Darkwing (Silverwing Series #4)
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Darkwing (Silverwing Series #4)

4.6 47
by Kenneth Oppel, Keith Thompson

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As the sun sets on the time of the dinosaurs, a new world is left in its wake. . . .


He alone can fly and see in the dark, in a colony where being different means being shunned—or worse. As the leader's son, he is protected, but does his future lie among his kin?


He has the true instincts of a predator, and he is determined that his

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As the sun sets on the time of the dinosaurs, a new world is left in its wake. . . .


He alone can fly and see in the dark, in a colony where being different means being shunned—or worse. As the leader's son, he is protected, but does his future lie among his kin?


He has the true instincts of a predator, and he is determined that his kind will not only survive but will dominate the world of beasts.

From the author of the internationally acclaimed Silverwing trilogy comes an extraordinary adventure set 65 million years ago. Kenneth Oppel, winner of a Michael L. Printz Honor for Airborn, has crafted a breathtaking animal tale that reaches out to the human in all of us.

Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book
“Readers will be happily swept along for the ride.”
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2007: In this companion to Oppel's prize-winning fantasies about bats, Silverwing, Sunwing, and Firewing, he imagines what the origins of modern-day bats might be. The setting is the early Paleocene epoch, 65 million years ago. Dinosaurs are dying out, and mammals are increasing in number. Small creatures called chiropters live in trees and glide like flying squirrels from branch to branch, but among them a mutant is born named Dusk, who has the ability to fly and to see in the dark. When cat-like predators called felids arrive on their idyllic island, lead by a vicious hunter named Carnassial, Dusk must guide his companions to safety in a new environment. Filled with adventure and characters both sympathetic and fearsome, this exciting fantasy convincingly brings to life a long-ago world at a time of rapid change. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
It was just a coincidence that while I was reading this book, a program about evolution came on the radio. The question is whether evolution happened all at once or if it occurred in a series of baby steps, affecting one species, or even one characteristic, at a time. This book makes a strong point for evolution’s happening very gradually. The main character, a chiropter named Dusk, is considered a freak by his family and tribe. His chest muscles are larger than “normal,” and his hind legs are nearly useless. He has trouble gliding to catch the insects that are his food because his “sails” are not covered in hair and are attached to his arms “differently” (they look a little bit like wings). Dusk wants desperately to fly. He knows that he can, but when he proves it by going up to the birds’ territory, both his own tribe and the birds’ are furious. In this society, being different can be fatal. The only thing that saves him is the fact that his father is the leader of the tribe. Gradually, it becomes clear that this particular tribe of chiropters is in self-imposed exile from the mainland. For generations, there has been a Pact among all animal tribes to refrain from eating each other. Only the dinosaurs were not included; they hunted and killed everything. But things are changing now, and their island is not as safe as they thought it was. The dinosaurs are all believed to be dead or dying, but suddenly one appears. As Dusk watches, the creature dies of the skin-rotting disease that’s killing them all, but it has left a nest with eggs that must be destroyed. Then a new character appears, a cat-like creature called Carnassial, and he seems to want only one thing--meat, preferablychiropter meat. This award-winning story is a page-turner. Readers will become attached to the characters and really want them to succeed. This is probably the first volume of a trilogy, and I, for one, cannot wait to see volume two. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8
The story of Darkwing is set 65 million years ago, during the early Paleocene era just years after the enormous C-T dieback event. Dusk and his family are chiropters, small arboreal mammals that glide and feed on insects. Changes are coming to their world, and not the least of them are Dusk's abilities of flight and echolocation. Although his family stands by him, most of the colony is very uncomfortable with his flying, fearing reprisal from the birds that live above them in the trees. All concerns about Dusk's oddities or their avian neighbors are swept aside when an outcast prowl of felids, led by the bloodthirsty Carnassial, attack the colony and Dusk's special abilities help to guide his fellows and keep them safe. During their search for a new home, his quick wits are all that stand between the colony and disaster. In their quest, the chiropters encounter deadly predators, from saurian holdouts to shrewlike soricids with poisonous saliva. Betrayals from both within the colony and without add to the excitement in this adventure. Readers will feel for Dusk as he decides repeatedly not to abandon his colony, despite their treatment of him. In Darkwing , Oppel offers a celebration of difference in addition to a wonderful imagining of a pivotal moment in evolution. An author's note highlights some of the actual fossil species that appear. One cautionary note-the descriptions of animals eating each other may be disturbing to sensitive readers.
—Eric NortonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Silverwing Series, #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.33(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Darkwing AER

Chapter One


The tree had never seemed so high.

Dusk labored up the trunk of the giant sequoia, sinking his claws into the soft, reddish bark. Pale lichen grew along the ridges; here and there, pitch glistened dully in the furrows. Warmed by the dawn's heat, the tree steamed, releasing its heady fragrance. All around Dusk, insects sparkled and whirred, but he wasn't interested in them just now.

