Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book 26: The Attack

The Summary
The Ellimist shows up in the middle of a school assembly to tell the Animorphs that he has a job for them. He needs them to go to a planet on the other side of the galaxy and fight seven Howlers as part of a gigantic game he's playing with that big fiery eye thing from twenty books ago. His name is Crayak, and he's the one who created the Howlers in the first place.

The Animorphs, plus Erek, are sent to the Iskoort homeworld to have their battle. If they win, the Iskoort go free. If they lose, the Iskoort will be killed by the Howlers. The Iskoort are an interesting people who are willing to give the Animorphs a guide (named Guide) in exchange for Rachel's hair. He shows them around and explains Iskoort concepts to them.

The Animorphs encounter a lone Howler, and decide to attack him because the odds will never get better than this. The Howler kicks their asses and then leaves to laugh about it with his friends.

The Animorphs realize they are screwed, and run away and hide every time the Howlers attack. Guide finds them one safe place to stay after another. At one point during a fight, Jake manages to acquire some Howler DNA. Then Guide drops them off at a sort of hotel place to stay for a few hours. He explains that every three days, he needs to leave his body and swim in a pool for Kandrona rays.

The Animorphs are ready to cut his head off, but Guide quickly explains that he is in a symbiotic relationship with his body. He is a Yoork and his host is an Isk and together they are Iskoort. They cannot survive without one another, and function as a sort of gestalt entity.  The Animorphs realize that the Ellimist wants to save this crazy species because one day the Yeerks will find them and realize there is an alternative to involuntary hosts.

The Animorphs use the Iskoort's memory-transferring technology to feed the Howlers memories of love and happiness and family and all that good stuff. The Howlers have a collective memory, so once one of them realizes that murder is not a game, they all do. Crayak destroys the seven Howlers and the Animorphs are declared the winners.

But it turns out Crayak was too late. One of Jake's memories of kissing Cassie has filtered through to the entire Howler race. From now on, the Howlers aren't going to kill the aliens they meet. They're going to hit on them. From there, we can only assume that they will go on to become the Don Juans of the galaxy. 

The Review
Adam: Okay
Adam: So the cover.
Adam: I have mixed feelings on it.
Adam: Because there isn't anything wrong with it.
Adam: The pose is very dramatic, with the tiger jumping at the reader and all.
Adam: And the color scheme is pretty nice.
Adam: But...
Adam: It just feels like such an enormously wasted opportunity here.
Adam: Yes!
Adam: Give us a damn Howler morph on the cover!
Ifi: That would have been a great idea but the series almost never goes for the alien morphs
Adam: Just the main ones. Andalite, Yeerk, Hork-Bajir and Taxxon.
Adam: They never veer off from that at all.
Adam: I would have loved a Leeran morph on book 18.
Adam: But no
Ifi: It's all part of an elaborate plot to make you cry.
Adam: It all makes sense.

Adam: On the plus side, this book probably has the best inside cover in the entire series.

Ifi: The Day ALL the Animorphs Did Acid 
Adam: This is not your fanfiction.

Adam: And we do get a Howler there, which is rare for Animorphs.
Ifi: I love that they actually got the whole team in there
Adam: I think this may be the only full team shot that we get with them all in morph.
Adam: Well, minus Ax, but you get what I mean.
Ifi: Too bad there was no room for Erek
Adam: It is true.
Adam: He was probably standing just offscreen, giving directions.
Ifi: As it is, Ax is getting pushed off that platform.
Ifi: Nice job Rachel.
Adam: There is a bit of wonkyness here.
Ifi: A bit???
Adam: Rachel is much too short, and kinda stumpy looking.
Adam: And I can swear that Cassie is smirking at me.
Ifi: Marco kind of blends into Rachel
Ifi: Tobias' legs are messed up.
Adam: But honestly, I can let it slide.
Ifi: And the Howler is going O_O
Adam: Apparently Howlers have fishbowl eyes.
Ifi: The Helmacrons did too, but that was actually in the description
Adam: Again, illustrators usually just have some cliff-notes to work from when they are working on a cover. So you can't really blame them too much for getting certain things slightly off.
Ifi: Too bad they couldn't work in an Iskoort.
Ifi: But, as already stated, there is no more room anywhere
Adam: It would look too busy if they stuck in more stuff.
Adam: It's a good layout, overall.
Adam: At least I think.
Ifi: Yeah I like it.

Ifi: Ok so
Ifi: This book
Ifi: Is the very definition of awesome
Adam: I like it.
Ifi: Every time they go to another planet, awesome happens. The annoying part is that they hardly ever do this.
Adam: I think there is one more extra-planetary adventure after this.
Ifi: It will never be enough
Adam: Psha.
Adam: I mean
Adam: Who wants to read about space adventures
Adam: In a sci-fi novel?
Adam: I mean, now you're just being silly.

Ifi: So after like twenty books, we finally return to Jake's Mysterious Red Eye Machine Thing
Adam: Again, there was a huge amount of speculation about what the heck that thing was on the proto-Animorphs forums.
Adam: So when we finally got an answer, after two years of waiting, the fandom more or less exploded.
Ifi: In a good way or a bad way?
Adam: Good way, I mean.
Ifi: Yeah, the Ellimist shows up and explains it very early on.
Ifi: (Oh, and Jake's been having dreams about it this whole time but forgot to tell us until just now)

Adam: So apparently they are watching the Lion King musical.
Adam: Why didn't my middle school have awesome assemblies like that?
Adam: They just occasionally showed us movies, because the faculty was too lazy to do something more creative.
Ifi: Yeah! And the live musical would totally blow you away if you've only seen the animated film before.
Adam: How big is their auditorium, anyway?
Adam: I mean, there are some pretty elaborate props involved in that show.
Ifi: Either that or it's an unofficial third party version 
Adam: I mean, that would have made sense, or that the school put on a miniaturized version of it.
Adam: But they specify that it is the official performers.
Ifi: Well it doesn't matter because in the middle of it, the Ellimist shows up!
Ifi: And freezes time. As he is wont to do.
Adam: It is established that the Ellimist has no sense of subtlety whatsoever.
Adam: He says a bunch of stuff that is later sort of-but not quite contradicted by his much later backstory.
Ifi: Yeah pretty much all of it is later retconned.

Ifi: In any event, he is sending them on holiday.
Ifi: To fight Satan.
Adam: Satan/Sauron.
Adam: Which is very odd, because they are now sticking a pure evil entity into a series that is all about the various shades of grade.
Adam: I have some theories about the Crayak that make him fit better thematically, but I suppose I should probably save them until we get to the Ellimist's backstory.

"He wants a galaxy cleansed of creation. His goal, I soon realized, is to destroy life. His method is to use one species against another, strong destroying weak, and then strong in turn being destroyed by the stronger still. He believes that there should be only one species. A single sentient race, which would be subjugated by him."
"What is this guy, a Nazi?" Cassie said.
Beth's curls shook as the Ellimist nodded. "In the moral sense, yes. But he has different visions of what constitutes total power. He wants to be able to control the strands of space-time itself. Not merely to see them and understand them, but to hold them in his fist and dictate the very laws of physics and nature, to recreate the galaxy in his own image, and someday to spread his power throughout all galaxies and destroy the one power greater than himself."
"Great," Marco said grimly. "Can we go back to The Lion King now?"
"He is called Crayak," the Ellimist said. And then he looked right at me, and I knew before he spoke the words. "You have seen him. And he has seen you."
The eye. The armless half-creature, half-machine.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: So Crayak made the Howlers, which basically run around killing whoever they run into. This included the Pelmalites. So Erek is coming too. So he can angst.
Adam: For a robot specifically created to have fun, he sure does angst a lot.
Adam: He's like a teletubby with PTSD
Ifi: He spends the entire book staring at walls.
Adam: And, I mean, he did experience firsthand the genocide of his creators.
Adam: But he has a basement full of puppies to make him feel better.
Ifi: I think this is the first time that he actually encounters the Howlers in billions of years
Ifi: So it is a shock.
Ifi: I mean he probably thought he'd never see them again.
Adam: Millions, not billions.
Adam: But yes.

