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Tristan Strong.jpg Not part of Riordanverse

The following article/section is from the Tristan Strong continuity under Rick Riordan Presents and not the Riordanverse canon.

My name is Tristan Strong, and I've got a story to tell.

–Tristan at the end of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky.

Tristan Strong is the titular character, protagonist, and narrator of the Tristan Strong Trilogy by Kwame Mbalia under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. He is an Anansesem, a story teller who can manipulate his surroundings to tell stories.


Early Life

Tristan was born to Alvin Strong and an unnamed mother and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. His father would constantly take him outside to train in boxing, the Strong family tradition. In the summers he would go running in the park and in the winter he would swim laps in the pool at the community center.

In seventh grade, Tristan would often eat lunch in school library and built up a good relationship with the librarian Mrs. Timmons. One day when he was reading a superhero graphic novel, a boy came up to him and started saying the hero he was reading about was dumb and introduced himself as Eddie Garvey and told him the real superheroes were folk heroes. Tristan said his grandmother told him the stories and he asked if he could write them down and the two became fast friends.

At one point he and Eddie broke into school to create a soda explosion with soda and pop rocks. They are nearly caught but escaped when the prank went off dowsing the cafeteria and supposedly going down the street to stop a fight in the parking lot of a burger restaurant.

His grandfather would often hold training sessions in the winter when he visited Chicago, one exercise involved the attendants run in the sand along Lake Michigan.

One day in the summer, he went too close to an opened fire hydrant and was pushed back by the water, scaring him.

Eddie's Death and First Boxing Match

When he was twelve, Eddie died in a bus accident. They were coming back from a field trip to a museum and he and Eddie were sitting in back talking. When the bus was crossing a bridge close to the school, it hit a patch of ice and slide onto the opposite side of the road where a truck hit the back. The bus was dangling off the edge of the bridge and Eddie was trapped between two seats. He called to Tristan for help but Tristan was frozen with fear. He eventually worked up the courage and tried to save him, but a school aid prevented Tristan from doing so. The event deeply troubled Tristan. Tristan was given Eddie's journal by his mother.

Tristan would get in fights at school over comments people made or thought they made on Eddie. He went to therapy to help him deal with the loss of his best friend. His councilor, Mr. Richardson, would suggest he get away from Chicago to heal, with his parents suggesting he go to his grandparent’s farm in Alabama for a month.

Soon after, he had his first boxing match and lost due to not eating or getting enough sleep the night before.

Tristan Strong Trilogy

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

As Tristan is punching a punching bag in his bedroom, his other comes in to tell him his grandparents are their to take him to the family farm in Alabama for a month. As they head south Tristan stares at Eddie's journal, more specifically the glow green spiderweb on the cover and the charm on the built in bookmark that suddenly appeared but only he can see. He shows the notebook to Nana, who see the web but not the glowing, tells him it is the symbol of Anansi and he reads some of it. He reads and has a vision of John Henry and Brer Rabbit hiding and John Henry telling something to find something. He comes to sweating and opens the window to get some air, but Granddad tells him to close it. Nana asks him if he is okay and he thinks she is staring at the journal. When they arrive he thinks he sees something in the bottle trees but no one else sees it. Tristan and Granddad work on a fence until dinner and he goes into a trance and walks to the bottle trees until Nana snaps him out of it and he goes inside for dinner.

As he sleeps, Tristan hears a voice and takes a flashlight out to search the room. He finds a doll leaving a sticky residue that introduces itself as Gum Baby and demands to know where the glowing is. After he realizes it's Eddie's journal and glances at his backpack, Gum Baby snatches it and runs out of the house. He finds a trail of sticky goo and follows the doll into the cornfield. He chases Gum Baby through the cornfield and into the bottle tree forest and finds her escaping into a small tree. He calls her a doll and she lunges at him. In a fit of rage, Tristan smashes a bottle on a tree and unleashes a flurry of hot wind. As the ground spits open he runs for it but sees Eddie's journal about to fall in and he goes back for it. He and Gum Baby then fall into the fissure.

Soon after he finds himself in what looks like the inside of a cabin and a disembodied voice says that he saved him and asks for the book, but he says he lost it. Tristan then gets blown away and the voice introduces himself as Uncle C. Tristan then returns to falling and sees Gum Baby glued to his arm grasping the journal and they fall into a hot sea. He heads to shore but turns around the save Gum Baby and the journal. As he reaches her they are corned by three Bone Ships and barely escape with the help of a flying raft. When they arrive they are greeted by a girl named Ayanna and a dozen cloaked figures as they escape the bone ships. Ayanna explains that Gum Baby has been gone a year and they make their way to shore before heading to the Thicket and Tristan freaks out when sees that one of the figures is a talking fox. When he calms down he helps Brer Fox pull the raft to shore and unload the Midfolk. When he tells Brer Fox he came from the hole in the sky, the fox tells Tristan he will have to survive to return home. When Ayanna explains MidPass and Alke to him, Brer Fox senses something. They make their way to the Thicket but are ambushed by fetterlings, sentient chains with shackles for heads. Brer Fox sacrifices himself and the others escape. He helps Gum Baby and Tarrypin and goes back to help Brer Fox but has a flashback of Eddie's death and gets shackled by one of the iron monsters. He panics and the journal transforms into a paper giant revealed to be Eddie, he is exited but it turns to fear when Eddie is taken by the iron monsters. He fights them off but loses them.

