Thursday, July 10, 2008

"So this is how a war starts," thought Gregor. Not with two armies facing off, waiting for the signal to charge. Not with a wave of rats invading the avenues of Regalia. Not with a formation of bats swooping down on an unsuspecting colony of rats. It begins much more quietly. In a room, on a field, in a remote tunnel when someone who has power decides the time has come."

We just finished the fifth and final book in this amazing series tonight, and as soon as the tears stopped (both mine and Bear's), I found myself wanting to talk about it. Then I realized that I hadn't had the chance to talk about the fourth book yet and I needed to do that before I started in on the amazing conclusion! So let me do just that!

Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

Now, with the third prophecy fulfilled, Gregor is drawn ever deeper into a brewing crisis. For generations, rats have run the mice - ir "nibblers" - out of whatever lands they've claimed, keeping them constantly on the move. But now the mice are disappearing, and the young queen Luxa, who credits them with saving her life, is determined to find out why.

When Gregor joins her on a fact-finding mission, he's relieved that this time, at least, there's no prophecy on the line. But when the true fate of the mice is revealed, it is something far more sinister than Grefpr or Luza had imagined - and it points the way to the final prophcy he has yet to fulfill. Gregor's role as a warrior and his abilities as a rager are put to the test in this suspeseful, action-packed penultimate installment of Suzanne Collins's thrilling Underland Chronicles.

The quote at the start of this post is a quote from this book, so you no doubt know by now, that the war I've talked about in the other three novel talks on this series, is official declared in this one. Gregor has been spending quite a bit of time in the Underland, his mother is still recovering from the plague that nearly took her life, and with no prophecy looming over him, he actually finds himself enjoying the time spent there. Though he does feel a bit bad about leaving his dad (who is still too shook up from his ordeal there) and his sister Lizzie (who wants badly to see their mother but is too scared to venture into the unknown world, but does insist on sending treats to Ripred) to look after their sickly grandmother while he and his baby sister Boots are spending a fun filled time with their friends in the strange place.

But while enjoying a fun day at Hazard's birthday party, a nibbler returns Luxa's crown, the same crown she had left with them in gratitude after they saved her and her bond Aurora's lives. The nibblers were told that should they ever be in need of assistance that they should give the crown to a scout and Luxa would do what she could to help.

Luxa knows that something terribly wrong must be taking place if the nibblers have sent her crown to request aid. She also knows that there is no way the Regalian Council will do a thing to help them without more to go on. Since she is not yet of age to force them to do anything, Luxa decides she must go on her own to help. But Gregor has no intention of letter her go alone, and as it turns out, neither do her cousin Howard, a princess bat named Nike, Boots and Hazard with his soon to be bond Thalia. So off our motley crew heads again, on what should be just a small search for answers.

What the group finds is terrifying. The rats have been busy plotting their way into power using the Bane as their leader, and the first order of business is wiping out the nibblers. An earthquake destroys the fastest way to help, and as it turns out, there may just be a prophecy to fulfill after all. But those are only a few of Gregor's problems. His mom takes a turn for the worse, he knows he'll be grounded until he's 80, and Ripred is missing after taking off after the Bane. How will he ever survive the trek back to Regalia, let alone a war. But if he can survive the giant scorpions, the volcanic ash, and a deranged rat he just may have a chance...

Once again, Collins totally blew me away with this wonderful book! Bear and I were on the edge of our seats, as page after page we had a new twist to unravel, a new mystery to solve. Overcoming great odds once again, Gregor not only suffers more losses, sees more death, but he also finds a resolve that I as an adult only wish I could exhibit.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, don't let the Children's Book label fool you, The Underland Chronicles are not to be missed. You'll find yourself turning the pages so fast you'll see smoke and you'll close the book on the edge of your seat begging for more!

Don't forget the contest I've got on right now, for a signed book and a really cool tee shirt. Just click here to get all the details!

Take Care

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