The Inkworld Trilogy

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The Inkworld Trilogy is a German children's book series by Cornelia Funke. It consists of Tintenherz (Inkheart), Tintenblut (literally "Inkblood", but translated as Inkspell for the English version), and Tintentod (Inkdeath).

The series centers around Meggie Folchart and her father, Mo. Mo is gifted with the ability to cause anything he reads aloud to appear in front of him. He believes it only applies to inanimate objects until one evening while reading to his wife he accidentally brings to life a fictional Evil Overlord named Capricorn, along with his knife-happy Dragon, Basta, and the scarred fire-eater Dustfinger. At the same time, Mo accidentally sends his wife into the fictional universe, trapping her there. Nice going.

Needless to say, Capricorn then goes on to do what all villains do best (Take Over the World, what else?), and it is up to Meggie to save the day. Along with her go Fenoglio, the author who created Capricorn; Farid, a young boy from Arabian Nights; and her bibliophile aunt, Elinor.

The events of the first book are set mostly in Italy. The next book, Inkspell, takes place mostly in the world of Capricorn, Basta, and Dustfinger. It introduces new villains, such as the Adderhead and the Piper, and new friends, like Roxanne and the Black Prince. The third book, Inkdeath, also takes place in the Inkworld.

The Movie came out in late 2008, starring Eliza Bennett as Meggie, Andy Serkis as Capricorn (who apparently likes duct tape), Paul Bettany as Dustfinger, and Brendan Fraser as Mo.