He dreams of Uncle C thanking him for the journal and wakes a day later in the Thicket. Gum Baby brings him a young rabbit named Chestnutt who takes him to a meeting and explains how the folk characters he knows of are gods in Alke before arriving at the meeting. When they arrive he is shocked to see John Henry and follows them into a large underground chamber where he meets Brer Rabbit. Tristan explains what happened and the vision he had and the lagomorph calls him a spy and demands to know where the book is. After describing the book he learns it contained the earliest stories given to Anansi and questions how Eddie got hold of it. He says he lost it and asks to go home, but Brer Rabbit says he is leaving them to clean up his mess and calls him a false hero and a coward. At that Tristan snaps and tells them how he lost his best friend and that he journal they wanted to steal from him was all he has left. When he calms down he notices a group of butterflies are reenacting his story and Gum Baby calls him an Anansesem, a story teller with limited reality controlling abilities. He is dismissed but John Henry tells him something in his story does not add up and he will be watching him.

Gum Baby takes him to the mess hall for food and he sits with a girl named Netta and her family, who points out that their is a lack of adolescent and teenage refugees. He finishes his food and leaves before dreaming of walking in Uncle C's hideout and the haint telling him to bring him the power of Anansi or he will burn the book and his loved ones. He then hears Eddie telling him he is talking to the wrong one. He wakes up to find Ayanna in front of him and she takes him to where he spoke with the gods. They find John Henry and she leaves. He tells Tristan that the iron monsters are getting smarter and that leaving the Thicket is to dangerous for the Midfolk. Tristan feels responsive for the mess and asks what his plan is when the folk hero tells him they have one. They make their way to Brer Rabbit and are joined by Rose, Sarah, and Ayanna. Brer explains his plan to use Anansi to fix the hole in the sky. The others shoot him down but after he tells them Tristan can find a Story Box he and Anansi were working on to call him to them, the others agree except for Tristan. The others get angry at his decision but John Henry takes him for a walk to the grove. They talk about boxing and how he feels forced to take up the family tradition. John Henry tells him how he was forced to box for others amusement after working on the railroad all day. He gives Tristan the tassel from the journal, but it has an iron monster on the other end of it.

After Brer Rabbit warns them he lost control of the Thicket, they fend off the invading fetterlings themselves. John Henry gives him a pair of magical gloves that help him take on the iron monsters. Things go in there favor until Brer Rabbit warns them a large fetterling is headed their way. It breaks in and the other gods join the fight and urge him to go on the quest and he reluctantly does. He finds Ayanna and Chestnutt loading supplies and goes to get on the raft but Ayanna stops him. He says he said no because he was afraid and that the gods told him to go. She reluctantly lets him on and they head out.

As they fly over MidPass he thinks of all the trouble he caused Alke as Chestnutt explains brand flies and they talk about their fears. Soon a fetter, I gotta jumps out of a supply bag. However it is just Gum Baby stowing away to redeem herself from Tristan 'ruining' her last mission. Chestnutt asks to hear it, but he tells them a story of a prank Eddie and he pulled in the past. His thoughts go to Eddie and he becomes depressed. They soon arrive at the Golden Crescent. They serve the city before splitting into groups of two, Tristan and Gum Baby go one way and Ayanna and Chestnutt go another. He stops Gum Baby from throwing sap at a statue before regrouping with the others and going to Nyame's Palace. They walk up and enter the palace and find a trap door and a statue of the sky god. Tristan starts to tell the story of how Anansi was given stories when he hears a voice. He realizes the statute is the actual sky god, who blames Tristan for his people's abduction, who is restrained and paralyzed by iron monsters. He continues to tell the story to lure them away from the sky god and tells his friends to touch the first statue they see. He throws Gum Baby at a statue and it comes to life, taking out the fetterlings but takes them to Nyame. They explain their plan to use the Story Box to bribe Anansi into fixing the hole in the sky. After revealing those taken by the fetterlings are alive, he agrees but reveals he does not have it. He and Nyame talk in private about Tristan‘s quest and the sky god gives him and charm for his bracelet to make it easier to focus. He snaps at Nyame that he can never get a clear answer and has no desire to be a hero.

They reach Anansi's Palace and he finds a hidden entrance. They explore and find a hidden lab with fetterlings in various stages of dissection. After Chestnutt finds some notes he realizes Anansi and Brer Rabbit were studying the boxes effects on fetterlings when he deduces the story box is at the Ridge. They ready for the trip to the mountains and he freaks out when Ayanna mentions rock lasers. As they fly up they are attacked and he freaks out. They find the train they were looking to sneak onto and land in it. They ride in the trash car for a few minutes and fly into a tunnel that leads to the Ridge. However they are soon discovered. They are apprehended and brought before a spirit to stand trial, the Ridgefolk believe they are behind the abductions their people. He tells them that other cities are being target and abducted as well. He shows them the adinkra and tells them a story. He tells them of how iron monsters are revenging the lands and that he is responsible for it and creates a monster to prove his point. He asks for the Story Box, but before the ancestors could answer, a sharp sound is heard. He realizes that the Abiyoyo, the monster he summoned, is still around and attacks the Ridgefolk. He and his friends take it out along with the Ridgefolk and Fezile, the elder, agrees to give it to him. However before he can claim it a man appears and asks for the box, he introduces himself as High John. When Tristan explains their plans to use the story box to save MidPass, High John states that it has been over run by iron monsters and no one is left and asks for the story box again. Tristan does not believe him and goes to leave before High John goes over to him and Tristan passes out.

