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Literature / The Secrets of Droon

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The Secrets of Droon is a children's fantasy series written by Tony Abbot and illustrated by David Merrell. With over 40 books (none much longer than a hundred pages), the series is intended to get children to continue reading after one book.

The plot centers around three children, Eric Hinkle, Julie Rubin, and Neal Kroger, who find themselves in the world known as Droon after finding a magical staircase in Eric's basement closet. For the first ten or so books, the plot is relatively straightforward, chronicling the adventures the children have with their new companions Princess Keeah and the wizard Galen to stop the Evil Overlord from taking over Droon. Pretty soon, though, things start to expand and many genuinely surprising twists and turns come about. The plot gradually encompasses a massive amount of characters, several different worlds (including the Upper World, the "real" world where we live), and some long-needed subplots.

While the books themselves are rather predictable kids' books, and fall victim to many cliches, the series is quite enjoyable. It may not be complex, but it's fun, interesting, and can entertain just about anyone who reads it, regardless of age.

The Secrets of Droon provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Keeah and Julie.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The red Ninns and blue Orkins.
  • Ambiguously Human: Sparr. He's never really referred to in a way that would reveal his species. He has a human body shape, except for, well, the fins behind his ears. He's obviously not a Ninn, either. Later on it's revealed that he's Galen and Urik's brother, and they're almost certainly human.
  • Ancient Artifact: The Moon Medallion and its three additional parts: The Ring of Midnight, The Pearl Sea, and the Twilight Star. Also the Wand of Urik.
  • Artifact of Doom: Three of them. (The Three Powers.)
  • Badass Longcoat: According to the artwork, Lord Sparr alternates between sporting this and a Black Cloak.
  • A Beast in Name and Nature: "Beast" is a classification of evil creatures, under the control of the Beast Emperor, Ko. Other than Red Eyes, they have no common appearance and are a wide range of Mix-and-Match Critters (for example, Ko is a three-eyed minotaur with four arms).
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • After Sparr is trapped in the Upper World (Earth) 500 years ago, he starts traveling forward through time. The kids notice him in book illustrations and old films at the library, including an image of the Mayflower and a film of an early airplane test.
    • The kids themselves are forced to do so (for Droon's fictional history) in Special Edition #3, Voyagers of the Silver Sand: When Gethwing destroys the magic staircase, trapping them in Droon while he wreaks havoc in the Upper World, they have to travel through time picking up Plot Coupons that were used to create the stairs in the first place, and then take them back 500 years to ensure the stairs are recreated. They also meet teenage Sparr and young Galen, to whom they suggest hiding the Three Powers rather than destroying them, since some important good was achieved through using them.
  • Big Bad: Lord Sparr... initially.
  • Big Damn Heroes: So, our three main characters are about to be eaten by giant serpents, they've found out that there is, in fact, no way out, and suddenly... Young Galen shows up and zaps the kids out of trouble.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Krog is, for all intents and purposes, an Abominable Snowman.
  • Brainwashed: The nobles of Droon get brainwashed by the Golden Wasp.
  • Burying a Substitute: In book 15, they find Ko's sarcophagus, but it's empty. We later find out that Ko never died, he just went to a secret island and went into a deep sleep to rejuvenate himself.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Lord Sparr starts out as this. He undergoes a bit of character development and shakes it off, though. Well, for the most part.
  • Clever Crows: Otli, Jotli, and Motli.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: A magic wand gets stuck to Eric for a while.
  • Color Coded Magic: Good wizards (male or female) can shoot blue sparks from their fingers, while evil witches or sorcerers shoot red sparks. Subverted later on when Eric's sparks change to silver for no apparent reason, and Keeah starts shooting blue from one hand and red from another, due to her innate witch powers (she later creates purple by putting both hands together).
  • Ear Fins: One of Sparr's defining features are the fins behind his normal human ears, and a sign that he's Ambiguously Human.
  • The Everyman: The three main characters are pretty much supposed to be anyone within the target audience (children).
  • Evil Laugh: Pretty much every villain in the series has done this — all written out, of course.
  • Evil Overlord: Lord Sparr. The guy should get an award for encompassing just about all the cliches associated with this character.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Sparr again, making him also a Sorcerous Overlord. Also Shadowface, who turns out to be super-old Sparr.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: They call it "the evil fortress of Lord Sparr" in-universe.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Eric, who becomes Gethwing's protege Prince Ungast.
  • Fangirls: The 'Giggle Twins' become instant fangirls of Neal. They want to touch his hair. A lot. Neal even lampshades it:
    Neal: Now I know what it feels like to be a pop star. And I don't like it!
