Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Edge Chronicles: Midnight over Sanctaphrax

The Edge Chronicles: Midnight over Sanctaphrax

Paul Stewart
Illustrator:   Chris Riddell 
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Random House, 2008   ISBN: 978-0440420989

Twig has lost one of the most important things in his life. When he and his father set off to get stormphrax to save the floating city of Sanctaphrax, their ship The Stormchaser, with Twig's father on board, was carried off by the Great Storm over the lands of the Edge. Most dreadful of all, the ship was then taken over the edge itself and out into the open space beyond. No one has ever voluntarily ventured beyond the Edge untethered, and yet this is just what Twig is determined to do. Now a hero for bringing stormphrax to Sanctaphrax and for saving the extraordinary city, Twig manages to get another ship and crew together and they set off into the unknown seeking the storm that Twig's father took away .

To guide them there is the Caterbird who has seen Twig's father and who knows where he is. Unfortunately, the Caterbird, despite his great wisdom, cannot save Twig from the ferocity of the Mother Storm, the storm to end all storms. Twig gains great knowledge in the storm and yet at the same time his ship is ripped apart. Twig and his seven friends and shipmates are flung across the open sky and back to the Edge, each of them landing in a different part of the land, and all of them are glowing in the most peculiar way, their minds wiped clean of what they experienced once they entered the Mother Storm. Twig somehow knows that there is something lying deep within him that he must act upon and yet he cannot remember what the illusive thing is. So the brave, determined and incredibly loyal young sky pirate sets out to find, and if necessary rescue, his crew mates.

With him travels Cowlquape, a poor, very put-upon young academic from Sanctaphrax who would much rather be reading a scroll than be flying across the sky in a ship. Twig rescued Cowlquape who was one of the underdogs of the Edge, and now the young man sticks with Twig through all sorts of adventures, horrible experiences, and trials.

In the background, and as they search, there is a story, a myth, about how a great storm, the Mother Storm, comes to the Edge every so many years to rejuvenate, and "reseed" the Riverrise, the source of the river Edgewater. For some time now the river has been slowing down and drying up. Is it possible that the myth is not a myth at all? Could it be that the Mother Storm will be arriving soon to give new life to the Edge?

As Twig searches for his friends he discovers a great deal about himself, about the land that is his home, and about the natures of the creatures who live on the Edge. He sees untold cruelty in the slavery business, a business that is enormous and very profitable even though it is technically illegal. Twig rediscovers his old home, the Deepwoods, where he grew up. He also learns that sometimes we have to let go of something we love for the greater good of all, which is a hard lesson to accept.

This third book in the Twig trilogy, which is part of The Edge Chronicles series, is even more powerful that the first two were. There is no doubt now that Twig is indeed destined for great things. His courage and loyalty is unwavering and he is always learning, discovering new things about the powerful forces of nature that drive the world that he lives in. He is beginning to see that meddling with nature is a dangerous game, and a wasteful one. It is also a game that too many on the Edge have been playing for too long.

This is a book that is almost impossible to put down, both because it is gripping, and because it is thought-provoking.

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