Ifi: Soooo there are these guys called the Iskoort. The Ellimist is really keen on saving them while Crayak wants them all dead. The solution: make the Animorphs and Erek fight seven Howlers on the Iskoort planet in a crowded city.
Ifi: Because you know.
Ifi: Logic.
Adam: Of course, if they had had fought at Bronson Canyon or something, the Animorphs would have completely gotten slaughtered.
Adam: So I think the implication here was the Ellimist trying to give them something of an advantage here.
Ifi: That's true. As well as being ridiculously endearing, the Iskoort planet is great for hiding from the children of eldritch abominations

"Who invented this place, Dr. Seuss?" Marco demanded.
We were miles in the air. Miles from the ground, which we could see just over the edge of the platform. The platform with no railing, no warning.
The platform that just stopped suddenly.
Below us was a twisting, leaning, propped-up-on-gigantic-support-beams structure of other platforms. Floors, I guess, all stuck here and there, sticking far out and not so far.
Above us was more of the same, till you'd swear the monstrous construction would reach the moon, assuming the Iskoort had a moon. All of this was built of brilliantly colored blocks or bricks or segments.
Imagine that someone starts with all the Legos in the world. Add in all the Duplos and cheap bargain Duplos and let some humongous kid assemble them all into a tower a hundred miles tall.
Assume that no sensible adult ever becomes involved, except to come along occasionally and wedge in what looks like crutches the size of skyscrapers.
The floors could have been five feet apart, five hundred feet apart, or five miles apart. It was like no one figured it out till they built it. I jumped back from the edge, feeling my stomach lurch and my heart stop.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: As for the Iskoort themselves...
Adam: I believe this clip gets them across pretty well.

This was directed at the press of a dozen Iskoort, all yammering incessantly.
<I will buy your memories!>
<Come visit my execution parlor!>
<Give me your clothing and I will give you credit!>
<Here! Eat this larva! Let it gestate and we'll split the proceeds between your heirs!>
<You stink horribly! I will cleanse you!>
And to Ax: <Become my partner and we will sell your fur as a gachak poison!>
"What is this, Planet of the Salesmen?" Marco demanded. "Back off! All of you, back off!"

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: I initially misread that first Iskoort as offering to buy someone's mammaries.
Adam: Though that wouldn't be too out of character either.
Ifi: For the record, I adore the Iskoort.
Adam: As do I.
Adam: As I have said before, I honestly love all the obnoxious aliens that have shown up.
Ifi: The Animorphs are actually really mean to them, but the Iskoort are not nearly as bad as some of the other race we've met. And they aren't malicious or deceptive.
Ifi: They live in a part of the galaxy untouched by war, and it shows.
Adam: There entire civilization seems to have become some sort of enormous space port.
Adam: So what I figured was that they were uplifted fairly early in their civilization, and acclimated to it.
Ifi: Their culture is awesome and you can tell everyone is having a great time.
Adam: You went to the mall a lot as a kid, didn't you?
Ifi: I actually hate the mall, but I like enthusiastic aliens.

The Iskoort themselves came and went, in and out of the colored igloos, up and down the twisted, arched stairways connecting floors. They all looked busy. All in a hurry.
They were not the most frightening-looking race we'd ever encountered, but they were definitely not even slightly human.
They had heads like vultures, thrust forward on long necks. The necks protruded from shoulders that were a sort of oval platform, flat across.
From the shoulders dropped two arms, one on each side, each arm jointed three times, ending in a hand made up of one very long, tentacle-like finger, and two smaller, hooked, sharp-clawed fingers.
They walked in a way that made it seem they were crawling on their knees. Backward. Not that they went backward. They went forward. They had two thick legs, maybe two and a half feet long. Then came what looked like knees, followed by calves that extended forward, lying flat against the ground. Those ended in feet, each with a single long prehensile toe and two smaller claws jutting from the sides of thick pads.
Their midsection was bare of clothing and looked weirdly like an accordionan accordion made of veined, pink flesh. It moved, wheezing out a sort of running commentary on their thought-speak. It was the sound of a whine. A grating, annoying whine that rose or fell, depending, evidently, on how excited or mad or agitated they were.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: So they are sort of funny looking
Ifi: Wouldn't have minded a picture of this you know :(
Adam: So they're kind of cute, in a doofy, degenerate condor sort of way.
Adam: I have weird standards, in retrospect.
Ifi: They are offered a guide, and wind up trading some of Rachel's hair to have this guy lead them around and explain things to them.
Adam: The guide's name, incidentally, is Guide.

The Iskoort wanted to shave Rachel's head. She explained very calmly that she would remove his head and use it for a soccer ball before that ever happened.
In the end, Rachel lost six inches of blond hair. What was left came to just below her ears.
"You know, it looks good," Cassie said.
"This from the girl who buys all her clothes from L.L. Bean," Rachel grumbled.
But the truth was, it did look good. Possibly because Erek did the cutting. "I used to cut Catherine the Great's hair," he explained, sounding apologetic, like it was embarrassing to admit that he'd been alive since Moses was wandering around in the desert.
In exchange, we got Guide. That was his name: Guide. His full name was Guide, Grub of Skin-seller, brother of Memory Wholesaler.
He was a young Iskoort. Which did not make him any less annoying. The first thing he did was try to improve the deal by getting Ax to let him have the last foot and a half of his tail.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: I like Guide, honestly.
Ifi: I love Guide.
Ifi: Nobody looks very closely at his full name, however.
Adam: He ends up putting up with way more than he has too
Adam: Skin-seller?
Ifi: "Grub"
Ifi: It's a big hint that everyone misses.
Adam: We'll get to that later.
Ifi: Tehe

Ifi: Anyway Guide is awesome.
Adam: He seems to possess infinite patience for the weird aliens who keep leading him around and nearly getting him killed.
Ifi: Karma repays him.
Adam: It is truly a valuable lesson for us all.

Ifi: Five minutes in, the Animorphs are attacked by representatives of the Warmaker's Guild. Despite the name, they don't put up much of a fight.
Adam: If your strongest gang members can be taken out by a human teenager, that doesn't really speak well for you as an organization.
Adam: Sorry Warmaker's Guild.
Adam: Also, this brings up a valid point.
Adam: The Iskoort planet is apparently Ankh-Morpork

Adam: In that there is a guild for literally everything.
Ifi: I wonder if Guide could direct me to the Seamstresses Guild?
Adam: Let's not be obscene now.
Ifi: Tehe

Ifi: The reason I think the Warmakers are so pathetic is that they have no one to war with
Ifi: So they just sit around sharpening their weapons and talking tough
Adam: But the Iskoort apparently genetically modify the members of their different social classes in order to better suit their job.
Adam: So you'd think they would have done a better job of it.
Ifi: Maybe they can beat up other Iskoort, but that's about it.
Ifi: Big fish in a small pond and all that.
Adam: That would make sense, but Guide specifically mentions that they like to attack offworlders.
Adam: So maybe they're all secretly masochists or something.
Ifi: Who even knows.
Adam: It is a strange planet.

Ifi: So then.

He was not huge. Smaller than a Hork-Bajir. As big as a large man. He walked on two bowed legs with a swinging, almost comic gait. He had two arms, longer than his legs. The hands were almost human, five fingers and an opposable thumb. But from the wrists projected a sort of second hand, a claw that could be lowered to cover the back of the hand, or kept up out of the way. This claw had four hooked, steel-tipped claws.

