Book Review: North! or Be Eaten

(Originally posted on September 16, 2009 here:

http://tinyurl.com/3dhmlnp )

September 16, 2009 — wickle

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for free in order to participate in the North! or Be Eaten blog tour. However, I was not given On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, which I reviewed here.

North! or Be Eaten is the second of the Wingfeather Saga. If you want the quick summary of this review: I love it! I love this book, and I am eagerly looking forward to the third book.

North or be Eaten

North! or Be Eaten picks up where the first book left off. I don’t suggest reading it before On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. But since you don’t want to miss that book, either, it’s no big imposition.

N!obE loses nothing from the original. The story retains the charm, the family dynamics, the adventure, the silliness, and the genuine heart of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. The heroes aren’t perfect, though they’re trying to be the best they can. Their failures, though, are a big part of what makes the story worthwhile.

Andrew Peterson is better known as a Christian songwriter and singer — possibly my favorite living singer. He is also, however, an established lover of fantasy writing and young adults’ literature in general. The Wingfeather Saga, though, deserves a place among the great stories of YA fantasy.

It is very well worth the read, for young readers or adults.

From here, I have to warn you, I get into spoilers:

At the end of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the Igiby family (children Leeli, Janner, and Tink; their mother Nia, her father Podo Henner, and their uncle Artham) has decided to make its way to the Ice Prairies, along with bookseller Oskar N. Reteep. There, they hope, the reptilian Fangs of Dang (the army which invaded and conquered the land of Skree years ago) are weaker. In N!obE, they are making their way north. Chased by Fangs and trolls through the Glipwood Forest, they have confrontations with the enemies as well as the wild creatures — the fearsome toothy cow making more appearances, and the nauseating gargan rockroach figuring prominently.

Podo has always been called a former pirate, but in this book we learn more about his past. None of it savory. He was a part of a villainous band known as the Stranders, and still worse — he was a hunter of sea dragons. That bit of his history nearly costs the Igiby family their lives.

Janner, who has learned his duty as the Throne Warden of Anniera, is responsible for protecting his younger brother. He has to come to terms with the fact that, really, he fails. Profoundly. Often.

Tink, the rightful High King of Anniera, has to come to terms with his duty. He doesn’t want it, and tried to shirk it. This leads to amazingly dramatic scenes between Janner and Tink. Wonderfully done.

Artham, once the Throne Warden, is explored in greater depth. In this book we learn what happened to him after the fall of Anniera and why he became the town fool, Peet the Sock-Man. We also learn what happened to his hands.

Peterson has lost none of his knack to pull emotionally at the reader. From sweet and gentle moments of grandfatherly affection as Podo cares for Leeli, to heartbreaking moments of sacrifice, he’s got complete control of the reader’s heartstrings from start to finish.

I know this review is getting long, so I’ll draw it to a close …

Andrew Peterson has given us another gift in North! or Be Eaten. The book is every bit as fun, exciting, dramatic, and tear-jerking as you could want in a book. Moments of levity and silliness are mixed in with real, passionate drama. You owe it to yourself, if you are even slightly a fan of the genre, to read the Wingfeather Saga.

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