A RANGER’S GUIDE TO GLIPWOOD FOREST by Andrew Peterson
SERIES: The Wingfeather Saga
GENRE: Children/Middle Grade Fantasy
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2023
Whether a first-time visitor or a repeat traveler to the always mysterious and sometimes treacherous Glipwood Forest, this illustrated guide is an invaluable addition to any Wingfeather fan’s knapsack.
A Ranger’s Guide to Glipwood Forest expands the legend and lore of this treacherous land of fatal flora and fanged beasts—and the history of the first adventurers daring enough to brave the forest depths. Through detailed line art, maps, and directions, travelers can safely marvel at the majestic glipwood trees, poke around the (possibly haunted) Anklejelly Cavern, dip their toes into the Mighty River Blapp (if they dare!), and avoid falling off a cliff edge into the Dark Sea of Darkness and being swallowed by a sea dragon.
Both longtime Wingfeather fans and readers new to the series will be enthralled, tickled, delighted, and occasionally disturbed by never-before-known nuggets, familiar factoids, and all-new stories about the forest and the brave rangers who made passage into its dark depths possible. Don’t attempt an exploration, journey, or meander through Glipwood without it!
Continue southwest through the forest, following the footpath for several dark and woodsy hours, until you come to Battle Oak, the largest and most beautiful glipwood oak in all of Skree. Enjoy its height, its unfathomable breadth. Enjoy the feeling of awe in its ancient presence. Enjoy the knowledge that, without the copious chompweed growing around its base, it would never have grown so gloriously gargantuan. Enjoy also the fact that you can enjoy it at all, thanks to the courage, prowess, and determination of the original GORG—because the Battle Oak was so named for the mighty struggle that unfolded beneath her leafy dome.
Trindan and Goonch were the first to see the great tree that night. They both stopped in their tracks, and we all gathered around them, peering at it in disbelief. I thought my eyes were tricking me at first, dark as it was, but the shape towering over the surrounding trees was too big, too beautiful and shapely, to mistake for anything but the grandmother of the forest. I thought of my parents, my little sisters, and my grandparents back in Erwail, and wished they could be there to behold something so wonderful. We approached the tree wearily after the long day’s walk (not to mention the close encounter with the gargan rockroach), gazing with reverence at the spread of her branches, black against the sky. The bright stars gleamed between her leaves and limbs high above, the midnight blue silhouetting the colossal oak’s dark shape in the still night as her arbors spread over our heads like dragon wings.
“No fire tonight,” Trindan whispered, indicating that we were to make camp there under the bowers of her shadowy mass. I helped Ratoona make a pallet, chose my own spot to bed down, and lay there in the blackness till the sounds of the company’s snoring lulled me to sleep. We slept well and woke in terror.
At dawn the fazzle doves of Glipwood Forest coo and blort, the sweefts chirrup, the digtoads gribbit, and the midgeons warble. This morning was no different. I lay there with my eyes closed, chilled but comfortable under my blanket with my pillow pack under my head. I was aware of a faint troubling sound, but sleepy as I was, its source eluded me. I sat up with a yawn and a stretch, remembering where we were and eager to see the big tree in the daylight. I opened my eyes and took a deep happy breath, remembering that my new friend Ratoona was nearby.
But all happiness vanished when I saw the herd of toothy cows—maybe twenty of them—lying in the grass on the far side of the fat trunk, mound after mound of white and black shapes huddled in the morning mist. They all seemed to be sleeping, their awful yellowish fangs glimmering in the dawn light. I realized that they must have been there the night before, and I shuddered to think what would have happened if Trindan had allowed a fire. My skin crawled with terror, and I tried to whisper to wake Trindan, but my lips wouldn’t move. If I roused the cows, they would pounce before we had a chance to fight or flee. I scanned the rest of our company to see whether anyone else was awake. Henry Chadd lay atop his blanket, hands folded behind his head, gazing up at the branches with a contented smile. I waved to get his attention, and he waved back with a grin and then picked his nose.
I found a pebble near my pallet, took careful aim, and tossed it at Chobby’s thick form to wake him, but he didn’t stir. I tried again, this time aiming for Yana, who slept just beyond Chobby. It hit her in the cheek. She grunted and, in one swift motion, drew a dagger from under her head and sat up. When she saw me holding a finger to my lips, her fierce look changed to confusion and then to fear as her gaze drifted past me to the sleeping beasts. Yana reached over and tugged one end of Brobby’s mustache to wake him. His eyes flew open, and he sat up with a gasp. One by one, our company was roused till we all sat in quiet fear, wondering what to do, knowing that with every fazzle coo, every distant gryfendril call, and every moment the sun rose higher, our risk of death by cow increased.
Trindan motioned toward a low-slung limb by which we could ascend into the oak’s branches, but unfortunately, the limb was on the far side of the great tree, drooping down between two sleeping cows. The only way to reach it was to make a mad dash directly through the heart of the herd, bringing us closer to death and gobblement than any of us had ever come. But it was our only choice. Goonch nodded and carefully drew his sword, indicating that the rest of us should do likewise. Since Ratoona didn’t have one, I gave her my monogrammed blade and took a dagger from Yana. I wondered who would have the courage to make the first move, and all eyes were on Trindan. Brave as our leader was, now he was sweating and trembling, seemingly unable to bring himself to give the signal. Then a horned hound howled somewhere deeper in the forest, and one of the toothy cows lifted its head and licked its fangs, sniffing the air. It was now or never.