It looked like there was a bearing halfway up his body, as if the top half of the torso was on a living lazy Susan, allowing the body to turn all the way around and keep the fighting claws in the game.

The head was ugly, a slag heap of melted-looking, black pebbled skin. The entire creature looked like he had been formed out of still-cooling lava. Beneath the black, in the cracks and creases of his flesh, were lines of bright red.

Within this face were eyes of a startlingly beautiful blue. Robin's egg blue, they call it. The entire eye was blue, with the cat's iris a paler shade.

The Howler seemed indifferent to us. Didn't care. Wasn't concerned. He wore a series of loose belts around his torso, and each of these featured a different weapon. Or at least they looked like weapons. Something similar to a Dracon beam, what might almost have been an automatic pistol, knives, small metallic boomerangs, a gun that seemed loaded with darts.

He was a walking arsenal.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: No fair.
Ifi: He has weapons.
Ifi: The Animorphs don't have guns.
Ifi: He has guns.
Ifi: This is inherently unfair.
Adam: They have prior access to morphing technology.
Adam: And if they were carrying guns beforehand, they probably could have brought them
Ifi: So they can heal themselves after this one guy beats all seven of them.
Ifi: Which he does.

Ifi: The story establishes right away that the Animorphs will not beat these guys in an all-out fight.

I realized Erek was talking. That he had been for several seconds and I'd been too distracted to hear him.
"…will paralyze you and numb your senses. If he gets close he'll use the needle teeth retracted into his upper and lower jaw. He's not as fast as—"
<Erek. What did you say about paralyzing?> I interrupted.
"It's the reason they're called Howlers, Jake. The voice. Be ready to—"

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: I am sorta debating the physics of the howling bit.
Ifi: It makes Ax's ears bleed!

It was a blast of sound like nothing I'd ever heard before. Compared to it, my tiger's roar was the mewling of a kitten.
I missed my leap and fell in a tangle on the steps. I saw Rachel trip and fall, landing on top of me. It was like having a safe dropped on my stomach.
The wind exploded from my lungs. I scrambled to get up, but I couldn't make sense of up or down. I clawed feebly. Rachel rolled off and I saw that Ax was reeling, running! Running away, back up the stairs, weak Andalite hands clapped against his ears, blood seeping between the fingers.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: Now this is just depressing
Ifi: Yeah it really was.
Adam: So once again, everyone runs away like frightened rabbits.
Ifi: Well, it's more like they crawl away, assorted organs dragging behind them
Ifi: And then everyone acts like Erek is choosing not to fight, when in fact he is physically incapable of it.

"Six against one and we got a draw," Marco said angrily.
"Not six," Rachel corrected. "Seven. Erek saved our butts. He was the only one who could handle the howls."
"Yeah, right, thanks a huge load, Erek," Marco said angrily. "He gave us directions. Not to hurt the Howler, you understand, 'cause that would violate his programming. But directions on how to crawl out of there."

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: This is not Cassie going "OMG I killed a Hork-Bajir I will never fight again"
Ifi: This is Erek being literally incapable of violence because he is a computer and has to obey the first law of robotics.
Adam: I don't think they quite get how "programming" works.
Ifi: From the way Erek acts, he would fight the Howlers if he could. But he can't.
Adam: He really deserves much more slack then he gets in this book.
Ifi: He needs to get that crystal back so he can destroy the Howlers and make peace with himself
Ifi: Closure
Adam: They threw it in the ocean, remember?
Adam: Regretting that a bit now, aren't you guys?

I spotted Guide back against a wall, uncharacteristically quiet. "You stick with us after that?" I asked him.
His eyes glowed. <Oh, yes, yes, yes. I will be able to sell the memory of that battle for a small fortune! And if each of you would sell me your own unique perspectives, I could buy my own corner with the profits!>
I drew Cassie around to where I could see her. I nodded at Ax. "What's with him?" I asked.
She shook her head. "He ran away. He came back, but I guess that's not enough. He won't talk to anyone."

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: Ax is going to beat himself up for the rest of the book.
Ifi: Because you know
Ifi: Andalite

Adam: So anyways.
Adam: The Iskoort have memory transferal technology.
Adam: Which is honestly a rather cool idea.
Ifi: Memories are bought and sold, sort of like movies.
Adam: There are so many ways to potentially abuse that.
Adam: Though it is largely not brought up.
Ifi: Anyway, as aliens, the Animorphs have valuable memories.
Ifi: They find out that the Yeerks are super far away, so it is probably safe to sell them.

<We are more than five hundred million light years from Earth,> Ax said. <Before the Yeerks could spread a tenth of this distance they would have had to swallow not only Earth, but my planet as well.>
I nodded. "Thanks. Okay, then. It's a deal, Guide. But if I understand what you've told me, our memories would make you very, very rich. So this is it. If we live, you get to copy our memories. And you don't ask for anything else, and you advance us whatever we need."
I thought Guide was going to fall over. I had the feeling we'd just turned him into the Bill Gates of the Iskoort.
<I will transfer all archived Howler memories to the android.>
"The android has a name: Erek," Rachel snapped.
<He can call himself the Grand Guildmaster as far as I am concerned!> Guide said happily.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: Have I mentioned I love Guide?
Adam: You have.
Adam: But anywho.

Adam: And as it turns out, Howlers have very valuable memories as well, though for a different reason.
Adam: Howlers have a genetic memory.
Ifi: Like the Helmacrons.
Adam: But much, much more so.
Adam: Once one Howler learns something, it is later picked up by all the other existing Howlers.
Adam: Normally I would question how this works. But they're footsoldiers for a giant alien demon god thing, so there is more reason to excuse it.
Ifi: Yeah Crayak built an army of God Mode Sues.

The Howler was lying in wait, hidden from view. Then the nearest of the Graffen's Children spotted him. His eyes went wide. A smile twisted his strange mouth. He extended a hand toward the Howler, welcoming, curious.
The column of Graffen's Children walked toward the Howler like so many toddlers. Like kids who wanted to pet a dog or something.
The Howler moved, a blur of speed. Other Howlers came into view. They howled. To us the sound was softened by Erek's filtering. But it hit the Graffen's Children full force. They began to blow apart. They stood there, helpless, confused, not knowing why anyone would hurt them, and they simply—
"Erek, stop it!" I snapped.
The hologram disappeared as quickly as a TV picture that had been turned off.
"I shouldn't have let you do this, Erek. Can you erase this stuff from your memory?"
"No, Jake."

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: I know we talked about this before
Ifi: but
Adam: Now, I am certain that each Chee has countless yottabytes of memory space.
Adam: But what are they going to do in another 100 million years, when they use up all their available memory?
Ifi: I want that picture of Erek with a shopping cart full of external hard drives
Adam: I will keep that in mind.

Ifi: The Howlers attack again just after this.

"Fight me, Chee," the Howler taunted, when he realized his howl would not shake Erek's grip.
I was shocked to recognize the language. He was speaking English! Crayak must have programmed it into this bunch of Howlers. Programmed them to understand our language and to be able to taunt and question us, if necessary.
Erek ignored him. The Howlers began to fire Dracon beams. Not at Erek. They must have known from their collective memory that Chee cannot be easily destroyed by beam weapons.
Instead, they were using the Dracon beams to slice around Erek's handholds.
We had all morphed. All panicked, but all morphed. Except Ax, who was still partly Andalite. And Guide, who was sitting in a corner now, gazing raptly at the madness, creating valuable memories for later sale.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: Considering that they had already violated the Chee's home planet, I would have figured that they would have a more effective way of dealing with them .
Ifi: Probably figured it wasn't worth it, seeing as all they did was stand around
Adam: They would probably have been a fairly big obstacle, nonetheless.
Ifi: Yeah idk.

