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Literature / The Underland Chronicles

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Yeah, it's a children's book. And yes, the lizard is a good guy.

Aurora the Flier, I bond to you/Our life and death are one, we two/Through dark, through flame, through war, though strife/I save you as I save my life.
The bonding ceremony between flier and human

The Underland Chronicles, abbreviated fondly as TUC, was written by author Suzanne Collins as her debut series of novels. The books consist of:

  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
  • Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  • Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  • Gregor and the Code of Claw

When a kid named Gregor follows his little sister, Boots, through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily besides giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats—but the fragile peace is about to fall apart. Of course, Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, he knows there's no other choice. Little does he know his quest will change him forever.


Though it sounds like your run-of-the-mill fiction, the books are surprisingly good and feature great characters. And, yes, the animals talk. Big time.

The series has a small but devoted fanbase, which has become slightly larger following the success of her other series, The Hunger Games.

This series includes examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Solovet due to her Well-Intentioned Extremist tendencies was this to Hamnet. In fact, what she did to him made him leave Regalia for the more dangerous jungles, and he doesn't regret leaving for a minute.
  • Action Girl:
    • Queen Luxa. Pretty much a requirement, with the humans nearly always at war with the rats.
    • Solovet.
    • Okay, pretty much all female characters save Nerissa, Boots, and Lizzie.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Gregor, Boots, and Lizzie's parents are not completely useless, and never by choice, but they are rarely able to help Gregor with his unique problems. Averted in Gregor the Overlander when his dad manages to steer them back to Regalia.
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    • Averted with Vikus, though he usually plays more of a supporting role. Played straight with his son Hamnet, whom Solovet through Cold-Blooded Torture convinced him to fight.
  • Adult Fear:
    • First your husband disappears and you wait for him for years on end. Then your oldest and youngest child follow suit, and vanish. Twice. The first time they come back with their father, who is still sick, but you become Properly Paranoid about losing everyone again. No wonder Gregor's mom refuses to let him go down a third time, and has to be "persuaded" by rats to do so.
    • For Gregor, when his mom catches the plague.
    • Vikus admits he doesn't know how he and Solovet get along, considering Solovet is a Well-Intentioned Extremist and tortured their son Hamnet until he agreed to flood the Garden of Hesperides.
    • Hamnet's greatest fear is that his son will grow up to be a soldier and an Unwitting Pawn for Solovet. Before he dies he makes Luxa promise to keep Hazard safe.
  • Aerith and Bob: The humans have both typical English names—Henry, Howard, York, Susanna, Judith—and more fantastic names like Solovet, Nerissa, Vikus and Mareth. Lampshaded when Gregor is introduced to Henry—he almost laughs that "among all these strange names, there's a Henry".
  • Ambiguously Brown While never directly said, and on first read through it can be totally overlooked, as Gregor's darker skin seeming to be in comparison to the Underlander's. Later in the series, as more becomes known about his family, there are potential hints to them being of Hispanic origin.
  • Anyone Can Die: Even characters that have been part of the story for multiple books, like Solovet.
  • Applied Phlebotinum So... many... prophecies. Not to mention the plot-helping mutations.
  • Arc Words: Certain phrases from the various Prophecies get repeated over and over again in the story before it's revealed what they mean:
    • "Two Over, two Under, of royal descent, two Crawlers, two Fliers, two Spinners ascent. One Gnawer beside, one lost up ahead, and eight will be left when we count up the dead" from the Prophecy Of Grey in Gregor the Overlander.
    • "Die the Baby, die his heart, die his most important part" from the Prophecy Of Bane in Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane.
    • "Turn and turn and turn again, you see the what but not the when", "Remedy and wrong entwine and so they form a single vine", and "If the flames of war are fanned, all Warmbloods lose the Underland" from the Prophecy Of Blood in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods.
    • "Father, mother, sister, brother, off they go, I do not know if I'll see another" from the Prophecy Of Secrets in Gregor and the Marks of Secret.