He wakes up on the back of Old Familiar, High John's giant crow, and he explains that he is having an out of body experience and shows Tristan the dark clouds over MidPass to confirm his statement. High John tells him he wants the story box to make himself strong enough to fight the iron monsters but Tristan feels he is lazy. High John then jumps of Old Familiar with Tristan in hand. They land watching the Thicket burn and he begs High John to help. High John says all he can do is have Old Familiar fan the flames a little. He sees children cornered by a pair of fetterlings and makes a fiery replica of High John to save the children and deliver a message to John Henry. High John takes Tristan back to Old Familiar as he starts to fade and feels cold before passing out.

He ends up with Uncle C who takes his memories of Eddie, except Eddie's death, as punishment for not bringing him Anansi's power and demands to Story Box. He then hears Eddie telling him he's "still talking to the wrong one". He wakes up back in Isihlangu and they are given the Story Box, an old leather trunk with nothing inside.

Tristan and his friends eat while planning their next move when the Amagqirha beckons for him to follow her and he does, she takes him to where the Ridgefolk keep their story box and crafts a silver ball for his bracelet. She says he will face a great evil and if he fails to fix the hole in the sky, the raids on the people of Alke is just the beginning. A strong vibration is heard and the Amahqirha announces that the Ridge is under attack. They rush back to the atrium and when Ayanna suggests they run, he chooses to fight. Iron monsters break into the chamber and he puts on his gloves and fights them. Things go well until a giant iron monster arrives. Chestnutt identifies it as a Hullbeast and it unleashes a swarm of Brand Flies that paralyze the Ridgefolk as fetterlings abduct them. After Ayanna theorizes the iron monsters are drawn to him, he agrees to retreat. He and Gum Baby are separated from the girls by brand flies. Soon High John arrives and the two take out the iron monsters and rush over to Thandiwe and Ayanna to find the latter not breathing. High John tells him her soul is badly poisoned and need medical attention. They load her on Old Familiar and fly away. He learns that Chestnutt has also been stung and High John tells him they are going to the Golden Crescent to find strong healers and for him to talk to her. He tells her the story of when he failed to save Eddie and the others tell him pain is a part of the healing process before they arrive.

He senses Uncle C and the Maafa are nearby as High John takes them to a tree and has a Mmoatia, fairy, heal Ayanna and Chestnutt and it invites Tristan back. They go to Nyame's Palace and, while Nyame is annoyed to see Tristan, fixes the story box after seeing the shape it was in and learning what Anansi used it for. As Tristan fills it, he stops when he sees a massive ship with hundreds of iron monsters onboard that he identifies as the Maafa. The others prepare for battle and High John gives him a akofena charm, crossed curved swords. When he puts it on his bracelet two sets of boxing gloves appear, two on his hands and two at his waist, that he uses to fight the incoming fetterlings along with Gum Baby just as the African American Gods arrive with the Midfolk and join the fight, but they are eventually outnumbered and, after seeing a cloaked figure was a Story Box, he uses the Story Box by him to attack the iron monsters and run to the Maafa.

Tristan makes his way to the Maafa and when he arrives on the ship, tells it that Uncle C plans to use the story box to become stronger then the Maafa and betray it. He makes a deal to tell the Maafa's story and defeat the haint if it releases its prisoners. The Maafa speaks to him by possessing the bodies of Brer Fox, Tarrypin, and Netta and agrees. Brer Fox says some will be released while other, such as himself, are to drained to continue on and that he liked his story ending with his sacrifice. Tristan then goes to find the haint.

Tristan find the haint in a room full of cotton and realizes his full name is Uncle Cotton. Uncle C appears covered in cotton and asks for the story box. Tristan demands Eddie's Journal and his memories, Uncle C gives him some of the memories back but keeps the rest as collateral. He gives the haint the story box and rips the cotton off of him. When he tries to open it, Tristan reveals only an Anansesem can open it and Uncle C covers the boy in cotton branches and demands he opens it. He agrees if he gets the rest of his memories and the journal, which the haint agrees to and complies. Uncle C takes away the cotton vines blocking the door and Tristan senses the Maafa submerging. Tristan then opens the Story Box and Gum Baby, who was hiding in the Story Box, covers Uncle C in sap and Tristan goes to leave. Uncle C begs Tristan to help but he refuses and the haint swears revenge before the waters of the Burning Sea sweep him away. Tristan and Gum Baby search for a way out and go to the corridor Eddie's journal was in. They end up in a bus where Eddie's spirit greets them and explains how Uncle C was using the journal to track Tristan and telling stories from the journal to feed the Maafa. Eddie explains that this will be the last time he and Tristan will speak to each other and they say their farewells and Eddie tells Tristan to help some of the Maafa's prisoners off the ship. Tristan and Gum Baby end up in the holding compartment of the giant slave ship. As they leave Tristan looks around and finds someone.

