It is not often that I write a book review for a reading of this genre, but it impacted me so much that it was worth a post for you, my readers.
A young man from my daughter’s school came over to our house a couple of months back and we were talking about reading. He said he loved to read, at which point he accrued 1,000 extra bonus points from me (Kudos to you, young lad!). He told me that I ought to read this story titled The Wingfeather Saga, that it was an excellent storyline, and that I would really like it.
A time for a switch
I had been reading enough about leadership and productivity that I really just wanted some cotton candy for my mind – you know, nothing that I will have to take notes on, remember, have a “Top 3 Ways to _____”, have an impacting principle that now must be adopted into my own life, or make me feel guilty about what I am not doing well.
Ahhh, reading for the sheer pleasure of reading.
It was just fantasy adventure, but I find that this genre of books really supercharges my creativity and imagination. I enjoy living the story in my mind while I am reading, as if I am there in the narrative.
And so I borrowed all four novels and set off on quite the unexpected adventure. And it has a Lord of the Rings feel to it, so I knew I would enjoy it.
What impacted me most was how this fantasy beautifully illustrated the story of redemption within its own characters and plot lines. And as I was working my way to the final pages, the ending took me so by surprise that it almost took my breath away.
I had one of those “Aha!” moments where the steadfast love of Jesus manifested itself more clearly than I had seen in a while.
(And don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this review, so you do not have to peruse this with one eye closed.)
A review of the Wingfeathers
This remarkable story centers around three siblings: Janner, Tink, and Leeli. They live with their mom and grandfather in a cottage in Skree on the high cliffs above the Dark Sea of Darkness. Their father has died. Their land is oppressed by this unseen evil presence called Gnag the Nameless. This hateful and malicious ruler stands out in the story because of the way that he transforms innocence into his obedient and ruthless servants. And he not only changes their looks, but he changes their very soul.
And these transformed creatures are called the Fangs of Dang.
I know – Gnag the Nameless, Fangs of Dange – the names themselves made me question if this was going to be a pre-teen fantasy novel that was going to border on the silly.
But it was far from that. Pressing through the story is well worth the effort.
The three siblings eventually find out that they are not just common children. They are actually children of King Esben and their mother was a queen. And they are not just heirs to any throne, but they are the Jewels of Anniera: Janner, a Throne Warden, Tink, a King, and Leeli, a Song Maiden. The royal Wingfeather family. And now they are in hiding from the very Gnag the Nameless himself, who desires these three for his own corrupt purposes.
Exiles longing to be back home.
Their journey take this family through many unusual and intriguing exploits: the monsters of Glipwood Forest, the Stranders of the East Bend, the Cloven, the Fork Factory, and the interactions with one of my favorite characters, Artham the Throne Warden. And the appearances of the Sea Dragons and their ties to the grandfather give the story an extra special sauce. Each character is well developed and has distinguishing traits that make him or her (or it!) memorable and engaging.
By the time you read the fourth and final installment, the siblings are now facing Gnag for themselves, determined to vanquish the evil presence that has caused so much pain and suffering in their own family as well as countless others. The land grows weary with this presence of evil. There is great loss, heaviness, and darkness.
The character development of Janner, Tink, and Leeli makes this saga that much more enjoyable to read. Each begins the story showing themselves for who they are – children – but throughout the story are stretched and grown in ways that lead them to greatness and influence.
And it is in the struggles of each that you find yourself identifying. Fear, feeling unfit for a task, unwanted leadership, strength through weakness – all were “I’ve been there” moments.
There is much with which to resonate as circumstances and events squeeze out poor character, and through the trial, grow goodness, courage, and grace.
By the final pages, Janner, Tink, and Leeli are just a shadow of their former selves. And their noble character and love for each other wins the day.
A story within a story
But the real reason to read this set of books is the enduring picture of redemption that is illustrated in the story. The storyline realistically portrays the brokenness of people and the deceitfulness of sin. And with that comes the filth of consequences and the ugliness that manifests itself on both the inside and the outside.
Redemption seems as just a whisper in my ear when I fail to see my own depravity and broken state. But where The Wingfeather Saga richly succeeds is in helping the reader visualize how sin misshapes and ruins lives but how redemption heals and makes new.
I also recommend this book series because it mirrors an accurate portrayal of life: poor choices have bad consequences, sound character is consistently shown to be the stronger option, life has trials even when I think I am doing “all the right things,” selfish living never satisfies, and evil is alluring but ultimately shown to be ugly and brutal.
And when the final page was turned, I was reminded of my own ugliness, rebel heart, and misshapen life and how Jesus stepped in and bought me with a price. And now I am beloved and made a son of the King.
I highly recommend this most enjoyable and thought-provoking read. And though you might think this would be more appropriate for a teen reader, I found these four books held my attention to the very end.
Well done, Mr. Peterson. I was saddened to read the final page. I was not ready for the adventure to end.
I’d love to hear from you — please leave a reply below if you have read these books. What did you think of them?
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