Showing posts sorted by relevance for query The Last Apprentice. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query The Last Apprentice. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, June 16, 2023

Read What You Love, Part 3 by Karen S. Wiesner

            Read What You Love, Part 3

by Karen S. Wiesner

In this three-part article, I talk about what conditions, if any, cultivate or discourage a love of the written word as well as about the importance of reading what you love, regardless of your age, the genre or content appropriateness, your gender, or what's considered your "level". In the last two segments, I'll also review two of my favorite Young Adult book series that any fan of the supernatural should love as I much as I do.

In the first part of this article, I talked about how, in the general sense, people should read what they're interested in. It doesn't matter if someone else dubs it above or below your proper reading level, too mature or immature, if it's in a genre that social convention says adults or kids shouldn't be reading, or if it's something most people think of as gender specific. A love of the written word transcends any boundaries. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Read what you love! In the second article, I provided an in-depth review of Brandon Mull's phenomenal Young Adult Fantasy series Fablehaven and its sequel Dragonwatch.

In this final installment, I'll review Joseph Delaney's Spooksworld, which is, in my opinion, the best Young Adult Fantasy multi-series in existence. Many people may have heard of this series based on the film adaptation that came out in 2015 called The Spook's Apprentice, which was adapted as a play script originally by the author's son. The film featured Ben Barnes playing Tom Ward (he also played Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia film series), Jeff Bridges as John Gregory, Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin, and Kit Harington (yes, John Snow from HBO's Game of Thrones) as Billy Bradley, among many others. My opinion (which may not mean a lot) is that this movie didn't even come close to capturing the magic found in the books. I find it difficult to watch, honestly, because it was such a poor adaptation of what could have been nothing short of amazing, had the books been followed much closer.

Spooksworld began as a dark fantasy novel saga written by Joseph Delaney. Three separate series comprise this "arc" that includes Thomas "Tom" Ward as a central character in each. In this fictional world, the seventh son of a seventh son (and sometimes the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter) is a unique being equipped above all other humans to sense the supernatural and become a defender against "the Dark", which can include all manner of beasties like ghost, witches, boggarts, and demons. Such a fighting master is referred to as a "Spook".

Before I dive into this unique world, I'll point out that Joseph Delaney is a British author and all of the Spooksworld books were originally published in the UK by The Bodley Head division of Random House Publishing (which is now Penguin Random House). That said, it'll make more sense to explain that the three separate Spooksworld series have different names (for pities' sake, sometimes more than one for each!) in the UK and the US, and that includes the titles in the differing series names also being changed. So I'll start with a basic listing of the original series name and title differences between the UK and the US. You can find out more at the author's website:

In the United States, the original series that began with Tom Ward being apprenticed to the County Spook John Gregory is called The Last Apprentice Series, with the following titles available:

Revenge of the Witch (Book 1)

Curse of the Bane (Book 2)

Night of the Soul Stealer (Book 3)

Attack of the Fiend (Book 4)

Wrath of the Bloodeye (Book 5)

Clash of the Demons (Book 6)

Rise of the Huntress (Book 7)

Rage of the Fallen (Book 8)

Grimalkin the Witch Assassin (Book 9)

Lure of the Dead (Book 10)

Slither (Book 11)

I Am Alice (Book 12)

Fury of the Seventh Son (Book 13)

In the UK it's called The Spook's Series and the individual titles are shortened considerably to:

Apprentice (Book 1)

Curse (Book 2)

Secret (Book 3)

Battle (Book 4)

Mistake (Book 5)

Sacrifice (Book 6)

Nightmare (Book 7)

Destiny (Book 8)

I Am Grimalkin (Book 9)

Blood (Book 10)

Slither’s Tale (Book 11)

Alice (Book 12)

Revenge (Book 13)

Just to make this as confusing as possible, this same series has also been referred to as The Tom/Thomas Ward Chronicles or The Wardstone Chronicles. In French, strangely, it's called L'apprenti L'Épouvanteur, which means "The Scarecrow's Apprentice". Either that's poorly translated or "Spook's" is simply not a word that can be grasped in the French language. Go figure.

In any case, there are also several interconnected offerings to this original series that are occasionally included with further (seemingly conflicting) book numbers in the series. These include: A stand-alone story called Seventh Apprentice, which is an introduction to the series that has an earlier apprentice, Will Johnson, left to fend for himself while his master is away. Bestiary (also called The Guide to Creatures of the Dark), which is a practical record of dealing with the Dark and features John Gregory's personal account of "the denizens " he's encountered, combined with his lessons learned and mistakes made. Short stories are also combined with different stories with varying titles in the UK and US in collections, namely Grimalkin's Tale, Witches, The Spook's Tale and Other Horrors, and A Coven of Witches. Finally, a fun little scary story set in the same world is called The Ghost Prison.

Tom Ward is just a boy when John Gregory comes to claim him as an apprentice. Tom's mother promised her seventh son of a seventh son to the local Spook, who's more than a little cranky and irascible. Though Tom isn't sure about being apprenticed to a hard man like this, he dutifully leaves with the Spook, resigned to being apprenticed by him. Soon, he discovers that most of the man's previous apprentices failed, fled, or were killed in the process of learning the ropes of fighting the Dark. Not surprisingly, Spooks are feared and shunned everywhere…you know, up until ordinary people have need of their unique abilities.

