Vox (The Edge Chronicles)
|Author||Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell|
|Series||The Edge Chronicles|
|September 4, 2003|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Last of the Sky Pirates|
Vox is a children's fantasy novel by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, first published in 2003. It is the sixth volume of The Edge Chronicles and the second of the Rook Saga trilogy; within the stories' own chronology it is the eighth novel, following the Quint Saga and Twig Saga trilogies.
The novel begins by saying that in the time since Rook's mission to the Deepwoods, the Edge has become a very strange place with many suspicious activities. The Guardians of Night are awaiting a Storm which they believe will soon strike. The Shrykes, the evil avian-humanoid creatures of the Edge, are amassing as if for war, in greater numbers than before. The Goblins in Undertown also seem much more aggressive than usual, with numerous goblin assassins being sent to kill the titular character, Vox, who is too obese to leave his Palace of Statues to which he retreated after being betrayed by the evil Guardians of Night. To cap all this, strange sightings of demonic creatures are being reported by Librarian Knights on patrol duty; these creatures are seen emerging from the rubble wasteland which is a derelict part of Undertown named Screetown.
Rook Barkwater, meanwhile, is on patrol duty in the morning, noting the sweltering weather, when he is struck by a fireball from beyond the Edge and is sent hurtling to earth. He awakens, battered and bruised, but alive, only to find his skycraft, the Stormhornet is destroyed and its "spirit has been released" meaning he can no longer fly unless he has the ability to create a new craft. Rook almost despairs and hopelessly climbs Screetown, pursued by the aforementioned evil predatorial creatures, one of which, a Rubble-ghoul, almost kills him, until he is rescued by his old friend Felix Lodd, Varis' brother, whom Rook and all the other librarians believed to have been dead in Screetown, as rumour had it nobody could survive in such a place. Felix is pleased to see Rook and takes him back to his hideout for the night, having formed a gang of rebels called "the Ghosts of Screetown."
Meanwhile, the Most High Guardian of Night, Orbix Xaxis, has captured two young Librarians and sends them to their deaths with mocking taunts. As the Librarians are eaten alive by the Rock Demons as a punishment for disrespecting the Guardians, Xanth Filatine realizes he has been disobeyed - he told the executioner he couldn't have those two prisoners.
Rook journeys through Undertown the next morning after bidding farewell to Felix, seeking a way back to the sewers, only to be caught by goblin guards on duty. Rook meets a young gnokgoblin named Gilda, whom he saves from the guards. Rook then is taken prisoner, named "Number Eleven" in the slavesale, (he is almost bought by the Guardians of Night) but is fortunately taken by goblins and taken to the Palace of Statues instead. There, he meets Hesteria Spikesap, an old cook and potioneer, along with Speegspeel, an ancient goblin butler, who seems very sinister and paranoid that the statues in the palace are possessed. Rook is almost brainwashed by an evil ghost-waif named Amberfuce, but he resists the waif's penetration and keeps his identity. Rook is given bizarre tasks by Speegspeel and Hesteria, such as "feeding the baby," in actuality a gigantic cog-wheel system filled with phraxdust; an extremely volatile substance capable of generating massive electrical energy.
Rook accidentally saves Vox Verlix himself from a goblin assassination, and then happens to meet Cowlquape Pentaphraxis who ought to have been leader of New Sanctaphrax but was betrayed by Vox and thrown from power. The two Most High Academes discuss what went wrong, with Vox blaming Cowlquape, but Cowlquape, despite everything, still respects Vox's amazing mind, which was why he became Academe in the first place. Vox tells Cowlquape that the Mother Storm is returning to the Edge again, which has been in a severe drought for so long, and that she will regenerate the waters. Vox warns Cowlquape, who is on the Librarian's side, that the sewers will flood in the Storm, and tells him to evacuate the sewers and save the Librarians. Vox has a cunning plan to kill his enemies - the Guardians of Night, the Shrykes and the Goblins - in one swoop: with the Storm. He tells Rook to go off to the Shryke nesting grounds and pretend that he will betray the Librarians, to get the Shrykes into the sewers. Then Vox gets his waif Amberfuce to brainwash one of the goblins who tried to kill him and send him back to goblin leader General Tytugg and tell him to attack the Librarians too, in two days' time at eleven p.m.
The Librarians work fervently to build ships and rafts to evacuate the sewers and leave just in time. Alquix Venvax, an ancient professor, remains behind to distract the goblin and Shryke armies. He does not want to leave, as he has remained there all his life and helped build the place.
Magda Burlix has been looking for Rook in Screetown ever since he crashed as she did not believe he was dead, however she was captured by Guardians of Night and taken to their Tower of Night for torture and interrogation. Xanth Filatine, one of her friends from the Free Glades, happens to be her interrogator, although he soon repents of all his evil ways and saves her from his evil masters, taking the deadbolt holding Midnight's Spike - an electrical conductor atop the Tower of Night - thus preventing the Spike from being held aloft. Xanth and Magda escape through the sewers and meet Venvax, bidding him farewell when they realize he cannot leave. The goblin and Shryke armies capture and kill Venvax; and engage in a massive, climactic battle which ends with both armies being devoured by Rock Demons when they have chased Xanth and Magda into the sewers.
Rook realizes that Vox intended to double-cross the Librarians themselves and set off the Storm anyway, so he runs back to the Palace of Statues in time to see the butler Speegspeel set off the Storm. Rook fights and kills Speegspeel; but Rook himself releases the Storm by unintentionally mixing his sweat with the phraxdust. The Storm destroys Undertown and the Ghosts of Screetown evacuate all the inhabitants. The Guardians of Night are killed when the Storm strikes Midnight's Spike, which cannot be held aloft - so Orbix Xaxis sacrifices himself as a human conductor. Rook teams up with the Librarians, and admits he set off the Storm, which could have been prevented. However, the Librarians forgive him, eager as they are to leave the sewers. Rook realizes the greatest adventure of his life has begun.
- Stewart, Paul (2003) Vox