Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

The Summary
After his epic screw-up, Prince Seerow is sent to the Hork-Bajir homeworld because none of the Andalites want to look at him. He brings his wife and two children. His daughter, Aldrea, befriends an unusual Hork-Bajir named Dak Hamee, who is capable of a much higher level of thought than all the other Hork-Bajir.

The Yeerks arrive to steal some Hork-Bajir hosts, and murder Aldrea's family in the process. To escape, Aldrea and Dak flee to the monster-filled canyon that the Hork-Bajir call Father Deep. Within hide the Arn, a highly advanced race of bioengineers who created the Hork-Bajir to care for the trees and maintain the oxygen levels on the surface. The Arn are almost as polite as the Andalites.

Aldrea and Dak take control of the monsters the Arn have created and attack the Yeerk Pool. Aldrea manages to send a distress call to the Andalite homeworld in the confusion, and also the Hork-Bajir learn about murder. It's open warfare for the next seven months until the Andalites finally arrive, and then it is more open warfare with the good guys still at a distinct disadvantage.

Alloran is getting sort of desperate, so he commissions the quantum virus that he will later become famous for. Aldrea and Dak put it in a canister and try to destroy it, but the Yeerks attack and it is lost. Aldrea gets infested by Visser Three for approximately six seconds. Then they escape.

Aldrea traps herself in Hork-Bajir morph so she can be with Dak. One of Dak's friends finds the virus
canister--open. He dies horrifically and Aldrea and Dak run away.

And then I guess they have babies or something THE END.

The Review
Adam: Okay: First off.
Adam: It is in hard cover!
Ifi: It is not actually super long though
Ifi: It is very concise.
Ifi: But yeah hooray hardcover I guess
Ifi: Kids were willing to shell out the extra five dollars because they needed it OMG RIGHT NOW
Adam: Well, I don't care, because shiny.

Ifi: So. That is a Hork-Bajir.
Adam: Not too shabby.
Ifi: I like the image of the two on the cliff more than the close-up

Adam: I would have to agree with you there.
Ifi: (It was the front cover in some editions, the back cover in the US)
Adam: I still think it looks like something out of a Disney movie.
Ifi: What Disney movies
Ifi: are you watching
Ifi: One of our commenters called you out on this and he was right.
Ifi: What aspect of this
Ifi: Is Disney?

Ifi: Nobody was incinerated from orbit in any of those movies.
Adam: Yes, but their parents still all get killed through various means

Ifi: As with the Andalite Chronicles, they are very muscled
Adam: It still makes no sense to me for Andalites to have such buff upper torsos
Ifi: Especially female Andalites, who apparently are not allowed to do anything that might be strenuous or interesting
Ifi: Did you notice that they have the same tails o_o
Adam: Well, her tailblade is still a bit shorter then Elfangor's but not to the degree that you would think by the text.

Ifi: Yeah that is not how female blades were described, it's all wrong.
Ifi: But I actually meant Aldrea's tail and Dak's tail
Adam: No, he has an extra blade on the very end of his tail
Ifi: She still has that whatever that thing is supposed to be
Adam: Still, Hork-Bajir use their tails for balance, so he really shouldn't be able to move it into that position
Ifi: Actually…wait, is his tail actually between his legs and in front of him?
Ifi: What.
Adam: Yeah, I don't know.
Adam: I mean, if it was described as prehensile or such in the text, I could let it slide.
Adam: But no, the specify that the tail is fairly rigid, and is used for balance
Ifi: I honestly don't think he has enough blades.
Ifi: He is supposed to be made of knives.
Ifi: I only count like four, not counting his head
Adam: He probably has some on his back that you can't make out
Adam: Oh, there is one further thing that bugs me about it, anatomically speaking
Adam: Look at Dak's teeth, on the back cover.
Adam: Those are not the teeth of someone who feeds solely on tree bark.
Ifi: Those are itsy bitsy teethses
Ifi: Also they are pointy
Adam: They are sharp.
Ifi: For...the tough bark?
Adam: He'd need some rows of flat grinding teeth to process bark.
Ifi: Moo
Adam: I was thinking something more like this:

Adam: In the back, past the bill there are rows of grinding teeth all fused together into a sort of plate.
Ifi: Quack.
Adam: Sure.
Ifi: I am sorry it has been a long day and I do not have much else to say about this cover except that I like it despite the fact it makes no sense.
Adam: I agree!
Adam: It is suitably very dramatic.
Adam: And hardcover
Ifi: So you can beat yourself over the head with it
Adam: If the Controllers break into your room, it is good to have a suitable weapon.
Ifi: The Controllers have more interesting thing to do than break into your room.
Adam: Let them think that.

Adam: Prologue!
Ifi: Tobias is bored so he decides to go bother the free Hork-Bajir
Ifi: Because they probably weren't doing anything anyway
Adam: They're about to go to bed, but Jara is nice enough to humor him.
Adam: So we get story time!
Ifi: Also they have baby
Ifi: Tobias is like "oh. baby. cool." and ignores it.
Adam: That was fast.
Ifi: It was very fast
Adam: How long was it since book 13, chronologically speaking?
Ifi: There is really no way of knowing since it's never said how much space is between each book
Ifi: Gonna assume at least a few months
Ifi: Which really isn't long enough for anything so big to gestate
Adam: Let alone what happens at the end.
Adam: But I guess we will bring that up a bit later.
Ifi: Ya
Adam: So, against Tobias's expectations, the Hork-Bajir are the best storytellers in the universe.

<I don't want to keep you all awake if you're ready to sleep.>

"Sleep?" Ket Halpak said. "No sleep. Tell story."

"Story of Yeerks and Andalites," he said. "Story of war."

That perked up my interest.

The others all nodded.

"My father-father was a seer," Jara Hamee said. "Different. Not like other Hork-Bajir. Not like Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak. Like…like Tobias. Seeing far. Knowing much. Fatherfather learn story of Andalite. Learn story of Yeerk. Give story to Jara Hamee father. Jara Hamee father give story to Jara Hamee."

<I'd like to hear the story of the Hork-Bajir war with the Yeerks,> I said. I don't know what I expected. I guess I figured Jara would say something like, "Yeerks come. Bad. Fighting. Yeerks win. We lose."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: That is not what he says.
Ifi: No.
Ifi: No it is not.
Adam: Instead we get a whole novel!
Adam: A whole novel of awesome.
Ifi: Damn Jara!
Ifi: I didn't know you had it in you!
Adam: Jara and Ket always struck me as a whole lot more clever than the Animorphs ever give them credit for.
Ifi: Well yes
Ifi: I sort of have a theory
Ifi: on how Jara pulled this off
Adam: Oh?
Ifi: I think that Hork-Bajir stories are memorized down to the word and never ever altered as they are passed on, so nothing is lost or simplified.
Ifi: Which explains how he tells such a complex story: it was first told by Dak
Adam: I like the idea that it is a sort of psychic group consciousness that they can temporarily enable.
Ifi: That is cool too, the Taxxons sort of have that going on
Adam: And that all Hork-Bajir stories allow the listeners to pseudo-witness the events, regardless of whether the original storyteller was a seer or not.
Adam: *nodnod*
Adam: And the Andalites are telepathic also. So it wouldn't be out of place in this setting.
Ifi: Everyone is telepathic except humans. Even the whales have it down but humans are still derping about with their mouth-sounds

Ifi: Ok
Ifi: SO
Ifi: We open with something that
Ifi: I don't really get

Andalite date: year 8561.Z
Yeerk date: Generation 685, mid-cycle
Hork-Bajir date: early-warm
Earth date: 1966

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Okay uh
Ifi: Cool?
Ifi: Only one of those dates means anything at all to me, and it doesn't matter because there are no humans whatsoever in the story.
Ifi: In fact, humans haven't even been discovered yet.
Adam: Well, it gives us a sense of the timeframe that the whole Yeerk war has taken place over.
Ifi: I'm actually very impressed that the Yeerks were able to build the empire as we know it in only 30 years.
Adam: You sort of get the impression from earlier books that this war has been going on for a century or so.
Adam: And I kinda like that Applegate decided to go against that sort of cliche.
Ifi: The Yeerks built the goddamn Blade ship maybe five years after they first got spacefaring technology!
Ifi: Humans are special? Maybe. But Yeerks blow them right out of the water.
Adam: Two years.
Adam: Says so right in the book.
Adam: Well, if it helps, they do have the advantage of getting uplifted earlier then humans did.
Ifi: They mined the raw materials themselves!
Ifi: And they refined them and they built the ship, all on the Hork-Bajir world.
Ifi: While being terrorized by an Andalite and every Hork-Bajir ever
Adam: Okay, that is pretty impressive.
Ifi: Yeerks are awesome. They just get bad press.
Adam: You can go be their diplomat.

Ifi: Ok so we have a promising opening:

My name is Aldrea-lskillion-Falan. I am an Andalite. A female.