Everything Tom faces as the plot progresses from one book to the next makes for chilling conflict and soul reflection. The uncertain but morally grounded boy grows into a young man changed not only by those he meets, the creatures he fights, and the mystical skills he possesses but by his own convictions about his place in the world.

Seeing Tom mature and become powerful, embracing his role of responsibility to the County he serves, his master, his family, and the world at large was a fascinating byplay of shades of gray. On the surface, as this saga progresses, a hero could easily be a villain while just as easily a former monster may end up becoming an ally. Light and dark coexist, and no one is really what they seem here. My favorite characters can't really be short-listed because there are so many intriguing ones, but those that stand out to me would include Tom first and foremost; his master; his parents and family; Alice Deane, the young witch Tom is warned early on not to trust; the former apprentices of John Gregory who serve in other parts of the world, Bill Arkwright and Judd Brinscall; Grimalkin, the Malkin witch assassin who has many faces, and her apprentice Thorne; and finally Meg, John Gregory's former lover, who lives in his winter house.

When I discovered the first book in the series, I bought all the subsequent ones in one fell swoop, including the miscellaneous bonus offerings. I read them compulsively over the course of about a week, barely sleeping because I was so enthralled, wanting to know what would happen to Tom and his master John Gregory. While there is a point where the books slow down and things are all moving in one direction (toward the defeat of the arch villain, the Fiend, which I didn't find quite as interesting as previous enemies), I've still read the series multiple times. After completing it the first time and feeling sad that there weren't more books about Tom Ward, I went searching for follow-up and discovered that there was indeed a spinoff series to be had.

With the conclusion of the original series in 2013, the author started a spinoff trilogy in 2014 with The Starblade Chronicles (the UK versions go by "Spook's" with the same individual titles) that follows the continued adventures of Tom Ward. The apprentice is now the master Spook, responsible for fighting the evil threatening the County and the surrounding world. The three books include A New Darkness (Book 1), The Dark Army (Book 2), and The Dark Assassin (Book 3).

Tom is now 17 but he never finished his apprenticeship as a Spook. Nevertheless, the County needs his unique skills more than ever and there is no one else willing or able to do what he can. To further complicate his life, a young girl named Jenny, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, comes, asking to be his apprentice. Never before has a girl been a Spook, and Tom isn't sure how to feel about it. Yet Jenny has vital information and knowledge that he needs to defeat a new evil threatening humanity. Like it or not, he has to take a chance on her.

Returning to Tom's life after the events of the original series was a thrill for me. I wasn't disappointed, but I was very surprised by a lot of the changes in store that weren't ideal and weren't necessarily what I would have hoped for in a spinoff. However, I enjoyed these books very much, read them just as voraciously as the original series, but I will say I was blindsided by the events in the conclusion. As a tremendous fan of the series, I wasn't entirely happy with the outcome and resolution either. Luckily for me, it wasn't actually the end of Tom's story, though fans of the series did have to wait nearly three years before the author brought back our most beloved Spook.

In 2020, Tom Ward, Alice, and other series favorites returned in a new spinoff series, Brother Wulf, which includes four offerings: Brother Wulf (Book 1), Wulf's Bane (Book 2), The Last Spook (Book 3), and Wulf's War (Book 4, coming 8/17/23).

A young novice monk, Brother Beowulf, is being manipulated and sent by the church to spy on Spook Johnson, who takes Wulf along on his monster battles. After Spook Johnson is captured by one of the very creatures he was supposed to be eliminating, Wulf has no choice but to seek out Tom Ward's help. In this spinoff series, Wulf is the main character, while Tom is the secondary, though still a major protagonist. As with the young Tom Ward in the original series, I was charmed by Wulf, who isn't tainted by the evil that plagues the world around him. He remains pure and determined to do good in a world with so many contradictory players. But Wulf is more than he seems, just as this author's characters always prove to be in the end, and that makes him another hero to root for.

Those new to these books may not realize that Joseph Delaney was battling illness while he was writing the last few books in this series. I'd read all three of the first offerings in it. (Incidentally, I had to purchase Book 3 from Blackwell's booksellers in the UK because it wasn't available in the US, nor do I believe it is even now.) I went to the author's website to find out when the conclusion to the series would be released, and it was there that I was devastated to learn Joseph Delaney lost his battle. The third story ended on a cliffhanger with no satisfactory resolution. It took a long time to resign myself to the fact that I would never learn the conclusion of such a wonderful saga. But then, while I was researching for this review, I discovered that a fourth book would be released posthumously August 2023, on the anniversary of the author's death. Wulf's War was apparently the last book Delaney wrote. I hope this final book provides an ideal conclusion to the series, though I will be more understanding, given how hard it must have been for the author to write this one.

I've also read Delaney's Aberrations series, another dark fantasy sequence, that currently has two installments. I actually talked to the author several years ago (before the Brother Wulf series was published), asking him if more books would follow in that series. I believe he was writing more, but he said that the publisher hadn't yet committed to releasing the next. I'm strongly hoping this series will also be finished at some point in the future, but I don't expect that will be the case. I'll be devastated, since Crafty and his friends may never defeat the evil mist that brought the aberration monsters to their world. Naturally, I'll blame the publisher. I've written a note to those responsible for the upkeep of his website, requesting information about potential future offerings in the series. We'll see if I get a response.

