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Literature / The Power of Five

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The Power of Fivenote  is a supernatural thriller series by Anthony Horowitz, author of the New York Times best-selling Alex Rider series'; there are five books:

  • Raven's Gate
  • Evil Star
  • Nightrise
  • Necropolis
  • Oblivion

The story focuses on five 14-year-olds (Matt Freeman, Pedro, Jamie and Scott Tyler, and Scarlett) who are the reincarnations of five beings who saved the world from the Old Ones, evil spirits who once ruled the world using demons to instill fear on the people by sealing them away into certain parts of the world. Unfortunately, an evil organization wishes to unlock those parts to release the Old Ones onto the world once more and become rulers of the world. Now it is up to Matt, Pedro, Jamie, Scott and Scarlet to prevent the world from falling into darkness once more.


Ravens Gate: Matt Freeman is sent to a nice village after being arrested for stealing from a warehouse as part of a government program. However, things are not as they seem as a series of strange events leave him in strange danger. He cannot escape, he cannot contact anyone, and the roads out of the town loop. Along with a journalist called Richard he meets, he discovers the townspeople are trying to unleash the Old Ones that once ruled the world. Oh, and Matt finds out he is destined to save the world with his newfound telekinetic powers. Eventually they win. The novel as a whole seems inspired by Lovecraft and is essentially a fantasy horror story.

Evil Star: Matt and Richard travel to Peru to find the next of the Five. Richard is kidnapped. Matt meets a boy called Pedro who winds up being one of the Five. They find a lost city and try to foil a convoluted plot to resurrect the Old Ones using a satellite. This book has a more fantasy themed plot.


Nightrise: This book focuses on Jamie and Scott, telepathic twins who work at Reno Playhouse in Nevada. One night, they are attacked by mysterious assailants. Jamie manages to get away, but Scott isn't so lucky. The former is saved by Alicia, an aid for a presidential candidate named Trelawney, who needs Jamie to help her get her son back from prison. With a common goal, the two go to free their lost loved ones from prison, while the reader begins to learn about what life was like when the Old Ones ruled. This is the first book not to focus on Matt, although he does cameo in the ending.

Necropolis: Scarlett is introduced here after being teased in the Nightrise. Scarlett goes on a school trip to an ancient English church for her art class. It is there that she sees an apparition of Matt pass through an unusual door at the end of the hall. She follows him, only to find herself in Ukraine and in the hands of a satanic cult called the Monastery for the Cry for Mercy. She manages to escape, only to be plastered all over the news and revealed to the Nightrise organization, forcing her to head to Hong Kong to figure out Necropolis actually is. Meanwhile, the rest of the Five plan to save her when tragedy strikes, forcing Matt and Jamie to split up from Scott and Pedro and head to England.

Oblivion: Ten years after the events of Necropolis, the Five are once again separated from one another due to the destruction of the magical door as they were using it. Matt and Lohan are in Brazil, Richard and Scarlett are in Egypt, Jamie is trapped in a closed-off village in England, and Pedro and Scott are captured in Italy, where the Old Ones try to tempt Scott into joining them. The last dregs of humanity are gathering in Antarctica, preparing for the final battle against the Old Ones in the desolate land of Oblivion. But Matt has read his own book in the Library, and he knows that this ending may not necessarily be a happy one...

