Series Week II: Wrap-Up of The Edge Chronicles

Series Rating: 4/5

Thus ends the second Series Week!

I think the thing I like the most about The Edge Chronicles is the continuity of the books, how characters and places are introduced and then brought back again in later books, giving everything a familiarity that brings a deeper connection and response to the books as a whole. This is truly a series and not simply ten books set in the same world. It’s funny that the Twig series, which serve as the first three, are lacking in the continuity of characters that the rest of the books have, and so essentially the Twig series can be seen as the most alien. However, what the Twig series has is a lot of fantastic world-building, which is another thing I like about The Edge Chronicles. The world it is based in is so imaginative and, in a way, magical. It is some of the best worldbuilding I’ve seen in a middlegrade/young adult fantasy series. And all that worldbuilding comes to a fantastic end with that last picture in The Immortals that I mentioned in my review of that book. Speaking of pictures…Riddell’s illustrations are amazing (if at times disgusting and/or creepy). They really add a lot of depth to the world and the characters as a whole because it allows the reader to see what people and creatures look like, bringing them deeper into the book.

The only weakness the series really has is the dialogue. The dialogue can get very over-the-top in all of the books. Also, the villains in the series could have been fleshed out a little more. It can be a little hard to read the books because of this.

Time for favorites! This is how I rank the trilogies (so, leaving out The Immortals) overall, from most to least favorite:

1.) Rook

2.) Quint

3.) Twig

Sorry, Twig. Your trilogy suffers for being the very first one, before Stewart really hits his stride with Rook’s and Quint’s.

This is how I rank the books, from most to least favorite:

1.) Freeglader

2.) Clash of the Sky Galleons

3.) The Last of the Sky Pirates

4.) Vox

5.) The Curse of the Gloamglozer

6.) Midnight Over Sanctaphrax

7.) The Winter Knights

8.) Stormchaser

9.) Beyond the Deepwoods

10.) The Immortals

Whew, that was tough! The first three were easy, as was the last, but in-between it was hard to rank them. 6, 7, and 8 are pretty much tied, as are 4 and 5. The reason I ranked Beyond the Deepwoods so low is because it is quite different from the rest of the series as it is the first book, and it is a bit mediocre in comparison. However, in my opinion, it still beats out The Immortals.

I hope all of you enjoyed my reviews of The Edge Chronicles; it really is a great fantasy series that I would recommend reading. I’ll be back next week on Tuesday with The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. Also, I already have plans for the next Series Week and I’ll tell you what the series is going to be: The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, one of my all-time favorite book series.

See you next week!

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Series Week II: The Immortals

Note: The wrap-up for Series Week will be on Tuesday because Monday is my busiest day and I won’t have the time.

The Immortals is the tenth (tenth chronologically) and last book in The Edge Chronicles. It was published in 2009.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Nate Quarter is a lowly lamplighter in the phraxmines of the Eastern Woods, until treachery forces him to flee for his life—to the mighty city of Great Glade.

But these are turbulent times. In far-off Hive—the spectacular city founded by the goblin tribes—the clan leaders are preparing for war. And out beyond the dread Nightwoods, in the fabled gardens of Riverrise, a one-eyed waif jealously guards the life-giving waters of the mystical Riverrise spring…

Swept up in the maelstrom that follows, Nate and a small band of intrepid friends must set off on an epic journey that will lead them into terrible peril.

And all the while, from over the Edge cliff itself, a storm unlike any ever seen before is building—a storm that is to roll across the land, bringing both echoes of the past and the promise of a new beginning…”

~Inside Flap

Cover Art (Shiny)

Passages/Quotes:

“I’m Ambris Hentadile, otherwise known as the Professor. And you are?”

“Nate,” said the youth, his gaze still on the tiny portrait round the commander’s neck. “Nate Quarter.”

Quarter?” said the Professor with a delighted smile. He pushed his spectacles up onto the bridge of his nose. “By Earth and Sky, that’s a coincidence.”

“Coincidence?” said Nate.

