I often make lists of books I want to read. Titles that I hear mentioned, the latest “great read” circulating…you can even find my summer reading list under my Bookshelf link on this blog. I love reading. I love books. I love learning about other people, places and ideas. But, as I mentioned here, I am a book quitter. I start reading books that other people suggest (people I highly respect and whose opinions I value), I get about two chapters in, then I “pause”. I have hundreds of books on pause. My bookshelf is full of them. I want to give them away so they will stop shaming me from their dusty perches, but my husband does not believe in getting rid of books.
And yet there are a few books that have sneaked through the cracks of my book pausing habit. Books that, instead of telling me how to live life, show me life. Books that speak of adventure or courage or loyalty. Books that paint the true colors life across the canvas of my mind in such a way that I am captured and inspired. There is something about a story well-told that beckons us into a world beyond our own and invites us to stay a while. Sometimes fiction and fantasy can describe the longings and condition of our hearts more clearly than any words we could think up on our own. To experience the valiance we wish we had, to fight the evils that plague our existence, to have a mission that is beyond ourselves…these things draw us in to great stories. They invite us to Narnia and Gondor and into our own imaginations.
On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North! Or Be Eaten, the first two books in the Wingfeather Saga, are stories such as these. They are doors into a world that tells the story of our lives. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, as I blogged about here, is the first in the series. It introduces us to the Igiby family and their evil oppressors, the mighty Fangs of Dang. As the curtain opens on North! Or Be Eaten, the Igibys find themselves running for their lives to protect the precious Jewel of Anniera. They must fight their way across mighty Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains and into the Ice Prairies if they are ever to be safe from their pursuers (because, as everyone knows, Fangs move much slower in the cold). But along the way they also discover that the past we carry with us is a blessing and a curse, that we are often more noble, brave and selfish than we think we are, and that the weight of the responsibility we carry can sometimes be overwhelming.
As I let myself be immersed in this fantastic adventure I found that the story being told was mine. It told the story of how my heart yearns for the life I was truly meant to live – with an identity born into me that I don’t quite understand. As Janner sought out who he really was and had doubts about whether or not he could live up to his calling, I felt as though I was walking in his boots. But as I read I also saw bits of my own children in these incredible characters. My precious Ellie is as courageous and insightful and gentle as Leeli. Payton is wise and cautious, with a good grip on his responsibility to watch over his younger siblings, much like Janner. And Shiloh, though he is still shy of a year, is just as reckless as Tink. As these characters (the book’s – not my own) develop and grow and learn before our eyes, we see the truth that resides in our own souls. And this truth, though both marvelous and shameful, points us to the Maker who created us with a purpose and identity far greater than we could ever imagine. We see how His plan ebbs and flows through our lives and how we do our best – without even trying – to sabotage it. We also see how he rescues and forgives and continues to make us more and more into who we are meant to me.
I love when a fictional story can bring out the truths of real life. There is never a hopeless situation. There is always a way out. Just like Ships and Sharks.
Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.
Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains, and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.
Andrew Peterson’s lovable characters create what FantasyBookCritic.com says made Book One “one of the best fantasy novels in a very long time,” and Book Two contains even more thrills, exploring “themes universal in nature, ranging from the classic good versus evil, to the importance of family, and burdens of responsibility.”
Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One in the Wingfeather Saga, and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in a little house they call The Warren near Nashville , Tennessee . Visit his websites: www.andrew-peterson.com and www.rabbitroom.com