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Literature / The Pendragon Adventure

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"This is the way it was meant to be."

A series of modern fantasy books written by D. J. MacHale.

Each book is divided into two viewpoints. The journal segments, detailing the adventures of Bobby Pendragon, the main character, who is whisked away from his Ordinary High-School Student life by his Uncle Press, via a magical gate called a flume hidden in the subway systems of New York City. The other part follows Bobby's best friends, Mark and Courtney, who get into a bit of trouble themselves, despite lacking the ability to travel to alternate worlds. (The only book that doesn't use this formula is The Soldiers of Halla, which consists entirely of one journal written by Bobby.)

Each world is called a territory, and every territory has a Traveler, filling various roles. Every territory is reaching a turning point, which will radically alter the fate of that world. The Travelers exist to make sure that the turning points, and the destiny of the territories, go the way they naturally would, without outside interference. Obviously, if this was all there was to it, it'd be pretty uneventful. Enter Saint Dane, who wants to push the territories towards chaos, destroying the barriers between them, so he can reshape Halla (everything that has existed, does exist, and ever will exist) in his image. The series consists of 10 books, with the final book released May 12, 2009.

The series' books include:

  1. The Merchant of Death (2002)
  2. The Lost City of Faar (2003)
  3. The Never War (2003)
  4. The Reality Bug (2003)
  5. Black Water (2004)
  6. The Rivers of Zadaa (2005)
  7. The Quillan Games (2005)
  8. The Pilgrims of Rayne (2007)
  9. Raven Rise (2008)
  10. The Soldiers of Halla (2009)

In addition to the main series, there is also a trio of prequels, Pendragon: Before the War (2009), showing what happened to the nine other Travelers besides Bobby before their journey began; The Guide to the Territories of Halla (2005), covering the first half of the series; and a graphic novel version of The Merchant of Death (2005). And the obsessive reference-spotters will note that MacHale's movie Tower of Terror along with his Morpheus Road series take place in the same continuity.

And so we go.

This series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Loor and Kasha.
  • An Aesop: More than a couple books have morals, with lessons such as "nuclear weapons are bad!" (The Merchant of Death) and "racism is bad!" (Black Water).
  • Alien Sky: Denduron has three suns, and Eelong, instead of a ball-shaped sun, has a band of light spanning the sky like a rainbow.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Quigs are monsters that look like wildlife from each world, but they are seen in dark Solara during the final book, suggesting that they originate from there.
  • Animal Stampede: After Bobby enters Lifelight with Loor, they are almost immediately faced with a stampede of cattle. Not long after, Loor starts a stampede of horses to give them cover so they can escape the desperados.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Quigs, a deadly species that take the form of that world's wild animal. Earth has dogs, Denduron has bears, Cloral has sharks, Eelong has gars (wild humans. Not to be confused with the concept of "Gar"), etc.
  • Anyone Can Die: Especially in the later books. One way or the other, it doesn't quite stick for many of them.
  • After the End: Ibara. The majority of Veelox's people go to "live" in Lifelight, and they eventually die due to no one keeping the life support systems going (such as producing the food that is given to their bodies to stay alive). However, Aja Killian manages to create a Hope Spot by gathering a small amount of people now outside of Lifelight and ends up giving the territory a second chance.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Bobby's journals could count as this, as several times through the series he thinks Halla (the entirety of existence) might end and it is all written in his journals.
  • Arc Words: "This is the way it was meant to be." At Saint Dane's defeat in the first book, Bobby mocks him with these words.
  • Artifact of Doom: Usually when something from one territory is brought to another. Especially Tak. Additionally, the Flumes themselves may qualify.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Supposedly, Cloral in The Lost City of Faar is an earth-like planet with earth-like gravity, pressure, atmosphere, etc. The one difference is that it's a water world (no, not that one). Bobby and Uncle Press arrived in a cave in a coral reef 20 meters (the book says 60 feet) underwater. The problem is that the air pressure inside the cave would have to be at least three atmospheres. To be precise, the air pressure would have to be the water pressure at the depth of the water surface inside the cave.
