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->''"So there I was..."''

Alcatraz Smedry is an orphan who has been passed around the foster care system for his thirteen years of life due to his habit of breaking anything he touches. It's nothing intentional, it's just like things he touches fall apart. Door handles, pots, ovens... one time he picked up a chicken, only for it to lose all its feathers and only eat cat food from then on.

On his thirteenth birthday, he receives a letter from his father, bequeathing him his inheritance: A bag of sand. The next day, Alcatraz's grandfather arrives (late, as usual) to take him on an adventure to recover the sands from his evil Librarian caseworker Ms. Fletcher.

You see, the world is much larger and stranger than we've been led to believe. One-quarter of the world is actually controlled by a cult of evil Librarians, who rewrite history in their conquered lands to remove things like strange powers, magical glass, and talking dinosaurs. Despite what they teach, most of the world is ''not'' ocean—those "empty spaces" on the map are actually the Free Kingdoms, which the Librarians keep hidden from the Hushlands. Australia is a recent Librarian acquisition, and Hawaii is an outlying island of the continent of Mokia, also recently conquered.

Alcatraz as a Smedry has a Talent—in his case, the Talent to break things. His grandfather is always late, his father could lose things, his uncle can lose ''himself'', his cousins can trip, or wake up really ugly, or speak nonsense. All these are important and powerful Talents that they use to fight the Librarians and preserve the freedom of the world.

The Alcatraz series is a stand-alone series written by Creator/BrandonSanderson, unconnected to his [[Literature/TheCosmere Cosmere]]. The series at present consists of four books:
# ''Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians'' (2007)
# ''Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones'' (2008)
# ''Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia'' (2009)
# ''Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens'' (2010)

Not to be confused with TheAlcatraz ([[NamedAfterSomebodyFamous mostly]]). Or the television series ''Series/{{Alcatraz}}''.
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!!This series provides examples of:

* AbsentMindedProfessor: A lot of the Smedries are intelligent academics while at the same time being eccentric, absent minded or just plain strange.
* ActionGirl: Bastille is a perfect example of this. She is a 13-year-old knight and an expert fighter. Specifically, she's of the LittleMissBadass variety.
* AffablyEvil: She Who Cannot Be Named actually makes great chocolate chip cookies when she's not plotting the downfall of her enemies.
-->'''Grandpa Smedry:''' We shouldn't eat these.\\
'''Alcatraz:''' Are they poisoned?\\
'''Grandpa Smedry:''' No, they'll spoil our dinner.
* AmbiguousSituation: In the fourth book, Alcatraz wonders if Aydee is really that bad at math, or has just learned to blurt out the first number that pops into her head in order to activate her Talent. He spends a few paragraphs musing that he might be reading too much into a clever look in her eyes... [[SubvertedTrope before realizing, as he's writing, that he can just go and ask her]]. He does, and she confirms she's doing it on purpose.
* AuthorFilibuster: More like narrator filibuster. Alcatraz frequently breaks the action to say various random things that may or may not relate to the story. For example: "Blah, blah, sacrifice, altars, daggers, sharks. Blah, blah, something pretentious. Blah, blah, rutabaga. Blah, blah, something that makes no sense whatsoever. Now, back to the story."
* AwesomeMcCoolname: The name Smedry actually means "Oculator". [[note]]from Old Nalhallan ''smead-dary'', meaning ''Lens-wielder''[[/note]]
* BetterThanABareBulb: Alcatraz frequently plays with tropes and [[LampshadeHanging lampshades them left and right.]]
* BlatantLies: Much of what Alcatraz says at the beginning of the chapters, such as when he claimed to be a fish.
* BlackMagic: Dark Oculary is an evil form of Ocularlry comprable to necromancy.
* BlessedWithSuck or CursedWithAwesome: All the Smedry Talents contain elements of both, to one degree or another. They take what seems like a major disadvantage and turn it into something that can be useful. For example, Grandpa Smedry is always late, which is usually a real pain, but it has also saved is life on multiple occassions because he keeps showing up too late for his own death.