    • "What she saw, it is the flaw, in the Code Of Claw" and "When the Monster's blood is spilled, when the Warrior has been killed" from the Prophecy Of Time in Gregor and the Code of Claw.
  • Badass Normal: Almost everyone who isn't a rager or a seer.
  • Badass Pacifist:
    • Nerissa has her moments, especially as Queen of the Underland temporarily
    • Hamnet, one of Vikus and Solovet's children.
  • Beneath the Earth: The series is all about this trope. More than 90 percent of the books take place in an underground world beneath New York called the Underland.
  • The Berserker:
    • In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor learns that he's a "rager": a person with instinctive highly-developed warrior skills, a natural-born killer. He has a natural capacity to go into this state when his life is in danger. It's not always voluntary, which is really bad for a character who hates to kill.
    • Ripred is also a rager.
  • Big Applesauce: The Underland is located directly underneath New York. Of course.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Underland has Giant Spiders, cockroaches, ants, scorpions, fireflies, and probably other species we don't see.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Every single book except the first, verging on Downer Ending by the fifth one. In the latter, half the cast has died Gregor's father plans to move the family to their farm in Virginia, away from the vent, which means Luxa and Gregor may never see each other again, but Gregor manages to broker peace between the rats and humans, and he no longer has prophecies to fulfill.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: verging on Grey-and-Gray Morality before the systematic extermination of the nibblers. Even afterward, individual rats on the Bane's side are portrayed in a sympathetic light.
  • Blessed with Suck: Everyone in this series has some sort of tragic past.
    • More specifically, Twitchtip the "scent seer", whose sense of smell is so accurate that she can smell secrets—not a fast track to the popular crowd.
    • Also Nerissa. Funny how a society built on one man's prophecies treats their own personal prophetess so poorly.
    • Turns out being the Warrior of the prophecy isn't much fun for Gregor. At the end of the series, Gregor is warned that with his rager abilities it will be much easier for him to kill people, so he'll always have to keep an eye on himself.
    • Hamnet is a skilled warrior and tactician. He also takes after his father in wanting to be a pacifist and better resolutions to conflict. Solovet doesn't take this well.
  • Bond Creatures: The Underlander humans (and Gregor) and the bats are the only species with this. Until Gregor and the Code of Claw.
  • Broken Pedestal: Gregor loses what little respect he had left for Bartholomew of Sandwich after learning he posioned the Diggers' water supply to steal their land. At the end of the book he breaks Sandwich's sword to symbolically "kill the Warrior".
  • Burial at Sea: The Regalians send their dead on small rafts out into the Waterway. Justified since cremation would create smoke with nowhere to go, while there's limited land with actual soil rather than rocks, which they need for agriculture.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The assorted oversized creatures of the overworld are given simpler names, allegedly by the people who live there. (Rats are known as "gnawers", spiders as "spinners", and so on.) This is what the creatures of the Underworld actually call themselves in their own language, just translated into the nearest thing in English. Humans have one of these names too among the Underworld creaturesnote , but they don't like to hear it.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Hamnet does this to Vikus quietly, saying that what he can do in Regalia that he can't do in the jungle is "cause no harm". This causes Vikus to fly off rather quickly with Solovet.
  • Character Development: Oodles of this. It's quite refreshing, actually. Gregor goes out of his way to point this out in Luxa when she goes to Temp for advice in later books.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The series starts off with Gregor the Overlander, then continues to Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, then Curse of the Warmbloods, and so on.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Lizzie's love of puzzles, which is brought up first in Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, and comes in handy for cracking the titular code in Gregor and the Code of Claw.
  • Child Prodigy: Lizzie, who helps crack secret codes at eight, and Jedidiah, who is the same age and can tell you how all kinds of things work. Hazard is about the same age and can speak several non-human languages fluently.
