Tobias has pretty much gotten used to his life. He's a red-tailed hawk with the mind of a kid. It was weird when he first got trapped in morph. But now it's almost okay. After all, how many kids actually get the chance to fly?
Now Tobias is about to make a very special choice. A choice that the other Animorphs and Ax know nothing about. And it could mean the difference between being a hawk...and being human...
Detailed Plot SummaryEdit
Tobias is flying over school and sees Rachel outside and decides to take her on a tour to show her the entrance to the Yeerk pool that he had discovered. Soon, though, he finds he is not where he was heading; they suddenly are flying over the forest, without warning. He turns and turns but cannot get to the spot he wants to go to. They try to fly away but discover that they are still in the same spot. Then they notice one of the trees sliding to reveal a secret hole and out from that hole pops two Hork-Bajir. They are then promptly pursued by human-Controllers on dirtbikes and jeeps, bristling with shotguns and automatic rifles. Tobias and Rachel decide to help the supposed fugitives. They lead one to safety, but the other trips over and falls into a ditch. The first Hork-Bajir screams to the other in the Hork-Bajir language, but they do not understand, he then explains to them that the other Hork-Bajir is his wife. They tell him to run or he might die, and the Hork-Bajir runs for his life. Tobias then leads him to a cave for the time being.
After telling the other Animorphs what happened, they suspect that it could be a Yeerk trap to lure them out, but they return to the cave the Hork-Bajir is hiding in, with Ax and Tobias chosen to deal with the Hork-Bajir, while the others would stay close by in morph. After almost beheading Ax, the Hork-Bajir comes out, he calls himself Jara Hamee. Ax isn't convinced he's not a Controller, so to prove it, Jara slices open his head and opens up the gash. Horrified, but seeing no Yeerk, the Animorphs have some peace of mind. Just then, Controllers find out where they were. The team concocts a plan. In order to help Jara escape, Rachel morphs him. Tobias is worried about the one he loves, and so he hitches a ride on one of her forehead blades. However, the human-hawk slaps into a branch, is knocked off, and finds himself in a clearing that belonged to a Swainson's Hawk, where the Hork-Bajir from before is cornered by a group of human-Controllers, one of which is revealed to be Visser Three, who demorphs and calls the Hork-Bajir Ket Halpak. Tobias provides a distraction by drawing out the aggressive Swainson's hawk, and it rakes the Visser's stalk eyes, allowing Ket to escape.
With Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak reunited, the Animorphs now decide where to hide them. Tobias suggests a hidden valley that had fresh streams, a meadow, and tall trees. But he'd never seen the place in his life, even though the images are clear in his mind. Tobias now suspects foul play - and that someone or something is manipulating him. During the night while he is guarding the Hork-Bajir along with Ax, Tobais suddenly has visions of tracker Taxxons hunting. He doesn't know exactly but he has a feeling that they are tracking him. To avoid the Taxxons picking up the Hork-Bajir scent, Tobias and Ax take the Hork-Bajir and retreat further toward the mountains. While riding on the Hork-Bajir, Jara tells Tobias that a voice in his head told him to escape from the Yeerk Pool and that "it" would send a guide while he was trapped in the Yeerk Pool. Frustrated about being used, Tobias stops everyone and demands to find out what is happening. He yells in his head and asks who is manipulating him. Tobias then finds himself in another plane, and sees himself as a cross between human and hawk, and a third thing. And then he encounters the Ellimist, who explains that while his species does not interfere with other peoples' lives, he wishes to save the Hork-Bajir. He also learns that when he could not get anywhere earlier and the images in his head were all the Ellimist's doing. Frustrated, Tobias wants to be made human in return for his efforts. The Ellimist says that he knows what Tobias wants, but asks Tobias if he himself really knows what he wants.
Tobias and the Animorphs take the Hork-Bajir to the mountains, pursued by Yeerks in Dracon beam-wielding helicopters, Hork-Bajir and Taxxons. Tobias, out hunting breakfast, is caught in the helicopter's rotor vacuum, and breaks his wing. He is immediately discovered by a raccoon, who prepares to eat him. At that moment, the Ellimist makes Tobias able to morph again, but does not return him to human form. Tobias is enraged, accusing the omniscient being for not keeping his promise. Tobias escapes by morphing the raccoon, and rejoins the others.
The Animorphs realize that the Yeerks will not give up until the Hork-Bajir are dead, because if the two of them escaped safely, others would try, and since they revealed themselves, if Jara and Ket are re-caputred, the Yeerks would discover the true identities of the "Andalite Bandits." Tobias comes up with a plan. He first morphs Ket and, together with Rachel as Jara, go over to the ravine. Rachel and Tobias yell "Jara Hamee Free!!!!" and "Ket Halpak free!!!" respectively, convincing Visser Three that they are the escaped Hork-Bajir. The two Animorphs jump over the ravine and are caught by Marco, in gorilla morph, in a small cave right below the top of the ravine that is not visible from the top. At the bottom, the real Ket Halpek and Jara Hamee are pretending to be dead, while Cassie and Jake are in wolf morph, and they pretend to eat them. Visser Three is convinced that they are dead and the Yeerks give up searching. The Animorphs then take the Hork-Bajir to the valley, which is mysteriously difficult to locate from a distance, unless you knew it was there.
The human-hawk Tobias has his morphing power back. He thinks about what the Ellimist had said, and laments that maybe he didn't want to be a human again. Tobias falls asleep, and suddenly wakes up in his old bedroom---the Ellimist apparently having sent him back in time to the night before he first met Elfangor. The "past" Tobias (human) wakes up, and the "present" Tobias (hawk) acquires his DNA before the past version falls back asleep. He also tells him to go to the construction site with Jake. As a result, he can morph his own human body for up to two hours at a time (or, as later books will point out, stay in human form forever---the Ellimist, in this way, was giving him a choice.) The next day, he shows up at school for Rachel's Packard Foundation Outstanding Student award ceremony, as a human, to Rachel's amazement.
Contributions to the Series' Story ArcEdit
- Tobias regains his morphing power and can even become his old human-self again, but only for two hours at a time.
- The free Hork-Bajir colony is started.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Siberian Tiger, Peregrine Falcon, Wolf|
|Rachel||Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee)||Bald Eagle, Grizzly Bear, Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee)|
|Cassie||--||Great Horned Owl, Osprey, Wolf|
|Marco||--||Silverback Gorilla, Osprey, Wolf|
|Tobias||Raccoon, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), Human (Tobias' past-self)||Raccoon, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), Human (Tobias' past-self)|
- The front cover quote is "Be afraid..."
- The inside front cover quote is, "It was only a dream...or was it?"
- A picture of illustrator David B. Mattingly's cat, "Orson", can be seen in the first-page illustration of this book, standing in for Tobias' own cat, his first-ever morph, "Dude".
- K.A. Applegate chose a red-tailed hawk as the morph Tobias would become trapped in due to the bird's ubiquity across America. She "liked thinking that kids driving with their folks across Kansas or wherever would daydream about seeing Tobias," according to the Anibase Animorphs book database.
- This is not the fifth book to feature a cover morph that was not acquired in the book, as Tobias is in fact morphing from his new hawk body into his old human self, which he acquires and morphs at the end of The Change. By this point in the series, the author had been asked several times by fans to make Tobias human again.