A series of modern fantasy books written by DJ MacHale. Each book is divided into two viewpoints. The journal segments, detailing the adventures of Bobby Pendragon, the main character, who is whisked away from his Ordinary High-School Student life by his Uncle Press, via a magical gate called a flume hidden in the subway systems of New York City. The other part follows Bobby's best friends, Mark and Courtney, who get into a bit of trouble themselves, despite lacking the ability to travel to alternate worlds. (The only book that doesn't use this formula is The Soldiers of Halla, which consists entirely of one journal written by Bobby.) Each world is called a territory, and every territory has a Traveler, filling various roles. Every territory is reaching a turning point, which will radically alter the fate of that world. The Travelers exist to make sure that the turning points, and the destiny of the territories, go the way they naturally would, without outside interference. Obviously, if this was all there was to it, it'd be pretty uneventful. Enter Saint Dane, a sadistic Magnificent Bastard who wants to push the territories towards chaos, destroying the barriers between them, so he can reshape Halla (everything that has, does, or ever will exist) in his image. The series consists of 10 books, with the final book released May 12, 2009.The series' books include:
In addition to the main series, there is also a trio of prequels, Pendragon: Before the War, showing what happened to the nine other Travelers besides Bobby before their journey began; a Guide to the Territories of Halla Volume 1, with no Volume 2 in sight; and a graphic novel version of The Merchant of Death. And the obsessive reference-spotters will note that MacHale's movie Tower of Terror along with his Morpheus Road series take place in the same continuity.And so we go.
An Aesop: More than a couple books have morals, with lessons such as "nuclear weapons are bad!" (The Merchant of Death) and "racism is bad!" (Black Water). This is all well and good, but it leads to Anvilicious messages like "Capitalism is bad!" (The Quillan Games) and (Raven Rise) in different ways.
A Nazi by Any Other Name: Ravinia. Separating one group of people from others? Check. Claiming that one group is superior and only them deserve rights? Check. Putting the "inferior" people into concentration camps and try to kill them all? Check. The Earth one is a variation because people are separated by "ability" rather than race/ethnicity. In other worlds like Zadaa and Eelong, this is completely played straight.
Always Chaotic Evil: Quigs, a deadly species that take the form of that world's wild animal. Earth has dogs, Denduron has bears, Cloral has sharks, Eelong has gars (wild humans. Not to be confused with the concept of "Gar"), etc.
Anyone Can Die: Especially in the later books. One way or the other, it doesn't quite stick for many of them.
After the End: Ibara. Majority of Veelox's people go to "live" in Lifelight and they eventually die to no one keeping the life support systems going. (Such as producing the food that is given to their bodies to stay alive) The End? Not Quite. Aja Killian manages to create a Hope Spot by somehow gathering a small amount of people now outside of Lifelight and ends up giving the territory a second chance.
Apocalyptic Log: Bobby's journals could count as this, as several times through the series he thinks Halla (the entirety of existence) might end and it is all written in his journals.
Back from the Dead: Loor, in an event that baffles Bobby still. Also, every traveler that died over the course of the series comes back in the last chapter of Raven Rise. The ones that were trapped on another territory show up too.
The series itself ends on this note. Saint Dane is defeated, the Ravinians are allowed to truly control their own destiny and live beyond the walls of the Conclaves, but nobody who was displaced by Naymeer is able to return home. There's a time reset where the Travelers and Acolytes get sent back to live the lives they would have had if they hadn't been yanked to save the world. Minus their memories of their time as Travelers and each other until Press brings back their journals in the very end.
Black and White Morality: We find out in The Soldiers of Halla that Solara, the birth place of the Travelers, was originally a place of balance before Saint Dane started monkeying around with things. Due to the existence of Ravinia, Solara has been split into two separate planes of existence. One represents the positive aspects of mankind and is fueled by the hopes of the Exiles. The other, darker, Solara covers the negative aspects and is being empowered by the evil intents of those who joined Ravinia.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Black Water's "Gar" (humans) and "Klee" (giant cats). Klee is a proper noun with no English translation. Gar probably means something weird without a good English equivalent, perhaps a mix of "human" and "slave." Many Earth languages don't line up. See Tsundere, a Japanese colloquialism with no good partner in the English language. Rather than translate it, we simply adopt it verbatim.
Catch Phrase: Spader's "Hobey ho." And in later books, Bobby starts saying: "And so we go."
Cat Folk: The Klees of Eelong are giant, intelligent, bipedal cats.
Changed My Jumper: Averted through help from the Acolytes. Aditionally, Press tells Bobby that one must "use what the territory provides".
Doorstopper: The final book is almost 600 pages long. It's not too long compared to the two that proceed it, (both of which hover around 550 pages), but it's way longer than the first few books, which were around 400.
Downer Ending: The Reality Bug and The Quillan Games. Arguably Raven Rise as well, though mitigated by the return of the Travelers at the end.
