Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights

Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights

Paul Stewart
Illustrator:   Chris Riddell 
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Random House, 2010   ISBN: 978-0385736121

When Quint’s protector and mentor Linius Pallitax dies, Quint is not sure what is going to happen to him. Will he be able to continue his education in the floating city of Sanctaphrax, or will he have to take a different path and become a sky pirate like his father? Quint is very relieved when a new sponsor steps forward and soon he is one of the many young men who are studying to become a knight academic.

Quint discovers that he has a lot to learn before he can hope to become a knight. He and his new friends learn how to build a model stormchaser, they raise and care for a prowlgrin pup, and they plough their way through mounds of calculations and theories as they study cloud formations and other weather related sciences.

As he works on his training Quint cannot help feeling worried about the future; his own, and that of Sanctaphrax. Winter has settled on the Edge and it shows no sign of leaving. As it gets colder and colder and as the floating rock of Sanctaphrax is buffeted by snow laden blizzards, the people who live on and love Sanctaphrax begin to wonder if the winter is ever going to pass. The freezing temperatures not only make life difficult, they are also threaten the equilibrium of the floating rock. The colder the rock gets the more buoyant it becomes. There is a very real concern that one day soon the rock may break its mooring chain and float off into the Open Sky. What is needed to keep the rock safe is more stormphrax.

Created when a Great Storm unleashes lightening over the Twilight Woods, stormphrax alone can hold Sanctaphrax down. Hax Vostillix, the Hall Master of High Cloud, is sure that a Great Storm is coming, but many others are not convinced. Knight after knight is sent out to try to get some of the much needed stormphrax but none of them return bearing the precious slivers of the valuable material.

In a time so full of worries one would think that the people of Sanctaphrax would stand together, but in fact politics, greed, and treachery is rampant and no one knows who is going to be left standing at the end of it all. Will the two Most High Academes be able to hold their community of scholars, squires, and knights together, and what is to be done about the terrible winter that is threatening to ruin the lives of everyone who is lives on Sanctaphrax?

This second book in the Quint Sequence once again takes us to the rarefied and often dangerous world of Sanctaphrax. Here scholars and others bully, lie, cheat and connive to get the power that they hunger for, crushing everyone and everything that blocks their path to greatness. Paul Stewart has created a world which in many ways is not unlike our own. We may not have the fascinating prowlgrins to ride, and we may not live on floating rocks, but political intrigue is a part of our world. Watching greed twist and corrupt the lives of Quint and his friends is both fascinating and thought provoking. Add to this the adventures Quint has and the mysteries that he unravels, and you have a story that cannot be set aside once it has begun.