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"Aurora the Flier, I bond to you...Our life and death are one, we two...Through dark, through flame, through war, though strife...I save you as you save my life."
The bonding ceremony between flier and human
The Underland Chronicles, abbreviated fondly as TUC, was written author Suzanne Collins as her debut series of novels. The books consist of:
- Gregor the Overlander
- Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
- Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
- Gregor and the Marks of Secret
- Gregor and the Code of Claw
When a kid named Gregor follows his little sister, Boots, through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily besides giant spiders, bats, cockroaches and rats - but the fragile peace is about to fall apart. Of course Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, not to mention find his missing dad he knows there's no other choice. Little does he know his quest will change him forever.
The series has a small but devoted fanbase which has become slightly larger following the success of her other series, The Hunger Games.
This series includes examples of:
- A Boy and his Bat Gregor's eventual bond Ares.
- Aerith and Bob: Gregor and his sister Boots come down to the Underland, where they meet people with strange names such as Dulcet, Vikus, Solovet, Luxa, etc. and then Gregor finds out that "Here among all these strange names [is] a Henry"
- Applied Phlebotinum So...many....prophecies. Not to mention the plot-helping mutations.
- Action Girl: Queen Luxa. And Solovet. Okay, pretty much all female characters save Nerissa.
- Badass Boast: Ripred, whom many fans think is really a a god in disguise.
- Badass Normal: Gregor. And Luxa. And Ripred. Okay, pretty much everyone here can kick butt.
- Bat Out of Hell: Averted. The bats here are friends with the humans, and they allow the humans to ride them. Sound familiar? Or not.
- Because Destiny Says So: If it weren't for the prophecies, Gregor would not be involved in any of the Underland's battles.
- ~Beginner's Luck~: Gregor seems to get lucky a lot when fighting, even though he's not the brightest.
- The Berserker: Gregor and Ripred are both "ragers" -- a person with highly developed warrior skills, a natural-born killer.
- Big Bad: Pearlpelt, or the Bane. Literally.
- Black and Gray Morality: verging on Grey and Gray Morality before the systematic extermination of the nibblers. Even afterward individual rats on the Bane's side are portrayed in a sympathetic light.
- Blessed with Suck: Everyone in this series has some sort of tragic past.
- More specifically, Twitchtip the 'scent seer' whose sense of smell is so accurate that she can smell secrets -- not a fast track to the popular crowd. Also Gregor as a rager, which means he has to pay special attention whenever he fights so he doesn't kill anyone. Great fun.
- Also, Nerissa. Funny how a society built on one man's prophecies treats their own personal prophetess so poorly.
- Bittersweet Ending: Every single book, verging on Downer Ending by the fifth one.
- Bond Creatures: The "fliers" here bond with the humans, using a little poem that allows them to protect each other in battle and such. Here it is:
[Flier's name] the flier, I bond to you
Our life and death are one, we two,
Through dark, through flame, through war, though strife,
I save you as you save my life
- Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: Rats/gnawers, mice/nibblers, bats/fliers, etc. Handwaved as the species' names for themselves.
- Character Development: Oodles of this. It's quite refreshing, actually. Gregor goes out of his way to point this out in Luxa when she goes to Temp for advice in later books.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Lizzie. In COC, she becomes incredibly useful.
- Covered with Scars: Ripred. Gregor also racks up an impressive total by the time the last book rolls around.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Apparently not. Gregor, the hero, wears black armor during the final battle, and his bond is black as well. Not to mention the Bane is white.
- Die Laughing: Some plants in the Jungle get you so high that you don't notice the attacking vines.
- Disappeared Dad: Only for the first book.
- ~Don't You Dare Pity Me~: And how. All the rats seem to be like this.
- Establishing Character Moment: Interestingly enough, the villain gets one after his initial introduction. We first meet the Bane as a baby, whose cries for his mother make it impossible for Gregor to kill him. What could be more innocent? Well, in book 4, we learn he killed his devoted caretaker. Still, he said it was an accident, and he's so big he might not know his own strength .. he tried to eat him to cover it up? (Though, real rats do often eat their dead to keep predators from smelling them and finding the nest.)
- Divided We Fall: Ares to the max. Makes sense because bats really do hang and all.
- Evil/Heroic Albino: The Bane and the Underland humans, respectively.
- The Drag Along: Temp and Boots, mostly. They never really do anything on the quests.
- Actually, Temp and Boots did do something in book three. Temp kept on warning them, first suggested the idea that the cradle/cure might not be where they thought it was, and Boots did her dance.
- Lampshaded by Ripred in the same book --
Ripred: And if Temp is right, it would explain one thing .. The point of having a crawler on this whole hellish trip! Honestly, how has he added to anything of significance? No offense, Temp, you've been a real champ about babysitting, but what have you contributed? Nothing! Maybe this is it! Your big moment!
- Fandom: A rather small one, considering, but the fanfiction for the series has a few exemplary pieces that rival the original works.
