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  "Far far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, like the figurehead of a mighty stone ship, is the Edge."


The Edge Chronicles are a young adult fantasy series written by Paul Stewart and illustrated by Chris Riddell. Surprisingly dark and cynical for its target audience, the novels take place on the Edge, which is essentially the edge of the world. Or, at least, this is what the series leads you to believe, before throwing you a curve ball in the last book of the franchise. Filled with sky pirates, bizarre wildlife, and a notable aversion to many stock fantasy tropes, the series is highly recommended.

It should be noted that this series has some of the most detailed and beautiful art you will see in any novel, anywhere. Also some of the ugliest; also some of the scariest.

It consists of four trilogies (each centered around a certain character) and one additional novel.

The first trilogy (the Twig sequence) consists of Beyond the Deepwoods, Stormchaser, and Midnight over Sanctaphrax. The second (centered on Rook Barkwater) includes The Last of the Sky Pirates, Vox, and Freeglader. The third trilogy (a prequel starring Quint) is covered in The Curse of the Gloamglozer, The Winter Knights, and Clash of the Sky Galleons. The Immortals is a standalone novel set about 500 years after Freeglader. The fourth trilogy (centered on Cade Quarter) consists of The Nameless One, Doombringer and The Descenders.

Tropes Used:

  • Zero-Percent Approval Rating: Vilnix Pompolnius
    • Hemtuft Battleaxe, and later, Kulltuft Warhammer
  • Action Girl: Eudoxia in 'The Immortals', Varis and Magda in the Rook Trilogy.
    • Maris too, even though her action is mostly off-screen between the Quint and Twig Trilogies.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Mostly averted. Even some of the more aggressive species, such as shrykes, flat-head goblins, and termagant trogs have individuals who side with the heroes, and most races have both good and evil members.
  • Amazon Brigade: Shrykes.
  • Androcles' Lion: Twig gains the friendship of all banderbears after helping one with a rotten tooth.
    • Subsequently, Rook also becomes a friend of banderbears after rescuing one from an evil slave-employing factory.
  • Anyone Can Die: As long as they aren't the main character.
    • The main character of one trilogy can die in the next one though.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From The Immortals:

 "Arrest?" said Felftis Brack cooly, backing away. "On what charges?"

"Charges of fraud, embezzlement, blackmail, smuggling, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit murder..."

*Brack tries to flee, but runs into some sports players he hired and never paid, who throw him into a lake*

"...And non-payment of the New Lake thousandsticks team," finished the constable.

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Cloud Wolf. Also Twig and Rook, eventually.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Vilnix Pompolnius to the Professor of Darkness.
  • Asshole Victim: Thunderbolt Vulpoon in Midnight Over Sanctaphrx, though you can actually feel a bit sorry for him when he dies.
  • The Atoner: Does the name Xanth Filatine mean anything to you?!
  • Awesome McCoolname: Subverted when Twig meets the impressively-named coward, slaver, and all around pathetic asshole Thunderbolt Vulpoon.
    • His son Deadbolt Vulpoon lives up to his name though.
    • This applies to every sky pirate captain, given that they either choose their own cool name or their father chooses a cool name for them.
    • Also subverted with Stepford Smiler Thaw Daggerslash.
      • It kinda fits though. The dagger is the weapon of backstabbing and treachery.
    • Most other characters also have really cool names, even if they are just bit-parts. For example, there is the creepy slaver named Ilmus Pentaphraxis. Vox Verlix also has a pretty cool name for a Fat Bastard.
    • Averted with Twig, although he doesn't seem to care. Besides, he does get an Awesome McCoolname at the end of Stormchaser - Arborinus Verginix.

 "What sort of name is Twig for the son of Quintinius Verginix, the finest sky pirate to ever sail the heavens blue?"

"It's my name."