    • Apparently, on Cloral, they create solid (room-temperature) material from water, material that can be used to make things. Of course, they're not referring to ice.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: Bobby realizes in one of the later books that Saint Dane can always go back to a Territory where Bobby apparently won, and change things again.
  • Atlantis: Both The Lost City of Faar and Black Water feature lost cities. Both of these happen to be in their titles.
  • Author Vocabulary Calendar: Part of the author's writing style. "Statement" was Character's adjective reply. Also, "craggy" in the earlier books.
  • Back from the Dead: Loor, in an event that baffles Bobby still. Also, every traveler that died over the course of the series comes back in the last chapter of Raven Rise. The ones that were trapped on another territory show up too.
  • Bittersweet Ending: This series loves them, and itself ends on this note. Saint Dane is defeated, the Ravinians are allowed to truly control their own destiny and live beyond the walls of the Conclaves, but nobody who was displaced by Naymeer is able to return home. There's a time reset where the Travelers and Acolytes get sent back to live the lives they would have had if they hadn't been yanked to save the world. Minus their memories of their time as Travelers and each other until Press brings back their journals in the very end.
  • Black-and-White Morality: We find out in The Soldiers of Halla that Solara, the birth place of the Travelers, was originally a place of balance before Saint Dane started monkeying around with things. Due to the existence of Ravinia, Solara has been split into two separate planes of existence. One represents the positive aspects of mankind and is fueled by the hopes of the Exiles. The other, darker, Solara covers the negative aspects and is being empowered by the evil intents of those who joined Ravinia.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Bobby promises in his journal to put Kasha's ashes on Eelong, which proves difficult due to the collapsed flume.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Changing the past in small ways tends to have dramatic effects on the future, which Saint Dane is happy to take advantage of.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Black Water's "Gars" (humans) and "Klee" (giant cats). Klee is a proper noun with no English translation. Gar probably means something weird without a good English equivalent, perhaps a mix of "human" and "slave".
  • Can't Take Anything with You: The Travelers never bring anything from one territory to another, in fear of destabilizing the territories. Later subverted by Saint Dane, who gleefully mixes the territories and increases the technological level of the Earth territories as part of his increasingly complex Gambit Roulette. Bobby eventually gets fed up and brings in technology from different territories in order to defeat Saint Dane's schemes. This does not end well.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Spader's "Hobey ho"; in later books, Bobby starts saying "and so we go."
    • Saint Dane often reveals his (first) disguise to Bobby with the phrase, "Welcome to [the territory], Pendragon."
  • Cat Folk: The Klees of Eelong are giant, intelligent, bipedal cats.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series does this as it goes along. The earlier books were very light, and almost cartoonish. But the books that conclude the series are very dark.
  • Changed My Jumper: Averted through help from the Acolytes. Additionally, Press tells Bobby that one must "use what the territory provides".
  • Character Development: Pretty much everyone, but especially Bobby. Starts out as an Action Survivor, grows into his role as The Hero.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the very first book after Bobby wakes from his coma in agonizing pain he notes that when Osa touches him he feels a lot better. Come book nine we learn that Travelers can actually heal one another.
  • The Chessmaster: Saint Dane, although the actual metaphor used is dominoes.
  • Cool Gate: The Flumes.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Popular athlete Bobby is best friends with awkward nerdy Mark.
  • Cool Old Guy: Gunny. He's the most elderly member in Bobby's generation of Travelers.
  • Cool Uncle: Uncle Press.
  • Continuity Snarl: Some of the prequels snarl the details of certain Travelers' backstories quite badly. Don't read them if you're the type of person who needs perfect continuity.
  • Crapsack World: Third Earth turns into one near the end of the series.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Saint Dane takes on a female form once or twice. Subverted in Raven Rise, when Bobby thinks that Saint Dane is in the form of the village chief's daughter, who has been trying to seduce him, only to find the shapeshifter to be Saint Dane's female apprentice, Nevva Winter.
  • Cue the Sun: An example in Black Water where it has very negative implications. Since gigs are solar powered, the sun's return means the gig fleet can now drop the Cloral poison on Black Water.
  • Dark World:
    • The dark Solara that Saint Dane momentarily warps Bobby to is a twisted nightmare land with images of destruction flying about in the background and constant lightning flashes.