%%* BrickJoke
* CatsAreMean: Alcatraz insists that [[CuteKitten kittens are cute]] so that they can draw you in, then pounce on you for the kill.
-->'''Alcatraz:''' Seriously. Stay away from kittens.
* ChangelingFantasy: Pretty standard (though repeatedly lampshaded). Alcatraz is a poor orphan who is constantly thought to be worthless, only for it to turn out that he's from a family of practicaly artistocratic magic wielders.
* ChekhovsGun: Not only is the trope played straight a number of times, Alcatraz explicitly mentions the trope by name in the second book, and references it again in the fourth (although that time he was talking about Chekhov's Blue Teddy Bear).
* CheerfulChild: Aydee Smedry is always perky, happy and outgoing.
* CoolAirship, or maybe CoolPlane: The Dragonaut isn't technically an airplane that uses jet engines or an airship that uses oversize balloons to fly, but it is cool and it flies.
* DeathByNewberyMedal: This trope isn't used, so much as it's repeatedly mocked. Alcatraz insists that authors must hate mothers and dogs because they are always trying to write meaningful books that kill off one or the other, or sometimes even both.
* DepartmentOfChildDisservices: Alcatraz's child services worker was always telling him how useless he was. [[spoiler: Turns out she was his mother. And she's the nicer of his parents]].
* DestructiveSaviour[=/=]NiceJobBreakingItHero[=/=]PersonOfMassDestruction: Alcatraz is constantly breaking things. Usually this works out in his favor, but he still does quite a bit of collateral damage in the process. This comes to a head [[spoiler:at the end of the fourth book, when he defeats an invading army, but breaks the city he was trying to defend as well as Smedry Talents in the process]].
* DiscussedTrope: Sometimes the characters will discuss a trope, but more often Alcatraz explicitly describes what tropes or {{Narrative Device}}s he's using in his capacity as narrator.
* TheDitz: Australia Smedry isn't dim-witted. She just has trouble remembering that she is smart.
* DungeonCrawling: Every time they infiltrate a library, ranging from a typical American local library to the Library of Alexandria. Complete with traps, monsters and villains.
* EccentricMentor: Grandpa Smedry is about as eccentric as they get.
* ElegantWeaponForAMoreCivilizedAge: The [[CoolSword crystal swords]] used by the Knights of Crystallia.
* EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs: Subverted. Dinosaurs are real, intelligent, talkative, and ''annoying''. No one likes them. Alcatraz even muses that the reason the Librarian "dinosaurs are extinct" myth caught on was because everyone wished it were true.
* EverythingsEvenWorseWithSharks: Especially chain-saw wielding sharks.
* EyeBeams: Any Oculatory lens with "-bringer's" in the name (e.g. [[FrickinLaserBeams Firebringer's Lenses]], [[AnIcePerson Frostbringer's Lenses]], etc).
* KidHero: Alcatraz Smedry, though he constantly insists that he's not as heroic as people think.
* FirstPersonSmartass: Alcatraz again. He'll often go off onto smartass tangents with no bearing on the plot.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Some of it is subtle. Most of it is not.
-->'''Alcatraz:''' By the way, this is important.
* ForegoneConclusion: Will Alcatraz Smedry be sacrificed by Evil Librarians? Will he be killed by a Dark Oculator? Will he die when he breaks his own flying dragon ship? Will he be killed in the deadly pit filled with sharks who are wielding chainsaws with killer kittens stapled to them? Of course not, because he's still alive to tell the story. The suspense comes from finding out how he overcomes obstacles and whether or not anyone else dies. [[spoiler: [[BlatantLies Of course, Bastille totally dies at the end of book 2.]]]]
* FunctionalMagic: Even when the Free Kingdomers call it Silimatic Technology, the glass is still magic glass.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Kaz uses "Rocky Mountain oysters" as an expletive. While this doesn't seem to go with his use of nuts as curses throughout the rest of the book, some people may know that Rocky Mountain oysters refer to an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountain_oysters entirely different type of nut]].