Ifi: They realize they cannot take these guys, so they morph to flies to escape
Ifi: Guide gets them to yet another place where they can hide because he is the greatest.
Adam: Guide takes them to a hotel filled with slavering menservants to hide out.
Adam: Um.
Adam: Well.
Ifi: Wat
Adam: It doesn't really state this outloud in the text, and maybe it is just my fevered mind talking.
Adam: But I think it is implied that this place is basically a brothel.
Ifi: Wellllll I did ask to see the seamstresses
Adam: You shouldn't ask for these things. People might listen.
Adam: Especially when said people look like this

Ifi: Wait I changed my mind

<We have reached the temple of the Servant Guild. They will take you in. I have paid for it. They will care for you until I return.>
"What do you mean, return?" Rachel snapped. "Where are you going?"
<I must feed. You see, we Iskoort are not precisely what we seem at first. The body you see is of our symbiote. We are a symbiotic species - a large outer body, the Isk, and the inner self, the much smaller portion, called the Yoort.>
<A symbiote?> Ax demanded, speaking for the first time. <Do you mean that you are parasites?>
<Long ago, yes,> Guide acknowledged. <But what began as a parasitic relationship has become a truly symbiotic one. We function as a single creature. The two parts, halves, only separate every three days, when the Yoort must feed by swimming in the Yoort pool and absorbing—>
Ax's tail was at the Iskoort's throat before he could form the next word.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: OH
Ifi: MY
Ifi: GOD
Ifi: This twist was amazing and brilliant and hey guys let's not mention any of this to Aftran, I'm sure she would not be interested in this information.
Adam: Honestly, they seem way too quick to jump at Guide's throat after hearing this.
Adam: It seems like a bit of a stretch to me to jump from "feed in a similar manner to the Yeerks" to "they are intergalactic warlords"
Ifi: I mean clearly they are not. Just look at the warrior guild.
Ifi: That is not the race that conquered the Hork-Bajir.
Adam: Although honestly, something that struck me as a little dumb was the name similarity.
Adam: I mean, Yoort and Yeerk?
Adam: It's a bit doofy.
Adam: I can perfectly accept some convergent evolution going on different planets.
Adam: But the names kinda stretch my suspension of disbelief.

<These Yoort could be related to the Yeerks,> Ax said. <They may be the same species, somehow separated long ago, perhaps carried from the Yeerk home world by some forgotten race.>
<If the Yeerks knew…if the Iskoort ever made contact with the Yeerks…> Tobias said.
This was why Crayak had to destroy the Iskoort. And why the Ellimist couldn't allow it. Someday, maybe far in the future, Iskoort would meet Yeerk. And the Yeerks would see that there was another way.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: I didn't have too much of a problem with the idea that the Yoort were some Yeerks who got mislaid and eventually changed their names
Adam: I suppose.
Adam: But honestly, it just really shocks me that nobody has had the idea to create bodies instead of stealing them, even without the Iskoort showing them first.
Adam: I mean, the Arn were perfectly capable of creating suitable host bodies for the Yeerks to use.
Ifi: Well we have discussed that a lot on this blog.
Ifi: It is sad that it was not explored more.
Adam: Quite so

Ifi: The Howlers attack again, this time by flooding the building with Raid, just to mix things up.
Adam: It should be noted that there seem to be a set of rules that the Howlers are required to follow for this battle.
Adam: They aren't allowed to attack Iskoort civilians, and they apparently can't just kill everyone with deadly neurotoxin.

A Howler jumped from an overhanging tree. He aimed his beam weapon even as he plummeted toward Cassie's still, crumpled form.
He fired, missed! Landed. I was on him, talons forward. I raked bloody lines across his head. He twisted his turntable body and aimed at me. I carried through, lost momentum, and slammed into one of the Warmaker Iskoort. The Iskoort stared blankly at me. I was in his arms. Helpless.
The Howler grinned and took careful aim. Right at me. No chance to escape. Point-blank range. Inches away. I could see every detail of the weapon that would end my life.
Then…the Dracon beam wavered. It rose. I saw the Howler's face, furious, enraged. But he did not fire.
I flapped my wings. The Warmaker Iskoort reacted by shoving me away angrily, and then he and his fellows attacked the Howler.
It should have been over in an instant. The Warmaker Iskoort were not exactly formidable. The Howler should have laid them out in five seconds. Instead, the Howler shielded himself from attack, pushing back the thrusting, butting heads, and ran.
Rules of engagement!
<They can't kill the Iskoort!> I yelled to the others. <Use the Iskoort for cover!> Then, <Cassie! Cassie, if you can hear me, demorph! Demorph!>

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: This is basically what saves their life.
Adam: Abusing the rules as much as possible.
Adam: Way to go guys.
Adam: I'm proud of you.
Adam: Enough of you and your logical consistency.

Ifi: Jake takes down a Howler!

I went straight at the Howler. He aimed. I jerked suddenly upward and dropped slowly, like a wounded bird, like a slow, loopy volleyball, over the hedge to the far side.
The Howler ripped through the hedge, smelling victory.
He ripped through and clawed at the air.
The Iskoort were crazy not to put guardrails around the edges of their platforms.
But it was a kind of crazy I could get to like.
The Howler fell. Fell, clawing the air, screaming in rage and frustration. Miles above the ground. He had a long way to fall.
And then it hit me. Now was the time.
I was in the right place and in the right morph.
Down he fell, quickly achieving maximum falling velocity. Which in the gravity of the Iskoort world, as it turned out, was less than two hundred miles an hour.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: There are no guardrails in science fiction.
Ifi: There just aren't

Adam: Makes everything more actioney
Ifi: The fall is so long that Jake has time to demorph to human, acquire the Howler, and morph back to bird before he goes splat
Ifi: Is it weird that this was the only part of the book I had trouble with?
Adam: How is the atmosphere at the top of the buildings dense enough for them to breath?
Ifi: Science
Adam: Ah, yes.

I felt a surge of anger at Erek. Marco was right: What right did Erek have to cling to his nonviolence in a universe where the Howlers annihilated entire species on orders from an evil force? How do you stand on the sidelines when evil is running amok?
Erek was the only one of us who could fight a Howler and win. He had the power. He alone had the power. We'd freed him for one hour from his peaceful programming. The result had been terrifying. He had annihilated a Yeerk force that would have destroyed us all.
Yes, the Pemalites had created him and all his kind to be peaceful. To be physically incapable of violence. And it was irrational of me to be angry. But with Cassie and Rachel and maybe everyone dead and me alone, I didn't care.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: Not pictured: Logic

Ifi: Wait I just had a thought
Adam: Oh?
Ifi: Why didn't they morph Iskoort? The Howlers can't attack them.
Adam: The Howlers probably had a corollary that allows them to attack the Animorphs in Iskoort morph.
Adam: Though I agree it would have been an idea worth testing.
Adam: They could have acquired Warmaker Iskoort and ineffectually flailed the Howlers off a ledge.
Ifi: Shortly afterwards, Crayak self-destructed from the shame.

Ifi: Anyway, it turns out the other Animorphs are not dead
Ifi: Which Jake is stunned to learn.

We circled around a few times, looking for Howlers. But they were not in sight. We landed. I demorphed and went inside.
I thought I was past the emotion. I thought I was over that feeling of hollowness I'd felt, imagining them all gone. But then there they were.
Rachel scowling. Marco looking down at the floor, withdrawn. Ax off by himself, still no doubt blaming himself. Erek with his hologram turned off, an unemotional android face.
And Cassie.
<Prince Jake!> Ax cried, the first to see me.
Cassie was on her feet and running toward me, and I was running to her, and I wasn't past any emotion, I was exploding with emotion.
Cassie jumped into my arms and I wrapped her up tight and before I knew it I was kissing her on her lips and she was kissing me back.
"It's about time," Rachel grumbled.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: Kissy time!
Ifi: Yay we're a canon couple now!
Adam: Okay, so now you can have your shipping.