  • Children Are Innocent: The reason Gregor doesn't kill the Bane in the second book. Also played straight with Hazard and Boots.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Solovet locked Hamnet in a prison cell with no human contact and minimal food for months until he broke and carried out a battle plan that wiped out countless rats, bats and humans. She ignores this when criticizing Hamnet ten years later because he wants nothing to do with her, and everyone in Regalia thought he was dead.
  • Covered with Scars:
    • Ripred.
    • By the end Gregor's racked up an impressive total. He gets an ointment to help with the ones on his arms and legs from the Vineyard after Curse of the Warmbloods, but often forgets to use it. After his fight with the Bane, he basically gives up the idea of even coming up with an excuse for them.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Averted; although Gregor spared the Bane, who was a baby it was more a case of You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Cypher Language: A major plot point in Gregor and the Code of Claw.
  • Death Is Such an Odd Thing:
    • The Kill 'Em All ending leaves Gregor in a state of emotional distress about many characters, many of whom were absolute jerkasses toward him. Particularly in Gregor and the Code of Claw, when faced with the Prophecy of Time that foretells his own death.
    • On a smaller scale, the True Companions have a very confused, not-quite-stunned reaction to the death of Tick in Gregor the Overlander.
  • Death World: The Underland jungle. Scratch that, the entire Underland may count. Besides that, the humans have to deal with intelligent races of Rodents of Unusual Size and Big Creepy-Crawlies. This isn't to mention the earthquakes, volcanoes, eyeless plesiosaurs, giant squid, and the occasional plague outbreak. Good thing the humans have the bats on their side—otherwise they probably would have been goners long ago.
  • The Diaper Change: The changing of Boots's "catchcloths" was frequent subject matter.
  • Die Laughing: A certain type of carnivorous plant in the Vineyard of Eyes emits a euphoric gas that makes you laugh at everything, rendering you helpless to the attacking vines.
  • Disappeared Dad: The father of the titular character in Gregor the Overlander vanished when he was eight. They find him in the first book, though.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Subverted. Fairly early in Gregor the Overlander, Luxa slaps Gregor across the face and is immediately reproved—first by Boots, then by Vikus.
  • The Drag-Along: Temp and Boots. Averted in Gregor and The Curse of The Warmbloods. Temp kept on warning them, first suggested the idea that the cradle/cure might not be where they thought it was, and Boots did her dance.
    • Lampshaded by Ripred in the same book:
      Ripred: And if Temp is right, it would explain one thing...The point of having a crawler on this whole hellish trip! Honestly, how has he added to anything of significance? No offense, Temp, you've been a real champ about babysitting, but what have you contributed? Nothing! Maybe this is it! Your big moment!
  • Duct Tape for Everything: One of the most useful materials around. Gregor always takes some on his quests.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Underlanders will spend centuries meditating on the possible meanings of Sandwich's prophecies, but they won't give a second thought to whatever Nerissa says. Sure, Nerissa is not all there, but her visions are accuratenote . Gregor at least gives her the respect she deserves.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Where to begin? Start with Gregor, whose father mysteriously vanished when he was eight and who gets dragged into a war at the age of eleven for no reason other than Because Destiny Says So, then add in Luxa, who broke when both her parents were killed and suffered even more when her cousin and close friend Henry betrayed her in the first book. Gregor's best friend is Ares, who is unfairly stigmatized from Henry's betrayal, which left him in the unpleasant position of choosing to save his bond or Gregor. Ripred is a Deadpan Snarker Fair-Weather Mentor at the best of times, something of an outcast among his own kind, whose wife and children died years ago. Even Nice Guys Howard and Vikus have to deal with ever-increasing amounts of horribleness as the series goes on. The most normal person out of all of them is Boots, who is three, and even she is forced to deal with some of the realities of death and war more than her family would like. Most of the time it's not anybody's fault, exactly, it's just the natural result of living in a Crapsack World where Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
  • Everyone Can See It: By the final book, Ripred can tell that Gregor is in love with Luxa. It's also implied that Ripred figured it out with his sense of smell, as rats have the ability to smell fear already.
