The Beginning (novel)
The silhouettes of each of the Animorphs within each other
Quote: "It began with six. It will end with five..."
|Author||K. A. Applegate|
|Illustrator||David B. Mattingly|
|Preceded by||The Answer|
Continuing on immediately from The Answer, Rachel attacks the Yeerks in control of the Blade ship, and kills Tom Berenson and his Yeerk, before dying at the hands of his Yeerk allies shortly after; the Ellimist briefly stops time to memorialize her death, tells his own story to her, and she dies. Tom's morph-capable Yeerks escape in the Blade Ship, abandoning the disabled Pool Ship to the Animorphs. Visser One, realizing that he is defeated, leaves Alloran-Semitur-Corrass's body after being knocked unconscious by Ax. The remaining Animorphs, as well as Alloran (freed after more than two decades under Visser One's control over his body), contact the Andalite fleet, who are primed to annihilate Earth. However, Ax reveals that the nonmilitary Andalites are listening to their communications and will not approve of their actions should they proceed. The Andalite fleet calls off their plan to destroy Earth, and after hours of negotiations, they promote Ax to rank of Prince, and declares the war for Earth over. The Animorphs attend Rachel's funeral, where a statue is erected in her honor, and Tobias, with the permission of Cassie and Naomi, Rachel's mother, flies away with Rachel's ashes to spread them in the sea. It is also revealed that the Animorphs lived in California, a fact that had not been revealed through the course of the series.
The remainder of the book describes the development of the characters over the course of three years after the war. Jake, Marco, and Cassie become instantly rich and famous, while Ax returns to the Andalite homeworld a hero. Surrendered Yeerks are allowed to choose an animal form in which to become a nothlit, and similarly Arbron's Taxxons are granted their wish and become nothlit anacondas or other big snakes, relocated to the Amazon Rainforest. Unable to morph out of his Taxxon form, Arbron is soon killed by poachers. The free Hork-Bajir colony is moved to Yellowstone National Park, and are protected by Toby Hamee and Cassie. Toby becomes a non-voting member of the US Senate while Cassie serves as an adviser to the President. Humanity has also developed an alliance with Andalites. Some developments between the two races are companies such as Microsoft and Nintendo building new electronics and Andalites morphing into humans to experience the sense of taste. Marco embraces his new fame, and winds up becoming the self-proclaimed "spokesman" for the Animorphs, as well as a TV star. Cassie uses her powers in the government to become an activist for the environment and the Hork-Bajir. Jake however adjusts less easily than they do to the new conditions and becomes depressed.
A year after the conclusion of the war, Esplin 9466 (formerly Visser Three and later Visser One) is put on trial in The Hague, Netherlands for war crimes against humanity and is found guilty. Jake has slumped into depression in the year since the war ended, having minimal contact with his friends and not morphing at all. During Jake's testimony at the trial, Esplin's defense lawyers attempt to discredit Jake by claiming that he himself is a war criminal for his actions, such as his emptying of the Pool ship that killed 17,372 Yeerks. Though this objection is overruled, Jake is deeply shaken by it, as he feels that it, along with many of his actions during the war, was immoral or mistaken. In a desperate bid to cheer Jake up, his friends capture him and dump him into the ocean, thinking that by forcing him into a dolphin morph (dolphins being naturally happy) they can cheer him up. Jake remains aloof, however. Esplin is forced to live out his remaining days without a host in a purple box (the Andalites constructed the box and had it painted purple for some unknown reason).
Two years after Esplin 9466's sentencing, Ax is charged with finding the Blade Ship. He notes that the military is being shrunk back, and that he easily has the most interesting assignment. The ship crew finds a mysterious DNA sample, a polar bear. Ax leads the investigation team. As First Officer Menderash-Postill-Fastill later recalls, the ship came alive and attacked. Menderash broke off from the ship, but they were then attacked by pirates. He is the sole survivor.
Meanwhile, Jake finally concedes to the U.S. government and agrees to train some special ops teams to use the morphing power to combat terrorists. After a few months of meetings, two Andalite officials approach him. Menderash relays Ax's story. Jake agrees to help. He informs Cassie and Marco. Cassie is currently involved with another man, Ronnie. Cassie and her boyfriend are spending time assessing potential new places for the Hork-Bajir to inhabit. Cassie offers to come, but Jake declines, saying that her role is over, and that she is doing what she wants to do the most. Jake also believes that Cassie will be happier if she stays on Earth. He asks her to find Tobias, who has since shut himself away from the world, and has remained angry at Jake for Rachel's death. Tobias however, relents and joins Jake on the mission. Marco agrees to come, but only after yelling at Jake, and telling him that he cannot undo his past mistakes, and that, just as during the war, they will only succeed if they follow his instincts, no matter how "crazy, reckless and ruthless." Jake selects two of his students (Santorelli and Jeanne Gerard) to come as well. They are picked because they have no close friends or relatives.
As the mission is top-secret and unauthorized, Jake and the others conduct a very elaborate plan. Marco knocks out two Andalites who are guarding a shuttle. They use the shuttle to take off and board a captured Yeerk cruiser. They then crash the shuttle into the ground. The official story would be that terrorists overpowered the Andalite guards but could not pilot the ship and crashed.
The ship is an elegant cruiser. Menderash, following an Andalite tradition, believes it bad luck to board the ship before it is named; after Tobias notes that it is "beautiful and dangerous and exciting," the group gives it the only fitting name, the Rachel. After several months in space, the Animorphs find the Blade Ship, only to discover that Ax has been assimilated into an entity only known as The One, giving Ax a new mouth which split open the lower part of Ax's face. The One threatens to consume the Animorphs, as it had done to Ax. Jake comments on Marco's earlier call to be "crazy, reckless and ruthless," and, with a smile that Marco notes makes him look like Rachel, orders them to ram the Blade ship.
Contributions to the series' story arc
- Rachel, Tom, Tom's unnamed Yeerk, Jara Hamee, and Arbron are killed.
- The Yeerks lose, and the Andalites declare the war over.
- Arbron's Taxxons and the surrendering Yeerk forces are allowed to become nothlits and settle on Earth as anacondas.
- Visser Three is tried and convicted of war crimes and is sentenced to several consecutive life sentences.
- The Andalites make a single morphing cube available to Earth to combat terrorism, on the condition that it only be used for anti-terror operations and that it remain in Andalite custody.
- The series ends with an introduction to The One.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||Siberian tiger, dolphin, peregrine falcon, wolf flea|
|Rachel||grizzly bear, cat, shrew|
|Tobias||Human (himself), Andalite (Ax)|
|Marco||Gorilla, dolphin, lobster|
|Human Controller #1||Leopard|
|Human Controller #2||Lioness|
|Human Controller #3||Lioness|
|Human Controller #4||Cape buffalo|
|Human Controller #5||Polar bear|
- This is the fifth and final book in the mainstream, numbered series to be narrated by more than one character, the fourth being The Resistance, the third being The Journey, the second being The Prophecy, and the first being The Departure.
- The cover of the book looks remarkably similar to the The Rolling Stones album Hot Rocks 1964–1971. David B. Mattingly, the Animorphs cover artist, claims that this was a conscious steal.