“Barkwater—Bar-kwater,” said the Professor, pronouncing the second half of the name carefully. “Over the centuries, the Barkwater name became shortened to Quarter. It’s a common enough occurrence with the old Free Glades names. ‘Pentephraxis’ to ‘Rackis’; ‘Pompulnius’ to ‘Pulnix’—and so on. Who knows, you might even be distantly related to the great Rook Barkwater himself, Nate Quarter!”

~Stewart 182

“They continued down the path, which wound through a grove of copperwoods, until they reached a tall ironwood pine. Squall stopped. Nate looked up, but saw nothing at first. As he squinted more closely into the dense foliage, though, he caught sight of a vessel moored to a lower branch—a medium-sized phraxlighter with an underslung phraxchamber and twin side funnels. Above it, on a timber platform lashed to the tree trunk, was a workshop, complete with hanging furnace, bellows, forge bench, tool racks and phraxlanterns.”

~Stewart 251

Warnings: Violence/war

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 2/5

What I Liked:

The first thing I thought of when I started reading: Hey, it’s steampunk! This reads very much like a steampunk Edge Chronicles; it takes place 500 years after the Rook trilogy and technology has advanced a lot. Of course, it’s not technically steampunk, but it had a steampunk-feel to it. I guess you could call it…phraxpunk?

Phraxpunk!

I loved all the references to the past and to the three trilogies—characters, events, places, etc. I also liked the fact that this could be a stand-alone book; you don’t have to read the first nine to read this one. Stewart explains it all very well without getting too expository.

The ending of the book was, I think, the best part. The final battle was, if a bit anticlimactic, at least very cool to read, and the final illustration made my mouth drop open (in a good way). It leaves the possibility of (even more) sequels open.

What I Didn’t Like:

This book is loooonnnnng. It’s easily three times longer than any other Edge book. It’s about four books in one. And, unfortunately, it really drags in a few places. Time also passes pretty quickly in some parts, which might jolt you a little bit if you’re reading one chapter and then the next takes place six months later.

The title of the book is pretty significant to the plot, but I don’t quite see what the point was. The Immortals show up in two scenes and it’s all very mystical and all I can think is, “What’s the point?” The Immortals seemed to be thrown in there for two reasons: 1.) I can’t say because it’s a spoiler and 2.) to be a deus ex machina. Sure, it tied together all the trilogies, but all I could think was that Stewart could have done it better.

The Immortals finishes by leaving the Edge a peaceful place at last, but this was also done with Freeglader, and so Freeglader can easily stand as the close of the series. And in my opinion, Freeglader is better.

Overall Review:

The Immortals ties together all three trilogies and serves as a decent ending to the Edge Chronicles, although its length and some of the plot points really drag the story along. The final illustration, however, is very worthy of a last book, and, in my opinion, was the best part of the whole thing.

Coming Up Next: The Series Week wrap-up on Tuesday!

Series Week II: Clash of the Sky Galleons

Clash of the Sky Galleons is the ninth book (third chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the third and last in the Quint trilogy. It was published in 2006.

Genre: Fantasy

Summary/Blurb:

“Quint is traveling with his father, Wind Jackal, on a mission to track down and bring to justice Turbot Smeal, the man who started the fire that killed their family. Having left behind his studies at the Knights Academy, Quint is now eager to learn what it really means to be a sky pirate and to learn from his father. But Wind Jackal is consumed by his desire to capture Smeal, and his judgment is flawed. His actions endanger the lives of his crew and his son. As they travel from the taverns and backstreets of Undertown and the wonders of the shipbuilders’ yards to the dark dangers of the Deepwoods, Quint and Maris become separated from the rest of the crew. Finally, at the mysterious, ghostly sky-wreck in Open Sky, they discover the truth about Smeal.”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (Quint, how fierce you look!)

Passages/Quotes:

“Turning on his heels, Thaw Daggerslash headed from the stairs that led up to the balconies, passing through the huddled clusters of sky pirates as he went. Mingling together in the Tarry Vine tavern, there seemed to be members of every tribe and clan in the Edgelands—mobgnomes, cloddertrogs, brogtrolls, slaughterers, waifs and goblins of every type, from lop-ears and hammerheads, to long-haired and tusked.

In stark contrast, Thaw Daggerslash himself was a fourthling—and proud of it.

