The Inkworld Trilogy is a German YA novel series by Cornelia Funke. It consists of Tintenherz (Inkheart), Tintenblut (literally "Inkblood", but translated as Inkspell for the English version), and Tintentod (Inkdeath).Inkheart: Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and Meggie's bibliophile aunt and tries to force him into service. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called ''Inkheart'' and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story.Inkspell: From the jacket summary: "Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, the book whose characters came to life—and changed her life forever. But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the original tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the magical ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves his apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval Inkscape once more. Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long both are caught inside the book, too. There they meet Inkheart’s author, Fenoglio, now living within his own story. But the tale is much changed, and threatening to evolve in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Meggie, Farid, and Fenoglio try to “write” the wrongs of the charmed world, but their story may be on the brink of a very bad ending."Inkdeath: "Ever since the enchanted book Inkheart drew Meggie and her family into its chapters, life in the Inkworld has been more tragic than magical. Under the rule of the evil Adderhead, the fairy-tale land is in bloody chaos, its characters far beyond the control of Fenoglio, their author. Meggie is struggling with dilemmas of love, her father has become an outlaw, and her mother faces having to raise a child in the dangerous Inkworld. Even Elinor, left behind in the real world, believes her family to be lost—lost between the covers of a book. Dustfinger is dead, the Adderhead is immortal, and Orpheus steadily grows more powerful and dangerous. Facing the threat of eternal winter, Mo makes a dangerous deal with Death itself to bring back Dustfinger from the land of the dead and send the Adderhead there in return. There yet remains a faint hope of changing the cursed story."The Movie came out in late 2008, starring Eliza Bennett as Meggie, Andy Serkis as Capricorn, Paul Bettany as Dustfinger, and Brendan Fraser as Mo.
Tropes found in the Inkworld series include:
Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Roxane. By the time Dustfinger finally returns home, he's been gone a decade, and Roxane has a son (by another man) who is nearly that old, so she can't have waited for him very long.
Adult Fear: The safety of your family. Being left all alone. Someone you love turning into a person you don't know any more. Loved ones keeping dangerous secrets. Being powerless to help the people you care about. While there are various dangerous magical creatures in all of the books, the scariest monsters are always people and the worst atrocities always done by human beings.
All Just a Dream: Discussed. Several characters hope in vain for this at different points in the series.
Back for the Dead: This shows up with a strange twist in Inkdeath. Basta was already dead and removed from the story, but when he was brought back as a monster, we aren't even told that it's him until Dustfinger recognizes him seconds before killing the creature.
Back from the Dead: Dustfinger exchanged his life for Farid's to bring him back from the dead. Later Mo got Dustfinger back from the dead. Cosmo as well, although it's a copy of him. Unfortunately averted with Capricorn.
Bears Are Bad News: Averted with the Black Prince's bear. True, he may be used mostly for intimidation, but he is a bear.
Becoming the Mask: Mo becomes the Bluejay, much to the distress of his wife and daughter.
Betty and Veronica: There are shades of this in book 3 with Doria and Farid, Doria being the nice, reliable one and Farid the fun and exotic but often faithless one.
Big Bad: Capricorn is this in the first book, while the Adderhead fills the role in the second and third books and could be considered the big bad of the entire series since he's the man behind Capricorn.
Black Best Friend: Subverted. The Black Prince is Dustfinger's best friend, and he is black, but he doesn't fit the description of the role of "Black Best Friend" very well. He's much more of an independent character.
Black Knight: While not a knight, the Black Prince is characterized something like this in the robber stories.
Bookburning: This happens to every existing copy of Inkheart save one in the first book.
Capricorn's fireraisers burn all the books in Elinor's library.
Bookworm: Elinor, Mo, Meggie, Resa, Darius, and Violante.
Break the Haughty: Averted. This nearly happened to both Elinor (in Inkheart) and Fenoglio (Inkspell and Inkdeath), but after everything both bounced back to themselves perfectly.
Broken Pedestal: Violante is shattered when it turns out Her mother wasn't really a trapped victim of her father, The Adderhead, but actually fell in love with him and ran away with him. Sucks when your childhood hero and the person you are indirectly trying to avenge was lying to you all along.
Came Back Strong: Dustfinger and Mo, with powers and insight they had not possessed before meeting Death.
Character Development: As the main point-of-view character, Meggie surprisingly doesn't get much, even though it is a kind of coming-of-age story for her.
But Mo gets a whopping dose, especially in the last book. In the first book, he's a goofy and loving dad, if sad underneath, and while he may be physically imposing, he's a thoroughly nerdyNon-Action Guy. He starts to undergo some alarming changes in book 2, and by book 3 he is a complete Badass, and sometimes just an ass. He finally does find a happy medium, though, going back to his old life as much as he can.
