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|Author(s)||Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell|
|Publication date||November 1999|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||224 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-385-60004-6 (first edition, hardback)|
|Preceded by||Beyond the Deepwoods|
|Followed by||Midnight Over Sanctaphrax|
Stormchaser is a children's fantasy novel by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, first published in 1999. It is the second volume of The Edge Chronicles and of the Twig Saga trilogy; within the stories' own chronology it is the fifth novel, following the Quint Saga trilogy that was published later.
Set two years after Beyond the Deepwoods, the protagonist, Twig, is a full member of his father, Cloud Wolf's, sky ship the Stormchaser. When a disastrous encounter (made worse by Twig) with a league ship forces the crew to dispose of their precious cargo of logs, Cloud Wolf has no option but to return to Undertown and arrange a way to repay his debts to Mother Horsefeather, a greedy, selfish shryke who had paid for the repairing of the storm chaser after it became infested with woodbugs. Meanwhile, in the floating city of Sanctaphrax, stormphrax and phraxdust supplies are running low, threatening to leave the floating city able to break free of its chains and fly into open sky. Also, if phraxdust supplies run out, the already dirty water in Undertown would become even more polluted and undrinkable. Against the wishes of the Most High Academe Vilnix Pompolnius, a deal is struck between Cloud Wolf, Mother Horsefeather and the Professor of Light (Cloud Wolf's former mentor in the prestigious Knights Academy) to erase Cloud Wolf's debts if he successfully chases the predicted Great Storm and retrieves some of the sacred substance stormphrax. Without this stormphrax, both Sanctaphrax and Undertown cannot survive.
Though Cloud Wolf forbids Twig to set sail with the rest of the crew on this dangerous voyage, he is willingly smuggled on board the Stormchaser by the mutinous quartermaster Slyvo Spleethe and his accomplice Mugbutt. On approaching the Great Storm, Spleethe and Mugbutt are killed by the result of a failed mutiny and the Stormchaser becomes badly damaged. Cloud Wolf is injured while fighting Sylo Spleethe. The crew abandon ship into the Twilight Woods below, except for the Captain Cloud Wolf, who stays with his ship. On landing, Twig reunites the crew and prepares to take over his father's mission.
Although Twig tries to maintain his crew's sanity in the mystical Twilight Woods, Tem Barkwater and Stope Boltjaw are overcome by the disorientating golden mists and are lost to its madness. Other members of the crew were badly injured in the crash, but the extent of their injuries are not to be revealed until they enter the mire, and the immortal effects of the Twilight Woods wear off. Twig and the remaining crew make it to the Mire, where they are lured in by the treacherous guide Screed Toe-taker, an ancient Knight Academic driven mad by the Twilight Woods himself in his quest to retrieve stormphrax and complete his quest. Hubble's injuries were internal and prove to be fatal as he collapses during the long journey across he mire. Spiker is murdered by Screed. As Screed attacks the Stone Pilot, he is confronted and killed by Twig, who then helps the injured Storm Pilot to a shipwreck, which turns out to be Screed's old storm-chasing ship. They discover a chest of sacred stormphrax, gathered by the insane Screed from each small speck of stormphrax filed from the toenails of Screed's unfortunate victims after they had trekked through the Twilight Woods. The Professor of Light's injuries also prove to be fatal, but not before he realises the secret of safe production of phraxdust (which has hitherto been kept secret by Vilnix Pompolnius, as it was the source of his power, although we later find that Vilnix's first success in creating phraxdust was fluke and he doesn't actually know anything about it - he is a fraud). Twig discovers that the Stone Pilot is an unturned Termagent Trog named Maugin (he has a special affection for unturned trogs, due to his experiences in the previous book), who helps Twig to rebuild Screed's old ship, the "Windcutter." During this time, the two form a bond, which is revealed in a later book to be a romantic interest.
With a plentiful supply of stormphrax they rebuild the ship and its flight rock with plans to return to Sanctaphrax and overthrow Vilnix Pompolnius. With the help of the Professor of Darkness they deposit the stormphrax in the treasury, saving the city from breaking its moorings and flying into open sky. The secret of safe phraxdust production is revealed to Undertowners one and all and the rivalry and monopoly over phraxdust ends. The story concludes with Twig getting a ship of his own, the "Edgedancer", and also a new crew. Led by the Caterbird (introduced in book one), they travel over the edge into open sky, farther than any sky ship has ever ventured before, to save his father Captain Cloud Wolf.
- Stewart, Paul (1999) Stormchaser