On Swift Wings

The Travails of Cygnus

Fiction - Literary
384 Pages
Reviewed on 01/23/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Brett Wiens was born in Calgary, Canada in 1981. He has a bachelor's degree in Geography and a masters degree in Geographic Information Systems. He has won awards for his anti-racism poem, "Just One Little Rock."

His writing is inspired by a keen interest in geography and languages. In grade school he gained fluency in French and then in University studied Spanish and Latin. After school, he learned some American Sign Language and Italian and is working on learning Mandarin while working on his second novel.

His first novel, On Swift Wings, a modern re-imagination of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels was released on July 1, 2019, 293 years after the original. Early reviews of the book have been positive, saying that it is a challenging, but rewarding read. The book was conceived while reading Gulliver's Travels to his first child in the crib as a baby.

His second novel is currently in development.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus by Brett Wiens is a meld of adventure, fantasy, and humor, a novel filled with humor and fun moments. The protagonist is Cygnus, a young man who survives a plane crash in the ocean, and unwittingly finds himself stranded on an island inhabited by a race of horses that holds humans captives, and the humans do not look normal. It's just the beginning of an adventure that leads to an encounter with unusual situations and peoples - immortals of Loogenage, sorcerers, magicians, giants, and miniature creatures. He goes through heart-wrenching experiences and encounters with strange races. The conclusion to his adventures is as exciting as it is revealing of the mysteries of life. Rollicking and fun!

On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus is a deftly written story that is most appealing to fans of the classic Gulliver's Travels and it is designed to offer pure entertainment. The imaginative character of this novel is noticeable from the way the setting is described and how the author brings to life geography that is fictional and races that are imaginary. However, the sense of realism and humanity is apparent, perhaps because the protagonist is a character like any of us. And I like how the author creates rules in this world. I am writing this review after a good sleep that followed my reading of this book and the world this author created inhabited my dreams. Readers will feel like they are waking from a dream with a "Wow" after reading this book. It is well-plotted and the characters intelligently developed. Brett Wiens has a strong imagination but apart from that, the author is a great storyteller. This is a must-read for anyone looking for a good adventure.

K.C. Finn

On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus is a work of literary fiction based around the world of Gulliver’s Travels, and was penned by author Brett M. Wiens. Taking the tradition of satire and humor from the original world and work of Jonathan Swift, this modern and amusing parody drama gives us a fresh and often scathing perspective on the current state of the world. Our central character Cygnus is a modern-day hero weary of the world, but when he survives a plane crash and finds himself in an as-yet-undiscovered society where incredulous feats are at play, the reflections that he learns in his experience teach him much about life, truth, and hope.

There are many fantastic inventions and adaptations in this intelligent work by author Brett M. Wiens, which intermingles some of Swift’s original ideas with plenty of new ones and puts a modern social twist on those that remain. The anti-intellectuals were a particular favorite and are sure to be a sore spot for certain political believers in our current climate. For those who really enjoy sardonic humor, fantastic satire and a little dose of farce, there’s much to enjoy in chapter after chapter of this odyssey of poignant images and conversations. Wiens’s dialogue lends fresh sharpness to the tale, yet there are plenty of homages to give a nostalgic nod back to Gulliver and his similar voyage of discovery. Overall, On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus is sure to be a hit with literary fiction fans of all ages.

Rabia Tanveer

On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus by Brett Wiens is a satirical novel that is almost political in nature. Cygnus has no idea where he is and his mind cannot accept the fact that he is in a place where everything boggles his mind. When he survived a plane crash, he had no idea he would be stranded on an island where the horses are intelligent and the humans are not the creatures that he is used to. Scared out of his mind and desperate to escape, he gets away from the island, only to find himself on another bizarre island every time he gets away from one. The obstacles never seem to end, but Cygnus knows that he needs to be patient and have an open mind if he wants to get home. Can he keep calm and control his emotions until he can get home safely? Is it really possible to get back to where he is from when Cygnus doesn’t even have any idea where he actually is?

