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Literature / Memories of the Eagle and the Jaguar

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The Memories of the Eagle and the Jaguar is a Young Adult fantasy/adventure trilogy by Chilean writer Isabel Allende. It is composed of the books City of Beasts (2002), Kingdom of the Golden Dragon (2004) and the Forest of the Pygmies (2005).

The trilogy narrates the adventures of American teenager Alexander Cold and his Brazilian friend Nadia Santos. They travel around the world with Alexander's hippie grandmother Kate, a journalist for the fictitious International Geographic magazine, and face multiple perils while discovering both the beauty of nature and mankind's greed.


The entire trilogy provides examples of:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Relatively. Alexander has three years over Nadia, which isn't much by itself, but means more given that they met as children.
  • The Alcoholic: Kate, though she insistently claims it to be therapeutic.
  • Bland-Name Product: The magazine Kate works for is named International Geographic. Now that's subtle.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: Nadia, due to being a Brasileira.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Borobá, Nadia's monkey.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kate and his antropologist frenemy Ludovic Leblanc.
  • Those Two Guys: Joel González and Timothy Bruce, Kate's usual photographers.
  • Tsundere: Kate is a type A. Bonus points because she was a redhead back when she was younger.
  • Women Are Wiser: Present through all the books, with several grades of subtlely or lack thereof. Most female characters, like Nadia and Kate, are of the sensitive type in contrast to the impulsive and Alexander; most of the primitive tribes visited in the story have female chieftainesses who are described as good and wise (Iyomi, Grr-ympr, Nana-Asante), and whenever they have a male leader instead, he's either evil or a brute; also, out of the trilogy's three Big Bads, the most sympathetic one is the only female. The last book underlines it even more, with the group at one point fantasizing with humanity being a matriarchy like certain species of monkeys, and Nana-Asante openly stating women are inherently more moral than men.

The first book provides the examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Played straight at the end, where the kids have to save the day given that even the secret agent tasked with doing so, Karakawe, was Too Dumb to Live.
  • Big Bad: Mauro Carías, an Obviously Evil rich man interested in massacring natives to exploit the jungle.
  • Earthy Bare Foot Character: Nadia wears native sandals through the journey, boasting of being adapted to the Brazilian jungle, and Alexander is forced to adopt it as well after being biten by leeches inside his boots. They both later lose them and are forced to follow into the jungle barefoot, to Alexander's chagrin, which clearly symbolizes their travel to the deepest of nature.
  • Psychic Powers: The mist people have the power of invisibility, among others.


The second book provides the examples of:

  • Advanced Ancient Humans: Or yetis in this case. They apparently used to be almost as advanced as we are today, but destroyed their civilization through wars and conflicts.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: In the story, characters grab barrels of rifles implied to be AK-47 right after firing. In real life, they would get their hands burned.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Among Tensing's ancestral weapons there are nunchakus and shuriken, which are Okinawan and Japanese respectively, not Chinese or Tibetan. It might be justified by the statemente that tao-shu practitioners researched martial arts through many Asian countries, but the fact that Allende describes those weapons crudely and doesn't give their names implies she simply doesn't know a lot about the topic and cannot tell their procedence.
  • Big Bad: The Specialist, also known as Judit Kinski. The Collector also acts as a Bigger Bad.
  • Black Comedy Burst: Alexander accidentally fires an arrow towards a dignatary, which looks dead until he reveals the arrow only hit his hat.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Armadillo. For a mercenary, his costume is so ridiculous and flimsy that two teenagers can see through it, but he's a true badass with a lot of guts and skill. Later subverted when he betrays the Specialist.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Armadillo has those. The narration repeatedly compares them to the eyes of a hypnotized person of even a corpse.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted, albeit still as a Pet the Dog. The Collector desires to get rid of his elderly mother, but he prefers to pay a heck of a travel life for her instead of throwing her to an asylum.
  • Evil Is Petty: The Collector is described as such. For starters, he resents being the world's second richest man and wants to dominate the world just in order to be the first.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Tao-shu, which is described as basically the ancient kung fu equivalent of Mixed Martial Arts mixed with Pressure Point abilities.
  • Honey Trap: By Judith Kinski, also known as the Specialist, although in this case it affects her as well.
  • Hypocrite: The king considers the West to be materialistic and decadent, yet he keeps a lot of spectacular riches around, is attracted to a western woman pretty much because she's hot, and plans to send his son to study in Europe. He notes the second point himself and is a source of angst for him.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Tensing is a giant by western standards and an absolute monster by Asian ones, but is described to be as nimble as a ballerina.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Tex Armadillo dresses and behaves like one. Subverted in that it is just a costume, and such an obvious one than it is not even a spoiler that the kids realize it.
  • Noble Demon: Armadillo explicitly disapproves pointless violence and once saves Alexander's life even although he had no reasons to do so. The Specialist also seems to have considered to become The Atoner at some point.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Judging by his physical description, biography, fortune and business sector, the Collector is basically Steve Jobs with some elements from Bill Gates thrown in. Amusingly, while the Collector is a stark materialist that disdains Buddhism and religion, the real Jobs was a deeply spiritual person who was a Buddhist himself.
  • Psychic Powers: Tensing and Dil Bahadurm have very limited forms of Telepathy and Telekinesis thanks to their training. They can also use Astral Projection, with Tensing having even visited the Moon with it.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Specialist is a woman. More in the original Spanish, however, given that Spanish language has gendered words; the Specialist receives masculine treatment through all the novel and is still referred as such even although he is revealed to be Kinski.
  • Skunk Stripe: Judith Kinski has black hair except by an odd white streak over the forehead.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Armadillo brings up the topic of drugs to state not all hippies like him go to the Kingdom of the Golden Dragon to get ganja. Needlessly to say, Alexander and Nadia don't buy it for a second. Only that in this case it is probably true.

The third book provides the examples of:

  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Nairobi's magic market, wich plenty of African witchcraft.
  • Big Bad: Maurice Mbembelé and his two aliases.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Angie, combined with Sassy Black Woman and Amazonian Beauty. In fact, both Mbembelé and a Masai from her backstory are attracted to her.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Father Fernando shows his torero side when the party is attacked by a boar, moment in which he improvises a capote and utterly trolls it.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: A toned down version is performed by Ma Bangesé.
  • This Is Reality: Alexander suggests to build a raft to get to Ngoubé through the river, but Father Fernando retors that he has read too many adventure novels. Ironically, the idea gets eventually approved and it's only the arrival of some natives which impedes it.
  • Toros y Flamenco: The only Spaniard in the party, Father Fernando, was an aspirant bullfighter in his youth and still has neat pases.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Kate suspects that Leblanc's tratise on how Pygmies are an egalitarian society compared to the sexist, classist Bantu might be all a load of bull, but she cannot prove it because she doesn't know about it.

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