As I said early in this article series, I discovered Spooksworld as a 30-something year old adult and would have missed it (and been the worse for it) and so many others if I cared a whit about maturity, appropriateness, genre, and level classifications when it comes to selecting my reading material.

Life is too short to read only what's expected of you. Instead, make the most of the remaining years you have exploring an entire universe of wonderful reading material available to you.

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series.

Visit her website here:


Find out more about her books and see her art here:

Visit her publisher here:

Friday, March 22, 2024

Karen S. Wiesner: Oldies But Goodies {Put This One on Your TBR List} Book Review: The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney

Oldies But Goodies

{Put This One on Your TBR List}

Book Review: The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney

by Karen S. Wiesner

After I finished my last writing reference, I'd started to hear about a trend going around writing circles. In direct opposition of everything I'd ever taught in my writing series about the crucial need to go deep with characters, writers were being told that it's best not to include more than basic information about main characters, not even providing last names for them--this supposedly allows readers to fill in the blanks with their own details, making the characters whatever they want them to be.

In my mind, this is a big mistake. How can character development be fluid enough to allow something like that without compromising everything vital in a story? Individual character choices directly influence outcomes. If a character isn't well defined, motives and purposes are constantly in question as well as in flux. Ultimately, characters that have no impact on readers make for a quickly forgotten story.

I want a good balance of character and plot development in the stories I'm willing to invest myself in, and I'm not getting it with most of the new stuff coming out. So I've been re-reading the books that have made it onto my keeper shelves in the past. To that end, here's another "oldies but goodies" review.

The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney is said to be a tangential installment of his wonderful The Last Apprentice Series (reviewed here:, and it's clear by the language that it's set in the same world. Billy Calder may well have become an apprentice of the Spook John Gregory in another life, but in this story he's simply a 15-year old orphan boy who seizes the opportunity to gain independence from the Home for Unfortunate Boys by taking a job as a castle prison guard. He's given almost no training. After waking up late for his first shift, he rushes to the prison from the orphanage. His supervisor isn't pleased. Beyond that, night in the prison is anything but boring, given the number of supernatural prisoners that have to be tended to. An illness removes his boss and leaves Billy in charge, forced to take over horrifying duties he doesn't have the experience or skills to handle.

This short tale published just before Halloween in 2013 is intended for 4-7th graders, but don't let that stop you. Why should they have all the fun? This story is one that anyone who loves a good chiller will enjoy just as much as I did. Billy is a plucky Pip-like kid who doesn't give up or give in easily, even when it might be wise to just run for his life and not look back. Scott M. Fischer's black and white sketches all through the book are perfect accompaniments to the fun, suspenseful text. This is a story filled with a well-developed, brilliant personality that allows you to share directly in Billy's conflicts and root for him to triumph.

Next week, I'll review another Oldie But Goodie you might find worth another read, too.

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series.

Visit her website here:


Find out more about her books and see her art here:

Visit her publisher here:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Babel Fish vs Brain Power

I have a mind like a dump. I can say that because it is my mind. One never knows what is buried in there and that might be turned up by an intergalactic bulldozer! Anyway, one of the authors participating in celebration of diversity in SFR currently going on at The Galaxy Express mentioned The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Jul 24, 2010 ... Science fiction for me was the dark dystopian future of 1984 stretching to the absurdity of HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. ...
Google Alert.... credit Kim Knox .

Following this diversity series has stimulated me to think about some of the less diverse aspects of SFR: how writers cope with communication between species and races. It seems to me, it's either some version of the babel fish (usually an implanted chip rather than a parasite) or it's brain power and hard work in the language lab (or hypnopedia in the only one of my books where I give a nod to the problem).

Is there anything else? Could there be? Possibly "Texting" gives us a clue. From time to time, I think about all the troubles we have with our computers and the internet (worms, Trojans, viruses, hackers, malware) and apply it to what might happen to people with a robotic "babel fish" implanted in their heads.

With that in mind, I allowed a "villain" (more of an opportunistic mischief maker who happened to be a world leader) to mess with undiplomatic holographic messages in Knight's Fork.

However, before posting what would have been a very short post on that point, I thought that I ought to check that the "babel fish!" reference that popped up in my mind was accurate and properly attributed. One does try to be responsible.

Imagine my delight when my "Babel Fish" research led to this! (Below. From Wikipedia. Apparently, free to share.) I love lists for worldbuilding.  Credits and attribution at the bottom of the post.

This is a list of races, fauna, and flora (as well as creatures without category) featured in various incarnations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.



The popular anti-teleport song claims that "Aldebaran's great, OK", but the Aldebarans are better known for their liqueurs (sold at Miliways), and fine wines (as Trillian prepared for Zaphod after deactivating all the Heart of Gold kitchen synthomatics).


Advanced species known for their love of the movie Fight Club and their intense hatred of rabbits. It will take less than thirty of their dollars a day for hitchhikers to see the universe; so long as said hitchhikers avoid buying fruit drinks at Ursa Minor Beta nightclubs, which cost sixty Altairian dollars.

Amoeboid Zingatularians

The Amoeboid Zingatularians appear as a stellar replacement in the long-running comedic play No Sex Please, We're British at the end of fit the third of the radio series.


Inhabitants of the planet Bartledan. The people of Bartledan are similar to humans, but do not breathe. Due to their view on the Universe - that the Universe is what the Universe is, take it or leave it - they have no desires, dreams or hopes, to the point that the protagonist of a Bartledanian novel abruptly dies of thirst in the penultimate chapter of the book due to a briefly-mentioned plumbing problem earlier on. Bartledanian literature is renowned, and its books are notable for being exactly one hundred thousand words long. Netball is a popular sport among the people of Bartledan despite the fact that no one cares about winning.


The Belcerebons of Kakrafoon Kappa had an unhappy time. Once a serene and quiet civilization, a Galactic Tribunal sentenced them to telepathy because the rest of the galaxy found peaceful contemplation contemptuous. Ford Prefect compared them to Humans because the only way Belcerebons could stop transmitting their every thought was to mask their brain activity (or its readability) by talking endlessly about utter trivia. The other approach to dampening telepathic communication was to host concerts of the plutonium rock band Disaster Area. Thankfully, during the concert, an improbability field flipped over the Rudlit Desert, transforming it into a paradise, and cured the Belcerebons of telepathy. A Disaster Area spokesman said that this was "a good gig".


A race similar to humans in many ways.

Blagulon Kappans

Blagulon Kappans are methane-breathing life forms from Blagulon Kappa, which only appear in the books as the sophisticated police that attack Zaphod Beeblebrox. They die because Marvin the Paranoid Android causes their ship to commit suicide by sharing his overly pessimistic view of the Universe with it. This in turn renders their space suits, which are remote controlled by the ship, unusable. This proves fatal because they cannot breathe in the thin oxygen atmosphere of Magrathea. However, in the TV series the police are simply humanoids and able to breathe the air.


Dentrassis are the best cooks and the best drink mixers in the universe. The Vogons can now afford them by being professionally bad tempered. Described by the character Ford Prefect as "The best cooks and the best drinks mixers, and they don't give a wet slap about anything else." In most versions of the story, they help galactic hitchhikers board Vogon Constructor Ships "partly because they like the company, but mostly because it annoys the Vogons."
The Dentrassi were also a demo coding group for the Atari ST home computer.


Dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on Earth, just above humans. They tried in vain to warn humans of the impending destruction of the planet. However, their behavior was misinterpreted as playful attempts to whistle for fish and jump through hoops. Their story is told in the novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.


Flaybooz are small, gerbil-like creatures. Though flaybooz have no ears, they are extremely sensitive to vibration and can actually explode in extreme circumstances. Thor, the Asgardian and sometime rock god, held the record for spontaneous flaybooz detonation when he debuted his new tune “You Wanna Get Hammered?” from a chariot in orbit around Squornshellous Delta. The record had previously been held by intergalactic rock stars Disaster Area, who dropped a speaker bomb into a volcano crater where the flaybooz were enjoying a static electricity festival.
Contrary to an almost universal norm, it is the male flaybooz who nurtures the young. A full-grown flaybooz can fit up to fifty young in his pouch, but generally there is only room for a couple, as males like to carry around a small tool kit in case of emergencies, maybe a few beers, and a copy of Furballs Quarterly. From the novel And Another Thing....

G'Gugvuntts and Vl'hurgs

Two species which existed in the distant past, a very great distance from the Milky Way galaxy. The G'Gugvuntt were enemies of the Vl'hurgs, and these strange and warlike beings are on the brink of an interstellar war, because of an insult uttered by the G'Gunvuntt leader to the mother of the Vl'hurg leader. They were meeting for the last time, and a dreadful silence filled the air as the Vl'hurg leader was challenging the G'Gunvuntt leader to retract the insult. At the precise moment, the phrase "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle" (muttered by Arthur Dent to himself, which for some strange reason was carried by a freak wormhole in space back in time to the farthest regions of the universe where the G'Gunvuntts and the Vl'hurgs lived) filled the air, which in the Vl'hurg tongue was the most dreadful insult imaginable. It left them no choice but to declare war on the G'Gunvuntts, which went on for a few thousand years and decimated their entire galaxy.
After millennia of battle the surviving G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg realised what had actually happened, and joined forces to attack the Milky Way in retaliation. They crossed vast reaches of space in a journey lasting thousands of years before reaching their target where they attacked the first planet they encountered, Earth. Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy states that this sort of thing happens all the time.
In the film, the phrase is stated as: "I wouldn't want to go anywhere without my wonderful towel." In the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, any remark that the text parser does not understand has a chance of triggering a story arc involving the player's poorly chosen words travelling to the negotiation table and becoming the aforementioned insult.