That was all there was to say about me back then. But later I became much more. My name became a cruel joke among my people. And later still, a curse.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Well
Ifi: This is going to be a happy story.
Adam: Sounds like a good start.
Adam: So, we are introduced to our first protagonist here.
Adam: Aldrea is the daughter of Prince Seerow.
Ifi: Prince Seerow is something of a hippie
Ifi: No idea how he ever became a prince.
Adam: This was in pre-war Andalite society.
Ifi: Oh yeah
Adam: I think it's implied that they didn't even implement the title of War Prince yet.
Ifi: One day little Aldrea is just hanging around and they get a visitor.

<But it can't be,> the other Andalite said softly. <They promised me. They gave me their word. They…>

<I have visual logs,> Alloran snapped. He opened his hand and revealed a small cylinder. A holographic recorder. He gave the instruction. <Play.>

Before our eyes a three-dimensional picture appeared. It was dark. The focus was imperfect. But we could see Gedds loping in their awkward way. The Gedds carried weapons. Knives. Clubs. Primitive weapons. But one of the Gedds carried something more dangerous: an Andalite shredder.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Ok so Seerow screwed up pretty bad.

<These four hundred harmless Gedds—these Yeerks, I should say, because they were all certainly Yeerk-controlled—butchered my warriors,> Alloran said.

My father turned away. He directed his main eyes and his stalk eyes away, unwilling to look Alloran in the face.

<Butchered, Prince Seerow,> Alloran said. <Shall I show you the holos of the aftermath? These were the gentlest pictures. I have others. Would you like to see what they did to the bodies of my warriors?>

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: So we're starting early with the trauma this week.
Ifi: Oh and Seerow taught them how to make portable Kandronas. So. Good job Dad.
Adam: Y'know, it's funny. If they had just waited another 5-10 years before doing this, he probably would have given the Yeerks the morphing technology.
Adam: In which case there would be no reason for the conflict in the first place.
Adam: Well, I mean, the main reason that the Yeerks want Andalite bodies to begin with is for the morphing technology.
Adam: I mean, Andalites are tough and all, but there really isn't much of a difference between them and a Hork-Bajir.
Adam: The Andalites are usually more dangerous, but that's because they have military training.

Ifi: So Dad is fired.
Ifi: By Alloran.
Ifi: Who technically actually ranks below him but whatever.
Adam: He's more disgraced and exiled.
Adam: But same difference.

Ifi: Ok so present day
Adam: Not present day.
Adam: 1968
Adam: 1968 is not the present day.
Adam: Last time I checked.
Ifi: Die.
Adam: I'm already dead inside.

I am the daughter of Prince Seerow. My friends tease me sometimes. They call me "Seerow's Unkindness."

You see, I'm not like most females. I'm not content to stay within the sciences and the arts, the traditional female occupations. I don't want to be a Zero-space theorist or a grass-scape designer or a cloud artist.

I want to be a warrior. I want to fight the Yeerks.

I know what everyone says: Females are not born to be warriors. We have smaller tail blades. More like scalpels than like the great, curved scythes our brothers have.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: God.
Ifi: Your life sucks.

Ifi: So Aldrea and her kid brother and Mom and Dad are all sent to the Hork-Bajir world.
Ifi: The Andalites are like, "Go find some interesting rocks or something."
Adam: Worst astrobiologists ever.

<They aren't a city-building or road-building species,> my father said, trying to sound upbeat. <They are quite primitive, according to the data from the robot probes. Their appearance can be very fearsome, but they are harmless, gentle herbivores. Not especially bright, I'm afraid,> he added. <No culture to speak of. No written language. No music, as far as we know. They don't build much, if anything. And they are technologically the equivalent of a primordial civilization.>

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Another species with really terrible PR
Adam: They sure as heck have a culture.
Adam: They also have telephone trees.
Ifi: Trufax
Ifi: And so this book has a second narrator!

My mother said to me, "Dak Hamee, you are strange."

She took me to see the elders in the Tribe Tree. They looked at me. They spoke to me.

"He is strange," Elder Mab Kahet said.

"Yes, he is strange," Elder Ponto Fallah said.

"He is a 'seer,'" Mab Kahet said. He was not happy. He was not sad. He was…disturbed.

"What is a 'seer'?" my mother asked.

The Old One, Tila Fashat, opened her toothless mouth and said, "A seer is one who is born to show a new way. Many, many seasons pass, then our father, the Deep, and our mother, the Sky, say, 'Send a seer to the people. The people have need.' And so one is born who is different."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: He is a genetic abnormality and nobody understands him

Sometimes I would take a small piece of burned wood from the fire. I used it to make markings on the smooth wood where the bark had been stripped. I made markings that look like rocks. Or trees. Or like the Jubba-Jubba monster that lives in the Deep. Once I made markings that looked like my friend, Jagil Hullan.

"This is you, Jagil," I said.

"That is not me," Jagil said.

"Yes. See that the wrist blades are shaped like your wrist blades. See that the tail is like your tail. See that the horns are short, like your horns."

"That is not me," Jagil said. "I am me. I am here. I am not there. I am not a scraping by a burned stick."

I tried to explain. But Jagil did not understand.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: This is what we are working with.
Ifi: Also pretty sure this happened in Watership Down.
Adam: I really like Dak though.
Adam: He seems like a decent fellow.
Adam: Also, I find the concept of a civilization that fails to pass what is basically the mirror test to be really interesting from an anthropological standpoint.
Adam: Or, er, a bajirological standpoint.
Ifi: Sometimes the Hork-Bajir seem really clever and kind and then sometimes you wonder how they haven't all wandered off a cliff already.
Adam: Be nice.
Adam: Honestly though, I like that this book actually succeeds at showing the Hork-Bajir to be less intellectually developed.
Adam: Where in book 13, they just spoke broken English, and that was it.

Ifi: So Dak Hamee is Different so he has to hang out with the Andalites and figure out what they're all about.

<Do you see the stars at night?> she asked me.

"When Mother Sky is dark, she shows us her flowers."

<Well, each of those flowers is a star. Like your own sun. Only very far away.>

Jagil said, "No."

But I said, "Sun is sun. Mother Sky's flowers are flowers."

<They may look like bright flowers. But they are suns. Hundreds of suns. Thousands. Mil…I mean that there are more stars than there are trees. They look small because they are far away.>

I heard these words. And these words made me think very hard. But then…

"Yes," I said suddenly, amazed. "Yes! Things that are far away look small. This is true."

"Far is far," Jagil said, looking alarmed.

<These stars are very, very far away,> Aldrea said. <And around some of these stars are planets. Like this place. Other places with very different trees. And different creatures.>

I felt…I did not have words for how I felt. Things that are far away seem small. Even when they are large. This idea was like an exploding seed pod in my head. Things that are far away seem small. If Mother Sky's flowers are very far away, they might be very large. They might be…suns!

My legs became weak. I rested back on my tail. I could not speak.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Mind = Blown
Adam: I'm sorry that you don't have a tail to prop yourself up on
Ifi: I hate you.
Adam: Hey, are you saying that you wouldn't want a big ol' bladey tail?

Adam: Narrator #3.
Ifi: He is not going to be Visser Three for a long time but we are probably going to call him Visser Three the whole review anyway.
Adam: Unlike other books in this series with multiple narrators, I honestly find that this one does a good job of keeping order of it.
Ifi: It does, it does
Ifi: I am glad she stuck to the three and didn't throw in more
Ifi: Also Visser Three's perspective was very interesting
Ifi: He was almost really sympathetic
Ifi: Sometimes
Adam: Well, if you pay close attention, you can pretty much chart the exact moment that he snaps and goes all cannibalistic.
Adam: It's honestly kind of sad.
Adam: If things had turned out better, I feel that he could have made an excellent astrobiologist.

My name is Esplin 9466.

I come from no regular Yeerk pool. I was born from the decaying bodies of my tripartite parents, along with several hundred brothers and sisters, aboard ship. And one twin, naturally, as you know from the double-number designation.

I have never lived on the home world. I was born in a sterile, titanium-alloy tank, beneath the warmth of a portable Kandrona.

It was all I knew.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: In case you've forgotten, being a Yeerk sucks.
Adam: *u*
Adam: ~Xenofiction~
Ifi: We get to see him with his first host, which was a very cool thing
Ifi: For both him and the reader
Adam: "Today Esplin, you are a man."
Adam: I feel he should be reading from the Torah and then thrown a big, needlessly expensive part.
Ifi: It's a Pool ship, not Long Island.
Adam: They are both cultural wastelands

Ifi: So Visser Three basically does a Cassie when he opens his eyes for the first time.
Ifi: OMG
Adam: See! Visser Three basically is an evil version of Cassie!
Adam: *smug face*

I had to leave the Gedd host and return to the pool. Afterward I communicated with my friends and siblings. Many of them found the whole experience terrifying. Sickening. Awful.

Not me. From that moment on, I swore that I would do whatever it took, pay any price, to have eyes again.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Wait
Ifi: They can communicate in their natural forms?
Adam: Yeah, they've mentioned this earlier.
Adam: They use a hybrid touch based/chemical signal language.
Ifi: I've always been very confused by the whole thing.
Adam: Which I really wish was explored further.
Ifi: I mean, how do they know when it's their host's head that's being shoved back in the pool for them, and not someone else's?
Adam: They each have assigned spots
Adam: I guess.
Ifi: Yeah. No.
Adam: But yes, they can communicate when inside the pool.
Adam: Remember, they have their own language.
Ifi: "Is that your host or mine?" "Hell if I know."

