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Literature / Peter and the Starcatchers

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The Peter and the Starcatchers saga, written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, is a series of fantasy novels; starting out as prequels to Sir J.M Barrie's Peter Pan, but gradually deviating from its plot. The series contains four books:

  • Peter and the Starcatchers
  • Peter and the Shadow Thieves
  • Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
  • Peter and the Sword of Mercy

A new series in the same universe of Peter and the Starcatchers begins with the book The Bridge to Neverland.

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Peter And The Starcatcher is a play based on the novel.


This series provides examples of:

  • Greater-Scope Villain: Lord Ombra's masters, revealed to be the very forces of darkness and entropy with the goal to destroy the entire universe.
  • Green Rocks: Starstuff can do just about anything. For starters, it can make things fly, change peoples' moods, heal wounds, extend life, and transform ordinary animals into mythological creatures. And it's hinted that it has other powers as well; Molly comments that the Greek gods were actually humans using starstuff, and it's hard to imagine their reputation came from long lives and flight alone.
  • Gunship Rescue: In Secret of Rundoon, George and the orphan boys pilot a flying boat to attack King Zarboff's palace just before the rocket launch.
  • Heroic Willpower: Used by Peter to resist Ombra taking him over.
  • Hook Hand: Captain Hook. (Obviously.)
  • Hostage for MacGuffin:
    • In the first book, Slank takes Molly hostage and demands the trunk of starstuff in return.
    • In the second book:
      • Ombra and his crew capture Shining Pearl for the same reason. The Molluscs don't have the starstuff, though, so they end up using her to guarantee safe passage back to their ship.
      • The Others kidnap Louise Astor and hold her ransom for the starstuff.
    • In the fourth book:
      • von Schaffen captures Tinker Bell and holds her hostage to swap with Peter.
      • Shining Pearl is once again used as leverage to get the starstuff from Fighting Prawn.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Lord Ombra is one of these. He's a shadowy creature that moves like liquid, hates the light, and can control people's shadows. He is also a member of a species from the darkness before the universe, and he wants to restore it to that state.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the book titles, prior to the spinoff, start with "Peter and the".
  • I Have Your Wife: Used to set up a Hostage for MacGuffin in the second book.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like... / Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In the first book, the Shell Islanders have a good laugh over Alf's name. "Alf" is their word for "squid poop".
  • Just Between You and Me: This happens pretty much every time The Others capture one of the good guys. In the third book, Ombra admits he just wants to see Leonard's reaction once he knows what's really going on.
  • Karmic Death: King Zarboff gets eaten by his own snake, Kundalini.
  • Living Shadow: A major plot point from Shadow Thieves-onwards.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Glotz, the evil scientist who devises a plan to force large quantities of starstuff to fall. He knows that if it is successful, it will ultimately destroy the entire universe, but he will be content in his knowledge, just before it happens, that his theory was right.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Peter and Molly, since he ends up eternally young while she ultimately grows up.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: When Molly is talking to the porpoises, she keeps telling them her teeth are green when she means hello. She eventually figures out the mistake, but by then the porpoises have made a joke out of it.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lord Ombra, which is Italian for "shadow".
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Commonly used.
    And then it erupted from him, a string of oaths so vile that Peter reached out to cover Tink's tiny ears.
  • Never Grew Up: Peter ends up with eternal youth as a result of the starstuff.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The island that becomes Never Land is home to Mr. Grin, an enormous crocodile who was friendly until he developed a taste for human flesh as a result of being tormented by a group of English sailors; the native Mollusk tribe nearly has to kill him until they decide they can use him to dispose of future unwanted visitors. And naturally, he ends up eating Black Stache's severed hand.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: The attitude of the Starcatchers towards starstuff; their efforts are concentrated on sending it back where it came from every time some of it falls to earth. It's eventually revealed that they have far worse to fear than mere men getting their hands on it...
  • No One Gets Left Behind
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Book 2 reveals that after Slank and Little Richard were sent back out to sea by the mermaids, Slank was forced to kill and eat Little Richard in order to survive long enough to get back to land.
  • The Noseless: Nerezza lost his nose in a battle and wears a fake one over the hole, which he removes whenever he wants to smell something. The larger aperture seems to have enhanced his sense of smell.
  • Not Even Human: Ombra.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The series begins with Peter and the other boys leaving one of these to board the Never Land.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: They evolved from fish in the lagoon on the cost of what became Never Land, courtesy of exposure to starstuff, and it takes a while - when Slank and Little Richard first meet them, their teeth are more like sharks' teeth. By the time Peter meets one, her teeth are fully human.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment: The only way to safely handle starstuff is wearing an entire suit of gold clothing. This is also why the Starcatchers keep their personal stock in pure gold lockets.
  • Power Glows: Starstuff. It's practically nothing but glow.
  • Running Gag: You know that whenever Peter translates Tinker Bell's speech for someone, that's not what she said...
  • Stealth Pun: In the third book, George and the orphans steal a ship, which later ends up flying after being inundated with starstuff. The name of the vessel is De Vliegen, which means "the flies" in Dutch. In other words, it's a flying Dutchman.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: A standard gag between Smee and the Cap'n. Tubby Ted gets in on it too:
    Tubby Ted: But we need them for our scurvy!
    Prentiss: We don't have scurvy, you twit.
    Tubby Ted: Then why do we have the figs?
    James: They're for the monkeys.
    Tubby Ted: The monkeys have scurvy?
  • Tactful Translation: Peter's translations for Tinker Bell, most of the time.
  • Take a Third Option: Black Stache, torn between chasing after Astor and taking the trunk or calling his bluff and pursuing the Wasp, decides to take a third option: he tosses his British Navy prisoner overboard. Predictably, Astor turns around to rescue the drowning sailor, coming close enough to the Sea Devil for Black Stache to harpoon his dory.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Dr. Glotz cackles this in his first appearance.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Wendy's Uncle Neville has built an ornithopter, which after a rocky first test is able to fly reasonably well. Wendy steals it and uses it to fly to Never-Land.
  • Trilogy Creep: Originally the book started as a trilogy, and then came Sword of Mercy, acting as a full fledged prequel to the events of Peter Pan.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The first work can actually stand by itself, acting as an introduction with the major plot points (of that book) more or less resolved. Around Shadow Thieves, the series starts to blend together into a bigger story arc. However, it went back to a relative trilogy with Sword of Mercy which itself is a relative standalone story.
  • Unobtanium: The starstuff is seen as this by the Others. The Starcatchers believe it to be too dangerous to actually use, except in very small amounts in emergencies, and spend most of their efforts to send it back into space so it can't be used.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Shining Pearl's plan to attack the Scorpions.
  • The Watson: Peter. There's a whole chapter where Molly goes on a Character Filibuster to tell him all about starstuff and the history of the Starcatchers, and another bit where Fighting Prawn explains Mr. Grin's origin story to him.
  • Whip It Good: Little Richard uses a whip to keep his lower-ranked crewmates and the boys they're taking to become royal slaves in another country in line in book 1.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: At first, Slank planned to kill Little Richard for this reason. But by the time he actually does it, it's for a different reason.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: In the third book, after Peter locates the starstuff. Zarboff decides to feed the boys to the snake anyway — he only promised that if Peter didn't do as he was instructed, he would feed them to the snake. He didn't say anything about not feeding them to the snake if he did follow the instructions.

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