Sunwing first edition cover.
|Publication date||August 12, 1999|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Pages||243 pp (first edition)|
Plot summary 
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (August 2012)|
Following the events of Silverwing, Shade, Marina, and Shade's friends in the Silverwing colony fly in the middle of the winter in hopes of finding Shade's father Cassiel. The bats find a Human building, and fly inside, thinking that Cassiel might be there. Inside, they find an artificial forest filled with many other bats. The Silverwings discover that they cannot escape and that Cassiel is not there. Panic arises when several bats disappear, including Shade's friend, Chinook, though Arcadia assures everyone that they are heading to a better place and are "chosen" to do so.
Shade discovers a way through the river that runs through the forest. Joined by Marina, who convinces Shade that he would never make it on his own, they escape through the river. They find another artificial forest, this one filled with owls. The owls awaken and attempt to kill both bats, who find temporary refuge in a tree hollow. The owls try to flush them out, but are stopped when a soporific vapor spreads through the forest. Several owls are captured by the humans, while Shade and Marina manage to escape to yet another identical forest through the river. A Boreal owl, Orestes, son of the Owl King, also follows them.
Shade and Marina talk to Orestes and try to convince him to believe in what is happening. Afterwards, Goth (who has been recaptured by military scientists) attacks Shade. Goth almost kills Orestes, but Shade uses an image generated by echoes to give the owl enough time to escape. Goth chases the two through the forest, but is thwarted by humans, who capture him and Orestes.
Shade and Marina sneak into the core of the building. They eventually reach a room of bats that are being used for an unknown purpose. When Shade gets closer to investigate, he is captured.
Shade is put into one of a series of metal troughs. There, the humans shave a patch of fur from his skin. A metal disc attached to a string is stitched into his belly, and a metal stud is placed into his ear. Shade is then put into a container, where he finds Chinook and other bats.
Shade questions Chinook about the purpose of the studs and discs, but he is unable to respond. The container is placed on an airplane flying south.
Part II 
Marina is clinging to the plane, but is soon thrown off by the turbulence. Concerned for her friend's safety, she flies to the entrance to bring Freida, Ariel, and the rest of the bats out of the building for their own safety and helping Shade. Before going in, she jams a stick into the entrance to prevent it from closing.
As she explains, Arcadia tells the bats not to believe her. As a result, only Freida, Ariel, and two other Silverwings escape through the door. They then encounter a Graywing colony, led by one Achilles Graywing. The Silverwings inform them not to enter the building and are told that the owls have located and laid siege to Hibernaculum, killing several bats as what the owls believe as punishment for Goth and Throbb's action in the previous book. Devastated at this news, they decide to follow the Graywings to Bridge City, which is possibly the only safe haven left for bats. Marina decides to there recruit some bats to help her go south and rescue Shade.
In the plane, Shade and Chinook unlock the door, only to find another one. As Shade opens it, he finds it leads into another cage, which contains Goth. With the help of the other bats, Shade and Chinook manage to close the door. As a result of their activity, they are released into the air. Shade finds out that they are on the outskirts of a city beside a massive jungle. He sees with terror that this is Goth's homeland. The metal tracker in each bat's ear induces them to fly into a certain building. Shade, for his part, reels back in horror as the bats who meet the building trigger the disks, which explode on impact, leading them to a terrible death.
Shade manages to stop Chinook from crashing. Chinook realizes his parents, Plato and Isis, were caught in the explosions. Shade manages to remove Chinook's disk; however, when Chinook tries to remove Shade's disc, they both fall into a river, where a pike rips off Shade's disc and eats it. Consequently, an explosion occurs underwater, sending up a large waterspout. The two drenched bats make it to shore, where Chinook saves Shade's life by killing an attacking mantis the size of Shade himself. They then meet a bat by the name of Caliban, who shows them a place where survivors of the bombing are hiding from the bloodthirsty Vampyrum spectrum, a cannibal race now ruled by Goth upon his father's death. Shade begins to learn more about the Vampyrum Spectrum from a weakened bat named Ishmael.
