Fantasy Speaks (Well) to Reality

September 14, 2009

Reading fantasy is not something I find time to do often enough.  Yet, I am delighted to allow these peeks into other worlds to shed light on my own.  CS Lewis wrote that the fairy-tale “sometimes says best what’s to be said.”  Stories of strange worlds, unfamiliar hazards, and surprising forces at work are made even more helpful and engrossing when the tales are populated by characters who are sympathetic and even familiar to us.  We read their unreal struggles and hopes and often recognize our own.

The Wingfeather Saga is one of these stories that I read with great anticipation.  I came to love the characters of the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.  In the second book of the trilogy, North! Or Be Eaten!, young Janner, Tink, and Leeli Wingfeather are coming to terms both with their newfound identities and with the responsibilities they bear.  At the same time, they are running for their lives.  The children are valuable not only to those who hope for a better future for the world of Aerwiar, but also for those who would like to keep the people of Skree under their oppressive rule.

In many ways, I knew what we were getting with the second book of a trilogy.  North! was going to be The Empire Strikes Back of the Wingfeathers.  The journey is going to get harder.  The world is going to get darker.  And yet, it is in this trial that the High King of Anniera and his Throne Warden will become who they need to be to face Gnag the Nameless.

I was not disappointed – the book is an excellent middle installment.  The world that Peterson created is as rich as his writing.  As in our own lives, the threats are not always from the outside.  Several members of the Wingfeather family must confront the enemy within as they fight their way through new evils (wow!) and dangerous beasts alongside questionable allies.  As many have written, the stars shine best at night as the darkness serves to display their glory.  So it is in North! Things get dark, and both Janner and Tink must decide if they want to go on fighting.  And yet, I read with hope.  I believe in this ragged family, and that they will see hope prevail.  But we learn that it may come at a terrible price, as the hope of victory cannot be purchased for nothing.

It was a page turning story, each chapter closing with an irresistible invitation to begin the next.  Even in the midst of heavy burdens, Peterson peppers the story with glimpses of humor and hope.  I look forward to the final installment (next year?), and to the day I can read the entire Wingfeather Saga to my little boy.  After you read it, we can talk about some of our favorite parts – I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

Read more about the Wingfeathers (including an excellent note for parents by the author) and pick up the newest novel from Andrew Peterson on Amazon or the Rabbit Room.

To add to the timeliness of this review, you can see Andrew Peterson in concert at Covenant on Tuesday night, September 15.

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2 Responses to “Fantasy Speaks (Well) to Reality”

  1. Drew Says:

    I didn’t mention so many things in this book, like the growth of Oskar the bookseller, the arc of Peet the Sockman (wow wow!), and the way that AP creates a world where art and life respond to one another. There is a lot to enjoy here.


  2. […] to Drew from Concord Baptist Church in Chattanooga for the review of North! Or Be Eaten on the church blog. Here’s a snippet: “It was a page-turning story, […]


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