When they reach the surface, he and the freed prisoners swim to shore where the others congratulate him and he tells Gum Baby something and gives her his bracelet. However Brer Rabbit arrives and berates him for causing the mess in the first place and demands the Story Box. Tristan denies it and plays keep away before revealing he found the real Brer Rabbit on the Maafa and that Anansi has been impersonating the rabbit for months. He explains how Anansi hid as Brer Rabbit was taken and wanted Eddie's journal to strengthen himself and not MidPass. He then meets up with Ayanna, Thandiwe, Chestnutt, and Gum Baby to see Anansi's sentencing. Nyame sentences him to stop his research and give him his notes as well as to fix the hole in the sky and help Tristan finish his story project for the next twenty days. The trickster then placed in the story box, which takes the form of a smartphone, and given to him. He then says goodbye to the girls before leaving.

Tristan meets up with John Henry and High John with the former building a bridge to connect MidPass with mainland Alke in the hopes of having the two people reconnect with one another. Tristan shows the two gods Anansi's punishment and they crack up. Tristan says goodbye to John Henry as High John takes him back home on Old Familiar before saying goodbye and going back, unknown to High John he returned a week later due to the temporal effects of the rip, which in Tristan's world means he was gone for only a few minutes. She shows Anansi the rip and the trickster fixes it in no time. Anansi says he can not wait for the twenty days to be over, but Tristan realizes Nyame meant the twenty days was a minimum for his sentence and not a maximum, much to Anansi's horror. He walks back to his grandparent's farm as the sunrises and he starts to tell his story and has a feeling he will return to Alke one day. The following morning his washed his sap stained sheets under his grandfather's supervision.

Tristan Strong Destroys the World

A month after stopping the Maafa from taking over Alke, he is training with his grandfather for a sparring match against a boy named Reggie Janson with a crowd watching them. Things go well until he hears someone whisper his name and his grandfather punches him out. He berates Tristan and they take a fifteen minute break. He speaks with Anansi, who reminds him his parole meeting with Nyame is coming up and he needs him. When the trickster asks about his nightmares, he lies and says they don't bother him anymore. Soon Reggie arrives, with him being intimidated by the boy's size, and the match starts. Things go poorly for him and he sees his grandfather avoiding eye contact. He then hears the whispers again, this time more urgent and calling for help. When he sees Reggie about to make a finishing blow, he punches and knocks Reggie on his back. Reggie angrily gets up as Tristan eggs him on, but Tony and Reggie's doctor stop the larger boy before anything happen. His grandfather congratulates him as Tristan hears the voice say he's coming and goes to Anansi. When he asks the trickster about it, he reveals that he used a little diaspora, people who left or were stolen from their native lands, to help with the match. Tristan says he heard the voice and has Anansi search for anything, after allowing him to use his powers to an extremely limited degree, and discovers numerous ghosts in the barn. Anansi recognizes them as Alkean water spirits and Tristan wonders if they can contact Alke, but Anansi says it's to risky and he doesn't have the power to do so. Just then a contract app appears on the SBP and, despite Anansi's warnings, contacts John Henry. The god angrily answers just as a mysterious figure approaches him. He listens as the figure talks about the one responsible for Alke's current state escaped without finishing and sicks a bossling on his. Tristan calls out John Henry's name, distracting him as he is taken. The screen then goes black.

As he helps his grandmother prepare dinner, she tells of a tale of Anansi being saved by his sons, but he is distracted by the voices he heard and wonders who the Shamble Man is. His grandmother snaps him out of it and they talk about trauma and it's effects on communities for years. After they finish she has him get his grandfather to help. He goes to the barn to get his grandfather, but ducks behind some crates to hide from Reggie and digs up the bracelet and gloves. He puts them on to hear the spirits just as Reggie comes over to him, while Tristan tries to be civil, Reggie insults his grandmother and, forgetting he is wearing the gloves, sends Reggie flying a dozen yards. Just then his grandmother arrives and stops, he believes she can see the spirits as well. However his attention focuses back to Reggie, who charges at him like an angry bull, as Tristan prepares to be knocked out. However nothing happens and he realizes everyone, except for him and his grandmother, are frozen in time. As he goes over she tells him to freeze and he notices to translucent saber tooth tiger like beasts. As his grandmother knits she tells him to throw a bucket of dirty towels at them when she says so. She gives the signal and he obeys as she tosses a quilt at them. They vanish and time starts up again. His grandmother says they need to talk as she passes out.

