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Literature / The Legend of Rah and the Muggles

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The Legend of Rah and the Muggles is a children's book written and published by Nancy Katherine Stouffer (also referred as "N.K. Stouffer") in 1984. The book languished in obscurity until 1999, when Stouffer sued J. K. Rowling (author of the wildly popular Harry Potter book series) for intellectual property damages, claiming that Rowling had stolen elements from Rah and used them in the Potter books without permission, primarily the use of the word "muggles". The subsequent lawsuit was eventually laughed out of court, as Stouffer was unable to verify her claim that she originally trademarked the term (even the title is a modification; it didn't originally feature the word "muggles" when it was released, that being something Stouffer added later to increase her chance of winning the lawsuit).


The tale opens with a nuclear war caused by government corruption, in a way that's guaranteed to send any 6-year-old to a somewhat restless sleep, followed by an Author Filibuster about the abuse of eminent domain laws. If this jars with the colourful Fairy Tale kingdom depicted on the front cover (which in fairness isn't too bad) then it should. It's like watching an episode of Handy Manny with explosions and genocide. The title character somehow brings sunlight back to the land of the Muggles, who evolved implausibly quickly from the survivors of the apocalypse. No attempt is made to Hand Wave the conditions After the End that led humanity down that particular evolutionary path, let alone with such speed. The subsequent chapters present a disjointed and incoherent account of the lives of Rah, his brother Zyn and the Muggles, as several years will often be skipped in-between chapters.


Simply put, Rah and the Muggles is to children's literature what The Eye of Argon is to swords and sorcery, minus the unintentional hilarity. For a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the story, this link should tell you just about all you need to know. If you want to know more, see Zelda Queen's more detailed dissection. Or you could buy the book.

This book provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: At least 70% of all names for places and characters in the book.
  • Aerith and Bob: The Nevils' names are Teeter, Jitters, Fraidy, Boggs, Stubby, Patch and...Peter (altough he prefers to be called "Chops").
  • After the End: The story proper starts not long after a total war.
  • Alternative Calendar: And clearly not that helpful, since "The Year of the Purple Haze" does little to distinguish a year from any of the 500 other years in which the world was blanketed with a purple cloud of fallout. Every year seems to be named after a particular parable from The Ancient Book of Tales. For example, "The Year of the Gilded Cage" refers to an incident in which pirates stole a number of animals taken to be sold and released them on Aura, keeping only the gold cages.
  • And That's Terrible: Stouffer will repeatedly shove to the reader's face the fact that Zyn is evil, either via the Muggles (including his own adoptive mother) or via herself as the narrator.
  • Anti-Villain: Zyn, but not in the way the author intended.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Nobody does anything to stop Zyn or the Nevils.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Early in the story, the main characters (who are babies) survive for eight days on a raft in the ocean without food and water (for the record, your average adult can barely survive half that time with no water, let alone a baby).
    • This book features a type of moss called "Bordonian Moss", which has purple flowers. Moss is not a flowering plant.
    • Yur declares that the light of the fireflies will keep Zyn on the island of Dezra forever. The lifespan of a firefly is two months, so in practice the Muggles have accomplished nothing by storming the island with them.
    • The Nevils somehow physically adapt to living in a cave, with them growing long hair and claws, and having webbed feet and cat-like eyes after living there for seven years.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • The Muggles scramble to get water and Aloe Salve for the "thirsty birds" and "blind deer" that Yur misheard from Golda. The fact that they get Salve for curing blindness speaks for itself.
    • When the Nevils are creating tar to waterproof Zyn's boat, they end up getting second and third-degree burns from the heat. Yet all they have to do to heal the burns is jump in the ocean and they're all better, whereas in real life the saltwater would make their burns worse.
    • How allergies are treated in this book. One can't simply pass out after having an allergy: in most cases, there would be cutaneous eructions, rashes and severe irritations. Fainting is the sign of the anaphylactic shock which is the worst possible consequence of allergy and which, among such "fun" things like coagulopathy and acute kidney injury, can quickly lead to loss of consciousness followed by coma and death, if it isn't treated immediately.