Ifi: So after Guide finds them YET ANOTHER BUILDING to hide inside, Jake begins to develop a plan.
Adam: We know it will work, since they don't explain it to the reader.
Ifi: And also there's like twenty pages left
Adam: So they are at the abandoned factory district.
Adam: The next bit is worth quoting.
Ifi: Oh Iskoort...

"Abandoned factory?" I asked Guide.
<Not abandoned. The Worker Guild refuses to come back to work here until the Superstition and Magic Guild certifies that the place is free of the spirits of fictional characters.>
I sighed. I hesitated. I shot a look at Marco.
"Oh, you'll want to hear this," he said.
"What are the spirits of fictional characters?"
Guide whined in what I took to be a humorous way. <The simple folk believe that fictional characters are at least partly real and thus have spirits who wander the city, infesting buildings and engaging in various destructive behaviors.>
"Fictional characters," I said. "Okay."
<So naturally, the Superstition and Magic Guild must be called upon to control this problem. But the Worker Guild cannot agree on a fair price, so…>
"Makes perfect sense," I said.
"In a loony bin," Rachel said.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: Eh, I've heard of nuttier things on Earth.
Ifi: I guess that's true.
Adam: Honestly, Iskoort mythology sounds really fascinating to me.
Adam: It sounds like something out of a Neil Gaiman novel.
Ifi: I love the Iskoort. I love their planet and I love them.
Ifi: I wish they'd gone into the symbiosis more.
Adam: The full symbiosis thing seemed unnecessary to me.
Adam: I mean, I suppose it was done as a gesture of good faith.
Adam: But I would have just made non-sentient bodies for everyone, and that would have been good enough for me.
Ifi: Maybe they like having someone to talk to.
Adam: Because there is never any company in a hyper-populous megacity.

Ifi: So Jake has a brilliant plan.
Ifi: It involves morphing the Howler he acquired earlier
Adam: I approve of this.
Ifi: So he has Rachel hold him down just in case.
Ifi: BUT

There was no Howler instinct to slaughter. It wasn't anger. That wasn't how they were built. Crayak had been more subtle than that. I had expected the Howler morph to be like morphing some superpredator.
But the morph this reminded me of most was the dolphin.
Howlers were playful.
Howlers were having fun.
<You can let me go,> I told Rachel and Marco.
<Are you sure?>
<Yeah. This thing isn't out of control. It's like…> And then I felt something I had never felt before. Some strange part of the Howler brain, like an extra sense. My brain had tapped into a pool of awareness, of knowledge.
Rapid, dizzying flashes of memory. Horrifying images of slaughter, violence. Not just the Graffen's Children. But species after species. Planet after planet. I was getting the full, horrific imagery that Erek had absorbed in a different-way.
But this was worse. This wasn't someone else's memory. This was my own.
It was part of me.
And through it all, the massacre of Graffen's Children, the slaughter of the Mashtimee, the Ron, the Nostnavay, and yes, the Pemalites, the Howlers felt no anger, no rage.
But why should they?
<It's a game,> I said.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: An interesting game.
Adam: The only winning move is not to play.

<The Howlers. The killing. It's a game to them. They're having fun. They're enjoying it. Like when dolphin leap into the air just for the fun of it and play follow the leader, it's a game.>
<They're destroying entire races for fun?>
<Yes. They don't know what they're doing. Cassie...they aren't adults. The Howlers are all children.>
<Here they come!> Tobias yelled. <Thirty seconds. If—>
<Children, my butt,> Rachel said. <They're murderers!>
<They're what Crayak made them,> I said. <They have a life span of three years. They have no mature phase. They don't reproduce; they're grown in a factory. There are no adult Howlers.>
I looked hard at Erek. <Did you know?>
"Before? No."
<When you absorbed Howler memories, did you realize they are children?> I demanded.
"They slaughtered my creators," Erek said stonily.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: ilu Erek
Adam: I notice that they specifically compare the Howlers to dolphins.
Ifi: Hehe
Adam: Because I am pretty sure that Applegate wasn't aware of the fact that dolphins also mercilessly kill things for fun.
Adam: Unless...
Adam: Mygod.
Adam: The dolphins were also a creation of Crayak!
Ifi: That is the only possible explanation
Adam: Obviously.
Adam: "So long and thanks for all the fish" suddenly seems so much darker now.

<NOW!> I yelled in thought-speak. But Marco was unable to respond. He was transfixed, looking at the knife in his stomach.
<Marco! The memory emitter! Now! He's getting up!>
It was Ax, bleeding and staggering, who suddenly thrust the small, shiny device into my hand.
I gave him a nod, took a deep breath, and slapped the probe onto the Howler's head.
<Time for an education,> I said.
The Howler glared at me with his dead blue eyes. He leaped up. He drew his Dracon beam weapon. He aimed it…nowhere.
He shuddered. He started again to aim the weapon. Then he shuddered again. His eyes closed.
I stopped breathing.
Into the Howler's head flowed all the memories of my life. From vague, early images of my mother's face above my crib, to riding on my dad's back at some amusement park, to school, to friends, to all that had happened since we'd taken a shortcut through an abandoned construction site.
All that I remembered of my life was flowing into the Howler's brain. And the lives of Cassie and Rachel and Marco and Ax and Tobias. And even Guide. And the long, long memory of the android who called himself Erek. All that we were emptied into that Howler's head. And from there would flow into the endless pool of collective Howler memory.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: So I guess since he's not a true Howler, Jake couldn't give them the memories automatically?
Ifi: Or something?
Adam: Since the Crayak is able to kill them before it happens, I would guess that it takes a little bit of time for the memory transfer to work.

<Is it working?> Cassie wondered.
Suddenly, the Howler disappeared. He was simply gone.
The Dracon beams no longer burned against the walls of the room. Erek stuck his head out through the door. "They're gone," he said.
Marco yanked the knife out of his stomach and began to demorph. In the time it took him to pull it out, we went from that small Iskoort room to a very different place.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: Satan wants a word with you crazy kids.


The others were with me, too. With me, cowering beneath the seething evil creature called Crayak.
I met his gaze. I closed my eyes, but I could still see him looking at me. As he had watched me, mocking, in my dreams.
"We meet at last, face-to-face," Crayak said, in a low voice that vibrated up through the floor, through the air, a voice so low that it seemed it would shake my very atoms apart.
I kept my eyes turned away, though it did no good. I wanted to stand, but I couldn't. I was shaking. My teeth were chattering.
"What? Not so brave now, little Jake?" he mocked. "Look at you, all of you, cowering! Are you frightened?"
I nodded. "Yeah, I am," I admitted in a weak voice. "But we won."

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: Yeah, Crayak tries to be intimidating here, but everyone involved is pretty much aware that they just kicked his biomechanical patootie, and there is nothing he can do about it.
Adam: The Ellimist soon shows up and rubs it in his face more.

"The Iskoort will live," the Ellimist said.
The eye showed no expression. "The Iskoort will live."
Then he looked at me. "Sleep well, human," he sneered. "I'll still be there in your dreams. And someday, when the time is right, you will suffer for this."

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Ifi: The Ellimist does not take an issue with the fact that one of his champions is being threatened.
Adam: And then Jake does something that makes the giant cosmic entity feel like an idiot.
Ifi: Jake morphs the Howler again

Crayak had acted quickly. The memories of humans and Andalites, Chee, and Iskoort had not been allowed to infect the Howler memory. Nothing had gotten through…
No. Not nothing!
Sifting through the collective memory, through the unbroken chain of horror, I caught a single fugitive image, like a few seconds of film.
Just the picture of Cassie running to me, and our arms and lips and…
I demorphed back to human. And when I had my own mouth again, I said, "You were too late, Crayak. Something got through to the Howlers' collective memory."
"What?" he demanded.

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack


Adam: Ain't it just beautiful.
Adam: And then everyone goes home.
Ifi: The Ellimist sends them home. The only thing they get as a reward is some information

"What did you accomplish? No one knows the future. Not for certain. But it is now more likely than it was before that three hundred years from now the Yeerks will encounter the Iskoort. They will realize that they are related. And the Yeerks will see that there is a better way."
<That's it?> Tobias asked. <Three centuries from now? How does that help us?>
"It doesn't," the Ellimist said. "But within six months Crayak will send a Howler force to annihilate a race called the Sharf Den. Instead of slaughtering the Sharf Den, the Howlers will try something different."
The Ellimist winked. "They will attempt to kiss them. Crayak will have lost his shock troops. And the Sharf Den will…well, no one knows the future for certain. Oh, however, you may be sure that Guide is now a very, very rich Iskoort."

----Book Twenty-Six, The Attack

Adam: There is something just wrong with the Ellimist winking.
Adam: Just *shudder*
Ifi: Sweet. Three centuries before the Yeerks realize they have an alternative. There is no way we could, like, tell them about this or something.
Adam: Well, it isn't like they know any peaceful Yeerks they could just go up to and explain the concept to.
Adam: Oh wait.
Ifi: "Guys, let's not tell Aftran about this."
Ifi: "Why?"
Ifi: "Because I'm still mad about the butterfly thing."

Adam: So anyways.
Adam: This is my favorite book in the series.
Ifi: I don't know if I have a single favorite, but this is definitely on the list
Adam: Applegate is really good at coming up with interesting alien cultures, and considering the sort of series this is, it is a talent that she really underutilizes.
Ifi: I know right?
Ifi: They should have been on a new planet every book!
Adam: I could have at least done with some spinoff novels that revolved around various extant species in this setting.
Ifi: We know, you want a Gedd Chronicles
Adam: And a Leeran Chronicles
Adam: And a Hawjibran Chronicles
Adam: And a Venber Chronicles
Adam: And so on and so forth
Ifi: Forever and ever and ever
Adam: You are correct.


  1. Excellent review. Some good points like the fact that they never describe unsuccessful plans ahead of time. It's always "He told what we were going to do. It was insane/there was no way it could work/we were all going to die/Rachel loved it. We took off to carry out this insanely impossible plan." And then we learn the plan when the final piece snaps into place, and they explain it all like Bond villains or something.

    On the other hand, regarding the Erek-hate? I just re-read book 54, so the hell with him. Erek deserves all the hate even for stuff that's not his fault, because of that book. For ever and ever. Oh, and the whole Iskoort thing, what did it really matter? They come up with a bunch of much better options via the morphing cube anyhow. I might also add, that if I was a Yeerk, even opposed to conquest and whatnot, I would probably prefer mind-raping a Hork-Bajir to becoming Guide or joining the Warmaker's Guild someday. I mean, despite the comical set-up and portrayal, the Iskoort are basically "Brave New World" or something. They're a dystopia that predetermines your job at birth (or ancestrally) and genetically modifies you to do what society has chosen for you! Just because there are bright primary colors does not mean this is not some Philip K Dick nightmare society going on here!

    And regarding the Ellimist, can we assume that any discrepancies with the Chronicles are because he's just BS'ing them to manipulate them? I mean we are not talking about a good guy or anything here - he's this monster who sits around playing games with people's lives. Everything he does is for his own agenda, even if he thinks it's for his own good. Flip the perspective here and look what he did in this book - manipulate a bunch of teenagers to corrupt and destroy a race of child-like aliens who just live to have fun and play! The Animorphs are Satan in the Howler Garden of Eden - the give the Howlers the apple of knowledge, and as a result, their god has to come down on them! And the Ellimist is the one who did this! And why? So that he can work towards a future were the Yeerk race is trapped in a nightmare of genetic predestination, all because they took their rebellion against his obnoxious-but-beloved Andalites a little too far.

    1. Cannoli your interpretations are always so dark! XD But yeah I forgot that Erek deserves all the hate there is to have.

      I dunno, I liked the Iskoort. I didn't get a Brave New World vibe from them, though that's an interesting reading of it.

      The Ellimist is a dick, though. I don't think anyone will dispute that. I do think the official explanation for anything the Ellimist says that is later contradicted in the Ellimist Chronicles is that he is a lying liar who lies.

    2. I was cheerful & optimistic once. Then I started reading K.A. Applegate.

      My brother read all her Otherworld and Remnants books too, and claims that Animorphs is practically Sesame Street compared to them.

    3. I have the first Otherworld buried in my bookshelf somewhere. I need to try and dig it out at some point.

    4. Definitely agreeing with Ellimist being a dick. And Cannoli, your brother is right- Remnants is DARK. Much darker than Animorphs, because Animorphs is KA Applegate's book for children and she wrote both Everworld and Remnants for older teens.

      Great review Ifi and Adam! However, I don't necessarily think Erek can be written off as a jerk.

      He's a (proclaimed) pacifist who's had millions of years to think about getting revenge for his creators, who were killed horrifically- despite the fact that he can't, he wants to. He pretends to be a human, but he's not- despite the fact that he's allied with the Animorphs and wants to stop another genocide/slavery within another race, he's really in it for, let's face it, the dogs. He was never truly on the Animorphs side, and it shows. They don't trust him, and he withholds information from them in order to manipulate them for his own ends.

      In a way, Applegate is showing another form of alien manipulation here (something she does a lot of). His actions in this book really set the tone for what he does in the last book. He's an ally....barely.

      Yeah, but otherwise, this book was really cool. I don't think it was ghostwritten, was it?

    5. Heh, good to see you again, Cannoli.

      I feel like the character of Erek devolved a bit over the books. He was supposed to be someone willing to fight, but physically incapable of doing violence. That somehow turns into the Animorphs getting mad at him, and him later actively draining weapons batteries so further violence won't happen. It's irritating.

    6. I never understood what the heck was happening in Remnants, so I gave up. I like Erik. I fully support his actions in book 54 :)

  2. whats a Hawjibran, again?
    I always liked this book. Its kind of got a whole "power of love/things are going to to get better" vibe without being out of place in the ridiculously dark series that is Animorphs. Also

    I believe I am being haunted by the spirits of fictional characters. I don't want the guild to come and get rid of them though; they make it less quiet in my head.

    1. Hawjibrans are mentioned twice, I think. The first time, Ax is watching "Star Trek" and claims a Klingon looks like a Hawjibran female. The second time it's mentioned that the Yeerks captured a bunch but couldn't infest them, since they have bits of brain throughout their bodies instead of in a centralized location. So the Yeerks just abandoned six thousand of them to die in their damaged space station. :-(

    2. No the Klingon is a ONGACHIC female. The Enterprise looks like a Hawjibran freighter and that is where you found it. Also it is a Star Trek movie not a TV episode. Also btw this is in book 8.

  3. I always thought the Ellimist sent them on the trip precisely so they can know that the Yeerks can build symbiotic bodies but couldn't tell them that directly because it would violate the rules of the game. But since it was not spelled out the animorphs never picked up on it or used that knowledge to their advantage.

    I also wish Jake used the Howler morph more. With that morph he could probably defeat the entire Yeerk force on earth, including Visser 3. It would've ended the series, but howlers.

    Great review. Can't wait to see the Erek picture. I also have a request. Could you make a picture of Guide living the life of luxury? I'd appreciate it.

    1. I always thought the same about morphing the Howlers at first, but then I have to wonder if that might not have been an option since they were the Crayak's play-toys, and might have had something hardwired in there that over the long term might make them more susceptible to his influence. I mean the Yeerks and other interstellar bad guys might be who the Crayak supports and backs, but the Howlers are his direct creations and minions - the angels to his god. They might be off-limits to everything or everyone else when not specifically deployed for the purposes of that game.

      I think that given the relationship of the Howlers to the Crayak, there are probably all sorts of excuses that could be given for Jake to be inhibited or guided away from the notion of using his howler morph again. Also, he's a bit of a sanctimonious ass, with the way he comes down on Rachel for violence and goes along with and enforces Cassie's absurd & arbitrary morality, so he might actually believe that using a howler morph is like succumbing to the Dark Side of the Force.

    2. I just sort of assume that Jake lost that morph as part of the Ellimist and Crayak's "rules."

  4. The Attack is probably my favorite book in the series, and I was also disappointed that Jake never morphed the Howler again. Although I suppose it is possible that the Elimist didn't let him keep the Howler morph due to some rule with Crayak.

    Regarding the Brave New World thing, just because the Ikroots have that kind of society doesn't mean that the Yeerks couldn't just grow genetically modified humans or something that need the Yeerk to live and vice versa. They could still have a society of whatever type they wanted and also have their unlimited amount of hosts.

    It was also not mentioned that Howlers have FREAKING X-RAY VISION.

    1. Technically speaking, it seemed more like infra-red vision.

  5. I like to imagine that the Iskoort took Rachel's hair and grew an army of blonde psycho Amazons.

  6. Hey, were either of you on the KittyG forums or that Chee thing with the animated GIF that made sure you didn't have a Yeerk back in the day? Because that would be awesome.

    1. I'm not familiar with this. Could you link to it?

    2. I was relatively sure up until this point I was the only person in the world who still remembered that website.

      Adam- I'm pretty sure it's been off-line for practically a decade now.

  7. Ax looks like he's punching the air on the inside cover like

  8. How I love this book, let me count the ways~ This and Ellimist Chronicles are definitely in my top 5 or so. And the Iskoort are my favorite minor race, I wish there was another book that featured them. Especially since they kind of set up Guide as potentially being a source of supplies or income or whatever-the-fuck in the future - why couldn't they get him to send them weapons or weird technology or something every once in a while?

    Maybe the reason nobody tells the Yeerks about the Yoort or the Arn being able to create new races is that deep down, nobody really likes the Yeerks or wants them to live peacefully. Like they'd rather just exterminate them because they're already annoyed at em.

  9. I was kind of sad that their reward was basically just an epilogue. I mean, Tobias got super hawkform morphing powers when HE helped the Ellimist. And Rachel became SuperRachel back when Crayak was trying to recruit her.

    Basically I just want the Animorphs to be the Ellimist's mercenaries, getting paid in cool superpowers.

    1. "Will work for genetic mutation, magical enchantments, or bionic limbs."

    2. Tobias didn't really get jack from the Ellimist. Saying the Ellimist gave him anything is like saying that you're being generous to a pawn when you reach the back row and promote it to a queen. All the Ellimist did was make one of his pieces more powerful, and he did NOT give Tobias was he really wanted, which was to be human again. Instead, he gave him the access to a human morph in order to keep him tied to humanity, particularly via Rachel. Without the human morph, they were going to break up eventually, and without Rachel, Tobias is much less invested in the human race as a whole, and a less willing or motivated tool for the Ellimist. Instead of restoring Tobias' lost humanity, he leaves him stuck in the morph that gives him an exponentially shorter lifespan, and which will rapidly become useless as his friends age past 13.

      And you can't even excuse the Ellimist's action (as I and other readers did at the time the books were being published) with the excuse that he had no home or support system as a human, and NEEDED the hawk as his baseline form to feed himself and survive in the wild, because as we find out later in the series, his mother is still alive, living in the same neighborhood and totally receptive to a reunion, now that she is finally functional and he no longer needs the high level of care that an infant or small child does. If the Ellimist was REALLY doing Tobias favors, as opposed to stringing him along and keeping him a feral animal barely tethered to humanity, he'd have done what Tobias explicitly wanted, and restored his humanity with morphing powers, and given him Loren's address.

      The Ellimist is NOT a benefactor, any more than a chess player is a benefactor of his pieces.

    3. Obviously I'm way late, but Jake specifically states in this book that Tobias got exactly what he wanted from the Ellimist.

  10. Hey, the Iskoort issues with organ harvesting and whatnot made me think - if they can get a reliable & useful guide at SpaceMall for just a few inches of Rachel-hair, why don't they go into the organ-harvesting & exotic animal parts business?

    Think about it! They could take out their kidneys and corneas and other parts you don't immediately die from losing and morph, demorph and repeat as necessary. Sick people get kidneys, blind people get eyes and the Animorphs get a slush fund, tax-free, that they can use to save the planet and pay back the stores for when they steal emergency clothing. Also, buy plane tickets so they don't get squished when hitching a ride on a commercial flight, and fund some of Ax's more expensive technological forays.

    And after the raid on the peace conference they all have elephant and rhino morphs, so why not cut off their tusks and horns and sell them to the people who buy from poachers? Yeah, it would hurt for a minute, but for no longer than it takes to demorph. The upside to that, in addition to the profits, is that they would flood the market and depreciate the prices of rhino horns and ivory and whatnot, which would harm the poachers! It's win-win for the planet and Cassie and for the sane people.

    I thought of this because it also occurred to me that in situations where they are lost in the wilderness, rather than eating seal carcasses and stuff, one of them could morph a cow, have Ax slice some steaks off, demorph before loss of blood kills him, and then eat to their hearts' content.

    The possibilities are endless.

    1. You must remember that that was pre cow morph, and it would really hurt.

    2. Well, I didn't just mean in this book, I meant from here on out. There is quite a lucrative market on earth for human organs, and rhino & elephant parts. They should be used to the pain, as someone gets dismembered or disemboweled in just about every book, so why not do it with a specific purpose? The steaks from the cow was just an emergency survival suggestion for the future. The real idea is the black market for organs and exotic animal parts.

    3. Because it... makes no logistican sense? The Animorphs put up with pain because they have a higher purpose (saving everyone on earth). They don't put up with it for funsies or because they like it. And... rhino and elephant parts? Where are four teenagers, a hawk and an alien going to find a fence for exotic animal parts in their Generic American 90s Town?

      As for eating bits of Ax, uh, most people have difficulty eating animals they've known while they were alive. Some people find it awkward to eat eggs if they know the hen. Some people don't have that problem, but probably all people have some problems with devouring the living flesh of a teammate.

      The trauma would be honestly worse for them than starving to death. They wouldn't do it.

    4. Well, yeah, they do suck that way. IMO, the problem with eating other people is that it requires a permanent loss of the other person's body, thanks to pesky conservation of energy laws. However, since the Animorphs are capable of creating new matter at will, they would not have to be bound by it. I'm sure given Marco's & Ax's combined computer skills, and Cassie's moral outrage, finding a poacher/fence would not be a problem.

      I suppose if they are so fussy about morphing sentient beings, they'd probably find stupid objections to this too. The "four teenagers can't do/think of this" excuse, however, covers a lot of what we criticize them for in these reviews. Teenagers are really, really stupid, so it is plausible that they might not think to smack Alloran or Elfangor upside the head and demand that they morph to heal themselves, so as to have bad-ass war princes guiding their guerilla efforts, or totally neglecting to follow through on the revelations from Elfangor's letter to discover that Loren is still alive and living in their hometown. If we are going to give them crap for other things that seem obvious in hindsight, why not for not exploiting their morphs for financial gain?

    5. The theory is that when they take on larger forms, they drain off excess matter in Z-Space in order to account for the increase in size. So in theory, that is where the bits come back from when they lose body parts.

    6. Cannoli: Humans wants are infinite :> You can get tusks and horns without killing the animal, yet humans massacre countless elephants and rhinos anyway. If the Animorphs embarked on that new business venture, I'm sure it'll end badly. Someone will get greedy. And someone will find out. Who are these people who magically grow organs and animal parts? Yeerks will catch on. Plus, with all their silly objections, I think they're going to object to something more serious, like this.

      Or eating each other! If there's nothing else to eat, well, go for it . No one's judging. But you suggested it as an alternative to eating other animals (at leas, that's how it's worded), which doesn't make sense. Spare the guilt and pain, and just eat the freaking animal.

      But I was wondering about that whenever the refused to sell body parts. Chop off a hand, morph, demorph, and it's back. Iskoort is happy, person still has body part. I guess they wanted to avoid mutilating themselves as much as possible.

  11. You guys are brilliant and I'm reading all of your stuff. I really can't provide any more indepth criticism than anyone else here, but you guys definitely soothed a desire for more animorphs I wasn't aware I had. Oh, and since it's relevant here I've talked to K.A. Applegate in person and she told me she's planning on finishing Animorphs and the nordic one. She was probably lying to get me off her tail while she escaped to her car, but it's there. I wish I could've recorded it.

    1. In all fairness, lots of writers "plan to do" things they never get around to.

    2. I feel like Animorphs was concluded properly, even though we all want more. Everworld, on the other hand, had a very forced and disappointing ending that KA admitted happened because she got too busy. It needs a real ending.

  12. I always thought they were more frustrated with Erik than actually mad at him, and it had seemed reasonable to me. Imagine you're in the middle of a war and someone built a robot that could win it for you in less than a day... but only programmed it to move furniture. As reasonable as you know this is, because god forbid the thing get confused or reprogrammed, it's going to be frustrating as hell to be in it's presence while soldiers are getting hurt and killed.

    I never really understood why Erik could feel hw he felt about it, though. I know he was supposed to be truly sentient and all, but to make something capable of wanting vengeance and unable to do anything about it seems like a pretty horrible thing. Especially since it seemed to me that it was generally implied this was only one of many programming frustrations for them. It's more confusing to me now as an adult, knowing that for humans a lot of our personality and choices can be influenced by something as simply as the chemistry of our body; it seems to me perfectly possible to make a sentient robot that has a personality that actually fits within the rules set for it.

  13. "The Attack" is in my top five Animorphs books.
    Because, I mean, it has everything! It has a strange plante, goofy aliens, scary aliens, drama, comedy, romance, a good plot twist... Seriously, the only things this books lack are Visser Three's funny antics, then it would be perfect.

  14. I just read this book, and you're right. It's amazing.
    Did KA write this one, or was it also ghostwritten? I feel like KA wrote it, but I can't tell her books apart from ghostwritten books most of the time.
    Loved the review. You guys make a lot of good points in here. I wish I'd thought of it >:[ Like, telling the Yeerks to make bodies for themselves. Why on Earth didn't they? Instead, they wait three centuries for the Yeerks to figure it out.
    For some reason, when this book was described to me, I thought that Cassie and Jake were going to kiss when Jake was in Howler morph. wtf, I know, but I was waiting for that, and it didn't happen :<

    1. This was not ghostwritten. All the rest from here on out are ghostwriters, except for the two remaining Megamorphs, the Ellimist Chronicles, Visser, and #32, #53 & #54 (the finale, ironically titled "The Beginning"). KA Applegate was burned out by the schedule at this point and only wanted to step in if she could dismember or murder her juvenile characters. She kills off the six main characters a total of thirteen times in those books, describing one of the deaths from two different viewpoints in two different books, along with a whole host of one-shots, guest stars, and supporting characters. This was Applegate's last upbeat, happy book.

    2. She had a baby right around that time too, didn't she?
      The ghostwriters did a really good job of emulating her style for each character. I was quite surprised.
      Thank you~

    3. Indeed. She had a kid around that time, and a schedule of over one book a month was more then a tad overwhelming. Understandably so.

    4. That would also explain the bloodbaths when she actually did personally write some books. She was probably taking it out on the Animorphs for all the sleepless nights and fluid-mopping, and whatnot. Also the Rachel-split book makes more sense from the perspective of a new mother - suddenly this good-natured, capable & heroic individual is seen as an uncontrollable, psychotic screaming monster or a whiny helpless lump. That is pure, mother-of-a-newborn perspective.

    5. Would the Animorphs have been better off blowing off this mission, in hindsight? You notice how much help the Ellimist gives them from here on out?

      When he asked them to do this mission, they should have kept Tobias's prior experience in mind and told him up front "What's in it for us?" and demanded time-limit-free Howler morphs with their private, Crayak-free, gestalt memory in exchange for this operation, especially as it didn't benefit them in the slightest.

      All they did was give the Ellimist a chance to win the Yeerk-game if Earth fell! By saving the Iskoort, they give him another basket to put his eggs in besides Earth, which probably explains why he absolutely never helps them again, but they endure repeated dickery from the Crayak & Drode! When Earth was the last hope to stop the Yeerks from conquering the universe, the Ellimist was all about showing up to help them out of the Yeerk pool & find the Kandrona (way to set up 13 year old children as unwitting enablers of mass murder, space god), or fixing their nothlits or freeing Hork-Bajir. Once the Iskoort are saved, and he has a fallback plan to subvert the Yeerks several centuries down the road if Earth & the Animorphs fail, he does NOTHING for them! This plan removed the Ellimist's investment in their success/survival.

  15. Why not trade Ax's tail instead of Rachel's hair? The tail would grow back when he morphed, but the hair stays short I guess or she would not have complained about it. Even if it would hurt, better a temporary hurt than a change that stays. They could get more for the tail I think.

    1. It's established in a later book that andalites have an enormous social stigma against cutting off their tails.

    2. But it would be fixed afterwards! It would not mark him out, and Andalite society would never know! Take one of the team already, Ax!

  16. It kind of amazes me that when it got to the part about the Howlers' paralyzing screams, you didn't throw in a clip of the Redeads from Zelda. But you did throw in X-Men, so I forgive you.

  17. Question. Are the Isk capable of of sentience? So, are they like capable of talking to their Yoort? Or are they just infestable bio-robots?

  18. They couldn't morph iskoort because if they acquire one their really just morphing isk.

  19. Huh. With all this talk of organ selling, I feel like Aloth needed to visit this planet. They could have all sorts of wacky, horrifying hijinks together!

  20. The whole kissing thing, it is exactly what happens in the original Macross. You must show us this kissing thing so we can understand emotions. Which I'm sure Applegate had never seen and neither had I back then.

  21. My big question about this book was always...did Jake lose the Howler morph? I get that using the howl has the potential to blast the other Animorphs as well as any controllers (plus, you know, killing any Human-Controllers around), but even without the howl, the howler would be pretty an excellent battle morph. I would be ok if it had been said that Crayak or the Ellimist took it away, but I don't recall anything being said in the book nor do I recall Jake ever using it again either. Again, I don't recall perfectly, but it just seems like Jake just forgot about a major trump card that could have been really handy multiple times throughout the rest of the series.

  22. I really, REALLY wish there was official artwork of Crayak somewhere. Just the single red eye isn't enough. When they say he's some giant biotech being that looks to be sitting atop/merged with a throne, I want to SEE that.