On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus by Brett Wiens is literary fiction filled with humor and adventure, a story with an unusual protagonist. Cygnus is the narrator and protagonist and from the start, he describes himself as “one so common and uninspiring,” but the reader quickly learns about the routine of his life. On an unusual day, he becomes a victim and sole survivor of a plane crash, finding himself on an island inhabited by a race of horses that enslaves wild humans. It’s the beginning of a journey that brings him into contact with strange beings, including immortals, magicians, giants, and small people. The experience can be likened to the adventures in Gulliver’s Travels.
Brett Wiens is a master storyteller and this novel, the work of a rich imagination, is littered with humor. Right from the very beginning of the story, the reader is captivated by the protagonist’s tone and his eccentric way of looking at his reality. Hear the humor in how he presents himself: “My father was a family physician in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My mother, to my great fortune, was a stay-at-home mom who took care of me, my younger brother, and two older sisters.” The descriptions are colorful and filled with vivid imagery. One example is the moment before the crash — a bright light fills the cabin and a loud boom alerts everyone. The power of Wiens’ descriptive prose creates an additional level of enjoyment for the reader. On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus is a spellbinding and delightful read.