* GogglesDoSomethingUnusual: Oculators use lenses that have a variety of powers. Each type of lens has its own function. These include tracking lenses, lenses that shoot laser beams, lenses that generate whirlwinds, etc.
* GreatBigLibraryOfEverything: The Library of Alexandria is a massive dungeon like place with almost every book in the world, however it is run by undead librarians that try to steal your soul.
* GunsAreWorthless: Seriously, you've got better luck with a knife if you're going up against the Smedry Talents, as they work best defensively. In the fourth book, an entire firing line shoots at Aydee, Kaz, and Alcatraz. Some of the guns don't fire because the soldiers miscounted the bullets and didn't load any, some of the soldiers get lost ''on the way to raising their guns to fire'', and the rest of the guns just break.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Parodied. The last page of book two involves a tearful death scene for Bastille, put there just in case you skipped to the end]].
* HiddenAgendaVillain: Not even the other Librarians seem sure what Ms. Fletcher is up to, but Alcatraz assumes it's nothing good. [[spoiler: Finding out she's his mother, Shasta Smedry, just makes her mysterious motives ''harder'' to deal with.]]
* HumongousMecha: The Evil Librarians have giant robots (and ro''bats''. Yes. Really.) as part of their arsenal. Bastille claims they are AwesomeButImpractical, but they still pose a real threat in ''Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens''.
* HumanSacrifice: The very beginning of the first book, which [[AnachronicOrder doesn't happen until sometime in the fifth]].
-->'''Alcatraz:''' So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians...
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: Inverted. The Librarian minions can generally shoot just fine. It's just that Smedry Talents can make them almost [[ImmuneToBullets impossible to hit.]] For example, Grandpa Smedry is always late to where the bullets are going to be, and guns tend to spontaneously fall apart when fired at Alcatraz.
* InMediasRes[=/=]ActionPrologue: The opening of the first book starts with Alcatraz about to get sacrificed on an alter of outdated encyclopedias, but then he skips to a story of his childhood growing up, and leaves the reader hanging.
* InsistentTerminology: There are most definitely no libraries in the Free Kingdoms. Those big buildings full of books are ''archives'', all right? The Royal Archive in Nalhalla even has a sign over the door saying "The Royal Archives (not a library!)".
* InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons: Of course, OurDragonsAreDifferent. For example, the Dragonaut is a dragon shaped flying ship, with six wings, and six legs. Oh, and it's made of glass, of course.
* ItRunsInTheFamily: "A family full of eccentric, weird and sometimes insane relatives..." The Smedrys are especially known for being reckless, which annoys their bodyguards to no end.
-->'''Bastille:''' Sometimes I think you Smedrys try to get yourselves killed just to get me into trouble.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Because Alcatraz does all his narration in first person, there's no fourth wall for him. Sometimes, even within the dialogue, he'll make a reference to how the events of the story would appear if he wrote them as his memoirs.
%%* LemonyNarrator
* LethalJokeCharacter: Literally ''everyone'' with a Smedry Talent. For instance, Grandpa Leavenworth has a Talent for being late, and makes himself virtually invincible by doing things like arriving late to a spot where bullets are going to be, and cousin Australia can be a MasterOfDisguise using her Talent for waking up ugly.
* LukeIAmYourFather: [[spoiler: Alcatraz's emotionally abusive case-worker turns out to be an Evil Librarian cultist. Then it turns out that she's his mother.]]
%%* MagicalLibrary
* {{Magitek}}: Silimatic technology might be considered either this or MagicFromTechnology. Just don't let a Free Kingdomer hear you call it "magic."
* MakingASpectacleOfYourself: Sometimes it seems like the cooler a Lens is, the more ''un''cool it ''looks''.