Dustfinger gets some—in a way—in Inkheart. While the character himself really doesn't change, the way Meggie (and the audience) perceives him develops over the course of the story. He goes from mysterious and creepy in the beginning, to mysterious and treacherous, to mysterious and sad at the end.
Elinor slowly but surely grows from a book-obsessed loner who dislikes people in general, to valuing people over her precious books, to being unable to live without what she never knew she was missing, relatives who love her.
Fenoglio gets the biggest chunk of his development in book 2, where he is humbled and ultimately devastated by the realization that, just because he wrote the book, doesn't mean he has ultimate power over it. He loses a lot of his arrogance, but he pretty much bounces back by the end of book 3.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Mostly discussed rather than actually used in the story, but some pretty gruesome stuff is described, and the worst part is that most mentioned are taken from actual history.
Crapsack World: The Inkworld as it has evolved from Fenoglio's original book definitely counts.
Creator Breakdown: In-universe, some catastrophic attempts to right wrongs in his story ends with Fenoglio losing all confidence and vowing never to write again. That doesn't last too long. And in real life. Cornelia Funke's husband died of cancer in 2006, which almost certainly accounts for the much darker tone of Inkdeath and its themes of death, loss, and grief.
Creator Career Self Deprecation: It probably wasn't an accident that the author made both of her writer characters (Fenoglio and Orpheus) arrogant jerks who put too much stock in their own importance and ability to change the fictional world around them to suit themselves. Though Fenoglio, at least, was a decent guy with good intentions.
Disappeared Dad: Dustfinger, through no fault of his own, though. He was accidentally magically summoned to our world and stuck there for ten years.
Disney Villain Death: Mortola a.k.a. The Magpie falls to her death in Inkdeath after she is struck by an arrow thrown by Orpheus while trying to fly away in her magpie form.
Distant Finale: The last scene is quite a few years after the previous events.
Does Not Like Shoes: Farid, who grew up in the desert setting of the Arabian Nights working for a band of thieves.
Doorstopper: Inkheart is just over 500 pages long and Inkspell and Inkdeath are almost 700 pages long. The trilogy as a whole is 217 chapters long, so if you read the entire trilogy reading one chapter a day, it would take you more than seven months to finish it.
The Dragon: Basta is Capricorn's dragon in the first book and the Piper is the Adderhead's dragon in the last two books
Driven to Suicide: Discussed in Inkdeath. Elinor is so desperate not to be left alone that she threatens to drown herself in the lake to convince Darius to stay with her.
In Inkdeath, Mortola has been set up as a major villain, having tried to kill Meggie and the Black Prince—and nearly succeeding with the Prince—only to be struck by an arrow from Orpheus almost at random. She then falls to her death.
Drowning Pit: The dungeon of the castle in the lake in Inkdeath.
Dynamic Character: Mo goes from a peace-loving book binder and protective-but-fun single father to an almost unrecognizable Robin Hood-esque warrior/folk hero.
Eldritch Abomination: The Shadow. It's immortal, invulnerable, created out of the ashes of countless sacrificed sentient beings, and it can kill with a mere touch.
Empathy Pet: Gwin, Dustfinger's "tame" marten. Has two tiny horns on its head, but is otherwise a normal animal.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Inverted. Capricorn doesn't love anyone but himself, least of all his mother, and even tries to hide the fact that his "maid" is even related to him. However, she loves him with an almost obsessive devotion that sends her over the edge when he is killed.
Famed in Story: The Bluejay (Mortimer), Firedancer (Dustfinger), The Black Prince, Cosimo the Fair, etc. are all real people Shrouded in Myth thanks largely in part to Fenoglio's writing of heroic ballads after he was sent into his own story.
Fate Worse than Death: As several characters know, being dead is not unpleasant, so by the time of Inkdeath, the definition of "a fate worse than death" is much broader than you might think.
Foreshadowing: There is an unintentional (as Funke wasn't planning on writing any sequels at that point) bit of foreshadowing near the beginning of Inkheart where Mo playfully threatens to cut Dustfinger into "very thin slices" if he continues to tell Meggie scary stories. This becomes something of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment later on when Mo becomes Just Like Robin Hood and starts regularly cutting people to bits for real.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Considering the books are geared at children, it's surprising how many times they say words like "damn", "hell", and "bastard", especially in Inkspell. The reason is probably that the works were translated from German, and Germans have a greater tolerance for these cusswords, even in works for children.
"Hell Yes" Moment: When Mo kills the Piper and when Dustfinger banishes the Night Mare.
Human Notepad: In the film, creatures conjured by the Big Bad have random lines of text covering portions of their body, and Meggie writes the words that kill Capricorn all over her arm.