  • Badass: Sky pirates, as a rule.
    • Also, banderbears.
  • Badass Bookworm: Badass Scholars, really, but: Librarian Knights and Knights Academic. Ambris Hentadile also deserves a mention.
    • As does Bungus Septrill.
  • Badass Crew: Sky pirate crews.
  • Badass Beard: Tem Barkwater and Fenbrus Lodd
  • Badass Family: The Verginix family.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Any and all conversations involving Banderbears.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Female Termagant Trogs are hulking, ill-tempered bald amazons, while their male counterparts are small, skinny, and passive.
    • And Shrykes play on the reality that females are larger for many predatory bird species by having the females being larger, fiercer and much more aggressive. Males, or "shryke-mates", are invariably referred to as "weedy" or "pitiful", and are usually pictured as scrawny little things being hauled around on collars
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Vilnix, Vox, Thaw.
    • Subverted with Xanth.
  • Body Horror: Hoverworm venom makes you inflate like a ballon, float into the sky, and eventually pop. Also noteworthy is the fate of Hax Vostillix in The Winter Knights: tricked into eating woodwasp eggs, which hatch inside him and sting their way out.
  • Brick joke: Overlapping with continuity nod. The League-Master's round table is seen in Stormchaser first, Gets shattered by a falling weight near the start of Midnight over Sanctaphrax, and then in Vox, several books later, Rook finds himself in the palace, and notices an odd round table, that had at one point been snapped in half and then crudely bolted back together.
  • The Bully: Vox Verlix in Midnight Over Sanctaphrax.
    • Also Branxford Drew.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: The first few books were chock full of original creatures with a light smattering of Mix-and-Match Critters, but as the series progressed the number of normal animals with "wood" tacked onto the beginning of the name increased. Woodbees, woodturkeys, woodwolves...
  • The Cavalry: The Freeglade Lancers.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Caterbird.
    • Quint's portrait. Dear God, Quint's portrait. It plays an important part in the Quint and Rook trilogies, The Slaughterer's Quest, and The Immortals.
    • The Skyraider.
    • Vox Verlix.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Cowlquape.
  • Child Soldiers: The series loves this trope. We have the academics-at-arms in the Quint trilogy, the Librarian Knights and some of the Freeglade Lancers in the Rook trilogy, and at one point Nate and Eudoxia (and probably some others) in The Immortals. Results in a case of Fridge Horror when you read about the horrible fates some of them suffer and then remember how old they are.
  • Cool Ship: Any sky ship of any sort, period.
  • Continuity Nod: All over The Immortals. For example, the scene where Nate meets Weelum is very similar to the one in Beyond the Deepwoods where Twig meets the first banderbear to appear in the series.
    • Another example appears in the final story in The Lost Barkscrolls anthology, when the main characters visit the ruins of the Foundry Glades and find the skeleton of Amberfuce in the cauldron he was boiled alive in at the end of Freeglader.
    • A subtle one in Midnight Over Sanctaphrax when Flabsweat, a minor character in the previous book, gets a passing mention.
    • Played with in The Last of the Sky Pirates. When Rook is talking to Deadbolt Vulpoon, the latter mentions how his father gave his life to save Twig in the last trilogy. It didn't quite happen like that.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Leagues of Undertown are full of these.
  • Darker and Edgier: to the average story of this kind. So very much.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Slaughters and the Professor of Darkness sound like evil people... but the Slaughters are merely the red-colored, happy-go-lucky professional butchers of the Edgewoods, while the Professor of Darkness studies literal darkness (as in, the absence of light).
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Professor.
  • Death World: The Deepwoods.
