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The Brothers Brave is either a Darker and Edgier Sequel or an Adaptation Expansion of The Three Little Kittens Mother Goose rhyme (though the book itself never overtly makes a connection), re-imagined as an epic swashbuckling adventure story. The titular kittens of that story (provided with the surname Cattington) are now mature, outlaws from the kingdom the story takes place in, and are very much a Dysfunctional Family.

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You've got James, who is compassionate and selfless, wants to do good and values honor and humility, and yet suffers torment over the wholesale tossing out of his own personal happiness and goals in life thanks to devoting himself to living with his brothers and looking after them.

Then Oscar, who is about as far from that as you can get. Cynical, stubborn, gets a thrill from fighting and confrontation, and with a strong distaste for authority and his brother constantly ruining his fun. He can feel for others, but you really gotta earn it. His primary redeeming trait is that he truly values family loyalty. But if you're family and you perform a perceived betrayal, then he'll gladly disown you...

Finally, Lewis, who is more relaxed and laid-back. Of the three, he's the most middle-of-the-road, as he has more honor and compassion than Oscar, but not as altruistic and goody-two-shoes as James. Indeed, he looks up to Oscar as a symbol of strength and independence, but respects James' outlook and tries to be a little kinder to him than Oscar ever is.

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The novel focuses on this trio, now infamous thieves in the kingdom (though, infamous really only to the royalty, as the lower-class general populace love them as Robin Hood-style rebels against the corrupt government) as they discover a plot to wage war on the kingdom by an enemy belonging to a thought-dead race, who intends to gather an army of animals all under her hypnotic control. When the cats' own mother, Agatha, becomes one of the latest kidnapped, that's when the Brothers Brave must team up with an enigmatic vixen named Charlotte and not only stop the Big Bad's plan, but save their mother...and finally come to terms with their strained relationship with each other..


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The Brothers Brave contains the following tropes:

  • 0% Approval Rating: The king of the kingdom in which the book takes place in (both left unnamed, oddly) is not popular at all with the lower-class, thanks to being incompetent mixed with arrogant. He also has zero approval from Malona, seeing as he led a war to exterminate her species, and almost did. Malona herself finished that job...
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal
  • Action Girl: Charlotte.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Charlotte's talk to James during a campfire scene, while Oscar and Lewis practice-duel.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The story takes a simple Mother Goose rhyme and mutates it into an epic fantasy adventure story.
  • Adult Fear: Agatha fears for her children taking the wrong path in life. James has similar worries, but from more of an older-brother viewpoint toward his siblings.
  • Aerith and Bob: Inverted, in that most characters' names are fairly modern, normal human names (itself subverting lots of fantasy works' tendency to have their cast made up of bizarre foreign names), but then there's Malona, a nonsense word. Though that's meant to indicate she came from a species with their own naming conventions.
  • Alternate Animal Affection: Hugs, mostly. Though we never see actual romantic physicality with the characters, since there's no romantic subplot of any sort.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Malona certainly has some elements of Hitler in her, but interestingly for the most part she either deconstructs or subverts most of the typical traits.
  • Animal Talk
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A ton of them, since many of the characters end up being called out for various actions.
  • Backstab Backfire:
  • Badass Adorable: Well, the Brothers are all cats. What do you think? Dog people, shut it...
  • Badass Boast: Malona makes many of these, one of the most memorable being:
    Malona: I do not consider you a worthy foe, General Cattington. You may have given the orders that killed hundreds of my kin, but you have never, never faced a serpent like me.
  • Badass Crew: The Brothers Brave, of course.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The story may technically follow it, with the heroes being animals generally considered cute and the enemies being creatures more looked at as gross or scary, but a major point is made that snakes as a species did NOT deserve the treatment given to them, and so Malona is a tragic example of, since she is all that remains, representing her race as psychotic, evil monsters, when really, its just her.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Malona, being as unbalanced as she is, will freak out when confronted with the cold truth of how her actions really are, at the end of the day, evil.
    • James finally loses all control when his sense of compassion and drive to help others is warped by Oscar to make him seem like he would gladly sacrifice his brothers for a higher cause....when James had done the exact opposite when he saved Oscar and Lewis from death years ago. At that point, it was quite understandable for James to attack Oscar.
  • Big Bad: Malona.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Oscar returning to save James and Charlotte. Also, and probably an even more impressive example, James rescuing his brothers from the gallows in the flashback section.
  • Black and White Morality: Deconstructed.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted.
    • Lewis is killed with impalement by a thrown sword. The narrative goes out of its way to describe blood seeping from the wound into the ground.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: There's definitely an element of that in Malona murdering the last of her race, thus making her truly the Last of Her Kind. But again, she's forging for herself a tragic circumstance to justify her desire to subjugate the kingdom. So she's not being flat-out stupid, she's just freaking insane.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Between Oscar and James, after Lewis' death finally (and violently) brings to the surface all of their frustrations with the other. Later, Oscar feels remorse and returns in the climax to help save Jim and Charlotte.
  • Butt-Monkey: In a lot of ways, James is one for Oscar, who clearly dislikes his different methods and mindset, and so constantly is treating him with thinly-veiled condescension or teasing him for his ways.
  • Call to Adventure: James, by his nature, usually jumps at the chance to be a hero and do something noble, whereas Oscar and Lewis need more convincing to do actions based on altruism. But if its simply for the fortune and glory, they'll usually be the ones goading James.
  • Cats Are Mean: Oscar fits the trope, though his siblings strongly avert it. James is kind and compassionate and all around a swell guy, and Lewis is cheerful and laid-back.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The kingdom apparently has an Act making it illegal for 'sentient animals' to be eaten, and so are given equal rights. How exactly this works, and what animals count, aren't really explored (after all, there's no real reason to dwell on it, and there's a story going on).
  • Circling Monologue: Malona gets up to this, once James and Charlotte are her captives. Then again, during the brief break in her fight with James, when she's trying to, um, 'reason' with him. James doesn't have it, of course, and when he throws logic back at her and calls her out for her evil, she totally loses it and begins to fight him with all her raw power.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: It could be read as one for Oscar in a way, since he finally gets over his petty prejudice against James and comes to appreciate his sacrifice. So he, in a way, grew up.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Good Lord, Lewis. Dies from a sword being thrown into his chest–and a sword originally meant for Oscar, too. See Bloodless Carnage averted above.
    • Randall, in the end, gets stabbed in the heart by Agatha...using one of his severed arms still clutching onto a sword.
    • Malona finally dies when James tackles her off the summit of the mountain in his attempt at a Heroic Sacrifice. But the fall doesn't kill her...it's James' sword landing blade-first on her after she's hit the snow, impaling her to death.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the Three Little Kittens nursery rhyme, which this is supposed to be a sequel to? What do you think?
  • Deadpan Snarker: Oscar is the foremost one, though his brothers and Charlotte get some nice moments.
  • Determinator: Malona will stop at nothing to accomplish her plan of vengeance. In fact, she tells James during their duel that their fight is to the death, as there is no way in hell either of them will allow the other to live. She to him, because James is a threat to her plan, and James to her, because James would be a fool to spare someone as dangerous as her. There's only one way this can end...
  • Disappointed in You: James' conscience, of course, chews him out for his plan to abandon his brothers on the execution day.
  • Disney Death: Averted. Lewis aint getting up. But played straight with James, when Oscar finds him in the snow after having fallen off a mountain. Turns out the snow cushioned him enough, but he was still knocked out by the fall.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Malona is tackled off a mountaintop by James in an attempted suicide attack, but we see her body minutes later, impaled by James' sword.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Among many examples, Charlotte definitely tries to act seductive in the bar scene. Even acknowledged a little while later. That, and Oscar telling James “You keep using all your energy trying to keep us in line, instead of using it in the barn.” Barn being an obvious euphemism for bed.
  • The Dragon: Randall. Who seems to do what he does purely for the sadistic pleasure of it, and its speculated that Malona offered him total freedom to wreak havoc once she's in control of the kingdom.
  • Dynamic Entry: James leaps from a hilltop onto a passing carriage in the opening, kicking a badger off the roof as he does so.
  • Elephant Graveyard: The mountain range where Malona resides is actually nicknamed “the Boneyard” for being the place where the snakes were annihilated in the final battle of the Serpent War.
  • Elephant in the Room: Throughout the book, there is significant tension between James and Oscar. A lot of it is due to James feeling hurt over Oscar never showing him gratitude for saving his life years ago, and Oscar is too proud and embarrassed to admit he owes his life to the brother he least likes. A major arc of the story is them finally having to confront each other on this, and learn to accept and forgive the other.
  • Evil Counterpart: Not evil, but Oscar does act as a darker, less moral foil to James.
  • Evil Plan: Malona plots to assemble an army of hypnotized innocent animals and wage war on the kingdom that slaughtered her species nearly to extinction.
  • Evil Is Petty: Malona is so frightening as an enemy because her reasoning and rationale for her actions are based on a sick mixture of entitlement, self-pity, and an overblown caricature of 'justice.' In reality, her actions are horribly petty, and when James tries to alert her to this, she is infuriated by it, which makes one wonder if such comment struck a nerve and she is aware of this fact deep down, but doesn't like to think about it...
  • Evil Will Fail: The heroes all seem to think Malona's plan will not succeed thanks to simple matters of practicality, but they still want to stop her, as at the least, her plot will result in a decent amount of pointless deaths and suffering.
  • Fallen Hero: James is an interesting variation, in that he didn't fall into evil from having once been a hero. He is still very much a noble-minded, heroic cat. But he's fallen from a status position as an honorable member of society, and even had been about to be knighted the day he chose to save his brothers.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Lewis, Randall and Malona all get quite nasty fates.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: In the same vein, the fights can sometimes get quite brutal.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Malona goes out of her way to scare the crap out of her captives by describing their hypnotized existence as her soldiers as being equivalent to an endless waking nightmare, that they will only escape when they die in battle.
  • Foreshadowing: Averted with Lewis' death. Its effective because before it happens, you are given no reason to expect it.
  • Freudian Excuse: Malona acts like her species being driven into hiding and the brink of extinction makes her actions simply poetic justice. The fact she actually ensured her kind's demise herself kinda ruins any sympathetic view of her. That said, its pretty clear Malona was mentally screwed up from the get go, and so there's a possibility that she never got the help she needed with her psychosis, and so it only grew and grew, until it made her a sadistic murderer. In that case, there is partial blame for her family neglecting her mental health.
  • Good Animals, Evil Animals: As previously mentioned, this book takes a hard stance in opposition to stereotyping animals as 'evil'.
  • Humanlike Hand Anatomy: Animals are described having 'paws' or 'hooves' or whatnot, but with the pawed animals, they are able to hold objects, so they must have opposable thumbs.
  • Humiliation Conga: James' whole life ever since going on the run with his siblings basically amounts to one.
  • Hypocrite: Malona acts all pissed over being the last of her kind. When she is directly responsible for being the last, after killing her entire colony of snakes.
  • Heroic BSoD: James goes through a truly epic one with the death of Lewis, which was in a sense partially his own fault. Then Oscar himself, when he nearly kills his last brother.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Charlotte was unofficially adopted by Kristofferson, as his way of trying to atone for his past crimes, especially accidentally killing her parents.
  • Interspecies Friendship: The Brothers befriend Charlotte, a vixen.
  • Irony: The sad fact that Malona became as psycho and vengeance-crazed as she was, and thus the Big Bad, because her species was stereotyped as evil and scheming in the first place.
  • Jerkass: Oscar, thanks to having a deep dislike for rules and excessive altruism. Both of which James represents to him. He gets better, though.
  • Killed Off for RealLewis is deader than dead. As is Malona and Randall. Of the three, only Randall's death lacks any tragic undertone to it. Because he was just such a bastard.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Malona. The moment she debuts in the story, that's about the point when things become quite deadly serious.
  • Large Ham: Malona, again. With a voice described as being like rocks scraped against a sword blade.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Oscar, when he resolves to go back and help his brother.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Malona, being a king cobra, is frighteningly fast in battle.
  • Mood Whiplash: Lewis just successfully took out a robber by himself, and is jokingly chatting with the others....and then he gets impaled by a sword thrown by one of the robber's lackeys whom they missed.
  • Mordor: The Boneyard, a dark, foreboding mountain range, filled with unsettling significance.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted. The stakes aren't shallow, they're nailed in real deep.
  • Odd Name Out: As noted, most names are taken from human names, but Malona is given a fantastical name to both make her more distinctive and drive home that she came from another species with its own unique names.
  • Please Wake UpOscar to James' motionless body after finding him at the bottom of the mountain.
  • Pride: Oscar's biggest flaw, as it keeps him from developing proper caring for others and the humility to accept authority.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Randall, so much. He apparently only works for those who guarantee him total freedom to fulfill the job by however means he wants. You can bet he goes out of his way to hurt, kill and torture innocents.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: The Brothers Brave, a trio of dysfunctional cat brothers...and Charlotte, an enigmatic and amoral vixen.
  • Redemption in the Rain: Not rain but snow, as it starts to lightly come down as Oscar gives his emotional speech to James.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Deconstructed strongly. The Big Bad is a king cobra, yes, but her backstory drives home a moral about ill treatment of certain groups sometimes driving them to the point where they end up becoming their own worst stereotypes.
  • The Resenter: Oscar toward James, for being altruistic to the point of ruining the fun of amorality for Oscar, and for the indignity of owing said brother he never liked much, his life.
  • Right Behind Me: Kristofferson successfully is able to sneak up on the Brothers without being smelt, since he has no scent.
  • Shoo Out the ClownsLewis, who basically amounts to the closest the book comes to a comic relief character, is brutally killed before the third act. And from that point on, things get very, very serious.
  • Shout-Out: The fox overseeing Oscar and Lewis' execution at one point says they deserve a 'short drop and sudden stop.' Which is a term used by James Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
    • That whole execution day rescue is heavily inspired by the ending of that film, when Will Turner saves Jack Sparrow from a similar fate.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Charlotte is the only main female character in the cast of heroes. Balanced a bit by the main villain being female too.
  • They Died Because of You: Oscar, very cruelly blaming James for Lewis' death.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Malona's whole stance concerning the kingdom's wiping out of snake-kind.
    • And Oscar telling James he'll never forgive him for Lewis' dying thanks to James' insistence on getting involved in the carriage attack.
  • Troperiffic
  • Worthy Opponent: Malona invokes the trope purely to mock it, when she says that she doesn't consider Agatha a worthy foe as part of her Badass Boast above.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Malona is motivated by vengeance for her race as her big achievement in life before she herself dies and snakes become extinct. But she made herself the last, and it's strongly suggested that its precisely so that her quest for vengeance would have more of a tragic spin to it. She's deliberately invoking the trope!
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