Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Underland Chronicles: Book Five – Gregor and the Code of Claw

The Underland Chronicles: Book Five – Gregor and the Code of Claw

Suzanne Collins
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2008   ISBN: 978-0439791441

Just when Gregor thinks that things cannot possibly get worse than they are, they do. It was bad enough having to leave Luxa and the others behind in the Firelands, even though some of their number had already died in that terrible place. Gregor's worries are compounded by the knowledge that the rats will soon be attacking Regalia and that a bloody war lies ahead. To top off this litany of misery, Gregor has now read the Prophecy of Time and he therefore knows that things are definitely going to get much worse. Apparently he, the warrior, is going to die in the war to come. Unfortunately, the prophesies written by Bartholomew of Sandwich, the founder of Regalia, have an annoying habit of coming true.

Gregor has moments of panic, but he then decides that if this is his moment to die then there isn't much he can do about it. All he can do is to do his best to make sure that his mother and sister get out of Regalia safely. So rather than feeling sorry for himself, Gregor he sets about doing what he can to help the Regalians, just as he always has done.

He begins by flying back to the Firelands to rescue Luxa. She is needed in Regalia, now that the rats are likely to attack at any minute. After all, she is the queen and her people could do with all the support they can get. Then he does what he can to help decipher the code that the rats are using to communicate. He is not much good though and the prophecy says that "the princess is the key" to unlocking the "code of claw." Unfortunately the princess, Boots, Gregor's little sister, is not up to cracking a difficult code.

At this point Gregor's other sister, Lizzie, arrives on the scene. Gregor is appalled to see her in Regalia but it soon becomes clear that she and not Boots is the princess mentioned in the prophecy, for Lizzie is a very skilled code breaker. Working with other clever minds from the Underlands, Lizzie manages to break the code and the Regalians are finally able to understand the messages that the rats are sending.

Then Gregor prepares himself for the inevitable, his battle with the Bane. He knows he must fight and try to kill the great rat. If he can succeed then perhaps the other rats will give up trying to take over the Underlands. He is ready to believe that this battle will be his last until he has a discussion with Ripred, his rat comrade. Ripred's words make Gregor wonder if perhaps the whole prophecy is nothing more than the ramblings of a deluded man. Can it be that Gregor and Gregor alone is the one who will determine his future after all?

Suzanne Collins has certainly found a thrilling way to bring her unique and highly successful series to an end. Though some readers might be disappointed that the ending is not exactly a happy one, it is nevertheless in keeping with the tone of the books. Heroes have fallen, many good people and animals have lost their lives, and a terrible war has taken place. Life in the Underland, like real life, rarely gives one perfectly happy endings.

Full of unexpected twists and turns, and conveying a valuable message about the importance of finding ones own destiny, this is a story that readers will not forget in a hurry.