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Animorphs Re-Read – Visser (Part 3/3)

by ◊ 2 years ago 10 Comments Switch View


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.

I hear there are hurricanes and other unpleasant things over in the USA, but the Visser re-read will not be deterred!

I’m running out of captions for this cover.

When we last left our intrepid villain-protagonist, she was busy trying to convince her host’s son (Marco) to stage an attack on the Yeerk Pool so Visser Three wouldn’t kill her.

The third part (which doesn’t actually exist, I’m just imposing an artificial order on the book) begins with Eldriss becoming convinced that Garoff is mostly on her side now that the interrogation is coming to an end. She explains how Essam began to lose his resolve to conquer humanity, and how she had to convince him to report their findings to the Yeerk Empire.

However, Essam decides that he would rather die than let Eldriss start humanity down the path of enslavement. Eldriss tells the Council that she tried to kill Essam, but Eva constantly interjects, saying that Eldriss is lying and that she actually loved Essam and their children. The whole scene nicely gets across Eldriss’ chaotic mental state, which isn’t helped by the lingering pain from her physical injuries.

Eldriss insists that she doesn’t care about her children, until Visser Three reveals his trump card by bringing in her son, ‘Darwin’.

This was my son. His name was Darwin. That had been a little joke on my part. He represented something never evolved: a human child with four parents, two human, two Yeerk.

I like Eldriss’ sense of humour.

BUT THEN:

<I’m afraid I can’t trust you with a Dracon beam, Visser,> my enemy said. <But as you pointed out, human projectile weapons are quite effective.>

One of the Hork-Bajir produced a human handgun. I took it. No choice. MY hand was sweating, my heart…no! Not this!

<A single bullet, Visser One. Show us. Prove to us that you care nothing for this human child.>

Oh snap.

This would be a really good time for a fortuitous distraction, which the Animorphs helpfully provide by choosing that moment to attack. Marco knocks Eldriss unconscious in gorilla morph, and she wakes up in one of the Taxxon tunnels leading away from the Yeerk Pool. If you recall, Eldriss wanted them to show up in order to prove that Visser Three killing them earlier was a big pile of BS that he staged for the Council, which they’ve now done.

Eldriss says that their purpose in her plans is now complete, but Ax puts his tail blade to her throat and threatens to decapitate her unless she leaves Eva’s body. To Eldriss’ surprise, Marco makes no attempt to stop him, saying that he knows his mother would rather be dead than a Controller.

Eldriss realises that she has no choice but to do as they say, so she leaves Eva’s body. This renders her blind and deaf, and she assumes that the Animorphs are going to kill her. To her surprise, she is eventually placed back into Eva’s ear canal and is able to infest her once again. She quickly checks Eva’s memories and discovers that she convinced Marco to let Eldriss live:

Eva took his face in her hands. “Marco, that’s a nice sentiment, a brave ideal. But the truth is, Marco, humans do submit. Not all, and not always, but some, maybe most. Enough will submit, Marco. Enough to give the Yeerks what they want. And the rest will be dead. Millions. Billions.”

I saw Marco’s hand tighten around me. I saw how close I came to that inexorable power crushing the life from me.

“You can’t rely on slogans, my brave son. You have to win this war. For now Visser One must survive. Only she can restrain Visser Three. If she loses, or if she is seen as disloyal, he’ll have his way.”

So I like this for a few reasons. It’s interesting to have Eldriss be confronted with just how powerless Yeerks are without their hosts, and it also really drives home how heroic Eva is. She willingly resigns herself to life as a Controller in order to save the Animorphs – and, by extension, all those millions of people who would die at Visser Three’s hands if he had his way.

Marco argues that having Visser Three in charge would be better because he’s an idiot. Jake agrees:

The tiger spoke again. <We may prefer Visser Three to be in charge. He makes stupid mistakes. His people all hate and fear him, which makes his people less effective. And, we know him. Know what to expect. Visser One might be a more dangerous enemy.>

Surely that succinct summary was from an Andalite mind.

Because Jake has become as pragmatic and coldly rational as an Andalite do you see.

Also I like how the book is now flat-out telling us that Eldriss is way more competent than Visser Three. She soon realises that the ‘Andalite banidts’ are a full 84% human:

By the Kandrona itself, the tiger was human, too! Were they all humans? All but the lone Andalite?

