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The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars is a novel written by Frank Beddor. Inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, it claims that those two books were nothing but lies and that this is the true story. It features twists on the original story, such as the white rabbit actually being Alyss's (Alice's) tutor, Bibwit Harte, and that the Mad Hatter is actually a very agile, sober bodyguard.

The Looking Glass Wars is the first book in a trilogy by the same name. It is currently seeing further development in a variety of fields, such as a spin-off comic book limited series entitled Hatter M. First released in the United Kingdom in 2004, The Looking Glass Wars was released in the United States on September 26, 2006. The second book in the trilogy, Seeing Redd, was released on August 21, 2007. The third book, under the name of The Law of Wonderland, is set to be released in Fall of 2009. Beddor has also stated that he is writing the script to a full-length film adaptation of the books.

Inspiration

In interviews and in the warning at the beginning of the book, Beddor claims he wrote the book after seeing an incomplete deck of cards as part of a display of ancient playing cards at the British Museum. The images on these cards resembled Wonderland characters, while the cards themselves seemed to be illuminated by an unusual glow. He later went to a playing card collector who claimed to have the cards missing from the deck and told him the story of the Looking Glass Wars. The Looking Glass Wars is thus supposedly a faithful recording of this story.

Plot

The premise of the book is that Lewis Carroll's novel Alice in Wonderland was fiction, but that the character Alice is real, as, indeed, is the world of Wonderland. Carroll's novel is said to have been inspired by the images, ideas, and names related by Alice to the author, whom she had requested to make a book of her personal history.{fact} The theme of this book is loss of innocence.

The book's prologue tells of Reverend Charles Dodgson showing Alice Liddell (who claims her name to be spelled 'Alyss') the manuscript for Alice's Adventures Underground. Alyss is shocked by the book's contents and refuses to speak to Dodgson ever again.

The story then begins many years earlier in the Wonderland of Alyss' memory, which is ruled by imagination and is the source of all imagination for all other worlds. Wonderland features a class system similar to that seen in England during the 1600s, though on a far more minimalist scale. The government is a Queendom with an advising Parliament dominated by a playing card hierarchy with the Heart family at the top of the proverbial stack (i.e. the queen is a Heart and the parliament is composed of reigning members of the Spades, Clubs, and Diamonds). Females appear to be the dominant sex in Wonderland, as the ruling families are matriarchies.

Wonderland, ruled by Queen Genevieve Heart, is still recovering from a bloody civil war between "White" and "Black" imagination which ended twelve years prior to the beginning of the story. Enough time has passed for those in the middle echelons of government to forget the day-to-day horrors of war and focus once more on the petty intrigues of a land at peace. Alyss' companions in her final hours in Wonderland include tutor Bibwit Harte (whose name is noted by Dodgson as being an anagram of "White Rabbit"), the Queen's bodyguard Hatter Madigan, the captain of the palace guards Sir Justice Anders, his son and Alyss' best friend Dodge Anders, childhood troublemaker Jack of Diamonds, and military commander General Doppelgänger.

During a bloody coup d'etat led by Alyss' Aunt Redd, the enemy of White Imagination, Alyss is forced to flee Wonderland in the company of Hatter Madigan, with Redd's feline assassin (called only "The Cat") in pursuit. The two fugitives enter an inter-dimensional gateway called the Pool of Tears, from which they emerge into Earth. Alyss is separated from Hatter during the journey; she arrives in London, England, and he in Paris, France. Lost and alone, Alyss spends some time with street orphans, then finds herself adopted by the Liddell family, whereby she is given the name "Odd Alice" for her tales about Wonderland and the way she insists her name be spelled. When Dodgson plagiarizes her stories for his own imagination rather than write them verbatim, she shuns her imagination and resolves to believe Wonderland false and lost to her forever.

Meanwhile, Hatter is searching every corner of the world to find the lost princess. Believing that men dealing in headware are men to be trusted above all others, he stops in every hat shop he can, inquiring the whereabouts of Princess Alyss Heart. Along his search he also trails people alight with the glow of White Imagination, knowing that Alyss would most likely glow the brightest. In the process, he becomes a mystery to people on Earth, who catch glimpses of him and create legends of a blade-wielding man on a strange quest leading him to headware merchants around the world. After thirteen years of searching for the lost princess, Hatter finds Dodgson's book; he uses this to track down the author, and in turn, find Alyss.

Alyss returns to Wonderland, aided by faithful residents of Wonderland calling themselves "Alyssians". Dodge Anders has become obsessed with avenging his father's death and become a bitter, nihilistic individual, a personality that nearly leads to his death in battle. With the assistance of the Alyssians, Dodge, and a girl named Homburg Molly, who is implied to be Hatter's daughter, Alyss enters the Looking-Glass Maze, completes it, and hones her powers. This leads to a fiery confrontation at Redd's fortress that ends with Alyss defeating the evil queen in a contest of wills and ideas. Redd then throws herself into the Heart Crystal, followed by the Cat, and disappears.