  • Eye Scream: Happens to a rat in Gregor and The Prophecy of Bane.
  • Failure Knight: Poor Hamnet. He shouldn't have listened to his mother and let the flood gates open so that everyone would drown. Later we discover that Ripred is this for his dead mate and pups.
  • Fandom: A rather small one, considering, but the fanfiction for the series has a few exemplary pieces that rival the original works.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Even though the crawlers/cockroaches, gnawers/rats, spinners/spiders, fliers/bats, etc. that coexist with humans in the Underland are not human, they are sapient and treated as full characters on the same level as humans. Prejudices held among human characters towards these species are even treated as equal to any intrahuman bigotry.
    • The bats, humans, and mice are allies with each other and hate the rats, who hate just about everyone, but especially the humans and mice. The insects, especially the ants, pretty much hate all the mammals, although the spiders are willing to play both sides, and the cockroaches are considered stupid by just about everyone.
    • Luxa getting over her tendency to hate rats and look down on/dismiss other species is part of her Character Development.
    • Vikus is one of the few Underland humans who doesn't have it.
    • Like Luxa, Henry mocks the cockroaches. He even attempts to kill Ripred.
  • Final Battle: Almost all of Underland's species come together against the Bane's army on the Plains of Tartarus.
  • First-Name Basis: Gregor, Boots, and Lizzie's last name is never mentioned. Their mother's first name is Grace.
  • Food Porn: The Underland Chronicles contain descriptions of lavish meals, making for interesting Mood Whiplashes when contrasted with some of the other things described in them.
  • Friend to All Living Things:
    • Boots. Even (especially) the creepy-crawly ones. Kind of her "superpower". She speaks fluent (as fluent as a three-year-old can get, anyway) Crawler by the end of the series.
    • Vikus is one of a very few Underland humans who would willingly work with a rat.
  • From Bad to Worse: The entire series can be summed up like this.
  • Garden of Evil: The Vineyard Of Eyes in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Especially characters who may not quite qualify as "good".
  • Good with Numbers: The mice, judging by their Theme Naming, and Lizzie in Gregor and the Code of Claw.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The human/rat war is FULL of this.
  • Gut Feeling: Happens a lot.
  • Happily Married: Vikus and Solovet. Though it's strongly implied that her participation in the creation of the plague made things rocky between them.
  • Heroic BSoD: More than once.
    • Gregor suffers from one in Gregor and the Code of Claw when the realization that if the prophecy is true, he's going to die hits.
    • Luxa becomes essentially catatonic when her cousin betrays her.
    • Howard after Pandora dies.
    • Vikus suffers a stroke after his wife dies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Used in almost every book—and not just from Gregor. Everyone wants to die for their loved ones. Sometimes this doesn't help all that much.
    • In The Code of Claw, Cartesian the nibbler dies protecting his sister's babies from the rats when they break into the palace.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Solovet ordered the creation of the plague in the third book. In Gregor and the Code of Claw, we learn that all the other races call humans "killers", and not without reason: one of their first acts in the Underland was poisoning the water supply of the Diggers to take their land.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Gregor and the Code of Claw has everyone doing this.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Some of the carnivorous plants in the Jungle subdue you by getting you high.
  • I Fell for Hours: In the first book, Gregor feels like he and Boots fall for hours down the laundry shaft. This is actually a good thing, since it means the air currents slowed their descent enough that they didn't have a crash landing. In later books they skip the air currents and just ride bats.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Luxa shortly breaks down into this towards the end of The Marks of Secret after witnessing a big pack of mice — several of her friends included — perish due to toxic gas emitted by a volcano.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Fo-Fo? Fo-Fo? I am he called Photos Glow-Glow and will answer to no other name!"
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Gregor and the Mark of Secret features a nursery rhyme that turns out to be a prophecy detailing the Holocaust-esque genocide of a group of innocent mice.
