Tag Archives: Wingfeather Saga

Shelfie 7: May 29, 2015: Arrangements

Standard

 

I never did decide which of these was a better image.  Please do make your cases.

Probably it’s time for another blanket apology for the reviews that are not being posted.  Life has gotten in the way.  Without going into details, several medical emergencies have arisen.  I still have a plethora of photos, and several reviews are begun, but I don’t know when life will next slow down to allow me an hour or two at home to finish those reviews.

Thanks for bearing with me, and I hope you’re enjoying the shelfies.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Monster in the Hollows Lumbers Before It Soars

Standard

Visit the publisher's site for links to order, summary, and reviews.

How can you tell that you’re enjoying a book?  Someone in a Barnes & Noble café turns around to ask what you’re reading because he’s heard you giggling to yourself.  And you later catch yourself gasping and talking aloud to the book.  And you spend the rest of the night disturbing co-workers as you talk to other books that are misplaced on the shelves.

Thanks, Andrew Peterson.

The Monster in the Hollows is the third in The Wingfeather Saga, an altogether slower book than its predecessors, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North! Or Be Eaten.  Along with changing his publishing house, Peterson here changes his style somewhat—I venture for the worse, pining for the quippy and informative footnotes and diagrams of the previous two books, and being somewhat lulled by the time spent in the all but Fang-free Green Hollows, where the worst of troubles seemed to be bullies and suspicion.  I read Peterson for the nail-biting, edge-of-my-seat fantasy thrill ride, and the middle of this novel delivered to me a middle-grade school story.  Further, as exciting as is Sara Cobbler’s rebellion in the dreaded Fork! Factory!, I was not as interested in her tale as I was in that of the Jewels of Anniera.  Because Janner had left behind the Fork! Factory!, I wanted to do so as well.  Though I understand Peterson’s desire to include Sara’s story, both to color the middle of the story that slowed in the Green Hollows and to multiply the heroic deeds of his female characters, I do not yet see how it connects other than to make more interesting the woman who might become wife to the Throne Warden when he’s older than thirteen.

Too, at moments, Nia’s assurances that love is stronger border upon preaching, a slippery slope upon which falls the reputation of many an otherwise enjoyable Christian novel.  I think Peterson manages to keep himself from that slide, but I hope that he edges further away from the precipice in the next book.

From all this, the end of the novel does wonders to redeem itself, returning to the page-turning cliff-hangers, bone-chilling cruelty, Fangs, and last-minute escapes (not to mention the surprising revelations) through all of which Peterson’s word-smithing and well-honed storytelling shines.  Peterson in this novel proves himself almost as ruthless a killer as George R. R. Martin (and I mean that as a compliment), taking from the Wingfeathers as quickly as he gives.  The next and final story in his saga, Peterson alerts the reader, will follow the heroic pattern: his world is gearing for war, and now we are forced to anxiously wait while Aerwiar arms itself.

Humorous diagrams of the previous books that point to the toothy cows’ pointy teeth are replaced by detailed (so much so that some of the titles of books on a shelf are legible) renderings of characters and scenes at which it is hard to turn one’s nose up in which colors subtly shift and musculature and facial features are well-defined.

I read this book alongside The Hobbit, and that slowed my journey through the Green Hollows as much as through Middle Earth.  Perhaps if I had read it alone and more quickly, the Green Hollows would not have seemed as plodding.

***

Peterson, Andrew.  The Wingfeather Saga, Book 3: The Monster in the Hollows.  Nashville: Rabbit Room, 2011.

This review is not endorsed by Rabbit Room Press or Andrew Peterson.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Book Review: The Exciting, Humorous, Journey North! Or Be Eaten

Standard

I reviewed the first book of The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson as one of my earliest blog posts.  I finally returned to read the second, North! Or Be Eaten.  By the fruit of the Hollows and the Holes in the Mountains, this man has a way with words!

The dreaded Fork! Factory! is indeed dreaded as the back cover warns and as difficult to escape as the Overseer says.  You may have noticed by now that I have a habit of avoiding a book when I know that bad things will happen to the characters whom I love.  It should be a great compliment to Peterson that it took me so long to escape even just that section of the story.  And still no sign of the nameless evil, Gnag the Nameless.

The last few chapters are absolutely gripping, danger or no, however.  I tore through them all in one sitting, loosing appropriate cries of dismay and warning.  The book actually has a note of symmetry.  The first chapters were equally gripping and action-packed, the first sixty pages or so recounting the Igibys’ Fang-dogged flight across perilous landscapes.  This flight I found to be almost too much.  Though the chapters are short, I read but a few at a time, needing to stop and catch my breath if the Igibys and Fangs could not.  I worried then though that this book’s platoon of Fangs seemed less appalling than the first’s.  Peterson remedied that.  My diminishing fear of the Fangs was quickly halted and the sickness returned by perhaps the last quarter of the book, though it was a different sickness, mingled with more pity for the monsters.