Characters

Main characters

  • Alyss Heart (aka Alice Liddell): The Princess of Wonderland forced to flee to the real world when her Aunt Redd takes over Wonderland, slaughtering those who stand in her path. Lost and alone, Alyss is eventually forced to adjust and adapt to the world around her, a change catalyzed by the final betrayal which was Dodgson (Carroll's) book. She shuns her imagination, finally to the point of believing Wonderland to be nothing but a dream. However, on her wedding day, she's found by Hatter Madigan who informs Dodge Anders. He saves her from an attack by the Cat and returns with her to Wonderland, where she meets with the remaining Alyssians with the purpose of defeating her aunt, Queen Redd once and for all, and bring peace to the Queendom of Wonderland, once again. After facing the dangers of the Looking-Glass Maze, she defeats her aunt and becomes Queen of Wonderland.
  • Hatter Madigan: Based loosely on The Hatter from Carroll's books, he is the Queen's bodyguard, and is forced to flee to the real world along with Alyss. Unfortunately, their escape goes awry and Hatter ends up in Paris (while Alyss emerges in England) with no clue as to the fate of the young girl he has been charged to protect. He spends the next thirteen years searching for her. He is an expert bladesman, and his hat can flatten and split into S-shaped blades. After finding Alyss, he returns to Wonderland to help her defeating Redd. He wishes to rebuild the Millinery force, from whom he was the best warrior thus leaving Molly to protect Alyss. Hatter Madigan has his own comic book series regarding his adventures searching for Alyss.
  • Redd Heart: She is the main villain of the book and Alyss' aunt; based on both the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. As Genevieve's sister, she was raised and educated within Heart Palace. Being her tutor, Bibwit Harte has always viewed her fall into the diabolical as a failure in her education (and consequently his fault). The civil war fought within Wonderland was fought with Genevieve and Redd on opposing sides of the battle and ended with Redd's exile to the Chessboard Desert. She is a user of Black Imagination, a negative form of magic, and responsible for the murder of Alyss' parents. Since that time, Redd has crowned herself Queen and rules over Wonderland promoting evil and Black Imagination. After a fierce battle with her niece, she jumps into the Heart Crystal, disappearing, leaving Alyss and the rest of her friends to wonder whether she is alive or dead.
  • Dodge Anders: Son of Sir Justice Anders, Captain of the palace guard, and a soldier in training. He is three years Alyss' senior and both her best friend and someone who cares about her much more than he should. Like most citizens of Wonderland, Dodge believes Alyss dead and plots revenge against both Redd and The Cat, Redd's foremost assassin, for the death of his father as well as Alyss. He continues to fight alongside the small resistance force long after Redd has taken power. When Alyss plans to defeat Redd, he goes with her and with the rest of the Alyssians, with the purpose of killing The Cat, but he accidentally lets him escape.
  • Bibwit Harte: The royal tutor to the Heart family, teaching them everything they have to know to be a good monarch. His name is an anagram of White Rabbit. After Alyss and Hatter disappear, he seems to work for Redd, but he secretly helps the Alyssians in their battle against Redd. When Alyss returns to Wonderland he decides to join the Alyssians openly.
  • The Cat: Redd's assassin, loosely based on the Cheshire Cat from Carroll's original books. He kills Sir Justice Anders and attempts to pursue Alyss and Hatter when they escape from Wonderland. Unable to do so, he conceals his Redd. He ordinarily resembles a muscular, bipedal feline equipped with melée weapons, but can take the form of a kitten as a sort of Trojan horse, and possesses nine lives. Over the course of the book, he loses all but one of these, variously to Genevieve, Redd, or Dodge. At the last minute, he follows Redd into the Heart Crystal.
  • General Doppelgänger: The commander of the Royal Army, made up of equal parts General Doppel and General Gänger. When split he is referred to as 'they', rather than 'he', and each is able to act independently of the other. General Doppelgänger can also split into multiple Generals, of which each acts on his own free will. He is based on Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
  • Homburg Molly: She is a "halfer" (Half civilian and half Millinery) who helps Alyss and the rest of Alyssians to find The Looking-Glass Maze, and eventually fights along their side in the battle of Mount Isolation. She eventually becomes Alyss' personal bodyguard when she becomes Queen of Wonderland.
  • Walrus-Butler: He is Queen Genevieve's butler; after her death, he becomes Queen Redd's butler. He is based on the Walrus from Through the Looking Glass. He is extremely cowardly because he fears Redd and her power, but is not as cowardly as Jack of Diamonds. After Redd's defeat and the ending of the battle he helps Alyss, Dodge and the others by taking care of their wounds.
  • Jack of Diamonds: A pompous, cowardly, self-serving figure, the Jack of Diamonds is intended to become Alyss's fiancé when they are both still children. Following the coup, however, Jack takes advantage of the new order in Wonderland under Queen Redd. He plays both sides of the conflict, acting as a member of the Alyssians while at the same time delivering information to Redd about their activities. Jack often knows much more than he is telling, but decides not to reveal everything he knows, as that would ruin the lucrative business of playing a double agent. During the final battle with Queen Redd, his betrayals are discovered by Dodge, and he is subsequently taken prisoner by Alyss in the aftermath. He is most likely based on the Knave of Hearts.