Ifi: So Aldrea and Dak are friends now.
Ifi: It's been a few months and she is teaching him to read and math and science.
Adam: Also, Hork-Bajir seers
Adam: Are way, way more intelligent than Andalites.
Ifi: And also way more polite.
Adam: Well, everybody is more polite then the Andalites.
Adam: But seriously.
Adam: He picks up calculus in a matter of months.
Adam: And notice how he speaks more eloquently then the other Hork Bajir.
Adam: This means that he is practically inventing a language by himself in order to properly express himself.
Ifi: Aldrea, meanwhile, is a budding little sociopath.

It was no more than two feet long and covered in deep blue feathers. It had four short legs and two elongated arms ending in claws. It moved by racing along branches and then leaping through the air, much as Dak did. But the chadoo had skin flaps that caught the air like an airfoil, so that it could glide.

"Would you like me to bring it to you, Aldrea?"

I hesitated. What I was thinking of doing was wrong. My parents would be furious if they found out.


<Trust me,> I said. <And never tell anyone what you are about to see.>

I placed my hand on the chadoo. And I began to acquire the animal's DNA.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: She is a bad influence.
Adam: Dak, you shouldn't be hanging out with her.
Ifi: She somehow stole a morphing cube and used it on herself.
Adam: It's basically just a cheap excuse to factor morphing into the plot.
Ifi: Yeah there is basically no actual morphing in this book until the very very end
Adam: Pretty much, yeah
Ifi: There is more important stuff going on.

My thin, strong arms reached and grabbed the tree crown. I swung once around, and down below me, on yet another tree branch, I saw Dak. He was looking up and grinning—a thing Hork-Bajir do with their mouths. I released and glided down to him.

From then on it was a game. Dak led the way and I followed. A wild, insane romp, leaping across the void, snatching branches from midair, scampering, leaping again. But always Dak led the way. Tree to tree, along a path he knew as well as I know my own meadow back on the home world.

The trees were changing. The bark became thicker, the treetops higher and higher. At last we reached a tree that made every other tree look like a bush. From the base of its downhill side to the crown, it was two thousand, one hundred and nineteen feet high. My mother measured it for me days later. I didn't tell her why. It was almost half a mile tall.

"That is the Tribe Tree," Dak said. "The tree of my people. That is where the elders meet."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: This scene was totally in Avatar.
Adam: *sigh*
Adam: I was really hoping to avoid referencing that movie.
Ifi: Inevitable.
Ifi: If we didn't talk about it, it would be conspicuous by its absence
Adam: I'd be okay with that
Ifi: I know you have an irrational hatred of that movie
Ifi: So
Ifi: I will try my best.

Ifi: Ok so Visser Three is completely obsessed with Andalites. Nobody else cares, but he is like collecting posters and books and action figures.
Ifi: He started a fan community on Livejournal
Adam: Does he have that one transformer that I couldn't make sense of?

Ifi: My brain just shut down.
Adam: It has that effect, yes.

Ifi: So then Visser Three finally gets a Hork-Bajir host, which is eight billion times cooler than Gedds
Adam: Quote it.

Hearing was excellent. The sense of smell was almost as good as my own. I opened the eyes. Ahhh! I cried silently. I had thought the Gedd's vision was all that vision could be. But this creature's eyes were wonderful. The colors so vivid. The lines so clear. I could see depth with amazing precision.

I looked around at the room. Once again, I saw the limited, narrow Yeerk pool that was my whole universe. But my eyes were drawn not to the ship around me, but to my new, personal ship: this body.

One thing was instantly apparent: This was no Gedd. This was no Hawjabran or Ongachic. This body reminded me of the Andalite bodies. It would be fast. It would be powerful. It would be…


----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: His superiors are like: So. Can we use this species?
Ifi: Visser Three: It is a dinosaur made of knives, what do you think, genius?
Adam: Of course, Visser Three later tracks down a creature made out of lava, and one that can shoot spikes out of its hands.
Ifi: He is a character.
Adam: What a wacky guy.
Ifi: Then

<Your trees have the gift of communication, like Andalite trees?> she asked.

"No," I said, smiling. Aldrea had said that Andalite trees could speak in a way. Guide trees: Gari-bahs. But I was not sure I believed it. Our trees did not speak. "We call it the language of the trees, but it is only what we Hork-Bajir use as our primitive communicators. At night the great sound speaks from across the valley. It is how we speak with our brothers and sisters of the other two tribes in the valley. The sound is made by stretched vines. The vine is soaked in rain. Then it is stretched tight, vertically, between high branches and low branches.

"Three of these vines are strung this way, all in one chosen tree. The tree must be a very old Nawin tree, for Nawin trees become hollow with age. One vine must be ten times the height of a Hork-Bajir. The second must be seven heights. The smallest five heights.

"Two Hork-Bajir climb out on branches and hold a long, straight sapling. This sapling is drawn across the vine, creating a deep sound."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Nobody is allowed to make fun of a Hork-Bajir ever again.
Adam: That is simply the most awesome thing I have ever heard.

"It is the southern tribe. They tell us that three of their people have been taken to Father Deep." I listened some more to the low, long, sad notes that vibrated around the valley, echoing from the walls. "They say that Father Deep has created new monsters. They are…small. That's strange. The monsters of the Deep are always larger than us. Yet these were small. Two legs…long arms …yellow eyes."

Suddenly I felt Aldrea's hand grab my arm above the wrist blade. It was not the first time she had touched me. Usually, I enjoyed the fact that she would grab me for balance, or playfully slap me in pretended upset, or take my hand as we watched the sun turn red. But this was different.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Yeerks are here. Cool.
Ifi: Also why were you holding hands?
Adam: I think it is cute.
Ifi: And then...

<Oh, no. NO! They're in orbit!> I cried.

"The Yeerks?"

<They're in orbit! This is the time of night when my father beams his report back to the home world. If they're in orbit they might intercept the message!>

I was already running. Flat-out, tail tucked down, laboring, gasping as my muscles screamed from the pain of fighting the ever-present slope.
I was extremely upset by the time I came in sight of the lights of the scoop. Upset because I knew in my hearts it was too late. My father has always been very precise. Very punctual. And my internal clock told me that the message had gone out fifteen minutes ago.

Still I ran. I could make out the lights of the scoop. I could see shadows and silhouettes as my father or mother or brother moved in front of the lights. I could imagine every detail. My mother working at her computer, entering a precise DNA analysis of some strange, new flower she'd found. My brother playing a holo game, lancing imaginary enemy ships. My father... my father standing quietly on his own, thinking, remembering, imagining. Dreaming his hopeful dreams.

That is the picture I want to hold onto, forever.

Not what happened next.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Oh
Ifi: Oh my God
Adam: See? Totally a Disney movie.
Ifi: Disney never showed anyone burning to death!
Adam: Well, true.
Adam: They usually fall off cliffs.
Adam: Occasionally get stabbed...
Ifi: Who got stabbed?
Adam: The guy from tangled.
Adam: Oh, wait. Jafar burnt to death.
Adam: And Frollo fell off a building and then burnt to death.

Killed by Jesus. We should all be so lucky.

Ifi: But they were bad guys.
Adam: Well okay.
Adam: The parents usually die offscreen.
Ifi: Not a nerd mom and a hippie dad and a little boy
Adam: But this is a book, so there is more you can get away with.
Adam: If it were a movie, a lot of it would prolly be offscreen
Ifi: Here's a nice quote

"As you said, Aldrea, this is why I was born a seer. To save my people from these Yeerks who have done this evil thing. But I cannot do it alone. You must help me."

<Help?> I sobbed. <Help what?>

"Help me to understand this evil," Dak said. "Will you help me understand this evil?"

I was sick. So sick with fear and hatred I wanted to die just to make the sickness stop. But Dak had shown me a way to live. A reason to endure the violence eating away at my insides.

<No, I won't help you to understand> I said. <But I will help you kill Yeerks. That, I will do. I will help you kill them. And kill them. And kill them! And kill them all!>

I screamed in powerless rage at the sky where I knew the Yeerks were hiding.

<Kill them all!> I cried. <Kill them all!>

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Aldrea channels Rachel
Adam: Technically, wouldn't it be "Rachel channels Aldrea"?
Ifi: They channel each other
Adam: Sure
Adam: This brings up a point which I will elaborate upon further later, but I just want to say it here.
Adam: This book is basically a compressed version of the Animorphs series as a whole
Adam: There are bits of all the Animorphs in Aldrea and Dak, and the events of this story mimic events in the main series perhaps a bit too eerily at times.

Ifi: Dak learns about war today.

Before she could answer, I saw two Hork-Bajir coming toward us, running. They must have seen the lights from the sky.

"Do not fear, brothers," I said to them.

"Oh, we're not afraid," one said to me. His tone was strange. Different. He walked straight toward me. As he drew close, I realized I did not know him. Was he from one of the other tribes in the valley?


He struck me with his wrist blade! I was cut in my chest. I could see the blood. I could see that the skin was separated, as though a large mouth had been cut into my chest. It caused pain.