Tropes used in The Inkworld Trilogy include:
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Roxanne. By the time Dustinger finally returns home, he has been gone ten years, and Roxanne has a son (by another man) who is nearly that old, so she can't have waited for him very long.
  • A God Am I: Fenoglio and Orpheus both have attacks of this, and it's hard to tell which man is worse.
  • All Just a Dream: Discussed. Several characters hope in vain for this at different points in the series.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Death's "deal" with Mo.
  • Anti-Hero: Dustfinger. At one point, he veers into Lovable Traitor territory, but events teach him quickly and painfully that he's made a terrible mistake by trusting Capricorn to keep his word.
  • Archnemesis Dad: The Adderhead is something of this to his daughter, Violante.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Played with.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The only half-way sympathetic aristocratic character is Violante, who looks positively sweet next to her father, but even she is hard and demanding and can be cruel.
  • Arranged Marriage: Violante and Cosimo. Violante's mother claimed this was the case for she and the Adderhead, but really they fell in love and ran away together.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Invoked several times in-universe with Fenoglio having to write out what will happen in order to save everyone's skins.
  • Babies Ever After: Resa in Inkdeath.
  • Back From the Dead: Dustfinger exchanged his life for Farid and brought him back. Later Mo brought Dustfinger back as part of a deal with Death herself. Cosimo also counts though he is not really himself afterwards.
  • Back for the Dead: This shows up with a strange twist in Inkdeath. Basta was already dead and removed from the story, but when he was was brought back as a monster, we aren't even told that it's him until Dustfinger recognizes him seconds before killing the creature.
  • Badass Bookworm: Mo.
  • Badass Unintentional: Nearly all the protagonists.
  • Bad Dreams: It is implied in Inkdeath that this happens to Mo. Ever since being imprisoned in the Castle of Night, he has never been able to sleep in a room with the door closed.
  • Balancing Death's Books: Ending of Inkspell.
  • Becoming the Mask: Mo becomes the Bluejay, much to the distress of his wife and daughter.
  • Big Bad: Capricorn is this in the first book, while the Adderhead fills the role in the second and third books and could be considered the big bad of the entire seires since he's the man behind Capricorn.
  • Black Best Friend: Subverted. The Black Prince is Dustfinger's best friend, and he is black, but he doesn't fit the description of the role of "Black Best Friend" very well. He's much more of an independent character.
  • Book-Burning: This happens to every existing copy of Inkheart save one in the first book.
    • Capricorn's fireraisers burn all the books in Elinor's library.
  • Bookworm: Elinor, Mo, Meggie, Resa, Darius, and Violante.
  • Break the Haughty: Averted. This nearly happened to both Elinor (in Inkheart) and Fenoglio (Inkspell and Inkdeath), but after everything both bounced back to themselves perfectly.
  • Broken Pedestal: Violante is shattered when it turns out Her mother wasn't really a trapped victim of her father, The Adderhead, but actually fell in love with him and ran away with him. Sucks when your childhood hero and the person you are indirectly trying to avenge was lying to you all along.
  • Came Back Strong: Dustfinger and Mo, with powers and insight they had not possessed before meeting Death.
  • Came Back Wrong: Cosimo.
  • Casting Gag: Paul Bettany's real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly, plays Dustfinger's wife, Roxanne, in a cameo at the end of the movie.
  • Child Soldiers: Not one of Violante's devoted "army" is over fourteen.
  • Consummate Liar: In The Movie at least, nearly everything that comes out of Capricorn's mouth is a lie. Even when he admits he was lying. It gets to the point where he mocks the heroes for being fooled... again.
  • Crapsack World: The Inkworld as it has evolved from Fenoglio's original book definitely counts.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe, some catastrophic attempts to right wrongs in his story ends with Fenoglio losing all confidence and vowing never to write again. That doesn't last too long. And in real life. Cornelia Funke's husband died of cancer in 2006, which almost certainly accounts for the much darker tone of Inkdeath and its themes of death, loss, and grief.
  • Cynical Mentor: Dustfinger to Farid.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Even with no affection between father and daughter, this applies to the Adderhead and Violante, however much she might claim not.
  • Darker and Edgier: Oh, ever so much so. With each successive book.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Between modern-day Earth and the medieval-inspired Inkworld. In spades.
  • Disappeared Dad: Dustfinger, through no fault of his own, though. He was accidentally magically summoned to our world and stuck there for ten years.
  • Disney Villain Death: Mortola a.k.a. The Magpie falls to her death in Inkdeath after she is struck by an arrow thrown by Orpheus while trying to fly away in her magpie form.
  • Doorstopper: Inkheart is just over 500 pages long and Inkspell and Inkdeath are almost 700 pages long. Holy Cow!
  • The Dragon: Basta is Capricorn's dragon in the first book and the Piper is the Adderhead's dragon in the last two books
  • Driven to Suicide: in Inkdeath Elinor says this will happen to her if Darius leaves her alone.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Arguably Capricorn's death at the hands of the Shadow.
    • In Inkdeath, Mortola has been set up as a major villain, having tried to kill Meggie and the Black Prince - and nearly succeeding with the Prince - only to be struck by an arrow from Orpheus almost at random. She then falls to her death.
  • Dynamic Character: Mo goes from a peace-loving book binder and protective-but-fun single father to a
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Shadow. It's immortal, invulnerable, created out of the ashes of countless sacrificed sentient beings, and it can kill with a mere touch.
  • Empathy Pet: Gwin, Dustfinger's "tame" marten. Has two tiny horns on its head, but is otherwise a normal animal.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Adderhead is this to the Laughing Prince.
  • Evil Matriarch: Capricorn's mother Mortola.
  • Evil Overlord: Capricorn fits this almost to a "t" in Inkheart. The Adderhead in the last two books.
  • The Faceless: The Shadow.
  • Foreshadowing: There is an unintentional (as Funke wasn't planning on writing any sequels at that point) bit of foreshadowing near the beginning of Inkheart where Mo playfully threatens to cut Dustfinger into "very thin slices" if he continues to tell Meggie scary stories. This becomes something of a Funny Aneurysm later on when Mo becomes Just Like Robin Hood and starts regularly cutting people to bits for real.
  • Fourth Wall Shut-in Story: The main characters are simply fans of the story, but the author himself got trapped in his own writing, too. He wasn't doing too badly there... for a time.
  • Gentle Giant: The Strong Man in the third book.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Considering the books are geared at children, it's surprising how many times they say words like "damn", "hell", and "bastard", especially in Inkspell. The reason is probably that the works were translated from German, and Germans have a greater tolerance for these cusswords, even in works for children.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Dustfinger has three pale scars running across his face, courtesy of Basta.
  • Hot Shoujo Dad: The books imply that Mo's attractive (several female characters cannot help but swoon at the Bluejay), and has a sexy voice. And in the movie, of course, he's played by Brendan Fraser.
  • Human Notepad: In the film, creatures conjured by the Big Bad have random lines of text covering portions of their body, and Meggie writes the words that kill Capricorn all over her arm.
  • Hypothetical Casting: In the back, Cornelia Funke mentioned that she always imagined Mo to be a bit like Brendan Fraser, and then the casting went like that for the movie.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The face of the commoners' uprising was the fabricated folk-hero, The Blue-Jay. He was known by his fairness, thieving, and mask rather than his face, but the songs of the Blue-Jay stirred public favor for the uprising without a face.
  • Infant Immortality: Lampshaded in the film.

Mo: Meggie, just pretend you're in a book. Children always survive in books.
Meggie: No they don't. Remember "The Little Match Girl"? They found her in that alley frozen to death.

