I had a bout of insomnia while reading this first book in the Windfeather Saga, and while I lay in bed in the dark, trying to chase sleep, I began fixating on anagrams. Specifically, I began thinking about the name of one of the characters in the book, Oskar N. Reteep, a bookseller and quoter of rather obvious aphorisms. Mr. Reteep is a preserver of lost cultural artifacts, a monkish character in the tradition of those who preserved the Scriptures and other remnants of cultural significance during the Dark Ages. Anyway, he had a strange name, and I kept thinking it ought to be some sort of anagram, taken from something else.
I rearranged the letters in my head and teased “Peterson” out of it. I’m not really good at anagrams, especially not in my brain in the dark where I can’t really see the letters on paper. So, I convinced myself somehow that “Oskar N. Reteep” was an anagram for Andy Peterson, which seemed significant. However, that wasn’t right, as any waking mind can see. Actually, “Oskar N. Reteep” transforms into “Rake Peterson” or “Aker Peterson” or something similar.
OK, that makes no sense, so I returned to my book and read about a new character, well, a sort of a ghost character, Brimney Stupe. This name contains the letters of the name “Peterson” too. But the leftover letters are “bimyu”. It can’t be coincidence, can it, that both names have “Peterson” in them?
So I’ve gotten carried away with the anagrams. My excuse is . . . insomnia. Not being able to sleep can do strange things to a person. Mr. Peterson, on the other hand, got carried away with the made-up words and footnoted creatures. Between thwaps and cave blats and toothy cows and hogpigs and bumpy digtoads and rat badgers and flabbits and . . . well, you get the picture. Maybe Andrew Peterson can plead insomnia, during which he made up outlandish creatures to stick in his books.
I’m about two-thirds of the way through On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and I must say that although it’s good, it’s not as good as The Warden and the Wolf King, the last book in the four volume series (which I read first, about a month ago). Yeah, I read the books in the wrong order. If I sound a bit screwy, bear with me. I do have something to say here: Andrew Peterson grew as a writer over the course of writing this series. That’s my theory. In this first book Peterson is a little punch-drunk on making up words and place names and footnoting all of them madly. The fourth book takes a more serious turn while retaining the charm and freshness of the first, in love with words and imagination, vision.
And along with the half-formed insomniac theory about name anagrams, I’m sticking with it. The series, that is. I recommend The Wingfeather Saga, preferably read in the correct order and with no attention to anagrams.