"Why did you-?"

Ssslash! Ssslash!

He struck at me, using his feet and elbow blades!

I was cut again. I was bleeding. The left side of my face was deeply gashed. It had all happened in the blink of an eye.
All I could do was stare. I was bleeding. I was cut in many places. I felt pain. But more, I felt confused. How was it possible for a Hork-Bajir to cut me with his blades? It was not an accident, like sometimes happens when we are harvesting bark.

We were not harvesting bark. This Hork-Bajir had cut me. Deliberately! Why?

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: I find this bit very interesting honestly.
Ifi: I know!
Adam: The Hork-Bajir aren't simply peaceful. They actually have no concept of deliberate violence.
Ifi: I found this part to be very powerful.

I looked at my own wrist blades.

Aldrea screamed in rage and terror.

I held out my arms and saw the blades there. It was as if I were seeing myself for the first time.
Something happened then. It was as if I had been given the power to look right into the heart of Father Deep. I could feel a terrible knowledge, a terrible understanding. I could feel…power.

<Dak! Help me!>

I jumped on the back of the closest Hork-Bajir. I swung my arm as hard and as fast as I could. My wrist blade sliced into his back. It sliced through the muscle. It sliced through his spine.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: So we get the loss of innocence thing again.
Adam: And there's the aspect where the Hork-Bajir look like monsters, but don't really become monsters until this moment.
Ifi: Dak is actually very upset when Aldrea explains that everyone will have to learn to fight if they don't want to be enslaved. Aldrea is not very sympathetic.
Adam: I mean, I can understand where she's coming from here. But she does pretty much go off the deep end here.

<Maybe not. You are the seer. You were born to teach your people a new thing. Maybe you were born to teach your people to fight. Maybe your purpose is to teach Hork-Bajir to kill Yeerks.>

"I hoped I had been chosen to show my people all the things your father tried to show the Yeerks. I wanted to teach them music. Writing. Art. I wanted to teach them to keep track of time, the passing of years. To make tools, to build. But your father gave those things to the Yeerks, and now we see the results. Maybe I was a fool to think that knowledge would make my people happy."

<There will be time to think about all that after we find a way to annihilate the Yeerks,> I said. <We can save your people, if they will learn to fight! They don't have to be destroyed.>

"Yes, they do," he said quietly. "Either they will learn to fight and hurt and kill, or they will learn to be slaves. Both will destroy them. Killers or slaves. They will be one or the other. Killers or slaves."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: She is kind of really insensitive
Adam: I told you Dak, there are better ways to meet girls. Get out of there where you still can.
Ifi: I am surprised that he doesn't find her completely abrasive, since she's so different from anyone else he's ever known
Adam: She's his only option at intelligent conversation.
Adam: He's basically caught in a double bind there.
Ifi: And so then, to escape the Yeerks, they jump into a monster-filled canyon that the Hork-Bajir call Father Deep.
Adam: Perhaps we should elaborate on the Deep a bit.
Adam: Because the physics of it make my head hurt a little
Ifi: You'll have to elaborate on it alone, because I don't understand any part of it.
Ifi: There is blue mist and monsters

Adam: So thousands of years ago, a great big meteorite struck the planet, and basically split it open.
Adam: So the whole planet is basically halfway split in two, but it manages to stay intact like that.
Adam: Instead of falling back in on itself overtime
Adam: And for unknown reasons it does not cause constant earthquakes
Ifi: Oh, and it is full of horrible, horrible monsters

The Gedd was beside me. Then, in a flash, the creature Aldrea had called a Hork-Bajir-Controller was standing over me. He drew his own shredder and pressed the end of it against my head.

I could see the mad glee in his eyes. I could see his finger tightening on the trigger. And then...

The Hork-Bajir was yanked straight up off the ground. Up into the air, as if he'd been launched by a bent branch. He flew up, then stopped.

I saw the two massive, three-fingered hands of the Jubba-Jubba close around the Hork-Bajir's chest. I heard a cry. A roar. And the Hork-Bajir's body fell to the ground on top of me. A body with no head.

"Aaaahhhh!" I cried in terror.

The Gedd beside me rolled to his feet and began to run. A three-fingered hand reached down out of the mist and snatched the Gedd up.

No part of the Gedd fell back to the ground. No part of his body, at least. The shredder clattered a few feet from me.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: It's like someone decided to make a planet out of all the doodles I made when I was six.
Ifi: And by the way? This monster comes out of nowhere. The good guys and the bad guys are having their fight and then suddenly BAM. You have no head.
Adam: Well, the whole place is full of opaque mist.
Adam: So it wouldn't be too hard to sneak up on someone there.
Ifi: It is still horrifying.
Adam: I love this place, honestly.
Adam: Then again, I just have a fondness for giant monsters.
Ifi: So they wander on, for lack of anything better to do, until they find:

It was a chasm. Sheer cliffs on both sides. Sheer as walls. I could see across the chasm to the far side far better than I could see straight down.

The walls of the chasm were covered in an amazing, intricate filigree: windows, doors, walkways, arches, open spaces cut back into the cliff. All connected vertically by stone stairways.

Thousands of feet below, below all this incredible construction, maybe tens of thousands of feet, was the valley floor. It was not as bright as a sun. But it was bright enough to cast shadows upward from every stair and arch and windowsill. It glowed red and yellow and seemed to seethe with slow, sluggish movement. We were looking at the molten heart of the planet.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: Physics!
Ifi: Nope.
Adam: Do we have any geology experts in the audience who could explain just why this makes no sense?
Adam: So they wander around a bit more.
Adam: And they make some new friends!

"What are you?" the creature asked Aldrea.

<I am Andalite.>

"This is not your place, Andalite. It is not your place, Hork-Bajir. Leave."

The creature turned and began to walk away.

"No," I said.

The creature stopped.


"No," I said firmly. "You will explain who you are. What this place is."

"We are the Arn," the creature said. "I am named Quatzhinnikon."

<Do you realize that the Hork-Bajir don't even know you exist?> Aldrea demanded.

"Of course they don't. We don't want them to know. That's why we created the various species of creatures who live in the zone of separation. We wanted to keep the Hork-Bajir on their side of the zone. Now I must go. I have work to do."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Everything you know is a lie.
Adam: Oh man, I love Quatz.
Adam: He is such an enormous jerk, it is hilarious.
Adam: Also, for some reason, I've always pictured him as being voiced by Harlan Ellison.
Ifi: They basically threaten to remove his head if he doesn't answer their questions.
Adam: Reluctantly, he complies.
Ifi: I want to talk more about what happened to the planet.

"An asteroid in unstable orbit," Quatzhinnikon explained. "Each year, another near miss. We knew it would hit us. We tried to build spacecraft to escape. But we failed to manage anything more than local spaceflight. We were interested in biology, not physics. We made it as far as the uninhabitable second moon. No farther. So all we could do was wait. And recalculate the orbit and wait some more. And then..."

On the screen we saw the asteroid suddenly plow straight into the planet. The impact was shocking. The entire planet shuddered. Pieces of it went flying off into space. A vast cloud of dust and smoke enveloped the planet, slowly settling over the course of years. When the dust and smoke cleared, the planet was very much changed. Huge cracks had formed from the impact of the asteroid. Huge cracks that formed a belt of valleys around the planet.

"Much of the atmosphere was gone," Quatzhinnikon explained. "A few thousand of us had waited on the moon, frozen in stasis. We awoke to find that." He pointed at the planet.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: They couldn't figure out space travel
Ifi: to save their own lives
Adam: Hey, you make it out like FTL travel is something easy to stumble upon.
Ifi: I'm not saying it is, but incoming death should make you rethink your priorities
Adam: He said they had only just barely managed extraorbital flight.
Adam: They would have needed a pretty big leap to become fully spacefarring in such a short time.
Ifi: The Yeerks could have done it.
Adam: They basically had the same degree of astrophysics that we do now. If our government discovers an asteroid about to hit the planet, I don't think that FTL travel is going to be at the top of our priority list.
Ifi: Yes we'd just drill it to bitty pieces.
Adam: And then make a bad movie about it afterwards.

"We returned to our home world to find everyone dead. Our entire species. The air was unbreathable, except in the valleys. But even there, the balance was precarious. A hair too much carbon dioxide, a shade too little nitrogen, and even the impact valleys would die.

"So we went to work to understand this new environment. We needed a mechanism for controlling the atmosphere."

<The trees,> I said. I knew then where this was going. I turned one stalk eye to look at Dak. He had not figured it out yet. Should I silence the Arn? Should I stop him before he revealed the truth to Dak?

"Yes, of course. The trees," Quatzhinnikon agreed. "Different species, each subtly different in its use of carbon dioxide and its production of oxygen. The perfect balance, the perfect mix, that's what we needed. But they would require constant care. And we were not willing to become a race of tree-herders."

Quatzhinnikon seemed to hesitate. As if he had read the doubts in my own mind. Should Dak know the truth?

<So you created a race of tree-herders,> I said. <Right here, in this room.>

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Poor Dak. Poor Hork-Bajir.
Adam: His species is a product of the most obnoxious species in the galaxy.
Ifi: An Andalite and an Arn walk into a bar...
Ifi: and it is incinerated from orbit.