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: It is revealed in Matt's backstory that when he was taken under the 'care' of his Aunt Gwenda and her boyfriend, they spent all of his inheritance; after they lost all his money, they started beating him up. In Jamie and Scott's backstory, when things start to go bad for their adoptive parents, they start abusing them to the point where Scott snaps and tells the father figure to 'go hang himself'. Considering that the twins have the power of telepathy and mind control, this ends very badly. Oh, and let's not forget wonderful Uncle Don...
  • Action Survivor: Richard. Small-town journalist drawn into saving the world because Matt once called out telepathically for help. But he has followed Matt all over the world and done his best to protect him, without the benefit of training or powers, and is still alive as of the Bittersweet Ending of Oblivion.
  • America Saves the Day: Defied. The Old Ones are well aware of this trope, and rig the US presidential election so that it doesn't happen.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Scott and Jamie don't like to read minds for exactly this reason.
  • Anti-Villain: The Catholic priest from Oblivion who poisons Pedro stands out as pretty-much the only villain in the series to be tragically misguided rather than selfish or inherently evil.
  • Apocalypse How: Planet Earth starts off in Oblivion as a Class 1 then then later becomes Class 2. However it is implied that humanity will eventually recover.
  • Arc Number: Five, of course, corresponding with the number of sides of a pentagram and the number of main characters
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Played straight and averted with both The Nexus and Nightrise recruiting rich people to their cause.
    • In Oblivion, Nightrise rewards the hundreds of the richest, most famous and most repulsive people that joined them by mutilating them into soldiers for the upcoming battle.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Horowitz takes a few liberties with the belief system of the Incas, several Native American myths, some Ancient Chinese legends and even the theology syllabus of Roman universities in order to work the cosmology of the series into them. Also, in a more nitpicky example, he claims that the five-pointed star symbol of the Gatekeepers has "nothing to do with Christianity", which isn't strictly true - a few examples of early Christian artwork do use a similar five-pointed star as a symbol of Christ. It would still be a bit odd to find it carved on a secret door in the Vatican, but it wouldn't be as unbelievable as the book implies.
    • The Incan tumi given to Richard is described as having a sharp point. Tumis do not have points; the blade is semicircular.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: All Five Gatekeepers, once the Old Ones are defeated for good, leave and live in the Dream World, which is implied to be the Afterlife.
  • Burn the Witch!: Pulled off at the end of Raven's Gate in a dramatic fashion: with nukes!
  • Badass Boast: Two crackers from Shang Tsung:
    Master of the Mountain: I do not recall how many men I have killed to be where I am now, but I would hazard a guess at 25.
    Master of the Mountain: I mentioned that I had killed 25 men to attain my position. The man who asked me [if he would be willing to work for the Old Ones] was number 25.
  • Badass Bystander: Richard Cole. He rescues Matt from a bog and sets an Eldritch Abomination on fire.
  • Badass Normal: Richard has moments where he's at least as competent as any of the Five. Oh, and then there's Lohan in the final book, who casually (and efficiently) murders his way across South America in his quest to survive and help Matt.
  • Big Bad: Ultimately, Chaos, the King of the Old Ones, is this for the whole series. However, he spends most of his time as an off-screen Bigger Bad while the humans trying to unleash him take the Big Bad role for each of the first four books:
    • Sir Michael in Raven's Gate.
    • Diego Salamanda in Evil Star.
    • Mr Chairman in Night Rise (with Susan Mortlake as The Dragon) and Necropolis.
    • Finally Chaos himself in Oblivion (with Jonas Mortlake and the new Chairman as Co-Dragons and Commander Strake and Field Marshall Akkad as Mook Lieutenants).
  • Bittersweet Ending: The final book, "Oblivion", ends like this: the Old Ones have finally been defeated for good, but half the world's population has been wiped out in the process, including Matt and Scott, and it'll probably take humanity a long time to recover from the destruction the Old Ones caused. Also, all Five Gatekeepers decide to leave the world behind for the dream world.
  • Blood Magic: One of the things required to open Raven's Gate is Matt's blood, exactly the reason why he was adopted by Mrs. Deverill.
  • Body Horror: Diego Salamanda forcibly mutilated as a baby. His head was put between two planks and forced to grow up. By adulthood, his head was nearly twice as long as the average man and his face is equally deformed.
  • Break the Cutie: Pedro endures a lot of this in Oblivion, what with witnessing Scott's betrayal and being forced to swim though raw sewage. He then almost dies from poisoning when another of his supposed allies betrays him. There's only so much The Heart can take.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Richard is given a tumi knife by the Incas at the end of Evil Star, with the warning that he would come to "hate them" when he had to use it. Its purpose is unrevealed until the end of Oblivion, where Richard has to use it to kill Matt to spare him further suffering at the hands of the Old Ones after they were both captured. This allows Matt's past self to be summoned to the present, whose presence is instrumental to the second and final downfall of the Old Ones.
