the palace's grounds. She dreams of the wider world, helped by Hassan, the somewhat-magical court mapmaker and her dearest friend, who draws her glimpses of places neither of them have ever been. But when the Spanish send an envoy to negotiate terms of surrender—and the end of an era—Fatima's whole life is upended and she and Hassan must flee. With the help of a jinn, the two outsiders search for a safe place in a world that hates what both of them are. An absorbing read, both thoughtful and thrilling. — Lily (RBB Staff)

— From The Bird King

March 2019 Indie Next List

“Fatima is a concubine of the sultan of the last emirate in the Iberian Peninsula to submit to the Spanish Inquisition. When her dearest friend, Hassan, a mapmaker who can map places he has never seen (and that do not always exist), is singled out by the Inquisition, she flees with him and a jinn, following the trail of the elusive and mythical Bird King, who may or may not be able to grant them sanctuary. Wilson’s latest novel is rich with the historical detail, lush description, and fantastical elements that we have come to know and love from her. A story of resistance, freedom, seeking, and strength, and a true fable for our times.”
— Anna Eklund, University Book Store, Seattle, WA


From award-winning author G. Willow Wilson, The Bird King is an epic journey set during the reign of the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula at the height of the Spanish Inquisition.

G. Willow Wilson's debut novel Alif the Unseen was an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and it established her as a vital American Muslim literary voice. Now she delivers The Bird King, a stunning new novel that tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret--he can draw maps of places he's never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan's surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan's gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

About the Author

G. Willow Wilson is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Alif the Unseen, the memoir The Butterfly Mosque, and the graphic novels Cairo, Air, and Vixen. She co-created the celebrated comic book series Ms. Marvel starring Kamala Khan, winner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, and recently debuted as writer of the Wonder Woman comics. She currently lives in Seattle.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780802129031
ISBN-10: 080212903X
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: March 12th, 2019
Pages: 440
Language: English