The Swan Riders

by Erin Bow

Greta, former Duchess of Halifax and heir to the Pan Polar Alliance throne, chose... read more

Greta, former Duchess of Halifax and heir to the Pan Polar Alliance throne, chose to merge her body with AI (artificial intelligence) instead of execution, hoping she might change a world in which an AI known as Talis believes in peace through force and fear. Talis executes the children of world leaders who don’t stay in line, and sometimes annihilates entire cities to make a point. As Greta goes through the potentially deadly adaptation to AI, she and Talis, occupying the body of a Swan Rider named Rachel, travel with two other Swan Riders, Francis Xavier and Sri. Swan Riders serve as Talis’s enforcers and guards, and also allow him to take human form. Greta is a likely target for kidnappers or killers, but Talis ends up the focus of a calculated physical attack that severs Rachel from Talis’s AI network, leaving the version of Talis in Rachel’s body wholly, vulnerably human. And that’s exactly the point: The attackers want Talis to remember his humanity—he was human once—and rethink his approach to peacemaking. They also want him to understand that Swan Riders suffer, and pay a huge price, when he uses their bodies to walk through the world. This sequel to Scorpion Rules explores questions of personal and political ethics through immensely satisfying, complex characters and plotting as it examines what it means to be human. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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