If this is your first time dipping into the Animorphs Re-Read, I strongly suggest you head back to the beginning and start there unless you’re already familiar with the books. Alternatively, check out our new and improved Animorphs Re-Read index for a list of every post in the series.
Welcome back to the Hork-Bajir Chronicles re-read! This is the third and final post in the series, after which I’ll get back to covering the regular series.
The thing I like about the ‘Chronicles’ books is that K.A. Applegate can really let loose when it comes to dramatic plot events. Obviously, none of the main Animorphs are going to die or be permanently injured in any of the regular books. Ax isn’t going to decapitate Visser Three (I just got the irony of someone called ‘Ax’ decapitating anyone), and the Yeerk invasion of Earth isn’t going to succeed. You know that going in to every book; such is the limitations of an ongoing series.
The Hork-Bajir Chronicles isn’t bound by those restrictions. Aldrea and Dak Hamee are both dead (we presume) by the time the main series rolls around, which means that the book is free to get as crazy as it wants.
And boy, does it ever get crazy.
To sum up what we learned last time: the Hork-Bajir were genetically engineered by a species called the Arn (I somehow managed to miss their name last time) to cultivate their planet’s giant trees so the fragile atmosphere wouldn’t become poisonous. The Arn also created the monsters in what the Hork-Bajir know as Father Deep. The Yeerk who will become Visser Three is hell bent on taking the Hork-Bajir homeworld to prove himself worthy of a host, and also wants to get his hands on on Andalite to infest.
Got all that? All righty then.
Aldrea and Dak Hamee use the Arn’s mind-control technology to gather a massive army of genetically-engineered monsters from all over the Deep. Moral quandries abound:
It was a sad, sick collection. In a better world, a world of peace and justice, someone would have punished the Arn for what they had done. Twisting life to make monsters is an evil thing to do.
But their evil served our purpose.
We had an army.
I can’t help but feel that the Andalites would be far better off if someone had put Aldrea in charge in the first place…or else just turned the entire government into a matriarchy, because almost every male Andalite we see in this book turns out to be an enormous, incompetent dick.
They march their army back up the valley and attack the Hork-Bajir Controllers, killing a whole lot of them in the process. Dak Hamee is pretty torn up over this, since he hasn’t had time to develop the kind of mental compartmentalizing that the Animorphs are so good at and sees the Controllers’s host as innocent bystanders.
Which…they kind of are. But I guess letting giant monsters eat them is better than having the Yeerks take over the whole planet?
Anyway, Dak Hamee shows the free Hork-Bajir how to use those wrist blade thingies to kill other Hork-Bajir, which they then proceed to do. Aldrea, meanwhile, goes to one of the stolen Andalite ships and communicates with the Andalite fleet, here represented by (wait for it) a dickish male warrior who doesn’t take her seriously until she mentions the Yeerks.
Seriously, guys, matriarchy. It would solve so many of your problems.
Seven months passed, and the fleet did not come. Not the two months I had expected.
I seem to remember something like this happening on Earth in the main series. Maybe the Andalites could afford to send their fleet more places if they had female warriors to bulk up their ranks. JUST A THOUGHT.
Aldrea and Dak Hamee spend those seven months becoming kickass geurilla warfare experts, but they only manage to slow down the Yeerk expansion by a small degree. The Yeerks begin mining the planet for natural resources, which they use to build more ships.
Man, the Andalites really dropped the ball on this one, since these ships are presumably what let them expand further into the galaxy. It’s like they wanted the Yeerks to take over.
The Arn react to the invasion by altering their own physiology so that any attempt at infesting one of them will cause the host to die, thus rendering them useless to the Yeerks. Aldrea helpfully points out that the Yeerks simply destroy what they have no use for.
Then the Andalites show up!
I laughed. I laughed and laughed and danced around. <Well, it sure isn’t the Skrit Na up there frying Yeerks!> I cried. <They’ve come! They’ve come! Everything is going to be all right. The fleet is here!>
The Andalites show up, and our old friend Alloran (of The Andalite Chronicles fame) is the one leading the fleet. I seem to remember something about him being disgraced…because of a virus…on the Hork-Bajir homeworld…
Oh, and he’s a massive douche as well!
