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  • Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights
  • Written by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385736121
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  • Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights
  • Written by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307495020
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Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights

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Written by Paul StewartAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Paul Stewart and Chris RiddellAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Chris Riddell

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List Price: $8.99

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On Sale: June 17, 2009
Pages: 400 | ISBN: 978-0-307-49502-0
Published by : David Fickling Books RH Childrens Books
Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights Cover

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In the great floating city of Sanctaphrax, blizzards howl through the streets as the Edgeworld descends into an endless winter. Quint, the son of a sky pirate, has just begun his training at the Knights Academy—training that involves heading out over the Edge on tethers to develop his flying skills. But when Quint breaks the rules and heads out to Open Sky on his own, he runs into the great sky leviathans known as cloud-eaters and must use all his skill and ingenuity if catastrophe is not to strike the Edgeworld. . . .


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

·chapter one·





The School of Colour and LighT STudies







The academic, in his grubby, paint-spattered robes of faded ‘viaduct’ blue, turned the crank lever with his free hand. The cog wheels in the rotating tower high above him chattered and squealed like angry ratbirds, and a shaft of light cut through the dusty air. The academic levelled the brush in his other hand and tilted his head to one side, his pale yellow eyes fixed on the youth before him.

‘A little more to the left now, I think, Master Quint,’ he said, his voice soft but insinuating. ‘So the light catches you. Just so . . .’

Quint did as he was told. The early morning light streaming in from the high tower window fell across his face, glinting on his cheekbones, the tips of his ears and nose and, with its rusting pipes and gauges, the battered armour he wore.

‘Excellent, my young squire,’ the academic muttered approvingly. He dipped the tip of the hammelhornhair brush into the white paint on his palette and dabbed lightly at the tiny painting on the easel before him. ‘Now we must let the light work its magic,’ he murmured. The dabbing continued. ‘The highlights complete the picture, Master Quint. But I must insist that you hold still.’

Quint tried to maintain the pose – but it wasn’t easy. The tower was small and airless, and the heady odours from the pigments, the pinewood oils and the thinning varnishes were combining to make his eyes water and his head ache. The rusty, ill-fitting armour chafed his neck, and his left leg had gone quite numb. Besides, he was dying to see the finished portrait. It was all he could do not to turn right round and inspect it for himself.

‘The dawn light,’ clucked the academic. ‘There’s nothing like it for illuminating the subject . . .’ His pale yellow eyes darted back and forth over Quint’s features. ‘And what an illustrious subject we are, my young squire.’

He chuckled, and Quint tried not to blush.

‘The protégé of none other than the Most High Academe of Sanctaphrax . . .’ He turned away and began stabbing at the palette like a woodthrush after a spanglebug. ‘How lucky you are, Master Quint, not to have to scrabble about with the rest of us in the minor schools, but to be given a place at the most prestigious academy of them all. I wonder . . .’ The academic’s voice was laden with sudden spite. ‘I wonder what you actually did to deserve it?’

The academic’s eyes were fixed on Quint’s face once more. They were so pale that there was almost no difference between the irises and the yellowish white that surrounded them. It was a mark of his trade, Quint told himself, trying not to shudder. Just as years of working as an Undertown rope-turner resulted in spatula-shaped fingers, and just as a slaughterer tanner from the Deepwoods ended up with skin the colour of blood, so, as the years passed, the eyes of Sanctaphrax portraitists were gradually bleached by the vapours of the thinning varnishes they used – and Ferule Gleet had been a portraitist for many, many years.

‘I was the Most High Academe’s apprentice . . .’ Quint looked down, his cheeks blazing as he remembered the monstrous gloamglozer and the night of the terrible fire.

‘Keep still!’ rasped Gleet, irritatedly dabbing at the portrait. ‘Ah, yes,’ he smiled thinly. ‘There was that fire at the Palace of Shadows, wasn’t there? Strange and dreadful business . . . How is the Most High Academe? Recovering well, I hope.’

