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Literature / Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures

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Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures (Rumo for short) is a book by Walter Moers set in Zamonia, the setting for The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear and The City of Dreaming Books. It revolves around Rumo, a wolperting (an intelligent, bipedal, horned dog), after he is kidnapped by cyclopean pirates. Following his escape from them, he sets off on a journey to find 'the silver thread' that will lead him to true love, but is waylaid repeatedly, most importantly when almost everyone he knows is kidnapped and taken to the hellish underground Netherworld, which he must rescue them from. Along the way he picks up several friends, including Dandelion and Krindle, the talking sword possessed by two very different spirits, Voltozan Smyke the shark grub, and Urs of the Snows, another wolperting and talented chef.


The book provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: The Demonocles' is their tongue, which has a complex cartilagineous structure connected to their spinal cord. Hyronically, also The Lunawraith, who are supposedly intangible, and even General Tick-Tock's virus have one equivalent weakness. You'd ask yourself how can a virus have a spinal cord, but given the massive amount of weirdness you will have been exposed to by then, it won't be too much.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: As always, there are some Zamonian races who lack any redeeming qualitites. The Demonocles are probably the worst, though — their entire culture, such as it is, revolve around taking prisoners to eat them alive, making sure their victims stay alive for as long as possible because they like their food to struggle. Completely lacking in empathy (unless it involves breaking a Demonocle's tongue; that's just taking it too far), they can't even begin to see anything wrong with this.
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  • And Show It to You: General Tick-Tock kills Ushan by ripping the still beating heart from his chest, and then shows it to the fighting crowd. Rumo pays Tick-Tock back in kind shortly afterwards by removing the General's "heart" of Zamonium.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Kolibri's journal, which details his scientific experiments in Murkholm as he gradually descends into madness, and ends with his abduction into the Netherworld.
  • The Atoner: Volzotan Smyke has traces of this in the latter parts of the novel, when he performs heroic deeds largely in an attempt to make up for past misdeeds.
  • Ax-Crazy: Gornab the 99th, Ruler of Hel, is a bloodthirsty tyrant who loves to see people kill each other.
  • Beast of Battle: The Hellings use alchemical substances to tame giant vrahoks and ride them into battle.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Urs is a friendly and talkative soul who doesn't care much for fighting and would rather spend his time cooking or eating; he's viewed as a bit of a pushover by Rumo. Later on, however, he proves himself as one of the most formidable warriors in Wolperting: His reluctance to fight is for personal reasons, not because he isn't any good at it.
  • Berserker Rage: Rolv's "White Fire."
  • Big Brother Instinct: Rolv is fiercely protective of Rala. Needless to say, he's less than thrilled with Rumo's crush on her.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the book's climax, the undead yetis show up to support Rumo and the prisoners in the Theatre of Death in their battle against Gornab's forces.
  • Big Eater: Urs loves to eat and can spend hours talking about food and cooking.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Rumo is a very benevolent example of this trope. While he loves the thrill of fighting and prefers to solve problems through physical strength rather than intellect, he doesn't kill unless it's absolutely unavoidable, and would Never Hurt an Innocent.
    • General Tick-Tock, by contrast, is an outright Sadist who relishes in violence and wanton destruction. While he doesn't mind killing helpless victims, he prefers going after more challenging targets to prove his strength.
  • Brains and Brawn: Rumo and Smyke have this dynamic on their travels through southern Zamonia, with Smyke as the brains and Rumo as the muscle.
  • Breakout Character: Rumo and Voltozan Smyke were both important minor characters in Walter Moers's previous book, The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear.
  • The Caligula: Gornab is so violently insane that he can barely articulate himself, let alone rule a kingdom, without the assistance of his chancellor Friftar.
  • Catchphrase: Rumo will say "I'm not good with words" as an excuse whenever he's called upon to tell a story or explain something to someone else. He first says it, once, in The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear, but in this book he says it so often it's become his Catchphrase.
  • Chef of Iron: Urs is a friendly, talkative guy who loves to eat and "aims to become the best cook in the city". Come to find out, he was at one point the best swordsman in Wolperting, and even though he hasn't touched a blade longer than a kitchen knife in years, when the time comes he proves he's still among his people's top three fighters.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Non-Existent Teenies and their advanced nanotechnology are introduced in the early parts of the book as the research object of Professor Kolibri, but don't become important until the second act, when their microscopic ships are used to bring Rala back from the dead.
  • Clockwork Creature: General Tick-Tock and the Copper Killers.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: We follow Rumo from his early childhood into his adult years.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The fate of anyone unlucky enough to fall into General Tick-Tock's clutches, especially poor Rala.
  • Condemned Contestant: All the contestants in the Theatre Of Death.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Professor Ostafan Kolibri is a former student of Abdullah Nightingale, who featured heavily in The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear.