    • Only the Deepwoods? The entire place can be considered this, from a filthy bog full of predators to a forest that turns you into a zombie. Hell, even the towns are almost like this.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Are they ever! If by some miracle a main character's parents are still around when the story begins, you can bet they probably won't make it to the end of the trilogy.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Maris's attitude toward Quint in Curse of the Gloamglozer.
  • The Devil Is a Loser: The Gloamglozer is essentially a Captain Ersatz of Satan, and all he's interested in is playing petty (albeit deadly) tricks on people.
  • Dirty Communists: averted very hard with the Freeglades. If this series was written during the Cold War, it might have been called communist propaganda. Though they're not really affiliated with Soviet Russia per se in any way, the Freeglades' society is basically communism that works - everybody works honestly, money has been made unnecessary, and everyone is happy. (By contrast, many of the villains are ruthless capitalists.)
  • Doorstopper: The Immortals is essentially a sequence of four novels (one for each city) all bound together as a single book.
    • The special editions of each trilogy in one volume count too.
  • Disney Villain Death: Vilnix Pompolnius in Stormchaser.
    • Also Thunderbolt Vulpoon. Though it wasn't the fall that killed him - he is eaten alive by Wig-Wigs.
  • Dystopia: The Old Undertown.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The fact the slavery is illegal is really the only limit on the Leagues' power in Undertown, although some still keep slaves anyway.
  • The Evil Genius: Vox Verlix
  • Evil Plan: Enacted by both Vox Verlix and Thaw Daggerslash.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower of Night.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Gloamglozer is arguably one. Until you learn that it was created, in part, by Maris's father.
    • The Rogue Glister. No questions.
  • Emotion Eater: The Gloamglozer.
  • Enemy Civil War: In Vox, the goblins and shrykes hate each other almost as much as they hate the good guys.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: That more or less sums up the plot of the first book.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Guess what Screed Toe-Taker's gimmick is.
  • Eye Scream: The glister from "Curse of the Gloamglozer" attacks its victims by holding them down and forcing tendrils into their eyes. Apparently, it's quite painful.
  • Fantastic Racism: Thaw Daggerlash.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted in The Immortals.
  • Fat Bastard: Vox Verlix
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The Twilight Woods make you both immortal and insane.
  • Feathered Fiend: Shrykes.
    • Vulpoons are also unpleasant.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: And how.
    • Technically, it applies to men too, especially in the Rook trilogy. Everyone expects Felix to be chosen as a Librarian Knight elect because of who his father is.
  • Floating Continent: Sanctaphrax.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Rudd the cloddertrog in The Immortals, who looked out for Nate in the mining stockade ever since his father died, is killed watching his back in a bar fight gone horribly wrong, and is mentioned maybe twice, if that, in the rest of the book.
    • Cloud Wolf's original crew. They die/get lost in the Twilight Woods one by one during Stormchaser except for the Stone Pilot. Only Tem is ever mentioned again.
    • Averted with Twig's crew. He never forgets any of them, and it's clear how guilty he feels about their fates.
  • For the Evulz: The reason the Gloamglozer does anything.
  • Fridge Logic: Quint leaves Twig in the Woodtroll village so the rest of the group can trudge back to Undertown on foot... even though it's mentioned earlier in the same book that sky pirates come by such villages semi-regularly, something that Quint, as a sky pirate, was aware of, given that he went to that exact village in Clash of the Sky Galleons. Nice going there, Quint.
  • Gentle Giant: Any banderbear.
  • Ghost Town: Screetown in the Rook Barkwater stories - Felix Lodd's group of freedom fighters even get called "the Ghosts of Screetown".
  • Giant Flyer: The caterbird is the Deus Ex Machina type.
  • Heel Face Turn: Xanth Filatine.
  • Ho Yay: Twig and Cowlquape, Midnight over Sanctaphrax. So very much.