- Fantastic Racism: Even though the crawlers/cockroaches, gnawers/rats, spinners/spiders, fliers/bats, etc. that coexist with humans in the Underland are not human, they are sentient and treated as full characters on the same level as humans. Prejudices held among human characters towards these species are even treated as equal to any intra-human bigotry.
- Failure Knight: Poor Hamnet. He shouldn't have listened to his mother and let the flood gates open so that everyone would drown. Later we discover that Ripred is this for his dead mate and pups.
- Fair Weather Mentor: Ripred could fit into this, particularly in book three.
- Game of Nerds: The code-breaking team in book five. They're the Underland version of computer geeks.
- Grudging Thank You: People in the Underland are apparently very haughty.
- Just them? Everyone's haughty.
- Gut Feeling: Happens a lot.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Used in almost every book - and not just from Gregor. Everyone wants to die for their loved ones. Sometimes this doesn't help all that much.
- Hot Chick with a Sword: Luxa again. Not only is she a great fighter, but she can do it while doing cartwheels on the backs of giant flying bats.
- Hyper Awareness: Gregor can sense his own urine just by using echolocation.
- I Can Still Fight: The fifth book has everyone doing this.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Some of the carnivorous plants in the Jungle subdue you by getting you high.
- Insistent Terminology: "Fo-Fo? Fo-Fo? I am he called Photos Glow-Glow and will answer to no other name!"
- It Got Worse: Over, and over, and over again.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ripred. So much. Emphasis on jerk in book 3, emphasis on heart of gold in book 5.
- Book 5 is the shining example. Ripred comes into the code room expecting to see another of Gregor's annoying (to him) siblings. He stops short, sees Lizzie, and gets an expression of tenderness on his face. Not to mention sleeping next to Lizzie after she has another panic attack during the night.
- Missing Mom: When Gregor's mom gets the plague in book 3, she spends most of the rest of the series recuperating in the Underland.
- More Than Meets the Eye: Everyone seems to have hidden depths in this series.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: When your villain is named The Bane you know it's not going to end well.
- What about all the other ones? There's King Gorger, Mange...all the rats have some scary names.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Bane - scarily good orator, possibly insane, inspires a mouse holocaust...
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: Everyone dies unexpectedly.
- Prophecy Twist: Pulled off most successfully in book 2.
- Purple Eyes: And how.
- Reality Ensues: The ending refused to find any half-baked excuse to let them back into the Underland... HOWEVER, The ending was very, very ambiguous, and there was absolutely no way to tell what would happen next.
- Rebellious Princess: Luxa owns this trope completely, but makes it seem pretty cool.
- Rebellious Queen, actually.
- Replacement Goldfish: Lizzie, for Ripred.
- Scars Are Forever: Ripred. Later Gregor as well, which he realizes in part of his Bittersweet Ending.
- Shipper on Deck: Very much averted. Howard seems hellbent on making sure Gregor and Luxa never go on a date.
- Of course, that could be because he secretly loves Gregor. Fans seem to believe this.
- And there's Gregor's mom who secretly approves of Luxa, because she's "got attitude."
- Strange Syntax Speaker: The cockroaches from Gregor The Overlander tend to mix up verb and subject placement as well as using repetition of certain sentence elements, such as "Do it, I can, do it," or "be small Human, be?"
- Theme Naming: All of the bats have names taken from Greek mythology. Additionally, Luxa's mother is named Judith, while Judith's twin is named Hamnet and their sister is named Susannah. William Shakespeare had a daugher named Susannah and twins named Judith and Hamnet.
- Waif Prophet: Nerissa.
- War Is Hell: Gregor realizes this is true for both the Underland and Overland in the ending chapter.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Gregor seems to love mocking Luxa's stiff conduct and all that. Has some pretty funny moments.
- What the Hell, Townspeople?: The Regalians still scorn Gregor even though he's saved their lives multiple times.
- The ending of Book Five has Gregor tell off what amounts to the ENTIRE Underland. The Bane's dead and the humans and rats are ready to live together peacefully. Luxa then announces that the rats are being sent to live in the most hostile region of the Underland. Ripred isn't amused, and both sides are ready to go to war right then and there. Gregor tells all of them off not just for being so stupid after both sides have been devastated, but also for Ripred having come all this way with them and Luxa treating him like dirt.
- Wham! Line: That encoded message in Gregor and the Code of Claw? It says Twitchtip died in pit. Also, the entirety of Luxa's declaration of war against the gnawers.
- White Haired Pretty People: All the Regalians have silver/blond hair.
- ~You Can't Fight Fate~: In book 3, when Gregor's mom refuses to let him or his little sister go on the quest, she falls ill with the plague he needs to help find the cure for. Conspiracy Time! Solovet.
- ~You Can't Go Home Again~: Averted, mostly. This happens a bit in the first book, but then Gregor goes on this quest to find his missing dad and all that. Otherwise they want him to go home. And then come back for the next 4.