    • There's a more direct example in The Pilgrims of Rayne. Rubic City is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland where Flighters can attack Bobby and Siry at any given moment. Not to mention the Dados.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Subverted in the final book. When the travelers die, they're just sent back to Solara. On the other hand, this uses up the small amount of energy left there.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Bobby is this at first, as when anyone (except Press, who calls him Bobby) refers to him as Pendragon, he insists on being called Bobby. Once he accepts his role as the Lead Traveler, though, he stops correcting people.
  • Doorstopper: The final book is almost 600 pages long. It's not too long compared to the two that precede it (both of which hover around 550 pages), but it's way longer than the first few books, which were around 400.
  • Downer Ending: The Reality Bug and The Quillan Games. Arguably Raven Rise as well, though mitigated by the return of the Travelers at the end.
  • Driving Stick: Bobby has to figure out how to drive a 1930s car with a three speed manual transmission in The Never War
  • Earth All Along: A variation for another planet. Ibara is actually Veelox three hundred years down the line.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Ten Territories, and three of them are Earth. Even more, Bobby Pendragon, from the modern-day world of Second Earth, is the lead Traveler. Clearly, Earth is special.
    • In Raven Rise, Bobby himself says that everything's been leading to the events on Second Earth. Also, Second Earth is where everything is lost spectacularly at the end of the book.
    • In The Soldiers of Halla, it's explained that in reality Halla should be considered seven worlds, not ten territories. Saint Dane simply targeted Earth and Veelox at multiple turning points in their histories, thus dividing them up. The trope is still played straight due to the final battle happening in Third Earth.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Bobby sees these in dark Solara during his final battle with Saint Dane.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Averted. Bobby and Courtney pretend to be siblings in 1937 because otherwise it would raise eyebrows for them to be staying together at the Manhattan Tower Hotel.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Saint Dane's philosophy boils down to this.
  • Expy: Nancy "Jinx" Olsen is one for Col. Samantha "Sam" Carter.
  • Eye-Dentity Giveaway: Subverted. While it initially seems like Saint Dane can't hide his Icy Blue Eyes when shapeshifting, he later hides them perfectly, indicating he was just inducing Glamour Failure to mess with Bobby.
  • Eye Scream: Loque is blinded thanks to a faceful of broken glass.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Tak in Denduron, a super powerful explosive powder far beyond either faction's ability to control.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Bobby fails to notice the Dados all look exactly like his best friend Mark Dimond.
    • Mr. Pop's protectors fail to notice Nevva is wearing a tracking device, bringing Blok right to Mr. Pop.
  • Fantastic Racism: A good lot of the plots are of this type. For instance, the warrior caste set up in Denduron, the klees versus gars in Eelong, and the various tribes of Zadaa. Saint Dane instigates this as part of Putting on the Reich.
  • Fictional Document: A good half of each book is made of Bobby's journals.
  • Finger in the Mail: In Black Water, St. Dane leaves Bobby a bag containing Gunny's severed hand.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Bobby bonds with his fellow Travelers as they go through dangerous adventures together.
    • Courtney and Mark start off only vaguely acquainted with each other and become good friends through all the Earth-side dangers they go through together.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Kasha initially refuses to believe there are other worlds, or that the gars (humans) can be intelligent, even after meeting Bobby.
  • The Force: Saint Dane's, as well as all the Traveler's powers are derived from Solara. The Travelers get it from the positive energy within Solara, Saint Dane gets his from the negativity of humanity. However, both sides must use this power sparingly because it literally depletes Solara.
  • For Want of a Nail: In The Never War, Bobby and Gunny go to Third Earth (Earth in the early 51st Century AD) to find out what would happen if they saved the Hindenburg. Turns out, if said Zeppelin was saved, London, DC, and New York would've been nuked by the Luftwaffe just before D Day, and things would've gone down mountain from there.
  • The Future: Third Earth. Our world, around the year 5010 AD.
  • Future Imperfect: Third Earth inverts this. As one character put it, they "know everything about everyone and everything they ever did."