    • The Nevils and Zyn gorge themselves with the food stolen by the Muggles after seven years of eating nothing but seaweed and meager grass. Sudden and copious eating in such condition would have been devastating on their already frail health.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Zyn, the supposed bad guy, becomes more and more ugly and thin as he descends in depression, especially after residing in the Manchineet Tree. The Nevils get the same treatment, growing long claws and hair.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: The "Shadow Monsters" on Dezra are nothing but Zyn and the Nevils' heavily distorted shadows. And somehow they're afraid of them.
  • Bright Castle: Depicted on the cover, and apparently where Lady Catherine lives, which is featured in the first chapter and never appears again.
  • Cain and Abel: Rah and Zyn.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Zyn, who following his Face–Heel Turn started talking like a scally.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Rah's allergy to a type of moss counts as this.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Every single character (besides the brothers) who appears in the first two chapters is never brought up in the rest of the story.
  • Comforting the Widow: In the first chapter the twins' mother, Lady Catherine, learns that her "beloved husband" is dead. She mourns extensively. A few days/paragraphs later, she openly flirts with the butler.
  • Convenient Escape Boat: Zyn and the Nevils use clamshells to escape the island in Chapter 13.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Aura prior and after the war. The former was a peaceful civilisation kept through humanitarian charters, while the latter is a cutesy Teletubbies-like land. In between, humanity's greed and corruption festered on the inside of the former and lead to a nuclear holocaust, the ensuing radiation and mutations leading to the current adorable life forms.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The writing style is a style of writing with many unnecessary repetitions that the author repeats unnecessarily many times. Stouffer would be hopeless on Just a Minute. Also see the quote under Funetik Aksent below.
    • This line from the book's introduction is just one example out of the lot:
    "Their cries for help went unrecognized as they rang out with piercing screams for help."
  • Description Porn: Stouffer puts very elaborate descriptions of details that aren't vital to the story. On the other hand, the elements that are relevant are mostly glossed over or barely mentioned.
  • Deserted Island: Dezra, which is far from the shores of Aura and only Yur knows of its existence. Zyn swims there after his boat breaks, and discovers it's just a bare rock with a small cave.
  • Deus ex Machina: The aforementioned clamshell boats.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The book's introduction drones on for 2,000 words of questionable relevance to the rest of the story — and so, for that matter, do the first two chapters and every character in it, beside the babies of course. In fact, the story's major conflict (the Cain and Abel plot) isn't even hinted at until about halfway through.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: The word "Bugger" is uttered often in the book. Apparently Stouffer was not aware that it's a moderately offensive word in both British and Australian English.
  • Disproportionate Reward: Rah wins at a croquet game, and the Muggles treat him like a god just for doing it, even rewarding him with an old and valuable medal.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": One of the Nevils is named Peter, but he insists on being called by his nickname "Chops".
  • Elemental Baggage: Rah apparently has so much fluid in his tear ducts that his crying can sink boats.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Rah's "Ancient Book of Tales", which includes a story about Killer Rabbits that might seem familiar...
  • Evil Redhead: Zyn. Altough not exactly "evil" per se, the author likes pushing on this stereotype.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Take a wild guess as to which beverage "Lemonade Lake" (for reasons unexplored) tastes like.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Zyn and the Nevils.
  • Freudian Excuse: Zyn's Start of Darkness comes from his resentment of his brother.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Even birds, bunnies and other sorts of small animals like Rah.
  • Funetik Aksent: A sea cow who stutters, like so:
    "Well, wha— wha— what do you know a— a— about dat!" It's the ba— bah— bahbies Naddie and Neddie were tal— talking ah— ahbout," he stuttered to himself. "We got— got— gotta get ya ou— ou— out— a here! There's a st— stor— storm ca— ca— comin'," he stuttered nervously... (from here). Yes, he even stutters in internal monologue.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Congress Of United Peoples, or C.O.U.P., in the introduction, which seems to be a Take That! against the United Nations.
