Literature: Spirit Animals
is a children's series written by a variety of authors. The first book is Wild Born
, by Brandon Mull. The second is titled Hunted
, by Maggie Stiefvater. The third book is Blood Ties
, by Garth Nix
and Sean Williams
In the world of Erdas, every human has the chance to drink the magical Nectar of Ninani and summon a spirit animal, a magic Bond Creature
that not only provides a companion for life, but grants a wide variety of powers. When four young children accidentally summon four of the godlike Great Beasts, they are thrust into an epic war that threatens to annihilate the world.
Spirit Animals provides examples of the following tropes:
- A Boy and His X: A boy and his wolf, a girl and her panda, a boy and his falcon, a girl and her leopard.
- Action Girl: Meilin has been extensively trained in her world's version of karate. Ironically, her sprit animal is the extremely pacifist panda Jhi.
- Action Pet: Most spirit animals, especially since Greencloaks are at least a semi-military organization.
- Actual Pacifist: Jhi the panda. The one time we see her in an actual fight, she basically hypnotizes her opponent and causes it to fall asleep.
- Meilin works around this by simply dropping Jhi on opponents.
- All Animals Are Domesticated: All spirit animals are, anyway. Even ones like crocodiles, wolverines, and leopards. Justified Trope, since spirit animals are not exactly normal.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The Earl of Trunswick. He has a despotic reign over the town, abuses his son and encourages him to blame others for his pain, and threatens to have a eleven-year-old's mother raped and his family killed if he doesn't give him what he wants. He's also actively helping the Satanic Archetype of the story.
- Big, Badass Bird of Prey: Essix the Falcon, one of the Four Fallen and patron of the realm of Amara. In addition to adequate fighting skills, has extraordinary powers of perception.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Lord MacDonell and his rules. He'll force his harpist to smash her beloved harp just because she was higher than him in a banquet, and then commend Rollan for standing up for her and invite him to the knights' table.
- Bond Creatures: The spirit animals themselves, naturally.
- Canis Major: Briggan, one of the Four Fallen and patron of the realm of Eura. Bigger than any other wolf, and from what we've seen so far, an excellent fighter.
- Child Soldiers: Lampshaded and justified. The four heroes are only eleven, and under normal circumstances the Greencloaks would never send them into a fight that young, but the Devourer is moving right now and they are the only ones who can stop him.
- Also a specific example in which the three adults present all think Meilin is off her head when she offers to champion the party in a ritual duel. What they don't know is that Meilin has been receiving kung-fu training since she was five from some of the best martial artists in the world.
- Disabled Deity: The Four Fallen were killed centuries ago saving humanity (that's how they got their name). While they have returned from the dead, they are still missing a lot of their old power.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Conor gets these after bonding with Briggan. Divination seems to have been a part of Briggan's portfolio before he died.
- Evil Counterpart: The Devourer makes his own band of four in Book 2 to replace the Four loyal to the Greencloaks.
- Fire-Forged Friends: After a massive battle at the end of Book 3, the four finally reconcile their differences.
- Four Token Band: Justified example in that each of the Four is patron of a different continent/ethnicity and naturally appeared to a member of their chosen race. Zhongese appear to be Asian, Nilosians are African, Eurans are Caucasian, and Amararans are Native American (though their culture is more like modern America with medieval technology).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Earl Trunswick heavily implies that he'll have Conor's mother raped if he doesn't comply.
- There's a Great Beast named Suka, and she lives in counterpart Russia. Suka is Russian for "bitch", and a pretty big insult in The Mafiya.
- Improvised Weapon: The kids are taught to use them in Book 2, which comes in handy later.
- Kung-Fu Kid: Meilin. Her father is a general and wanted to be sure she could defend herself. She took to it like a duck to water.
- Living Lie Detector: One of the more prominent gifts Rollan gains from bonding with Essix. A subset of a more general sensory enhancement, augmented by the fact that Rollan was already pretty good at reading people.
- Make the Dog Testify: In one scene, Essix votes for allowing Meilin to be the party's champion in a ritual duel. This immediately resolves the issue, as Essix is not only a Great Beast but one specifically known for her powers of perception.
- The Medic: Jhi's powers as a Great Beast appearently revolved around healing. She closes a nasty scalp wound in one scene. She didn't heal Barlow after he lost his spirit animal and been run through with a sword, though it's unclear whether this was because her powers haven't fully returned after she died a few centuries ago, or because nothing could heal a wound that bad, or simply because Barlow was ready to die.
- Men of Sherwood: Greencloaks form a pretty good example of this. Unaffiliated with any one nation, their primary function seems to be to police and counter rogue Marked.
- My New Gift Is Lame: MacDonnell rejected his bond animal because it was just a hare, and as a result the hare ran off. He came to regret it deeply.Rumfuss the Boar helps them reconcile later.