 Cowlquape: And I'd follow you anywhere, even...even out there, into Open Sky.

    • Don't forget Rook and Xanth!
    • Also Sagbutt and Filbus Queep.
  • Hotblooded Sideburns: Chris Riddell seems to be very fond of these.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: It's a little more complicated, but fourthlings are essentially this.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens to one of the waif guides on the Thorn Trail. It's implied that he's not the only one.
  • Improbable Age: Each trilogy focuses on a character in their early teens saving, if not always the world, then at least their home city.
  • Jerkass: Vilnix Pompolnius is probably the best and most obvious example.
    • Branxford Drew as well.
    • Young Vox in Midnight Over Sancthaphrax would count.
  • Karmic Death: frequently used.
    • Vilnix Pompolnius falls to his death in a Sanctaphrax basket whilst trying to escape from a mob of angry academics and Twig.
    • Golderayce One-Eye is killed by his own poison dart due to a sudden intervention.
    • Amberfuce is boiled to death inside his own bath by his old nurse.
  • Kick the Dog: Orbix Xaxis' 'purification ceremonies'.
  • Killer Rabbit: Wig-wigs are best described as orange, fluffy, mouths full of sharp teeth. Despite being about 8 inches tall, they are at the very top of the Deepwoods' food chain.
  • Kill It with Fire: The only real defence against the above orange fluffy death-bringers.
  • Knight Templar: Orbix Xaxis seems to be one. Some might say he just uses this is merely his justification for being a Complete Monster, but the fact that he willingly sacrifices himself to allow a lightining bolt to strike the Sanctaphrax rock proves he really believed in his cause.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: Wonderful though the UK cover art for Clash of the Sky Galleons is, it means you're going to know that Thaw Daggerslash is masquerading as Turbot Smeal long before it comes out in the plot.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Done twice, and surprisingly well.
  • Luke Nounverber: All sky pirate ships, including the Skyraider, Stormchaser, and Edgedancer. Also, Barkwater, and absolutely anything involving stormphrax.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Cold rock rises, Hot rock sinks.
    • Which leads to one incredibly badass scene where Twig and the Stone Pilot have to get a rock into a ship to get it flying again, but, naturally, they need to heat it up so it won't fly away while they're getting it in. The Stone Pilot ( who is a Termagant Trog who missed the coming-of-age ceremony and thus is an incredibly small, wispy girl, albeit normally in a bulky protective suit that hides this) does this single-handedly.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Bloodoak trees, though there are implied to be others.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Gloamgloazer.
    • Also Slyvo Spleethe, to a lesser extent.
    • Also most quarter-masters. It's sort of their thing.
      • To the point where you begin to wonder why captains ever take on the same quartermaster for more than one voyage. Or a quartermaster at all, for that matter.
      • Actually, Wind Jackal explains it. The QM arranges the moneymaking and food and stuff. Not ALL QMs are bad, just when it suits the plot. Take Wingnut Sleet for an example.
  • Mary Suetopia: The Free Glades, in the Rook trilogy.
    • Though from the text it just seems to be a less corrupt and cleaner version of Under-Town, which probably makes it a paradise to them.
  • Master of Disguise: Once again, the Gloamglozer.
  • Master Poisoner: Hestera Spikesap
  • Merciful Minion: As a part of Xanth Filatine's Heel Face Turn, he shoots the rope tethering the protagonist's ship instead of shooting Rook himself, allowing Rook to flee from the Mooks swiftly closing on his location.
  • Minovsky Physics: Stormphrax and flight rocks/buoyant wood.
    • Don't forget Chine, the Librarians' version of stormphrax.
  • Mr. Exposition: The Professor, Ambris Hentadile.
  • Monster of the Week: Most of 'Beyond the Deepwoods' has a Monster of the Chapter format.
  • The Mutiny: Sprinkled liberally in the Quint and Twig trilogies.
    • Twig finally starts showing a bit of Genre Savvy regarding this by the end of Stormchaser; he nips the possible mutinous nature of new crewmember in the bud and shows hesitance at taking on a quartermaster who has nothing to deter him from mutiny.
    • An example of the 'overthrowing tyrannical captain' kind in Midnight Over Sanctaphrax when Twig successfully carries off a mutiny on the Skyraider, overthrowing Thunderbolt Vulpoon and earning the everlasting loyalty and devotion of the crew.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Linius Palitax's reaction when he realises he has unleashed the Gloamglozer.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Hekkle is a shryke (albeit a male one) who actively works for the good guys in The Last of the Sky Pirates. Another good shryke, an unusually kindly female named Mother Bluegizzard, owns the New Bloodoak Tavern in Freeglader.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Screed Toe-Taker.
    • Orbix Xaxis versus Rook Barkwater. Guess which one's the good guy.
      • Kind of subverted when Xanth Filatine, possessor of a champion evil-guy name, completely wastes it by turning good.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown : Twig, and to a lesser extent, Rook.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Rook accidentally sets off the explosive "baby" after fighting savagely to prevent it from going off... by sweating on it.
  • New Eden: There's an element of this in The Immortals when the characters get to the Mire and find a lush grassland instead of the expanse of bleached mud they were expecting.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Deliberate part of the design for the dungeon in the Tower of Night.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Maugin, the Stone Pilot in the Twig sequence, is a neotenous Termagant Trog.
  • Oh Crap: Quint's reaction in The Curse of the Gloamglozer when he realises the man he has followed onto the roof is not actually Linius Palitax . . .
  • Parental Abandonment: In the Verginix/ Barkwater family, try to think of one example of a child not becoming an orphan or at least separated from his or her parents at a very young age.