Unlike the tribes and clans of the Deepwoods, who identified closely with their own kind and shared fierce loyalties and cherished customs, fouthlings could not clearly be categorized. They weren’t goblins or trogs, waifs or trolls, but often had shared ancestors who were all of these and more. Kobold the Wise, leader of the Thousand Tribes centuries before the floating city of Sanctaphrax was even dreamed of, had named these outsiders fourthlings—for the blood of the tribes from all four corners of the Edgelands mingled in their veins.”

~Stewart 33-34

“Far up at the top of the tower was the Galerider—and it looked magnificent. The varnished wood and the polished metal gleamed like new. The spider-silk sails that Spillins and Ratbit had delivered were in place and almost glowing in the lowering sun—with a corner of the extra sailcloth sticking out from the top of the reappointed caternest glowing brightest of all. Steg and Tem’s ropes and rigging, fresh from the chandlery sheds, had been secured to the mast, hull and deck-cleats, and now whispered softly as the gentle breeze blew through them.

The biggest difference, however, was the body of the sky ship. Not only had the gaping hole disappeared, but all trace of the cloud-limpet and sky-fungus damage—made so much worse by the terrible storms they’d faced at the cliff edge—had been totally removed. Master carpenters and expert polishers had done their work well and now, freshly plugged, trimmed and varnished, the hull of the magnificent sky ship gleamed in the afternoon sun.”

~Stewart 145-146

Warnings: Violence

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 5/5

Quint, how regal you look!

What I Liked:

Clash of the Sky Galleons is a very satisfactory ending to the Quint trilogy. It is, I think, the best book in the trilogy (although The Curse of the Gloamglozer is very good as well).

Once again, there are characters that we are familiar with—such as Tem, who shows up again in both the Twig and Rook trilogies, and Tuntum, who is in Beyond the Deepwoods and Midnight over Sanctaphrax—who really just add to the story. I’ve already waxed on about what I think of this circularity of characters, so I’ll leave it at that.

I love the way that the final Big Battle ends, for no apparent reason. It’s anticlimactic, but in a good way. It also just shows how conniving and treacherous the people of Undertown are.

I also really enjoyed the villain. I really don’t want to say too much because of spoilers, but I think the villain of this book is perhaps the best villain just because Stewart dealt with him in an original (for The Edge Chronicles) way.

Quint, how cute you look! (by monkeycrazyness on Deviantart)

What I Didn’t Like:

Nitpicky: The version of the cover art that was on the book that I read completely spoils who the villain is if anyone pays the slightest amount of attention to detail (which is why, if you noticed, I didn’t post that version of the cover). Also, a type of creature is mentioned here by name that doesn’t get named until The Last of the Sky Pirates, which takes place decades later—which means that either Rook is an incredible guesser/namer, or Stewart goofed up.

The sky pirates during the Big Battle at the end really didn’t act the way they’d been set up to act in other books. What they did just seemed very against their character as a whole.

Overall Review:

Clash of the Sky Galleons finishes the Quint trilogy on a strong note. The villain is one of the best done by Stewart in the series and the characters as a whole are still great (if a bit over-the-top in their dialogue at times). There a few nitpicky things here and there, but overall, a great ending.

Coming Up Next: The Immortals

Series Week II: The Winter Knights

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

Summary/Blurb:

“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…”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (Quint’s looking nice and serious…)

Passages/Quotes:

“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.”

~Stewart 12-13

“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.”

~Stewart 300

Warnings: Violence, some disturbing/creepy death scenes

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 4/5

Cover Art 2 (Quint’s still looking serious…)

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.

Overall Review:

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

Series Week II: Freeglader

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, then happy Thursday!

Freeglader is the seventh book (ninth chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the third and last in the Rook trilogy. It was published in 2004.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Undertown is destroyed! Disheveled and homeless, those who once lived there—gnokgoblins, cloddertrogs, woodtrolls, waifs and many others—huddle by the ruins, preparing for a mass exodus across the Edgeworld to a new home in the Free Glades.

