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The Glass Swallow

The Glass Swallow

4.0 2
by Julia Golding

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Rain has a secret—one that risks her whole world if it comes out. She designs exquisite stained glass for the windows of her city. But the law is clear: it is forbidden for girls to be part of the glassmakers’ guild. To keep her secret hidden, Rain leaves home and travels to a strange new country. Her trip becomes a nightmare when bandits attack and


Rain has a secret—one that risks her whole world if it comes out. She designs exquisite stained glass for the windows of her city. But the law is clear: it is forbidden for girls to be part of the glassmakers’ guild. To keep her secret hidden, Rain leaves home and travels to a strange new country. Her trip becomes a nightmare when bandits attack and she is abandoned in a society on the edge of disaster. To survive, she must discover new strengths in herself and seek out the other people that this society has scorned, including a young falconer who is one of the "untouchables." This exciting novel is a companion book to Dragonfly, which received a starred review from School Library Journal, was a YALSA Teens’ Top Ten nominee, and was selected by librarians for the 2011 Texas Lone Star reading list.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Rain is the daughter of the head of the glass maker's guild. Her father is well-respected for his stained glass designs, but Rain is the real artist. Since girls are forbidden to practice trades, she must keep her talent secret. When her family receives a life changing commission from a new ally of the country, Rain must travel to Rolvint in order to complete the piece without letting anyone know. But when bandits attack her traveling party, Rain is left alone in a land where the rules are completely different from home. She must figure out the new customs and a way to earn her keep in order to survive. The book reads like historical fiction; the setting is completely fictional but described so well and so consistently that it seems real. Rain, although she seems a little self-righteous in the beginning, is a protagonist you root for and the romance between her and Peri is well-written and doesn't interfere with the main story line of survival in a strange land. Rain remains a strong character throughout. Layered over Rain's story is the story of the capital of Rolvint and the mystery of who is really running the country. The political strife in the city is similar to what is happening in many countries today. While the book takes a little time to get into, in the end it is a very satisfying read. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
VOYA - Rebecca Moore
Fifteen-year-old Rain designs exquisite stained glass, but in secret, because she is female. Thus, when the forge receives a royal commission from faraway Magharna, the indispensable Rain travels as merely a glassmaker's "betrothed." Glass is forgotten, however, when the arriving party encounters murderous Magharnan bandits. Only Rain survives, rescued by falconer Peri—a young man considered an "impure scavenger" in the severely stratified Magharnan society. Misunderstanding Rain's situation, Peri abandons her, forcing Rain into indentured servitude. Things in Magharna are changing, though, as the economy fails, looters run rampant, and bandits terrorize the countryside. When the capitol collapses, a penitent Peri finds Rain, and she joins the scavengers' stronghold. Much to Peri's dismay, however, Rain will not just let events play out at will and soon sets everyone on the road to a new Magharna, forging a new life for herself along the way. The talented girl in a misogynistic society is a tried and true literary device, and Golding offers a satisfying entry in the field. Full of adventure, romance, colorful settings, and strong women, The Glass Swallow will appeal to most young fantasy readers, particularly fans of Tamora Pierce. Golding particularly excels at creating worlds and cultures—with all their issues—in swift strokes and simple language. For some readers, however, the simplicity might go too far. Characters are fairly one note, like the too-perfect Rain; societies are didactically extreme; and many of Rain's successes are more cathartically wish fulfilling than plausible. For readers seeking more complexity, suggest Garth Nix's Sabriel (Perfection Learning, 1997/VOYA April 1997) . Reviewer: Rebecca Moore
VOYA - Tapan Srivastava
Golding portrays real-world issues very neatly in The Glass Swallow. Discrimination, caste systems, and anarchy are depicted in an easy-to-understand way that brings a realistic feel to the action-adventure. The romance in the book is mixed well with the rest of the story. Golding has combined two genres into a versatile, compelling novel which will appeal to both fantasy and realistic fiction audiences. 5Q, 4P. Reviewer: Tapan Srivastava, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Camille Birch
The captivating plot puts a unique twist on a more traditional story of a girl prohibited from practicing a craft. The main character is determined and smart, making her exceedingly likeable as well. Readers will also appreciate the unusual setting. The Glass Swallow is an exceptional, all-around good read. 5Q, 4P. Reviewer: Camille Birch, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Rain Glassmaker, 15, is a brilliant stained-glass designer but must keep her talent a secret due to guild rules prohibiting the work of women. Her doting father permits her to travel to a foreign land to design windows and forge business connections. Unfortunately, her caravan is attacked and Rain is the only survivor, left alone in an inhospitable country rigidly locked into a caste system that has brought the economy to the brink of disaster. After enduring months of servitude, Rain takes shelter with a family of unclean scavengers when the economy collapses. A romance begins with Peri, a falconer disgusted by the excess of the rich ruling class and concerned only with the survival of his family. Rain's artistic vision, born from pulling glass shards together into a beautiful whole, allows her to see how the fragmented society must pull itself together to heal. Her spunk and initiative bring the disparate groups together in a satisfying conclusion. This gentle fantasy is a quick, fun read that tackles economic and social issues with a light touch.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews

This gentle tale, set in the world ofDragonfly(2009), offers a fresh take on high-fantasy conventions.