    • Also, the nursery rhyme features the line "Some will slice and some will pour". This sounds like an innocent tea party, but turns out to be a description of the medieval-style warfare used in the Underland. "Slicing" refers to the use of swords and "pouring" refers to the pouring of boiling oil over the walls of a fortress or castle to stop a siege.
    • Given the "revelation" that Sandwich's prophecies are either nonsense or so vague as to be practically so, this seems a lot less significant.
  • Just Following Orders: In Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Doctor Neveeve says this line while being arrested. Somewhat justified, since Gregor ends up locked up in a prison cell where no one knows where he is after defying Solovet's orderes to save Luxa.
  • Karmic Death: Solovet, a Well-Intentioned Extremist who resorts to violent means and who will torture her son to get a result, dies as a result of a Sadistic Choice that invokes The Needs of the Many.
  • Karma Houdini: To an extent Solovet for ordering the plague. As Gregor notes, Doctor Naveeve was executed for her part although she was Just Following Orders, while Solovet would have wiped out the rats and let Regalia suffer for months, doing nothing.
  • Man-Eating Plant: And giant-rat-eating. Gregor and co. face carnivorous plants that look like "giant yellow smiles" in the jungle.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Ripred points out that Sandwich's prophecies may well just be coincidence or self-fulfilling, and he doesn't believe in them. They seem to be pretty accurate, but only after a book of trying to decipher them, and you can see how they could be reinterpreted to fit other explanations/events.
    • Mrs. Cormaci, who tends to send just the right objects at just the right times and gives tarot readings. Gregor at one point wonders if she can see what he needs in her tarot cards, and, given that psychics and seers exist in this series, he could be right.
  • Military Maverick:
    • Luxa shows shades of it in The Prophecy of Bane, when she secretly left Regalia to join the party in searching for the subject of the prophecy.
    • In The Marks of Secret Luxa cements this, by declaring the war at rats by herself, without the Council of Regalia approval. When called out on this, she points out that the rats are likely to exterminate all the mice while the Council is bickering about the topic, and they won't stop to listen to others' accusations anyway.
  • Missing Mom: When Gregor's mom gets the plague in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, she spends most of the rest of the series recuperating in the Underland, since it's an Underland plague and Overland doctors would have no idea how to treat it.
  • More Than Meets the Eye: Everyone seems to have Hidden Depths in this series.
  • Morton's Fork: Ares ends up in a textbook example at the end of the first book. His human bond Henry turns out to be a traitor allied with the rats and falls off a cliff attempting to kill Gregor. If Ares lets him fall, he is guilty of betraying his bond and faces banishment as punishment. If he catches him, he is guilty of high treason and faces banishment as punishment. He chooses to let him fall, and is nearly banished until Gregor bonds with him and saves him.
  • Multinational Team: In the last book, the Regalians assemble a team of the smartest members of each race (spiders, cockroaches, bats, mice, rats, and humans) to break the Code of Claw. This was apparently planned long ago, as a separate living space for each one was built into the castle, of appropriate size.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Ripred, the Bane (whose real name is Pearlpelt), Twirltongue, Lapblood, Mange, Razor... the rats have some scary names.
    • A place version: The Arch of Tantalus and the Plains of Tartarus are both named after places in the Greek Underworld (and not the nicer parts either).
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Everyone dies unexpectedly.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Multiple times, perhaps most pointedly when Gregor's refusal to kill a baby Bane ultimately results in the war between humans and rats.
  • Noodle Incident: A conversation between Vikus and Ripred in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods gives us this little gem:
    Ripred: Well, you have to at least credit her [Nerissa] with a certain instability. Remember when she told you I was plotting to take over the Fount with an army of lobsters?
    Vikus: You did try and take over the Fount with an army of lobsters.
  • The Nose Knows:
    • The rats demonstrate this quality in their first appearance by accurately calculating what Gregor and Boots ate for dinner hours earlier, right down to the tiny bowl of greens. They also are shown to be able to estimate human emotions and navigate and fight in complete darkness.