His grandmother is brought inside as he waits in the living room for hours, he hates himself for freezing while Anansi tells him not to doubt himself. Just then his grandfather and Reggie's doctor exit and he learns she passed out from shock and they head into the kitchen. Tristan hears his grandmother getting up for water and he tells her to stay put as he gets the water. When he returns, she tells him he has strong blood and she knows about and has been to Alke. She explains that the spirits who attacked them are Plat-eyes, ghost with unfinished business who can shapeshifter and will return. Before she can say more, Grandad walks in a tells Tristan to let her rest. He goes to the barn with Anansi and speaks to the girl river spirit, Ninah, who says the Shamble Man took her mother and is coming here. He hears something from the house and goes over to find the door broken down and the Shamble Man standing over his grandparents. He and Grandad try and fail to fight him off as he taunts Tristan and expresses his anger at the boy for destroying MidPass. He then takes Nana and opens a rip to Alke. His grandmother mouths something to him, but he doesn’t understand. They then disappear to Alke. As his grandfather calls the police, he rushes back to the barn to inform Anansi of what happened. The trickster suggests they call for help, but Tristan wants to go after her and Anansi reluctantly agrees. However the trickster says to do so, Tristan must give him more power, which he reluctantly agrees to. They wander into the bottle tree forest and towards a creek. When they arrive, Anansi tells him to tell the story of Keelboat Annie and, after some hesitation, he does so. As he tells the story, an app appears on his phone as the scenery changes and splashing sounds can be heard. When he finishes the app, titled "Keelboat Rideshare", starts to fade and Anansi tells him to click it. He does and notices the farm is gone and he is not standing in a field of grass. He panics and runs into a river. Just then a boat arrives and he comes face to face with Keelboat Annie and her passenger, Ayanna. As Keelboat Annie gives Anansi a stern lecture, he learns Ayanna is with the goddess on a mission to rebuild Alke as he explains why he is there. After he tells her about the Shamble Man taking his grandmother, she says they have to tell Annie. However she refuses to hear them out until after she completes her mission and reveals she knows he is an Anansesem as she explains how easy it is to take a story with them. Just then a skull appears on the side of the boat. More appear and climb on board as he panics and the others laugh at him. They explain that they are Talking Skulls, which are harmless, and help them aboard as they head to the Golden Crescent. He avoids talking about his powers in favor of Annie talking about how she met the skulls, much to Ayanna's confusion.

When they arrive he notices how empty the city is as the others explain the residents are working to rebuild the country. When they reach the shore, Tristan gives Keelboat Annie the Story Box Phone for rears of Anansi being freed before he can track down the Shamble Man. When they walk onto the shore, a boy runs over to them who introduces himself as Junior. While he treats Ayanna with decency, he treats Tristan coldly and tells him the gods aren’t seeing anyone they don't see as important, much like Tristan. Junior offers to race Tristan to Nyame's Palace and show him a secret entrance if he wins, but demands the story box to record a story about his father if he wins. Without telling him he doesn't have the story box, Tristan accepts and they race. Junior leads him into the town square and through some alleyways to get to the palace. He is stopped by Kumi but she lets him proceed soon after. Just as Junior is inspecting the orchids, he takes the lead and wins. Junior reveals that he is already inside just as Sarah and Rose land and scald them. As they walk through a hallway, he tells them about the Shamble Man and they say to leave it to them. As Nyame calls for the goddesses, they leave the boys in a room with a statue and fountain. As they wait, something hits them on the head as they blame each other. Junior notices the statue is missing just as something lands on Tristan's head. He shakes it off of him and realizes the assailant is Gum Baby, who was tasked by John Henry to bring him to the steel driving man. They go to the god and he gets annoyed when Gum Baby tells Junior about his first few minutes in Alke. When they reach John Henry's room, they find it dark and and he greets them before demanding they leave the Shamble Man to the other gods. Just then his bracelet activates and he sees John Henry clearly, however he notices the god is starting to fade. He and Junior return to the waiting room where the tells the other boy John Henry is simply sick. Just then Gum Baby returns with Ayanna and tells them the Shamble Man is in Nyanza, a city in the Grasslands. They agree to head out, however Junior says he can't join them but agrees to get them out of the palace. When they arrive on the keelboat, Keelboat Annie reveals she put Anansi in a locker and, after retrieving him and listening to Junior talk about the gods wanting him to be better then his father, he invites the other boy to join him and they set out with Ayanna steering. However they have a rough start and Anansi starts to complain. Junior hears his voice and becomes startled and backs away when Tristan shows him the trickster on the Story Box Phone, causing him to run to the other side of the deck. Just then Tristan's bracelet seances something and they are attacked by an iron monster and falls in.

As Tristan is dragged by the current, grabs onto something and moments later ended up on a rooftop garden in the Grasslands. He discovered that the SBP is broken and Anansi is missing. Soon a large vulture in jeans and a necklace flies up to him and, after taking credit for defending the iron monsters introducing himself as DJ Kulture, threatens to eat him. Tristan shows him that SBP out of frustration and, forgetting it is broken, DJ Kulture takes it. Tristan then body slams the vulture and they plummet to the lake below. He holds DJ Kulture's wings shut and jumps off just as the are near the water. He lands on the beach injures his wrist. DJ Kulture comes out of the water yelling at him and Tristan uses his bracelet to analyze his necklace. He realizes it is made of people's stories as sees a knitting needle among it. The buzzard Brussels it off and attacks Tristan as he activates his gloves and lands two blows before DJ Kulture's posy swarms him and the vulture picks him up and drops him into the lake several times. When Tristan asks about his grandmother again, DJ Kulture mentioned he guarded her for the Shamble Man, but was told not to harm her. Just as he is about to eat Tristan, Ayanna and Junior attack the buzzard and his flock with rocks. As the others fly off, Tristan distracts the buzzard as Gum Baby flies the sap covered Flying Raft into the buzzard and traps him. They then walk to Nyanza. After an hour the raft returns and, with Gum Baby piloting, they head to Nyanza. As Junior eyes him suspiciously, he reveals that Anansi escaped the SBP as the others stare at it in shock. As Gum Baby taunts him, she crashes the raft and they jump into a dried river bed. They are soon taken by invisible guards into the city. He takes in the sights and notices that the streets are empty. As they sail on a lily pad, Gum Baby gets away and the others give chase, resulting in reuniting with Chestnutt. The rabbit explain that a growing storm is getting closer to the city and the patron goddess, Mami Wata, is missing. The rabbit suspects the Shamble Man took her and Tristan tells her his encounter with him. When he mentions Ninah, Chestnutt reveals she is Mami Wata's daughter and asks Tristan to tell her story. He reveals that his powers haven't worked since his grandmother was taken and shows her the broken SBP. Soon Chestnutt mentions Lady Night, a Boo Hag who lives off the coast of the Golden Crescent who can fix anything. Chestnuts then tells her theory that the Shamble Man is a god of MidPass.