Icon of Rebellion: The face of the commoners' uprising was the fabricated folk-hero, the Bluejay. He was known by his fairness, thieving, and mask rather than his face, but the songs of the Bluejay stirred public favor for the uprising without a face.
Infant Immortality: Averted. Notably Dustfinger's youngest daughter, who never appears in the story because she died of fever while he was stranded in our world, and the kids who were killed in a riot in Inkdeath.
Also Farid is brutally killed during a battle. He may be more of a subversion, though, because in that setting a boy of his age is thought of as a man anyway, and he doesn't actually stay dead very long.
Lampshaded in the film.
Mo: Meggie, just pretend you're in a book. Children always survive in books.
Intrepid Fictioneer: Meggie, Orpheus, Dustfinger, Farid, Mo and Resa, Darius and Elinor all purposely send themselves into Inkheart at various points and for various reasons in the latter two books.
I Will Wait for You: Mo and Resa wait for each other in separate universes, though Meggie does recall Mo's halfhearted dating attempts. Dustfinger has no interest in anything about the real world, apparently including its women (save Resa, though nothing ever came of their relationship), and he wants nothing more than to get back to his home and family. Roxane, on the other hand, may have wanted to wait for Dustfinger, but the survival of her family depended on having a male protector/provider.
Karma Houdini: Orpheus, at the end of the series, escapes into the northern regions of the Inkworld and presumably escapes any retribution for his actions, although "it's hoped he froze to death". Unless Funke decides to write another book in the series, it's likely that he never receives any punishment... This trope was lampshaded by Fenoglio himself in the first book.
The Load: Elinor tags along and adds some color to the story, but she rarely does anything useful and often gets in the way, slows things down, or outright screws things up. The most useful she is in the story is in Inkdeath when she helps out as a nurse/babysitter and gets Fenoglio out of his slump by irritating and arguing with him and giving him the occasional good idea or kick up the back side he needs to get over himself for a few minutes.
Meaningful Echo: In Inkheart: "I don't know much about killing, and I'm not about to learn for you." In Inkdeath: "I don't know much about killing, but for you I'd learn." Said by Dustfinger. These lines also mirror the change in tone between the first and third books.
Meaningful Rename: Doesn't happen very much in-story, but paying attention to what each character is called in narration can tell the reader a lot about that character. This, of course, applies only to characters with multiple names, and especially to Mortimer, who is the most prone to taking on personas as the Story demands it. He's called Mo through most of the the first book, which is mainly from Meggie's point of view, where his main role is that of a father and protector. Different characters have different names for him, but watch out when even the narrator starts calling him Silvertongue or the Bluejay. Especially in Inkdeath, where what he is called by the narrator mirrors his struggle between being himself and playing a character in the story.
Moral Dissonance: Farid is not just a loyal character, but shy and easily embarrassed. At the start of the third book it is established he is in a teenage relationship with Meggie... from Meggie's point of view. When we cut to the chapters from Farid's perspective, the various and numerous serving girls Farid makes out with (whilst still in this relationship) are mentioned casually by the author in passing without any explanation as to how this shy boy suddenly became such a stud... and never again!
There are several cases of this in the books: We are told that "Capricorn" is a name he gave himself, but we never know what his real name is. The same with Orpheus (who gets it double since Farid only calls him "Cheeseface"). The Magpie's real name is Mortola, but she is very rarely referred to that way in the first book. "The Adderhead" and "the Laughing Prince/Prince of Sighs" are names given to them by their subjects. Also the Barn Owl, Nettle, Firefox, Sootbird, the Piper, Flatnose, Cockerell, Cloud-Dancer, and the Black Prince, as well as all the robbers in Book 3. Finally, even though it's never mentioned that he has another name, Dustfinger could easily be an example of this as well. Since his world is full of regular names like Roxane, Basta, and Minerva, it's probably safe to assume that this is a nickname rather than what his parents named him.
Mortimer is an interesting variation of this. While most people call him by his proper name, Dustfinger, Capricorn, and the other characters from Inkheart refuse to call him anything but "Silvertongue", which he doesn't like. He is also known only by a nickname to his daughter, Meggie, who "had never called her father anything but 'Mo'" and his wife.
Only One Name: Many characters in the Inkworld, justified by it being modeled after medieval Europe where most people had only one name anyway, but there are also characters from our world that only have one name, such as Fenoglio and Darius.
Pity the Kidnapper: Discussed. Fenoglio says that one solution to their problems is to give Elinor to the Adderhead and let her “talk him to distraction” until he just gives up.
Plain Name: In the Inkworld most women and children have regular names, but there are few men who don’t go exclusively by a nickname or title. Possibly justified, though, since they probably have regular names even if they go by something else.
Plot Armor: In-story. Fenoglio tries to reassure Meggie that Doria can’t die because Fenoglio has already written stories about the boy grown up.
