The Wind Singer is the first novel in William Nicholson's Wind on Fire fantasy trilogy. The book was first published in 2000 and won the 2000 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Blue Peter Best Book Award for "The Book I Couldn't Put Down".
The story begins in the city of Aramanth which is technically ruled by an Emperor, but truly run by the “Examiners”, the city is divided into sections, which are sorted by colour, which section one lives in depends upon ones results in the annual High Examination, the better the results, the better your housing and status.
The Hath family are descended from the ancient Manth Prophet, Ira Manth, Kestrel and Bowman Hath are the children of Ira (not the Prophet) and Hanno Hath, Kestrel has always been rebellious of the Manth system, but the day the book begins on she is particularly bitter. And when she publicly defies the harsh classification system of Aramanth, she is taken before the examiners, but escapes them running up a tower, she unwittingly makes her way though a door at the top, unsuspecting that it leads to the emperors chambers, there the emperor, Creoth, who seems to have been expecting her, endows her with a dangerous task: to find the lost voice of the Wind Singer, a machine built long ago in the history of Aramanth that could create peace and defend Aramanth from the evil of The Morah, an evil force in the world, and arch enemy of the singer people, the original Manth.
Recaptured by the Examiners Kestrel is cornered into fleeing Amaranth with her twin, Bowman. leaving their parents and baby sister behind, the children's only other companion is Mumpo, a dirty, apparently orphaned boy who has an unshakeable affection for Kestrel. Their journey takes them on many adventures during which the children form a strong bond, one that is tested to its limits when they reach their destination, the voice of the Wind singer, a small strip of metal in the shape of an “S”, however they didn't count on it being guarded by the Zars, a fanatical army of beautiful but evil creatures, loyal to Morah. Bowman is turned into one of them as is Mumpo, but they are saved from the evil influence of Morah by Kestrel, and then the entire trio is in turn saved by the beasts of the forest, who launch a desperate attack on the Zars to save the Haths and Mumpo. The Animals saved the children to pay a debt to a kindness the youngsters had shown them earlier in the book.
The children flee back to Aramanth with the voice, and the Zars hot in pursuit, upon their return to the city, slap bang in the middle of the annual High Examination chaos ensues, rushing to insert the voice into the wooden Wind Singer of Aramanth the Children evade the Examiners, then Mumpo clicks the voice into the Wind Singer and the Zars, just entering the city, were destroyed by the powerful song of the wind singer.
After this the tyrannical dictatorship of Aramanth is overthrown, and it becomes a free city once again.