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The Ickabog
The Ickabog (Rowling book).jpeg
Author J.K. Rowling
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Fairy tale, Children's book
Publication date
10 November 2020

The Ickabog is a fairy tale by British author J. K. Rowling. The story was published in installments by Rowling online, before its official publication in November 2020. The Ickabog is Rowling's first children's book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007.

Setting

The Ickabog is set in the mythical land of Cornucopia, which is ruled by King Fred. The Ickabog is a monster that is said to inhabit the marshes of the North, used to explain the disappearance of sheep and people that wander into the marshes, and used to scare children. The south of Cornucopia is a prosperous area, with cities each specialising in different foods, in contrast to the less-wealthy north, known as the Marshlands.

Plot

On the eve of a visit from the king of a neighbouring country, Dora Dovetail dies of overwork, trying to finish King Fred's latest costume. Fred, despite feeling embarrassed and guilty, declines to visit her family. The Dovetails, especially Dora's daughter Daisy, become disillusioned with him. This leads to a fight between Daisy and her friend Bert Beamish, Major Beamish's son, when the former insults Fred. Fred resolves to be less self-centered.

A shepherd from the Marshlands begs Fred to rid the country of the Ickabog, and Fred, wishing to prove himself, agrees and rides North. However, an accident in the marshes results in Major Beamish getting shot by Flapoon, one of Fred's advisors. Seeking to take control of the kingdom and become richer, Spittleworth, Flapoon's ally, pretends that Beamish was killed by the Ickabog, fooling Fred and the rest of the army.

On their return, three soldiers and Herringbone, the Chief Advisor, object to the story. Herringbone is murdered and the three soldiers are imprisoned. A heavy tax is imposed on the country to pay for an "Ickabog Defence Brigade", causing widespread poverty, which Fred is oblivious to, as he is scared into staying within the capital. Spittleworth, now Chief Advisor, has the Dovetails kidnapped, with Dan Dovetail sent to prison, and forced to carve Ickabog feet. Daisy is sent away to be murdered, but ends up in Ma Grunter's orphanage, where she befriends Martha, a Marshlander.

Years pass, with the tax doubling, increasing Spittleworth's wealth. Bert and his mother Bertha, the king's head pastry chef, guess Spittleworth's plot after Bert discovers an Ickabog foot made by the now insane Dan Dovetail. Bertha attempts to reveal the plot to the king, but is kidnapped and placed in the dungeons. Bert escapes the city as Major Roach leads soldiers to arrest him. In the city of Jeroboam, Bert meets Roderick Roach, who tells him that Spittleworth killed Major Roach and imprisoned his family upon his failure to capture Bert. The two are captured by Basher John, and taken to the orphanage, where Bert meets Daisy. Meanwhile, Bertha transforms the dungeon into a kitchen with the help of the prisoners, while helping Dan regain his sanity.

The four children escape the orphanage, and hike to the Marshlands, led by Martha. They plan to sway the soldiers of the Ickabog Defence Brigade to their side, but realise that the Brigade has gone south for the winter. Succumbing to the cold, they fall unconscious. While they are unconscious, the real Ickabog carries them to its cave. Daisy talks to it, and the Ickabog reveals that from it a new batch of Ickabogs will be "bornded". As the feelings experienced by the dying parent Ickabog influence its newborn brood, the Ickabog plans to eat the four during the bornding, so that its children will become man-eaters, to take revenge on the humans, who have caused the near-extinction of the Ickabog race.

Daisy persuades the Ickabog not to eat them, but to reveal itself to the people and befriend them, so they will not fear it. The group marches on Jeroboam, with the Ickabog handing out flowers. The citizens rally around the Ickabog, resented at having been lied to, and they march on Chouxville, where Fred is giving a ball. Basher John is alerted to the march, and rides to warn Spittleworth, who refuses to believe him and has him arrested. When Spittleworth prepares to investigate the matter with Flapoon, they are confronted by the prisoners, who have armed themselves and escaped the dungeons. They escape, leaving Fred to face the angry mob.

As the Ickabog approaches Chouxville, Spittleworth goes to confront it with the Brigade. The Ickabog's belly splits in the confrontation as the bornding begins, and Flapoon attempts to shoot it. Bert jumps into the path of the bullet, and it hits his father's medal, saving him. The first Ickaboggle to be Bornded kills Flapoon, due to being Bornded in fear of his gun. However, the second Ickaboggle is Bornded kind, as Daisy comforts the dying Ickabog. As Spittleworth attempts to reach his mansion to escape with his gold, he is captured by Bert and Roderick.

Spittleworth and several others, including Fred, are arrested for their crimes against the nation. The second-born Ickabog helps found a city in the Marshlands. To redeem himself, Fred helps the first-born Ickabog become more mellow, and dies soon after its Bornding, which spawns happy Ickaboggles. The kingdom lives happily ever after.

Characters

  • King Fred the Fearless: The inept, gullible ruler of Cornucopia
  • Lord Spittleworth: King Fred's cunning, greedy right-hand man
  • Lord Flapoon: Spittleworth's friend, equally corrupt
  • Captain Roach: Spittleworth's brutal henchman, and Beamish's replacement as Head of the Royal Guard

The Beamishes:

  • Major Beamish: Head of the Royal Guard
  • Bertha Beamish: His wife, head pastry chef in the Palace
  • Bert "Butterball" Beamish: Their son

The Dovetails:

  • Dan Dovetail: A carpenter at the Palace
  • Dora Dovetail: Head seamstress at the Palace
  • Daisy Dovetail: Their daughter, and Bert's best friend

Side Characters:

  • Lady Eslanda: A virtuous lady of the court, lusted after by Spittleworth
  • Gordon Goodfellow: A captain in the army of Cornucopia, son of cheesemakers; unknown to him, Lady Eslanda is secretly in love with him.
  • Millicent: Lady Eslanda's maid
  • Hetty: a maid, after Lady Eslanda gave her money, Hetty married Hopkins, and Hetty Hopkins had twins
  • Roderick Roach: Captain Roach's son and Bert's best friend after his fight with Daisy
  • Private Prodd: a private that was supposed to kill Daisy Dovetail
  • Ma Grunter: A brutal alcoholic who runs an orphanage in the North
  • Basher John: Ma Grunter's violent deputy
  • Herringbone: Chief Advisor
  • Cankerby the footman: Spittleworth's greedy footman who spies and tells on citizens in exchange for money
  • Martha: A girl from the Marshlands; Daisy's friend at the orphanage
  • Otto Scrumble: Spittleworth's butler who impersonates Widow Buttons and Professor Fraudysham
  • The Ickabog: A large creature as tall as two horses, with the power of human speech, and the ability to make fire, the last of its kind
  • Nobby Buttons: A made up character made by Spittleworth

Audiobook

Audible released audiobook versions of The Ickabog in English, Italian, German, Spanish. Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Dutch, Simplified Chinese and Russian in November 2020. The English language version was narrated by Stephen Fry.

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