    • Nightingale himself makes a short appearance at the fair in Wolperting, promoting one of his new inventions. He also expresses interest in a certain Alpine Imp whom readers of Bluebear will recognise as Fredda, one of Nightingales future students.
    • Once again, Zamonium is the driving force behind a major antagonist.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Gornab is mostly extremely stupid and unhinged but docile, but is prone to sudden murderous rages that endanger everyone around him.
    • Only when Rumo has to defend himself for the first time as a grown wolperting he finds out how badass he is.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the first Zamonia book. Also doubles as Bloodier and Gorier.
  • Death by Irony:
    • General Tick-Tock kills his last victim, Ushan DeLucca, by ripping out his heart, only to be killed by Rumo in the same way shortly afterwards.
    • Gornab's Hair-Trigger Temper becomes is downfall when he kills one of his advisers in a fit of rage. The smell of blood triggers a feeding frenzy in a nearby vrahok, which promptly devours Gornab.
    • The alchemist Tychon Zyphos, who created a Synthetic Plague as a biological weapon, was killed when General Tick-Tock decided to test said plague on him. Decades later, the whole kingdom of Hel suffers the same fate after Friftar inadvertently releases the plague.
  • Dem Bones: The Dead Yetis.
  • Descriptive Ville: The wolpertings mainly live in the town of Wolperting. (They found it empty but otherwise ready to move in and named it appropriately.)
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Rumo kills a Lunawraith, a creature that feeds on life energy and was supposedly unstoppable. It turned out they have a breakable spinal chord.
  • Dog Stereotype: The various breeds of Wolpertings often conform to certain stereotypes:
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Both Friftar and General Tick-Tock intend to kill Gornab to take over Hel for themselves.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Demonocles are consummate sadists who like their prey alive and screaming and will beat their buddies to death For the Evulz. Damage another Demonocle's tongue in front of them, though, and they all cringe in horrified shock.
  • Evil Chancellor: Friftar, though he's not that much more evil than the people around him.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Near the end when the microscopic ships are injected into Rala to save her life.
  • Genius Bruiser: Most Wolpertings are formidable fighters, but very intelligent, they are very talented chess fanatics for example. The mayor of Wolperting is trying to support an image of wolpertings are more than just fighters, which is what they are known for throughout Zamonia. Rumo, however, is not the brightest wolperting in the world.
  • Genius Loci: The Nurn Forest Oak, a sentient tree with roots that reach deep into the Netherworld.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Vrahoks resemble a cross between spider crabs and jellyfish, and grow to titanic size.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Ushan DeLucca dies so that Tick-Tock can't reach the other fighters to kill them.
    • Also, the skeletal yetis prevent Gornab's conquest of the surface by collapsing a cave roof on top of themselves.
  • I Have This Friend...: The protagonist asks The Mentor what his friend Urs is supposed to do after falling in love with a girl. He's a Bad Liar and several times says "I" instead of "Urs". The mentor is nice enough not to mention — at least at first, but he does eventually lose patience, especially since Rumo's situation was the talk of the town anyway and Everybody Knew Already.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Demonocles.
  • It's Personal: During his first fight in the Theatre of Death, Urs initially staunchly refuses to resort to violence, even if it means his own death. Then he finds out that his opponent is the same man who killed his adoptive father years ago, and a brutal Curbstomp Battle ensues.
  • Jerk Jock: Rolv picks on Rumo from the very first moment they meet in school, and the two get into numerous fights with each other. By the end of the book, however, they've come to respect each other.
  • Martial Pacifist: Despite being among the most capable swordsmen in Wolperting, Urs is extremely reluctant when it comes to violence, and would much rather teach Rumo to cook than to fight.
  • Master Swordsman: Ushan DeLucca is reputed to be best fencer in all of Zamonia, with good reason.
  • Mook Horror Show: The Demonocles find themselves on the receiving end of this, courtesy of Rumo.
  • More Than Meets the Eye: Krindle is "hideously ugly, extremely bloodthirsty, boundlessly vindictive, infinitely evil and absolutely honest about it because it's all too obvious there's no point in hiding the fact", and in times of need teaches Rumo to sing and swim and joins in sharing terrifying stories once Dandelion mentions they can be helpful in warding off fear. He also gradually stops meaning it and eventually arrives at being Tsundere when he says he wishes to kill Skullop.
  • Nested Story: There are lots and lots and lots of stories-within-a-story in this book, and often there are stories within the stories-within-a-story. This is even lampshaded by Smyke when he tells Rumo the story about the siege of Lindworm Castle. Since Rumo at this point is very young and knows next to nothing about the world, Smyke needs to include several other stories in order to explain the events of his primary one. At one point he remarks rather dryly that this is the third consecutive story he's had to tell, and he hasn't even gotten to the part about the siege yet.