Supporting characters

  • Queen Genevieve Heart: Queen of Wonderland, mother of Alyss, and wife of King Nolan Heart. She is the ruler of Wonderland prior to Redd's coup. Killed by Redd on Alyss's seventh birthday. She appears to be based on the White Queen.
  • King Nolan Heart: King of Wonderland, father of Alyss, and husband of Queen Genevieve Heart. Killed by Redd on Alyss's seventh birthday.
  • King Arch: Ruler of Boarderland. Boarderland is a kingdom (a country ruled by a man) to which King Nolan is sent to attempt to gain as an ally against Redd. A deeply sexist and misogynistic individual, King Arch's views on women and Wonderland's status as a queendom (a nation ruled by a woman) makes him reluctant to ally with Wonderland for fear it would have a negative influence on the female population of Boarderland.
  • Sir Justice Anders: Captain of the Palace Guard and father of Dodge Anders. Killed by the Cat on Alyss's seventh birthday.
  • Blue Caterpillar: Based on The Caterpillar from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Blue Caterpillar is the head of six oracle-like caterpillars (of which the remaining five are colored red, yellow, orange, green, and purple) who live in the Mushroom Valley and act as guardians to the sacred Heart Crystal. Never seen without his hookah pipe, Blue gives Queen Genevieve a warning of Redd's coup, and later tells Alyss how to find the Looking Glass Maze.
  • The Liddells: Alyss's adopted family. Reverend (Dean of Christ Church) and Mrs. Liddell of Oxford and their three daughters: Edith, Lorina, and Rhoda. Also, notable in the household is the children's governess, Miss Prickett. None of the Liddels believe that Alyss tells truth when referring to Wonderland.
  • Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: The mathematics lecturer of Christ Church and author of Alice's Adventures Underground under the name Lewis Carroll which, in The Looking Glass Wars, he wrote based upon Alyss's recounting of her life in Wonderland.

Spin-offs

Hatter M limited series

Hatter M is a spin-off comic book limited series, written by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier with art by Ben Templesmith. The series follows Hatter Madigan's search for the missing princess thus working into the continuity of 'The Looking Glass Wars' by following the virtually unseen thirteen year (1859-1872) search. The four issue mini-series is now complete and has been collected into a trade paperback.

An additional special issue (numbered 2.5) was given away at summer conventions in 2006. This special issue contained answers to frequent questions, a preview of 'The Looking Glass Wars,' and other supplementary material. A scanned copy of this issue can be viewed at IGN Comics as a part of a Hatter M-centric story published September 1, 2006.

Card game

An online card game is currently in production and is now open for public beta testing at The Looking Glass Wars web site. The first round of cards features Templesmith art from the Hatter M limited series, but expansions could see art from other artists. A proper print version of this card game has been confirmed and should see release soon.

Criticism

This book has obtained a mixed reaction among admirers of Lewis Carroll. Some have commended it, praising Beddor's faithfulness to Carroll's and Alice Liddell's history. Others claim that Beddor has not understood Lewis Carroll; Beddor has responded by saying "As if that's what I'm writing about."

Many newspapers have praised Beddor for his imagination and world creation, while other critics claim the book is poorly-written and has one-dimensional characterisations.

It has also been noted that the book is quite similar to the video game American McGee's Alice, which is also based on Lewis Carroll's works. The caterpillar in the game plays the same role he does in The Looking Glass Wars, and American McGee's version of Tweedledum and Tweedledee has a similar power as Frank Beddor's version. Both versions of Wonderland have a lava world where jabberwocks live; there is even a quote in Looking Glass Wars similar to a quote in American McGee's game: Dodge Anders says "There is no justice like the justice of revenge," while American McGee's Gryphon says "They want revenge, which we call justice."

Trivia

As of yet, the Wonderland characters that have no Looking Glass Wars equivalents include the Dodo, the Duchess, the March Hare, the Dormouse (though mentions are made of people feasting on roast dormouse), the Carpenter (although Walrus has appeared as Queen Alyss' butler), the Mock Turtle, the Gryphon, the Gnat, the Lion and the Unicorn and Humpty Dumpty.

In the UK edition, Alyss accuses Lewis Carroll of turning General Doppleganger into Tweedledee and Tweedledum while reading Alice's Adventures Underground. This was removed in the US edition as the Tweedle twins originally appeared in Through the Looking-Glass, rather than the first book.

See also

Footnotes

External links

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