The Wingfeather Saga, Book 3: An Honest Review

Hey! You’re back! Honestly, I would have been surprised that I stayed this long. I was initially queasy about reading this series, and was honestly looking forward to a roasting. I’m a big fan of unpopular opinions and standing against the crowd. But do you know what I like more than unpopular opinions? Honest opinions.

And in my honest opinion, the quality of the Wingfeather saga just went up a notch. This is the only book so far that I really enjoyed start-to-finish, and I haven’t read an epic fantasy story of that caliber since finishing up Narnia. Of course, Lewis is miles ahead of Peterson for obvious reasons, but this series definitely hit me in the feels.

First, a recap: Janner, Leeli, Podo, Nia, Artham (formerly Peet) and Kalmar (formerly Tink) are on a ship heading away from their recent disaster with the servants of Gnag. Having barely escaped with their lives, they are pursued by three ships. However, Artham and Kalmar confirm that the ships contain friendlies, not enemies.

As soon as the four ships dock in Ban Rona, the ancient ally of the Anniera, Nia announced to the townsfolk that she’s the queen of the long-lost country. The townsfolk are genuinely delighted to have them, especially their leader, Rudric. Artham and Podo get a warm welcome, but the townspeople are terrified and angry about the presence of Kalmar, who you may remember has been turned into a Grey Fang.

The angry townspeople lock Kalmar up, and Nia has a rough time convincing Rudric that he’s really her son, and even then Rudric sways in favor of the people. However, Nia invokes an ancient law that allows Kalmar to go free, but the punishments of whatever crimes the young Grey Fang may commit also fall upon the one who invoked the law. Kalmar is restored to the family, but with an uneasy peace between them.

Nia sends the children off to school, where they are briefed by the headmaster (a giant, whiskered woman and old friend of Nia’s) and told that all of them, especially Kalmar, will be treated unfairly by some members of the school. Janner initially wants to go to study bookbinding, but caves because he must accompany his brother to a martial arts and spy training wing of the school.

Most of the story is the way you might expect: jerks giving Kalmar a bad time, picking on Janner and Leeli, walking home each day to tell the tale to consoling parents and grandparents. All this time, a cloven (massive bear-esque animal) has been stalking those parts and whispering ominous telepathic messages to the children.

Kalmar succeeds in impressing the head guildmaster in charge of sneakery and is commended in front of the class. Janner finally confronts Grigory Bunge, the main source of antagonism in the school to date. Things seem to be riding all right; until the cloven turns up again, and Fangs have been spotted at the border.

Janner learns that Kalmar had been sneaking out every night, and follows him in the first snowfall of the winter, to find that he’s been causing all the animal thievery that’s been happening lately. As it turns out, Kalmar took pity on the wounded cloven and hid it in a tent, feeding it on game that he’d caught and killed. Janner can’t bring himself to understand–yet.

Kalmar and Janner are caught at the mouth of the tent and are immediately hauled off to jail, where the entire family arrives and are imprisoned. Kalmar takes a brutal beating at the hands of the guards before getting hauled before the court (Rudric, to whom Nia is now engaged, is absent at the moment, so the leader’s second is in charge of legal affairs). Kalmar is promptly condemned to death (along with Nia, if you remember) when a woman arrives and accuses Kalmar of murdering her daughter.

However, good ‘ole Oskar and a a family friend named Bonifer (whom we encountered earlier in the story) arrive to invoke an old law that says you can’t kill royalty (you can only exile them). Rudric’s replacement sneers and ignores them, but unexpectedly the cloven arrives, bearing the supposedly murdered girl in its arms, very much alive. The case against Kalmar falls apart, but the guards shoot at the cloven and deal it fatal wounds.

However, Bonifer reveals that it was a trick all along: he had been working for Gnag this entire time, and sought to get the king’s family exiled so that he could guide them right into the hands of Gnag. Bonifer summons his Grey Fang army, but Rudric arrives at just that time to save his town.

All this time, Artham (who had a whole subplot of his own that involved the Florid Sword, and much to lengthy to mention here) is deeply traumatized at the sight of the cloven, which he recognizes as the transformed version of his brother, the high king–Esben Wingfeather. However, he invokes his song magic (similar to Leeli’s) and heals the cloven, who is fully revealed to be Esben (another long subplot that is worth telling but this little “summary” is getting too long anyway), who then proceeds to gallop off with Nia and Podo to rescue the children, who have been taken captive by Bonifer.

In short, Esben succeeds in freeing the children, who then have a touching moment with their father before he dies. (caused by a stab wound inflicted by Rudric who thought he was an enemy) The story ends with Rudric humbly asking Kalmar’s pardon, and the whole township preparing for war with Gnag.

Why was the summary so long this time? Well, that’s one of the things I liked about this story: there was just so much more substantive quality than the rest of the series. It gripped me from beginning to end with a plot in perpetual motion. At the beginning of the second novel, for instance, there’s just a lot of nondescript running about and evading enemies. I wasn’t really interested until the Fork Factory. This one had me hooked from the first chapter.

All my main problems were answered in this novel: Peterson finally fixed his foreshadowing, and now his plot twists felt well-financed and not too “twisty”. The exceedingly annoying crude humor has also made a departure. Down with the ridiculousness of “toothy cows” and up with the dignity of clovens (in other words, he fixed his naming problem).

So far, the series’ better parts are truly crowned in this novel. It was far more entertaining and the narrative was objectively better than the other two novels I’ve read thus far. It had some legitimate humor, deepened Kalmar’s character development, squared away some long-answered questions that the readers have had, and introduced a few genuinely interesting new characters.

The only thing the story did poorly was Bonifer’s betrayal at the end of the story. While contextually it all made sense, the scene just seemed rushed and poorly done. Too many things were happening at once: Grey Fangs, Rudric’s arrival, Esben’s reanimation, the children’s kidnapping, and flashbacks that revealed the Esben and Artham’s past. Starting with Bonifer’s betrayal, it became a bit muddled–for about ten pages. But at the spur of the moment, I felt confused. Perhaps making Bonifer explain his motives more, and leaving the flashbacks to Esben’s moment with his children would fix this problem.

The other “problems” were just things Peterson hasn’t done yet. Leeli has yet to gain a substantive character arc, and the only characters who are really developed are Podo, Artham, Esben (who’s dead now) Kalmar, and Janner. Nia seems on the verge of being developed, but more has faded to a background character throughout the course of the story. I feel like Leeli is going to have an important role in the events to unfold, but we haven’t got much insight into her character.

Kalmar struggles with his inner nature: his desire to do good versus his desire to do evil. His struggle is much more simple (and satisfying, in my opinion) than the others. Janner struggles with his incompetence and strains at his bond with his brother. He knows he’s not enough, but underscores the amount of faith his brother puts in him. And Leeli? Well…she’s a Bard with a +10 to animal handling, and can speak dog. Her character is largely undeveloped, and I feel that this is going to be a problem going into the next novel.

There’s a ton more here to talk about that I liked, but this article would probably be twice the size if I mentioned it. For now, I’ll just say that this book is a significant upgrade from the first two and is a pretty clear 8.3/10 in my opinion, perhaps higher. Enjoying the saga thus far, and I’m pretty excited for The Warden and the Wolf King.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: