Literature / The Katurran Odyssey

A very beautiful, underrated, and highly recommended illustrated novel by Terryl Whitlatch, who is best known as one of the key concept artists who worked on Star Wars. She designed many of the incidental characters. The book may be her way of saying, "No, I Did Not Make That Up" by depicting the very real creatures who inspired her.

The story is set in a world populated entirely by Intellectual Animals. Katook is a young Ring-Tailed Lemur who ventures to a forbidden area of his once-idyllic island home that is now in the grip of a famine. Learning a dark and terrible secret, and forever singled out by the deity of his people, he is banished by the tribal elders and ventures across the sea in search of other lemurs. Instead, he finds a wide variety of monkey tribes, each with differing opinions of Katook's destiny. He finds fierce, frightening creatures. And he finds Quigga, a conceited Quagga who gradually accepts the little primate first as a traveling companion and finally as an equal. Katook eventually receives a message from his god, returns to save his tribe, and good times are had by all.

The artwork in the novel is unbelievable. The story... is a perfect storm of The Hero's Journey Tropes and Animal Tropes. It's still cool to look at. See also a cinematic script.

Tropes used include:

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! - I mean, damn those illustrations are amazing...
  • Bamboo Technology - Mostly. There's a bit of Schizo Tech too in the form of a projector that is a fairly important plot point and in offhand mentions of metalwork and such.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" - Several animals are given ficticious names. Some are land-before-time-esque, like "Bone Crushers" (Andrewsarchus), and others are creative neologisms based on the species' scientific name or non-anglophone renditions (like the various monkey species).
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit" - For some bizarre reason the elephant birds are called "moas", even though the artist herself went as far as distinguishing them from moa depictions by giving them wings and cassowary-like faces.
  • Carnivore Confusion - And talk about confusing...
  • Corrupt Church: What kicks the main plot: the lemur religion is pretty much a catholic church-esque farce dipped in malagasy trappings.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus - The Fossah is a stand-in for God (Word of God even claims inspiration from Aslan), and Katook is ultimately chosen by it and redeems his people's church.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance - Katook meets five other tribes of monkeys, each with their own philosophy and ways of life. Considering that lemurs are just about the only primates that could be considered pacifists, much culture-clashing ensues.
  • Doing In the Wizard - Actually forms part of the denoument.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys - Writ large.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: It's basically The Last Airbender of furry settings.
    • The lemurs in the island of Bohibbah bear some resemblance to native Malagasy peoples.
    • The thriving city of Acco is clearly based on Turkish merchant culture and architecture.
    • The Kolloboo are architecturally inspired by East African kingdoms like Zimbabwe, though culturally they're basically Athens. Of all the civilizations shown, they are the only ones with obviously European influences, having books, renaissance-style paintings and even medieval illustrations.
    • The Patah are based off nomadic Saharan peoples like the Amazigh, with plenty of Persian trappings.
    • The Boskiis are based on native Indonesian and Malaysian peoples, with a few Papuan influences.
    • The Dourahn are aesthetically based off the Khmer Empire, with a few Tibetan Buddhist trappings (ironically, given that they're a materialistic, religion-rejecting The Empire).
  • Fantasy World Map - Actually has one on the endpaper.
  • Furry Confusion - A very bizarre example, actually. What determines an animal's sapience in this universe isn't very clear; for instance, birds are randomly either citizens (the merchant city), beasts of burdern (the "moas"), or wild predators (the frigate birds, the "phorcus"). Just about the only animals consistently sapient are the primates, while everything else is determined by what the plot needs.
    • Od Ashud actually has this as a cultural trait. If you are any species other than a Golden Monkey, you're treated as a pet. Or worse.
  • Giant Flyer - Of the few birds who ascend beyond the ranks of background characters, most are fierce flying predators.
  • Horse of a Different Color - Quigga, being an extinct species of zebra, plays this trope straight in the most literal manner. Also there are antelopes, mastodons, glyptodonts, ad infinitum.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Misplaced Wildlife - There are animals from every continent and geological era mixing it up in the world of Katurrah... which is fictional, so this is actually justified.
  • Most Writers Are Human - Or, rather, Most Writers Are Primates.
  • Shown Their Work - Aside from the legendary army of fantastic monsters, there is only one fictional animal in the whole of the booknote . You'll just have to take her word for it. That said, some prehistoric animal depictions are a bit outdated.
  • Small Name, Big Ego - Quigga is not only quite vain, but fancies himself an exemplary scout despite having no sense of direction.
  • Spirit World
  • "Uh-Oh" Eyes - The book subverts the Supernatural Gold Eyes variety, as gold is a perfectly normal eye color for lemurs. It's Katook's blue eyes that make him a freak.
  • You Can't Go Home Again
  • Walking the Earth
  • Where It All Began
  • The World Tree

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