Rook Barkwater, a young librarian knight, knows the journey will be perilous—across the desolation of the Mire, through the swirling mists of the Edgelands and on into the treacherous Deepwoods. Vengeful shrykes are flocking to swoop on the travelers and predators are everywhere—wild muglumps, lumpskulls, spiderbats and flesh-eating plants.

For those who survive and attempt to forge new lives in the Free Glades, there are further dangers to come. For the Goblin Nations, hordes of bloodthirsty goblins, are gathering. Can Rook and his friends possibly withstand the goblin onslaught and preserve freedom in the Edgeworld?”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (scary goblin is scary)

Passages/Quotes:

“It was getting dark—and not only because night was approaching, Rook realized with a jolt. The vast billowing form of the dark maelstrom was on the far horizon to the east, and looming ever closer.

The Undertowners must have noticed it too, for as Rook gazed back, too exhausted to move, he saw them climbing over the balustrades and clambering down the ironwood-pine struts of the Mire Road onto the mud below. All around, the bustle of feverish activity became more desperate, and the air grew thick with urgent cries and screeched demands. He scanned the balustrades for any sign of his friends, the banderbears, but it was impossible to pick them out in the milling throng.”

~Stewart 24

“As he entered the cavernous, vaulted chamber of the new Great Library, Rook’s heart missed a beat. It was even more impressive from within than without. Tall tree-pillars stood in lines, hundreds in total and each one with a little plaque at its base. Rook looked up into the shadowy roof space, where the tree-pillars divided and sub-divided into branchlike sections, each one housing a different category. This was where the scrolls were stored, high up in the well-ventilated, pest-free upper reaches.

The whole place was a hive of activity. At ground level, and up on raised platforms around the walls, research was already in progress, with bent-backed academics poring over treatises and scrolls and laboring over work of their own. In the central areas, the activity was more frenetic, with innumerable librarians scaling the tree-pillars, winching themselves along the branches in their hanging-baskets and loading up the clusters of leather tubes where the individual barkscrolls were stored.”

~Stewart 253

Warnings: Violence/war

Recommended Age Range: 12+ (with a few violent scenes that may be more suited for 14+)

Rating: 4/5

Cover Art 2 (hello, Rook and Rook’s prowlgrin Chinquix)

What I Liked:

Freeglader is a great finish to the Rook trilogy. There are battles, trials, rebels—everything you need to make lots of action and thrills.

Xanth is really fleshed out in this book. He is, I believe, the most nuanced, most well-developed character in the series. Rook, too, has some shiny moments of character development in this book as well.

The battles in this book were very well-done. A bit violent, but the way they ended was satisfying. The end of the last battle, in particular, was, I thought, appropriate (as well as a bit…scary). Also, there was a realistic ratio of deaths (some authors hate killing off the characters on the good side).

I loved the continuity of this book and how it relates to the previous two trilogies (and not just with recurring characters).

Goodbye, Rook trilogy. I will miss you.

What I Didn’t Like:

There’s one point in the book involving a trial where one character comes bursting in at the last minute to save the person on trial. It’s very Deus ex machina, especially considering the events surrounding that character.

There are a few cheesy/corny/hard-to-read-without-wincing lines in the book (specifically, the entire battle with the shrykes where the roost mother says nothing but variations of “KAR” and “KI” for about three pages, mostly in caps).

Overall Review:

Freeglader ends the Rook trilogy fantastically, with plenty of action (and down-time in between), suspense, and even character development. It is, in my opinion, perhaps the best book in the series, capping off the best trilogy in the series.

Coming Up Next: The Winter Knights

Series Week II: Vox

Vox is the sixth book (eighth chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the second book in the Rook trilogy. It was published in 2003.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“‘I can see you all,’ Vox murmured gleefully. ‘There is nowhere to hide…’

Dark, swirling clouds loom over the Edge. High in the crumbling Palace of the Statues, little more than a prisoner of the all-powerful guardians of the Night, Vox Verlix watches them. And plots.”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (why, hello there, shryke. You look quite fierce.)

Passages/Quotes:

“Wind Jackal. So that was the name of this prosperous adventurer who had built himself such a fine palace in what was once one of old Undertown’s more fashionable districts. Whatever had become of him? Rook wondered.