  • The Future Will Be Better: The original version of Third Earth is a very sunny view of a few thousand years from now. It's an idealistic paradise where the humans are entirely happy, all of knowledge and history is easily available, and there's no environmental problems. It becomes much worse once the timeline is changed.
  • Gainax Ending: A mild example, but the contradictions make it fall under this trope. Though told every person displaced through time and space must stay on the ruined worlds they're currently on and can't go back home, and after most of the Travelers return to Solara, Bobby expresses regret that he won't be able to live a normal life. Uncle Press considers this. Suddenly, a flashback of Bobby's "normal" life plays, where he married Courtney and Mark dies of cancer. Bobby is lying on his deathbed when a strange man in a long coat comes in and gives him a clutter of papers- his old journals. End book.
  • Gambit Roulette: Saint Dane's plans. Which makes everyone, but especially Bobby — an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Genre Blindness: The books (at least the earlier ones) try to push the idea that Bobby's just an ordinary kid who also happens to be in charge of saving the worlds, but this, along with his outdated slang, hinder it.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Mark brings his science project to First Earth. It doesn't end well.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Saint Dane is destroyed when people no longer wish to follow him and decide to control their own futures.
  • Godwin's Law: Inverted in The Never War, when to give Spader an idea of what Hitler was like, Bobby compares him to Saint Dane. Played straight later on, when several characters compare Ravinia's philosophy to that of the Nazis, and its Horizon Compounds are likened to concentration camps.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In book 6, Bobby and Loor try to destroy the machine that the Rokador use to control the rivers. They succeed, but it turns out that they not only didn't save the Batu, they also doomed the Rokador.
  • The Great Depression: First Earth. Our world, circa 1937, although it's not acknowledged.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In The Rivers of Zadaa, Bobby wonders if Saint Dane himself answers to someone else.
  • Gut Punch: Saint Dane succeeding in Veelox at the end of book 4, and the collapse of the Eelong flume, killing Kasha and trapping Gunny and Spader at the end of book 5.
  • Healing Factor: Travelers recover quickly from injuries. They can also heal each other from certain death.
  • Hindenburg Incendiary Principle: In book 3, Bobby must let the Hindenburg be blown up or else the US will end up losing WWII. Even knowing the consequences he can't bring himself to let it happen, so another Traveller holds him back.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The Reality Bug causes the creation of an actual, physical creature that can effect the real world.
  • Hope Spot: Scarily enough, Saint Dane encourages these moments of apparent victory, just so it will hurt more when he sweeps the rug out from under them. Made even more sadistic when we find out Saint Dane's true motives. By defeating you when you're at the cusp of victory, Saint Dane more easily drives in the notion that your situation is hopeless, destroying your will to take destiny into your own hands. By doing this, he effectively takes away your free will, which in turn makes him even more powerful as he feeds on your subsequent hopelessness and despair.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Klees use eight-legged zenzens as horses.
  • Huge Holographic Head: Used by Aja to communicate with people entering her territory, Veelox.
  • Human Aliens: On all the other worlds. Flora and non-human fauna tends to be different from world to world, however.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The quigs on Eelong are gar-shaped, i.e human shaped. Saint Dane also qualifies, appearing human but in reality being a near-omnipotent spirit.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Saint Dane's entire philosophy is based on the idea that humans are awful and need someone to control them.
  • Humans Are Not the Dominant Species: The planet Eelong is populated by two species, the Klee and the Gar (humans). The Klee are Cat Folk who rule the planet and keep humans as either pets or slaves, seeing them as no more than animals. The plot of Black Water involves the secret human city of Black Water, where free humans are secretly gathering and preparing to rebel against their Klee overlords.
  • Human Pet: Several klee have them.
  • Immortality: Of the Resurrective sort. Whenever Saint Dane "dies" he just turns into smoke and reforms elsewhere.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Saint Dane does this to Loor.
  • Infallible Narrator: Bobby. Made especially glaring because writing the story down was one of the major plot points, and we're supposed to believe that in many cases he had hand-written a well planned out eloquent narrative in a single night. Later insight into the nature of Travelers explains this to a degree. In the last book, he notes that he has perfect recall of every moment of his life.