His father, Icaron, climbed beside him and, though old, he moved more swiftly than his son. Dusk hurried to keep up. He'd been born with only two claws on each hand, instead of three, and hauling himself up the trunk was hard work.

"Will my other claws ever grow in?" he asked his father.

"They may."

"If they don't?"

"You'll have less to grip and pull with," Icaron said. "But you have unusually strong chest and shoulder muscles."

Dusk said nothing, pleased.

"That will help make up for your weak legs," his father added matter-of-factly.

"Oh," Dusk said, casting a surprised backward glance. He hadn't realized he had weak legs, but his father had obviously noticed. Maybe that helped explain why climbing was such tiring work.

Just four weeks ago he'd been born, rump first and three seconds behind his sister Sylph. Blind and naked like all newborn chiropters, he had crawled up his mother's belly and started nursing immediately. Within days his vision cleared and focused. Fur grew over his body, and he gained weight. He ate insects his mother had caught and chewed for him.

And this morning his father had roused him in the nest and told him it was time to climb the tree. They'd setoff, just the two of them. Even though he'd been nervous, Dusk still loved the way everyone looked at him, the youngest son of the colony's leader.

"Am I odd-looking?" Dusk asked now. He was merely repeating what he'd overheard from others...including from his own mother, when she thought he was asleep.

Icaron looked back at him. "You are rather odd-looking, yes."

The answer disappointed him, even though he knew very well it was the truth. Watching the other newborns, he could tell he was different. His chest and shoulders were bulkier than normal, giving him a slightly top-heavy appearance. His ears were large and stuck out too much. And, most mortifying of all, even at four weeks, no fur had yet grown across his arms and sails, making him feel childishly naked. He wished at least his sails were like his father's.

"Dad, what's it like being leader?"

His father reached back with a rear foot and fondly tousled the fur on Dusk's head. "It's a lot of responsibility, trying to take care of everyone. It's a great deal to think about."

"Like what?"

"Well, we've been very fortunate here. Food is plentiful. There are no predators. I hope things stay that way. But if they change, I might have to make hard decisions."

Dusk nodded, trying to look solemn, not really having any idea what his father was talking about.

"Will I be leader one day?" he asked.

"I very much doubt it."

"Why?" Dusk asked indignantly.

"When a leader dies, his firstborn son becomes the new leader."

"That would be Auster," Dusk said glumly. He scarcely knew his eldest brother. Auster was eighteen years older than Dusk and had a mate and many children. Most of his children had children. Dusk was uncle to dozens of nieces and nephews, and great-uncle to hundreds more...and he was younger than practically any of them. It got very confusing, very quickly.

"But," Icaron continued, "if by some dreadful chance the firstborn is already dead, then the next oldest son would assume the leadership, and so on."

"Borasco, Shamal, Vardar . . ." Dusk felt proud he knew the names of his eight older brothers, even though he'd only ever exchanged a few words with most of them.

"And if there are no sons," Icaron continued, "only then would it pass to the daughters."

"So Sylph might be leader one day?" he asked in alarm.

"A frightening thought, I agree," his dad said. "Of course, her seven older sisters would have to die before her. So it's even more unlikely than you becoming leader as my ninth-born son."

"I see," Dusk said, feeling this was all outrageously unfair.

He paused to catch his breath. High overhead, through the redwood's vast canopy, he caught small glimpses of the sky. Sleek feathered creatures darted through the air. The sight of their beating wings made his stomach swirl excitedly.

"Are we related to birds?" he asked his father.

"Of course not," he replied. "We have no feathers. We're not hatched from eggs. And we can't fly."

Dusk peered up, hoping to see more birds. He loved the way they lifted so effortlessly.

"How much higher will we go?" he asked.

Surely his father wasn't planning on taking him all the way to the tree's summit. That was where the birds perched, and the newborns were always told to stay clear. The flyers were fiercely protective of their territory, especially when rearing their hatchlings. Luckily the sequoia was over three hundred feet high, and big enough for all of them. Dusk and all the other chiropters lived in the tree's middle reaches. Among the profusion of mighty limbs, they nested in the bark's endless network of deep furrows.

"Not much higher now," Icaron told him.

Despite the effort of the climb, Dusk was not eager to reach their destination. He knew what awaited him there, and though he and the other newborns had chattered endlessly about it, Dusk could not help feeling afraid.

"Is this the tallest tree in the forest?" he asked. He wanted to talk.

"I've never seen a taller one."

"How old is it?"

"Very old. Thousands of years."

"Are you old?" he asked his father.

His father gave a surprised laugh. "Not quite that old. But old enough to have had many sons and daughters."

Darkwing AER. Copyright © by Kenneth Oppel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

KENNETH OPPEL is the Governor General’s Award–winning author of the Airborn series and the Silverwing Saga, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. His most recent novels are The Boundless and The Nest. Twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, he lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.

Web: kennethoppel.ca

Facebook: Kenneth Oppel

Twitter: @kennethoppel

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