He returned to the wall, searching for further clues. There were similar plaque-like scrolls painted beneath each of the figures. The wife and mother was Hirmina. The youths, Lucius, Centix, Murix, Pellius, Martilius, and, smallest of all, Quintinius. Beneath them all, like a ribbon flapping in the breeze, a painted scroll revealed that this was the FAMILY ORLIS VERGINIX.

It must have been so nice to be part of such a family, Rook thought, to have brothers to play with; to grow up in the busy bustle of old Undertown, free from the tyranny of goblins or Guardians. His gaze lingered on the portrait of the youngest son. There was something about the dark eyes and forthright set of the jaw that seemed oddly familiar.”

~Stewart 70

“Rook remembered seeing a picture of Vox Verlix as a cloudwatcher apprentice; young, lean, and with a glint of naked ambition in his steely gaze. The bloated drunkard he had become was unrecognizable. Rook watched him with a mixture of pity and disgust as he heaved his great weight across the floor.”

~Stewart 181

Warnings: Violence/war

Recommended Age Range: 12+ (A few violent scenes that may be more suited to 14+)

Rating: 4/5

Cover Art 2 (Rook! Look out! An evil mastermind is behind you!)

What I Liked:

Once again, this book is simply packed with action, cunning plots, devious schemes, and scary situations. It’s a thrilling ride from beginning to end and makes the reader eager to see what will happen in the third and final (of the Rook trilogy) book.

Stewart gets rid of the two main groups of antagonists in this book quite well. As gruesome and violent as their end was, the picture that Riddell drew of their fate was both chilling and spectacular. He makes it quite clear simply by facial expressions and body language that the two groups realize how hopeless their situation is. It’s the most memorable illustration in the book, in my opinion.

There’s quite a bit of foreshadowing in this book for the next one, something a reader might not notice if they haven’t read the series before. As I mentioned in my review of The Last of the Sky Pirates, this is what makes the Rook trilogy superior to the other two, in addition to the fact that it’s faster-paced (although there are still two Quint books to go, so I might change my mind).

The characters are still very well-developed, with the exception of the villains, unfortunately. Vox is perhaps the most nuanced, but even he is a bit flat.

I smell a plot device right here…

What I Didn’t Like:

Vox Verlix: Evil mastermind or puppet? The book is entitled Vox, but Vox’s rule in this book is surprisingly disappointing. He’s a genius, sure, but I don’t know if I would call him a villain or even a character worth naming the book after. There is that one scary threat, but the way it’s carried out and eventually made reality isn’t even due to Vox (and that’s all I will say on that).

The one thing I’ve noticed about the Rook trilogy is that, unfortunately, all three books do tend to drag a bit in the middle. It’s worse in Sky Pirates, but it can get a bit slow in this book.

Overall Review:

Vox continues the fast-paced action that was seen in The Last of the Sky Pirates, which bodes well for the last book in the trilogy. While lacking a bit in places, it is still a worthwhile read and one of the best in the series.

Coming Up Next: Freeglader

Series Week II: The Last of the Sky Pirates

The Last of the Sky Pirates is the fifth book (seventh chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the first book in the Rook trilogy. It was published in 2002.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Rook Barkwater lives in the network of sewer chambers beneath Undertown, the bustling main city of the Edgeworld. He dreams of becoming a librarian knight—one of those sent out to explore the mysteries of their world. Somewhere out there lie the secrets of the past—including the lost floating city of Sanctaphrax—and, maybe, hope for a future free from the fear of tyranny.

When his chance comes, Rook grabs it! Breaking all the rules, he sets out on a journey to the Free Glades and beyond. His luck and determination lead him from one peril to another until, buried in the heart of the Deepwoods, Rook encounters a mysterious character—the last sky pirate—and is thrust into a bold adventure that dares to challenge the might of the dreaded Guardians of the night…”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (Oh, hey, Rook. How’s that flying thing treating you?)

Passages/Quotes:

“Rook cocked his head to one side and concentrated on the gruff voice coming from the depths of the shadows. ‘What was that? Bloodoak what?’ the voice complained tetchily. ‘You must speak up!’