  • It's All My Fault: In The Reality Bug, after the bug goes wrong, Aja blames only herself, since she's the one who created and installed it. Bobby explains that Saint Dane probably had a hand in it, such as by planting ideas in her head years ago, and doing the same with other phaders to make changes to Lifelight so that the bug would have the effect it did.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Travelers can use a hypnosis-like persuasion ability on other people.
  • Kirk Summation: Late into the game, Bobby points out that the fact that Saint Dane's master plan involves simply conquering the other territories with an artificial army by main force when he can't make the "turning points" work undercuts the philosophy that was driving him (that people were basically doomed by nature and deserve it anyway).
  • Lamarck Was Right: In a way, Nevva Winter is some sort of demigoddess.
  • Last-Name Basis: Except for people who knew him on Second Earth (read: Mark, Courtney, and Press), everyone calls Bobby by his last name. Eventually he just goes with it and introduces himself only as 'Pendragon'. Spader and Siry's father also receive this treatment.
  • Living with the Villain: Mark and Courtney are fairly shocked to realize that Andy Mitchell was Saint Dane all along.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Veelox's Lifelight is a virtual reality machine that lets people live in personalized fantasy worlds. People prefer it to the real world to the point that the real world has become a ghost town.
  • Made of Explodium: Tak, the discovery of which is the true turning point of Denduron, since either side using it to destroy the other would result in Denduron going on a dark path.
  • Meaningful Look: In The Reality Bug, overlapping with Face, Nod, Action; Bobby and Aja exchange a look before they head into the gym to get Alex's controller, signifying that they are on the same page. This marks a turning point in their relationship; up till this point, it's largely been one of clashing and disagreement, but now they are ready to work together as fellow Travelers.
    We had to go together. Aja and I then shared eye contact in a way that hadn’t happened up until this point. Though we were both Travelers, our relationship had been a battle from the get-go. But now we were about to step into danger. The look between us said it all. We were in this together, like it or not. I gave her a quick nod, and the two of us stepped into the gym.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The dados serve this purpose well: an army that can be killed in vast numbers, but is not technically human.
  • Mega-Corp: Blok on Quillan. They are a monopoly in the most extreme of extremes, since they pretty much own and produce everything on Quillan, including art.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Some traveler mentors end up dead. It turns out that all of them are destined to die, and they are aware of this. Though they also are aware that it won't be permanent.
  • Merged Reality: What the Turning Points are all about. Bobby wants each Territory to go forth on its own, but Saint Dane also wants to make (what in his opinion is) a better world through something called The Convergence.
  • The Mole: Nevva Winter, The Quillan Games.
  • Narnia Time: Time between the territories is explained to work this way.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Ravinia. Separating one group of people from others? Check. Claiming that one group is superior and only them deserve rights? Check. Putting the "inferior" people into concentration camps and try to kill them all? Check. The Earth one is a variation because people are separated by "ability" rather than race/ethnicity. In other worlds like Zadaa and Eelong, this is completely played straight.
  • Near-Villain Victory: "It's not over until Saint Dane thinks he's won."
  • Next Sunday A.D.: MacHale started writing the series in 2001, but Fanon holds that the Second Earth-based portion of The Merchant of Death is set in late March or early April of 2003.
  • New Eden: Third Earth, a utopia which has done away with war, sickness, and famine.
  • Newspaper Dating: Bobby uses newspapers on First Earth to figure out the day and year.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Bobby, frequently. The first screw up was the turning point for Denduron. Tak, while discovered by the rebels, had not been able to be used in huge amounts besides pea-sized amounts for their slingshots. However, due to Bobby bringing his flashlight with him from Second Earth, the rebels find a way to harness more Tak to create a bomb.
    • One of the more egregious examples is in "The Pilgrims of Rayne" when Bobby decides to trap Saint Dane by blowing up the flume, so neither can leave. This particular example has Bobby holding the Idiot Ball as well, since by this point Bobby already knows at this point that Ibara is actually Veelox's future. Therefore, he already knows there's at least another flume in the territory: the one in Rubic City. There isn't any indication that the old flume has been destroyed by the time Bobby decides to blow up the Ibara flume. Raven Rise indeed shows that Saint Dane just unearthed Veelox's flume, though it was more for Bobby's use than his own.