As he, Ayanna, Junior, and Gum Baby head back to the Golden Crescent, he thinks of the dangers of Chestnutt's theory becoming wide spread and, with Gum Baby flying, they crash. The doll hides as he and the others are surrounded by security and, as they about to let them go, their boss orders them to bring the trio inside. They are greeted by Big Big, who reveals he knows about Tristan and takes his bracelet along with Ayanna's staff and Junior's satchel. He orders a servant, Cookie, to take them away. Once they are out of range, Cookie informs the three that Big Big has already alerted the Shamble Man and promises to get them out with their belongings if they help her find her skin. After he realizes Cookie is Lady Night he begs her to fix the SPB, she says she needs her skin. Just then Gum Baby flies in on the raft and attacks Big Big. While he is distracted, Tristan sneaks up behind him and tries to grab the skin, but is caught and Big Big attacks him. However Lady Night uses the opportunity to take her skin and scolds Big Big for taking over. When she has Big Big return their items, she wraps him in a cloak. Tristan and his friends are offered a meal as thanks as she fixes the SBP. She leads him and the others to a booth in the back and tosses the SBP in a pot of Jollof Rice, he is angry at first but calms down once he smells the rice. Lady Night explains that she can only fix the physical damage to the SBP, but he needs to power it up with stories, at the risk attracting the Shamble Man. After thinking of his grandmother, he realizes he only needs the energy of a story and asks the patrons for help. After some hesitation, they talk about those who helped them during the iron monster attacks and the stories successfully restore the SBP and he sees Anansi sleeping inside, however soon after plat-eyes arrive. He spots them in the form of oxen and has Lady Night, Ayanna, and Junior heard them to the stage and has Gum Baby go with him. When the plat-eyes are surrounded, he uses a new app Anansi made to see their story. He sees that they are a brother and sister bear with happy memories of their father and honorary uncle, who he recognizes as Brer Fox. When their uncle goes missing, their father goes out to look for them and they die while he is away. He returns home to find them missing and swears vengeance upon Tristan. The story ends as Tristan realizes who the Shamble Man is. Just then he arrives and Tristan refers to him by his true name, Brer Bear. As he tries to reason with the rogue god and tell him about his children, and has Anansi call the gods, he attacks and Gum Baby pushes him out of the way. As he calls out the results of Brer Bear's actions, the bear pins him against the wall and states that he wants Tristan to feel his pain, to lose a loved one. He tells him to call the gods anyway as they won't come. He releases his grip on Tristan and is about to strike when Junior beams Brer Bear with a stone. Tristan is surprised to learn that Junior is actually Stone Thrower, one of Anansi's sons. Lady Night distracts the bear, with Junior staying behind, as he and the others flee. He picks up an out cold Gum Baby and they fly away. As the sun rises, he begins to wonder if everything really is his fault. Ayanna snaps him out of his trance just as Gum Baby wakes up, who he informs that they lost. He asks Anansi if Junior and his son Stone Thrower and one in the same, which he confirms. They others try to reassure him as he hears his grandmother telling him to get back up. Ayanna tells him everyone on MidPass is dealing with trauma from the iron monster attacks and Anansi suggests something might be manipulating Brer Bear. When he hears this, Tristan forms a theory that he hopes is wrong and changes course for the Maafa.

As they fly past the Golden Crescent and out over the Burning Sea, he has Anansi call the Maafa. At first nothing happens, but then the slave ship breaches the surf and questions if their deal still stands. He says it does and asks about Uncle Cotton. It says that his remains are gone, but it was raided by someone who took the only thing left of the haint, a mask. Tristan realizes, as the others silently beg him to stop, that the mask was formed by Gum Baby's sap and was imbued with his essence. The Maafa then send iron monsters after them, but they manage to avoid them and get away. When they are a safe distance from sentient slave ship, the others ask him what to do as he thinks of Bear's endgame. Tristan questions if he is destroying the god’s symbols of power, but Anansi says he doesn’t have the power. After thinking of a possible hideout, Tristan realizes he is on the one place the other gods wouldn't think to look, MidPass. As they fly over the ruins of the Drowned Forest, they spot the remains of the Tree of Power and the Thicket. Activating his bracelet, Tristan sees that the storm and the tree are linked. After steeling themselves, they go inside. They find the remains of fetterlings and Anansi provides them with light. He looks around to find a figure that he mistook for his grandmother, it was actually Mami Wata. He goes over to free her, despite the others telling him to stay put, and notices her wrapped in iron monsters and her feet are in a puddle. He frees the goddess, but she tackles him and says it is too late as the tree starts to implode. She shows him a vision of Nyanza prior to her abduction and confirms that Brer Bear is being manipulated by Uncle Cotton. They snap back to the present and get to the raft, he gives Mami Wata his bracelet to strengthen her and she saves them. When he mentions his grandmother, she reveals that the two of them, along with Lady Night and Keelboat Annie, traveled around Alke. When the others ask about their next move, Tristan says they find Brer Bear, who is with his grandmother, and he now knows his endgame. As they fly to the juke joint, he introduces the water goddess to his friends and she compares him to his grandmother, saying how stubborn they both are. When they reach the juke joint, they find it abandoned and no one in sight. However they soon find a group of ridge warriors, who tell him Thandiwe is not with them, and Lady Night, who informs him that Junior is missing. When the boo hag sees the water goddess, they two hug and Tristan summons Keelboat Annie and the three embrace, wishing his grandmother was with them. Soon the storm reaches the Golden Crescent and they know Brer Bear has arrived.