Quatzhinnikon gave Dak a hard look. "Of course. You're one of the smart ones, aren't you? A seer. We never could entirely eradicate that one bundle of genes. We did our best, but still, from time to time, one of you will arise."

"Yes, I am a seer," Dak said calmly.

"You're a freak, is what you are," Quatzhinnikon said. "A dangerously unstable element. It was our one great failure: One in ten thousand Hork-Bajir is born with intelligence that rivals that of the Arn."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: I want to hug Dak, if that is at all possible.
Adam: You may need to wear a kevlar vest beforehand.
Adam: He takes this all very well, all things considered.

Ifi: Over to Visser Three! He's not doing so well.

In an instant I had learned one of the terrible drawbacks of having a host body. A host body can be hurt. And the pain cannot be filtered out. The very capability that gives us control ties us into the pain.

The Hork-Bajir had slashed me with his blade. He had aimed the blow well. The spine of my host body was cut in two. All of the body below my chest ceased to exist.

I lay helpless. No one came. For a very long time I lay there, staring up at the night sky through the ominous Hork-Bajir trees.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: Now this moment, I believe.
Adam: Is the specific moment where Esplin snaps.
Ifi: He is left there for a few hours
Adam: With his spine severed in half.
Adam: He's basically stuck in his own head (figuratively speaking) in agony, for hours.
Adam: Now, Esplin up to this point has been a far cry from the Visser that we know and love.
Adam: He's been thoughtful, and a clever strategist.
Adam: As opposed to a deranged saturday morning cartoon villain.
Ifi: I have a theory that Alloran rubbed off on him.
Adam: Well, I see your point. But I feel that there are some specific moments in this book that are vastly important to shaping his character.
Ifi: Oh yes
Adam: I will get to the second big one a bit later.

Ifi: Visser Three infests a Hork-Bajir and goes searching for Aldrea, who he is kind of completely obsessed with.

Fitting in with the Hork-Bajir had been pitifully easy. The host body I'd taken was named Fet Mashar. His friends had seen him taken into a fighter. They had seen him being dragged away by Gedds.

And yet when I reappeared among them very few questions were asked. I simply said, "I am back." And the Hork-Bajir would say, "Yes, you are back."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: facepalm.jpg
Adam: Would you prefer that he elaborate?

Ifi: Then Visser Three is just chillin' at the Yeerk pool
Ifi: when suddenly

I was standing by the edge of the pool, joking with my twin. Yes, of course, I am a twin. But I am the primary. He is the secondary.

We were talking about tactics for fighting with Hork-Bajir blades when we heard the cries. I peered into the darkness beneath the towering trees.

"Aaarrrgghh! Aaahhh! Help! Help!"

The cries of several voices. All terrified. All panicked. Followed by the sizzling noise of shredder fire. And beneath all that, a low rumbling roar. I saw Hork-Bajir and Gedds running our way. Stumbling as they ran. I loosened my shredder in its holster.

And then they appeared. You can have no possible idea how horrifying that sight was. A line of creatures advanced. But creatures like nothing I had ever imagined. Huge, freakish, foul creatures with twisted bodies and massive hands and bristling horns.

But as frightening as this weird army was, what frightened me more, what made it all seem terribly dangerous, was a small, bluish-purple figure standing at the head of this mob. A single Andalite girl. Beside her stood a lumbering Hork-Bajir I assumed must be Dak Hamee.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Oh look it's Esplin Nobody Cares from book 16!
Adam: Okay, this bit is just
Adam: Completely awesome.
Adam: It's a giant monster parade!

They were a circus of twisted DNA. The Arn had not missed a trick.
The Jubba-Jubba, like the three-fingered monstrosity that had attacked us.

The Galilash, fourteen feet tall, with green-and-red reptilian flesh and razored tentacles.

The Gorks, only three feet tall but twenty feet across, shuffling, twelve-legged horrors with snapping, extending mouths on all sides.

There was a monster called a Lerdethak, a bizarre tangle of living vines surrounding a ravening mouth.

And then there were things the Hork-Bajir had never seen long enough to name. Things with mouths that could chew down a tree, things with needle-sharp quills ten feet long, things that squirted acid.

It was a sad, sick collection. In a better world, a world of peace and justice, someone would have punished the Arn for what they had done.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: Oh, and hey Lerdethak! Nice to see you again!
Ifi: Oh yeah!
Ifi: Wait how...
Adam: What? Visser Three couldn't have come back to the Hork-Bajir homeworld after getting an Andalite host?
Ifi: <Remember that place we all nearly died? With the horrible virus still floating around? I need to go back there. We're gonna go find some of the monsters that tried to eat us. Yes you're coming. My luggage won't carry itself.>
Adam: Fun times.

A Jubba-Jubba simply climbed up the side of the tree, passing me and leaping on the stunned defenders. The Jubba-Jubba grabbed the nearest Hork-Bajir-Controller, opened his vast mouth, and swallowed him from head to waist.


And up in the trees, hundreds of my fellow Hork-Bajir, all watching. Not understanding, but watching to see what I would do.

"Do as he does," they murmured still.


A shout from behind me. I spun. A Hork-Bajir-Controller, rushing at me, blades flashing. I ducked beneath the swinging arc of his wrist blade. I rose up, pushed his head back, and kicked into his stomach with my foot. The claws opened him up. He fell from the tree, rolled down the side, and landed at the feet of a Gal Hash. The Gal Hash…

It doesn't matter what the Gal-Hash did.

What matters is that my people, the people I was to lead as seer, had seen what I did.

"Do as he does!" they cried.

They began to drop from the trees. And then the final horror began.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Trauma trauma is so fun
Ifi: Trauma is for everyone!

Ifi: Then Aldrea and Visser Three run into each other

"Kill you? No, no, no. Not me," he said. "I don't want to kill you. I want to make you my host. I will be the first Andalite-Controller ever. I will have complete access to your every secret, to all the scientific and technical knowledge you possess. See, I've studied you Andalites. I admire you."


The Yeerk was busy powering up the shredders. And then busy using the fighter's maneuvering thrusters to turn it toward the battle, bringing the shredders to bear. One blast from the powerful shredders at this point-blank range would end the battle. He was actually laughing to himself as he brought the weapons around.

Then he noticed.

"Aaahhh!" He jumped back, eyes wide in disbelief.

I was halfway morphed. Halfway morphed into a Jubba-Jubba monster.

<I don't guess you Yeerks know about this bit of new technology yet,> I said.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Aldrea reveals top secret technology to the enemy
Adam: Now this part.
Adam: This is the other integral part of Visser Three's character developement.
Adam: Not only does he discover the existence of the Andalite morphing technology, but his first exposure to it is someone turning into a giant monster and trying to eat him.
Ifi: Oh damn
Adam: Hmm, I wonder if the idea of doing that will ever affect him later on...
Ifi: I guess it makes sense that he's like "I need an Andalite body. I need one or I will die." for the next decade or so
Adam: Indeed

Ifi: So Aldrea manages to call the Andalites and is like <Everyone is dead and oh btw the Yeerks are here.>
Ifi: Andalites: <WE'LL BE RIGHT THERE>
Ifi: Oh hey look the Andalites are here.
Adam: And hey, it's our old buddy Alloran!
Adam: And…very few others.
Ifi: Yeah. What exactly is the rest of the Andalite army doing at this point?
Adam: They Yeerks set a red herring for them to go after instead of their main target.
Adam: Which seems to be the case for every single Andalite military defeat every.
Ifi: …that is true…
Ifi: Holy God.
Adam: I swear, these guys must have the most pathetic antiespionage protocols in the universe.

"War-Prince Alloran," I said, in a friendly but not deferential tone. "You have a lot to learn. If you'd like, we can give you a briefing on the situation here."

<A briefing? Ahh-hah-hah-hah! You'll tell me!>

He and the other Andalites all laughed. I had to struggle to control my temper. Lately, I'd been having more and more trouble with anger.

"There are seventeen Yeerk ground bases spread through fourteen valleys," I said. "There are three known mining camps where the Yeerks are busy extracting iron, bauxite, nickel, tin, copper, and uranium, as well as various gemstones I'm told are useful for focusing shredders. The largest construction area is two valleys west of here. It is well-camouflaged, having been dug back into the slope of the valley. We suspect that they have built fourteen fighter craft, based on a new design but similar in capabilities to your own Andalite fighters. These fighters are armed with two Dracon beam weapons, a blending of Andalite shredder technology with some Ongachic particle-wave technology."

War-Prince Alloran stared. All the Andalites stared.

"Shall I continue?"

Alloran nodded his head slowly.

"The Yeerks are also constructing a new type of ship, quite large, very heavily armed. It seems almost to have been inspired by Hork-Bajir physiology. We…Aldrea and I…have taken to calling it a Blade ship."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: 1) Yeerks are amazing
Ifi: 2) Andalites are dicks
Ifi: 3) Apparently Visser Three liked the name 'Blade ship'
Adam: He likes pointy things, I guess.
Ifi: Who doesn't, really?
Adam: Touche

Ifi: At this point the book gets more and more depressing.