The pale yellow eyes bored into Quint’s once more.

‘As well as can be expected,’ the youth replied, but the words rang hollow in his ears as he thought of his mentor lying in the gloomy bedchamber at the School of Mist.

Linius Pallitax had suffered grievously at the hands of the terrible gloamglozer. He had almost been destroyed. Perhaps it would have been better if he had, for now he never left his bed, and his haunted eyes stared into the distance, seeing neither his faithful servant, Tweezel, nor Quint, his apprentice – nor even his own daughter, Maris, who sat beside him for so many hours, praying for him to recover.

Ferule Gleet daubed at the tiny painting in silence for a moment.

‘As well as can be expected, eh?’ he mused at last. ‘Doesn’t sound too good. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to him, my fine young squire. Not in your position.’

‘My position?’ said Quint, trying not to move.

‘You’re the High Academe’s protégé, aren’t you? Without him, you don’t expect that the Knights Academy would accept you into its hallowed halls, do you? Of course not!’ Ferule shook his head. ‘Sanctaphrax born and bred, that’s always been the rule. The rest of us have to get by at the minor academies as best we can.’

He wiped his brush on a piece of rag, and turned the easel round.

‘There,’ he announced.

Quint found himself staring at the miniature painting of a young knight academic in gleaming armour, with deep indigo eyes and a smile on his face. Ferule Gleet of the School of Colour and Light Studies had done a fine job all right. Quint shivered.

‘Is anything wrong?’ Ferule asked.

‘It’s nothing,’ Quint said quietly.

He had no intention of telling the pale-eyed academic about the memories the miniature painting had stirred – memories of the first time he’d had his portrait done.

How young he’d been then. Four, maybe five years old; the youngest of six brothers. His father, Wind Jackal, had commissioned the mural of the whole family for the grand hall of their palace in the Western Quays. What happy days they’d been. But they hadn’t lasted, he thought bitterly. Within a year of the painting being completed, Turbot Smeal – his father’s treacherous quartermaster – had torched his master’s house. Quint’s mother and brothers had perished in the blaze, and with them, the painting itself had been destroyed.


From the Hardcover edition.
Paul Stewart|Chris Riddell

About Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart - Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights

Photo © Rolf Marriott

Paul Stewart is the co-creator of the bestselling Edge Chronicles series, with Chris Riddell. He is also the author of a number of previous titles for children including The Wakening.

About Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell - Edge Chronicles: The Winter Knights

Photo © Rolf Marriott

Chris Riddell is the co-creator of the bestselling Edge Chronicles series, with Paul Stewart. He has illustrated many children’s books including the award-winning Pirate Diary. He is also the political cartoonist for the Guardian and Observer newspapers.

Talking to Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell about the Edge Chronicles