Portal Book: Technically, every single written work in existence, given someone with the right voice.
Power Perversion Potential: Come on, they can read the written word aloud and make it happen. Surely, at some point, someone with this power would write some self-insert fanfiction or something and just read it aloud...
Refugee from TV Land: Dustfinger constantly complains about all of the bad aspects of the Real World and wishes for Mo to read him back into Inkheart all through the first book. Turned Up to Eleven in the film, where he doesn't seem to have much of a personality outside wanting to go home.
Rule of Symbolism: After the climax of Inkdeath, it starts snowing. The whiteness is explicitly compared to an unwritten page.
Scary Shiny Glasses: The first time the Adderhead ever feels “fear of another man” is when the fire reflecting off Orpheus’s glasses obscures his eyes for a moment.
Screw Destiny: “It’s not a pleasant feeling to read the words that guide your actions—no one knows that better than I do—but they didn't come true for me either. They have only as much power as you give them.”
See-Thru Specs: Orpheus claims this about his own glasses to intimidate the people of the Inkworld, who have never seen spectacles before.
Shape Shifter: Death, Mortola, Resa, and her unnamed son at the very end.
Ship Sinking: After two novels of setup, the back-and-forth Meggie/Farid Ship hit a reef. In the beginning of Inkdeath: Meggie and Farid seem to be together, until a few chapters before the end... However, Farid and Meggie's relationship was gradually going downhill, with Farid constantly ignoring Meggie for Dustfinger's company, making out with countless other girls, and then expecting her to take him back the minute he happened to want her. Throughout the entire book, Doria was there for her when she needed someone most, so observant readers saw the shipwreck coming from the very beginning.
Ship Tease: Dustfinger and Resa, which is painfully teased throughout the trilogy. Not that anything could come of it since they're both happily married to other people, but their relationship is so extremely close that even Mo, Meggie, Farid, and Roxane at different points of the trilogy have their suspicions about it. It's in fact implied that there was something between Resa and Dustfinger while she was working as Capricorn's maid. However, she still loved her husband.
Shrinking Violet: Darius, though an atypical example as a grown man, is painfully shy and self-conscious, mainly because of his pronounced stutter. He is, of course, a nice and helpful guy, but doesn't ever really do much.
Sliding Scale Of Fate Vs Free Will: Type 2, where “fate” is the story written. The story maps out what each character will do, but the characters can defy it (Inkdeath) if they try or if outside events prevent the story’s regular course from continuing (Inkheart).
Speech Impediment: Darius has a stutter that worsens as he gets nervous or scared, which is nearly all the time when he's a prisoner of Capricorn. This severely affects his reading aloud for Capricorn, resulting in his being punished each time he reads something or someone out of a book. His stuttering while reading is the reason for Cockerel's limp, Resa's muteness, and (supposedly) Flatnose's ugly squashed face (though it's implied that, for once, Darius read Flatnose out perfectly, and his face just always looked like that).
The Starscream: The Adderhead is so hated, and apparently attracts ambitious and ruthless people, that many of the people closest to him are this, most notably Orpheus, as well as his own daughter, Violante, and even 7-year-old Jacopo!
What If the Baby Is Like Me: Resa fears that her unborn baby will be affected by her shapeshifting while pregnant. Turns out she was right.
What the Hell, Dad?: Elinor's father thinks books need more attention than children. He's absent so much that, after he dies, his daughter barely register any difference; it's just as if he's locked himself in the library as usual.
Wild Card: Dustfinger in the first book and Violante in the third
Word Power: The whole point of the second and third book, even more than in the first. Meggie reads herself and Farid into the Inkworld with words written by herself. Later she saves Mo's life by reading and rereading a passage written by Fengolio how a father survives an almost fatal wound and always hears his daughter's voice. Later she sings and recites all the ballads about the Bluejay to protect Mo from being caught or hurt. And Orpheus—having no confidence in his own words—more or less steals Fengolio's words to put them together anew to manipulate the Inkworld as he wishes. And Fengolio writing CosimoBack from the Dead ... let's say, in a world created by an author, words are more dangerous weapons than swords.
Chekhov's Gun: Farid keeps asking Dustfinger to teach him "Dragon's Breath". In the finale, he masters it just in time to help Dustfinger burn down the castle. Meggie's wish to become a writer (and her practise writing stories about her missing mother) stands her in good stead to write The Shadow out of existence.
Consummate Liar: In The Movie nearly everything that comes out of Capricorn's mouth is a lie. Even when he admits he was lying. It gets to the point where he mocks the heroes for being fooled... again.
Hypothetical Casting: In the back, Cornelia Funke mentioned that she always imagined Mo to be a bit like Brendan Fraser, and then the casting went like that for the movie.