Earth All Along: A variation for another planet. Ibara is actually Veelox three hundred years down the line.
Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Ten Territories, and three of them are Earth. Even more, Bobby Pendragon, from the modern-day world of Second Earth, is the lead Traveler. Clearly, Earth is special.
In Raven Rise, Bobby himself says that everything's been leading to the events on Second Earth. Also, Second Earth is where everything is lost spectacularly at the end of the book.
In The Soldiers of Halla, it is explained that in reality Halla should be considered seven worlds, not ten territories. Saint Dane simply targeted Earth and Veelox at multiple turning points, thus dividing it up. The trope is still played straight due to the final battle happening in Third Earth.
Eternal Sexual Freedom: Averted. Bobby and Courtney pretend to be siblings in 1937 because otherwise it would raise eyebrows for them to be staying together at the Manhattan Tower Hotel.
Finger in the Mail: In Black Water, St. Dane leaves Bobby a bag containing Gunny's severed hand.
Flat Earth Atheist: Kasha initially refuses to believe there are other worlds, or that the gars (humans) can be intelligent, even after meeting Bobby.
The Force: Saint Dane's, as well as all the Traveler's powers are derived from Solara. The Travelers get it from the positive energy within Solara, Saint Dane gets his from the negativity of humanity. However, both sides must use this power sparingly because it literally depletes Solara.
For Want of a Nail: In The Never War, Bobby and Gunny go to Third Earth (Earth in the early 51st Century AD) to find out what would happen if they saved the Hindenburg. Turns out, if said Zeppelin was saved, London, DC, and New York would've been nuked by the Luftwaffe just before D Day, and things would've gone down mountain from there.
The Future: Third Earth. Our world, around the year 5010 AD.
Future Imperfect: Third Earth inverts this. As one character put it, they "know everything about everyone and everything they ever did."
The Future Will Be Better: The original version of Third Earth is a very sunny view of a few thousand years from now. It's an idealistic paradise where the humans are entirely happy, all of knowledge and history is easily available, and there's no environmental problems. It becomes much worse once the timeline is changed.
Genre Blindness: The books (at least the earlier ones) try to push the idea that Bobby's just an ordinary kid who also happens to be in charge of saving the worlds, but this, along with his outdated slang, hinder it.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Saint Dane is destroyed when people no longer wish to follow him and decide to control their own futures.
Gone Horribly Right: In book 6, Bobby and Loor try to destroy the machine that the Rokador use to control the rivers. They succeed, but it turns out that they not only didn't save the Batu, they also doomed the Rokador.
Grey And White Morality: Subverted. In the books right before book 10, it seems like Saint Dane makes some legitimate points, and he just has some flawed logic. In book 10, it's completely thrown out the window; the flawed logic was just a justification, and he's actually pure evil.
Healing Factor: Travelers recover quickly from injuries They can also heal each other from certain death.
Hope Spot: Scarily enough, Saint Dane encourages these moments of apparent victory, just so it will hurt more when he sweeps the rug out from under them. Made even more sadistic when we find out Saint Dane's true motives. By defeating you when you're at the cusp of victory, Saint Dane more easily drives in the notion that your situation is hopeless, destroying your will to take destiny into your own hands. By doing this, he effectively takes away your free will, which in turn makes him even more powerful as he feeds on your subsequent hopelessness and despair.
Last Name Basis: Except for people who knew him on Second Earth (read: Mark, Courtney, and Press), everyone calls Bobby by his last name. Eventually he just goes with it and introduces himself only as 'Pendragon'. Spader and Siry's father also receive this treatment.
Another example in the last book: in previous books, characters had gone out of their way to acknowledge that they were traveling between territories, not planets. Then, in Soldiers of Halla, this view is revised so that it's clear to everyone that there are seven planets, and that the territories don't matter.
Mecha-Mooks: The dados serve this purpose well: an army that can be killed in vast numbers, but is not technically human.
Mega Corp.: Blok on Quillan. They are a monopoly in the most extreme of extremes, since they pretty much own and produce everything on Quillan, including art.
Merged Reality: What the Turning Points are all about. Bobby wants each Territory to go forth on its own, but Saint Dane also wants to make (what in his opinion is) a better world through something called The Convergence.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bobby, frequently. The first screw up was the turning point for Denduron. Tak while discovered by the rebels, had not been able to be used in huge amounts besides pea-sized amounts for their slingshots. However, due to Bobby bringing his flashlight with him from second earth, had made the rebels find a way to harness more Tak to create a Bomb.
No Paper Future: Third Earth prominently features voice-controlled supercomputers with holographic displays. The one real book on display in the New York Library is a copy of Green Eggs and Ham, to serve as a reminder.
Non-Action Guy: Patrick doesn't do much of anything, though that's justified considering that his territory is a legitimate utopia. Then Raven Rise happens.
Not Quite Dead: Loque, who appeared to die in The Pilgrims of Rayne, comes back in Raven Rise.
Also from Raven Rise: Patrick assumed that Richard died in the fire on Third Earth, but he turned out to be fine.
Not So Different: This happens a lot. Makes even more sense when you learn about Solara.
Obstructive Code of Conduct: The Travelers are not to bring anything from one territory to another except their own bodies. Saint Dane holds to no such rule, and often manipulates the other Travelers into breaking it.
Parental Abandonment: If your family is still around when you become a Traveler, they won't be for long.
Plank Gag: When Bobby completes his Training from Hell with Loor and Alder and is awarded a real fighting stave, he launches into a long series of these. He'd nearly whack one of them with the stave end as he turns to the other to apologize for nearly whacking them, and then spins around to apologize for that...
Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted. Saint Dane gleefully pushes forth the march of technology by playing mix-and-match with time and Territories in order to break down the walls between the territories.
Refusal of the Call: Bobby didn't want to be a Traveler. Elli Winter was supposed to be the Traveler from Quillan, but she turned down the position because she felt she wasn't ready.
La Résistance: The Milago people in The Merchant of Death, the revivers in The Quillan Games. The Yanks in The Soldiers of Halla.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: All Travelers have it, as does anyone who is on another territory at the time, which is good when things start changing severely in the latter half of the series.
Rousseau Was Right: Solara, the spirit of mankind formed by the existence of sentience, is usually good in nature. In order for Saint Dane's Evil Plan to fully work, he needs to change the nature of humanity itself.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Out of the infinite number of habitable planets in the universe, technological civilizations arose on only seven. Six of these civilizations are exclusively human. It is possible, given the nature of Halla, that the people who created the universe did this intentionally, but the topic is unaddressed and no one takes note of it.
Ship Sinking: More like Ship Bait and Switch. Bobby/Courtney appears sunk in book 6... and then out of nowhere they end up getting to marry and grow old together in the epilogue. The clock was rewound all the way back to before each of them became Travelers, so they could life out the lives they would have otherwise had, after what Bobby says to Uncle Press just before the epilogue. So Bobby and Courtney wouldn't have had to deal with the "I'm too busy saving the world and I like Loor" deal, and gotten together.
Step into the Blinding Fight: The Blind Master Training occurs in a book of the series. Bobby is blindfolded and asked to feel his trainers' presences.
Sudden Downer Ending: The Reality Bug was one of the lighter books in the series. Bobby's adventures were almost cartoonish, and it seemed like it would follow the formula that the first three books set up. Then, in the very end, Saint Dane gets his first victory.
Time Police: The Travelers are a variation. They are there to make sure that Saint Dane can't meddle with events on various worlds, some of which are accessible in multiple time periods.
Time Travel Tense Trouble: The Narnia Time in effect between the territories occasionally causes this sort of trouble. Usually involving rookie Travelers (We're looking at you, Spader and Siry).
Timey-Wimey Ball: A lot of the time travel doesn't really make sense. It's apparently just fine to go back to the 1930s and change things when Saint Dane had also done so, but after they defeat Saint Dane and humanity on Third Earth is still After the End? They can't go back and fix anything.
Title Drop: This applies to all of them except The Never War and Raven Rise.
Took a Level in Badass: Bobby does this in book 6. Also, Alder by the time book 8 rolls around and Mark, Courtney, Patrick, and Elli in book 10.
Totally Radical: The worst parts of the books is Mac Hale's desperate attempts to identify with his target audience. Bobby's journal is filled with outdated slang and references to products like 'nintendo'. "major league rash action' is a typical example.
This is completely justified, at least toward the end of the series. Bobby's use of outdated slang is due to his being away from Second Earth for so long.
Un-Person: What happens to Bobby and possibly the other Travelers when they begin their journeys. In Bobby's case, his records are stricken from any school or government database, his phone number (complete with graffiti) is stricken from the phone book, heck, even Bobby's house is erased from existence, leaving an empty lot where the house once stood. The only records still around are people's memories of the Traveler and their journals.
The Unreveal: In both The Quillan Games and The Pilgrims of Rayne, it appears that Saint Dane is going to explain the true nature of the Travelers, but instead, he gives us something nonsensical and annoying.
Villainous Crossdresser: Saint Dane takes on a female form once or twice. Subverted in Raven Rise, when Bobby thinks that Saint Dane is in the form of the village chief's daughter, who has been trying to seduce him, only to find the shapeshifter to be Saint Dane's female apprentice, Nevva Winter.
Wham Line: Bobby asks what they call the entirety of the planet he's on, since it's not Ibara. The answer? "Veelox."
What Year Is This?: Near the beginning of The Quillan Games, Bobby starts asking people on Quillan a lot of questions about the games and Blok and such, which makes them regard him as a crazy person and flee his presence.