Without a word I jumped to my feet, took Ratoona’s free hand, and ran straight toward the herd. We leaped over the backs of two cows just as they woke, and we dodged between several others, desperate to reach the limb that was our only hope. Ratoona got there first, turning as a cow snapped at my heels. She yanked my arm, pulling me just out of the beast’s reach, which is the only reason I still have both feet. In my nightmares I still hear the awful clack of the cow’s teeth as its mouth closed on empty air. We scrambled up the limb toward the welcome arms of the giant tree, then turned to see how the rest of our brave company fared.
Yana climbed up just behind us, throwing dagger after dagger at the nearest cows, distracting them enough to allow Brobby, Chobby, and Henmeat to make some headway. Now the cows were all awake, heaving themselves to their feet and mooing with horrifying rage. The morning’s stillness seemed a distant memory amid the cacophony of the mewling, snorting, and roaring of the cows and the desperate shouts of our company. Chobby and Brobby stood back-to-back with Henmeat between them, swords drawn and surrounded by advancing bovines. Trindan and Goonch, the farthest from the limb, dodged as the cows lunged, trying desperately to make their way nearer to the perch where Ratoona and I looked on helplessly. I hurled my dagger at a cow just as it attacked Brobby, and the blade buried itself in its haunch. It wheeled toward me and bit a chunk out of the limb’s bark.
Henmeat and the Woostifur brothers shouldered past the cow as it spit out the chunks of bark, and the three of them scrambled up to where we stood, panting with relief. Now the six of us spread throughout the tree, each on our own higher limb and shouting warnings to Trindan and Goonch, who were feinting and skipping from side to side. They could have taken their chances and run, but toothy cows are faster than humans, and the two men couldn’t be sure that they’d find another climbable tree in time.
Then I spotted Henry Chadd, who had inexplicably made his way into the tree before us and now trotted casually along a limb on the far side of the trunk to a spot just above Goonch’s head. He smiled and said, “Light a torch for blue knapsacks!” and lay down on his limb, reaching down for Goonch’s hand. Goonch jumped, Henry grabbed, Goonch swung, Henry pulled, and suddenly Goonch Aldarian was safe in the branches.
Poor Trindan was the only one of our company left on the ground. Three cows were dead or dying from Yana’s daggers. Seven of the beasts were mooing around the base of the tree, pawing with their hooves at the trunk and snapping their jaws at us. But at least eight more surrounded Trindan, who wielded his blade mightily against them, whirling like a mad cave blat to keep them at bay. The cows encircling him seemed to know that there was no hurry. They crouched and mewled hungrily just out of reach of Trindan’s blade.
Yana threw her last remaining dagger. It found purchase at the base of a cow’s skull and felled it, but that seemed only to enrage the other seven, and the circle around Trindan tightened. Henmeat rifled through his pack, opened a little sack of his famous hot pepprika powder, and hurled it at the cows. The sack hit one of the beasts on the shoulder with an unimpressive poof of powder, and I thought at first that it had been a pointless effort. But when the powder floated its way into the eyes of the closest cows, they blinked and shook their heads and dropped to the ground, rubbing their faces in the dirt and flailing like children throwing a fit.
Trindan was left facing two cows, and it was clear that he was running out of strength. Although his sword still swung, he staggered now and then, his chest heaving and his eyes wild. Toothy cows don’t smile, but these seemed to grin maliciously with the knowledge that their prey would soon make a mistake or try to run.
Then we heard a whistle. It came from the woods beyond Trindan. We all peered into the shadowy glade and saw a woman drawing a bow. She was tall and slender, with light, short-cropped hair. Her clothes were tattered and filthy from days on the run. She loosed an arrow, and it thunked into the neck of a cow. With an eerie calm she nocked another arrow and let it fly, striking the other cow near Trindan in its flank, just behind its front leg. The arrow must have struck the beast’s heart because it fell at once. Trindan turned to face his rescuer and said breathlessly, “It’s you.”
She smiled and drew another arrow from her quiver. “Aye, Trindan. It’s me.”
Trindan took a step toward her but was stopped short by three cows who had abandoned their futile attempt at climbing the tree below us and now charged at the woman.
“Go!” she shouted at Trindan. “I’ll find you.”
He looked from her to the cows thundering toward her, then to the tree where we all stood watching from above. The four remaining cows by the trunk snarled and made to attack him, but now a way was open to our limb. With a look of agony, Trindan turned away from the woman, sprinted to the fat limb, and scrambled up to the rest of his company. When I looked back, the woman was gone, and all that was left of the three cows pursuing her was the sound of their hoofbeats fading into the leafy distance.
Within moments the rest of the cows lost interest in us and followed the others on the trail of the mysterious woman with the bow. I knew it was Trindan’s thiefess, his obsession, the one for whom he had given up his old life in the Blapp Watch. We were all so exhausted and trembling with relief at being alive that at first no one said a word. Yet I worried that poor Trindan would be heartbroken to have come so close to reuniting with the woman he loved only to lose her again.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
To my surprise he smiled at me, wiped a tear from his cheek, and said, “She’s alive, lad.”
As we were short on supplies, Trindan ordered that we butcher the several cows that we had slain since we could sell the meat in Torrboro (if we could get there before it spoiled). So we spent the day dividing up the cows under what came to be known as Battle Oak, then hefted the meat on spits between us and marched west to Torrboro, having just survived the largest herd of toothy cows I’ve ever seen, even to this day.
Excerpted from A Ranger’s Guide to Glipwood Forest by Andrew Peterson. Copyright © 2023 by Andrew Peterson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Andrew Peterson is the bestselling author of the Wingfeather Saga, a recording artist and songwriter, and the founder of The Rabbit Room, which fosters community through story, art, and music. He and his wife, Jamie, live in Nashville.
WaterBrook is offering a print copy of A Ranger’s Guide to Glipwood Forest by Andrew Peterson to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read A Ranger’s Guide to Glipwood Forest by Andrew Peterson with a young reader in your life?