There were victories. But at the end of each passing week, there were fewer Andalites and more of my people enslaved.

After six months, the two thousand Andalite warriors had been reduced to four hundred. My forty-two Hork-Bajir warriors were now just twelve.

We estimated that there were now a hundred thousand Hork-Bajir-Controllers.

We hid among the Am, for the most part. The Am didn't like it, but they were helpless. Of course, the secret of the Arn was now well-known to the Yeerks. As Quatzhinnikon had predicted, the Yeerks discovered they could not successfully infest the Arn.

So the Yeerks used the Arn in other valleys as slave labor to mine their raw materials and to build Yeerk ships. When an Arn was injured or worn out, the Yeerks used them for target practice.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: Well, it is an Animorphs book, I suppose that is to be expected.
Adam: And all the same, I still can't help but laugh at the Arn's plight.
Adam: I am a terrible person.
Ifi: The Arn must be absolutely horrible at manual labor
Adam: They're short, with stumpy legs and thin arms. Sounds like great workers to me!
Adam: Wait.
Adam: Wait a second...
Adam: Why on earth are the Arn not striking up a treaty with the Yeerks.
Adam: The Yeerks are a race of sense freaks.
Ifi: OMG
Ifi: You are right
Adam: And the Arn are masters of biotech.
Ifi: They could build the Yeerks the best bodies ever!
Adam: It's true!
Adam: Quatz! Go and make some nonsentient tentacled giant eyeballs that can fly!
Adam: It will solve everything!
Ifi: Imagine a whole culture devoted to the engineering and perfecting of one's own body.
Adam: So they would basically become a race of wandering space monks.
Adam: That is completely awesome.
Ifi: So much wonderful potential
Ifi: Alas

Ifi: Ok so one day Aldrea and Dak notice that there are some Andalites guarding some random building and nobody will tell them what's going on.
Ifi: So they decide to break in
Adam: Seems like the only sensible method
Ifi: She steals Alloran's DNA to do so.

It was so easy morphing Alloran that I barely knew it was happening. There was no mental change. I still had the same Andalite instincts. But now, as I walked ahead of Dak, I felt the increased physical power of being in a male form. When I turned my stalk eyes back, I saw the heavy tail blade of a male. I also felt the slight male clumsiness, the lack of subtle balance that a female Andalite possesses.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: That is sort of interesting.
Ifi: I would have liked that to be explored more.
Adam: The moral ramifications of sexual dimorphism in a sapient species is always a bit of an iffy topic.
Ifi: That's my name!
Adam: Herp derp derp

<Computer, identify the purpose of this facility.>

Fortunately, computers don't understand the concept of a suspicious question. The computer answered.

<This facility uses Arn biotechnology matched with Andalite computer technology to formulate and produce biological specimens.>

I frowned. <What biological specimens?>


<That's an organic medicine,> I told Dak.

<And Virus Q-One-Eighteen.>

My hearts skipped a beat. Why would anyone be creating a virus?

<Explain the exact purpose of Virus Q-One-Eighteen.>

<Virus Q-One-Eighteen is a Quantum virus. It is designed to attack a specific type of living creature at the subatomic level, bypassing all possible countermeasures. It is designed to cause death within minutes.>

<No,> I whispered.

"Ask it what 'specific type of living creature'?" Dak demanded.

For a moment, I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't, because the computer would answer. The computer would tell the truth, and I couldn't hear the truth.

"Ask it!" Dak snapped.

<Computer, what species is Virus Q-One-Eighteen designed to attack?>


----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Hey I have a better idea. Why not design it TO ATTACK YEERKS?
Adam: Seriously.
Ifi: Alloran I'm sorry but you did not think this one through.
Adam: I mean, even if you needed Yeerk tissue to activate it properly, surely it wouldn't be that difficult to get a single captive.
Ifi: Yeah.
Ifi: So they steal the virus and run off with the intention of dropping it in the Deep, which will apparently destroy it probably hopefully.
Ifi: But then the Yeerks attack.
Ifi: And since we've all read the Andalite Chronicles, we know how this is gonna end anyway.
Adam: Wait, so they are planning on gassing the entire planet with just one canister?
Ifi: Maybe that's all they made so far? Idk.

Aldrea turned her face to me. She took my free hand in hers. <We tried,> she said simply.

But I was not ready to die. Not just yet. The Blade ship came on, flying low. I tightened my grip on Aldrea's hand. "Jump!"


"Trust me. Jump!"

We jumped into shadow.

We fell.

THUMP! Bump!


We landed on the Blade ship as it passed beneath the shattered bridge.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Someday I, too, will jump onto a moving spaceship and shatter my kneecaps.
Adam: Ifi, make all your dreams come true
Ifi: Does anyone have a spaceship I can borrow?
Adam: I'll let you know when it arrives in the mail.

Ifi: Kissy time!

My stalk eyes went dark and then hardened to form the big, forward-raked horns. And then, on my arms, on my legs, the blades began to emerge.

"You're morphing a Hork-Bajir!"

"Yes," I said, using the Hork-Bajir mouth. "I acquired Delf."

I clutched the canister tightly. I reached for the treetop and gripped it with my Hork-Bajir claw.

"We're in this together, Dak. If the Quantum virus is released, now I will die, too."

"I don't want that!"

"I do, Dak. I'll live or die with you."

Then Dak pressed his forehead horns to mine, and I felt the tingle of a sensation I had not guessed Hork-Bajir could feel. It was a Hork-Bajir kiss, I suppose. What we Andalites do when we stroke another's face with our palms.

We hung there from the crown of a thousand-foot-tall tree and for a moment, at least, forgot about the battle raging, and the war lost, and the canister that contained so much destruction.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: l'amour
Ifi: And then they are captured.
Adam: Oops

"You can't possibly stay in that form forever," I said.

"Yes, I can," Aldrea said. "In fact, in an hour and a half, I'll have no choice. I'll be Hork-Bajir permanently."

There was no doubting the truth of what she said. She said it too triumphantly for it to be a lie.


I walked over to Dak Hamee. I smiled at Aldrea. And I kicked Dak as hard as I could. Then I kicked him again. He groaned and fell over, facedown on the deck.

"Demorph, Andalite," I said.

"NO!" the fool Hork-Bajir yelled. "Don't let him—"

I kicked him again.

"Demorph, Andalite. I don't want to bruise my foot hurting your friend. Just demorph. It doesn't matter. You will both become host bodies, like it or not. So why endure the pain?" Then it occurred to me. The realization blossomed in my head like the loveliest flower. Of course! Of course!

"Grab her. Hold her down!" I cried, ecstatic at the idea in my head. "I don't need her to
demorph. I can infest her now and then force her to demorph! Hah-hah-hah!"

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: You're all idiots.
Ifi: The Hork-Bajir is smarter than you.
Adam: I was just about to say.
Adam: It saddens me a bit when the smartest person in the room is a non-seer Hork-Bajir.
Ifi: It gets dumber.
Ifi: Visser Three takes Aldrea's body…
Ifi: And is immediately attacked by his now-free old host
Ifi: Which apparently nobody thought to restrain.
Adam: Let's just give everybody involved a prize

And then, as I struggled helplessly to finish taking control of the Andalite and get safely inside her head, I felt a hand close around my lower body.

I was being pulled out! Noooo! Noooo!

My palps lost contact with the eyes. My palps lost contact with the Andalite mind.

I was blind again! Helpless. I felt an impact as I hit the deck.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Aaagh!
Ifi: You're not supposed to do that!
Ifi: Didn't you read Visser?
Adam: Not in a while.
Adam: I don't really remember it that well.
Ifi: Edriss yanks a friend out of his host's head, accidentally tearing him in half. The leftover Yeerk particles in his brain drive him insane.
Adam: Oh
Adam: Oh dear.
Adam: That is upsetting.
Ifi: And then she puts him in her pocket
Adam: …
Ifi: It was a strange day.
Adam: That happened to a friend of mine once.
Ifi: …
Adam: He got pulled in half.
Adam: So I put him in my pocket.
Ifi: …
Adam: It was one of those nights.

Adam: So, the three of them once again manage to escape, but all they are able to do is crash the ship.
Ifi: Happens a lot in this series.
Adam: This being Animorphs, they all get flung out and knocked unconscious, but otherwise are perfectly fine.

The side of the ship tore off. I saw flashes of trees! We hit again and again.

Then, suddenly, we stopped moving.

I raised my head, then lost consciousness.

When I woke again, I saw Aldrea bleeding.

Again, I lost consciousness.

It was daylight when I next opened my eyes. I looked up into Aldrea's face. Only it was Delf's face, of course.

"You are Hork-Bajir now," I said stupidly, my mind groggy and confused.

"Forever," she said. "The time limit has passed. I am Hork-Bajir."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: So we get a reprisal of the Andalite Chronicles
Ifi: Enjoy your ten-year lifespan, Aldrea.
Adam: Getting stuck as a Hork-Bajir is nowhere near as horrible as being a Taxxon nothlit
Ifi: Granted. But still. Ten years.
Adam: …If it helps, she doesn't even make it to that.
Adam: Wait, now I just made myself sad.

