Gregor and the Marks of Secret
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (August 2009)|
The cover of the first edition.
|Series||The Underland Chronicles|
|1 May 2006|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.C6837 Gpk 2006|
|Preceded by||Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods|
|Followed by||Gregor and the Code of Claw|
Gregor and the Marks of Secret is a high fantasy/epic fantasy novel, the fourth book in the critically acclaimed Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. It picks up soon after the end of Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods.
In New York, eight-year-old Lizzie is preparing for camp, while twelve-year-old Gregor is preparing for his echolocation training in the Underland with Ripred. Mrs. Cormaci, who now knows about the Underland, gives Gregor some pasta to bring to Ripred. Nike, the princess of the bats, carries Gregor to the city of Regalia. Once under the palace, Ripred informs Gregor of one more prophecy involving him, the "Prophecy of Time," but no one will answer Gregor's questions about the prophecy.
Gregor finds that the Bane has been brought to his lessons, and has grown to eight feet. Ripred taunts the Bane repeatedly and finally provokes him to attack. Ripred reveals that the Bane's real name is Pearlpelt and that Snare was Pearlpelt's father. Later, Gregor receives a party invitation from Hazard and his soon-to-be bond and joker, Thalia. Gregor intends to tell Ripred that he gives up on echolocation training, but, once there, is ambushed by the Bane's friends, Twirltongue and two other gnawers (rats). Twirltongue uses her persuasive words on Gregor, then lunges to attack him. Gregor's rager skills kick, but suddenly go away when he loses his flashlight. He realises that he can only fight if he can see and that he needs echolocation more than he thought. He escapes and blocks the door.
Gregor then heads to the party with three-year-old Boots, and meets up with their mother. twelve-year-old Luxa approaches asks Gregor for a dance. Gregor agrees and afterwards looks down at Luxa and realizes he likes her. A crown lands right by them, which they both recognize is the crown Luxa gave to the nibblers (mice) in case they were in need of help. Gregor, Luxa, and their bonds Ares and Aurora go to the nibblers' colony and find one of Luxa's friend nibblers dead. They discover a strange symbol on the ground that looks like a lowercase "r." Later, a group of baby nibblers are found in the river in a woven basket and brought to the palace.
Gregor, Ares, Luxa and Aurora team up with Howard, Nike, Boots, Hazard, and Thalia to investigate. There follows a series of events including an earthquake that blocks their intended escape route, so they must go through Hades Hall to return to Regalia. Luxa develops a crush on Gregor. The team encounter Photos Glow-Glow and Zap, who agree to accompany them in exchange for food. They find dead nibblers, but one, named Cartesian, is still alive. They find Ripred and rescue him from being tortured in a pit. Gregor and Luxa strongly argue about who should be in charge. A sudden change of wind blows their way and their fliers (bats) are nearly killed. They then spy on the Bane, and learn he is planning to take over the Underland.
The team head to a volcano and find a colony of nibblers being herded toward it. Realizing their mistake, they try to escape, but fall to the ground, gasping for air. Gregor realizes they are suffocating, and that the nursery rhyme and song is actually a prophecy and that the part about the nibblers in a trap is happening right now. The nibblers suddenly stop still and when three-year-old Boots says that they are sleeping, Gregor explains to his sister about dying. He then realizes that the queen in the prophecy is not Luxa, but the volcano. It erupts and engulfs the team in smoke.
Gregor wakes up lying in a cave. He walks further in to the cave and find the team alive, but knows something is wrong when he sees their stricken faces. He sees Hazard crying, with Thalia lying in his arms, dead. Later, Ripred tells him that he must get his sword. Gregor is confused, since he has a sword, but Ripred says he needs Sandwich's sword. Before Gregor leaves for Regalia, Luxa asks why he helped her with the nibblers. He tells her he did it because they saved her. The story ends with Gregor gazing at the sword in awe.
The Prophecy in this book is carved into the walls of an old nursery. It is a popular nursery rhyme of sorts, like Hey Diddle Diddle or Humpty Dumpty. Its meaning is unknown until about half way through, after the mass death of the nibblers at the volcano.
Dancing in the firelight, See the queen who conquers night. Gold flows from her, hot and bright.
Meaning: This verse talks about the volcano, and the light it gives off in the dark tunnels.
Father, mother, sister, brother, Off they go I do not know If we will see another
Meaning: This part refers to the fact that entire families of nibblers are headed toward the pit at the bottom of "The Queen"
Catch the nibblers in a trap. Watch the nibblers spin and snap. Quiet while they take a nap. Father , mother , sister , brother , Off they go. I do not know If we will see another.
Meaning: The nibblers are herded into a pit at the base of the volcano. As the poisonous gas is blown towards the mice, and away from the group by the currents, the nibblers start to writhe on the ground in search of air. At the end the mice appear to be napping (according to Boots). Whole families are killed, and the companions are concerned about the survival of the species.
Now the guests are at our door greet them as we have before. Some will slice and some will pour. Father, mother, sister, brother, Off they go. I do not know If we will see another.
Meaning: This verse talks about the rat's plan to invade Regalia The rats are the guests at the gates of the city. They have never been welcomed, and will be greeted with violence, as many times before. Some will slice, indicating the use of swords, and some will pour, which talks about pouring boiling oil over the wall and onto the army, which is a common Regalian tactic. The end talks about the perils of war, and how many will die.
The old Nursery Rhyme "Bat, Bat" is also included in this book, suggesting that it carried over from before people descended into the Underland, and it became a part of their culture.
"Bat, Bat come under my hat, and I'll give you slice of Bacon, And when I bake, I will give you a cake; if I am not mistaken!"
Meaning: This is an old English rhyme, the meaning of which is unclear. However, the Regalians interpret it to represent the bond that can be made between human and flier (bat), meaning that the two partners will always take care of one another.
The sequel of this book is Gregor and the Code of Claw and it starts off with Gregor learning about the final prophecy.
The Prophecy of Time