February 27, 2017

Series Spotlight: The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson

I started this series back in November. I had purchased the first as an ebook quite a long time ago and never gotten around to reading it. I finally did, then luckily our library had the other three as well. The last 2 I ended up listening to over many nights in December (9 and 12 hours, respectively.) I often would fall asleep listening to them, actually, so then I would have to go back to where I last remembered--which sometimes was quite a ways back.

An epic saga retelling the timeless story of good vs. evil, with plenty of action, near misses and near saves, and a family determined to give their all for each other and for the kingdom. Peterson weaves Christian themes through the series, which made it all the better.

I would put the age range at 10+. The books are clean as far as language and sex, but they do have some battle violence and intense situations.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (Wingfeather Saga #1),

3 stars: A bit of a slow starter for me, but by the end I was ready to go on to the next in the series.

Janner Igiby is the oldest brother and despite his chafing against it, he is often held responsible for his younger brother Tink's activities and whereabouts. They live with their mother Nia, younger sister Leeli, and grandpa Podo, who used to be a pirate. Their little village of Glipwood, like all of Skree is ruled by the Fangs of Dang: Komodo-like creatures who walk upright and talk, with venomous fangs and dispositions to match. It has been this way ever since the Great War, and the defeat of the High King of Anneira across the Dark Sea of Darkness.

There is little joy to find in their daily lives, but they take it where they can and are content, for the most part. Until the day of the Glipwood Dragon Festival. Janner discovers a map tucked away in a old book, while on the job at the bookstore. It's a treasure map, leading to a place called AnkleJelly Manor. Of course he and Tink will check it out.

They'll have to be careful, though. Toothy cows abound in the woods, and the Fangs slither through town. People of all ages disappear into the terrifying Black Carriage, which comes in the middle of the night, and are never seen again.

If that weren't enough, it is said that Gnag the Nameless searches for the Jewels of Anneira, and he won't rest until he finds them.

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It took me awhile to get into this first book. There were a great many ironic asides that had me rolling my eyes instead of grinning, and the world-building seemed a bit clunky, with some creatures close enough to Earth life that I kept thinking--why bother with a new name for this one? Like "hog-pigs," for example. Or names that seemed over-the-top, like--well--The Dark Sea of Darkness. 

The family dynamics were well-written, particularly the give and take between Janner and Tink. Enough action to keep the story moving. Character development was strong. There was a lot of potential there, and I decided to keep reading to find out what happened.

(Finished reading Nov. 24, 2016)

North! Or be Eaten (Wingfeather Saga #2)

4 stars: This second book really got me invested in the series. After reading this one, I had to keep going!

The Igiby family must flee to the North countries, after learning of their true heritage. They are hoping the cold will keep them safe, as the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot stand the cold. Their journey is not a tranquil one. They are constantly pursued, must cross perilous bridges and valleys hiding terrible monsters. They must seek help from (and survive) the Stranders--a fierce group of outlaw people living in the forest of East Bend.

Then they get separated, and each group or person has to make their own way the best they can. The decisions made now will form the basis of what they have to deal with from here on out. Choose wisely, Igibys! And go swiftly!

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 I felt like Peterson settled into his story a bit more with this second book. Or perhaps, I was more used to the world he had created and so didn't get pulled out of the story nearly as much by some of the descriptions or creatures. In any case, this one was more enjoyable for me and a quicker pace.

The desperate race away from danger, only to encounter more and new dangers, made for an exciting read. Once again, the biggest strength of the book was the family relationships. Janner was a good character to choose as the main one to follow, as he probably had some of the most complexities to work out with his place in the family, and the expectations of him. Other family relationships came into play as well, that contrasted nicely with the Igibys.

I enjoyed seeing Janner begin to come into his own as a leader and protector of others. The mistakes and poor choices made by some characters were painful but seemed true to character. Once I finished this one, there was no question that I would go on to read the rest!

(Finished reading Dec. 2, 2016)

The Monster in the Hollows (Wingfeather Saga #3)

4 stars: A strong 3rd book: continued character development, and the stakes kept getting higher and higher for the last installment.