‘I said,’ he heard Stob replying in a sibilant stage-whisper, ‘that is an interesting charm you’re wearing. Bloodoak tooth, if I’m not mistaken—’

‘What?’ demanded the voice, and Rook caught the flash of something metallic. ‘What’s it got to do with you?’

Magda shook her head. ‘Surely that can’t be our contact,’ she said.

‘Indeed it’s not, missy,’ came a sing-song voice behind her. ‘I am.’ Both Magda and Rook turned to see a dumpy gnokgoblin wearing a long cape and head scarf, and carrying a covered basket on one of her stubby arms. Around her neck glinted an ornate pendant, the centre-piece of which was a glistening red tooth.”

~Stewart 67-68

“With a tremble and a sigh, the elegant Stormhornet rose from the platform. For a second, it hovered there, its sails fluttering and flight-weights swaying. Then, as the wind took it, Rook pulled on the pinner-rope and the skycraft suddenly came to life and surge upwards into the crisp morning air.

Nothing could have prepared Rook for the thrill which raced through his body as the skycraft climbed ever higher. Not the buoyant lecterns, nor riding the prowlgrins as they leaped from tree to tree—nor even his brief flight with Knuckle. This time, he was in control. The Stormhornet responded to his every movement, dipping and swooping, rising and looping, utterly obedient to his command. It was exhilarating. It was awesome.”

~Stewart 221-222

Warnings: Violence

Recommended Age Range: 12+ (although be aware that there are a few scary/violent/creepy parts)

Rating: 4/5

Cover Art 2 (Hello, Rook! Hello, mysterious stranger behind him! Hello, blurriness that I apologize for!)

What I Liked:

One of the things I love about the book is all the little nods at the Twig trilogy that came before it chronologically. People, places, events…there’s even a character from the Quint trilogy that makes an appearance. It gives that extra little bit of nostalgia and recognition.

This book is simply packed with Stuff That Happens. I’ve read the series before, so I recognize the fact that Stewart is actually setting a lot of things up (something that is lacking from the first two trilogies) for the other two books of the Rook trilogy . The Rook trilogy is more connected together, I think, more cohesive, than the other two, and this makes for a thrilling read when you start with the first book in this trilogy and continue on.

The characters in this book are slightly more nuanced than the ones that came before it. They’re not as compartmentalized into separate categories, Hekkle and Xanth especially.

I managed to pick out a piece of fan art that didn’t have spoilers! Yay!

What I Didn’t Like:

Because this book is so full of things getting explained and set up, it does tend to drag a bit. Rook doesn’t encounter the last sky pirate until the last third of the book (but it is an awesome last third).

Overall Review:

The Last of the Sky Pirates is one of the more detailed Edge books, with the promise of more action to come in the rest of the Rook trilogy. It has three-dimensional characters, even more new places that add to Stewart’s worldbuilding, and simple fun enjoyment.

Coming Up Next: Vox

Series Week II: The Curse of the Gloamglozer

The Curse of the Gloamglozer is the fourth book (first chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the first book in the Quint trilogy. It was published in 2001.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Quint, son of a sky pirate captain, and new apprentice to Linius Pallitax, the Most High Academe, has been given some highly important tasks. Just how important, Quint is about to find out as he and Linius’s only daughter, Maris, are plunged into a terrifying adventure that takes them deep within the rock upon which Sanctaphrax is built. Here, they unwittingly invoke an ancient curse—the curse of the gloamglozer.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“The great vaulted entrance-hall to the Palace of Shadows was silent save for the hiss of the wind and the soft, yet echoing, footfall of the immense insect-like creature that teetered unsteadily across the marble floor. High up above, beams of dim light streamed in through a circle of arched windows and criss-crossed the shadowy air. And as the floating rock of Sanctaphrax—fixed in place by the Anchor Chain—turned slowly in the breeze coming in from beyond the Edge, so the light swooped and the shadows danced.

The spindlebug paused for a moment at the foot of the sweeping staircase and looked up. The skin, as translucent as the high arched windows above, revealed blood pumping through veins, six hearts beating—and last night’s supper slowly digesting in a see-through belly .The light glinted on quivering antennae, and on the goblet and oval-shaped bottle of cordial which stood on the burnished copper tray clutched in the creature’s claws.”