The Golgafrinchans are a race from the planet Golgafrincham that appears in fit the sixth of the radio series, episode 6 of the TV series and the novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In their ancient history, they tricked the most useless third (the middlemen) of their population to get on a spaceship and leave the planet, by spreading rumours of the horrific fates their planet was doomed to soon undergo, such as being eaten by a mutant star goat, or collapsing into the sun. The plan was to get them to crash on a "harmless" planet, thus losing any capacity for space travel; they would then be out of everyone's hair.
Soon after they managed to get rid of these people - including all the telephone sanitizers - the entire remaining population was wiped out by a plague contracted from a dirty telephone.
The survivors who left on the spaceship eventually did crash onto Earth, as planned. They managed to possibly wipe out the primitive, but wise, population of original inhabitants, thus corrupting Deep Thought's 10-million-year plan to discover the Ultimate Question to the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. They are presumed to be the ancestors of modern humans.
Ancient Golgafrinchan culture included a sect known as 'the great circling poets of Arium', who would abuse travellers, circle them and throw rocks at them. Afterwards, they would recite an epic poem which usually involved the rescue of a beautiful monster from a ravening Princess by five sage Princes on four horses.
See also: Listings for specific Golgafrinchan characters


The Grebulons are a race that appears in the novel Mostly Harmless. They are observing the Earth, but do not know why.
During the centuries-long spaceflight the Grebulons were all in suspended animation with their memories saved to the ship's computer (which was struck by an asteroid influenced by Guide Mark II). With the loss of the backup, after the robots carrying it also fell out of the hole made by the asteroid, the Grebulons awoke with no idea where they were going or who they were. What little instructions they could extract from the wrecked computer told them to "land" somewhere and "monitor" something, so they landed on Rupert and monitored the televisionEarth. transmissions from
Trillian later reveals that the Grebulons are a missing reconnaissance fleet from the war that she was meant to cover (which never happened because the Grebulons never arrived with their respective army).


The Haggunenons of Vicissitus Three were encountered in the fit the sixth of the radio series when Ford and Zaphod attempted to steal an Admiral's flagship from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. According to the Guide, the Haggunenons "have the most impatient chromosomes in the Galaxy. Whereas most species are content to evolve slowly and carefully over thousands of generations, discarding a prehensile toe here, [...] hazarding another nostril there, the Haggunenons would have done for Charles Darwin what a squadron of Arcturan Stunt Apples would have done for Sir Isaac Newton. Their genetic structure is based on the quadruple sterated octohelix...." Their tendency to evolve almost instantaneously has the downside of discarding one deficiency for another. For example, when they reach for sugar for their coffee, they may evolve "into something with much longer arms, but which is probably perfectly incapable of drinking the coffee." They resent stable species, and wage war on them in their horribly beweaponed chameleoid black battle cruisers.
The Haggunenon Admiral turned out to have been sleeping on his flagship in the form of a chair while Ford, Arthur, Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin returned it to its proper time and place at the vanguard of an invasion fleet. It then evolved into a copy of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, from which Ford and Arthur were able to escape, but which ate Marvin, Trillian and Zaphod. Those three later made their escape when the admiral evolved into an escape capsule.
This monster also appears in the "Dungeons and Dragons Epic Level Handbook" as the Hagunemnon. Like their Hitch-hiker's counterparts, they too are unstable shapeshifters with a deep loathing for non-shapeshifting lifeforms.
See also: Haggunenon Underfleet Commander


A race with only a very small mention, at the start of Chapter 1 of the novel Mostly Harmless. Hailing from Arkintoofle Minor, they built spaceships powered by bad news, which is the only thing that travels faster than light. Their ships were very fast, but didn't work particularly well, and were extremely unwelcome wherever they arrived.


A Hooloovoo is a hyperintelligent shade of the colour blue.
Little is known of them, except that one participated in the construction of the starship Heart of Gold. At the launching ceremony one was temporarily refracted into a free-standing prism. This is probably analogous to the ceremonial multicoloured lab coats worn by the rest of the team.


Hrarf-Hrarf are a race of beings whose lifespans flow backwards in linear time. Their lives begin at death, and end "in a really quite extraordinarily pleasant birth." They are also described as the "only race known actually to enjoy hangovers, because they know it guarantees that a tremendously good evening will ensue."
The race is mentioned only in the radio series The Secondary Phase, written specially for that series by Douglas Adams in the mid-1990s.


Humans are bipedal creatures from Earth, and the third most intelligent species on that planet. (Surpassed only by mice and dolphins.) Originally thought to have evolved from proto-apes, humans may in fact be descendants of Golgafrinchan telephone sanitizers, account executives, and marketing analysts who were tricked out of leaving their home planet to arrive on the planet ca. two million BC. These Golgafrinchans apparently displaced the indigenous cavemen as the organic components in the computer designed by Deep Thought.
Interestingly, although the term "humanoid" is applied to many races throughout the galaxy, "humanity" refers specifically to the qualities of humans.


Jatravartids are small blue creatures of the planet Viltvodle VI with more than fifty arms each. They are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented aerosol deodorantwheel. before the
Many races believe that the Universe was created by some sort of god or in the Big Bang. The Jatravartid people, however, believe that the Universe was sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure. They live in perpetual fear of the time they call "The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief". The theory of the Great Green Arkleseizure is not widely accepted outside Viltvodle VI.
(A similar concept was used in the short story "God's Nose" by Damon Knight.)
For the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams created a new character called Humma Kavula, a missionary whose apparent mission is to spread the religion of the Jatravartids. The Jatravartids are only seen on screen during two brief (and poorly lit) shots, though their discarded aerosol cans are found all over their planet's surface. "Caveman"-style illustrations of the Jatravartids feature in one episode of the Hitchhiker's GuideTV series.


