The Silverwing trilogy is a series of books written by Kenneth Oppel, which is a sort of Goth-esque fantasy adventure about bats. The first book appeared in 1997. The main character, Shade, is a small Silverwing bat, who is frequently mocked and called "Runt". After breaking one of the animal world's biggest rules and becoming a fugitive, and getting lost at sea during a migration, Shade goes on a wild adventure with a new friend, street-smart Tomboy Marina Brightwing. Things get worse when Goth and Throbb, two giant carnivorous bats from Brazil, escape a research facility and begin killing birds and other creatures at will. The little bats get blamed for it, landing Shade and his colony in a battle for the rights of all their kind.Also related to the trilogy is a fourth book, Darkwing, which explores prehistoric bats. Dusk, a chiropter (a fictional name the author uses to describe the species) is the first of his kind who can actually fly instead of glide. During a time of evolutionary upheaval, he must lead his clan to safe new territory.The series was also adapted into an animated series. See its page here.
These books contain the following tropes:
Aerith and Bob: Shade and Marina, their son Griffin, and the villain Goth. Most bats are named after "mythical" beings like Shade's mother Ariel and Zephyr or have a name related to nature, like Shade himself, and Mistral. Others have names that are used as normal human names like Frieda and Penelope. This goes for the other animals as well.
Air-Vent Passageway: This is how Goth and Throbb got out of the artificial jungle. Justifed as they are much smaller than people and have to fly vertically.
Always Chaotic Evil: Played straight in the first two books with the Vampyrum Spectrum, Goth's race. However, in Firewing Murk is introduced.
The Amazon: The Vampyrum Spectrum specifically come from Brazil. It is also where the bats and owls forced to carry bombs by humans are sent to destroy Rio De Janeiro.
Bat out of Hell: Averted (and still played straight, if you think about it)
Beat Still, My Heart: The Vampyrum do that to their sacrificial animals in the second book. At one point (after a dream) Goth becomes obsessed with ripping Shade's heart out of his chest and eating it while Shade watches.
Big Bad: Goth in the first two books, Cama Zotz himself in the third.
Chekhov's Gun: The leaf used to help Shade go to sleep in the middle of Silverwing is used later in the story to drug Goth.
Chekhov's Skill: In the very first chapter Shade is hunting an insect who confuses him with some sound tricks. At the end of the first book, Shade is attacked by an owl and he tries to confuse it by imitating the moth. It works. Over the course of the second book Shade becomes very good at using sound to fight his enemies.
In theory a good chunk of the good guys, since the main protagonists are bats.
David Versus Goliath: Goth and Throbb are portrayed as big muscular bullies. Contrast with protagonist Shade, who often uses his intelligence to solve problems. For bonus points Shade is considered a runt even by his species' standards.
Demoted to Extra: Despite having a very major role in the first two books, this happens to Marina in Firewing.
Disability Superpower: Zephyr, an oracle, is a blind albino bat, has an uncannily acute sense of hearing. He can hear what happens in the past and future, and can even hear the stars.
Played pretty straight too, given the role he plays. Then again his portrayal in the mayan myths is not all that flattering either.
The Evil Prince: Goth, until later when he becomes king. Averted with Orestes.
Eye Scream: The colony in Darkwing encounters a large nest of shrew-like creatures with paralyzing saliva called soricids. Two of the hyaenodons get bitten by them, and they collapse and are quickly stripped to the bone by the things. The Fridge Horror sets in when you really go through this scene in your mind: They are paralyzed. Not dead, paralyzed. Therefore, they can feel everything that is happening to them. Imagine little shrew teeth stripping your face away, including their teeth digging out your eyes.
Family-Unfriendly Violence/Family-Unfriendly Death: Quite a bit, although more concentrated in Firewing. Examples include a bat having his heart ripped out and eaten, and a young bat being burned to death. Shade at one point attempts to cripple an enemy by biting his ears off.
First Time in the Sun: Played with: The whole plot of the first book is set in motion when Shade dares to stay up long enough to see the sun (which, as a bat, he is not allowed to do). When the owls burn down his home as punishment, he decides to give the sun back to all bats. Later he and his fried Marina fly in bright daylight and they are amazed about how different the world looks and how warm the sun is. However, they do have some problems. Also, the darkness is not shown as something horrible and Shade is described as a creature of the night and he is happy with it. Other bats even question the necessity of seeing the sun and the young ones are afraid the sun will blind them or turn them into dust.
