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Silverwing original


Kenneth Oppel






Simon & Schuster

Media type

Print (Paperback, Hardcover)


ISBN 0-689-81529-8

Book in series


Preceded by


Followed by

Sunwing (2000)

Silverwing is a best-selling fiction novel, written by Kenneth Oppel, published in 1997. It tells the story of a colony of Silverwing bats. The tone and artistic ambition of this series of bestsellers has been compared to the classic animal novel Watership Down. Silverwing is the first installment of the Silverwing series, though it is chronologically preceded by the prequel Darkwing.

The novel and its immediate sequel, Sunwing, tell the story of the struggle of Shade and his friends to find his father and free his "fellow bats" from an ancient and unjust punishment. The third book of the saga, Firewing, describes the adventures of Shade's child.

Plot Edit

Shade, a curious newborn, is the runt of among the newborn Silverwing bats at the Tree Haven and other newborns constantly make fun of him. When he impulsively tries to prove himself by seeing the sun, the other bats in the colony are punished by the owls, who burn down Tree Haven

When separated from his colony by a storm, Shade 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 then pecked by the pigeons. The reason for the attack is that "two giant cannibal bats" have murdered a few pigeons; therefore Shade and Marina are being held responsible for the killings.

While the two small bats escape, the scene changes to focus on the two giant bats (Vampyrum spectrum, the False Vampire Bat) on the night they escape from a zoo. Their names are Goth and Throbb. They were the ones who murdered the pigeons.  

Soon after escaping, Shade meets with a bat named Zephyr (who reveals to Shade that his long absent 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 is going. It turns out he needs Shade's help to find his home jungle. Shade suggests that he can find his colony first, who can help Goth in his search for his homeland. Marina believes that Goth and Throbb should not be trusted, but Shade trusts them because they saved them from the owl.

Shade realizes the truth when he sees Throbb eating a Brightwing. Shade hurriedly flies away and collides with Marina, whom he feared had been killed. They soon escape after Goth and Throbb are shot by darts from a human's helicopter.

Shade and Marina arrive at a wooden house where they find many bats with bands like Marina's. They speak of how they were chosen by the bands and the bands will let them transform into humans. They let Marina stay with them because of her band but she later returns to Shade.

Later, they meet with Goth and Throbb again, but escape into the sewer. There, they are captured by rats and are treated as spies by their leader, Prince Remus, who sends them to be eaten by Remus's crazy brother Romulus. Romulus, who is revealed to be entirely sane, having faked insanity to avoid being killed in his brother's coup d'état, provides cover for their escape, hinting meanwhile that he considers rats and bats to be close kindred. This belief has its roots in the presence of a skin membrane extending from either of Romulus' forelegs to the corresponding hind leg.

Shade and Marina are eventually captured by Goth and Throbb. Goth speaks of his god, Cama Zotz, declaring that the said Zotz has greater power than Shade's ancestral goddess 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, permitting Goth to kill the Silverwings. Shade is given a bat to eat; despite his disgust, he swallows a piece when the two Spectral Bats threaten Marina. This gives him the opportunity to drug Goth and Throbb with a soporific herb put on the in the dead bat. While the False Vampires sleep, Shade and Marina escape. They are chased by owls, then by Goth and Throbb. During the fight, Throbb is hit by lightning and bursts into flames. Goth survives, but only by a scant margin.

After they leave, Goth moves again, and kills a bird. He soon vows revenge against Shade.

Shade and Marina meet up with Shade's colony, telling stories of what had happened to them. The colony decide to go in search of Shade's father, Cassiel. Chinook, another juvenile of Shade's age, volunteers to help. They plan to go after hibernating, but Shade wishes to go now. The story ends with Shade starting to fall asleep, with Marina and Shade's mother Ariel beside him.

Characters Edit

Shade is the protagonist of the series. He is a runt Silverwing, and often mocked by his peers, who take pride in their size and strength. While Shade's strength may be inferior to the other bats', he is a master of sound, often creating illusions or moving materials with echoes. While he is a well-mannered bat in general, Shade is inquisitive and carries a bit of pride. That would be his downfall, as that was the first domino to fall in the chain of events that created the setting for the book. When Chinook, the pride of the colony, was boasting of his talent and superiority, Shade had offered to let him come take a peek of the Sun. They were caught in the action, and as a result, the owls burned down Tree Haven, the Silverwings' home for as long as they could remember. Shade was almost executed for it, but his mother and Frieda managed to save him from the colony's anger.

Marina is a Brightwing bat and Shade's newfound friend. When Shade had been blown away by the storm, she met him. She is quite bigger than Shade, and doesn't fail to remind him of it. In the sequel, Sunwing, Marina becomes Shades mate, and later, in Firewing the mother of their child, Griffin

Chinook is Shade's rival and the biggest and strongest newborn of the colony. All the bats admire him, and he claims to have caught two tiger moths which are known by all the others in the colony to be an extraordinary achievement by such a young bat. Shade loathes him for his airs and size. His parents are Plato and Isis. In the book Sunwing they become freinds after he saves Shade from a giant bug.

Frieda is an elder of the Silverwing colony. She is wise in many ways, and makes good decisions. Frieda has a silver band on her forearm. She was a a large 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 colony. She had lost her mate, Cassiel, before Shade was born.

Goth is a sly and smooth-talking cannibal bat, having been taken unwillingly from his native home in the South American jungle and transported to the woods of North America. He is a prince in his own colony, and worships Cama Zotz, the brother of Nocturna, whom the Silverwings and many other bats believe in.

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

Zephyr is a wise old albino bat who savees Shade and Marina from the pigeons in the city. In the show, he also showed Shade how to project sound, and informed him that his father, Cassiel Silverwing is still alive. The fact that Cassiel was still alive, is also in the series.

Television seriesEdit

Main article: Silverwing (TV series)

Silverwing has been adapted 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.


External linksEdit

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