"The canister!" I cried.

Aldrea's eyes opened wide. "I forgot about it!"

We both ran to the wreckage of the Bug fighter. It was strewn across several hundred feet. Sheet composite and even an entire engine hung in the branches above us.

We searched for half an hour. Then a voice called out, "Dak Hamee, I am here!"

It was Gah. He was in the tree above us, in the high branches. He was swinging down to meet us. He was carrying the canister. He had retrieved it from the branches above. He had known that it was important. He was bringing it to us.

"No," Aldrea whispered. "No, no, no!"

The canister top was open.

"Run, Dak! We have to run! The wind is blowing it from us, but we have to run!"

"Gah!" I cried. "Gah Fillat!" But what could I say to him? There was nothing I could do. As I watched in horror, his face twisted, his eyes bulged.

We ran.

We ran and ran.

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: This book is the saddest book.
Adam: Well, so much for Gah being the smartest one in the room.
Ifi: It's not his fault, he did very well for a Hork-Bajir.
Adam: Well alright.
Ifi: Thought process: "Need to find thing for friends. Important. Yay! I found thing! Show friends!"
Adam: "Oops, now dead."
Ifi: You are a bad person you made me laugh

Ifi: And so yeah that is the end.

<That's an amazing story,> I said to Jara Hamee. <Not exactly a happy one, though.>

"Yes. Good story. Sad story," Jara said. "Jara Hamee tell. Father tell Jara Hamee. Father father tell father. I tell daughter."

He looked fondly at the young Hork-Bajir who had curled up beside her mother in the night.

<Your daughter? I still can't always tell male Hork-Bajir from female Hork-Bajir,> I admitted. <But what's the end of the story? You didn't tell me the end.>

"Story have no end," Jara said, laughing like I was a great fool. "Stories go on."

<I guess you're right. Besides, I guess I don't want to know the next part of that story. It was pretty sad. Too easy to see my own people going the way of the Hork-Bajir. Still, I wish I knew what became of Dak and Aldrea. And even Esplin-Nine-Four-Double-Six.>

"Jara know that. Dak Hamee and Aldrea daughter of Seerow live. Have child. Then die."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Ifi: Also, Tobias, you know who Esplin is. Don't ask dumb questions.
Adam: Well, they only ever learned his real name once, and that was during the internet book.
Adam: And I think they all kind of want to forget that, honestly.
Ifi: I know I do.
Ifi: And then there is their daughter.

I opened my wings, ready to catch the breeze.

"Tobias," Jara said. "This daughter named Toby. Name for Tobias."

<Wow. That's an honor, Jara and Ket> I was really touched. It was a typically sweet Hork-Bajir thing to do. <But it's kind of a strange name for a Hork-Bajir, isn't it?>

"Yes," Ket agreed. "Strange name."

"Good name," Jara said. "Toby is different."

"Yes," Ket agreed, "Toby is different."

I smiled to myself and caught the breeze beneath my wings. But then, just as I lifted off, I felt the strangest tingling sensation. I veered back and floated above the Hork-Bajir.

<When you say Toby is different…>

Jara and Ket didn't answer. Instead, the Hork-Bajir girl herself looked up at me and smiled a very serious smile. "Yes, Tobias, friend of the Hork-Bajir. Yes, I am different."

----The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Adam: 1: That is honestly a really nice gesture for them to make.
Adam: 2: Yay! Toby is another favorite character of mine.
Ifi: She is totally awesome.
Adam: I think I just like all the Hork-Bajir seers, honestly.
Ifi: I love Toby.
Adam: Indeed.
Ifi: So this book was depressing as all hell.
Adam: It was also completely brilliant.
Adam: Easily one of the best written ones in the series.
Ifi: I just loved the idea of the Hork-Bajir being created by the Arn.
Ifi: It was very cool
Adam: I love how morally ambiguous.
Adam: No side really does the right thing in the situation.
Adam: And it is tough to actively root for anyone sometimes.
Adam: Which is great.
Adam: It shows just exactly what war does to people.
Adam: Which is the major theme of this book.
Adam: And the whole series, for that matter.
Ifi: Yeah. I was reading the part where Visser Three is in a Bug fighter and I actually stopped and said. "Wait. I'm...I'm...I'm cheering for him."
Adam: It's true!
Ifi: He's blowing up Andalite fighters and I'm going yeah man you can do it!
Adam: Same reaction here.
Adam: And it's like, they just took all the overarching themes of the entire Animorphs series. And compressed it into one book.
Adam: Spectacular.
Ifi: And no stupid boring humans
Adam: Indeed.

Adam: One more thing.
Adam: This books use of the morphing flipbook gimmick is…shall we say, interesting.
Adam: It starts off with a Yeerk, which morphs into a Gedd, which morphs into a Hork-Bajir, which morphs into an Andalite, which morphs into a human
Adam: All of which move across the page as they do so.
Adam: Also, the Andalite and human are totally being reused from book 8.
Adam: And the Hork-Bajir and Yeerk get reused later.
Adam: Also, this is the closest we get to official art of a Gedd, pretty much.
Ifi: Nobody cares about Gedds.
Adam: …I care.
Ifi: Nobody.


    but seriously, in what universe is this a Disney movie? Where in Disney movies is there genocide, and people being MELTED FROM ORBIT, and moral ambiguity, and loss of innocence and TENTACLE MONSTERS!?
    That aside, I think that this will probably always be my favorite Animorphs book. I totally agree with what you were saying at the end, about this compressing what the animorphs was all about in to one book. Also, I frriggin adore the cover art :)


      Once upon a time there were Gedds. They did some stuff but nobody remembers what it was because Gedds are boring.

      THE END

    2. Guys, I would totally want to read The Gedd Chronicles. I mean, it would take place during the yeerk prehistoric ages, and it would chronolog the story of the very first host body. Am I the only one who would really want to hear that story?

    3. Doesn't Seerow say at one point that Yeerk-less Gedds are "barely sentient"? Er, sorry; < barely sentient >. I mean, granted, this is an Andalite talking, but Seerow's much less of a prick than most of them. The Gedds are significant because of what they represent for the Yeerks, but we see most of that in this book anyway when Esplin takes his first ever host... I'm not convinced that the Gedds' perspective on things would really be all that interesting.

      Actually, come to think of it, I think the fact that the Gedds are so uninteresting might be important in itself because it almost certainly impacted on the way the Yeerks relate to the hosts they found on other worlds. It's entirely possible that, for many of them (including, almost certainly, the entire Council of Thirteen), Gedds were their first experience of infestation. After 30 years, the majority of the Yeerk population were probably born offworld, but the cultural influence of the older generation would still be overwhelming. If what Seerow seems to be implying is true, the Gedds have basically evolved to let the Yeerks do their thinking for them... and *this* is the species that, more than any other, probably defines what infestation means to them as a civilisation.

      Is it any wonder that they have the kind of imperialistic attitude they do towards species like Humans and Hork-Bajir?

    4. My own fan wank theory is that the Gedds sort of evolved in symbiosis with the Yeerks, they basically provided the host bodies for ancestral yeerks and over time they evolved by Yeerk selective breeding to make them better hosts but they never evolved sapience independently of the yeerks.

    5. The Gedds are basically inferior versions of the Isk. They're symbiotic hosts for the Yeerks, but because they suck so much, the Yeerks weren't content to just keep them as host bodies like their Yoort brethren were with the Isk.

  2. Gedds are the Meg Griffins of the Animorphsverse.

    And I side with Adam about Avatar: I f***ing hate that movie.

    The Chronicles seems really cool, though. It's a real shame they didn't publish them here in Italy. And now we know where Visser 3 find all those nifty new monsters!

    Also, when I read "1966" and "Seerow", I immediately thought of this song:

  3. I didnt like Avatar either! The ridiculous xenobiology is what bothered me. Why does every alien in hollywood have to look like a discolored slightly mutated human??

  4. I remember when this book came out K.A. had said that it was one of her favorites. It was a little confusing for me when I first read it but I guess it makes more sense to me now because I am older? Though I kind of wish that Applegate did not throw Alloran and Visser Three into everything. It makes the world seem much much smaller. Visser Three's backstory could have been saved for the Visser Chronicles. I never cared for that book in particular and thought that it could have been done better.

    1. I feel like quoting a bit of the book's blurb here, since it seems appropriate:

      "According to Ms. Applegate, 'The Hork-Bajir Chronicles is a book I've wanted to write for a long ti,e. I wanted to show that most stories of conflict are more complicated than any one side would have you believe. Not that good and evil are impossible to find or define, just that reality is usually a little grayer around the edges.'"

      That said, we already get half of Visser Three's backstory in the Andalite Chronicles, so I don't really know if an additional whole book is really necessary for the rest of it. (The book Visser is actually about Visser One, in spite of what the misleading cover art might make you think.)

  5. "The Arn are almost as polite as the Andalites."


    This whole book is just good good stuff. People are idiots at times, like with the whole Visser Three getting pulled out of Aldrea's head (he was just too excited) but otherwise very very good.