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Is there any creature that isn't in Droon?
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Sparr, the kids, and Keeah for several books.
  • Floating Continent: The floating city of Ro.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Forbidden City Of Plud.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • The Eye Of Dawn turns Lord Sparr into a scaled-up monster.
    • Keeah (accidentally) turns Neal into a bug.
    • And then later Neal relapses into being a bug. And then is transformed into a goblin. And then a turtle. Actually, Neal gets this one a lot.
    • This also turns out to be the fate of Keah's mother Queen Relna. She turns from a falcon to a dragon to a tiger to a dolphin, in that order.
    • Krog turns out to be the Prince of Stars.
  • Formerly Friendly Family: Relna and her sister the Sea Witch Demither.
  • Fountain of Youth: An unexpected side effect of Sparr using the Coiled Viper to resurrect Ko and his minions is Sparr himself being reverted to the same age as the kids, before he became evil.
  • Funny Animal: Among others, the Oobja and Mooples. The Lumpies would count, except that most people don't count pillows as animals.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Neal and Keeah want Eric to dress up as a girl to sneak into Maliban's court...
    Neal pulled a blue gown off a rack and draped it over Eric's shoulder.
    Neal: This one even matches your eyes. How about it... Erica?
    Eric stomped his foot and began to shout.
    Eric: I won't, I won't, I won't-
    [End of chapter, next chapter...]
    Eric: Are you sure this dress matches my eyes?
  • Garnishing the Story: A dragon suddenly comes in for no reason at all in The Sleeping Giant of Goll, despite there being absolutely no mention of dragons before this. It turns out that it's Queen Relna's latest form.
  • Geas: At one point, Sparr gives Eric one of the Coiled Viper's eyes, but magically prevents him from telling anyone else. Eric doesn't realize this until he tries to tell his friends.
Good Colors, Evil Colors: Blue is usually associated with good wizards like Galen, Keeah, and Eric. Red is associated with witch powers. Finally, Ko and his beasts have an affinity for green.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Justified, since most of the characters are children who wouldn't know many stronger profanities. "Holy crow!" and "Oh, my gosh!" are the most common offenders.
  • Grand Finale: Special #8 concludes the series.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Galen VS Ving, Keeah VS Sparr, Demither VS Sparr... pretty much any time two characters fight in the series.
  • Hand Wave: In The Knights Of Silversnow, it's established at the beginning that the marmots infesting Droon are the main problem. They are promptly forgotten about until the last three pages, when it's revealed that the Orkins are known for making cheese.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sparr after becoming a child.
  • Here There Were Dragons: It's implied that the Upper World used to have as much magic as Droon (and several of Droon's most powerful magic users, like Galen and Sparr were born there. It's only due to Salamandra's actions that the modern day is largely mundane.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Prince Maliban is Lord Sparr. However, Gryndal is not.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Pilkas are the most common steeds, kind of like shaggy, 6-legged horses.
  • Identical Stranger: Neal and Julie happen to look just like the rulers of Ut, though Neal's doppelganger is more of an Evil Twin, being a (literally) iron-fisted tyrant.
  • Large Ham: Every single major character in the entire story. And 90% of the non-main characters as well.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: When their adventures take them to the Upper World (or a Muggle from the upper world gets sent to Droon), someone (usually Galen) uses a spell to make everyone forget what happened and maintain The Masquerade. Eventually they stop using this on Eric's parents, since they can't explain why he vanished without telling them about Droon.
  • Literal Split Personality: after using the Coiled Viper to resurrect Ko, it seems that Sparr was reverted to childhood, when he was still good (or at least hadn't turned evil). But it turns out he was split into two halves, the young Sparr and the elderly (and evil) Shadowface, who forcibly re-merges them.
  • Mage in Manhattan: In book 19, Sparr comes to the Upper World to find the Coiled Viper, and at the end of book 25, Gethwing and Young Sparr go there, destroying the stairs so the heroes can't follow him.
  • Magical Land: Droon, of course.
  • Magic Music:
    • The harp Friddle made for Relna. Turns out to be very important as it's the only thing other than Sparr that can control the Golden Wasp, and the only thing, period, that can reverse the effects of its venom.
    • The horn that a Hoobah drops in the Upper World is able to open the veil between Calibaz and the human world.
