- This article refers to the novel by Cornelia Funke. For other uses of this word, see Inkheart (disambiguation).
Inkheart (original German title: Tintenherz) is the first book in the Inkworld Trilogy.
Twelve-year-old Meggie Folchart, while listening to the pouring rain in bed one night, looks out her window and sees a stranger near her house. The man approaches the house, and identifies himself as Dustfinger. He is acquainted with Meggie's father, Mortimer (Mo), who is a wandering bookbinder. Dustfinger had come to warn Mo about someone who is searching for him, and the three of them leave Meggie's most recent home and depart for a visit to Meggie's great-aunt, Elinor, in Italy. Meggie learns that she, Mo, and Dustfinger are fleeing from a mysterious man named Capricorn. Meggie has not seen her mother since she was three years old, and although she and Mo both love books, he never reads aloud to her.
While staying at Elinor's, some of Capricorn's men come to take Mo away to Capricorn's village while Dustfinger is performing a fire show for Meggie. Dustfinger had betrayed Mo to Capricorn in the hopes of saving himself. Elinor, Meggie, and Dustfinger (accompanied by his pet marten, Gwin) leave Elinor's house to follow Mo and his captor, Capricorn's right-hand henchman named Basta. Meggie learns that her father has the power to read things in and out of books; one night, while reading the book Inkheart aloud to her mother, Mo accidentally read his wife and their two cats into the Inkworld and Capricorn, Basta, Dustfinger, and Gwin out. After chasing the villains away and saving Dustfinger's life, he tries for a few years to read his wife, Teresa, back into our world with no success. He and Meggie then lived a nomadic life, moving from place to place every few years, in order to keep away from Capricorn and Basta, who want to use Mo's powers to their advantage.
Meggie, Elinor, and Dustfinger are captured by Capricorn's men and are used as hostages to force Mo to read aloud. Mo only agrees once he is holding onto Meggie -- if she is touching him, he cannot read her into the novel. Mo reads a passages from One Thousand and One Nights and fills Capricorn's hall with tons of Arabian treasure, as well as a confused servant boy named Farid. Dustfinger helps to free Meggie, Mo, and Elinor, realizing the foolishness of his betrayal, and Meggie convinces them to take the captive Farid when they flee. The five fugitives steal a car from Capricorn's village and flee to the Italian Coast where they try to come up with an action plan. Mo realizes that he needs to find a copy of the book and read Capricorn and Basta back into it, and decides to try and track down the author, Fenoglio. They find him living contentedly in another small town, and reveal their story to him by showing them Dustfinger, who is horrified to discover he is a character in a novel and that, according to the original plot, will die at the end of the book. Fenoglio is reluctant to help them, but he and Meggie are captured by Basta, who brings them back to Capricorn's village as bait to force Mo to finish his plan.
Mo, Dustfinger, Farid, and Elinor sneak back towards Capricorn's village and try to decide how to save Meggie and Fenoglio. Meggie meets a servant of Capricorn's mother,Teresa, who was a mute woman read out of Inkheart by Darius, Capricorn's stuttering reader, who she believes might be her mother. After being threatened by Mortola, she excitedly tells Fenoglio and starts reading aloud from some books Darious kindly supplies her with. Meggie discovers she has the same gift as her father. Mo sends Gwin to find Meggie with a message written in Elvish tucked underneath his collar; Meggie replies and reveals to Mo that she has the gift as well. Dustfinger infiltrates the village and finds Meggie's mother, Resa, and she asks about Mo and Meggie through writing. Dustfinger, who has feelings for Resa, reluctantly tells her the truth. Basta discovers Meggie's power when he finds Tinkerbell in her and Fenoglio's cell, and Capricorn demands that she will finish his plan. Fenoglio asks for some pen and paper to keep his mind clear, but secretly works on an ending to give his story a more satisfying conclusion.
Meggie is forced to read a passage from Inkheart and bring the Shadow, Capricorn's personal assassin of fire, into the real world. With Elinor and Resa held as hostages by Basta and Mortola theatening to poison her, Meggie agrees. Fenoglio gives her a sheet of paper to tuck in her sleeve and add to the passage to save herself. Farid and Mo light a fire to draw away Capricorn's men, and Fenoglio causes a ruckus so that Meggie can slip out his sheet of paper. Meggie summons the Shadow (and accidentally sends Fenoglio into his own book), but cannot bring herself to destroy it and Capricorn. Mo takes the paper and reads it; the Shadow kills Capricorn, and then explodes and reforms into all the magical creatures whose lives he stole in the covers of Inkheart. Basta and Mortola escape, but Mo and Resa are reunited. Farid and Dustfinger steal the last copy of Inkheart and leave to try and find a way into the story, while Mo, Resa, Elinor, Darius, Meggie, and all the fairy creatures go to live at Elinor's house. Meggie decides to write stories of her own.
For Anna, who even put The Lord of the Rings aside
for awhile to read this book.
Could anyone ask more of a daughter?
And for Elinor, who lent me her name,
although I didn't use it for an elf queen.
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