    • Saint Dane's plans usually consist on inducing several characters into this trope, including the Travelers. In fact, his entire plan depends on Bobby falling into this trope. And he succeeds.
  • Noir Episode: The Never War's "A-Plot" is set in 1937 for the most part, so it has a prominent Film Noir feel to it. Courtney's plot in Pilgrims of Rayne is similarly noir-themed.
  • No-Paper Future: Third Earth prominently features voice-controlled supercomputers with holographic displays. The one real book on display in the New York Library is a copy of Green Eggs and Ham, to serve as a reminder.
  • Non-Action Guy: Patrick doesn't do much of anything, though that's justified considering that his territory is a legitimate utopia. Then Raven Rise happens.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: At the end of book 4, Saint Dane's victory in Veelox causes the rules of the series to dramatically change.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Loque, who appeared to die in The Pilgrims of Rayne, comes back in Raven Rise.
    • Also from Raven Rise: Patrick assumed that Richard died in the fire on Third Earth, but he turned out to be fine.
    • Mark is seemingly executed in The Soldiers of Halla. It turns out a dado was executed in his place.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: The Travelers are not to bring anything from one territory to another except their own bodies. Saint Dane holds to no such rule, and often manipulates the other Travelers into breaking it.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: All of Quillan, except for those who follow Mr. Pop.
  • Only One Name: The people of Denduron, Zadaa, and Eelong. Bobby actually lampshades this in several of the books.
  • Opt Out: Bobby makes a failed attempt at the end of The Pilgrims of Rayne.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The Travelers and Saint Dane technically turn out to be what we refer to as ghosts, albeit solid ones.
  • Our Souls Are Different: See above. The Travelers are in reality disembodied souls with Reality Warper powers.
  • Panthera Awesome: The klee, the dominant cat people race of Eelong. Most of them have occupations as hunters or explorers.
  • Parental Abandonment: If your family is still around when you become a Traveler, they won't be for long.
  • Plank Gag: When Bobby completes his Training from Hell with Loor and Alder and is awarded a real fighting staff, he launches into a long series of these. He'd nearly whack one of them with the stave end as he turns to the other to apologize for nearly whacking them, and then spins around to apologize for that...
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Two in The Pilgrims of Rayne:
    • Between Courtney and Mark, as she's preparing to shoot him for the good of the timeline.
    • From Bobby to his friends, as he's writing them for what he believes to be the last time.
  • Portal Network: It's right there in the premise: Flumes.
  • Prefers the Illusion: This is the reason that Saint Dane wins his first territory. The people of Veelox refuse to abandon the virtual reality world Lifelight, which gives users a chance to simulate living a perfect life. Eventually, so many people give up their real lives that society collapses and millions die when the workers stop maintaining the Lifelight pyramids. Notably, while many people came out of Lifelight, the state their society was in caused many to hit the Despair Event Horizon and give up, returning to Lifelight despite knowing they would die there.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Loor and the other Batu people are like this.
  • Random Transportation: Bobby Pendragon, like all other Travelers, moves from dimension to dimension wherever the flumes take him. Getting where you want to go isn't usually an issue. When you get there is another story; it appears that while the Traveller doesn't have absolute control over this, the flume takes the Traveller to when he needs to be there.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: In The Never War, the Hindenburg disaster was the result of a mobster igniting it with a firework to destroy his rival's fortune, which was secretly on board.
  • Really 700 Years Old: We know Saint Dane is most likely older than he looks, but most people probably weren't expecting him and Press to be as old as sentience itself.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Nevva. She made sure that the Exiles survived for the most part, and told Bobby and Elli the secret to defeating Saint Dane. What does she get in return? She gets scattergunned in the back and is denied access to Solara after death. She also said she could not be saved because Dark Solara gave her existence and she had betrayed it. So why couldn't she rejoin Light Solara? There is a happy note to this: when all world's histories returned to normal without St. Dane and the flumes, Nevva never turned evil, she would've helped Mr. Pop defeat Blok in this timeline, and maybe she and Elli reunited.