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: Gelna, Galen's female copy.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The main dragon character, Gethwing, is a bipedal, four winged monster, who comes from the moon.note 
  • Our Genies Are Different: All the genies we see (Genies of the Dove) were once humans, but became genies by performing certain selfless tasks. Neal gets to become one by fulfilling all the required tasks in a single day.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Ninns are introduced as a (seemingly) One-Gender Race of red-skinned Proud Warrior Race Guys who serve as Mooks for Sparr. Eventually, it's revealed that not only are there female and child Ninns (who show the heroes some kindness and give them food), but the whole race was created from the peaceful blue-skinned Orkins (and can be turned back by magic).note 
  • Overly Long Gag: "It's a boat ship!" In Voyage Of The Jaffa Wind.
  • Plot Coupon: So many. In the first book alone there's the soccer ball and the Three Powers, and later we have Julie's bracelet, Eric's father, the individual powers...
  • Power-Up Food: The Tangfruit, which allows Eric to both communicate with the Mooples and hear what the hawk bandits are saying.
  • Purity Personified: Again, Relna. Also Queen Zara.
  • Raised by Orcs: Sparr was kidnapped as a baby along with his mother, Queen Zara, and raised by the evil Emperor Ko after she died.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: After Sparr is de-aged to be the same age as the kids, they let him join their group (after some hesitation). Their kindness and his experiences with them do seem to have an effect after he's forcibly re-merged with Shadowface.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Keeah does indeed wear a crown, and her mother has a Pimped-Out Dress.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Galen wears the stereotypical robe and wizard hat.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both King Zello and his daughter are warriors, and work for the good of Droon.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Galen's mirror copy, Nelag. He's not an Evil Twin, but he does think, speak, and read backwards. Which comes in handy when they need to read a scroll written in reverse.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: Galen's copy Nelag does everything backwards, which is annoying most of the time, but comes in handy when they need to read a scroll written in mirror writing, which he reads out loud like normal speech.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The titular Knights Of Silversnow in book 17.
  • Secret Test of Character: The trials the kids face in book 20. It's unclear what exactly they were testing for, though.
  • Self-Duplication: Zara and her children (and Eric, since he's descended from Urik) can create Phantoms to send in their place, with the only way to tell them apart being the Phantom Casts No Shadow. Ko can also create a Phantom, but he stole the power from Zara.
  • Shapeshifter: Julie gets shapeshifting powers after she becomes a wingwolf.
  • Ship Tease: Between Eric and Keeah. In one book where they see their older selves meet after years apart, he notices that neither of them is eager to break their embrace.
  • Significant Anagram: Meredith rearranges to spell Demither.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Eric with his powers.
  • Spider People: Max is a spider troll, with the body of a spider and a humanoid head.
  • Sssssnaketalk: Lord Sparr talks like this when he's Prince Maliban.
  • The Starscream: Gethwing seeks to overthrow his emperor Ko.
  • Sub Story: One book has the heroes steal a giant submarine before the bad guys can get it and use it to attack Jaffa City.
  • Survival Through Self-Sacrifice: In one book, Neal accomplishes the "Four Genie Wonders", one of which is "to die for another and yet live", allowing him to become a genie. Though the reason he survived seems to be that he was destined to become a genie all along, and in the process fulfilled a Stable Time Loop.
  • Swap Teleportation: An involuntary version occurs whenever something from the Upper World is left in Droon after the kids go back, or something from Droon is inadvertently brought into the Upper World (for example, when Julie brought a bracelet back with her, Eric's dad disappeared and was sent to Droon). Except when it doesn't. Why didn't anything happen when Demither put the Coiled Viper there years ago? Or when Eric becomes Prince Ungast and stays in Droon?
  • Talking Animal: What animal in this series doesn't talk?
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Dream Thief. Dreams are also Keeah's way of bringing the kids back to Droon in the earlier books.
  • Trip to the Moon Plot: In book 27, the kids go to Droon's moon, which has a breathable atmosphere and a whole city on the far side, using Queen Zara's magical flying chariot.
  • The Underworld: The kids visit Agrah-Voor, city of the dead, in book 7, Into the Land of the Lost, and almost become ghosts themselves.
  • Up the Real Rabbit Hole: For the first book, the kids refer to their world as "the real world", although they don't show too much interest in going back.
  • Vanishing Village:
    • The Flying City of Ro is invisible except for one day a year, and if you're still there when that day ends, you can't leave until the next time it's visible.
    • The city of Ut is only accessible for one day every hundred years, and even then only if the bottle it's kept in is placed in a certain geographical location.
  • Wicked Wasps: The Golden Wasp is a magical giant wasp that mind-controls anyone it stings.
  • Wild Card: Salamandra. Her only loyalty is to herself, and she helps both the heroes and villains at times.