But Peterson’s dreadful scenes and certainly the brief times between the dangers are peppered with his humor, much of which relies on ridiculousness, but also pointed critique and brilliant analogy.

My favorite example, English major that I am and no great friend of the exclamation point, references the sign above the Fork! Factory!:

“Janner was as unsettled by the overuse of exclamation points as he was by the dreary countenance of the place” (176).

I also applaud this description: “Since the bumpy digtoad has no teeth, its bites are said to feel to the victim like being ‘gummed like a dumpling in an old man’s mouth’” (115).

This second book returns us to Aerwiar and the Igiby family, both of which are enriched by a second novel.  On a flight to the Ice Prairies, Aerwiar is greatly expanded, with stops along the River Blapp, in Dugtown, and across the Stony Mountains.  I noticed a Tolkien-esque reality to this fictional landscape, which quite impressed me.  Peterson’s Creaturepedia looks more in line with that of the world of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender (and yes, that’s a compliment), though almost always with more teeth.  The ancient history of Aerwiar is also highlighted in this book.  Further histories of particularly Peet and Podo come to light also through the Igibys’ second adventure.  New characters, equally realistic as familiar friends and enemies, are introduced that will be missed if they do not reappear in subsequent novels.

[SPOILER] And Mr. Peterson, if you’re reading this, I would really like to meet a trustworthy Ridgerunner.  I can’t think that they are as undeniably evil as orcs. [END SPOILER]

****

Peterson, Andrew.  The Wingfeather Saga, Book Two: North! Or Be Eaten.  Colorado Springs: WaterBrook-Crown, 2009.

This review is not endorsed by Crown Publishing Group, WaterBrook Press, or Andrew Peterson.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Book review day!

Standard

Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is the first book in his Wingfeather Saga and his first novel-length children’s book.  I know Peterson as a singer-songwriter.  He is one of my mother’s favorite Christian music artists and he’s up there on my list as well.  His lyrics tell stories and paint pictures, but this dive into literature takes all of that to another level.

Aerwiar (pronounced like “Here we are”) is a highly developed world, full of its own myth and legend, with maps and drawings and quotes from Aerwiarian books and ballads woven intertextually and added as footnotes and appendices.  While keeping some high fantasy tropes, firmly grounding the book in the genre, he fills in the world with creative monsters, like the dreaded toothy cows of Skree, that all have a firm enough grounding in our own world as to be easily imaginable even without the offered illustrations detailing the cows’ dangerous features.

His characters are likewise well-developed and pleasant to be around–or those that should be are so.

His villains, the Fangs of Dang–and these are but pawns of the Dark Lord’s evil will, a race of minions, orc-like, if you will–made me physically ill.

That deserves its own paragraph because it’s just that impressive.  If the Fangs make me ill, I can’t wait to meet Gnag the Nameless in person!

Which brings me to his wit.  Gnag the Nameless.  Think about it.  “Other scholars disagree […]  All scholars agree, however, that Ulambria is a good sounding name for a city.”  These are just brief examples.

I will not say that this book was unpredictable.  Those who know me will know that I am easily drawn into a world (which I was here, don’t get me wrong) so that I lose all knowledge but that which the characters I’m following have themselves.  This did not happen.  I loved to play along with Janner, Tink, and Leeli,  but I their mysteries were not so mysterious to me.  That being said, like Rick Riordan (who is extremely high on my current list of favorite authors), Peterson did manage to slip in one or two surprises, pieces of the puzzle that I’d put down wrongly in my mind, which he himself had to rearrange.

All in all, I like the world, I like the style, I was surprised at least a little and didn’t mind waiting for his characters to catch up to the twist that I knew was coming (the eldest Igiby is only 12, after all, to my 22).  I liked the book.  “Charming” I decided was the best word for it.  A delightful time spent with the Igibys, fighting for our lives, yes, but with a sense of wonder and delight in the interceding pages–the pages where the Fangs of Dang did not appear with their dripping fangs and scaly, cold bodies–that made gave a sense of fun to the book despite all its horrors.

One thing more:  Frequently I find myself complaining about the preachiness of Christian literature, perhaps even the deus ex machina effect of an ever-present God.  While the Christian morality is alive in Aerwiar, Peterson does not preach.  I might even feel that I knew little about the Maker of Aerwiar if I did not know Peterson’s own Christian beliefs.

****

Peterson, Andrew.  The Wingfeather Sage, Book One: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.  Colorado Springs: WaterBrook-Crown, 2008.

This review is not endorsed by Andrew Peterson, Crown Publishing Group, or WaterBrook Press.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.