- Nice Guy: Rumfuss the Boar is the nicest Great Beast yet, not counting Jhi. You'd think he'd be resentful to Lord MacDonell for imprisoning him, but instead he goes right to the root of the problem (MacDonell is missing his spirit animal and thus a part of himself) and takes care of it.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Not only are the Great Beasts extraordinarily tough (to the point where a several-hundred-foot drop only temporarily stops them), even if you somehow managed to kill one it would reincarnate in a few centuries. On the other hand, reincarnating does at least temporarily strip them of the bulk of their powers.
- Noble Wolf: Briggan, being strong, wise, a leader and the biggest wolf in the world.
- Olympus Mons: The Four Fallen were once Physical Gods, and now they are bonded to four human children.
- Opposites Attract: Meilin and Jhi complement each other very well, with Meilin motivating Jhi a bit more in fights and Jhi helping Meilin think.
- Pals with Jesus: The four human companions of the Fallen.
- Panda-ing to the Audience: Jhi, one of the Four Fallen and patron of the realm of Zhong. No combat capabilities seen so far, but remarkably fuzzy and capable of healing wounds by licking them.
- Panthera Awesome: Uraza the Leopard, one of the Four Fallen and patron of the realm of Nilo. Supremely stealthy and an excellent ambusher.
- Physical God: The fifteen Great Beasts. In addition to super-human physical abilities and virtual indestructibility, they have more bizzare supernatural gifts, such as Arax's power to summon gales and windstorms, or Jhi's healing abilities.
- Playful Otter: Lumeo is, according to his companion Tarik "more clown than beast." Doesn't stop the two of them from being two of the Greencloak's foremost operatives.
- Psycho Serum: The Bile. Able to force a human-animal bonding, but with some undesirable side effects, such as allowing the Serpent to possess you.
- It can also be given to an animal directly, which causes the animal to become an enhanced, Ax-Crazy version of itself, but eventually kills it.
- Power Tattoo: All spirit animals can choose to enter a "passive state" in which they become a tattoo somewhere on their companion's skin. While convenient for transport, entering this state means that the spirit animal does not grant any powers to its human.
- Rags to Royalty: Three out of the four heroes have some variant of this. Conor was the shepherd's son who was trapped serving the local noble's Jerkass son in order to pay off his family's debts, Rollan was a criminal street urchin, and Abeke was the Unfavorite in her tiny village. Now they have bonded members of the Four Fallen, and are some of the most important people in the world.
- Reality Ensues: It turns out that, for all her martial arts skills and being bonded to a god, Meilin is still a child, and at the end of Hunted she leaves the group to go back to Zhong and find her father. Might also apply to Conor handing over the artifact in the same chapter, since you can't expect a kid to let his family starve.
- Royal Brat: Devin Trunswick, so much. He gets much worse in Book 2, when the Devourer makes him into a false hero.
- Sadistic Choice: Conor is confronted with one of these in Book 2: hand over an artifact he and his allies spent the whole book trying to get and need to save the world from the Devourer or allow his family to starve. He hands over the artifact.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: After the Devourer was defeated, the two Great Beasts that chose to aid him (the Ape and the Serpent) were locked away in some kind of magical prison by the rest of the Fifteen. Though this was the only way to contain the immortal Beasts, it has not made them any happier with the rest of the world.
- Seers: Both sides have one, which grant useful intelligence. Connor is also developing into one, as divination was a part of Briggan's portfolio.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Meilin. Beautiful young lady who can spend hours getting her makeup just so and looks like a porcelain doll, but she's been learning karate since she was five and is a master at it.
- Soul Jar: According to Dinesh, a Great Beast's artifact is a part of itself.
- Super Senses: Rollan gets these by bonding Essix.
- Super Serum: The Nectar of Ninani. While the bonding process can still take place without it, unaided bonding is extremely risky, with a high chance of potential Marked going crazy, dying, or being crippled for life.
- Super Speed: One of the common powers granted by spirit animals.
- Super Strength: Another common power granter by the spirit animals.
- The One Guy: Of the Four Fallen, Briggan is the only male.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: Played with. It takes a while for Rollan and Meilin to warm up to Abeke, even though it's not her fault she was on the other side. Conor, on the other hand, is more welcoming.
- What the Hell, Townspeople?: Subverted. The townspeople are only universally on the Earl's side because everyone who opposed him is jailed, and the rest are too scared to fight him.
- What You Are in the Dark: Rollan is given a choice: steal an artifact they need and rob Dinesh of his Soul Jar, or leave it alone and hope they survive long enough to ask Dinesh properly. He leaves it. This convinces Dinesh to go to their side, and Dinesh gives it to them later.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Blood Ties is not kind to Meilin. She finds her father, then has to immediately leave him as Conquerors overrun the camp. The next time she sees him, he dies.