<My name is Aldrea-lskillion-Falan. Daughter of Prince Seerow. This is Dak Hamee, seer of the Hork-Bajir people.>
<l know who you are,> Alloran said. <And I regret your family’s death. You are no doubt tobe commended for having hidden out for seven months. We will reward whoever took care of you. Was it you, Hork-Bajir? Anything you want. You have our official thanks for hiding this female.>
So basically, Alloran immediately assumes that Dak Hamee is the one who ‘hid’ Aldrea because a weak Andalite female couldn’t possibly have survived on her own.
Dak Hamee tells the Andalites that the Yeerks have been building ships, at which point Alloran reveals that they’ve only brought a handful of their own ships because they assumed Aldrea was being a silly female and exaggerating the scope of the Yeerk forces on the planet. FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY, ALDREA.
In the seven months of fighting, Esplin has been promoted to Sub-Visser Twelve. Actually, this is a good time to mention something that’s been bugging me since the beginning of the book – how did the Yeerks formulate and codify such a complex ranking system in such a short space of time? Even before the seven month timeskip, the ‘Council of Thirteen’ already existed. Maybe they’re just really efficient and like to get things done. (Unlike the Andalites.)
There’s another two month timeskip, during which more than half of the Andalite fleet is destroyed and the number of free Hork-Bajir falls to less than a hundred. Alloran is also hiding something in the Arn valley, so Aldrea goes to him and begs him to tell her what it is. He refuses, so she just straight up acquires him when he doesn’t expect it. Goddamn, someone put her in charge. The Yeerks would be extinct in a week.
Aldrea morphs Alloran and marches into the room where he’s been hiding something. It seems Alloran has been using Arn technology to create a virus (remember, they’re really good at bioengineering). Here’s what it does:
<Virus Q-One-Eighteen is a Quantum virus. It is designed to attack a specific type of living creature at the subatomic level, bypassing all possible countermeasures. It is designed to cause death within minutes.>
You will no doubt be completely stunned to learn that the virus is designed to kill Hork-Bajir.
Aldrea decides to betray her own people rather than let the Hork-Bajir be wiped out. She blows up everything in the room, because she is a colossal badass, and then steals the virus. A Yeerk attack (including the newly-constructed Blade Ship) interrupts Alloran’s subsequent attempt to kill her.
Aldrea morphs into a Hork-Bajir during their escape, but gets infested by Esplin. Unfortunately, Esplin’s propensity for doing stupid things is already rearing its head, because he leaves his own Hork-Bajir host body to infest her…forgetting that the host will then be free to start killing his guards. He gets forcefully pulled out of Aldrea’s head before he can finish infesting her.
Unfortunately, they don’t have time to stomp on him, because an Andalite ships attacks them in the mistaken belief that they’re Controllers. They crash, which opens the quantum virus canister. Their only option is to run to one of the deeper valleys, where the virus is unlikely to reach them. Once there, Aldrea intentionally stays in Hork-Bajir morph, and she and Dak Hamee eventually have a child, who has another child, who then tells all of this to Tobias.
And there you have it: the Hork-Bajir were enslaved by the Yeerks thanks to hilarious incompetence on the part of the Andalites. Also Aldrea is hereby promoted to Supreme Warrior-Empress of the Andalites in my own personal Animorphs canon.
I’ve been saying throughout this recap that K.A. Applegate is really very good at this whole ‘middle grade space opera’ thing, and I’m going to say it again now. The Hork-Bajir Chronicles is possibly my favorite book of the series so far, which is all the more impressive when you consider that I hadn’t read it until now. That means that it’s not my favourite in a ‘Hey I read this as a kid, woah nostalgia rush’ kind of way. I just really, really enjoyed it. It adds a huge amount to the series’ backstory, it’s well-written, and the characters are fantastic. Yes, even Visser Three. It’s going to be hard to go back to him being just a cartoonish villain in the regular series, let me tell you.
That’s it for The Hork-Bajir Chronicles: Aldrea 4 War-Princess 2012. Join me next time for Animorphs #27: The Exposed, in which the kids turn into giant squids and my intense phobia of marine life goes off like a mental landmine.