    • Also, the way the Old Ones were tricked the first time is, with a little variation, also their downfall the second time.
  • The Chessmaster: The Chairman of the Nightrise Corporation is a pretty impressive example of this - he rigs a US presidential election, manages to capture two of the Five, takes over Hong Kong and already has a business empire that controls most of South East Asia.
    • Matt Freeman is perhaps the best example in the series, outwitting both the King of the Old Ones and the aforementioned Chairman.
    • The Master of the Mountain is another heroic example.
  • Chosen Ones: The Gatekeepers
  • Cliffhanger: Anthony Horowitz must have really wanted to piss his readers off when he was planning out Necropolis, where in the end Scarlett gets shot and it is revealed to the reader that all five gatekeepers, who need to stay together in order to defeat the Old Ones, are going to be separated by even greater distances than before.
    • What made it worse was that we had to wait four years for Oblivion.
  • Cool Gate: The Gates that keep the Old Ones at bay are kinda cool, once you look past how terrifying the entire concept is.
  • Cool Old Lady: Professor Chambers. As it turns out, however, the cool factor isn't quite enough to fend off the Old Ones.
    • Jayne Deverill is a villainous example.
  • Cosmic Keystones: The Gates.
  • Crapsack World: In Oblivion, we get to see what the world looks like under the Old Ones. It's an endless string of natural disasters, wars, terrorist attacks, plagues, refugees, crazed despots, dystopian police states and, of course, the occasional Eldritch Abomination attack.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: There's one in Jane Deverill's house in Raven's Gate. It's supposedly of her distant ancestor...
  • Creepy Child: The children of Lesser Malling.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Pedro. He's The Medic and The Heart, and the only one of the Five with no combat-useful superpowers. But when he has to, he's perfectly capable of escaping a Nightrise-run prison specifically designed to break his spirit, using a combination of Sherlock Scan, Batman Gambit, Impossible Thief and Groin Attack.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Matt, when the Old Ones torture him. He even gets a barbed wire necklace in imitation of the Crown of Thorns.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: There's quite a few, but Raven's Gate takes the cake. The thug in the beginning, Ms. Deverill's acid bath, being crushed in the hand of your god... Yeah.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Played straight with Matt, Pedro, Jamie, and Scott. Subverted with Scarlett, whose had the nicest life out of all five Gatekeepers.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series was pretty dark from the very start, but Oblivion is notably even moreso.
  • Dead Guy Junior: The epilogue of Oblivion reveals that Richard named his son "Matt" in memory of his friend. Holly notes that the boy does bare a striking resemblance to his namesake.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Richard Cole.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Jamie, at least, feels this way about Scott's death.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: This is what the Five are destined to do with the Old Ones. They pulled it off in their previous incarnation by sealing them behind the Gates. Matt, with a little help from Pedro, manages to single-handedly incapacitate them for a little while when they finally break free. Finally, due to a quirk of timing at the climax of Oblivion, the Five banish the Old Ones one last time and - just before the portal closes - the British Navy accidentally nukes Hell, and this seemingly kills or permanently imprisons them.
  • Disney Villain Death: In Raven's Gate, Mrs. Deverill falls to her doom when she is pushed by Richard off a railing into a tank of acid.
    • Noah falls through a hole in the floor that Matt made by loosening nails and covered with a rug, where he lands on his sickle and dies.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue to Oblivion features Holly, decades later and now an old woman, reminiscing on the time she spent with the Five and what became of them after they disappeared.
  • Downer Ending: Evil Star, and Necropolis. Nightrise, less so.
  • The Dragon:
    • Jayne Dervill in Raven's Gate.
    • Captain Roberts in Evil Star.
    • Susan Mortlake in Nightrise.
    • Jonas Mortlake and the new Chairman in Oblivion
  • Eldritch Abomination: The main antagonists are the Old Ones, godlike creatures clearly inspired by Lovecraft that used to rule Earth before the humans defeated them ten thousand years ago and sealed them in another universe. The Nazca Lines were created as the seal, and the animal shapes drawn into the Earth were actually representative of each of the Old Ones, the familiar animals being the closest approximation the human mind could come to the Old Ones' horrifying appearance.
