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Literature / The Outcasts

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The Outcasts is a 1977 fantasy book for children by Tom Ingram. Col is a young boy born with bone-white hair in a small village by the sea. The village considers the sea, and the creatures within it, to be unclean, with their only livestock being sheep that provide meat, wool, and milk. In recent years, the giant eagles that populate the land have been killing the lambs seemingly just for sport or spite. Col is at the site of the latest attack, and is tasked by his parents to lay the dead lamb at the doorstep of a pair of foreigners, Hasset and Illy, who live at the edge of the village and regularly fish in the sea. At a village meeting later that evening, the elder declares that Col, Hasset, and Illy are responsible for the troubles of the village, and they barely manage to convince the elder to exile them to seek the source of the eagle attacks rather than to stone them.


Col, Hasset, and Illy set out on the sea in their boat. They encounter one of the eagles while traveling, but the eagle does not attack, and Col notes a sort of noble magnificence to it before it leaves. Later, they come upon another village which has been deserted, with all of its sheep killed within their pens and belongings discarded in their haste to leave. After a night of scavenging supplies and getting some sleep under a roof, they return to the water. Just before they make landfall a second time, they are attacked by a convocation of eagles who purposefully destroy their boat and drive them onto land, and they barely manage to escape into the forest, where the trees are too thick for the eagles to pass. In their travels, they come upon another village, which apparently kept pigs, which only has two survivors, a widow named Sorn and her child, Finto. They nurse Sorn back to health, she joins them in their quest.


After the group is nearly debilitated by food poisoning from berries that Sorn brought along, they find a waterfall-fed pool and bathe. Shortly thereafter, they are met by a man named Arin who claims that he can provide shelter for them. Arin's house is hidden deep within the woods, past dense webs of spiders, and is neat almost to the point of obsession. He serves them food, and then puts them up in his barn, but both Illy and Col are convinced that there is something wrong with him.

Over the course of that night and the next morning, they learn that Arin is controlling the eagles through a form of hypnosis, and is using them to wipe out anyone in the surrounding area that does not conform to his sense of order. They set an ambush and are able to kill Arin. The eagles leave, presumably to return to their natural ways. Hasset and Sorn plan to marry and live in the house. And Col and Illy decide to potentially pursue their budding romance.

This book contains the following tropes:

  • Control Freak: Arin is willing to slaughter people, and drive away entire villages, so that they don't disturb his ordered life.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Col finds a doll in the first abandoned village, and finding the discarded doll hits him harder than the pen of slaughtered sheep.
  • The Load: Sorn seems to fulfill this role for the group. She constantly complains about the journey, berates Col and Illy for not being proper children, and she's prone to hogging the supplies. Then, when the ambush is set for Arin, she calmly cuts him down with her father's axe and proceeds to start putting the house together.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The eagles just keep coming after the group, and seemingly have no interest in actually eating their prey. It's because they're being controlled by Arin.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Col's village considers him ill-omened due to the color of his hair. He's actually a perfectly decent child.


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