Part III 
Goth, reaching his home in an ancient Mayan pyramid, is anointed king and told of a prophecy by his priest. According to the prophecy, if a hundred hearts are offered to their god Camazotz, the coming solar eclipse will last forever, allowing Zotz to rule both the Upperworld and Underworld. This privilege has been withheld, says the priest, by Nocturna, Zotz's twin sister, who is worshipped by the Northern bats. If Goth makes the sacrifices, Zotz may overcome Nocturna forever.
Meanwhile, the Silverwings make their way to Bridge City. There, a council of war is held about the rumored threats to the bats. There is some relief when the northern rat King Romulus (who became the ruler after his brother Remus fled the kingdom, convinced that a plot to poison him was afoot) comes and pledges his help to them.
Shade hastens to rescue his father, who they discover is now a captive of Goth's clan. On the way, both Chinook and the owl prince Orestes are captured by a small group of Vampyrum spectrum.
Later, Shade is alerted by the oracle Zephyr of the dark prophecy. Though reluctant, Shade plays into fate's hands through his attempts to complete his quest. Meanwhile, Marina and the survivors of the Silverwing colony are led to the Southern rats, led by Cortez via waterways. After some negotiation, the rat General Cortez agrees to help the Silverwings, because his own son is a captive of the Vampyrum spectrum.
At Statue Haven, Shade is contemplating the loss of Chinook and Orestes when he notices something burrowing into Statue Haven. To his joy, he finds himself reunited with his mother and Marina.
Shade, Marina, Shade's mother Ariel, and a group of Rats led by General Cortez enter the pyramid to free the rat prisoners. Shade manages to convince Cortez to free the owls. In the midst of the confusion, the tunnel collapses, and the Spectral Bats attack. Cortez and his rats retreat; later, Cortez decides to return at the insistence of Marina. A battle ensues between Vampyrum spectrum and their intended victims, with help from the freed prisoners. During the battle, Goth chases Shade, intending to kill him, but Shade is able to protect himself with sound. Subsequently, Shade discovers his father, Cassiel.
At this point, the high priest Voxzaco realizes that there is no way by which to sacrifice 100 hearts before the brief eclipse ends, except by use of the explosive disc Goth had brought with him. He therefore attempts to drop it on the pyramid.
Inside the pyramid, the battle is still raging; Ishmael is shown sacrificing himself to save his trapped brother. The battle appears to be shifting in the northerners' favor when Shade notices the disc falling towards the pyramid. Realizing that it would be catastrophic if it dropped while the eclipse was still active, he uses sound waves to keep in place. He manages to keep it aloft long enough for most of the northern bats to escape; exhausted, he lets it drop, destroying the pyramid and killing all inside.
Victorious, the northern group returns to Bridge City, where a war platoon of owls led by Orestes' father, King Boreal, are approaching. Meeting for a truce, Shade and the elders attempt to negotiate. With Orestes' help, Boreal relents and gives the bats the right to fly in the daylight. Afterward, Frieda, the eldest of the Silverwings, dies peacefully.
Later, in the northern forests, a new Tree Haven is being built for the Silverwings. Shade's mother Ariel is selected as a new elder. Chinook is adopted, at Shade's suggestion, by Ariel and Cassiel. Cassiel and Shade are helping to make the new echo chamber, wherein the history of bat-kind will be kept in the form of pictures formed by sounds in the bats' minds, when Cassiel remarks that Shade wanted to be made an elder, despite being barely a year old. Shade replies that Cassiel did as well, and says that hotheads like themselves do not make good leaders.
Shade then leaves to find Marina. She races him to a stream, eventually winning herself and curling up before Shade can find her. She states that Chinook had offered to make her his mate, but reveals (to Shade's astonishment) that she has refused, and intends to be Shade's mate instead. Ariel arrives soon afterward, already knowing Marina's intentions. Shade and Marina then fly to see the sunrise, concluding the book.
- Sunwing was first released in Canada in August 1999. It was followed with its release in the United Kingdom and the United States in January 2000 and February 2000 respectively. Below is the release details for the first edition hardback and paperback copies in these three publication regions.
Publication history 
- 1999, CAN, HarperCollins ISBN 978-0-00-648166-9, Pub date August 12, 1999, Trade paperback
- 2000, UK, Hodder Children's Books ISBN 978-0-340-75300-2, Pub date January 20, 2000, Paperback
- 2000, US, Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-0-689-82674-0, Pub date February 1, 2000, Hardback