    • In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, we meet Twitchtip, who has such a sensitive nose that she is called a "scent seer". Among other things, she can detect the scent of a rager, newly-hardened volcanic rock, secrets, a whirlpool, and the color of Boots' pink shirt from outside the castle tower Boots is in.
  • Not So Different: In Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor meets Lapblood, who he at first antagonizes, but later realizes is just trying to protect her pups. He notes that they're two sides of the same coin: she's a mother trying to save her children, while he's a child trying to save his mother.
  • One-Man Army: It takes four hundred soldiers to take out Ripred. Gregor qualifies as well by the end of the series.
  • Patchwork Map: In the Underland, there are plains, jungles, maze-like tunnels, small seas, arable land, and desolate areas all within one or two hundred miles of each other, and no transitions.
  • The Plague: Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods has the disease known Curse of the Warmbloods.
    • Synthetic Plague: The Reveal at the end of Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods is that the disease called "the Curse of the Warmbloods" was a biological weapon that escaped from a Regalian lab. Its creator didn't tell anyone she had the cure because she didn't want to admit she'd created the plague.
  • Please Wake Up: The baby Bane begging his mother, Goldshard, to wake up after his father Snare killed her.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Maybe. While the wording of the prophecies is at times vague, and more than one character attempts to manipulate them, it is established that there are real seers in this universe. Whether the prophecies were accurate or not is ultimately left unclear.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: All of Sandwich's prophecies rhyme.
  • Prophecy Twist: Happens all the time. Then it is subverted in Gregor and the Code of Claw, when Ripred points out that the prophecies could be loosely interpreted to cover a variety of situations and that people are often adapting what happens in reality to fit the prophecy so that it is fulfilled (their society is strongly based around the prophecies their founder wrote). He then gets really Genre Savvy by deliberately giving himself a wound that will fulfill yet another prophecy.
  • Released to Elsewhere: The rats are "relocating" all the mice in the Underland. Turns out that they're actually leading the mice to their doom without them suspecting anything. Not surprising, considering that the story is based on the Holocaust.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Gregor, who spends the first book trying to convince everyone that he can't be the warrior everyone's talking about. Hamnet in the third book, who makes it clear he considers violence a last resort.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The series has these as main characters—not to mention the giant insects and bats...
  • Rule of Three: Each book consists of three parts, which in turn consist of nine (three times three) chapters each.
  • Sadistic Choice: Gregor and the Code of Claw has one when they find out that Solovet's route home to Regalia will cause her to fly into a rat ambush. To let her go would mean her death, to keep her from going would cause the rats to realize that the humans have cracked their code and make the humans give up their greatest advantage.
  • Scars Are Forever: Ripred. Later Gregor as well, which he realizes in part of his Bittersweet Ending.
  • Scary Scorpions: A pair of them towards the end of The Marks of Secret. However, they turn out to be much more friendly and helpful when the hero party stands down and switches to talk to them.
  • Screaming Warrior: York, Howard's father. Gregor's first impression of him is that he's huge, wields a two-handed sword, and shouts a lot.
  • Screw Destiny: In Gregor and The Code of Claw, Ripred tells Gregor to do this when a prophecy says he's going to die.
  • Secret Keeper:
    • Lizzie is often required to explain why her family members have disappeared for extended periods of time.
    • Mrs. Cormaci becomes this for the family starting in Gregor and the Marks of Secret.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: In Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Mange, Frill, and Hamnet die on the quest to get the starshade, which turns out to be useless.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: The peaceful resolution for an encounter with scorpions turns out to be far more fruitful than a violent one.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: In Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and Luxa are going to investigate the Nibblers' situation, but, since no one can know about it, they pretend that they are going on a picnic. Of course, Howard shows up and offers to join them, so Gregor, looking for an excuse, tells him that they're going on a date. Even when Howard finds out that Gregor was lying, he still chews him out because seeing as Luxa's a princess and Gregor's not even an Underlander, they couldn't possibly be married. Gregor states several times that he and Luxa aren't like that and marriage is thinking way too far ahead, since they're twelve or thirteen, but then Howard asks Gregor why he thought Howard might believe it in the first place, rendering all his arguments useless.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Gregor by the end of the series. At twelve. Ripred is an older version of this.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Very much inverted with Howard, who seems hellbent on making sure Gregor and Luxa never go on a date.
