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Literature / The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica

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The Imaginarium Geographica...
"What is it?" John asked.
The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow. "It is the world, my boy," he said. "All the World, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the World, and it is yours to save or lose."

A murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the First World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of The Imaginarium Geographica, an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship The Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become.

The books in the series are:

  1. Here, There Be Dragons (2006)
  2. The Search for the Red Dragon (2008)
  3. The Indigo King (2008)
  4. The Shadow Dragon (2009)
  5. The Dragon's Apprentice (2010)
  6. The Dragons of Winter (2012)
  7. The First Dragon (2013)

Not related to either Terry Gilliam 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, or to the Nightwish album Imaginaerum, and the 2012 film based on it.

The series provides examples of:

  • All Myths Are True: Not to say that they were recorded correctly...
  • Alternate Timeline: Run all over the place and each other... which is why there can be two H.G. Wells running around the same point in time.
  • Alternate Universe: Expect to find a Charles there. There are at least two of them (or more, if you want to count altered timelines as separate universes), but who really knows?
  • Artistic License – History: In real life, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien preferred his second name.
  • Author Catchphrase:
    Character A: (asks for explanation of something Character B mentioned)
    Character B: (gives explanation, which is discouraging, grotesque, or both of the above)
    Character A: Sorry I asked.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Both the Angels' Descent into Dragons, as well as John's (and presumably his wife's) ascension into the new generation of Dragons.
  • Badass Bookworm: Most of the Caretakers, to a certain extent—especially Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  • Big Bad: The main antagonist of the series is John Dee, who leads the Cabal, a group of corrupted Caretakers, and is responsible for the rise of the Winter King. However, most books have their own Big Bad.
    • Here, There Be Dragons: The Winter King/Mordred
    • The Search for the Red Dragon: The King of Crickets, also known as Mordred's shadow, although he was thought to be Orpheus at first.
    • The Indigo King: The Winter King again, now with his own Villain World.
    • The Shadow Dragons: The Shadow King, Mordred's corrupted shadow.
    • The Dragon's Apprentice: John Dee, leader of the Cabal
    • The Dragons of Winter: Lord Winter, John Dee, and Coal form a Big Bad Ensemble under the Echthroi.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Magwich—he really does try, you know. He just isn't very good at it. Life, I mean.
  • Celtic Mythology
  • Classical Mythology
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: The message Charles receives from Hugo in The Indigo King is torn so that it is only "largely intact". It's not until the end of the book that the Caretakers find out the missing words.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Jack in Book 1, having lost his shadow.
  • Darkest Hour:
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In The Search for the Red Dragon, the protagonists are surrounded by giant, mechanical creatures, betrayed by Daedalus and have nowhere to run. It looks like things are looking up when the Red Dragon appears until they realize it's commandeered by Hugh the Pig and Will the Iron and an army of brainwashed children. Cue the Darkest Hour
  • Dirty Coward: An alternate spelling of "Magwich".
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Charles ends up with a map permanently painted onto his back. Obviously, it requires consulting.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: See Magical World.
  • Fighting a Shadow: In its literal format.
  • For Want Of A Nail: A Hugo Dyson walks through a (free-standing) door, and—boom. Instant Villain World. Granted, a lot went on, on his side of things, but nobody told that to the fellows who went in to find him a few minutes later.
  • Foreshadowing: In The Search for the Red Dragon Bert presents the trio with a hypothetical situation concerning an unremarkable Austrian painter who may become responsible for the deaths of millions, and whether or not it is right to use knowledge of that future to kill him and prevent it. John and Jack say no, but Charles says perhaps, if it was real and not hypothetical.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Charles seems to be universally loved by the animals, especially the badgers. At least eleven have named their children after him.
  • Half Dressed Animal: Try not to bring it up, though.
  • Here There Be Dragons: The phrase appears on every map in the multilingual Geographica, serving as a sort of Rosetta stone.
  • Historical In-Joke: In "Here, There Be Dragons" when Jack points out the inscription "Declare allegiance, and be welcomed" implies Speak Friend and Enter, John calls it stupid.
  • Inn Between the Worlds
  • It Makes Sense in Context: The obligatory disclaimer that must preface any attempt to discuss the series with the uninitiated.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Every caretaker who ever existed
  • Kudzu Plot: Because seriously. The first book was a straight forward adventure, and then they started to use time travel more frequently, and the whole thing went topsy turvy.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Knock a man unconscious on a sinking ship? You have to rescue him. Deliver a poison-tipped "Reason You Suck" Speech? Prepare to have to come up with one reason he doesn't suck (and get gross, sticky tears all over your jacket). Set a building on fire, knowing that someone is in it? He burns down into a shrubbery, and you're the one who has to take care of him.
  • The Lonely Door: In The Indigo King, the view through the door appears no different than the view around the door; no one notices it's not just a door standing in a meadow until Hugo walks around the frame (on his side) and disappears (as seen from the other side). Hugo walking through it sets the plot in motion.
  • Lost World: The Archipelago of Dreams is this to our world.
  • Magical Land: The Archipelago of Dreams. Contains anything religious, mythological, historical or literary we know and that only scratches the surface.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Happens plenty of times during "The First Dragon", although it's downplayed when an Echtheroi is revealed among the gathered Angels to become Dragons. The Star Sol quickly dispatches it.
    • Another when the Nephilim Name themselves as Fallen, and the Great Deluge begins.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: This book series features pretty much every major work of fantasy, history, and real life. From King Arthur to C.S. Lewis to Greek Myths and nearly everything in between all in 1 epic tale spanning time travel, history and all western literature.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Many of the main characters are Caretakers, who are chosen based on their excellent writing.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jack in The Indigo King speaks it almost word-for-word upon realizing that, if not for their misinterpreting a moment of Not What It Looks Like, among other things, they could have prevented the dark timeline they find themselves in.
  • Narnia Time
  • Oh, Crap!: Dee, when it turns out that Kipling beat him to binding Grimalkin in the City of Jade.
  • Older Than She Looks: Aven, as implied in The Search for the Red Dragon
  • Only Sane Man: John (aka the man who dreamt up Tom Bombadil) is positively normal compared to the company he keeps. Charles seems to be this at first, but it is quickly, quickly averted.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Very important as revealed in the final book.
  • Plant People: First Magwich gets turned into a wooden man, then he's downgraded to a shrubbery.
    • Rappaccini's daughter, Beatrice, is slowly becoming a plant due to his experiments on her.
    • The Guardians of the Green are living plants, caretakers of all flora.
  • Real-Person Fic: When you get right down to it, isn't that what this series is?
  • Savage Wolves: The Wendigo.
  • Seen It All: Samaranth and Ordo Maas most likely have.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: John suffers from this in the first book, having fought in WWI.
  • The Storyteller: What each of the caretakers become in some way or another.
  • Time Travel: Thanks to a certain Jules Verne and his Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Trapped in the Past: Hugo Dyson in the 6th century. Perhaps also Bert in Book 3, where it seems he missed the mark while trying to rescue the Caretakers and ended up stranded in an alternate timeline for 14 years, waiting for them to get there. Though, technically, that was the future...
  • Twice-Told Tale: If you don't have a decent knowledge of Greek and Arthurian mythology, along with the works of a variety of writers, prepare to miss out on a lot.
  • Villain World: In which Mordred becomes king and begins a 1,404-year reign of terror, destroying the Archipelago and laying waste to the Summer Country.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Discussed in The Search for the Red Dragon when they meet Daedalus.