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"The Looking Glass Wars" is a fantasy book that is written by Frank Beddor, and the characters are as well-crafted as the storyline itself. The book chronicles the adventures of Alyss Heart, princess of Wonderland, as she faces the many struggles thrust upon her by her evil Aunt Redd.
The story begins with seven-year-old Alyss on her birthday. All of the Wonderlanders are enjoying the festivities when Redd and her forces of card soldiers invade Heart Palace. Queen Genevieve, realizing the danger, sends Alyss with her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, into the Crystal Continuum. This highway of linked looking glasses takes Alyss and Hatter to the magical Pool of Tears. Chased by The Cat, Redd’s feline assassin, they jump into the pool.
When Alyss emerges, she finds herself in London in 1859, and Hatter is nowhere to be found, having ended up in France. During her thirteen years in London, Alyss is part of a band of thieving orphans, lives in an orphanage, and is adopted by the Liddels. Nobody believes her stories of Wonderland except for a priest named Charles Dodgson, who decides to turn it into a book. He twists up her story, making Alyss very angry with him, but the book helps Hatter Madigan find her a few years later.
Meanwhile, back in Wonderland, living conditions are unbearable under Redd. The Alyssians, a rebel group named after the young princess, are constantly fighting for their lives. When Hatter finds a way back to Wonderland with news that the princess is alive, they send Dodge Anders, Alyss’ childhood friend, to bring her back.
When she returns, Alyss visits the caterpillars to find out the location of the Looking Glass Maze. She then enters the maze, which helps her reach her full imaginative powers, and heads to the Chessboard desert to defeat Redd. She succeeds and the Wonderlanders live happily ever after.
Alyss Heart is imaginative, adventurous, and queenly. Dodge Anders is reckless, brave, and protective. Hatter Madigan is protective, determined, and dangerous.
Alyss Heart is very imaginative, and her imagination makes her powerful. During the Inventors’ Parade, Alyss tells her mother that the newly-invented hula hoop would be more fun if it had fountains of water coming out of it, “and immediately the hoop was spurting water from tiny holes all along its surface” (13). When Alyss is bored, “an empty pair of King Nolan’s boots floated out from behind the balcony door and began to dance in front of the brooding princess” (15). To prove to Quigly Gaffer (a London orphan) that she is telling the truth, “she stared hard at the flower and imagined it singing” and it did (103). Alyss’ powerful imagination makes it possible for her to defeat her Aunt Redd.
Alyss is also adventurous. When Dodge gives her the jabberwock tooth for her birthday, “she couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t been her partner in adventure” (30). Before her birthday party and thanks to Dodge, “for the first time in her life, Alyss Heart was outside the grounds of the palace” and she thinks it is her best adventure yet (38). Alyss and the others brave “the hotness of the jabberwock’s breath” and its “impossibly wide mouth” on their adventure across the plains (266). Whether they are in London or Wonderland, Alyss loves her adventures.
Last, but not least, Alyss is queenly. Even when she is in London, “she didn’t take the slightest quirk of mankind for granted, but viewed it as a small miracle and cause for celebration” (169). When Alyss is talking to the blue caterpillar, she admits that all she does is run, and it doesn’t seem very queenly, but Blue assures her that it is sometimes braver to run (284). After emerging from the Looking Glass Maze, Alyss “stood like a sun among them, radiant with newfound strength, and any lingering doubt about her ability to lead them vanished at the sight of her” (317). Alyss will make a very good queen.
Dodge Anders is very reckless. He broke away from the main group of rebels at the Battle of Blaxik to free the workers, “without concern for his own well-being” (137). Whenever the Alyssians need a message delivered to a different camp, Dodge volunteers to run the message through the Crystal Continuum while being chased by multiple Glass Eyes (157). After one of his portal runs, Dodge stops at the Pool of Tears. He later admits that he has been reckless to go there and “shouldn’t have taken the unnecessary risk.” He has to stay alive because “his vengeance required it” (161). Dodge is lucky that his recklessness hasn’t gotten him killed.
Dodge is also brave. During the invasion of Heart Palace, when his father is killed by The Cat, Dodge picks up his father’s sword and attacks The Cat himself (62). At the Battle of Blaxik, he is “only fourteen years old but fighting like a grown man” (137). After the battle, Dodge and the white rook go for a walk around Wonderland. The rook “camouflaged himself in a hooded coat,” but Dodge “would not hide who he was from his enemies” (140). Dodge is as brave as he is reckless.
Dodge is protective towards Alyss. When Redd’s forces invade Heart Palace, Dodge pulls Alyss out of the fighting and into safety under a table. (58). At the fight at the church during Alyss’ almost-wedding, Dodge pushes Alyss out of the way “just as The Cat landed and smashed the altar with a downward swing of his thigh-sized arms” (204). During the attack on the Alyssian’s main headquarters, Dodge fights many Glass Eyes to keep them away from Alyss (250). Dodge protects Alyss better than he protects himself.
Hatter Madigan is a very determined man. When he escapes with Alyss to the Pool of Tears, she tells him that no one ever comes back. He tells her that she will because he will make sure of it (71). When he isn’t in Wonderland, Hatter spends thirteen years searching for Alyss before he finds a lead, yet he never gives up (155). After Hatter was shot at Kensington Palace, he still does the best he can to reach the return puddle to Wonderland (177). Hatter is probably the most determined member of the Milinery.
Hatter is very protective over the royal family. During Alyss’ birthday party, Hatter can be seen “following the queen like a protective shadow” (24). Amid the attack on Heart Palace, Hatter promises Queen Genevieve that he will “keep the princess safe until she is old enough to rule” (65). When the Alyssians are arguing about who should go get Alyss from London, Hatter replies, “My duty is to protect the princess” (188). Hatter takes his job as bodyguard very seriously.
Hatter is probably the most dangerous Alyssian. At the invasion of Heart Palace, he takes care of many of Redd’s soldiers. “His steel bracelets snapped open and became propeller-blades on the outward sides of his wrists. His backpack sprouted blades and corkscrews of various lengths and thicknesses, like an open Swiss Army knife” (60). He also manages to take away one of The Cat’s nine lives. “Hatter stepped over the beast and removed his top hat from the fatal wound” (65). When Hatter first arrives in Paris, he gets into a fight with some drunks outside of a bar. “The daggers pinned the men to a wooden cart by their shirtsleeves: a feat of martial skill Hatter hoped would show that he could kill all three of them if he so desired” (84). Hatter famous for being dangerous and people stare at him in awe as he walks down the streets.
These characters are all different, but they are also similar. They all care for Wonderland and they will fight to keep it safe. Alyss and Hatter live in London for thirteen years, but, like Dodge, they are still Wonderlanders at heart.