Book Review – ‘Freeglader’ by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Rating: 4/5 stars

“Fleeing from the ruins of New Undertown, Rook Barkwater and his colleagues — the librarian knights, Felix Lodd and his banderbear friends — must lead the escaping population to a new life in the Free Glades. But perils aplenty are ahead for the crowd — not to mention some goblins with plans of their own. This is the dramatic and exciting conclusion to the Rook Barkwater sequence that takes the reader on a thrilling journey across the Edgeworld.”

This book is the ninth book in the Edge Chronicles, the third and final book of the Rook Trilogy, and as such this review may contain spoilers for earlier books.
This was an interesting book for me to read. I found it in an impromptu visit to a charity shop. Bought it and, to my utter delight, found it signed by the author and illustrator. If you’ve read any of my reviews of previous books in this series then you’ll know how fantastic a moment that was for me. As such, I have really looked forward to reading the ‘special book’, at least since I managed to get into the Rook Trilogy. However, I’m not sure whether I really enjoyed this book as a book.
Okay, that was a weird thing to say, I know. The problem is, I did enjoy this book but I feel this was more because I enjoyed the references the other books. The chapter entitled ‘Cocoon Dreams’ was undoubtedly my favourite part of the novel because I enjoyed looking back, with fresh eyes, over the previous trilogies’ plot lines. Nothing happened to the plot of ‘Freeglader’ in this chapter, it was just incredibly nostalgic.
See, that was the problem for me… the plot. Yes, there was a clear plot. Undertowners must get to the Free Glades safely and then defend their new home. There were sub-plots with Xanth and Magda, Rook and the sepia-storm, the different goblins. Everything was there. However, when I reached the end of the book I couldn’t help but look back and feel that I’d read a lot of shapeless stuff. Sure, stuff had happened but it didn’t seem to tell a story quite like the other novels. Major happenings occurred towards the end that seemed to be a little too sudden to be believable or enjoyable and others felt really rather unresolved. As I said, all the building blocks were there but it just seemed that there was something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Actually, I would also say that there seemed to be a few too many main characters in this novel at times. Whereas in previous books there has always been one main protagonist with a large cast of important supporting characters, I couldn’t really work out who this book was following. It made it harder to actually emotionally connect with any of the characters, and therefore difficult to appreciate the events, because of this fragmentation.
That said, I would probably have given this book five stars, personally, simply because of the nostalgia. It gets five and a half because of the family tree at the back, lets be honest! The reason I have given this book four stars is because I feel that this is a fairer representation of the quality of the writing and story telling itself. 
To buy a physical copy of this novel on amazon click here and for the kindle version here.

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