The author shares an interesting look at the current world order by taking inspiration from the classic Gulliver’s Travels. Cygnus is a unique character; he is a fighter yet he is easily intimidated (to be honest, anyone would be in such situations). The world-building is amazing, the descriptions are incredible and the imagery is exceptionally vivid. The islands are richly detailed; the creatures living on these islands are absurd yet serve the purpose of highlighting ridiculous ideologies we have created and how we seem to believe in them blindly. We judge, we make opinions and then we stick by them. Cygnus is a great example of this yet he is ready to make a change and he is not afraid to explore the change. He explores, he makes assumptions and then makes intelligent decisions to survive. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys political satires or a re-adaptation of classics.

Lesley Jones

In On Swift Wings by Brett Wiens, the day started like any other when Cygnus steps on board a flight from Toronto to Sydney. When the plane is hit by a storm, Cygnus finds himself stranded in the South Pacific. He is eventually rescued and finds himself on a strange island where horses are the masters of savage humans. After many years on the island, Cygnus manages to escape, only to find himself in other bizarre lands where he learns of their strange undeveloped customs and laws. He must face whatever hazards lie in wait for him and try to find his way home. Cygnus battles all manner of dangers and obstacles along the way. He meets the most extraordinary characters who possess strange beliefs and very distorted views of the world.

On Swift Wings by Brett Wiens is a great adventure story but the author has cleverly included many thought-provoking subjects throughout. Cygnus is a great protagonist and in every situation tries to adapt to the customs of the land whilst trying to teach the inhabitants ways they could improve. His characters have been created with great detail, especially the feral humans on the first island which made them so realistic. The author has a great talent in bringing the places and characters to life and I was swept away in the adventures of Cygnus; his conversation with Hitler was especially chilling. Many subjects covered would make for a great discussion, such as the belief in religion and the treatment of nature and animals by humans. I also thought the concept that humans can be badgered into believing they are prisoners when they are not was very interesting. Do we as a society regard certain groups of people as burdens too? You can either simply read this amazing adventure story, or you can choose to delve a little deeper and pay attention to the subject matter. A very good book by a talented and intelligent author.

Liz Konkel

On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus by Brett M. Wiens is an epic adventure based upon Gulliver’s Travels. A plane crash leaves Cygnus stranded in the ocean and he washes ashore on an island where he discovers a race of horses that have enslaved humans. After four years spent living amongst them, he finds himself once again out on the ocean and drifts along to a remarkable island that turns fantasy into reality when he discovers a kingdom where there are those born with immortality. From there, Cygnus travels with a companion to a place where he encounters vast armies, a radiant queen, and magic. Once he leaves the island of necromancy, he discovers a place that despises intelligence and where the people look upon him with ill will. Once again lost at sea, he’s rescued by a vessel that takes him on one of his greatest adventures, which begins once he’s taken back home.

The story is broken into five parts with each one exploring a different location and the people he meets there that leave an impact on his life. Wiens explores each society in a rich depth that provides reflections of our own society blended with various insights and wonderings. He makes a friend while imprisoned who takes him to a village where everyone is curious and where he acts in the role of a teacher, explaining concepts from math to literature to technology. His emotional place shifts as he goes from location to location which helps him experience a sober pragmatism, varying degrees of freedom, a thirst for knowledge, and a deep understanding. Each part feels like a separate story with each offering a new understanding or insight which works together for a larger commentary on society. The tone is satirical and reflective as Cygnus recounts his travels, often talking directly to the reader as he shares his thoughts and experiences. The style and voice reflect that of the classic on which the story is based - intelligent writing that evokes commentary and conversation. On Swift Wings is a satirical work that delivers a fascinating tale as Wiens breathes new life into the world of Gulliver’s Travels through Cygnus’s adventures.

Ruffina Oserio

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.

Derrik Lemur

On Swift Wings is a fun take on an old tale, riveting work mr weins