“I don’t want to analyze a story. I don’t want to find hidden meaning. I just want to escape from the real world for a bit.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

There is something great about books with maps at the beginning – even before reading the first words, you are invited to lose yourself in a world not your own. In Andrew Peterson’s second installment in the Wingfeather Saga, North! Or Be Eaten, that world is Aerwiar. The first book in the series introduces readers to the Igilby children, Janner, Tink, and Leeli, their noble mother, their ex-pirate grandfather, the mysterious Peet the Sockman, and the lover of literature, Oskar N. Reteep. Our heroes are back in N!OBE, on the cusp of a journey to the Ice Prairies. Always close behind them are the dreaded Fangs of Dang, ravenous toothy cows, and hungry horned hounds, not to mention quill diggles, snickbuzzards, and bomnubbles.

Peterson returns with everything that worked so well in the first book: action, adventure, laugh-out-loud humor, creative footnotes, timely quotations from Oskar N. Reteep, and thought-provoking lines throughout. Yet North! Or Be Eaten takes the story of the Igilbys to a new level. I was reminded of the transition from Tolkien’s The Hobbit to his Lord of the Rings series: the truths of the wide-world were introduced in the first book, but the depths of those realities were plumbed in the series that followed. Such is the nature of the Wingfeather Saga. As the story unfolds from Janner Igilby’s perspective, we watch a young boy’s world expand from a cottage in the small town Skree to the vastness of thundering Fingap Falls, the seemingly impassable Stony Mountains, and the daunting Ice Prairies. More than the physical landscape, Janner’s eyes are opened to the realities of evil and betrayal, the value of family and courage, and the sometimes hard to grasp ways of the Maker. As Janner deals with fear, loss, and lonliness and as he grows in valor and love, the reader is able to learn the universal lessons of life that join the world of Aerwiar and our own.

North! Or Be Eaten lets the reader escape the real world for bit, yet in the midst of humor, suspense, and adventure there are truths from this other world so clear and parallel to our own that it is impossible to not be changed by them. 

 

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 and my all-time favorite album, Love and Thunder. 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.

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