As they fly, he, Lady Night, and the goddesses mend the quilt Tristan's grandmother made as they head to the Golden Crescent. He comforts Anansi, who is worried about Junior, as they reach their destination. They land and he sees Brer Bear and his grandmother nearby. He tells Anansi to have Mami Wata create a geyser like she did in MidPass, that is protecting the island from the storm, as he gives him to Keelboat Annie. He tries to tell Bear to stop, but he reveals his plan to separate Alke from his world, which would result in Tristan and his grandmother being trapped Alke as it fades away. A fight breaks out and he dislodges the mask as he tosses the quilt in font of Bear, which includes his cub's story. In a brief moment of clarity, Brer Bear asks for help. However the mask quickly takes control and he dodges a swipe from Bear. The rogue god is pulled into the bay by the water goddess, who doses him with multiple jets of water, and his armor starts to come off with Tristan taking care of the rest. He hesitates to remove the mask until he catches his grandmother's gaze and, finding the courage, yanks off the mask and tosses it into the bay. When Brer Bear is free for the mask, he hugs him for a few seconds until Gum Baby points out that the storm is getting worse. As the storm rips apart the stories that make Alke, he sees John Henry's Hammer and picks it up, it adjusts itself to him and tosses it into the sky in a failed try to stop the storm. He finds his grandmother and begins her to leave, however she insists on helping the Alejandro first. He sees his companions and Brer Bear, along with the gods, residents of the Golden Crescent, and some more of his companions. He tells them to get to the boats. As they all pile into the keelboat, he notices a hole in the sky leading to the farm. He tells the others that he plans on taking them to his world as he tries to rebuild Alke. They look at him in shock and disbelief, but agree to help. They head to the tear as he passes around the quilt to the gods and sews the stories of Alke into the fabric. He finishes just as they reach the portal and passes out. They make it to his world and the keelboat crashes into a tree. He, his grandmother, and others suffer minor injuries, with him having bruised ribs, while others, such as Ayanna, Gum Baby, Thandiwe, High John, Sarah, and Rose, are unaccounted for.

Two days later, he is woken up by the smell of pancakes and bacon his grandfather brought him. As he eats, he gets an alert on the SBP and sees pictures of some of those who went missing. He rushes over to the keelboat, occupied by Nyame, Lady Night, Keelboat Annie, Mami Wata, Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit, and John Henry. When he arrives, they show him a piece of Uncle Cotton's mask and say the haint is not in it and show him that half the bottles on the tree have been broken, meaning multiple haints are now on the loose. He then shows them the pictures of Ayanna, Junior, and Gum Baby. After realizing the SBP can track Alkeans in his world, Tristan vows to find them all.

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching

Two weeks after Alke is destroyed, Tristan is in New Orleans, Louisiana for a family reunion before heading back to Chicago, however his parents couldn’t make it. As they finish taking a tour of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, Terence, his younger cousin, drills him on medical facts as he gets an alert that an Alkean is in danger in the French Quarter as Anansi tells him to get a move on. His knuckle also bursts into a small silver flam which he hides. As he looks around he finds King Cotton walks around. Tristan plans to go after him, but Terence stops him to ask about dinner as their grandparents approach them. Granddad Strong comments on Tristan's wondering attention as Nana speaks with Terence. Just then the SBP is snatched and Tristan and his grandfather chase the thief.


Tristan is an adolescent African American boy with a dark brown complexion and short Afro. He is tall with a somewhat athletic build. He often wears a gray hooded sweatshirt with a faded black inked flexed bicep on the back.


Tristan is shown to be attached to friends and loved ones, mourning them if they pass. He is protective of his loved ones and would grow to great lengths to get them back.

When under attack, he can either fight back to defend others or run away to save himself, as a day or so after arriving in Alke, he was reluctant to set out to find Anansi. However as time goes by, the former is more likely, such as saving the Ridgefolk from the Abiyoyo he summoned to tell them of his quest and wanting to save the Midfolk from the iron monsters as the Thicket burned.


  • Boxing Skills: Tristan has been trained in boxing by his father since he was young.
  • Sewing Skills: Tristan has basic sewing skills, being able to create a quilt with help from others.

  • Story Constructs: As an Anansesem, Tristan has a partial control of the realm of Alke. This is done by the environment around him reenacting the stories he tells, with the animals and elements taking the shape of characters he talks about.
  • History Recording: As an Anasesem, Tristan can record and store the history of all of Alke, imbuing it’s history and memories of its people in a quilt to aid in rebuilding the world of stories.
  • Empowering: As an Asansesem, Tristan can give gods and magical objects a boost in power by telling their stories.