  • Red Right Hand:
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted. Saint Dane gleefully pushes forth the march of technology by playing mix-and-match with time and Territories in order to break down the walls between the territories.
  • Refusal of the Call: Bobby didn't want to be a Traveler. Elli Winter was supposed to be the Traveler from Quillan, but she turned down the position because she felt she wasn't ready and was currently past the Despair Event Horizon. Kasha refuses longer than everyone else. Siri also didn't believe in the Travelers for a long time before being forcibly brought into the fold.
  • La Résistance: The Milago people in The Merchant of Death, all of Black Water, the revivers in The Quillan Games. The Yanks in The Soldiers of Halla.
  • Reset Button: The ending. When Bobby wishes he could go back and relive his former life rather than disappearing back to Solara, he's seemingly allowed to do so, despite being told everyone had to stay where they were.
  • Ret-Gone: The fate of any Traveler.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: All Travelers have it, as does anyone who is on another territory at the time, which is good when things start changing severely in the latter half of the series.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Solara, the spirit of mankind formed by the existence of sentience, is usually good in nature. In order for Saint Dane's Evil Plan to fully work, he needs to change the nature of humanity itself.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Out of the infinite number of habitable planets in the universe, technological civilizations arose on only seven. Six of these civilizations are exclusively human. It is possible, given the nature of Halla, that the people who created the universe did this intentionally, but the topic is unaddressed, and no one takes note of it.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Subverted by The Never War. Played straight in the final chapter of The Soldiers of Halla.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Loor teases Bobby after he has a somewhat tender moment with Aja; embarrassed, he insists that there's nothing going on between them.
  • Ship Sinking: More like Ship Bait-and-Switch. Bobby/Courtney appears sunk in book 6... and then out of nowhere they end up getting to marry and grow old together in the epilogue. The clock was rewound all the way back to before each of them became Travelers, so they could live out the lives they would have otherwise had, after what Bobby says to Uncle Press just before the epilogue. So Bobby and Courtney wouldn't have had to deal with the "I'm too busy saving the world and I like Loor" deal, and gotten together.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Cloral is almost entirely an ocean.
  • Small, Secluded World: The island of Ibara, which seemingly exists in an endless ocean. This is entirely a lie; Ibara is part of the greater world of Veelox.
  • Spin-Off: The Morpheus Road trilogy is a spin-off from this series.
  • Stab the Scorpion: After Kasha and Bobby have an argument, she suddenly throws her weapon... only for it to turn out that she was attacking a tang trying to kill Bobby.
  • Step into the Blinding Fight: The Blind Master Training occurs in a book of the series. Bobby is blindfolded and asked to feel his trainers' presences.
  • Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Courtney and Mark. She's an athletic jock, he's a smart and unathletic nerd.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The Reality Bug was one of the lighter books in the series. Bobby's adventures were almost cartoonish, and it seemed like it would follow the formula that the first three books set up. Then, in the very end, Saint Dane gets his first victory.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Quigs can be identified by their yellow eyes. Or, in the case of Ibara's bees, the yellow glow of their firefly-like rear ends.
  • Supporting Leader: Both Mark and Courtney in Soldiers of Halla.
  • Teach Me How To Fight: After Saint Dane almost kills him, Bobby asks Loor to do this with him.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: Veelox, to Lifelight. This becomes their ultimate downfall. Even long after Lifelight doesn't work anymore, there were still people obsessed with it called Flighters.
  • Theme Table
  • Threatening Shark: The Cloral quigs are giant sharks.
  • Three Amigos: Bobby, Mark, and Courtney.
  • Time Police: The Travelers are a variation. They are there to make sure that Saint Dane can't meddle with events on various worlds, some of which are accessible in multiple time periods.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: The Narnia Time in effect between the territories occasionally causes this sort of trouble. Usually involving rookie Travelers (we're looking at you, Spader and Siry).
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: A lot of the time travel doesn't really make sense. It's apparently just fine to go back to the 1930s and change things when Saint Dane had also done so, but after they defeat Saint Dane and humanity on Third Earth is still After the End? They can't go back and fix anything.
