A Review of “The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson

My journey to The Wingfeather Saga.

Once again, and to my everlasting shame, I am late to the Andrew Peterson party. Andrew Peterson has been creating beautiful, inspiring, and challenging music for over 20 years. For reasons that I have yet to completely figure out, he was always on my periphery. I knew about him. I even knew a few of his songs. Nevertheless, I never took the time to sit down and really listen until about five years ago. Of course, I fell in love with his work. He is a gifted songwriter and musician and his music speaks more deeply to my heart than just about anything else out there.

You would think that having completely missed the boat for so long on his music, I wouldn’t have made that mistake again when it comes to his fantasy series, The Wingfeather Saga. You would be wrong. I knew about the books. I have friends who read them and loved them. My oldest son and my wife read them and loved them as well. Still, I ignored them. There is no excuse for that, mind you. I knew better than to doubt Peterson’s ability as a writer. I will admit a part of me was scared I would not enjoy the books and it would cloud my view of his music. Utterly preposterous, but it’s the truth.

For better or worse, I put them off, thinking I would eventually get around to them. Eventually, I read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (the first book in The Wingfeather Saga) and enjoyed it, though I would hesitate to say I loved it. In a weird way, it confirmed some of my fears. I thought the series was going to be a witty, quirky, somewhat silly thing and I just didn’t have a strong desire to read something like that. So I stopped after the first book.

Wingfeather Saga

Finally, in the fall of 2017, I decided to read the entire series. I started again with the first book, as I am a completist of sorts, and worked my way through the next three books over the period of a few months. It blew me away. Completely. In every way. Yes, the books can be silly and quirky, but they are also epic and emotionally rich.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read my stuff for REO, but I cried a lot reading this series. I cried because while the setting and the world is fantastical and whimsical, the characters are living, breathing people. They are spiritual and emotional creatures and their struggles and triumphs matter. They leave a mark. I’m never going to forget the time I spent with Janner, Tink, Leeli, Podo, Nia, and all the other wonderful characters that populate Peterson’s story. I eagerly await the time when I visit them again.

Peterson is a gifted and natural storyteller, as his music and lyrics attest. He writes with a love of poetry, of song, of food and cheer. He writes from deep places of pain and loneliness to deeper places of joy and belonging. Perhaps most importantly, beyond the artistic skill on display, these books work because they are more than just good stories. They are a reflection, a bright and glorious reflection, of the great Story that underpins all of Creation. The Wingfeather Saga is a story infused with light, love, grace, mercy, hope, and redemption. And it’s funny. Incredibly funny.

Wingfeather Saga

When we got married, my wife and I had less stuff than we do now but we were able to care for that stuff a little better than after we added three somewhat rambunctious boys to our lives. Back then, I had a shelf where I displayed some of my favorite movies and books. (We had other bookshelves and CD shelves where the less important stuff was relegated.) The preeminent shelf held my greatest treasures – The Lord of the Rings (Movies and books), The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, and Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle. Things like that. If I still had a shelf like that in my house, The Wingfeather Saga would find a place there.

Maybe that is the highest compliment I can give it. It would fit seamlessly next to books like The Hobbit, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harry Potter. Andrew Peterson has proven that he takes a backseat to no one. The Wingfeather Saga is a modern day classic, comfortably existing in the same conversation with the great stories by Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, and Rowling.

I don’t know if Andrew Peterson will ever write another series like this. Hopefully he does. I promise that I won’t be late to that party. I know better now.

Phill Lytle

I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

6 thoughts on “A Review of “The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson

  • December 10, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Much like Phill says above, I have an entire bookcase that is just for LOTR, Narnia, Harry Potter…and these books. We can fill up an entire bookcase in part because Kayla and I both had our own copies so now we have two of each. And we have a few of them in Spanish. Some of the books I don’t know well enough in English to tackle in Spanish yet.

  • December 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    I have got to read these books!

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  • June 12, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Welcome to the club. Better late than never. I’m late to the discussion club, apparently. I’ve met several people now who have read the first book of The Wingfeather Saga, or part of it, and stopped. It makes me sad, but I do recognize that the first book is – I’m not sure the best way to phrase it – not necessarily the easiest book to get emotionally invested in with the first read. And that can discourage someone from finishing the first book and/or the rest of the story. It is worth it. It is so worth it. I have never met anyone who had finished the entire story and didn’t love it passionately. I have never met anyone who had started the second book and never finished the entire story. Most who have finished it have read it multiple times, and the emotional attachment lacking during that first read of the first book (which, I admit, was true for me as well) was not lacking during the subsequent readings.

    • June 13, 2019 at 8:44 am

      Very well put, Nathan. I do think there is a missing emotional connection in the first book – the first time you read it. It’s there, but it’s not as obvious.

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