I wanted to laugh! I wanted to run to Visser Three and spit the truth in his face: You incompetent fool, your every move has been stymied, not by highly trained Andalite guerillas, but by humans. By children!

BY THE KANDRONA ITSELF. Man, I’m going to start saying that.

Eldriss returns to the present moment, which she spends waiting for Eva’s body to return to consciousness  Interestingly, Yeerks can still function even if their hosts are out cold. I wonder if they could do the same thing while their host body is asleep? To nobody’s surprise, she says that the story she told the Council of Thirteen was a lie. She had become as enamored of humanity as Essam, and had no desire to contact the Empire.

She still wanted to become a full-fledged Visser, though, so she came up with the idea of The Sharing in order to take over Earth gradually. Her thinking was that Yeerks could invade humanity so gradually that the two would essentially become one, with the population at large not knowing about the infestation until it was already nearing completion. Awesomely, she raised money for The Sharing by hacking into a bunch of banks to steal money, then using that money to form companies that made her millions of dollars.

I know I keep saying this, but Eldriss is so much better than Visser Three.

Eldriss is discovered by some Controllers and brought back to the Council. She finishes her story, still intent on coming out of the trial ahead of Visser Three. Before contacting the Empire, she proved to herself and Essam that humans would voluntarily submit to a higher power if given the opportunity. She does this fairly easily, but Essam has no desire to see humans enslaved and runs off with their children. Eldriss eventually catches up to him and kills him, then leaves the kids in a hospital so that they will be found and put up for adoption.

The Council retires to make a judgement, then renders their verdict: both Eldriss and Visser One are given suspended death sentences. Garoff explains that a massive fleet is gathering around the Andalite homeworld, but its destination is unknown. The Council believes that they are waiting to decide between sending it to Earth or the ‘Anati’ homeworld, depending on which is in more dire need of assistance:

“Earth. Or, the Anati world. It will depend on which they decide is more important. But, as you know, Visser Three, the Andalites are slow to commit. A sudden, violent war on Earth would be sure to draw them in. Do you have the forces to fight a full Andalite fleet containing thirty of their Dome ships, Visser Three?>

Visser Three chose not to respond rather than admit that half that many Dome ships could wipe his forces out within minutes of emerging from Z-space.

Garoff goes on to say that Visser One is the most gifted military officer in the Empire, which is why she is being put in charge of subjugating the Anati species. If the Andalites attack there, she will be tasked with fending them off. Eldriss now has a chance to redeem herself, although she also makes a silent vow to find her daughter before she can also become a Controller.

Just before she leaves for her new mission, she starts to tell Visser Three the truth about the ‘Andalite bandits’…but then decides not to. Needless to say, he’s too dense to work out what she might have been implying before she stopped herself.

And that’s Visser! The ending is kind of anti-climactic after the pure awesome that was the rest of the book, but I’m not complaining. I’ve said before that the Chronicles books showcase the best of the series’ worldbuilding, but Visser also exemplifies the series’ emotional complexity. The whole setup between Eldriss and Essam (and their hosts!) is deliciously complex and fraught, as is Marco’s decision to spare Eldriss’ life. I’ve been told that the books go downhill after Visser, but even if they didn’t, it would be hard to imagine that anything between here and the finale could top it.

I mean, what else do we have to look forward to?

Join me next time (in two weeks, most likely) for the re-read of The Mutation!

About the Author

Sean http://www.seanwills.com

I came to science fiction relatively late, being a bigger fan of fantasy during my teenage years. Now I enjoy speculative fiction of all kinds, particularly anything with a literary bent. I studied English at NUI Maynooth in Ireland, and now write science fiction for teenagers. Follow my exploits at www.seanwills.com. View all posts by Sean »

Discussion - 10 Comments:

  1. Lamusiqe13

    So, yeah, the books go downhill from here. There are only a couple of good ones until book 45, but then they suddenly become epic for the rest of the series.

    Also, I am in the process of writing a fan fic where some Andalites take the Animorphs to the Anati homeworld, and the Animorphs are picked up by the Yeerk Peace Movement. I’m kind of proud of it.