  • Karma Houdini: Orpheus, at the end of the series, escapes into the northern regions of the Inkworld and presumably escapes any retribution for his actions, although the ending implies he may have ultimately frozen to death. Unless Funke decides to write another book in the series, it's likely that he never receives any punishment... This trope was lampshaded by Fenoglio himself in the first book.
  • Knife Nut: Basta.
  • Large Ham: Orpheus, and Fenoglio at times. In The Movie, Andy Serkis is clearly enjoying himself as Capricorn.
  • Le Parkour: Farid's specialty
  • Living Shadow: Orpheus' Night-Mare (who is actually Basta's corrupt spirit) in the third book.
  • The Lost Woods: Wayless Wood.
  • Love Dodecahedron: It gets pretty complicated.
  • May-December Romance: Brianna not-so-subtly sleeping with Cosimo.
  • Meaningful Name...or at least an Informed Meaningful Name, since if I were an aspiring Evil Overlord who wanted to choose an intimidating astrology-themed name for myself, it sure as hell wouldn't be Capricorn.-- Also goes for certain nicknames, like "Silvertongue" for Mo.
  • Moral Dissonance: Farid is not just a loyal character, but shy and easily embarrassed. At the start of the third book it is established he is in a teenage relationship with Meggie... from Meggie's point of view. When we cut to the chapters from Farid's perspective, the various and numerous serving girls Farid makes out with (whilst still in this relationship) are mentioned casually by the author in passing without any explanation as to how this shy boy suddenly became such a stud... and never again!
  • Mr. Exposition: Dustfinger, when he tells Meggie just how incredibly evil Capricorn is supposed to be.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • There are several cases of this in the books: We are told that "Capricorn" is a name he gave himself, but we never know what his real name is. The same with Orpheus (who gets it double since Farid calls him only "Cheeseface"). The Magpie's real name is Mortola, but she is very rarely referred to that way in the first book. "The Adderhead" and "the Laughing Prince/Prince of Sighs" are names given to them by their subjects. Also the Barn Owl, Nettle, Firefox, Sootbird, the Piper, Flatnose, Cockerell, Cloud-Dancer, and the Black Prince, as well as all the robbers in Book 3. Finally, even though it's never mentioned that he might have another name, Dustfinger could easily be an example of this as well. Since his world is full of regular names like Roxanne, Basta, and Minerva, it's probably safe to assume that this is a nickname rather than what his parents named him.
    • Mortimer is an interesting variation of this. While most people call him by his proper name, Dustfinger, Capricorn, and the other characters from Inkheart refuse to call him anything but "Silvertongue", which he doesn't like. He is also known only by a nickname to his daughter, Meggie, who "had never called her father anything but 'Mo'" and his wife.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Actually not; they're smaller than some of the trees. They're definitely different from most fantasy giants, however.
  • Parent Service: In the movie, Dustfinger's fire-breathing Shirtless Scene is absolutely this.
  • Portal Book: Technically, every single written work in existence, given someone with the right voice.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Come on, they can read the written word aloud - their own, someone elses, any - and make it happen. Surely, at some point, they'll write some self-insert fanfiction or something and just read it aloud...
  • Purple Prose: Funke spends paragraphs on end describing the scenery and minute details of the world.
  • Reality Writing Book: In a variation, Meggie and Mo can read things (and people) in and out of books.
  • Refugee From TV Land: Dustfinger constantly complains about all of the bad aspects of the Real World and wishes for Mo to read him back into Inkheart all through the first book. Turned Up to Eleven in the film, where he doesn't seem to have much of a personality outside wanting to go home.
  • Rule of Symbolism: After the climax of Inkdeath, it starts snowing. The whiteness is explicitly compared to an unwritten page.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • After two novels of setup a sudden relationship formed between Meggie and ... some inventor guy, whilst the back-and-forth Meggie/Farid Ship hit a reef.
    • Made worse in the beginning of Inkdeath: Farid and Meggie have got together. Or so the reader thinks, until a few chapters before the end... it's over? Huh?
    • Later in the story, Fenoglio tells Meggie about a story he once wrote about a bookkeeper and an inventor marrying... something which obviously justifies her dumping Farid for some dude who gets barely five lines in the entire novel.
  • Ship Tease: Dustfinger and Resa, which is painfully teased throughout the trilogy. Not that anything could come of it since they're both happily married to other people, but their relationship is so extremely close that even Mo, Meggie, Farid, and Roxanne at different points of the trilogy have their suspicions about it. It's in fact heavily implied that Resa and Dustfinger had something going on while she was trapped in the Inkworld. However she still loved Mo and told him about whatever there had been happening between her and Dustfinger.
  • There's No Place Like Home: Dustfinger, very much so.
  • We Choose To Stay
  • Welcome to The Real World
  • Wild Card: Dustfinger in the first book
  • Word Power: The whole point of the second and third book, even more than in the first. Maggie reads herself and Farid into the Inkworld with words written by herself. Later she saves Mo's life by reading and rereading a passage written by Fengolio how a father survives an almost fatal wound and always hears his daughter's voice. Later she sings and recites all the ballads about the Bluejay to protect Mo from being caught or hurt. And Orpheus - having no confidence in his own words - more or less steals Fengolio's words to put them together anew to manipulate the Inkworld as he wishes. And Fengolio writing Cosimo Back From the Dead ... let's say in a world made of words words are more dangerous weapons than swords.