  • Genre Roulette: The story changes from war, to YA romance, to children's fantasy, to slapstick comedy, to adventure/drama. Not only it switches between genres, but also between styles (all of which are raw and badly written). It's like if each individual chapter should belong in a completely different book.
  • Good Animals, Evil Animals: The "Greeblies", rabbit-faced rats, and "Nardles", sand dogs as large as lions that the muggles keep.
  • Granny Classic: Golda, the oldest female Muggle and is stated that she's the only Muggle to ever become a grandmother, even though she describes her grandmother in her poem, complete with a white bun of hair (although Muggles are supposed to be bald) and old-fashioned clothes.
  • Gratuitous French: After knocking out Rah with the moss, Zyn utters "Voilà, as Chef Franc would say!".
  • Grumpy Old Man: Yur. He's the oldest male Muggle, and he's deaf and arthritic.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: The Calendar is reset by a nuclear war. The problem is that it starts with a "Year of the purple haze" (nuclear fallout), which could refer to any year following the end of the nuclear war.
  • Hollywood Evolution: Normal humans (actually the most unfortunate ones) evolved into looking like baby-like lifeforms in the span of just 500 years.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Taken to the logical extreme. Place two infants (toddlers?) on a raft and shove them out to sea, let them stay on the raft for one full week before having the happy sea creatures come to their aid, and then consider how they avoid being horribly sunburnt, half-drowned or maybe all drowned, salt-burnt, and/or dehydrated and probably dead from that alone. They're certainly not going to be shiny, happy babies by that point, and that's even leaving in such an important detail as Nobody Poops.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Complete with an inexplicable treasure: in fact, we don't even get to know what's in the chest that's so important.
  • Informed Attribute: The Character Glossary describes things that the characters are never shown doing or being in the story, and sometimes the entries contradict what's already established in the previous chapters.
  • The Legend of X
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Averted (notable, given the genre); magic exists, but completely at random with no apparent rules behind it.
  • Meaningful Name: The Muggles are named in a ceremony because of a particular sign or a behavior that shows in its infancy. However, some of the names don't have clear origins (like Peter or Yur and Golda), some inexplicably match for lovers or spouses (Pitter and Patter, Pick and Pluck), and some imply that the Muggle is doomed to a flawed life, such as Boggs, who is implied to smell bad and be covered in mud since birth.
  • Mood Whiplash: From the looming threat of nuclear war to cutesypoo talking sea animals, for just one example - this story was written for small children and the author seemed to have no clear idea as to what might be age-inappropriate.
  • Muggles: Surprisingly averted: The Teletubby-like protagonists might be called "Muggles", but they throw random magic around like nobody's business. Granted, this would make sense, as the book does predate the term in the Harry Potter sense we all know and love... if the author hadn't sued J.K. Rowling over use of the term.
  • Mutants: The muggles are descendants of humans who got mutated by radioactive fallout.
  • Never Say "Die": Despite gleefully recounting the annihilation of most life on Earth earlier on, the book describes the Big Bad's plan as making Rah "sleep forever".
  • Nobody Poops: It would certainly explain how Rah and Zyn arrived on the island squeaky-clean despite being adrift for days without any attention.
  • Ocular Gushers: Rah cries so much that they cause a flash flood that sinks Zyn's boat.
  • Orphaned Etymology: After the "Thirty Year War" and the subsequent nuclear apocalypse, all knowledge of the world is lost. Then how do the characters remember well about Shakespeare, Pachelbel Canon D, the Indians, French Language, Lemonade, and Chinese Lanterns?
  • Orwellian Retcon: According to Stouffer, the book was always titled "The Legend of Rah and the Muggles". However, there is no evidence prior to 2000 to back up this claim, as it was only titled "The Legend of Rah", and the "and the Muggles" part was added after the attempted lawsuit.
  • The Pigpen: Boggs, who is dirty and mostly speaks in grunts.
