Arite Seki –

On Swift Wings by Brett M. Wiens is a fantasy and fiction novel with a satirical style. The title pays homage to Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Wiens takes an interesting approach and examines the islands visited by Gulliver 300 years later. This novel can be read as a standalone and enjoyed even by those unfamiliar with Jonathan Swift’s classic. The novel takes the reader on an adventure split into 6 chapters, and the chapters depict the different islands that the main character finds himself on.

The main character, Cygnus, takes a job as a flight attendant on international flights in a venture to see the world. Even though Cygnus does not believe in luck, it is almost laughable how bad his luck seems to be. He finds himself stranded on various islands and forced to learn new languages and cultural practices for the sake of his survival.

My favourite aspect of this novel was the use of humour and satire to draw attention to important social issues. Wiens draws parallels to our current world and forces us to question them. Each chapter has a lesson that would resonate with any reader. The thoughts raised question our ideas of freedom, morality, accuracy in history and even equality through political policy. I also particularly enjoyed the use of vivid imagery. The author brought to life the various locations within the novel. There was no part of this novel that I disliked as I found it to be an exceptional read.

I give this novel a 4 out of 4 stars rating. It is well-edited with no typographical errors. I found the novel to be particularly impactful as the universality of the subjects seen in the novel suggest that it can be enjoyed by anyone. I found that the use of humour added to the satirical nature of the novel. The circumstances that surrounded the main character could have easily been regarded as a tragedy however, the author used this as an opportunity to shine a light on the commonalities and disparities between the island societies and our current society.

I would recommend this book to audiences looking for a fantasy book with meaning. Young adults and those older would truly learn something from the way that the author frames our current world by contrasting it to the unconventional islands. The social commentary in the novel also makes it appropriate for high school readers despite the more elaborate use of language. Words such as “insalubrious”, “oeuvre” and “enumerate” may be challenging for younger readers however, the lessons that would be learnt far outweigh the language difficulties.