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On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga) Paperback – March 18, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Playwright Peterson (Behold the Lamb of God) spins a whimsical fantasy novel that will appeal to both adult and YA readers. When the three Igiby siblings find a mysterious map, they embark on an adventure to discover family secrets about the father they never knew and a hidden treasure that many have long desired to find. Leeli, the youngest, can sing with a beauty that captivates dragons; Tink, the middle sibling, has the makings of a king; and Janner, the eldest, possesses a bravery that will protect them all. But the children's curiosity get the entire Igiby family into trouble with the Fangs of Dang—frightening, scaly-skinned, lizard creatures that drip venom—who have ruled the land of Scree since the Great War. Soon, the Igibys are scrambling for their lives. Peterson's style is lighthearted and funny, but following the Igibys' story requires patience and attention to detail and character so as not to get lost. The sheer amount of names, places, creatures and history Peterson invents will frustrate some readers—it is so complicated that he inserts explanatory historical footnotes throughout (though many are amusing). (Mar.)
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“So good–smart, funny, as full of ideas as action.”
–Jonathan Rogers, author of The Wilderking Trilogy
“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom–and features excellent instructions on how to cope with Thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional Toothy Cow.”
–Allan Heinberg, writer/co-executive producer of ABC’s Grey's Anatomy, and co-creator of Marvel Comics Young Avengers
“Fun to read! Every page has word-play, a pun, or clever dialogue that makes me giggle, and the story is full of insight into life. The characters have great names and come to life and stimulate the imagination. Andrew is such a gifted storyteller; this book will be a treasure to both children and adults.”
–James Bryan Smith, author of Room of Marvels; Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, and Embracing the Love of God; co-author of Devotional Classics with Richard J. Foster
“What a great story! I laughed, gasped, and learned more about Skreean culture than I ever thought possible. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is equal parts adventure and whimsy–a real page turner that both accelerates the heart and warms it. I loved it.”
–Carolyn Arends, singer/songwriter and author of Wrestling with Angels
“Sometimes, in order to find out who we were supposed to be, we need to get lost in other worlds: Oz, Camelot, Narnia. In On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Andrew Peterson provides new and needed places like Aerwiar, Skree, and Glipwood–places where we need to get lost and found.”
–Michael Card, author of The Hidden Face of God and The Parable of Joy, and singer/songwriter of more than thirty albums
“Totally fun! Andrew Peterson, a natural storyteller in the oral tradition, has nailed the voice needed to translate a rip-roaring fantasy tale to the written page.”
–Donita K. Paul, author of DragonSpell, DragonKnight, DragonQuest, and DragonFire
Top customer reviews
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Getting into the early pages is more than a bit disorienting. Like Middle Earth, we have humans and other creatures cohabiting in a war torn land. Unlike Middle Earth, the names are goofy and seem like a long series of smart jokes. It was enormously helpful for me to know that Mr. Peterson intended this to be the "vastness of Lord of the Rings" with the "whimsey of the Princess Bride". I tend to prefer more serious character sketches but once I allowed myself to get into the style, I found that it actually works really well.
"Oh, yes, the people of Skree were quite free, as long as they were in their homes by midnight. And as long as they bore no weapons, and they didn’t complain when their fellow Skreeans were occasionally taken away across the sea, never to be seen again. But other than the cruel Fangs and the constant threat of death and torture, there wasn’t much to fear in Skree."
It is clear from the introduction that we have an oppressed people who are living a shadow of real life. We know right away that this is a story about good versus evil and that the characters we are about to fall in love with are suffering.
The first portion of the book uses humor and quirkiness to reveal this tension. Like any good epic, this home setting is peppered with questions about identity, purpose and intention. The characters are sketched with the promise that they will be filled in as we go - but that they themselves still have much to learn about their history and how that will reveal their future. It is a very good setup and the layers are pulled back slowly.
The quirkiness dissipates when the hero struggle begins to emerge. We still have weird names and strange creatures with goofy tendencies, but those become servants of the text instead of the focus once the children are in jail.
What I found particularly rewarding about this text is that is does not hold back on the need for people to behave in heroic ways even when it may cost them everything. There aren't many cheap saves or easy outs. This is a dark and dangerous culture war and it requires character, love, faith and hope to survive.
The family context is gorgeous. It is so authentic. All of the normal family battles are present but they are met with love and loyalty and faith. Faith in each other and in The Maker and His providence.
An excellent first book in a series that I can't wait to unpack.
I would rate the intensity of this book as being on par with the early Harry Potter books or The Hobbit. More intense and mildly violent than Narnia or The Green Ember but just as moral, wholesome and heroic. In fact, there are a number of things in the text which remind me of the HP books. There is no witchcraft or wizardry but there are mythical creatures who are otherworldly and there are some questions about one character who was human and is now somehow altered. Classic fantasy type of stuff.
Like The Green Ember, a new book with an old soul.
Each night, they would beg for just ONE more chapter. This book revolutionized our nightly read-aloud time! I used to have a youngster who would rather go to sleep at night than have a story read to him. NOT ANYMORE. Now my older children (ages 10 and 7) cannot wait for story time. This book, by far, is their FAVORITE BOOK. EVER WRITTEN. That said--the book is not for the faint of heart. I have a sensitive 7 year old and I was afraid this book would be too "scary" for him. I let him decide. The epic tale of good vs. evil and the adventure of it all won him over. Peterson has a way of doing that.
As far as what age this book is appropriate for? I would say it depends on the child, but for a rule of thumb I would hold off until the child has a firm grasp on real vs. make-believe. I have not read this to my kindergartner b/c he would be half expecting an army of fangs to invade our neighborhood. I suggest buying the book (oh, do I ever!!!) and letting your sensitive children decide for themselves as you tackle a chapter or two. You WILL end up reading it eventually. You MUST! So grab a copy and read it yourself, and tuck it on the shelf until you think the little ones are ready.
In our house, we share all kinds of "inside jokes" related to Peterson's books. It's become a treasure that we all carry a piece of in our hearts. A family language, of sorts. Despite the fact that our local library carries the series ~ we've purchased each book as we go along. They are part of our family now, and I look forward to the day my children pass these titles down to their own families! A sweet heritage. Thank you to the author, Andrew Peterson, for putting such beauty into the world that we can all belly-up to.