This race of quiet, polite, charming and rather whimsical humanoids caused the most devastating war in the history of the Galaxy (with over two "grillion" casualties). Their homeworld, Krikkit, is surrounded by a black cloud, so they had no knowledge of the universe outside their world. When a spaceship crashed on the surface of Krikkit, the inhabitants quickly stripped it of its secrets and used them to create their own "flimsy piece of near-junk" craft, Krikkit One. Upon reaching the outer edge of the dust cloud and seeing the galaxy for the first time, the people of Krikkit marvelled at its beauty before casually deciding to destroy it, famously remarking "It'll have to go." The Earth game of cricket is a racial memory of the events of the Krikkit Wars. The story of these events is told in the novel Life, the Universe and Everything.


Lamuellans are a humanoid race from the planet Lamuella. It is on this planet that a passenger starship crashes, and Arthur Dent is the only survivor. There he becomes the planet's Sandwich Maker. The Lamuellans are led, more or less, by Old Thrashbarg, the tribe's priest to Almighty Bob. Other residents of the village include Kirp, a fisher, Grarp the Baker, Strinder the Tool Maker, and Drimple the Sandwich Maker's apprentice. The planet is also home to Perfectly Normal Beasts and Pikka Birds. The complete story is found in the novel Mostly Harmless.


They are sentient beings that live on planet Magrathea. In the past during the time of the Galactic Empire, they created and sold planets to rich customers. They are very mysterious and seem to show up whenever something important happens, which is seen the most in the third book:Life, the Universe, and Everything. In the first book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy it is revealed that they have been asleep waiting for the galaxies' economy to improve, but were awakened prematurely to rebuild the Earth after its destruction by Vogons. They are the race who built the Earth, at the request of the Mice. However, in the film, the Mice and the Magratheans are the same species.


Mice are the physical protrusions into our dimension of a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned construction of the Earth to find the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. As such, they are the most intelligent life form on that planet.
In their home dimension, a popular sport is Brockian Ultra-Cricket, a horribly violent game which involves hitting people for no readily apparent reason and then running away, before apologising from some distance - often through a megaphone. However, it is completely unrelated except in name to the earth sport of cricket.


Natives to the small forest world of Oglaroon, Oglaroonians have taken what is a fairly universal trait among sentient species (to cope with the sheer infinite vastness of the universe by simply ignoring it) to its ultimate extreme. Despite the entire planet being habitable, Oglaroonians have managed to confine their global population to one small nut tree, in which they compose poetry, create art, and somehow fight wars. The consensus among those in power that any trees one might observe from the outer branches are merely hallucinations brought on by eating too many oglanuts, and anyone who thinks differently is hurled out of the tree, presumably to his death.


An exceptionally pessimistic race from the star system of Pansel. Due to the Heart of Gold's Infinite Improbability Drive causing a wave of improbability when passing through the system, two-hundred and thirty-nine thousand lightly fried eggs landed on the surface of their home planet, unfortunately too late to save the vast majority, who had already succumbed to famine, though one did manage to survive for two further weeks, before dying of cholesterol poisoning.


The Shaltanacs are a race from the planet Broop Kidron Thirteen, who had their own version of the Earth phrase, "The other man's grass is always greener." Although, given their planet's horticultural peculiarities, theirs was, "The other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauve-y shade of pinky russet," and so, the expression fell into disuse, and the Shaltanacs found they had little choice but to become exceptionally happy and content with their lot, which surprised everyone else in the galaxy, who had not realised that the best way not to be unhappy is not to have a word for it.

Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax

The Silastic Armourfiends were an insanely aggressive race who lived on the planet Striterax approximately twenty billion years ago "when the universe was young". They were extremely keen on fighting – one of the best ways to deal with a Silastic Armourfiend was to lock him in a room by himself, since he would beat himself up sooner or later. They wrecked the surface of their planet in constant wars, and the whole population lived within bunkers deep below the surface.
In an attempt to deal with the problems their violent nature created, the Silastic Armourfiends passed a law that anybody who had to carry a weapon as part of their normal work (including policemen, security guards and primary school teachers) must spend a minimum of 45 minutes each day punching a sack of potatoes. It was hoped that this would allow them to work off their surplus aggression. This plan worked only until someone had the idea to simply shoot the potatoes, and the Silastic Armourfiends were excited about their "first war for weeks."
During one of their more unpleasant wars, the Silastic Armourfiends asked the great computer Hactar to design the ultimate weapon for them. The computer complied, creating a hand-held bomb which would connect the core of every major sun via hyperspace, destroying the entire universe. The Silastic Armorfiends attempted to use the bomb to blow up a munitions dump, but fortunately Hactar had built a dud weapon since it could not conceive of any occasion when the use of the real thing would be justified. The Silastic Armourfiends disagreed, and pulverised Hactar.
Eventually, after smashing the hell out of the Strenuous Garfighters of Stug and the Strangulous Stilletans of Jajazikstack, the Silastic Armourfiends found an entirely new way of blowing themselves up, which was of great relief to the Garfighters, the Stilletans, and the potatoes.
"The best way to pick a fight with a Silastic Armorfiend was just to be born. They didn't like it, they got resentful"

Strangulous Stilettans of Jajazikstak

An enemy of the Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax.

Strenuous Garfighters of Stug

An enemy of the Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax.



