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 to this week’s episode of Cassie Turns Into Things! This time, Cassie turns into the preserved memory of an Andalite/Hork-Bajir nothlit in a bid to help a bird alien reclaim his planet from a species of fascist slugs. Enjoy!
Our ghostwriter for this entry in the ongoing Cassie Struggles With Moral Ambiguity sub-series is Melinda Metz, ghostwriter extraordinaire. Unfortunately, The Prophecy doesn’t entirely live up to the standard she set in DER PARASIT, but I’m never going to complain about getting a chance to read Metz over another ghostwriter. Let’s get down to business!
…but first, go and re-read the three Hork-Bajir Chronicles posts. I’ll wait.
Okay, so you don’t actually have to re-read them, but you might wish you had pretty soon. The Prophecy’s plot relies heavily on the events from the Hork-Bajir Chronicles, to the point of re-introducing Aldrea as a character (sort of). I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it’s kind of cool to see stuff like the Arn show up again, but The Hork-Bajir Chronicles was so cool in part because it felt like we were getting a glimpse into the wider Animorphs universe. It was special because it didn’t try to connect itself too strongly to the main series, which meant that it was able to do things the normal books couldn’t. Having an Aldrea suddenly reappear after her story was pretty decisively finished feels like a cheap move to make this book more compelling. (Melinda Metz may even have agreed – there’s a pretty conspicuous reference to The Phantom Menace in the first chapter.)
That aside, The Prophecy is worth reading, so let’s get to it!
The plot kicks off with Cassie spotting a Hork-Bajir walking around near her home. She gets ready to attack, only to realize that the Hork-Bajir is actually from the free colony up in the mountains. Apparently some sort of alien has visited the colony, which is the kind of thing the Animorphs like to keep on top of.
They head over to the colony, where they are introduced to Quafijinivon, who is the last of the Arn. His name is kind of a pain in the ass to type, though, so from now on I’m going to refer to him as Marvin. He tells them that he wants to take ‘his’ planet back from the Yeerks, but to do this he’ll need to find a cache of weapons that Aldrea hid before she died. Naturally, his method of finding the weapons involves searching around for a while and then giving up if he doesn’t have any luck after a few months.
Oh wait, no, it involves implanting Aldrea’s mind into someone else so she can just tell him where the weapons are, only there’s no way to get rid of her personality when she’s done unless the copy of her feels like voluntarily dying.
They initially decide to put Aldrea’s lxcila (i.e. personality, i.e. alien doo-dad) into either Rachel or Toby, Aldrea’s Hork-Bajir granddaughter, but surprise, it ends up going to Cassie instead in a scene that I find extremely difficult to visualise.
Quafijinivon added another piece of metal to the vial. “We call on Aldrea-lskillion-Falan,” he repeated.
“Paging Stephen King,” Marco said quietly. ”R.L Stine calling Stephen King with a message from Anne Rice.”
Only one of these authors is still in any way relevant. Guess who it is!
So Cassie gets lxcilated , which means means she’s basically sharing her mind with Aldrea. Aldrea can communicate through her indirectly, by telling her what to say, or she can take over the speech centers of her brain and talk directly using her mouth. As you might expect, Aldrea is fairly distraught to learn that Dak Hamee’s lxcila was destroyed. She asks Marvin to let her go back to being dead, until he tells her that she has a shot at freeing the Hork-Bajir if she helps him. She doesn’t trust him (or Ax, or the rest of the Animorphs), but she agrees to go along with the plan because it’s her only chance at striking back at the Yeerks.
Aldrea practices morphing using Cassie’s body, and seems to take to a wolf morph with particular enthusiasm. But wait, suspicion is afoot:
Rachel would not have been intimidated by Aldrea. She’d have laid down the law: Do what I tell you, or else.
Or else what, though? That was the question, wasn’t it. Or else . . . what? I wondered again why Aldrea hadn’t chosen Rachel as her receptacle. But maybe the answer was all too clear: Maybe I’d been chosen because she sensed that I was the weakest.
Had she felt that I would be the easiest to control? Had Aldrea, even in her inchoate Ixcila form, marked me as an easy victim?
I’m going to be extremely annoyed if they try to turn Aldrea into another David.
The trip to the Hork-Bajir planet is going to be a little bit longer than just a day or two, so the Chee step in to impersonate the kids while they’re gone. Everyone acquires a Hork-Bajir morph, including Cassie:
I pressed my hands against his leathery chest. Aldrea fought to resist a renewed wave of grief. I couldn’t figure out why for a minute, then I realized that touching Jara must remind her of how it felt to touch Dak Hamee.
You are now picturing two Hork-Bajir doing it. (And if there’s any fanart of that online, I do not want to know about it.)
