On Stories, Sagas, and Wingfeathers

I started reading at the age of 4, and have been in love with stories ever since.  When I start reading a new book, I generally devour it in several sittings.  I’ve been known to read entire books in the airport bookstore during long layovers.  The seventh Harry Potter?  Read the entire thing in four sittings at Barnes and Noble (yes, to be fair, since then I have purchased the book so I’m not just free-loading off of B&N’s free books and comfy chairs).  My favorite books have always been fiction, usually fantasy literature, and more’s the better if it’s an epic series.  I guess the appeal is the new world to be explored and discovered, a story about heros and rescues and justice and love and hope (with a little bit of magic and swordplay and impossible creatures mixed in).  A world where good DOES conquer evil, where the good guys win, where hope does not disappoint.

What changes a book series from good to great for me is the grand “aha!” moment at the end where I discover that all along, the author was leading me down a path to reveal a grand destination.  From the first page of the first book, there was a specific ending in sight and at the end, I can turn around and look back at the path, look back at all the little clues and seemingly insignificant details scattered along the way, and they are all pieces of a whole that fit together.  JK Rowling nailed this with HP.  Christopher Paolini (Eragon) not so much.  I enjoyed his stories along the way but was left very unsatisfied at the conclusion of the book, too many loose ends and not enough resolution.  Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series may or may not have done this....he rambled so much that he lost me along the way.  

I recently finished a new series that I began reading in 2008.  Generally, I prefer to start reading a series after it’s been completed so I don’t have to wait for the newest books to come out (although rarely has this worked for me), but I started Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga as a blog reviewer just before the first book was officially released.  The fourth and final book in the series, The Warden and the Wolf King, was just released last week, six years later.  Long have I enjoyed Andrew’s songs and songwriting.  I would expound on why, but his website actually says it better than I could:  

“Peterson’s most loyal fans in fact, tend to be those who find resonance with the “glowing ache” that permeates his body of work. But it’s never been the ache of hopelessness or despair. Instead it’s the ache that comes from deeply loving something that has been lost, and from daring to hope that it will one day be restored. It’s the recognition that any pain we now feel is somehow inseparable from the joy that was intended for us from the creation of the world. And it’s the undying hope that that same pain is also a promise, a forward longing, a deposit of the redemption and restoration of the greater joy that is yet to come.”  

Now, if that doesn’t inspire you to listen to his music, I don’t know what will. :)  His books actually feature more of that same “ache” as his music.  He starts out a little goofy in book one (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness) but matures as a writer and really hits his stride by book three (Monster in the Hollows).  And by the time I set down the fourth book, I was extremely satisfied in how cohesive the story was, how bits of story from book one were revisited and elaborated on to play a major role on book four.  I set down the last book with tears in my eyes.  If you like books like Narnia and Harry Potter, give the Wingfeather Saga a try.  It’s my free and unbiased opinion.