Q. What was your inspiration for The Edge Chronicles?
Paul:
The Edge Chronicles started off with the map. Chris drew it and gave it to me saying, 'here is the world, tell me what happens there.'
Chris: I drew a map that looked like the edge of a map because I’ve always been fascinated by the edges of maps - the place where the known world ends.
Paul: My main inspiration for the Deepwoods was perhaps the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, though other books–Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Gormenghast, Gulliver's Travels– also played their part.
Q: What was your favorite character(s) to create?
Chris:
My favorite character is the spindlebug. It was easy for Paul to write that it was see-through, like glass, but a challenge for an illustrator to draw. The creatures live an immense amount of time–up to four centuries –which means that they witness a lot more history of the Edge than other characters.
Paul: My favorite characters are the banderbears. Chris drew them first as fierce, pyramid-like bear creatures. Because they looked so ferocious, I made their character more timid. We have enjoyed developing the creatures as the series has progressed, learning about their natural habits and habitat and creating a language all of their own.
Q: Where did you come up with the names for your characters? The various personalities and life stories?
Paul:
Both of us hate the clichéd fantasy names and tried to make the names in the Edge world a little different. Woodtrolls have woody names, like Snatchwood, Gruffbark, Snetterbark. Slaughterers have 'meaty' names like Gristle, Sinew, Tendon and Brisket. The academics have Latin/Basque names with lots of ius's and x's. Cowlquape, who goes through lots of changes, has a name taken from the German for tadpole - Kaulquappe. While Twig, of course, is just a tiny bit of the forest.
As the series has progressed, with prequels and sequels, the life histories of the various characters have become more deeply described. So Twig's mother, Maris, is only mentioned in Beyond the Deepwoods. In book 4, the Curse of the Gloamglozer, we meet her as a girl. And in the book we have just completed, Book 7 - Freeglader - we learn all about what happened to her after she abandoned her baby in the Deepwoods. The continuity revealed as the story unfolds is deeply satisfying.
Q: What was your favorite book as a child?
Chris:
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Paul: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Q: Since you both work as a team from conception to finish, what is the creative process like?  How exactly does the collaboration work?
Paul:
The pictures and words take shape simultaneously, each affecting the development of the other. Sometimes characters and creatures start with a picture, sometimes with a textual description. In addition, the plot is worked on constantly by both of us and, when they are around, our children! Similarly, the text is passed back and forth, being rewritten continuously, until both of us are happy with it.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of writing the series?
Paul:
The whole process is challenging. More importantly, though, it is also rewarding. Both of us have immense fun playing with the Edge world. Beyond the Deepwoods was the simplest book, an episodic rite of passage novel where we, as well as the main protagonist, began to explore this new world. As we have gone deeper into it, the world has become richer and richer, and the storylines similarly, more involved. We are fascinated by the way the world is still developing as we learn more and more about its history and explore all areas of the political and natural world in increasing depth.
Q: When did you first begin writing/drawing?
Chris:
At five years old in the back pew of my father's church. My mother gave me paper and pens to keep me quiet during Dad's (very interesting) sermons.
Paul: From the moment I could write, I have been writing down stories. At seven, I was working on a series of stories about a snail called Oliver. At ten, I attempted to write a follow-up to The Phantom Tollbooth with ideas that took shape over the next 20 years and finally became a book entitled The Thought Domain.
Q: In Midnight Over Sanctaphrax, Twig deals with the loss of two father figures. How is this important for his development?
Paul:
Twig has to grow up and assume responsibility for his father's crew and, when he learns of Tuntum's death, he realizes how he has grown and matured since he left the Woodtroll village. He hopes that Tuntum would be proud of him, and what he has achieved.
Q: What scene did you have the most fun creating?
Chris:
Both of us enjoyed the wig-wig arena scene a lot. The whole Shryke slave market, with its platforms and walkways all hanging from the Deepwoods trees, was great fun to create as a home for the flightless Shrykes. The escape from it on Prowlgrinback was also great fun both to write and draw. 
Paul: Midnight over Sanctaphrax was the third in the series, and the book where we were beginning to reap the rewards both of close collaboration and of getting to know the world more deeply. The Prowlgrins (which I had originally described as being like hyena/leopard-like creatures, but which Chris had drawn as a curious cross between a whale and a toad) looked to me as if they were brilliantly designed for leaping from branch to branch. Therefore the pictures in Book 1 directly influenced the plot in Book 3. Similarly, in book 1, I had wanted a pirate-like punishment similar to keelhauling, and had come up with sky-firing. In Midnight over Sanctaphrax, this throwaway idea becomes pivotal to the plot– but we won't give it away just in case you haven't read the book yet!
Q: The Edge Chronicles seems perfectly suited for film, with its fast-paced action, loveable creatures, and incredible comic-timing. Were you thinking along these lines during its inception?
Paul:
We did not deliberately set out to produce fiction which could be turned into a film. That said, both of us work in a very visual way, so a lot of the plotting, characterization and scene development is quite cinematic. It would be a great thrill to see The Edge Chronicles realized on the big screen!

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