~Stewart 5-7

“With shivers running up and down his spine, Quint scurried after the professor. The atmosphere in the tunnels grew warmer, stuffier. The humming grew louder while the hissing faded. The air glowed a deeper, darker red. All at once Quint rounded a bend to find that the professor had stopped in front of a stone door set into the solid rock, no more than a few strides away.

….There was a low, grinding noise followed by a soft click—and the door slid open to reveal a vast, dimly-lit cavern.

Craning his neck, Quint caught a glimpse of the curious sight within. There were countless gleaming flagons and glass spheres, all swaying at the ends of long, glowing stem-like tubes that protruded from the curved walls, and in the very centre of the chamber a huge glistening sphere, seemingly woven from light, hovered in mid-air.”

~Stewart 157-158

Cover Art (Oh, Gloamglozer!)

Warnings: Violence, scary scenes and situations

Recommended Age Range: 12+ (although be aware that there are a few scary/violent/creepy parts)

Rating: 3/5

What I Liked:

I enjoy reading this book. It’s a scary, suspenseful mystery. The plot isn’t anything complicated, but the parallel between Linius’s story and Quint’s own adventure is nail-biting. The creatures are wonderfully creepy (an eye-sucking blood-red monster and the ever-so-evil gloamglozer) and imaginative (a see-through butler bug! Little shards of flashing light! A lemkin!). The book takes place on an old site (Sanctaphrax) but there is still that element of newness (the stonecomb, the Library) in it. It’s not the best Edge book in my opinion (I’ll be giving you my favorites at the end, as usual), but it’s enjoyable.

Cover Art 2 (Quint! Maris! Look out behind you!

What I Didn’t Like:

The plot is so simple it can be explained in about five sentences (SPOILERS: Maris and Quint annoy each other. Maris and Quint crawl through some tunnels. Quint is stupid and let’s out an evil shape-shifting creature. Quint is almost killed in a fire and simultaneously gets over his fear of it. Oh no, a curse! END SPOILERS.)

The gloamglozer laughs at you, simple plot.

Overall Review:

I’ve never liked the Quint books as much as the others. Maybe my opinion will change as I read the other two, but as for the first book in this new trilogy, The Curse of the Gloamglozer, while enjoyable, is mediocre compared to some of the other books in the series.

Coming Up Next: The Last of the Sky Pirates

Series Week II: Midnight Over Sanctaphrax

Midnight over Sanctaphrax is the third book (sixth chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the third and final book in the Twig trilogy. It was published in 2000 by Random House.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Far out in the open sky, a ferocious storm is brewing. In its path is Sanctaphrax—a magnificent city built on a floating rock and tethered to the land by a massive chain.

Only Twig—a young sky pirate captain who has dared to sail over the Edge—has learned of the approaching danger. But his perilous voyage destroys his sky ship, hurling his crew into and beyond the Deepwoods and robbing Twig of all memory…”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (Go, Twig!)

Passages/Quotes:

“With trembling fingers, he readjusted the focus. The blurred object became solid. It looked like a sky ship. But what was a sky ship doing out there, untethered and so far away from land? Scarcely able to believe what he was witnessing, the professor pulled away, removed his pocket handkerchief, and wiped his eyes.

‘No doubt about it,’ he muttered feverishly. ‘It was a sky ship. I know it was. Unless…’

He glanced round at the sense-sifter. It was pulsing a deep shade of purple.

‘No,’ he shuddered. ‘I can’t have imagined it. I’m not mad.’

He spun back, grasped the telescope and peered back down the sight anxiously. There was nothing there in the swirling depths. With trembling fingers he played with the focus. Still nothing. And then…The professor gasped. From the point where the sky ship had been—at least, where he thought it had been—several bright balls of light were spinning off into the dark sky.”

~Stewart 49

“Twig motioned Cowlquape to be silent. He crouched down on the floor and placed his ear against the dark varnished wood. His face clouded with sorrow. ‘That noise,’ he said.

Cowlquape rolled off the hammock and joined Twig on the floor. As his ear touched the wooden boards, the sounds became clearer. Groaning .Howling. Hopeless wailing.

‘The cargo?’ Cowlquape whispered.

‘The cargo,’ said Twig.

~Stewart 186

Warnings: A bit of violence

Recommended Age Range: 12+ (although be aware that there are a few scary/violent/creepy parts)

Rating: 3/5

Cover Art 2 (One of the best scenes in the book. Except…where’s Cowlquape?)

What I Liked:

Stewart has the knack of making each book fresh by introducing new characters, creatures, and new places with each book. Riddell’s illustrations, as usual, really give an extra visual component to the world of the Edge. The plot was a strong adventure/hunt that was fun to read. Stewart is really hitting his stride here, delivering stronger and stronger writing with each book. Also, Cowlquape is awesome.

I don’t have much to say in this section, but the Twig trilogy is, I think, the weakest in the whole series. They are good books, yes, but there is nothing in them that really stands out to me like in the others.

Twig, where did you get that awesome sword?

What I Didn’t Like:

Twig sometimes seems quite a bit more mature and knowledgeable than he did in Stormchaser, which is odd because Midnight starts right where Stormchaser left off.

Overall Review:

Midnight over Sanctaphrax is a strong conclusion to this mini-trilogy. The Twig trilogy is not my favorite of the three mini-trilogies, but it is a great start to the series.

Coming Up Next: The Curse of the Gloamglozer

Series Week II: Stormchaser

Note: Bear in mind that there will be minor spoilers from here on out.

Stormchaser is the second book (fifth chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It was published in 1999 by Random House and is the second in the Twig trilogy.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Far, far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, lies the Edge. Both the land and the air are filled with strange peoples and terrifying creatures; action—and danger—await at every turn. On board the famous sky ship Stormchaser, Twig eagerly looks forward to the adventure and excitement that lie ahead in his new life as a sky pirate. The crew’s quest: to collect stormphrax—the precious substance created at the heart of a Storm the very moment it unleashes its most intense power. Only a sky ship as powerful as the Stormchaser, piloted by a man as brave and fearless as Cloud Wolf, could risk entering such a storm…”

~Back Cover

Cover Art (featuring a skeleton prowlgrin)

Passages/Quotes:

“It was midday and Undertown was bustling. Beneath the pall of filthy mist which hovered over the town, fuzzing the rooftops and dissolving the sun, its narrow streets and alleyways were alive with feverish activity.

There was ill-tempered haggling and bartering; buskers played music, barrow-bows called out unmissable bargains, beggars made their pitiful demands from dark, shadowy corners—though there were few who paused to place coin in their hats. Rushing this way and that, everyone was far too wrapped up in their own concerns to a spare a thought for anyone else.

Getting from a to b as quickly as possible, being first to nail a deal, obtaining the best price while undercutting your competitors—that was what succeeding in Undertown was all about. You needed nerves of steel and eyes in the back of your head to survive; you had to learn to smile even as you were stabbing someone else in the back. It was a rough life, a tough life, a ruthless life.

It was an exhilarating life.”

~Stewart 5-6

Warnings: There are some creepy and disgusting and disturbing creatures that do creepy and disgusting and disturbing things.

Recommended Age Range: 12+ (although be aware that there are a few scary/violent/creepy parts)

Rating: 3/5

Cover Art 2 (featuring Twig and his father)

What I Liked:

The plot is much better developed than in Beyond the Deepwoods. We get to see more of the various creatures and cultures that inhabit the Edge, going beyond the Deepwoods (ha) to visit four more places, each with their unique population and customs. There’s a lot more conflict and tension and even the writing style has changed to become more tight-knit and enjoyable. Riddell’s drawings are fantastic, even when they get slightly gory, really capturing the tone and setting of the book. Stormchaser is quite an improvement over the first book, which is a good sign for the rest of the series.

What I Didn’t Like:

Twig’s and his father’s interactions can get a bit melodramatic at times. Their conversations are perhaps the least developed in the book, in my own opinion.

Overall Review:

Stormchaser continues the brilliant, beautiful worldbuilding that was first glimpsed in Beyond the Deepwoods, while improving on plot, conflict, writing, and overall enjoyment.

Coming Up Next: Midnight Over Sanctaphrax