6mm-Minis is Maksim-Smelchak's blog to discuss gaming, miniatures, books, movies, food, Israel, Judaism, life in general and other funny crud. My favorite scale of miniatures is 6mm, which is also called 1/285 or 1/300 scale. I enjoy many different kinds of games including ancients, Napoleonics, WWI, WWII, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Car Wars AKA Autoduel (a sort of crash'n'derby automobile combat game), 6mm Godzilla AKA Kaiju games, and science fiction games. I'm open to everything though!

Monday, September 24, 2007

NOVELS: "Gregor The Overlander!"

. TOP: Suzanne Collins with a rat in Central Park.

Hi All,

I've always loved children's literature, from the simplest fairy tales to the epic yarns of Westerns, murder mysteries., fantasy and science fiction. My mother taught me from a young age to love reading and brought us by the library on a weekly basis if not more often. I remember knowing the librarian for first name (...her insistence and a luxury that few of the local neighborhood children were granted) and she knew mine. I remember many a fond time talking to her about books after school and having her guide me through the library until I started taking more books out of the adult section than the children's one. My parents also set an example for my sister and I in that they read quite often themselves. I have many fond memories of contentedly enjoying a good book in the peace and quiet of my childhood bedroom.

Some of the great books I remember from my childhood include:
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings series by: J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Narnia & The Space Trilogy series by: C.S. Lewis.
The Prydain series by: Lloyd Alexander.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series by: L. Frank Baum.

And the book most associated with younger generations has been:
Harry Potter by: J.K. Rowling

I have a few reservations about Harry Potter, but that could just be a generational thing... However, what I most appreciate about Harry Potter is that it's motivated a large number of children to read and pick up an interest in fantasy, a genre which I always felt as a teacher encouraged imagination, something in very short supply among the later generations that take video games, movie tie-in merchandise, and movie adaptations of books for granted. I've found it very common to speak with children these days who would rather watch the movie than read the book, which is 99.9% of the time, superior to the superficial movie scripts that get put out so often by Hollywood these days. Simply put, books lend themselves much better to a full, rich story that a movie can rarely match. However, movies are easier and don't require the vocabulary, time, and, most importantly, imagination that a simple viewing of a movie require.

A new series that I think bodes well for the newer generations is the "Gregor the Overlander" book series by Suzanne Collins. It's children literature at its' best with well developed, rich, believable characters in an interesting, fantasy environment. I was riveted to the pages of the novels for five books running and read them over the period of about a week and a half. Good stuff!

To learn more about the "Gregor the Overlander" book series laso known as "The Underland Chronicles," please check out this site from the publisher:

Or this one from the author:

Or this helpful one full of background:

And now for a quick synopsis of the books without spoilers:


In this book, the reader is introduced to all of the main characters of the series including Gregor, a poor eleven-year-old boy from New York City, and his family including his precocious two-year-old sister, Boots. While doing laundry in his basement, he and his sister fall through a basement grate and find themselves in the world of the Underland, a place settled centuries earlier by Bartholomew of Sandwich, a noblemen formerly from Britain. Bartholomew of Sandwich escaped Britain to form a kingdom called Regalia under the streets and sewers of New York City, but simply settling the vast underground wasn't so easy a task as the Underland was already populated by a number of intelligent species that are far-off distant cousins to their relatives in the Overworld, giant speaking bats, massive cunning rats, tribal cockroaches and many more societies. Gregor discovers that Bartholomew of Sandwich left behind a number of riddle-like prophecies of which he is named. Gregor finds himself prisoner of the Regalians until he can fulfill the prophecy...

Gregor's previous adventures have earned him a place of respect and honor among the Regalians, who now have established a communication system between Gregor while he lives in the Overland and themselves in the Underland. Gregor's family struggles and his father falls ill and loses his job when a summons comes from Regalia. Gregor answers the summons and begins to train among the Regalians to become "The Warrior" his prophetic role in the prophecies of the half-mad riddle-prophecies of Bartholomew of Sandwich. After training for a bit, Gregor discovers that the rat kingdoms, the principal rivals of the humans of Regalia, are stirring and a rat prophecy has arisen that a rat deliverer has risen, a rat simply known as "The Bane"... Gregor sets off on a quest to find "The Bane," earn his title as "The Warrior," and hopefully avert war between the rats and Regalians... and it doesn't help when Gregor's father is taken captive by the rats...

Another prophecy brings Gregor back to the Underland as Gregor finds the Rat King is again scheming to bring war to the Underland. A food shortage and a mysterious plague complicate the unrest among the kingdoms of the Underland as species becomes pitted again each other. Gregor sets off on a quest to find a cure for the plague and make peace among the species of the Underland that takes him to a rich jungle land full of carnivorous plants, giant rampaging, and a mystery or two from Gregor's previously unknown past... And it doesn't help that the rats have come to believe that one of their prophecies is to murder his baby sister, Boots...

Gregor's mother falls ill with the plague and remains bedridden in Regalia while the rest of Gregor's family finds themselves in increasingly dire straights with jobs, no money, and part of the family ill will a mysterious plague from the Underland. Gregor also finds himself running out of excuses why he's missed so much school... Only a friendly neighbor keeps his family fed, but who knows for how much longer a kindly old woman can hold down the fort... And meanwhile, the prophetic rat known as "The Bane" has grown increasingly massive and increasingly aware of his capacity to wreak dissent and destruction in the rat kingdom. the next thing Gregor knows, "The Bane" nearly kills him in an ambush and the human-allied mice kingdom of the nibblers has mysteriously disappeared. Gregor also finds himself growing, maturing, and finding himself attracted to Luxa, a princess of the Underland... Gregor struggles to survive in an Overland and an Underland in The Marks of the Secret...


In the climactic finale of the Gregor the Overlander series, the Underland finally comes to full-fledged war with the rats and their allies aligning against the humans and theirs. Another of the half-mad riddle-prophecies of Bartholomew of Sandwich, the Prophecy of Time. It says that both the Bane and the Warrior will die, and that the Underlanders must break the cipher called the Code of Claw in order for humanity to survive. Gregor's attraction and consequent relationship to Luxa, a princess and the future queen of the Underland, increases as Gregor struggles to save his family, the humans of Regalia, and the entire Underland...

Great books! I highly recommend them to any fantasy lover and especially to yonger readers and those adults who still love childhood imagination!

Have a great Monday!


Notes regarding photos / pictures / videos: These are not all my images and videos. I am using various images and videos from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images and videos under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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  • At 3:13 PM, September 25, 2007, Blogger James said…

    The basic premise of the "underland" sounds familiar I picked a British graphic novel (ie an adult comic) a couple of months back and it had a jaded adult character who got pulled into "underLondon" and had weird supposedly meaningful adventures with creatures below...wonder who is copying from who?

    I used to be an avid reader. Some of my first favorite authors were Andre Norton and Nicholas Fisk who wrote SciFi for teenagers..then I progressed through Roger Zelaney and Kurt Vonnegut before discovering jack Vance who blew me away.

  • At 10:16 AM, September 27, 2007, Blogger MaksimSmelchak said…

    Hi James,

    Tough to say, but the "underworld" plot device is a GOOD one!

    Jack Vance is great!


  • At 5:58 AM, November 21, 2010, Blogger Unknown said…

    i read book 1,2 and now am reading 3


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