North or Be Eaten review -
North or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

North or Be Eaten review

North or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

North or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson 

The second installment in Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, North or Be Eaten, picks up, as expected, right where book 1, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, left off (I’ve reviewed that book as well). The Igiby family is on the run. Grandfather Podo, mother Nia, older brother Janner, younger brother Tink, and little sister Leeli are being hunted by the Fangs of Dang for reasons not yet fully revealed. What we do know is that the Fangs are nasty lizardmen and they’ve figured out that (spoiler alert if you haven’t read the first book) the children are the heirs to the lost kingdom of Anniera. And that’s enough to threaten the Fangs and send the poor Igibys off at a hasty clip in a generally northerly direction.

After a few introductory chapters to set the stage, most of the first half of the novel takes the form of a prolonged chase. While the pursuing Fangs keep the story moving, the opening encounters the Igiby’s (along with their friend Oskar Reteep and the mentally unstable Peet the Sockman) have with their pursuers never really reach the level of tension achieved towards the end of book 1. Still, it’s clear that the children, and especially Janner, are forced to grow up rather quickly. Their pastoral life in Glipwood is a thing of the past. It feels as if they are slowly but surely being drawn into their roles as future royalty of this unknown kingdom.

Throne wardens rule (well, they should anyway)

On their way to the Ice Prairies, they face bands of ruffians, trolls, traitors, and some dark family secrets. Most of this is filtered through Janner’s point of view, which is good, as he is the most likable member of the family. Nia and Leeli are great, too, but they are not as heroic as the future Throne Warden of Anniera. A subplot also follows Peet the Sockman who, though mentally not all there, is fiercely loyal to the Igiby’s, especially the children.

The most praiseworthy aspects of this novel center around Janner and Peet. These two are the ones you’ll be rooting for on almost every page. Peet’s story arc, in particular is rather epic. But it’s Janner’s transformation and growth which drives this story. His time in the “Fork Factory” (I’ll leave it to your imagination as to just what that is) proves to be the turning point for me. That section, and Peet’s transformation, are the most memorable (and my favorite) parts of the book.

Speaking of heroes, an honorable mention should also go out to the Florid Sword. Though this character only appears in a couple of brief scenes, he makes quite the impression. He probably is worthy of a novel of his own and the glimpses of him that we do get will leave readers hungering for more.

Of things to come

The writing throughout the book is excellent, even better than book 1, and the story is more engaging as well. But outside of Janner and Peet, the characters here could be more compelling. Tink in particular is someone it’s hard to root for. It’s not that he’s a scoundrel, it’s just that Janner is so much more interesting. And it feels like an awful cheat that he’s stuck playing second fiddle to his brother.

The novel’s ending has a few surprises, but nothing earth-shaking. The events leading up to the climax  (Peet’s redemption and Janner’s journey through the Ice Prairies) are more momentous than what comes after. But the ending does set up the next story well and feels like a satisfying place to leave off. The last chapter is particularly touching.

Go forth and be readin’

So. If you’re looking for a well-written, heartfelt adventure, the Wingfeather Saga is certainly worth a read. North or Be Eaten is is a well-rounded, wholesome, enjoyable romp you and your kids can enjoy together. And it will certainly leave you curious as to what happens in book 3 as the journey of the Igiby family continues.

Comments (2)

  1. PhoToArTisTPhiL June 28, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    Greetings, DJ, from the Great White North of Canada!

    A tip of the hat to you for your astute musing over ‘North! Or Be Eaten.’
    It is the furthest cry from a so-called ‘review’ that is little more than thinly veiled advertising.

    Might I be so brazen as to quote the first half of one of your thought sequences, then insert my own 2 cents’ worth?
    Thank you for your graciousness.

    As you noted, “Tink in particular is someone it’s hard to root for. It’s not that he’s a scoundrel, it’s just that…..”
    Well, DJ, “it’s just that” Tink shocks and exasperates the reader with his choices, just as he shocks and exasperates Janner.
    One minute he’s heroically saving his entire entourage…..
    Whether by deducing the hidden entrance to Miller’s Bridge at Fingap Falls, or by beating Claxton Weaver, leader of the Stranders, at his own game.
    And then, next thing you know, he vehemently tells Janner that he wants no part of being High King of Anniera, and he bolts, eschewing the Dugtown borough and instead heading back to the Stranders, sporting Claxton Weaver’s pone!

    It’s not that Andrew Peterson failed to craft a riveting character when he conceptualized Calmar Wingfeather aka Tink.
    It’s just that Tink serves as a mirror into our own souls, and we flinch because we don’t like what we behold there:
    How many times have WE, just like Tink, just like the Old Testament prophet Jonah, turned away from God’s Divine tug on our souls and run the other way, because we didn’t enjoy the notion of being stretched out of our comfort zones and living a life of ‘risky faith’.

    Compare Tink’s shrinking away from his destiny to the mindset of King Tirian in C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Last Battle’:
    “We must go on and take the adventure that comes to us…..but courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”
    And THAT’S why “Tink in particular is someone it’s hard to root for. It’s not that he’s a scoundrel, it’s just that…..”
    It’s just that he’s so much like us.
    Whereas Janner’s gritty stick-to-it-iveness is an ideal that I, for one, fail to attain far more frequently than I care to admit, even to myself.
    Hence, Janner’s character endears itself to me; his tenacity and courage are noble attributes that I wish to possess, even as I’m acutely aware of their absence in my life…..
    And so I’m inexorably drawn to him as a moth to the flame.

    My 2 cents’ worth, at any rate.

    PhiL >^•_•^<
    London, Ontario

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