Only her father knows that Rain, 15, designs the glass in his workshop; women are barred from the glassmakers' guild. He sends her in his place when a distant country with a decaying society and a rigid caste system, Magharna, seeks a glass designer. Arriving in Magharna, Rain's party is attacked by bandits. She's rescued by Peri, a handsome falconer and member of the untouchable caste, but through a misunderstanding, is left to fend for herself in the unfriendly city of Rolvint. Her forced servitude there ends when a merchant's financial collapse sparks a revolt, driving the city into anarchy. Peri returns to rescue Rain, but she has her own agenda—restoring Magharna to a viable society. Yes, Golding's high-fantasy world features the usual hierarchical governance by ancient aristocracies, but she's no moral essentialist. Her bandits aren't innately evil or deluded by satanic influences; they're unemployed outcasts with no better prospects until Rain shows up, blending idealism with a streak of girlish realpolitik.

Forget the predictable and clichéd love story; read for the social commentary. An insightful, engaging portrait of a high-fantasy society in the midst of social change.(Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.40(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Julia Golding is a multi-award winning writer for children and young adults. She also writes as Joss Stirling (Finding Sky) and Eve Edwards (YA historical).

Former British diplomat and Oxfam policy adviser, she has now published over thirty books in genres ranging from historical adventure to fantasy. Read carefully and you'll spot all sorts of material from her diplomatic and Oxfam careers popping up in unexpected places. She has a doctorate in English literature from doctorate in English literature from Oxford.

Studying for this prompted her to write her first novel, 'The Diamond of Drury Lane', set in 1790 and told by her intrepid heroine, Cat Royal. It went on to win the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2006 and the Nestle Children's Book Prize 2006 (formerly known as the Smarties Prize). In the US, 'Secret of the Sirens' won the honor book medal of the Green Earth Book Award. 'Dragonfly' won the 2012 Beehive Book Award, Young Adult Division, given by the Children's Literature Association of Utah and voted on by readers in schools and public libraries.

Over half a million of her books have been sold worldwide in many languages.

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The Glass Swallow 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Rain's father is one of the most sought-after glass makers in the kingdom of Tigral. Torrent's mastery of stained glass is unrivaled with even the king and queen ordering windows from the Torrent forge for their palace. The only problem is Torrent is not the visionary behind his stained glass designs. Rain, his daughter, is the designer--a secret that could get them both thrown out of the male-only glassmaker guild. When an opportunity arises for Rain to visit a distant land and ply her wares, it seems like a fine opportunity. She will be able to promote her father's forget and her craft all while keeping her secret and seeing the wonders of the kingdom of Magharna. Unfortunately, within a day of her arrival everything goes very wrong. Alone in a strange place, Rain must find her own way as she navigates the foreign language and strange customs of Magharna and tries to find her way home. As Rain learns more of her temporary home, she realizes something is very wrong in the state. With a flagging economy and a society on the brink of riot, Rain will have to get very creative to find her place and a way home in The Glass Swallow (2010) by Julia Golding. The Glass Swallow is a companion Golding's earlier novel Dragonfly. (The current king and queen of Tigral are the protagonists of Dragonfly while it's fun to see the characters overlap you do not need to read one book to enjoy the other.) The Glass Swallow is a cute if sometimes improbable story focused on Rain and a young Magharan falconer named Peri--a man deemed "untouchable" by the higher echelons of Magharan society. The story is written in third person with focus shifting between Rain and Peri (often highlighting deeply frustrating missed connections between the two characters). Although Rain has a very rough start in Magharna things begin to go surprisingly well for her by the latter third of the novel as pieces of state politics and revolution fall into place as if part of Rain's personal stained glass design. While groundwork is laid for the romantic aspect of the story, the romance too felt a bit contrived as it moved with surprising speed from flirtation to actual love. The Glass Swallow is an entertaining fantasy. Given the characters' ages I went into this book expecting something along the lines of YA fantasy. Instead the characters and plot read much younger marking this more as a middle grade level read. That said, The Glass Swallow is still very fun with the nice touches of both stained glass and bird handling as areas of interest in the story. While the story, particularly the latter half, felt cursory as if the characters were rushing to a resolution the story was often heartwarming. It's very nice to read a well-thought-out fantasy with an unabashedly happy ending. Possible Pairings: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago