|The Hork-Bajir Chronicles|
Detailed Plot: Tobias flies to the free Hork-Bajir valley and decides to spend some time there since he's feeling down. He listens to a story told by Jara Hamee about his grandfather and how the Yeerks and Andalites and Hork-Bajir all began their involvement with each other. The story Jara Hamee tells is then translated into the Andalite, Hork-Bajir, and Yeerk perspectives.
First to narrate is Aldrea-Iskillion-Falan, daughter of Prince Seerow. She witnesses her father becoming disgraced because he had been the one to give Yeerks access to technology and they responded by killing Andalites and trying to use their technology to dominate all. Aldrea witnesses Alloran relieving her father of duty for his "stupidity of kindness," which has resulted in the Yeerks (in their host bodies, the Gedds) flying forth in Andalite ships intending to become a plague upon the galaxy.
Two years later, Aldrea and her family end up going to the Hork-Bajir home world, which is basically an assignment to keep her disgraced father out of trouble; they're just supposed to make sure the Yeerks are moving to take this world. The planet they arrive on has a dead surface and a thin atmosphere but huge forests within deep rifts in the crust. That's where the Hork-Bajir live. Aldrea goes with her family--her father, her mother, and her brother Barafin--to meet the natives.
Dak Hamee takes over the narration, providing some exposition first to explain that he is a Hork-Bajir seer who is different from the rest of his people. He is supposed to "show his people the way," but he doesn't know much about that. However, when the alien Andalites arrive, he gets to make contact with Aldrea, and they communicate about trees and stars. He has a mental breakthrough, understanding that stars are actually suns where there are other planets, and from that point on he has insatiable curiosity about the universe. Aldrea can put him in contact with what he wants to know.
A third narrator, Esplin 9466, is introduced: A Yeerk who has his first experience of controlling a Gedd host while training aboard the stolen Andalite ship. Esplin enjoys the experience so much that he vows to be valuable to his people so that he will eventually get a permanent host.
Back in Aldrea's narration, we learn that she's been making logs about her observations on the Hork-Bajir, but that she's stopped partly because she feels like a spy and Dak Hamee is her friend. Aldrea reveals a secret to Dak: she admits that she used the Escafil device--the technology that grants morphing powers--and she wants Dak to help her catch a creature called a chadoo because she wants to morph into it in order to see the world up in the trees where the Hork-Bajir live. She manages to handle the morphing, though it's only her second time trying it, and she follows Dak to his Tribe Tree. She also encounters the Deep, which is a terrifying ravine.
Back in Esplin's narration, we see that Esplin has been learning about Andalites, using the computers, and is credited as knowing a lot about them. This becomes Esplin's special usefulness and the justification for giving him a Hork-Bajir host; Esplin agrees that Hork-Bajir will make good soldiers against the Andalites, and is obviously very excited that the Yeerk Empire is truly beginning.
Back on the Hork-Bajir world, Dak Hamee and Aldrea are discussing how the Hork-Bajir use trees to talk to the populations that are farther away. A message coming through the trees tells Dak that the Deep took three people, and Aldrea figures out from context that Gedds are on the planet's surface. She explains Yeerks and the danger they represent, but realizes that her own father is probably about to transmit a message that the Yeerks will intercept. She tries to run to stop him from transmitting, but she's too late. With the help of Esplin and his co-Hork-Bajir-Controller, Carger 7901, the Yeerks target the Andalite scoop where Aldrea's family is living and shoot it down. Aldrea witnesses her family being murdered, and Dak has to restrain her and convince her to hide so she can help the Hork-Bajir fight the invasion.
Soon the Hork-Bajir-Controllers are on the planet's surface looking for Aldrea since there were only three Andalites, not four, in the scoop that was destroyed. Aldrea tries to fight them once they realize these are Controllers, and Dak has a revelation about the blades on his arms and legs, realizing they can be used as weapons after seeing what the Controllers did with them. He is able to protect Aldrea, and she gives one of the Controllers a message about messing with Andalites--she will help destroy their race, and show them "the other side of Andalite character."
The Andalite and Hork-Bajir run as a team, having to duck into the Deep to get away from their pursuers. Aldrea convinces Dak that since it's them the Yeerks are looking for, it's better to separate from the other Hork-Bajir who are also running from the attack. Dak is scared and pessimistic because Hork-Bajir do not go into the Deep and live to tell the tale, but when a fight ensues there the atmosphere's peculiarity causes the Yeerks' energy-based weapons to be unsafe. A monster called a Jubba-Jubba appears and dispenses with some of their enemies, but before it can make short work of them too, Dak uses a weapon he's picked up and Aldrea uses her tail. For the first time, a monster from the Deep has been defeated. They retreat.
Aldrea and Dak go further into the Deep, unsure of what they're breathing or what's going to happen to them. The mist they go through eventually becomes like a sky, and it's an uncomfortable place, but they don't see any more monsters. Eventually they come to a sheer cliff that goes right down to the molten center of the planet--and along the walls are signs of civilization.
After the battle with the Andalite and the Hork-Bajir, Esplin realizes that pain is an inevitable part of fighting with a host body. Cut in half during the battle, Esplin waits for rescue, and when the Yeerks come and do their interrogation, Esplin has to report that the Andalite probably got away and that Carger's whereabouts are unknown. Eventually, the Yeerks decide to give Esplin a new Hork-Bajir host body, and he goes back to the Hork-Bajir world to catch Aldrea. Esplin would rather have her as a host than kill her, but at this point the orders are to simply find her and kill her.
Dak and Aldrea explore the cliff areas and find lots of evidence of an advanced civilization, but no people. They find a large cave to sleep in and Aldrea lets Dak sleep first. She envies his ability to fall asleep quickly and ponders her lost family and the importance of contacting Andalites to deal with the Yeerks' invasion of this planet. She also admits to herself that she has feelings for Dak. When he wakes up, she takes her turn sleeping, and Dak ponders his situation, knowing that Aldrea has the capability to lie to him and therefore she's an Andalite before she's his friend. In the morning, he notices something strange about the light filtering down through a vast tunnel from above, and he discovers that inside the tube there are thousands of strange birdlike creatures of many colors. When they come down from their hanging spot, they talk to Aldrea and Dak (oddly enough, using the Hork-Bajir language), and reveal that they created the zone of separation so the Hork-Bajir wouldn't come to their home.
The Arn they encounter, a purple creature named Quatzhinnikon, responds well to Aldrea's threats and reveals the answers to her questions. Turns out the Arn created the Hork-Bajir to herd the trees for them in order to preserve the type of atmosphere they needed to live. The surviving Arn had narrowly escaped their planet's impact with a large asteroid while in stasis on one of their moons, and they needed a way to make their planet habitable for them again. The monsters were also their creation, designed to keep the two regions separate. The Arn don't want to help Aldrea and Dak fight the Yeerks, but Dak points out that the Hork-Bajir will be taken and enslaved, and that since the Arn need them to herd the trees, they HAVE to help. Aldrea's surprised by Dak's willingness to be ruthless when it comes to their survival, and he credits her for teaching him to be that way. She's disturbed and a bit shamed, but has to acknowledge it.
Back with Esplin, the Yeerks in their Hork-Bajir bodies are doing well with the invasion, able to take new groups of Hork-Bajir every day and having no Hork-Bajir any wiser. Esplin finds the name of the Hork-Bajir and Andalite who are being hunted, and it's very easy work. Esplin and the others help build a Yeerk pool with a felled tree, and Esplin is guarding it with his twin when Aldrea and Dak show up leading an army of Deep monsters.
For her part, Aldrea is impressed but a bit sickened at the Arn's ability to create these genetically modified freak monsters, and she thinks anyone else would have been punished for such a thing, but in this case they sure are useful. Aldrea and Dak are able to control the monsters through mind-control devices the Arn gave to them. At the sight of the monsters, the free Hork-Bajir cower in the trees, and Aldrea asks Dak to inspire his people to fight. Aldrea herself is supposed to try to get to a stolen Andalite fighter ship so she can signal to her people to come save the Hork-Bajir world, but in the meantime Dak is going to have to ask his people to fight Hork-Bajir-Controllers. This is horrifying for him and Aldrea just doesn't seem to understand. He makes it very clear to her that he understands what he is being asked to do but that she has no right to expect it to be easy.
The battle begins when Yeerks attack and Dak and his monsters deliver a fight. Aldrea manages to get to one of the ships because the guards have raced to join the battle. Esplin sees her and follows her in just when she's opened messages to her world. She manages to morph into a Jubba-Jubba monster to deal with the Yeerk, but instead of killing she just squeezes until the Hork-Bajir is unconscious and throws him back out of the ship, returning to her message. She tells a young warrior that her father and her family are all dead, and that the Yeerks are on the Hork-Bajir world.
Aldrea manages to use the ship's weapons to destroy the log-based Yeerk pool, and the free Hork-Bajir stomp some Yeerks while others retreat in their host bodies. Most of the monsters from the Deep are killed in the scuffle. And the Hork-Bajir have learned to become killers.
Aldrea and Dak lead a guerilla warfare group against the Yeerks, but the enemy is gaining ground every day. Sometimes they're able to harass them, kill them, steal their weapons, but since the Andalite fleet Aldrea was expecting seems to be taking longer than she expected, there's not much else they can do. The Arn don't want to help them, and they refuse to treat a wounded Hork-Bajir one day because they no longer believe the Yeerks will infest them. (They are very talented in biology, and they modify themselves to be unable to accept Yeerk hosts without dying. Aldrea thinks they'll be killed if they're not useful to the Yeerks, but the Arn believe they'll just be left alone.) Aldrea finally sees signs of a space battle one day, and an Andalite named Sofor contacts her.
The Andalites expect her to just come on board, but Dak gives them a brief and they demand to see the Prince. Turns out it's Alloran, in his ship the Jahar, and after some scoffing he's actually impressed to hear Dak's brief and disappointed to hear how successful the Yeerks are in their mission to take Hork-Bajir hosts and create new spaceships. The casualities in the Hork-Bajir army disturb them, too, and they admit that Aldrea's communication wasn't really taken seriously because she's a female and also the daughter of a fool. The Andalites aren't very optimistic about saving the Hork-Bajir world.
Esplin has become Sub-Visser Twelve. He is enjoying his new rank and still has his eye on capturing and enslaving Aldrea, but he and his minions haven't been able to find her or Dak Hamee. The guerilla force has given them some trouble but they're still winning, and he's proud. Of course, that's when the Andalite fleet shows up and he has to start fighting. He's able to take out an Andalite ship, but even though the ships still have them outnumbered, Sub-Visser Twelve knows that they were just a task force and they are in line to emerge the victors.
The battle rages on for months, and though Dak's valley seems to be able to hold fairly strong, the Yeerks' forces are growing everywhere else. The Arn were tested by the Yeerks and found to be unacceptable hosts because they die during infestation, so instead they got enslaved and forced to do various mining type jobs until they got too damaged and the Yeerks just shot them. While walking in the Arn territory, Dak and Aldrea notice that an area is heavily guarded, and the guards won't tell them what they're guarding. During the discussion, they treat Dak like he's stupid, and Aldrea reminds him that they just thought he was a regular Hork-Bajir. Dak is offended because he's tired of the Yeerks, the Arn, and the Andalites acting as though they're superior because they are intelligent. He's tired of being seen as a tool and tired of being treated like his people are not worth it because they are stupid. Aldrea promises that if she has to choose between the Andalites and Dak, she will choose Dak, but he doesn't believe her.
To find the purpose of the guarded area, Aldrea goes to Alloran (behind Dak's back) and tries to get the info out of him, but he won't budge. But Aldrea has a hidden trick: during the pleading, she touches Alloran's hand and acquires his DNA, which is easy since most people don't know much about how the morphing technology works yet. She returns to the facility with Dak and some other Hork-Bajir, and demonstrates what she'd done to acquire Alloran by repeating the process on another female Hork-Bajir, Delf Hajool. She morphs into Alloran, gives the order for the guards to let them in, and then looks into the computer to find out what the purpose of it is. Turns out it's got a crazy purpose all right: it contains a quantum virus designed to wipe out the Hork-Bajir. It's clearly Alloran's way of finishing off the threat and admitting that they can't save the Hork-Bajir world. And Aldrea is furious; she insists her people wouldn't do something like this and Alloran must be mad. She has the computer extract the virus and makes to blow it up, using an energy weapon to complete the process. Dak is impressed at her turning against her own people like that and finally believes that his love for her is real.
The explosions they cause attract attention--including Alloran's!--and the Andalites try to stop them from getting away with the virus canister, but the Yeerks have also planned an attack at this point and the Andalites have to fight them. Dak and Aldrea race for a chance to throw the virus canister into the Deep, but Alloran tries to stop them, calling Aldrea a traitor and giving orders to destroy them. Dak gets a bright idea and takes Aldrea's hand, and they jump on the Blade ship as it flies by. Aldrea breaks her leg and is severely injured, and doesn't want Dak to have to carry her, so she morphs a Hork-Bajir, for two reasons: One, she can keep up with him swinging in the trees, and two, to show solidarity; if the virus is released now, she'll die too. They have a special moment when they share a kiss, both in Hork-Bajir form, but then they're interrupted.
Sub-Visser Twelve arrives, having witnessed Aldrea's transformation and announcing that he will have fun using it when he's made Aldrea his host. And he almost succeeds in taking her, after the two are captured, but he makes a mistake. Before getting himself securely fastened into her brain, he's eagerly looking into her memories and taunting her, but since his previous body is a Hork-Bajir and he understands what's happening, he yanks the Yeerk back out of Aldrea's ear. She escapes becoming a host for the moment, but then they are attacked and aren't sure what's going on for a while because they are going in and out of consciousness.
When they awake, Aldrea's been in her morph for too long to change back, so she is permanently Hork-Bajir (the morph she acquired from the female Hork-Bajir). Sub-Visser Twelve has disappeared, and they don't know where their canister is. But when the Sub-Visser's previous host shows up with the virus canister and it's OPEN, they know it's all over. They have to escape, which they do, saddened to see that the war is over and the Hork-Bajir world is lost. But at least they have each other--that's what they tell themselves.
Switching back to the present, the narration returns to Tobias, who is listening to Jara Hamee tell this story. He says he will be telling this story to his daughter, the baby who was born to him and Ket Halpak. Tobias wants to know how the story ended and Jara says that stories go on. Jara says that his father was a Hork-Bajir named Seerow after Aldrea's father, and that Hork-Bajir-Seerow's father was Dak Hamee. And, unfortunately, of course Esplin 9466 became Visser Three. Tobias hopes that there will be another Hork-Bajir seer someday, like Dak, and Jara says that his daughter is named Toby after Tobias. When Toby herself speaks to Tobias, she makes it clear that she's the next seer of her people, and Tobias begins to feel a little more optimistic about his own life and the course of this war.
Narrator: Tobias, Aldrea-Iskillion-Falan, Dak Hamee, Esplin 9466
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
Female Andalites are said to have smaller tail blades in this book, which is why they are not usually allowed to be involved in military operations.
Strange that the beginning of the war with the Yeerks is suggested to have begun in the Earth year 1966. These books were written in the very late 1990s, which suggests the wars started only thirty years ago. The narration usually makes it seem like the Andalites and the Yeerks have been fighting each other for generations, especially since the Andalites and Yeerks are described to have a nearly instinctive disgust reaction to each other. This space war that's spanned many planets sure didn't waste any time developing.
Aldrea is suggested to be at somewhat empathic, unlike most of the rest of her species. She has no context to explain it, but she describes feeling and understanding what's going on in other people's emotions even when she's very young. Her narration doesn't read like other characters' narration; she explains that other people are angry instead of just "seeming" angry, etc. It's a subtle difference, but it's interesting.
In this book it's revealed that Hork-Bajir have "seers," which seem to be Hork-Bajir with human-level intelligence. They can philosophize, make symbolic markings, and strategize.
Aliens are mentioned in the course of this book in the context of Yeerk invasions. We've already encountered the Skrit Na, but in this book we hear about the Hawjabrans and the Ongachic.
Aldrea describes the height of a tree in feet. Human measurements.
A Yeerk named Akdor 1154 is credited with leading the Yeerks' uprising against the Andalites.
A species called the Arn also live on the Hork-Bajir world. They are small creatures with wings and they are very intelligent.
The Lerdethak is mentioned in this book, which is a morph Visser Three used in a previous book.
Sofor, an Andalite mentioned in a previous book, shows up in this book welcoming Aldrea back to the Andalites after having received her communication. He is later a tail-fighting instructor for Elfangor. Alloran is also mentioned here when he was introduced in a previous book, and he is later the host for Visser Three.
Aldrea's narration explains that Andalite males don't have as good a sense of balance as females.
If the quantum virus mentioned in this book could be calibrated to kill all of a certain species, why was it not leveled at the Yeerks rather than the Hork-Bajir?
This book reveals that Hork-Bajir kiss by putting their horns against each other, while Andalites kiss by stroking each other's faces with their hands.
Tobias: Somehow they had escaped. Don't ask me how. Ask the guy who doesn't interfere in the lives of other species.
Aldrea: It was too late for Dak: He knew that the stars were not flowers.
Esplin: "The Andalites did not become the dominant species in this part of the galaxy by being weak or stupid or cowardly."
Dak: "I am beginning to learn ruthlessness. I have had a very good example to follow."
Esplin: She seemed beautiful to me. Is that strange? I suppose it is. But there is a compelling beauty in the sight of someone seemingly so small and yet so dangerous.
Dak: "These are my people who will die today. Be quiet, Andalite. Be quiet."
Dak: We had been created by one brilliant species, invaded and enslaved by another. And now a third was using us.
Dak: The monsters in our valley were destroyed that day. Only a very few survived. But that was all right, because we didn't need monsters anymore. We had become them.