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Stormchaser: Edge Chronicles #2    by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell order for
by Paul Stewart
Order:  USA  Can
David Fickling Books, 2004 (1999)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The author and illustrator team extraordinaire of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell release another tale of the Edge world, one of 'a thousand ... recorded in ancient scrolls ... passed down the generations'. The story begins at midday in Undertown, a hustling, bustling, rough, and ruthless habitat. As Twig navigates the streets in the heat and foul smells, he hears his name called and finds friend Caterbird locked in a pet shop cage. In exchange for being freed, the large bird tells Twig a story of Sanctaphrax, the noble city of academia and scholars.

It is thus that Twig learns that his father, Quintinius Verginix (a.k.a. Cloud Wolf and captain of the Stormchaser sky ship) was a member of the city's Order of the Knights of Academics. By devious means, villain Vilnix Pompolnius is appointed the Most High Academe of Sanctaphrax. Feeling betrayed, Knight Quintinius chooses to leave the city. Because it would put his son's life in danger, Quintinius has not revealed Twig's identity. Aboard Stormchaser, Twig is introduced as a crew-member and begins lessons in sky sailing. While attempting to maneuver the ship under his father's direction, a mishap causes damage. This leads Cloud Wolf to bargain with Mother Horsefeather, proprietress of The Bloodoak Tavern, for monetary assistance to make repairs.

She in turn asks Quintinius to chase a storm in order to obtain the valued 'stormphrax', produced by lightning. Stormphrax is important to the existence of Sanctaphrax. Cloud Wolf accepts the deal, and readies crew and sky ship for a dangerous journey. It is a sad time for the excited Twig, however, as his father decides to leave him behind in the care of Mother Horsefeather. Unbeknownst to all, a traitorous eavesdropper lurks around the corner. He rushes the storm-chasing news to the Undertown League of Free Merchants, weaving his own deal for self-serving advancement. And a crew member stows Twig aboard the ship. When the destructive storm chase forces Cloud Wolf to order his crew members to abandon ship, he remains with his vessel.

The crew, including the Professor of Light and Twig, land in the Twilight Woods. Though enchanting to the observer, the woods are treacherous and deadly. Crew members appoint Twig as Captain to lead them out of the woods. Twig courageously fights evil beings, and bravely faces destructive forces, while assisting his friends through loss and survival. It is difficult to determine whether the sun is setting or rising in the Twilight Woods. The Professor of Light describes twilight as 'that mystical moment between light and darkness'. The pace quickens as adventures deepen and the daily survival of Edge's inhabitants is at stake. Beyond the Twilight Woods, Twig engages in more danger, discovery, sadness, hard-won triumph, deserved accolades, and is set for the next adventure on his own sky ship!

With a fabulous story-line, Stewart deftly introduces new creations and descriptions of the Edge world - flathead and hammer-head goblins, oakelves, mobgnomes, trolls and trogs, ragger and royners. Riddell continues giving life to characters and actions through elegantly, detailed illustrations. Readers can look forward to more installments of the same. I am delightfully addicted to The Edge Chronicles, and tell myself I must be patient for the arrival of the next episode(s). I cannot forget the unique sounds and expressions -- clash! crash! hack and slash!, wheeeiiiiii, creak, creak -- says the tavern sign in the wind, whish, bwuh, and boof, and 'Lawks-a-mussy' yells Mother Horsefeather.

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