After barely escaping the North country with their lives, the Igibys/Wingfeathers are desperate to find a safe place to land. They decide to go back to Podo (and Nia's) homeland: the Green Hollows. Hollows folk are known to be mighty warriors--in fact, their land is the one place that has yet to be overrun by Gnag's minions.

It's not all going to be smooth sailing, however. Tink, who goes by his real name Kalmar now, looks like a Fang--one of the new wolf-like furry Fangs. The Hollows folk are not going to accept him easily or lightly. The family settles at the old homestead and the children actually begin school. So not only are they the new kids, one of them has a tail. It would be hard enough to fit in without that.

Janner continues to struggle with his role as Throne Warden (protector and keeper of the High King, which would be Kalmar.) It seems his desires are always getting pushed to the back, while he must sacrifice over and over again for his brother. He's not entirely certain how much human is even left in his brother. There are times when Kal's eyes go this yellow color... Meanwhile, Leeli is in 7th heaven, working with dogs all day long.

Then there are reports of Cloven coming into the village. Cloven are terrifyingly awful beasts--mixtures of several different animals, but all twisted and wrong. Even worse, one Cloven in particular is drawn to the Wingfeathers. Their safe place may not end up being so safe after all.

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I appreciated the change of pace in this book. After an entire book of running and fighting and narrow escapes, it was nice to see how the children fared with more normal challenges: starting a new school, standing up to bullies, etc. As in real life, they got a break from some things but had new and different stuff to deal with at the same time. I liked keeping up with what was going on back at the Fork Factory, too, with Sarah Cobbler and Arthum.

Then there were a couple of fantastic twists. I thought I knew who or what the "monster" was, but it was more complex than I thought. More of an essay answer rather than a multiple choice. Well done.

Note: Of the four, this is the first one I listened to. Our library had ebook copies of the first two, but then last two only on e-audio. Despite the length, I wish I had listened to them all! Read by the author, the brogue and expression brought it all to life. There were different voices for each character. All in all, it was a delightful experience. 

(Finished reading Dec. 8, 2016)

The Warden and the Wolf King (Wingfeather Saga #4)

3.5 stars: The final showdown!

The fourth and final book of the series finds each of the Wingfeather children facing their biggest challenges yet. Gnag has come to the Hollows, ready or not (um...somewhat ready? They had been preparing but were taken by surprise.) Meanwhile, Janner is lost out in the wilds, by himself, Kalmar has decided go after Gnag himself in the Deeps of Throg, and brave Leeli is playing her whistle-harp until her lips bleed to keep the Fangs at bay. Each has a part to play in the final showdown--even Grandpa Podo and even the dragons.

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This book gave us the background of Gnag the Nameless. It tested each of the children to their limits. The great and terrible Last Battle came along and ended how it ended. Then there were still Things to Do. Not all was made right. There was hope, but there was a lot of suffering and despair still as well. I liked that the battle wasn't the end, because there's always an aftermath of the battle that is sometimes more important than the battle itself.

The ending surprised and touched me; it made me think. Always good.

A couple of things brought my rating down for this last book. The biggest was that some of the plot lines and characters sort of just dropped off the map. They were integral in books 2 & 3, then we heard nothing more about them. The loose ends there bothered me.

Secondly, after all the deeper, heavier stuff that had just happened, the Epilogue seemed almost flippant in tone, which didn't set well with me. I could understand what he was going for with it, but it just fell flat. Perhaps I would have had a different take on it if I had been reading it rather than listening to it--hard to say.

Still recommend it, though. Much to discuss and some heroic characters to cheer for!

(Finished reading Dec. 21, 2016)

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Have you read this series? What did you think? Who was your favorite character?


  1. This one is on my "to read aloud as a family" list. It's become a very long list. 😊
    Do you listen to podcasts? I think you'd love The Read Aloud Revival. That's where I first learned about this book and a whole bunch of others. Try it out!

    1. I will check it out! I haven't listened to any, but I am getting a long list of good ones. :) The one sounds right up my alley!