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Alyss Heart

Artwork of Alyss Heart

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Alyss Heart is a fictional character in The Looking-Glass Wars and its sequel, Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor. The stories are based on Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland books and Alyss is based on the character Alice. The preface of the novels is that Wonderland is quite real and Alice was a real person although (in the fictional context of the story) her name is correctly spelled Alyss and she is in fact the rightful queen of Wonderland.

The Looking-Glass WarsEdit

The first novel starts in the magical realm of Wonderland which is located on a planet at the centre of the universe. The name of the actual planet is unknown. The stories are told from a feminist point of view and as such Wonderland is a queendom, a land traditionally ruled by a queen, where women are the physically stronger sex. Wonderland is the source of all imagination in the universe and a place where technology and mysticism intertwine. Imagination has supernatural powers in Wonderland and plays the role of magic in the Harry Potter books and the Force in Star Wars. There is White Imagination and Black Imagination. White imagination can be used as a weapon but is largely a benevolent force. Black Imagination gives life and physical form to the darker aspects of one's psyche and those who practice it are inherently corrupt and evil.

When the story starts, Alyss is the seven year old Princess of Wonderland and lives in the Royal Palace in Wondertropolis, the capital city of Wonderland. She possesses an exceptionally powerful imagination but is somewhat rebellious and easily bored. At the start of the book it is her birthday and she is quite excited but missing her father, Nolan who has gone to the independent country of Boarderland to ask its king for military support. The king refuses and Nolan is forced to return home however on the way back to Wonderland, he and his forces are beset by the minions of Redd Heart, Alyss's evil and vicious aunt. In the midst of the battle, Nolan and all of his men are killed.

Oblivious to this, Alyss has fun in the palace grounds, playing tricks on her tutor, Bibwit Harte (a parody of the White Rabbit from the original Alice books) with her childhood friend, Dodge Anders whom she seems to have developed a mutual crush on. During the day, Alyss finds a stray cat which she takes in. In the evening, during Alyss's birthday celebrations the palace comes under attack by Redd and her forces. Alyss's cat reveals itself to be The Cat, Redd's top assassin, a monstrous shapeshifting feline hybrid. In the ensuing battle, Dodge's father, Justice Anders is killed by The Cat and Alyss's mother, Queen Genevieve is decapitated by Redd. Alyss escapes with the help of Hatter Madigan, a parody of the Mad Hatter from the original books and the head of the Millinery (Wonderland's elite security force). Hatter jumps into a portal between worlds called the Pool of Tears along with Alyss unfortunately they let go of each other and arrive in separate places on Earth. Hatter lands in Paris and Alyss in London where she meets a gang of street urchins. At first Alyss attempts to use the magical powers of her Imagination to make money for her and the other lads but finds that she cannot use her Imaginative powers on Earth. She is later captured and taken into care and subsequently adopted by the Reverend Liddel and his wife. At school she continues to tell everyone about her identity as a princess from another world, causing them to think her self-important and deluded. As a result she comes to be known as "Odd Alice". Everyone ridicules her for spelling her name in the none-traditional sense and the teacher goes so far as to punish her and make her write lines for doing so. Alyss eventually befriends the Reverend Charles Dodgeson, an educated friend of her stepfather. She tells him her story and believing it to be fiction, he vows to turn it into a book. Alyss is extremely grateful, thinking he is going to write her memoirs and cause the world to believe her. Instead, Dodgeson writes the novel Alice In Wonderland, a whimsical fairytale under the pseudonym, "Lewis Carrol." Alyss is furious and eschews all contact with Dodgeson although the book, when published, becomes a bestseller. Reasoning that she will only be ridiculed for telling the truth about her life, Alyss succumbs to the human world and resolves to blend in. She keeps a low-profile and spells her name "Alice". Her name is spelled like this for the following part of the book which is told in three parts. Alice later catches the attention of Prince Leopold who falls in love with her and the two become close friends. They later get engaged and Alice but on the day of their wedding the palace is besieged by the forces of Redd, who has discovered Alyss is alive on Earth. Alice is rescued by Dodge Anders who takes her back to Wonderland through a portal. Back in Wonderland Alyss meets a group of rebels called the Alyssians who have named themselves after her and are opposing Redd who now rules Wonderland with a cruel iron fist. Alyss must then journey to the Valley of the Mushrooms to consult the wise oracular Caterpillars and ask them to direct her to the whereabouts of her Looking-Glass Maze. Each Princess of Wonderland is given a Looking-Glass Maze through which she must pass in order to gain her Sceptre (the symbol of authority for the Queens of Wonderland) and prove herself worthy of the Throne. With the help of Hatter Madigan, a now vengeance-obsessed Dodge, a brave rook and a young halfer (half Milliner, half civilian) named Homburg Molly, Alyss finds the entrance to her Looking-Glass Maze in the depths of Wondertropolis which has since become a crime-ridden slum.

Within the Maze, Alyss confronts images of Redd and The Cat as well as images of her dead parents and her friends being killed by Redd. She fights to overcome the negative emotions in herself to avoid becoming like Redd and eventually with a supreme effort, succeeds in completing the Maze and gaining her Sceptre. With her Sceptre she is capable of utilising her Imaginative powers to their full effect and she then makes her way to Redd's fortress on Mount Isolation in the middle of the Chessboard Desert along with the Alyssians. At Redd's fortress a terrible battle takes place during which Dodge fights The Cat who he has become obsessed with killing in order to avenge his father.

Alyss meanwhile, confronts Redd in her throne room. Employing all their Imaginative powers and fighting skills, they fight a fierce duel which climaxes with Alyss defeating and disarming Redd who in a fury, throws herself into the Heart Crystal, a gigantic crystal which is the source of all Imagination in the Universe. The Cat swiftly follows her although it has lost all of its nine lives to Dodge.

The book ends with Alyss ascending the throne and becoming a benevolent queen.

Seeing ReddEdit

In the second book of the series, Alyss is rebuilding Wonderland after the battle with Redd and is upholding stability and peace for the time being. Naturally, she misses her parents, King Nolan and Queen Genevieve, but also finds herself pining for her adoptive family, the Liddell family. As she spent more time with them than her natural parents, Alyss looks upon them as her "real" family and longs to see them again.

Redd returns to Wonderland with an army of evil villains from Earth and attempts to take back the throne. Alyss must simultaneously fight a power-grab by rival King Arch whilst attempting to undermine Redd's coup d'état. Alyss doesn't do much in this book except issue orders from the palace. Meanwhile Redd infiltrates her own Looking-Glass Maze and retrieves her Sceptre, surpassing Alyss in power. Defeating Arch and making him a servant beneath her, Redd leads Arch's forces as well as her own to Wondertropolis where she succeeds in activating the awesome weapon which Arch has created. Fortunately Alyss manages to use her Imaginative powers to save Wondertropolis from devastation but Redd is temporarily deprived of her power. She and Arch flee to Boarderland leaving Alyss to rule Wonderland unopposed for the time being.

Personality and traitsEdit

Like the Alice of Lewis Carrol's books, Alyss is an exceptionally strong-willed, beautiful and (even after assuming the throne) free-thinking young woman. On multiple occasions she proves herself not only an exceptionally powerful adept but highly intelligent, like her mother and indeed her aunt. Like many protagonists, Alyss shares characteristics with her arch-enemy. Like Redd she does not enjoy the burdens of upholding the laws of White Imagination, love, justice and duty to the people and wants to be free to do as she pleases but unlike Redd she does care about all of those things and rules Wonderland selflessly. Redd however cares only about herself and whilst she ruled Wonderland she made it a corrupt, dark place. Alyss can be hard-edged and proud however and is a fierce opponent in combat, earning her the title of "Warrior-Queen" which was compulsory for all of her ancestors. Nevertheless she is a fair, kind and wise individual, earning her the respect and admiration of those around her.

Comparisons to other fictional charactersEdit

Aside from the traits listed above, Alyss has little in common with her counterpart in the original story.

The story of The Looking-Glass Wars bears similarities to Shakespeare's famous play Hamlet. As such Alyss plays the role of Hamlet as she is the main character whose royal parent was killed by their sibling whom the main character then defeated before ascending their throne. It is also worth noting that the character Claudius from Hamlet lusted after Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. In Seeing Redd it is revealed that Redd was once in love with Alyss's father, King Nolan. However aside from this Alyss has little in common with the character Hamlet. She is however quite similar to the character Simba from The Lion King which was also based on Hamlet. Both are initially naive but fun-loving and free-spirited youngsters who grow into mature adults and conquer their demons before defeating the evil ruler and taking their rightful place in life.

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