    • And there's Gregor's mom who secretly approves of Luxa because she's "got attitude".
  • Shout-Out: Gregor's name is probably a Shout-Out to Franz Kafka.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Regalia and the rats' realm.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Ripred and eventually Gregor spin during fights. It is implied that all ragers can.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The "serpents" that live in the Waterway look like blind plesiosaurs.
  • The Swarm: In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, they pass an island inhabited by ravenous flying mites that can strip a bat down to the bone in less than a minute.
  • Tentacled Terror: Besides the sea serpents, the Waterway also has giant squid that attack ships.
  • Theme Naming:
    • All of the bats have names taken from Greek mythology.
    • Luxa's mother is named Judith, Judith's twin is named Hamnet, and their sister is named Susannah. William Shakespeare had a daughter named Susannah and twins named Judith and Hamnet.
    • The mice are named after famous mathematicians and mathematical principles.
    • The rats tend to have compound names, usually violent — Ripred, Lapblood, Makemince.
    • We only meet four named cockroaches (Tick, Temp, Pend, and Min), but all of them have names relating to time.note 
    • All spiders have names ending in "x".
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: In the Gregor the Overlander, an ancient prophecy states that twelve will set out on a quest "and eight will be left when we count up the dead". Sure enough, by the end of the book, Tick, Gox, Treflex, and Henry have all met their maker. And it goes down from there...
  • Unstoppable Rage: Ripred and Gregor as a result of being ragers.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Gregor seems to love mocking Luxa's stiff conduct and all that. Has some pretty funny moments.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Solovet. Her actions in book three cross the line, however, for most of the characters, given she bioengineered a plague to get rid of the rats and said nothing when the plague started affecting Regalians.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Ripred enjoys delivering these to Gregor on a regular basis, especially in Curse of the Warmbloods when Gregor disobeys orders with the rats while in jungle.
    • Vikus chides Luxa for smacking Gregor in the first book; Boots very soon follows suit.
    • Hamnet delivers a tranquil Disappointed in You to Luxa, when she nearly lets Gregor, Ripred and Lapblood drown in quicksand all because she sees Gregor in company with rats and leaps to conclusions.
    • Gregor gives one of these to the entire Underland at the end of Code of Claw, as Luxa was about to banish the rats to the most inhospitable part of the Underland as punishment for the war. Ripred, the new leader, objects to this, and everyone is ready to go to war again, right then and there, over it. Gregor calls out Luxa for how ungrateful she was for Ripred's help, calls out Ripred for immediately resorting to violence again, and says it all needs to stop. Luxa stops it in the only way she can: bonding with Ripred.
  • Wham Line: That encoded message in Gregor and the Code of Claw? It says "Twitchtip died in pit". Also, Luxa's declaration of war against the gnawers.
    • In Prophecy of Bane, Nerissa turns the expected interpretation of the prophecy on its head.
    Nerissa: So says your heart. So says your most essential part.
  • When Trees Attack: Lots of the plants in the Jungle are carnivorous.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Zig-zagged. In the final book, Gregor himself breaks Sandwich's sword after the war is over, symbolically "killing the Warrior" and announcing that he's finished fighting the Underlanders' battles.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Brought home in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods when his mom contracts the plague; Gregor acknowledges mentally that there was no other way to ensure the prophecy would happen the way it needed to.
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
    • Averted, mostly. This happens a bit in the first book, but then Gregor goes on this quest to find his missing dad and all that. Otherwise they want him to go home. And then come back for the next 4.
    • Vikus tries to convince Hamnet to return to Regalia, with no success. Hamnet hasn't returned home in ten years, although he sends Hazard there.

Alternative Title(s): Gregor The Overlander


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