I make absolutely no apology for reading and reviewing a children’s novel. Stewart and Riddell are probably the best in their field at the moment, and have created a memorable series of characters and worlds, not only in the marvellous Edge Chronicles, but elsewhere with creations such as Barnaby Grimes and Goth Girl.
While strong pre-teen readers will get the most out of these books (this edition runs to 350 pages) they would also be enjoyed by later teens, adults looking for some nostalgic light relief, or even precocious 10/11 year olds.
‘The Nameless One’ picks up the saga after a four year break since ‘The Immortals’ was published in 2010. ‘The Immortals’ tied together a lot of threads, and had the feeling of a series closer – but I am delighted that Stewart and Riddell have decided to continue the series after a break, and have published the second in the Cade saga, ‘Doombringer’.
The Edge Chronicles are Stewart and Riddell’s finest creation, a wonderfully detailed and realised world peopled with fantastic creatures such as banderbears and wig wigs, and locations such as the floating city of Sanctaphrax. The flora and fauna of the world is sketched in exquisite, careful detail, and the characterisation is strong. The central characters changes over the course of the series, but there is a strong narrative thread running through all 12 books published thus far, with returning characters and situations. In this novel the third Age of Flight has arrived, and with it the debate about what if anything is beyond the Edge is causing friction amongst the academics of Great Glade. We follow the adventures of Cade Quarter, nephew of the descender Nate Quarter, as he flees Great Glade and tries to build a life for himself in the Deepwoods. This quickly becomes a survivalist story, because while cade has everything he needs to survive, including some important companions, the Deepwoods are a dangerous place for a city boy, including the memorable and gory carnivorous bloodoak.
The level of genuine peril is to be honest low – we always know that however bleak the situation Cade will survive into the sequel. But as readers of earlier novels in the series will know, survival is not always guaranteed, and there are losses along the way. The narrative development in this novel reminded me of the first in the chronicles – ‘Into the Deepwoods’ – where a lot of time is spent establishing a core set of characters and situations, and lots of plotlines are laid down for later progression. I really enjoyed returning to the Edge, admittedly partly out of nostalgia, and look forward to seeing how Cade’s story develops.