    • Asmodeus, Mrs Deverill's cat, is implied to be one as well. It not only perfectly understands English, it apparrently survives being shot with a shotgun, is implied to have killed Tom Burgess, and follows Matt around. It is also unaccounted for at the end of Raven's Gate...
    • Whilst they don't necessarily fit this trope per se, the people of Lesser Malling are at least inhuman to some degree. Both Sir Michael and Claire Deverill are noted to be incredibly fast and strong for people of their age. Mrs Deverill also seems to enjoy eating uncooked meat and looks exactly like a portrait of her "ancestor".
    • The portrait itself acts like a CCTV camera and even directs Matt to go to bed on one occasion.
    • The Diary of St Joseph of Cordoba has this effect on just about everything around it.
    • Many of the denizens of Hong Kong in Necropolis.
  • Eldritch Location: Several.
    • Lesser Malling and the surrounding countryside.
    • Whatever dimension is on the other side of the Gates.
    • Hong Kong is turned into one over the course of Necropolis
    • Anywhere that the influence of the Old Ones is particularly strong begins to smell awful and naturally repel people.
    • The enormous hidden ice palace in Antartica that the King Of The Old Ones makes its base in after being summoned in Evil Star.
    • The Nazca Desert. Yes, the whole thing.
  • Empty Shell: Scott Tyler is one of these at the end of Nightrise. Probably understandable, considering he spent most of the book being tortured, both physically and mentally.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Triads may smuggle drugs and serve as assassins, but they're not about to let the Old Ones take over the world so easily.
    • Michael Marsh claims he doesn't like hurting children unnecessarily. This is fifteen minutes before he tries to cut Matt's heart out.
    • Lohan has this reaction when he sees a vivisected child being prepared for use as a 'drug mule'.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Old Ones have this effect.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Surprisingly, the later servants of the Old Ones do this. This is probably to show the difference between the rather quaint Lesser Malling folk and serious players like Nightrise Corp:
    • Father Gregory calmly walks out of a window when he is informed that he has failed the Old Ones by letting Scarlett escape.
    • The Chairman simply stands, sipping his fine cognac, watching his death coming all the while.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Mrs. Deverill. Her skin is eaten away by acid.
    • Sir Michael Marsh is crushed to death by the King of the Old Ones.
    • Claire Deverill is burnt to death by radiation.
    • Diego Salamanda has his neck broken when he falls over and his oversized head hits the ground wrong.
    • Both Nightrise chairmen get pretty brutally impaled - one by a boat and one by a falling stactite.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Scott had several of these, after a nice spell of Mind Rape and Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Green Rooming : The story starts off with Matt, who then vanishes after book 2, gets a brief mention in book 3, and then is gone for the first half of book 4.
  • Hell Gate: What the Five Gatekeepers are there to guard and - when necessary - create.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Egyptian freedom fighters in Oblivion, to Richard's disgust.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Jones Mortlake makes this argument in Oblivion.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: All five of the kids wish this at some point.
    • Richard occasionally does this too, as it's implied he has some role in taking down the Old Ones. It turns out that his role was actually to stab his best friend in the heart.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A village of cannibals shows up for one chapter of Oblivion.
  • Immune to Bullets: Holly's first reaction to seeing Chaos is to empty his pistol into him, though it does jack squat to the demon.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Both Nightrise chairmen. The CEO, however, just gets normal-impaled.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Matt and Richard's friendship could be viewed this way. It doesn't end well.
  • It's Up to You: Generally averted, as all five of the Gatekeepers need to be present in order to defeat the Old Ones. It is subverted at the end of Oblivion, when the only one who can save the Five is, of all people, Scott, who pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to unlock the doors and allow Jamie and Pedro to reach Oblivion.
  • The Legions of Hell: The Old Ones.
  • Made of Evil: Chaos, King of the Old Ones.
  • Mercy Kill: Present!Matt is killed this way by Richard, after being captured and tortured by the Old Ones.
  • Messianic Archetype: Matt. Both of him.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Commander Strake and Field Marshall Akkad in Oblivion.
  • More Than Mind Control: This is what Susan Mortlake does to Scott in Nightrise, essentially.
  • Mugging the Monster: Occurs early in Raven's Gate,when someone tries to mug Mrs. Deverill, Matt's new foster parent. She's an Eldritch Abomination. She mind rapes him into committing suicide with his knife. One inch at a time.
