The Winter Knights is the eighth book (second chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the second in the Quint trilogy. It was published in 2005.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“High above the Edge, on an immense floating rock anchored by a giant chain, the city of Sanctaphrax is home to the Edgeworld’s academics. At its heart is the famed Knights Academy, where the brightest and the best come to stay.
One of these students is Quint, the son of a sky pirate, struggling to survive a first year of rivalries and plots in a city that is slowly becoming gripped by the intense cold of a never-ending winter. Chilled to its core, the buoyant rock upon which Sanctaphrax is built begins to strain against its tether—to try and break free.
As snowstorms and ice blizzards howl through the turrets and towers of the great floating city, ancient feuds and long-standing hatreds threaten to tear Sanctaphrax apart. What can one young squire of the Knights Academy do to avert disaster? On his own, nothing. But with the help of a band of loyal friends…”
“At the top, Quint leaned over the balustrade and took deep gulps of air. It was a crisp, clear morning, with broad billowing clouds sweeping majestically across the sky, and a golden light falling across the towers of Sanctaphrax.
To his left and right, lining the broad span of the mighty viaduct, were the minarets and turrets of the two hundred minor schools. At one end was the stately Great Hall, its dome and belfry gleaming in the morning light; at the other end, towering above every other building in Sanctaphrax, was the magnificent Loftus observatory, with the unmistakable outline of the twin Mistsifting Towers just beyond.
Quint looked across at them. The huge globes, like two vast balls of twine, rotated and shimmered in the morning breeze and, as they did so, they produced a soft, haunting music of exquisitely subtle harmonies.”
“How interesting,” Vilnix sneered. “And what’s this Pulpit Society of yours called?”
“Called?” said Raffix, his face reddening.
Vilnix chuckled. “You mean to say you’ve dragged an academic-at-arms and a grubby little forge-hand up from the Lower Halls to form a Pulpit Society, and you haven’t even thought up a name?”
“It’s…” Raffix began.
“Perhaps I can help,” Vilnix interrupted. “The Apprentice Windbags! Or the Ranting Ratbirds…Or no, I’ve got it—the Boring Barkslugs!” He sniggered at his own joke.
Raffix bridled, colour flushing his cheeks. “If you must know,” he said stiffly, struggling to come up with a plausible name that would wipe the smile off the squire’s smug features, “we are called…the Winter Knights.”
Warnings: Violence, some disturbing/creepy death scenes
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
What really tends to connect the reader to a book is if the characters in it are ones you have met before. The Winter Knights is chock-full of those sorts of characters; not just Quint and Maris, who we met in the first Quint book, The Curse of the Gloamglozer, but characters we’ve met in the Twig and Rook trilogies as well. It both delights and saddens, since the reader knows the fate of every one of the characters that is introduced. Even though we met Stope Boltjaw all the way back in Beyond the Deepwoods, it is here that we are, in a sense, first introduced to him, before he obtained his boltjaw. There are a few other characters that we know already as well, including what will become the the main villain of Stormchaser. These characters really connect all The Edge Chronicles books together.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I love the worldbuilding and how every book has a new place, either in an old setting or a brand-new one. This book, it’s the Knights Academy.
What I Didn’t Like:
One of the antagonists in this book is just so antagonistic that he’s more eye-rolling than menacing (although, he is only a teenager in this book—he becomes a bit more creepy and scary in the other book he appears in, which takes place years later. Which creates an interesting thought as to whether Stewart made him like this on purpose, to highlight his maturation, shrewdness, and overall villainy as he becomes older. Character growth in a villain!).
As mentioned in the Warnings, there are a few disturbing and gruesome deaths, complete with illustrations. Riddell is not squeamish in the least.
This is one of the books where disaster after disaster strikes, until you wonder if the heroes will ever catch a break/succeed. This is one of the more bittersweet victories in the series, which is, actually, quite refreshing and out of the norm, so perhaps this might be something that I Liked, as well.
What I enjoyed reading most in The Winter Knights was the slew of characters that I knew from the previous books. While bloody and violent in places, the characters made the book familiar and easily accessible to the imagination and the memory of the reader.
Coming Up Next: Clash of the Sky Galleons