    Personally I thought Applegate really put into perspective the whole Hork-Bajir nonviolence thing and how Andalite, Yeerk and Arn all screwed Hork-Bajir over like no one's business. It just really sucked for them.

    Also Toby scares the shit out of me b/c she frigging doesn't take anything from anyone. I remember Ax was trying to be all "superior overlord" with her, and she went back and sassed him out.

  6. It's really interesting to see how Esplin 9466 goes from a sympathetic character in this book, to evil but competent in Andalite Chronicles, to batshit insane cackling villainy by the time of the main series.

    I had always ascribed most of the second transition to Alloran slowly driving him insane by fueling his paranoia and impatience at every opportunity, but all the stuff that happened here is definitely evident in his final character as well.

  7. I would read the Gedd Chronicles. Mainly because I'm using t a Gedd controller in a Roleplay, and I sat down for ten minutes, trying to think of what food they eat.

    1. I always pictured them as grazing animals, feeding on low-hanging leaves and fruit, or whatever the local equivalent of that is.

    2. This book says that they are not predators, so I guess they were herbivores.

  8. I liked the realism of Dak and Aldrea's relationship gradually moving from intellectual dependence on each other to actually caring about each other. They're my favourite couple in Animorphs mainly because of this.
    Also, about the core of the planet thing? I want to bang my head on a wall whenever I read that part. I just keep telling myself it's the mantle and K.A. just got the name wrong... which is total bs but it makes me feel better because it's mildly more believable.

  9. I wonder if they didn't target Yeerks with the quantum virus because their mind-control abilities means the Yeerks operate on a quantum level, and thus might be able to resist it? It makes sense that a lot of those things like thoughts and memory that we don't completely understand on a biological level would be quantum phenomena, and for the Yeerks to access those, they would need some sort of innate apparatus that might also coincidentally function as an immunity to other quantum impositions. I am barely even aware of concepts like thermodynamics, much less quantum mechanics, and the term 'quantum' seems to be the current pancaea in the genre for all inexplicable pseudo-science (as in this series with quantum bombs and quantum viruses), but storywise, I don't see why this could not be a good cover for that particular plothole.

  10. A minor addenda. Way back in book 8, Ax says the Yeerks are afraid of humanity, meaning our potential. Cassie assumes he is talking about our violent history and near constant wars. Then Ax says that even Andalites used to war with each other before discovering spaceflight, and that before the Yeerks enslaved them all, the Hork-Bajir used to have a biological clock that made them war with each other every 62 years exactly.

    If this is true, it is presumably a method of population control the Arn wrote in. Of course, if it is true, then the Hork-Bajir are hardly the naive innocents we see them as here. Nor are the Andalites as pure as in their Chronicles, unless Ifi is right aboout revisionist history.

    Then again, the Hork Bajir don't really keep any history, or even mark the years. Also, all of this takes place in the late 1960's but is the time of Jara's grandfather. Perhaps the Hork-Bajir have really short lifespans, in which case they could flip out and kill most of themselves off every second or third generation and be none the wiser.

    Then agian, it's just as likely it was an offhand comment from an early book, and Applegate completly forgot about it

    1. If you do the math, the average Hork-Bajir lifespan is about ten years.


      I am willing to bet it the warring thing was an offhand comment that later got retconned--that's normal for the series.

    2. Because neither Dak, nor Jara's father lived to the present? Maybe. Generations tend to be more fluid than that, with adults froms 2 generations being active at one time. Even so... it likely isn't longer than 20 years.


      Whether it's 3 generations or six, it wouldn't likely be recorded in what passes for Hork-Bajir history. I'd hate to think that a decade after the series ends, Toby and the free Hork-Bajir go beserk and kill off most of themselves. It'd be horrible, depressing, traumatizing and... so very much like KA.

    3. Or it could have been Andalites making a mistake. Ax's own misinterpretations of human culture and institutions are played for humor, but maybe they mistook something else that was going on for warfare.

      Don't forget, this is a species that can CUT OPEN THEIR OWN SKULLS to prove they are Yeerk-free, and hold still while letting wolves eat them alive to fake their own deaths. It might have been a kind of ritual dance that involved cutting on each other in a symbolic way or something, and the Andalites being Andalites just sniffed at the primitives slaughtering each other for no good reason. Aside from the occasional individual who is completely species-blind like Elfangor, there probably is not much interest in getting the facts straight about a race they've pretty much written off by now anyway.

      And how do you figure a lifespan is about ten years, if Jara Hammee was born in the 60s only two generations later his adult grandson with a kid is telling the story? I mean adulthood doesn't necessarily come at the same proportionate point in every species, does it? A human family could conceivably have had a similar time frame as the Hammees, if you only take their rapid maturation into account. I mean, a ten year lifespan means that Jara Hammee is at the very end of his, and that Dak & Seerow only knocked up their ladies in their old ages as well. About forty years pass between Dak meeting Aldrea and his grandaughter's birth. If a Hork-Bajir lives about 10 years, that's like 280 years passing between a couple meeting in their adolescent period, and their grandchild being born.

      Also, if they don't breed a lot, the long lifespan might be necessary to keep the species intact. A short lifespan would, I'd think, necessitate a large population, with constant deaths and high numbers of offspring, even litters. The peaceful nature of the Hork-Bajir and their apparently low reproductive rate would suggest a relatively long natural lifespan.

      Also, what is so hard about counting head blades, Tobias?

  11. "The moral ramifications of sexual dimorphism in a sapient species is always a bit of an iffy topic."

    We should totally get into that later on in the series when Tobias morphs a woman to specifically fuck with her mind. The book deliberately mentions that Rachel even went out to get her a stylish outfit to make the illusion complete. IIRC, Tobias' thought process about the act was sort of peculiar. It was like he was borderline enjoying being a hot chick or something.

    There is also the issue of Tobias and Rachel being love interests, and morphing a pair of Hork-Bajir who are also love interests, except of the reversed genders. Theoretically, they should be very attracted to one another in their Hork-Bajir morphs. I mean, Jara & Ket were freed from the Yeerks and practically their first thought once no one is shooting at them is "Let's make a baby." That's some fierce hormonal activity going on there. Two kids who are already into each other, morphing to a pair of creatures who are ready to get down to business (also being in life-threatening danger, for Rachel at least), it's almost a surprise those two didn't get up to anything, unless you take into account some sort of confusion or mental distance resulting from being the wrong genders.

  12. ah yes those toys i got the ax/andalite sized scorpion one.
    it had a missile tail go figure

    1. Ooh, I had that too!

      And, yeah, it's actually possible, though unlikely, that this takes place before they met Esplin 9466 Nobody Cares. The only concrete ways of placing this in the timeline are that it's before Book 23 (by which time Tobias has already met Toby, whom he meets for the first time here) and after Book 13 (when Jara and Ket are first freed). Comments that Tobias makes in the prologue of this story and early in The Pretender suggest that it's probably set before the David Trilogy, too.

  13. I'm just glad they had the scorpion tail come from the Andalite chest rather than do the lazy and obvious thing and have it be the tail blade.

    Can't wait until you hit the rest of the Chornicles, btw. Ellimist is probably my favorite book of the entire series.

  14. Oh my God. I just got the part where they reach the Arn city and...WHAT IS GEOLOGY. First of all, if a planet has a molten core, that means it's plastic, and the solid shit on top of it should move around, which means that city and that canyon shouldn't be there, if this cosmic impact happened eons ago. Secondly, if we assume it DIDN'T happen eons ago, then there should be absurd amounts of volcanic activity all over the planet. Something big enough to crack a planet in two does not leave that body with anything less than a completely molten surface. Certainly you wouldn't have a breathable atmosphere and functioning ecosystem in a thin belt around the center of the planet and what amounts to the moon everywhere else. Also, just basic convection is utterly ignored, but everyone does that and you guys touched on it anyway.

    Good Lord, KA. *Facepalm*

    1. My head-canon fix is that it isn't the actual core of the planet, that the mantle and everything below are still intact, and the asteroid or whatever (don't they officially become meteors when they hit a planet? ) has only made big cracks in the crust, and the lava is just the normal lava that comes up through the crust sometimes. All the mislabeling is due to the Arn being indifferent to geology, the Hork-Bajir not having the requisite intellecutal infrastructure to care, and the other characters who witness the planet are all teenagers who lack enough education to tell the difference.

  15. Kevlar isn't actually a good choice of material against knives. Knives go right through it.

  16. Okay, I was reading this review last night, and the idea of the Arn teaming up with the Yeerks to make awesome bodies is stuck in my head! I'm four chapters into an AU, flipping out at all the possibilities, and I blame you guys. By which I mean I'm crediting you awesome people with the idea in the author's notes for my fic. Thanks!

  17. I'm afraid I must ask you to take down all of these reviews. I have a lot of homework to do and they are really distracting me.

    I just wanted to stop lurking long enough to tell you that that, aside from how hilarious these reviews can be, that Arn idea makes an insane amount of sense and seriously why didn't they do that?

    My new official headcanon is that the Arn offered to make the Yeerks awesome bodies but said it would take years to get viable models ready, and the Yeerks just assumed they were bluffing to avoid conquest and thus screwed themselves/several other species over.