  • Ominous Fog: The gloomy city of Murkholm is perpetually covered in thick fog. Also qualifies as Fog of Doom, as it has a mind on its own and drives anyone not native to the area insane.
  • Only Sane Employee: Friftar. This means even more since he has an Ax-Crazy boss who is able and allowed to kill people with his own teeth if he likes it.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: They are created in Hel from a massive vat and they are a mash-up of the various creatures thrown into the vat.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: At one point they fight a 7-foot long blind albino rat with tentacles. This is probably the least odd creature they encounter in Netherworld.
  • The Plague: General Tick-Tock has one engineered, as an ultimate weapon.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Wolpertings are very talented fighters, which is why fighting is an important part of their culture and education. They don't seem to think slaughter is their life's calling, though, unlike the demons and the yeti, and also devote themselves to other trades and disciplines.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ushan DeLucca gives one to General Tick-Tock, pointing out that no matter how many people Tick-Tock kills, he will never feel truly alive.
  • Recovered Addict: Ushan spent his adolescent life as an alcoholic and a petty criminal, before finding his true calling in the art of fencing. He was even named after a certain type of wine, but turned it into an Appropriated Appellation.
  • Red String of Fate: It is called the silver thread, and can actually be perceived by wolpertings from their early childhood; at that point they don't even know it's a romantic thing, they just have the notion that if they follow the silver thread to its source, something wonderful will be at the other end. Unfortunately, Rumo knows nothing about relationships or even what girls are until he arrives in Wolperting, so it's not as much use as you might think. Also, the trope is played with a bit, because while following the silver thread does lead to the wolperting's soulmate, it's by no means a given that it'll actually work out in the long run — as exemplified by Urs, whose soulmate eventually left him.
  • Retired Monster: Volzotan Smyke is revealed to be a former mercenary leader who eventually became The Atoner.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Wolperting puppies are ridiculously cute, they even feed on love.
  • Robotic Psychopath: General Tick-Tock is a fully mechanical construct with the mind of a sadistic psychopath.
  • Running Gag: To Rumo's steadily increasing annoyance, he shares his name with a popular Zamonian card game, and (with a few exceptions) every single person he introduces himself to will immediately mention this. Towards the end, he just snaps "yes, like the card game!" as soon as they open their mouths.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The book ends just as Rumo and Rala are about to have sex for the first time, with the narrator noting that some things are best left in the dark.
  • Shout-Out: The book contains many references to Norse Mythology, such as a sentient tree called Ygg Drasil, the underground kingdom of Hel, and a minor character called Nagelfar the Ferryman.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Chess is a very popular pastime among the more intellectual Wolpertings.
  • The Starscream: Friftar planned to take over Hel's throne and start his own dynasty by killing Gornab. And he would have succeeded, if it weren't for the Copper Killers' conveniently-timed intervention.
  • Stout Strength: Urs's love for eating clearly shows, but don't let that fool you into thinking he's slow or weak.
  • Talking Weapon: Rumo's sword hosts the souls of two sentient beings: Dandelion, a cowardly, talkative troll, and Krindle the Cleaver, a single-minded Blood Knight. They're constantly bickering with each other, and at one point, Rumo actually threatens to abandon the sword if they won't shut up.
  • To Hell and Back: The second half of the book describes Rumo's descent into the Netherworld to rescue the other Wolpertings.
  • Torture Porn: Rala becomes the victim of general Ticktock. And dies. Which drives him mad, since he never had as much "fun" with a victim like with her. But later, she gets revived.
  • The Unintelligible: Gornab's speech so messed up, only his chancellor can understated him. OTOH, he consistently manages to speak all words exactly backwards (by syllable, not by sound or letter).
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • Before he arrives in Wolperting and is taught how to fight by Urs and Ushan DeLucca, Rumo relies on his innate strength and reflexes to overpower his enemies.
    • Urs's adoptive father, Koram Marok, was a professional duelist with severely underdeveloped fighting skills, but still managed to win (or at least survive) most of his duels through his exceptional stamina and sheer stubbornness.
  • Villainous Breakdown: General Tick-Tock doesn't take well to Rala's premature death.
  • Villainous Crush: General Tick-Tock has one on Rala. Though his idea of "love" is quite... uhm, particular.
  • Villainous Incest: Gornab is the result of generations of royal incest.
  • When Trees Attack: The nurns, who gave the Nurn Forest its name, are spider-like, predatory creatures somewhere between plants and animals. When they don't move, they are almost indistinguishable from regular trees.
  • Xenofiction: Wolpertings have a highly developed sense of smell. This comes into play quite a bit and is highly important to the plot.


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