  • Parental Substitute: Maris for all the original Freegladers.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Used and averted: a sky pirate is more of a freelance merchant/smuggler than an actual pirate, but they do raid league ships when they have to.
  • Pregnant Badass: Maris worked beside her husband on a sky ship while pregnant, gave birth during a storm, while the ship was crashing and then made a trek directly afterwards to a woodtroll village so her son would live.
  • The Professor: Read any book with Sanctaphrax in it.
    • Also nickname of Ambris in the Immortals.
  • The Purge: Earth scholars, librarian knights.
    • Word for word in Clash of the Galleons. The Leagues want to "Purge" the Sky Pirates. According to the Pirates, this happens every few years.
  • The Quisling: Amberfuce.
  • Ravens and Crows: The white ravens of the Mire and the Stone Gardens.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Xanth Filatine.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Cloud Wolf keeping Slyvo Spleethe on as part of the crew, despite repeated attempts at mutiny. Even though Spleethe is usually incompetent, what kind of idiot captain keeps on a crewmember who has shown time and again that, at best, he wants to take over your ship and, at worst, may shoot you into open sky, a known consequence of mutiny for whichever side loses. Eventually, Spleethe succeeds, proving that Cloud Wolf really is Too Dumb to Live.
  • Rule of Cool: The series runs on this.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Maugin, aka the Stone Pilot. Extra points because immediately before this was revealed, Twig braced himself to confront another hideous monster, reaching the wrong conclusion about why the stone pilot concealed their appearance
  • Scenery Porn: There are some insanely detailed and beautiful pictures of sky ships.
    • Not to mention the maps.
  • Science Is Bad: Trying to create life is a very bad idea: not only will the result will be murderously insane, it will summon a continent-sized space whale that will suck all the heat out of the world unless you feed it a piece of crystallized lightning.
    • Even worse, it will cause stones everywhere to crumble to dust which eventually spells the end of society as many know it.
    • Don't forget that once it had Gone Horribly Wrong, and you got The Giant Glister, an Eldritch Abomination tentacle monster that enjoys raping you through the eyes, but with Linius it had Gone Horribly Right, resulting in the Gloamglozer. See below.
  • Sky Pirates: Lots and lots of them in the First Age of Flight.
  • Smug Snake: Cagemaster Leddix, the chief executioner of the Tower of Night. Vilnix Pompolnius, too.
  • Space Whale Aesop: A more literal example. See above.
    • Also after reading all the books, the Aesop could be pirates make bad parents. All the characters who have close relationships with their pirate parents end up being horrible parents themselves: Wind Jackal and Cloud Wolf, namely. Twig is an exception - he left once Keris was fully grown and capable of caring for herself.
      • Fridge Brilliance - it's the curse of the Gloamglozer, or at least part of it.
      • Twig could qualify, too; according to The Slaughterer's Quest, he left when Keris was three years old. Granted, he left her with her uncle, but still - the emphasis was more on a 'decent period of mourning' after Keris's mother died than waiting until Keris could take care of herself.
  • Spoiled Brat: Branxford Drew.
  • Stay on the Path: The theme of the first book. Twig, naturally, doesn't, and away he goes...
  • Steampunk: The Immortals strays into this territory, although 'phrax punk' is probably more accurate.
  • Storming the Castle
  • The Swarm: Grey goblins and the dreaded wig-wigs.
  • Reformed but Rejected: Xanth, for a while.
  • Those Two Guys: The Professor of Light and the Professor of Darkness. The even look the same.
  • Tragic Villain: Vox Verlix, to an extent. He is an extremely intelligent man who has been screwed over by severel different factions. His doomsday device is simply his revenge, yet he manages to be somewhat sympathetic at times particularly at the end of Vox when he is trapped in his crumbling palace.
  • Translation: "Yes": The banderbear language consists mostly of the word "wuh", which can have a myriad of different meanings depending on body language and inflection. The Immortals contains several prime examples.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In the end of Freeglader, Amberfuce is trapped in his special bath, abandoned by the gabtroll nurse for which he abandoned his old faithful nurse to abusive treatment as a slave. His old nurse then creeps into the room... and promptly boils him alive in his own bath for mistreating her.
  • The Trickster: The Gloamglozer is a particularly malevolent example.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Maugin for Twig. For about fifty years. In fairness, for most of that time there wasn't really anyone else for her to go for.
  • Utopia: the Freeglades.
  • Villainous Breakdown: It sucks to be Vox Verlix.
  • Vindicated by History: An in-universe example with Vox Verlix who is remembered in The Immortals as a great genius and spectacular architect (which, admittedly, he was, but he was also a Fat Bastard).
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Gloamglozer's main ability.
  • War Is Hell
  • Weather Dissonance
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: In a rare father-daughter variant, Maris just wants her father's love and approval.
    • In Stormchaser, Twig wanting his father to be proud of him is a recurring theme. It doesn't really help that Cloud Wolf isn't the best parent.
      • And in the Rook trilogy, Felix Lodd to his father, Fenbrus.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Evil waif keeps all of the life-giving Riverrise water for himself in the Immortals, only some let down to the world below.
  • A World Half Full
  • Wrench Wench: The Stone Pilot
  • Wretched Hive: Hive, appropriately. Also Old Undertown.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Pick a page, any page, and count the number of X's on it. Seriously. Some of the character names have three or more.
  • Zero Effort Boss: The Bringer of Doom. The most impressive skyship ever to exist. Nothing can stand before this behemoth... or so it seems, or so it would be. Instead, it makes an impressive entrance, then anticlimatically tumbles to the ground because the guy charged with harvesting the floating rock used to keep it flying couldn't be bothered to remove the stormphrax weight inside it.