Algolian Suntiger

The tooth of an Algolian Suntiger is part of the mix for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It "spreads the fires of the Algolian suns deep into the heart of the drink."

Ameglian Major Cows

See Dish of the Day (cow).

Arcturian Megadonkey

An animal featured in the proverb "to talk all four legs off an Arcturian Megadonkey", and also served grated at a dinner on the planet Magrathea.

Arcturian Megagnat

A creature from Kakrafoon. It is mentioned during a description of the many uses of towels whereby you can "huddle beneath it for protection against the Arcturian Megagnats under the stars of Kakrafoon."

Babel fish

The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and is a universal translator which simultaneously translates from one spoken language to another. It takes the brainwaves of the other body and what they are thinking then transmits the thoughts to the speech centers of the hosts brain, the speech heard by the ear decodes the brainwave matrix. When inserted into the ear, its nutrition processes convert sound waves into brain waves, neatly crossing the language divide between any species you should happen to meet whilst traveling in space.
Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.[1] Arthur Dent, a surviving Earthling, commented only 'Eurgh!' when first inserting the fish into his ear canal. It did, however, enable him to understand Vogon Poetry - not necessarily a good thing.
The book points out that the Babel fish could not possibly have developed naturally, and therefore proves the existence of God as its creator. However, certain people say this proves the nonexistence of god as proof denies faith, and without faith, god is nothing. "'my, that was easy', says man, and goes on to prove that black is white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.


The Boghog is the only native animal of planet NowWhat, "all other having long ago died of despair".
Boghogs are tiny, vicious creatures with unaccountably thin and leaky skins. Boghog meat is almost completely inedible and is the primary source of food for the settlers on NowWhat.
The language of the boghogs consists of biting each other very hard on the thigh and thus was never learned by anybody else.

Damogran Frond Crested Eagle

A Damogran Frond Crested Eagle inhabites Damogran, a desert planet where Zaphod Beeblebrox steals the Heart of Gold. A Damogran Frond Crested Eagle incorporated the first two pages of Zaphod Beeblebrox's speech into its nest, which it built out of paper mâché, and "was virtually impossible for a newly hatched baby eagle to break out of." Since apparently the Eagle had, for some reason, heard of survival of the species and become opposed to it.

Equinusian packbeast

At the beginning of the radio series The Quandary Phase, the voice of The Book describes any attempts to appeal to the better nature of the Vogons as "flogging a dead Equinusian packbeast." Director Dirk Maggs answered that this expression can be read as either referring to a horse (Latin name Equus caballus), or a separate horse-like alien species, or both.

Fuolornis Fire Dragon

A majestic creature that, despite having "breath like a rocket booster and teeth like a park fence" was revered in the land of Brequinda for the mystifyingly sexy way in which it flew about the fragrant night skies, along with their tendency to bite anybody who didn't revere them. So sexy were the dragons that they would induce mass exodus to private quarters when crossing the full moon. Although generally peaceful, they nonetheless managed to bite and burn other people quite a bit; behaviour which led eventually to their extinction and use in making hamburgers. The most current edition of the Guide has yet to mention this crucial fact, much to the disappointment of hitchhikers. Also according to the Guide, most of Brequinda now seems to contain restaurants selling the dragon meat burgers, possibly indicating that some find the meat tasty. Dragons are shown as part of the defense system of the godly planet of Asgard in the novel And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer, but it is never said whether or not these are the same or different dragons.

Greater Drubbered Wintwock

According to the novel Mostly Harmless, these are no longer found on the planet Stegbartle Major in the Constellation Fraz.


Mattresses are friendly, dim-witted, docile creatures capable of speech. They are all called Zem and live in the swamps of Squornshellous Zeta. Many of them are slaughtered, dried out, and shipped around the Galaxy to be slept on by grateful customers, though they do not appear to mind this. Many of the movements they make, such as gupping and willomying, are so unique that etymologists have driven themselves half-insane tracking down new words for them.

Perfectly Normal Beast

The Perfectly Normal Beasts are a species that migrate across the Anhondo Plain on Lamuella twice a year (one direction in the spring then back again in the autumn). The migration takes about 8 to 9 days during which time they form a solid mass. They appear from thin air at one end of the plain then disappear again at the other. They are called Perfectly Normal Beasts because naming them normalizes the event of their migration and keeps people from worrying about its cause. It is likely that the Domain of the King was built to take advantage of this odd, mile-wide gap in the bi-yearly migration, situated as it is on a rather nice stretch of land that would otherwise be badly trampled every now and then (or, the space-time warp was specifically manipulated by the Domain's original builder as a matter of convenience).
The local Lamuellans capture the beasts and kill them for their meat. The method uses similar techniques to a matador but also requires use of the Pikka Birds to get their attention. The best of the meat is eaten straight away while the rest is salted and stored for consumption until the next migration. It was consumed on its own until the arrival of the Sandwich Maker and is now always placed between two slices of bread.

Pikka Bird

The Pikka Birds are birds native to Lamuella. They are known for being surprised by ordinary everyday objects and events such as the sun rising but completely ignoring unusual events such as spaceships landing. They are accustomed to staring blankly at a few anonymous atoms in the middle of the air. They are also used to attract Perfectly Normal Beasts. According to Arthur Dent's description of them in the radio series The Quintessential Phase and the novel Mostly Harmless, their eggs make rather a good omelette. On his first encounter with a Pikka Bird, Ford Prefect is disturbed by its physical similarity to the bird-shape taken by the sentient Guide Mark II.
(Pica pica is the Latin name for the magpie).