Gentle Giant: Java, a Foxwing. She has a wingspan of 5 feet, and she is the most mellow character in the series.
Heroic Bastard: Shade's missing father plays a big role in his motivations for the first two books. At the end of Sunwing, they are finally reunited.
Heroic Sacrifice: Shade attempts to pull this one off near the end of Sunwing, where he tries to stop a bomb from falling using only sound. He survives, only to do a real Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Firewing.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Goth and Throbb in Silverwing, when their metal bands cause them to be struck by lightning; Voxzaco in Sunwing when his last-ditch bomb plan fails.
Jacob Marley Apparel: Lampshaded in Firewing, where one bat in the Bat Underworld, Yorick, died by smashing into a tree while strong gusts of wind were blowing, and he has to spend his eternity in the Underworld with a half-broken wing. He demands to know where the justice in that is.
Joker Immunity: Goth. He survives getting struck by lightning in the first book, and manages to literally cheat death in the third.
Killer Rabbit: The soricids in Darkwing are first said to be harmless. Then it turns out they're actually very aggressive. And have venomous bites. And there are a lot of them. They even end up killing twoHyaenodon, which are large predatory mammals.
Leave Your Quest Test: The banded cult offer one up to Marina. Luna also gets one in Firewing. Dusk in Darkwing meets an other flying chiropter who asks him to join her colony, but he declines. At the end of the book he decides to visit her.
Lightning Bruiser: Goth, and just Vampyrum Spectrum in general, are very strong and very fast.
Master of Illusion: Shade, eventually. Following Zephyr's example, he learns to manipulate sound. Since bats use echolocation, this ability translates to feats such as invisibility and projecting illusions.
Dusk, at least in the German translation where he is named "Dämmer". "Dämmer" or "Dämmerung" can mean both dusk or twilight, but also dawn. And those flying chiropter are indeed the dawn of a new species.
Mixed Ancestry: Griffin, half-Silverwing and half-Brightwing. He doesn't get too much flak over his mixed heritage from the other bats, though.
Mysterious Animal Senses: Averted, all characters see a monochrome world, and as such, not one color is mentioned in the series.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: With names like Goth and Throbb, they have to be evil. Subverted with Murk. This even gets Lampshaded by Shade at one point - when Murk introduces himself, Shade thinks, "Goth... Throbb... Murk... who names these bats?"
No Communities Were Harmed: The city near Goth's home is obviously Rio De Janiero,(it even has the statue of Jesus) but is never named.
Not Quite Dead: Goth should have died after getting struck by lightning, but lucky for him a god was watching out for him.
Sequel Hook: Goth just can't stay dead, can he? At the end of Firewing he got out of the Underworld and began gathering followers for Zotz.
Shown Their Work: Bridge City is the real life bat colony in Austin, Texas, and Statue Haven is Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. Cama Zotz was a bat god, worshiped by a real cult among the Zapotec Indians. (Camazotz was also used as the name of a planet in Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, making it a possible Shout-Out, or just plain coincidence).
It's mentioned on the author's website that colours are never mentioned in the Silverwing books, except for silver, black, and the like. That's because bats are colour blind.
That crazy "Bats drop bombs" plot? That was actually considered in WWII by the U.S, but the idea was quickly dropped thanks to a test run that failed spectacularly. And the soricids way of hunting via paralyzing their prey and eating it? That’s how most shrew species today hunt
Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: The series is on the low end. The bats understand why humans would want to study animals, how things like doors work and have religons yet they can see with sound and are colourblind. They also have difficulty crawling anywhere.
Somewhere, a Paleontologist Is Crying: In Darkwing, it's said that dinosaurs (and pterosaurs) became extinct because they were cold-blooded and couldn't cope with climate change, when evidence points to dinosaurs and pterosaurs being to some degree warm blooded. On the other hand, some more up to date concepts such as birds being dinosaur descendants are also mentioned, so it's a mixed bag.