* TheMasquerade: The Hushlands are controlled by Evil Librarians who use their control of information to teach all sorts of lies about history, economics, geography, physics, etc. The Free Kingdoms are continents that have not yet been conquered by the Evil Librarians, so they don't even appear on Librarian-approved maps. For example, one of the Free Kingdoms is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You didn't really think there was nothing but water and tiny islands in all that space, did you?
* MediumAwareness: Not so much in the first few books, but MediumAwareness starts showing up a lot in the ''Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens''. For example, characters would refer to the "last chapter" or say that a trip took several chapters to complete. Of course, the fourth book is bizarre even by the standards of this series and this could be in large part because of [[UnreliableNarrator Alcatraz's sterling narration]].
* MetaFiction: By the bucketful. For example, Alcatraz constantly comments on his own NarrativeDevices, usually as a way to convince the reader how ''un''heroic he is.
* MilkmanConspiracy: The aforementioned cult of evil librarians that control the world.
* MinovskyPhysics: The various types of glass. And brightsand.
* {{Muggles}}: Hushlanders.
* MuggleFosterParents: Alcatraz went through dozens of sets of MuggleFosterParents. None of them would keep him for long because of his unfortunate tendency to break their most valued possessions.
* MyLittlePanzer: Teddy bears that [[spoiler: double as hand grenades.]]
%%* NoodleIncident
* TheNounWhoVerbed: Alcatraz shrewdly guesses that "She Who Cannot Be Named" must be so fearsome her name is taboo. Turns out people just can't pronounce it.
* OtherStockPhrases: "So, there I was..." is the opening for every book in the series.
* OutOfTheFryingPan:
-->'''Alcatraz:''' It seems that no matter what I did, I ended up in even more danger than I was before. One might even say I was "out of the frying pan and into the fire"... Personally I say "Out of the frying pan and into the the [[PitTrap deadly pit]] filled with [[EverythingsEvenWorseWithSharks sharks]] who are wielding [[ChainsawGood chainsaws]] with [[CatsAreMean killer kittens]] stapled to them." However that one's having a rough time catching on.
* PaintingTheMedium: Alcatraz sometimes uses some unconventional text formatting to communicate things. In book three, he starts adding random punctuation to words, then swapping vowels for the letter q, in order to underline his difficulty in the current situation.
* ParentalAbandonment: Alcatraz grew up thinking he was an orphan, only to eventually find out that [[spoiler: both his parents are WellIntentionedExtremist types: one of them fighting for the Librarians, and the other one pursuing a plan that might inadvertently destroy the world. Also, neither have much in the way of parental skills.]]
* PinkIsForSissies: While he agreed that the dragon shaped flying glass ship was awesome, Alcatraz was not very happy about having to travel in the pink butterfly shaped glass ship, complaining that they could have found something more masculine.
* QuintessentialBritishGentleman: The dinosaurs. [[StiffUpperLip Even when they're captured by evil Librarians and about to be murdered]].
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: The Smedry family, although they gave up their actual royalty long ago.
%%* RuleOfFunny
* ScaryLibrarian: Not all librarians are evil cultists. Some librarians are instead vengeful undead who want to suck your soul.
* SemanticSuperpower: The Smedry family Talents.
* SetSwordsToStun: Actually, swords are some of the few weapons that don't have a stun setting.
* ShoutOut
** "I hadn't forgotten how [[spoiler: my mother]]'d given Himalaya up to be executed, nor how she'd sold me [[spoiler: her own son]] to Blackburn, the one-eyed Oculator. [[Literature/TheWheelOfTime Or how she killed Asmodean"]].
** Quentin's nonsense phrases include [[Literature/MistbornTheOriginalTrilogy "Wasing not of wasing is"]] and [[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail "Churches, lead, very small rocks, and ducks."]]
** [[Literature/ToKillAMockingBird "At this rate, it won’t be long before this story departs speaking of evil Librarians, and instead turns into a terribly boring tale about a lawyer who defends unjustly accused field hands. What do mockingbirds have to do with that, anyway?"]]