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal

The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is a creature that hails from the planet of Traal, and will eat anything. The beasts are impossible to kill. To deal with a beast, one should wrap a towel around one's own head. This creature is so mind-bogglingly stupid that it assumes that if someone cannot see it, then it cannot see the person. Despite this, the Guide did state, erroneously, that "ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a very good meal for (rather than of) visiting tourists" in its article on the planet Traal. This led to deaths of those who took it literally. The guide's editors avoided lawsuit by summoning a poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty, and therefore prove that their claim, the nicer one, must be true. This led to life itself being held in contempt of court for being neither beautiful nor true, and subsequently being removed from all those present at the trial.
In the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Bugblatter Beast asks its victims their names before killing them, and carves the names on a memorial outside its cave. The game also describes the Beast as having Lasero-Zap eyes, Swivel-Shear Teeth, and several dozen tungsten carbide Vast Pain claws forged in the sun furnaces of Zangrijad, all implying that it is a cyborg.
According to the radio scripts, the Beast's eyes can turn red, green, then a sort of mauvy pink.
In the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Guide has an entry on what to do if you face certain, unavoidable death at the claws of a Bugblatter Beast: the same method for "What to do if you find yourself trapped beneath a large boulder with no means of escape" from fit the eighth of the radio series. The entry is this: "Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you much longer."
In the movie, the Vogons apparently have a Bugblatter Beast trapped inside a metal box, about the size of a shipping container. The Beast is never seen (apart from a large green eye), but the box is continually shaking back and forth. The Vogons use it to execute people who are convicted of crimes such as kidnapping the President, and as such Tricia McMillan was nearly fed to it.

Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs

Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs live on the planet Vogsphere, the Vogons' homeworld. Vogons eat the crabs, "smashing their shells open with iron mallets." They cook the crabmeat with the native trees. Although the Vogons migrated to the Megabrantis Cluster, the political hub of the Galaxy, every year the Vogons import twenty-seven thousand scintillating jeweled scuttling crabs from Vogsphere and "while away a drunken night smashing them to bits with iron mallets."

Vegan Rhino

Little is known about Vegan Rhinos. They are mentioned once in The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy when, while having dinner on Magrathea, Zaphod asks Arthur to "try some Vegan Rhino's cutlet. It's delicious if you happen to like that sort of thing"

Vogon Slapsticks

Vogon Slapsticks are odd creatures from the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. They originated, most likely, on the planet Vogsphere. In shape they look like rust-brown poles stuck into the ground with a rectangle on top, sometimes having a hand print inside it. Ford Prefect pulled one out of the ground, causing it to squeal in a high pitched frequency. It escaped Ford's towel and then slithered into the ground. They smack anyone who thinks or has an idea, then disappear back into the ground. Their name originates from slapstick comedy, which involves exaggerated physical violence.


Fallian albino marsh worm

The Fallian albino marsh worm spends its life absorbing hallucinogenic gas from the marshes of Fallia. After it dies, it turns into a stiff-ish, cigarette-like object. Hitchhikers call these joysticks.
  • One puff and you feel blissfully happy. Love everybody, forgive your enemies, all that stuff.
  • Two puffs make you curious about just about everything, including the horrible death that is probably coming your way for you to have lit this baby in the first place. This is going to be great, you tell yourself. I am about to experience an energy shift to a new plane of existence. What will it be like? Will I make new friends? Do they have beer?
  • After the third puff, your brain explodes and you feel a little peckish. From the novel And Another Thing...


While not, strictly speaking, flora by itself, four bits of fluff collected in the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy can be made to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. The fruit gives its eater a glimpse of future foresight (necessary for winning said game).

Joopleberry Shrub

A mauvey pink russet plant from planet Broop Kidron Thirteen. It is the basis for the no longer used Shaltanac phrase, "the other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauvey shade of pinky russet."

Ratchet Screwdriver Fruit

A bizarre crop with an unusual life-cycle. Once picked, the fruit must be kept in a dark, dusty drawer for several years, after which time the outer skin crumbles to dust leaving an unidentifiable metal object with screw-holes and various ridges and flanges. This object will inevitably get thrown away when discovered. There is general uncertainty as to the benefits of this behaviour to the ratchet screwdriver species as a whole.


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In my various adventures with ebook pirates, I've discovered that some pirates --who make declarations designed to bamboozle EBay staffers-- are under the impression that popular novels are available free, for all, under GNU licensing.

Only the author of a work ought to be able to "copyleft" (the opposite of copyright) her work, so if you see someone claiming that they have the right to "resell" a colleagues' work under a GNU license, you ought to report the instance.

Trivial Self-Amusement

Did the Staples (TM) saying "That Was Easy" come from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ?
'my, that was easy', says man, and goes on to prove that black is white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.

There's a rule of thumb that I was told (repeatedly) when I started entering RWA chapter contests and that is "no more than 6 adverbs per page". It might have been 6 adverbs/adjectives.

The adverbs and adjectives absolutely make this list. Are there any that you'd edit out?