Everyone piles into Marvin’s stolen Yeerk ship, at which point they start bickering in predictable fashion over whose species is the most awesome/less terrible. Jake tells everyone to stop acting like Twitter the day before an American election (he doesn’t put it in quite those terms), and they head off into Zero Space.
Unfortunately, there’s an Andalite shuttle in deep patrol near the Hork-Bajir homeworld. Ax refuses to fire on another Andalite ship, so Aldrea gleefully takes over and does it for him. This, combined with her insistence on referring to herself as a Hork-Bajir rather than an Andalite, makes it pretty clear what she thinks of her species. She disables one of the ship’s engines, but they get attacked by Bug Fighters before the dogfight can progress any further. Between them, the two ships manage to destroy enough of the Yeerks to scare off the rest.
Aldrea: still awesome!
They land on Planet Hork-Bajir (or whatever it’s called), close to the Arn lab from The Hork-Bajir Chronicles. Aldrea starts fighting Cassie for control of her body, which I think might possibly be an attempt at drawing a parallel between what Aldrea is doing and what Yeerks do. Again, this would all be a lot more interesting if Cassie hadn’t gone through something almost identical in her last book.
Aldrea/Cassie morph into a Hork-Bajir and go in search of Aldrea’s former home, only to find that it’s been replaced by a gigantic Yeerk Pool. Just to make matters worse, Aldrea realises that she most likely hid the weapons inside part of the tree where she used to live – in other words, underneath the Yeerk Pool.
It was not an easy plan to work out. We needed to get into the Yeerk pool itself. We needed to be able to function underwater. Aldrea needed to be in Hork-Bajir morph in order to open the tree.
Then, if she opened it, we needed to be able to get inside, enter the ship, and figure out how to fly it out of the middle of a log a hundred feet in diameter.
I could do that in my sleep.
Cassie’s plan is pretty crazy even by the standards of the rest of the series, although I like that it hinges on her ability to morph better than anyone else (which the book has been reinforcing by having Aldrea be impressed by her morphing prowess). It goes something like this:
- Morph into an osprey and have the others hide in her mouth in insect morph.
- Fly over the Yeerk Pool.
- Start to demorph, but focus on keeping the wings.
- Morph into a sperm whale, still keeping the wings and becoming the first person to ever do something like that in the process.
- Briefly become a whale with giant bird wings, because why the hell not.
- Fall slowly enough to hit the Yeerk pool without dying, then go full whale.
- Everyone demorphs inside her mouth, then remorph into hammerhead sharks.
- Raid the Yeerk Pool.
It works, of course, and they manage to get to the weapons cache. They also accidentally bust a hole in the side of the Yeerk Pool, draining it and killing several thousand of the Yeerks who were swimming around inside. Cassie is not exactly thrilled about this, which Aldrea doesn’t understand.
<l sense regret,> Aldrea said. <But this is a great victory. And it is because of you, Cassie. Without you, none of this would have been possible. You’ve just done the most impossible, incredible, and heroic thing I’ve ever seen.>
The water continued to drain. The Yeerks in host bodies might be able to save some of their brothers and sisters. Not many. Not all. Thousands of Yeerks would lie there, dying a slow death of dehydration as the water left them stranded, or asphyxiation as they sank, helpless, into the mud.
Because of me.
At first this might seem like a stretch, even for Cassie, but keep in mind that she spent several hours as both a Controller infested by a sympathetic Yeerk, and as a Yeerk infesting a willing Controller. It would be pretty understandable for her to have mixed emotions about this. (It also nicely foreshadows some conflict later on. One of the Animorphs’ long-term goals has been the destruction of the Yeerk Pool under their town; is Cassie going to be okay with killing all those Yeerks if they get a chance to finally do it?)
They deliver the weapons to Marvin and get ready to leave, but Toby refuses to go, saying that she wants to stay on the Hork-Bajir homeworld to fight the Yeerks there. Aldrea doesn’t want her to grow up in the midst of a war, so she tricks her into going by pretending to take over Cassie’s body. Ax fakes holding Toby hostage, ‘forcing’ Aldrea to relinquish control of Cassie’s body and ensuring that Toby will go with them.
So that’s The Prophecy. I’m ambivalent about it, to say the least. On one hand, it’s a pretty decent story, but it feels too short and rushed for something as momentous as Aldrea’s return to the series. Her conflict with Ax over their conflicting ideas of Andalite morality is particularly underdeveloped.
I said at the beginning of the post that I would have preferred her story to stay within the confines of The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, where it belonged, and I still feel that way now. The Prophecy isn’t a bad book by any means, but it also isn’t good enough for a character whose first outing was so memorable.
Join me next week for The Proposal, which is both an Animorphs book where Marco turns into a poodle and a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Which one will I recap? You’ll have to come back to the site to see!