One of the greatest English writers for children again fashions a unique tour de force, quite unlike 1989's Gideon Ahoy!--except in its quality, imaginative power, and distinctive style (which is unusually Straightforward and accessible here). In a time and country identified only by a cross on a church, scattered villages, and precipitous mountains (including an active volcano), six-year-old Antar wishes that he could begin to help his father (a roofer) instead of starting school. Though afraid of heights, Antar tries climbing the church spire--and is carried away by eagles to a distant eyrie. There, among the lethally obstreperous eaglets, he barely manages to survive but eventually learns the eagles' language; is befriended by Garak (one of his guards); is taught to fly wearing a jacket he covers with feathers; and succeeds in his intended mission--to reclaim from hostile humans the egg holding the next Great Eagle. Some readers may find Antar's long periods free of emotional interaction or conversation bleak, yet his solitary ordeal gives intensity to his friendship with Garak, as well as with the enchantingly portrayed kitten he keeps as a pet (the eagles present it to him as a snack). The eagles' rough life and society are true to eagle nature, Antar's experiences with them powerfully imagined and wholly consistent. An extraordinary, thought-provoking adventure to share with a special child or group.