** Alcatraz uses Creator/{{Plato}} and the PlatonicCave concept to explain why Hushlanders never realize that they are being kept ignorant. He also uses Plato to proof that somewhere, there must be a perfect slice of cheese cake.
** At one point, a dinosaur says "Honestly, claiming that [[Film/JurassicPark velociraptors were the smartest dinosaurs]]. I knew a velociraptor in college, and he failed chemistry!"
** [[Film/ThePrincessBride "Never get involved in a land war in Asia."]]
** In one chapter, everyone speaks entirely in quotes from ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''.
* SingleUseShield: Bastille wears a jacket made from spun fibers of Defender's Glass. It can take one blow that by rights should kill her, but then it's ruined and she has to get another.
* SpeakOfTheDevil: Subverted with She Who Cannot Be Named. She isn't called that because [[TheScottishTrope it summons her or because her name has become a curse upon the world]], but because [[TheUnpronounceable few people can pronounce her real name]].
* StockYuck: Alcatraz insists that fish sticks are the most disgusting thing in the world. He had to [[{{Neologism}} invent a word]] (crapaflapnasti) to describe something that disgusting. This, of course, means that crapaflapnasti can only be used to describe fish sticks.
* StunGuns: Both the Librarians and the Free Kingdoms have weapons that can put their targets into a coma for an indefinite amount of time. The cure for each is a secret that is not known to the opposing side, meaning, for example, those that are put into a coma by Librarian weapons can only be revived by one of the few Librarians entrusted with the cure. While these weapons do reduce the death rates for warfare between Librarians and the Free Kingdoms, they don't result in complete NonLethalWarfare, as a lot of other weapons, like swords, don't have a non-lethal setting.
* SupernaturallyMarkedGrave: Allekatrase the First exists in a state of perfect stasis, owing to Allekatrase using his [[WalkingWasteland Breaking Talent]] on ''time itself'' there.
* TakeThat: The first book ends with Grandpa Smedry delivering a bit of a rant about how silly it would be [[Literature/HarryPotter to leave Alcatraz for a whole summer at a boring place he hates to live at, with people who aren't his real family and don't know anything about the magical world he's become a part of, and where his enemies know where to find him.]]
* TalkativeLoon: Quentin, one of Alcatraz's cousins, has the power to say utter nonsense. It makes him an excellent spy, since he can arrange to be literally unable to reveal information no matter the torture without actually having to kill himself.
* ThemeNaming: Inverted. The Librarians aren't named after mountains, and their enemies aren't named after prisons. The mountains and prisons are named after the people.
* TheNudifier: Stuff-eater teddy bear grenades are weapons being used against the Librarians. Guess who gets hit with it? [[spoiler: Alcatraz.]]
* ThisIsReality:
-->'''Alcatraz:''' When people try to give you some book with a shiny round award on the cover, be kind and gracious, but tell them you don't read "fantasy," because you prefer stories that are real. Then come back here and continue your research on the cult of evil Librarians who secretly rule the world.
* TranslatorMicrobes: [[spoiler: The Translator's Lens allows the user to translate any written or spoken language - even the Forgotten Language.]]
%%* UnreliableNarrator: IResembleThatRemark!
* UnusualEuphemism:
** Shattering Glass!
** Grandpa Smedry tends to use alliterative exclamations like "Clustering Campbells," and Kaz will use various words likes curses. Even the often uttered "gak!" is occasional used almost like a swear.
* VillainHasAPoint: The librarians are ''usually'' wrong about the dangers of letting silimatic technology be commonly used. However, they are unfortunately right about how [[spoiler: giving everyone in the world Smedry talents, like Alcatraz's dad wants to do,]] would be the worst idea ever. Also, despite what the Free Kingdomers would tell you, there are advantages to organizing information.
* WalkingTechBane: Not just technology but pretty much everything. Alcatraz even broke a chicken once. It's not just him; Smedry Talents in general tend to be particularly effective against Hushlander technology, due to the large number of moving parts.
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