  • Narrator All Along: Holly, at the end of Oblivion.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Nightrise.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The modus operandi of the Old Ones, who not only wish to wipe out all life on earth but to also draw it out as long as possible.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; there are two separate characters named Susan.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Scarlett definitely gives off this vibe at the end of Necropolis, when she all but destroys Hong Kong. Matt can become this - when Richard sees his older, more experienced past incarnation in Oblivion, he sees no reason to assume that the kid is incapable of parting the seas or rending apart the sky.
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Richard executes this successfully in Oblivion with two identical cars, one of which contains a bomb.
  • Portal Network: There are twenty-five doors, all in sacred places around the world, which the Five can use for this purpose. Two in different churches in England, one in a Tuscan monastery, one in the Ukrainian Monastery of the Cry for Mercy, one in a Native American sacred cave, one in an Inca sacred site in Peru, one in a temple in Hong Kong, one in an Italian church, one in the Vatican, one in Mecca, one in the Pyramids of Giza, one in a Brazilian temple, one in a rock wall in Oblivion, Antarctica... which is apparently sacred to someone... and a bunch of others at unspecified locations. They're sacred because the portal networks are there. The reason there's no church in Antarctica is, well, There's no one to find it sacred.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Probably in several instances, but most notably with Matt at the end of Evil Star. Even put him in a Convenient Coma, to show off Pedro's power.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After betraying the other Gatekeepers to the Old Ones, Scott regrets his actions and sacrifices himself to open the portal at Antarctica after it was sealed by the Old Ones, allowing Pedro and Jaime to reach the other Gatekeepers and put a stop to the Old Ones.
  • Refusal of the Call: Matt tries to do this several times, but no avail. Why? Because he and the others just can't fight fate.
  • The Remake: The Power of Five is actually a rewrite of Horowitz's earlier series The Pentagram Chronicles, originally published in the late eighties; specifically, Raven's Gate was a rewrite of The Devil's Doorbell, Evil Star of The Night of the Scorpion, Nightrise of The Silver Citadel and Necropolis of Day of the Dragon. (The Pentagram Chronicles ended prematurely without the final book being released, so Oblivion has no original counterpart.)
  • Reincarnation
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: So how are the hundreds of people who joined Nightrise and screwed over humanity rewarded? By being horrifically mutilated into soldiers for the Old Ones' army.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Scott, with good reason.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Anthony Horowitz's unfinished Pentagram series from the 1980s.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: The Five can do this. They all meet in their dreams before any of them meet in real life.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: In Evil Star, when Pedro and Matt first meet; granted, Pedro tried to steal Matt's watch, so...
  • Theme Twin Naming: Subverted in Jamie and Scott's case; their first names came from the box in which they were found and their last from the doctor who checked them out.
  • Time Abyss: The Librarian, and the Old Ones also count.
  • Timeskip: The beginning of Oblivion features a 10-year time skip from Necropolis.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Lohan in Oblivion. Arguably Scott, too.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The dream world has a library that holds the book of every persons who has ever lived (and possibly who will live). Each book tells the entire life story of that person from birth to death. Matt reads his in order to find out how to defeat the Old Ones.
  • Torture Technician: Susan Mortlake.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Lesser Malling in the first book. The secret is that all the villagers are working to open a gate which will let the Old Ones, and the protagonist is one of the five tasked with making sure that such things don't happen.
    • There's also a village of cannibals in the last book.
  • Triads and Tongs: Due to Even Evil Has Standards, they're the good guys for once!
  • Twin Telepathy: Jaime and Scott Tyler's power; both can read minds but decided to read each other's minds instead of other people's because of the evil thoughts humanity can possess.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Several of the villains who impede the collective progress of the Five in Oblivion aren't even working for the Old Ones; they're just taking advantage of the chaos they cause. Examples include the Sheik who tries to marry Scarlett, the slave-drivers who capture Matt and Lohan, and the priest who tries to kill Pedro.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Minus the going to school part, at least after Raven's Gate.
  • World Domination: The goal of Nightrise.
  • World of Symbolism: Matt is Jesus, the dream world is Heaven, and the lady that Scar saw in the Library is the Virgin Mary. Scott could also be seen as Judas.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Rule number 1 of this series.
    • There is even a Librarian who guards the records and life stories of every being that's ever existed. Naturally, he isn't very helpful, at least in Necropolis.