    And, last but not least, one of the things I really like about this book is how impossible it is for kids to understand it. I mean, remember that bit where Visser 3 offers Essam’s former host a “bottle” in exchange for information, but they can’t say what’s in the bottle? Or how all that Edriss’s first host desired was “a certain chemical substance”? It’s hilarious to see these things in a kid’s book.

    Reply Quote

    • I know! I feel like for most of Eldriss’ story, you can tell K.A. Applegate was trying really hard to make it comprehensible to younger kids without removing some of the more complicated stuff she wanted to put in. Now I wish I’d read Visser as a kid, because I suspect I would have loved it.

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      • Lamusiqe13

        Meh… I did read it, and I didn’t really remember understanding it very well. It’s kind of interesting; in making a book that appeals to older people so well, Applegate actually failed at making it good for her target audience. Interesting phenomenon, don’t you think?

        Quote

  2. Well, you also still have Megamorphs #4, which contains the immortal line, “Do you just hate trash cans?”

    Reply Quote

    • Cyberguy64

      I’m pretty sure that was in the first Megamorphs.

      Anyway, I can’t wait to see your take on The Ellimist Chronicles. I liked the direction that one took, with all the origins and aliens and such.

      Reply Quote

      • Tobias Skywalker

        It was definitely Megamorphs #1. Trust me, I KNOW. I learned to read on this series. Literally #3 the Encounter was the first chapter book I remember reading. It would be slightly exaggerating to say that I didn’t read anything else until I read Lord of the Rings, but ONLY slightly. It amazes me what I remember of this series, but I put it down to the books coming out when Pokemon was in its ‘growing’ stages as opposed to the fait accompli worldwide thing it is today- I liked memorizing the Pokedex, so I liked memorizing every #, name, morph, and everything memorizable and sortable into lists from Animorphs, plus wierd nerdy minutiae of what happened between the pages.

        And ‘immortal’ does not do the line justice. Possibly, that was my absolute favorite piece of dialogue from Jake to Marco in the entire series. There were a lot of good moments between all characters, but “DO YOU JUST. HATE. FREAKING. TRASH CANS?” is easily in the Top 10 Sentences of all 54 books, 4 Megamorphs, 2 Alternamorphs, 3 Chronicles, and Visser. Counting major plot twists.

        “You were good. You mattered.” and “Did I make a difference?” are up there, too. But seriously? Animorphs, in a nutshell?

        It’s actually about Hating Trash Cans. XD

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  3. eNVee:D

    To this day (and since I have the entire series in PDF format, I reread them a LOT), I CANNOT wrap my head around The Ellimist Chronicles. I just can’t. The whole premise of his species and his evolution to what we see him as in the main series just escapes me. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I just have a huge mental block when it comes to trying to get my imagination to paint his world in my mind’s eye.

    So, I am REALLY looking forward to your post on that one, Sean, wherever down the line that may be. Which might end up being anti-climatic, actually, if you continue to post chronologically, considering exactly to who and (more importantly), WHEN he tells his story.

    Anyway.

    Didn’t you just love Visser?! Good lord, these books never get old! I feel like the whole series had so much more depth with the parallel stories giving so much history to the war and the main players here.

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  4. Lamusiqe13:
    Meh… I did read it, and I didn’t really remember understanding it very well. It’s kind of interesting; in making a book that appeals to older people so well, Applegate actually failed at making it good for her target audience. Interesting phenomenon, don’t you think?

    I wonder if KAA was actually targeting ten-year-olds with this book. I know that’s what Scholastic was aiming for, but by the time Visser came out, anyone who was 10 at the start of the series was now 13. I think most thirteen-year-olds know what booze and cocaine are. Being ambiguous about what the alcohol and cocaine was probably required by the publisher, but it was pretty fitting regardless. I don’t think I would have noticed the ambiguity if it hadn’t been pointed out here.

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    • Lamusiqe13

      I hadn’t thought of that, and it is a pretty good point. The first books in the series were much lighter than the ones we’re at now, and they’re just gonna get darker from here. (Well, actually, they’re going to get very light for about 10 books and then get darker. But whatever.) I wonder if that was intentional on Applegate’s part or not.

      Reply Quote

  5. Anonymous

    *Edriss

    Reply Quote

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