Brought to you by The Moonlight Library!This is the story of Elfangor, from his beginning as an aristh, an Andalite space cadet, to his time on Earth that no one but the Ellimist knows about. This is the story of what happened before the Animorphs.The Andalite Chronicles, strictly speaking, isn’t essential reading in the Animorphs series. But if you want to know more about Visser Three’s host, Alloran, and how he came to be a mind-slave to one of the highest-ranking Yeerks in the Empire, then you’d enjoy it. If you wanted to know more about Taxxons, you’d enjoy it. If you wanted to know more about Andalite military culture, and how humans got involved in the Yeerk-Andalite war, you’d enjoy it. If you want to know more about why a particular character has such a broken home life, you’ll enjoy it. That, and all around the Ani-fandom, this book is pretty much considered to be one of, if not the, best Animorphs book.Elfangor is mostly written as a cross between Ax and Tobias. He’s compassionate, scared witless by his first space adventure, and wants to listen to his superiors. But he also has flashes of Jake in him – as he is forced to make difficult decisions. In fact, the differences between Elfangor and Jake are paralleled much later in the Animorphs series as Jake and Elfangor both face the possibility of murdering thousands of helpless Yeerks in their natural state – that is to say, the slugs in the pool, blind, helpless, defenceless. Elfangor and Jake chose different paths, and it shows pretty clearly that even though Elfangor made a tough call, perhaps it wasn’t the best one to make. Or maybe Jake was wrong.That’s not to say that because of Elfangor the Yeerks invade Earth. That fate is sealed by someone else’s decision, and it’s an extraordinarily difficult decision to understand. Why that character acted in that way, I can’t say. Why they weren’t murdered, I also can’t say. Why the Ellimist felt it necessary to involve that character in his eternal war, I don’t understand. It could simply be a massive coincidence, or it could be that that particular character was always going to be involved.Enough with the vagues! Sorry, kittens.This novel is written as Elfangor’s herec dilest: his memories gone to a computer to one day be retrieved. We know Elfangor dies. That’s not a spoiler. But this is his life before that tragic defeat.Overall, this novel is a powerful one that helps us most of all to understand Andalite culture, to see glimpses of the other worlds involved in the war, and to see an amazing relationship develop between a human and a blue centaur alien with no mouth. Loren, Elfangor’s human love interest, in reminiscent of Rachel, but she’s not a loose cannon. She’s frightened, but brave. She teaches Elfangor about humility, and humanity, and Elfangor falls deeply in love with not only her species but with her as well, much the same way a particular Yeerk fell in love with Andalites. The story of Alloran’s fall from power is not detailed here – that will be seen in the next Chronicles, the Hork-Bajir – but we do see his ultimate defeat: becoming the galaxy’s first Andalite-Controller.The book by necessity has a lot of defeat in it. It’s not supposed to be a happy story. People are enslaved, murdered, trapped in bodies not their own, rebelled against, and time is distorted to the point where the universe is so fucked up only the intervention of an inter-galactic being can fix everything. Elfangor is a war hero, but he gives up so much to get back on the Ellimist’s path: ultimately, it is so he can give the morphing power to the Animorphs and have them continue his war without him, but you can’t help but feel the despair in this novel, and wish it was more of a happily ever after.