  • Plot Hole: The Muggles use elaborate flower arrangements in their naming ceremony, which is described as "traditional". By "traditional", it's implied it was that way before Rah and Zyn's arrival, when there was no plant life alive at that point. And this is one of the tamer plot holes.
  • Preppy Name: Lady Catherine's butler is named Walter Randolph Winfred Cherrington.
  • Random Events Plot: Between chapters three to nine, the plot stops to a screeching halt and turns into a mish-mash of random anecdotes involving Rah and Zyn.
  • The Resenter: Zyn comes to resent Rah for being so great at everything and getting all the adulation of the muggles.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The author has the unfortunate combination of a tenuous grasp of English and a singularly unqualified editor.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The humans living on Aura evolved into Muggles in 500 years. For comparison, the human species (homo sapiens) has existed for 100,000 at the most conservative estimate, and we are just greenhorns compared to even most mammals.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end, it is written that everything we've read so far was written in the "Ancient Book of Tales". The book's info also explains that this is only the first of a series of books, but there has never been any proof that later installments of the series exist.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Qualities of characters are stated, but never actually shown. In a particular example, it is stated that Zyn has become jealous and is losing all of his self-esteem, and that he and Rah were very close until now. Stouffer doesn't actually describe how and why it happens, and what part of his personality is losing.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Zyn is the story's main antagonist, and he has green eyes and red hair.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Lady Catherine's husband dies while she's still pregnant with Rah and Zyn.
  • Speech Impediment: Benjamin the sea cow has a stutter, even in his internal monologue.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The majority of the pictures in the book mostly depict the Muggles. The only other characters we see are Rah and Zyn as babies, and Lady Catherine at the beginning.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: Rah cries so much that it sinks the Nevils' boat.
  • Talking Animal: A few with cute alliterative names show up, without much consequence. Some of them inexplicably have New York accents.
  • Technicolor Science: Nuclear fallout is purple; evidently the bombs used in the final war contained radioactive potassium permanganate. Nuclear fission produces, among other things, radioactive iodine - hence the use of iodine pills to protect against exposure by saturating the body with normal iodine so the radioactive stuff doesn't get absorbed. Iodine, at least in vapour form, is purple. However, it doesn't colour fallout purple, and its half-life is so short that you can forget about it after a week or two.
  • Time Skip: Random numbers of years will pass between chapters.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Zyn and the Nevils choose to take shelter in a radioactive tree, and refuse to move out even after developing serious health problems.
  • Unequal Pairing: Lady Catherine falls in love with her butler.
  • Unexplained Accent: Buddy the Barracuda has a Brooklyn accent for no discernable reason.
  • Veganopia: Nominally. The character list claims that Muggles are vegetarians, but we also hear of them eating killer rabbits.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Zyn is meant to be seen as this. If anything, he is the inversion: he's a brat in a world caused by humanity's greed and corruption, whose eugenics lead to the Muggles.
  • Weird Moon: One that can shine through a cloud thick enough to block the sunlight.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The war at the beginning and the treasure chest, amongst other things.
    • When Lady Catherine floats her children away, she puts a silk quilt with her family's crest on it, and gives them a key and a letter. However, when Golda finds the babies, she says that there is nothing to indicate where they came from, as everything mentioned above suddenly disappeared for no known reason nor are they mentioned again.
  • When Trees Attack: The Manchineet Tree, while still inanimate, sheds radioactive pollen that makes Zyn and the Nevils sick.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never made clear which nation or continent "Aura" is located in.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: What Zyn really comes off as. He's not even scary, just angry-more like. In another story, would come off as a well-written redeemable bully.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Stubby, who starts out as a five-year-old boy, is described in a later chapter as a "fifteen-year-old boy"...twenty-two years after Rah and Zyn's arrival on the island.
  • Your Size May Vary: The Muggles are supposed to be around 3 feet tall, yet in one illustration they're seen living in a village of mushroom-houses, and in another one they ride ants and bees. Whether they can shrink down at will is anyone's guess.