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Silverwing (novel)

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Author Kenneth Oppel
Country Canada
Language English
Series Silverwing
Genre Novel
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-689-81529-8
Followed by Sunwing (2000) 

Silverwing is a best-selling novel, written by Kenneth Oppel, published in 1997 by Simon & Schuster It tells the story of a group of silverwing bats. The tone and artistic honour of this series of bestsellers has been compared to the classic animal novel Watership Down. Silverwing is the second installment of the Silverwing series, following the prequel Darkwing.

The first book has been made into a successful 13 episode, animated television mini-series, shown on the Canadian cable channel Teletoon and currently being shown on Toon Disney's Jetix. These episodes have also been strung together to make 3 movies. The whole series is now available on DVD.


The main character is a runt named Shade. The novel and its sequel, Sunwing, tell the story of the hard time of Shade and his friends to find his father and free his "fellow bats" from an ancient and unjust punishment. The second sequel, Firewing, describes the adventures of Shade's child.

The bats' punishment came about long ago when a great war was fought between the birds and the land animals. The bats, sharing aspects of both, declared themselves neutral. As a result, the bats were only allowed to come out at night, never to see the sun again without suffering terrible penalties (the backstory is inspired by one of Aesop's fables). Shade sets the main plot of the novel in motion when he breaks that law, and starts a chain of events that leads to the destruction of his group's home, forcing their premature migration, and his separation from them.

When he's separated from his group he is found by a Brightwing bat named Marina, and soon the two are in a city where pigeons are very angry with the two bats. They are soon being beaten by the pigeons. The reason is that "two giant cannibal bats" have killed a few pigeons, and Shade and Marina are being held responsible for the killings.

While the two small bats escape, the scene changes to the two giant bats (Vampyrum spectrum, the False Vampire Bat) on the night they escape. Their names are Goth and Throbb, two carnivorous bats who have only been chasing mice for a while. They escape from the humans who trapped them.

Soon after escaping Shade meets with a bat named Zephyr (who reveals to him that his father is still alive) and is attacked by an owl (who is also chasing him after the death of the pigeons). Goth defends him by attacking and eating the owl, and introduces himself and where he's going. It turns out he needs Shade's help to find his jungle. Shade suggests that he can find his group first and they can help Goth in his search for his homeland. Marina believes that Goth and Throbb should not be trusted, but Shade trusts them since they saved them from the owl.

Soon Shade realizes the truth when he sees Throbb eating a Brightwing. Shade runs off but runs into Marina, whom he feared had been killed. They soon escape after Goth and Throbb are shot by darts from a human flying machine, which is actually an airplane. Shade saw the dart hit Goth in the chest. Yet he is not sure whether the dart hit Throbb.

Soon after they meet with Goth and Throbb again, but escape into the sewer where they meet the rat twins, Romulus and Remus. They are treated as spies by Prince Remus, and as punishment are sent to be eaten by Remus's crazy brother Romulus (who considers himself half bat because of the skin webbing between his legs and arms)but he turns out to be not crazy after all (he only pretends to be crazy to avoid being killed by his brother Remus, as the elder brother Romulus is the rightful Prince) frees them in the end.

They are soon captured by Goth and Throbb, and Goth explains about his god, Cama Zotz, saying that the said Zotz has greater power than Shade's Nocturna. When Shade half-believes Goth's story, he soon gives the impression of deciding to go with Goth to the jungle to grow big and strong and have Goth kill his family because he was always mistreated, and never cared for, or so he says. He is given a bat to eat but fakes it first then is forced to eat it by the threat to Marina. This disgusting act gives him the opportunity to drug Goth and Throbb with a soporific herb. While the False Vampires sleep, Shade and Marina escape. They are chased by owls, then by Goth and Throbb. During the fight Throbb gets hit by lightning and bursts into flames. Goth survives, but only by a scant margin.

After they leave, however, Goth moves again, and kills a bird near him. The last moments the bird saw was a set of double rowed teeth. Although weak he tries to fly; once he does, he soon vows revenge against Shade.

Shade and Marina meet up with Shade's group, telling stories of what had happened to them. They decide to find Shade's father, Cassiel, and Chinook volunteers to help. They plan to go after hibernating, but Shade wishes to go now. It ends with Shade starting to fall asleep, with Ariel and Marina roosting beside him.


Shade Silverwing is the protagonist of the series. He is a runt Silverwing, and often made fun of by his peers, who take pride in their size and strength. While Shade's strength may be lower than the other bats', he is a master of the sound, often making illusions or moving materials with echoes.

Marina Brightwing is Shade's newfound friend. When Shade had been blown away by the storm, she met him. She is a lot bigger than Shade, and does not fail to remind him of it.

Chinook is Shade's competitor and the biggest and strongest newborn of the group. All the bats like him, and he said he caught two tiger moths which are known by all the others in the group to be an extraordinary achievement by such a young bat. Shade loathes him for his airs and size. Shade and Chinook become friends later in the story. His parents are Plato and Isis.

Frieda is an older bat of the Silverwing group. She is wise in many ways, and makes good decisions. Frieda has a silver band on her forearm. She was a big contributor to the rebellion against the owls fifteen years previous.

Ariel is Shade's mother. She had protected Shade from the wrath of the rest of the group. She had lost her mate, Cassiel, before Shade was born.

Goth is a sly and smooth-talking cannibal bat, half responsible for the killing of many pigeons. He is a prince in his own group, and worships Cama Zotz, the brother of Nocturna, whom the Silverwings and other bats like them believe in. Goth comes from the jungle, and had been captured by humans.

Throbb is another one of the cannibal bats. Unlike Goth, he is a coward and according to Goth he feeds on carcasses already killed by other cannibal bats in the jungle.

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