North or Be Eaten and Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson

Summary: Books 2 and 3 develop characters and move the story along well.

I am quite late to the Wingfeather series. The books were published between 2008 and 2014 and while I have owned them from 2011 for the first three and 2014 for the last, I didn’t start reading them, until a couple weeks ago.

I am not surprised that I like them as much as I do, too many people that I know and respect have praised them enough that I knew they would be good. But I have been interested in how they develop the story.

The first was introductory and mostly action based. I was engaged fairly quickly. The second was really focused around character development, and much of that was showing weaknesses and motivations. Not everything thought or action is based in purely noble motives, even if we find out that the main characters are actually nobility. That nobility is not genetic, but developed. It is part of why the theme of humble origins of great kings and leaders is so common.

Personal growth and development often comes through struggle. The second books has lots of struggle. Some of it works out well. Some shows that not all struggle comes out well.

Monster in the Hollows by Andrew PetersonThe third book, Monster in the Hollows, is about development in a different way. I can’t talk about it without revealing that at the end of the second book the family is back together after being separated. They are living in a relatively normal community that has been impacted by the problems of the world around them, but is still relatively safe and without being ruled by the Fangs. The children are able to go to school, although are clearly outsiders. They are able to learn not only normal school subjects, but because of the culture of the community they are in, they learn to fight and develop that way as well.

Character development continues in book three, and more than just Janner, who is the primary character in the series. The character development in book two was primarily focused on physical struggle, but the development in book three is more about internal struggle and motivations and is more constructive than revealing.

I will start book four soon. The series is not perfect, but it is quite good compared to some of the other middle grade fantasy I have read. I like that the adults are not limited to being background characters as many children’s books do. I like that the children are not solving problems because the adults are incompetent. I like that family matters, as does community and tradition. There is faith here (Andrew Peterson is better known as a Christian musician) but it isn’t overly dominant in a way that distracts.

I do think that the recent fantasy books I read, Boy of Dreams, without making a big deal about it, included multi-racial cast of characters. Wingfeather, like Lord of the Rings and a lot of fantasy seems like an entirely White world. It isn’t simply about political correctness that I appreciate Boy of Dreams having a multi-racial cast. The way we envision a world matters. I think that it matters that the author of Boy of Dreams is in an interracial marriage matters. Most authors that I know that are writing with diverse casts are either minorities themselves or are in close relationships with those that are non-White.

North or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook 
Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook 

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