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Amphibians’ End: A Kulipari Novel – Book Review by Fred Patten




Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Amphibians EndAmphibians’ End: A Kulipari Novel, by Trevor Pryce with Joel Naftali. Illustrated by Sanford Greene.
NYC, Abrams/Amulet Books, October 2015, hardcover $15.95 ([5 +] 291 [+ 3] pages), Kindle $10.49.

Here is the conclusion of this rousing Young Adult trilogy of warfare between the defending poisonous frogs of the Amphibilands and the invading arachnids of the Outback desert. “Frogs and Platypuses versus Scorpions and Spiders”, says the caption in the full-color list of characters.

In An Army of Frogs and The Rainbow Serpent, the first and second volumes of this novel in three parts, teenage frog warrior Darel and his friend Gurnugan (Gee) find themselves facing all the adventure they have ever wanted when the desert spider and scorpion armies unite under the latter’s power-mad leader, Lord Marmoo, to invade the lush green Amphibilands. Darel had always wanted to become a Kulipari warrior, one of the band of legendary invincible defenders of the Amphibilands. But the Kulipari had all disappeared a generation ago.

When the endless scorpion armies reappear out of the desert, and Gee is captured, Darel thinks that the Amphibilands’ only hope of salvation is to find where the Kulipari have vanished to and persuade them to return.   The Rainbow Serpent introduces little Pippi of the platypus village and her search to find the mysterious frog warrior Darel, whom their elderly seer has had a vision of as being their savior. The book mixes Pippi’s adventures with Darel’s own with the Kulipari. He’s found them – but unfortunately they aren’t as invincible as legend has built them up to be. Can Darel’s joining them restore them to greatness?

Amphibian’s End is the climax. The mystic Veil that the now-dead turtle King Sergu had placed around the Amphibilands to hide them from the scorpions and spiders has been torn by the spider’s evil Queen Jarrah. Yabber, the turtle king’s Dreamcaster heir, has restored the Veil; but now that Lord Marmoo knows where to look for it, how long can the Amphibiands hold out?

“‘The spiders tore the Veil once,’ he [Lord Marmoo] snapped. ‘They can do it again.’

‘But Queen Jarrah is dead,’ Pigo said, his voice soft. He knew better than to mention that Lord Marmoo himself had killed her.

‘So they need a new queen.’ A tattered sneer spread across Marmoo’s face. ‘Or a king.’” (p. 7)

Darel is now the frog’s hero, but when he joins them in beseeching the heavenly Rainbow Serpent to maintain the Veil that hides them, he is aghast when the visions indicate that they should discard the Veil instead.

“‘I …’ Darel swallowed. ‘I saw the Serpent on the mountaintop. And then again outside the platypus village, after the chief sacrificed herself to beat Marmoo. The Stargazer showed me a rainbow on the river – and that’s when I knew. That’s when the Serpent told me, Lower the Veil.

‘Why?’ a Baw Baw asked.

‘I don’t know. Maybe because we need to face our enemy once and for all. Maybe we need to stop hiding and rejoin the outback. Maybe … I’m not sure. All I know is, we have to have faith.’” (p. 12)

Kulipari (assuming that all three books are to be taken as a single novel) is an annoying mixture of the overly dramatic and desperate, and the overly playful, with words like amphibitastic, platyperfect and platypretty, and dialogue like:

‘I am serious. Haven’t you heard the saying ‘An army marches on its stomach’?’

‘I think that only applies to gastropods,’ Darel said.” (p. 33)

If they aren’t to have the Veil to protect them, what are the frogs and platypuses to do? Darel leads a mission outside the Amphibilands, hoping to find new allies among the possums, lizards, and emus, while Marmoo is sidetracked trying to make himself the new king of the spiders despite the unwilling cooperation of the dead Queen Jarrah’s own heir apparent, Lady Fahlga. As you can see from the cover illustration, things look increasingly bleak for the frogs – until the end.

To repeat the information from my review of An Army of Frogs: “Trevor Pryce is best-known as a NFL veteran for 14 years as a defensive end for the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens, and the New York Jets. Joel Naftali is the author of both Young Adult novels and career guides for recent high school and college graduates. Illustrator Sanford Greene is a currently “hot” artist of realistic adventure and costumed-hero comic books for DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse.” The three books are illustrated in full color on glossy paper throughout, and have color-tinted text pages: forest-green in An Army of Frogs, watery-blue in The Rainbow Serpent, and fiery-red in Amphibians’ End.

Kulipari: An Army of Frogs is also coming as a 13-episode animated program to Netflix in 2016. It is being produced by the Paris-based Splash Entertainment animation studio and Pryce’s Outlook Company. Pryce originally developed the plot in 2010 as a proposed animated movie for Sony:

“‘The movie idea was a lot heavier and a lot darker than this,’ Pryce told USA Today in 2013. ‘I had pitched it as ‘300’ but with outback animals. It was like an action-adventure movie, just animated.’”

Pryce was quoted in an article in The Caw, the news site of the Baltimore Ravens football team. When it failed to sell as a movie, Pryce rewrote it into a Young Adult trilogy and a TV animated series. There will also be the usual merchandising based on a children’s cartoon series: toys, action figures, etc.

Fred Patten

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