Archive | March, 2023

Review for The Windfeather Saga – Books and TV Series (First Season)

12 Mar

               I first came across the animation for the show when I was on The Babylon Bee, so while waiting for the animated premier I checked out the first book, and quickly got another copy of the first book for my niece for Christmas. It’s a little on the advanced side for her at nine (she likes chapter books, but I’m a terrible judge because of my own reading at that age) but the tv show recently put a disclaimer that the show is meant for ages seven and up, mostly due to the violence that occurs in the series.

               The story follows the Igiby siblings who are growing up in the remote community of Glipwood, their world has been conquered by Gnag the Nameless and he has sent his fangs, for the most part, lizard men to enforce his rule. Things change one fateful Dragon Day Festival, when oldest sibling Janner is pulled in two directions; he goes after his mischievous brother “Tink” Kelmar and his sister Leeli attacks a fang in defence of her beloved dog Nugget. Attacking a fang has serious consequences, and the siblings discover who they really are, and that they hold a power to something ancient that Gnag the Nameless desperately wants. Their mother Nia and former-pirate grandfather Podo do everything in their power to keep them safe, which involves them fleeing their home once their true identities are discovered.

               The series is divided into four books, and I said on my Goodreads review of the final book that really the first and third books not much happens but it builds characters and the world, with the second and the fourth books being where most of the plot related stuff takes place. I don’t mind because I’ve read plenty of character-driven stories before, and it seems to me that the author wanted a fun, whimsical world in which to let his characters live and breathe, it’s not a terribly original world but it’s a fun one to visit. I think he did put the plot on the back burner because the characters don’t really interact or affect the plot too much until the final book, where a lot of information gets thrown at us. It’s meant to be more about the characters and the themes then about going into the Kingdom and stopping the evil that’s after them, but overall I think it’s wholly appropriate for the target audience.

               And man, does it cater to the target audience. I believe this is meant to be young boys, although girl characters do get to be active, the main character is Janner, who is the eldest son of the last King of Anniera. In Anniera, when a second child is born, the first one becomes Throne Warden, Protector of the King and the Realm. At first this sounds really weird, but then I remember all of those stories where we have crown princes who wish they could be the ones having adventures, and remembering in history figures like King Richard was off on Crusades as opposed to running his own country.

               It makes sense, and even though at the end of the first book Janner is bemoaning, he quickly grows into his role when it suits him, and even Tink is all like, “Wait, he gets to the physically active one?” although there’s times both boys get frustrated with their designations. Janner wants to be like his uncle Artham, who is conveniently written in and out of the story as needed.

               Artham’s a great character and probably the best fighter. Spoilers! So when Gnag the Nameless came to Anniera, King Esben ordered his Throne Warden Artham to get his family to safety. Artham complied, with only Podo’s wife failing to escape. Once the royal family was on a boat, Artham went back for Esben, and the pair were captured. The process of creating fangs was to take an animal and meld it to a human – the most common type are green fangs, which are lizards, but there are grey fangs (wolves) and Esben was melded with a bear, and Artham was tortured until he half way accepted with a Hawk. He didn’t finish the process lapses in and out of sanity, mostly being confused in the first book but he has enough to know to protect his family, even though Podo blames him for the death of his beloved wife and their relationship is strained at the beginning of the novel, with the kids knowing him as Peet the Sockman, a local crazy who seems harmless. He has talons on his hands and doesn’t need a weapon. Both Janner and Tink admire him, and the character with the exception of being around (or sent away) for the sake of convenience, was probably my favourite in the series.

               A lot of the story makes sense if you’re young, but doesn’t if you’re a little older. The family flees to The Green Hollows, where Nia grew up, once the identities of the royal children are known. This time, more spoilers, Tink has been turned into a grey fang which everyone despises, for with few exception, they are bent to Gnag’s cruelty. She is insistent that they go to school, even though it’s implied that they never went to school before, even knowing no one in the school is going to be accepting of a fang. Also at the school, the kids get to choose guilds to specialize in – raising dogs, cooking, sewing, book binding, fighting. It’s meant to be fun more than make sense, so try not to worry about it.

               Overall, I say if you want wholesome values in a story, and you’re not really worried about crazy world building, the series is a lot of fun and emphasizes the importance of helping people as opposed to trying to get what’s best for yourself all the time.

               The TV series I was honestly impressed with the animation style. It’s CGI but it looks like the old claymation stuff. For the most part the character designs are a lot of fun (moreso the fangs than the people) and the backgrounds are beautiful. I liked the voices and the music and in general, I recommend the cartoon.

               The first five episodes easily could have been the entire first book, and certain changes were made in order to streamline events. Rather than telling us how Podo had to return a garden hoe “weapon” or he’d get fined, they showed it. The Igiby children were never arrested after the Dragon Day Festival, and they included a character who plays a role in later books, Sarah Cobbler, to emphasize that Janner knew and cared about her. The final sixth episode in my opinion was the worst because the show runners weren’t sure how to do a climax and it was mostly action, with the final bit of revelation happening towards the end. It’s not a bad episode by any means, but I remember watching the fifth episode and thinking, “They could end it here”. I would have to watch it again to comment on the fight choreography – it’s way too scary for younger children but, the story doesn’t emphasize on violence (although there’s plenty – Gnag sends soldiers and people defend themselves).

               Overall, I say it’s worth checking out at the very least. The second season of the animated show is currently under production, and they plan on having at least seven seasons for four books, so that tells you how much more story they have to cover.