  • Title Drop: This applies to all of them except The Never War and Raven Rise.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Bobby does this in book 6. Also, Alder by the time book 8 rolls around and Mark, Courtney, Patrick, and Elli in book 10.
  • Totally Radical: The worst parts of the books is MacHale's desperate attempts to identify with his target audience. Bobby's journal is filled with outdated slang and references to products like 'nintendo'. "major league rash action' is a typical example.
    • This is completely justified, at least toward the end of the series. Bobby's use of outdated slang is due to his being away from Second Earth for so long.
  • Tournament Arc: The Quillan Games' Grand X.
  • Tricked Out Time: The Travelers destroy the Hindenberg. Otherwise, German spies would have stolen secrets to the atom bomb and won WWII.
  • Trust Password: In The Never War Gunny proposes a secret knock to Bobby. Unfortunately the whole scheme is ruined when the bad guys show up and Bobby opens the door anyway, figuring Gunny forgot the secret knock.
  • Tsundere: Aja, who starts off cold and bitter towards Bobby but gradually warms to him as the seriousness of Saint Dane's threat is brought to light.
  • Two-Fisted Tales: The series really likes to visit assorted pulp type settings. The most obvious one is First Earth (due to literally being Earth during the era the pulps were being written). But the water world of Cloral (what with its high tech pirates), desert world of Zadaa (which has shades of Conan and John Carter), jungle world of Eelong, and the post apocalyptic castaway world of Ibara all invoke this trope with gusto.
  • Underwater City: The Lost City of Faar on Cloral is one.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Loor at the end of book 6. Justified in book 10 when it is revealed that the Travelers can't die.
  • Un-person: What happens to Bobby, his family and other Travelers when they begin their journeys. In Bobby's case, his records are stricken from any school or government database, his phone number (complete with graffiti) is stricken from the phone book, heck, even Bobby's house is erased from existence, leaving an empty lot where the house once stood. The only records still around are people's memories of the Traveler and their journals. In book 3, it is revealed that Travelers have no history, so they can never appear on the Third Earth simulator. This allows Bobby to figure out that Harlow is Saint Dane.
  • The Unreveal: In both The Quillan Games and The Pilgrims of Rayne, it appears that Saint Dane is going to explain the true nature of the Travelers, but instead, he gives us something nonsensical and annoying. He turns out to have been telling the truth in The Quillan Games, but so devoid of context it merely served to annoy Bobby.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Bobby and Loor, who become an Anchored Ship due to her unwillingness to date him until after their mission is complete.
  • Utopia: Though it took many centuries, Third Earth becomes one where technology has advanced to great heights, nature is reclaiming the surface while humans live underground, underwater, or in space, and food is implied to be free. And then Raven Rise comes into the picture...
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Saint Dane's mission statement.
  • Villains Blend in Better: Saint Dane blends in well.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Saint Dane, again. All the Travelers get this power once they arrive in Solara. They have to use it very sparingly though. Bobby only turns to smoke with it. Hilarity ensues when Bobby tries to use it himself without actually knowing how it works, and it boils down to him trying to will it into happening:
    Bobby: Become Johnny Depp.
  • We Can Rule Together: Saint Dane's tried this ploy as well. Bobby never gives in.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Saint Dane was this in his mind... until his Moral Event Horizon.
  • Wham Line: Bobby asks what they call the entirety of the planet he's on, since it's not Ibara. The answer? "Veelox."
  • What Year Is This?: Subverted. Near the beginning of The Quillan Games, Bobby starts asking people on Quillan a lot of questions about the games and Blok and such, which makes them regard him as a crazy person and flee his presence, since it would be quite literally impossible to grow up on Quillan and not know those things.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Subverted. In the books right before book 10, it seems like Saint Dane makes some legitimate points, and he just has some flawed logic. In book 10, it's completely thrown out the window; the flawed logic was just a justification, and he's actually pure evil.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Even though the Reality Bug is stopped and everyone is back in reality, Saint Dane just disguises himself as the project director and encourages them to re-enter the simulation.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: The biggest competition in Quillan's existence is called the Grand X.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Lifelight on Veelox, after the Reality Bug is introduced.

Alternative Title(s): Pendragon