  • Items

    • Eddie's Journal: After Eddie's death, Tristan was given his journal.
    • Old Man Rawlen's Gloves: When speaking with John Henry, the giant gives Tristan a pair of old fashioned boxing gloves that improve his fighting. After the Steel Driving Man is injured by the Shamble Man, he gives them back so he can recover.
    • Charm Bracelet: Tristan possesses a bracelet made out of the leather tassel from Eddie's journal. It possesses four charms:
      • A green spider web that helps him get in tune with his stories.
      • A rose gold adinkra to help him focus his abilities.
      • A silver ball to protect him.
      • An akofena charm that gives him two sets of boxing gloves, one on his hands and another at his waist.
    • Story Box Phone: After defeating Uncle C and the Maafa, Tristan is given a Story Box converted into a smartphone to record his stories, as well as to keep tabs on Anansi.



    Tristan loves and respects his father, however he feels his father is pressuring him into becoming a boxer.

    Tristan loves and respects his mother.

    Tristan respects his grandfather, however he finds him to be rather stern and gruff.

    Tristan cares for his grandmother. He enjoyed listening to her stories when he was younger. He was shocked to discover that she knows about and has been to Alke.

    Tristan is annoyed by his younger cousin.


    Tristan and Eddie have been close for most of their time in middle school. When Eddie died in the bus accident, Tristan became deeply troubled by his friend’s death.

    Ayanna, his friend in Alke.

    Tristan feels a sense of respect and kinship towards Ayanna. They depended on each other as they set out to stop the iron monsters and grew to see one another as valuable allies. After return to Alabama, he buried the gloves and bracelet as they reminded him of her.

    Tristan is happy when he reunites with her and the look out for each other as they track down the Shamble Man. After Alke begins to fall apart and they flee to his world, she is one of the many to be separated from the ground upon entering his world. Tristan becomes depressed for her and the others who were lost until he gets a a picture of her and some of the others on the SBP a few days later and vows to find them.

    Gum Baby, his acquaintance and quest mate

    At first he was annoyed by Gum Baby and thought of her as a thief when she came to his grandparent's farm to take Eddie's Journal. She constantly berates him and scalds him for correcting her speech. However after setting out to find Anansi. They two grow closer, but he still finds her annoying.

    When they reunite a few weeks later, months for her, she continues to scald him and ride on his head. When Alke begins to fall apart, he reassures her and tells her they are taking “precoffinery messures”, as she would say. Gum Baby is among the Alkeans who vanished upon entering his world, he becomes depressed from the guilt of her and the others vanishing. However he gets a picture of her on the SPB and becomes elated that he can track her and the others down.

    Tristan is fond of the young rabbit and is concerned when she was nearly killed by Brand Flies. When he met up with her again, he was happy to see her.

    Junior, a companion in his quest to stop the Shamble Man.

    At first, Tristan found Junior to be an annoyance and a rivalry quickly formed between the two. Junior would glare at him and Tristan had trouble trusting him. However as they journeyed together, the two boys became less hostile towards each other. Junior would come to his defense when he was being attacked and Tristan would listen to him talk about his father.

    When he learned that Junior was actually Anansi's son Stone Thrower, he was shocked. After Junior stayed behind when the Shamble Man attacked Lady Night's Juke Joint as he and the others escaped. He was devastated and questioned his companions father for the next few days. When he learned Junior was in his World, Tristan became elated.


    John Henry, Tristan's favorite folk hero.

    Even before meeting him in MidPass, Tristan has always admired John Henry. After meeting with him, the Anansesem found that they have a lot in common and the two grew close. The Steel Driving Man would reassure Tristan that it is alright to be scared before he left to find the Story Box and Tristan would in return erasure him that he had to abandon the Thicket to keep the Midfolk safe.

    After his encounter with the Shamble Man, Trisian became concerned about the steel driving man and was horrified to learn he was fading. He left him Old Man Rawlen's Gloves to give him strength. A couple of days later he was overjoyed to see that the Steel Driving Man has made a full recovery.

    Tristan and the sky god have a mutual respect for one another.

    Anansi, the trickster god.

    At first, Tristan saw the trickster as his only hope to save Alke and return home. However after discovering Anansi’s trickery and plan to take the Story Box for himself he is disgusted by the god’s cowardly actions and deception. However he was pleased when he became the trickster’s warden.

    After a month of being around him constantly, Tristan has grown accustomed to Anansi. He had Keelboat Annie look after him when he went to speak with Nyame to ensure they are not separated, albeit due to needing him to track down the Shamble Man.

    High John, a god he befriended looking for the Story Box.

    At first, Tristan was Leary of High John. However after fighting along side him, the Anansesem has gained respect for the sly talker.

    Upon returning to Alke, Tristan asks about him and is disappointed that he is away. After he and other Alkeans vanish upon entering his world, Tristan becomes depressed until he realizes the SBP can track him and the others down.

    Brer Bear as the Shamble Man.

    At first Tristan feared the Shamble Man, not knowing who he was or what his goal was, but knowing he was strong enough to take out John Henry and steal his hammer. However this fear soon turned to anger and hatred after the rogue god came to his world and kidnapped his grandmother.

    When he realized that the Shamble Man was really Brer Bear being manipulated after the death of his children, he tries to get him to see reason and stop his revenge plan. It works until the mask he was wearing takes control and he and Mami Wata manage to free him.


    King Cotton, a haint he fought against.

    At first, Tristan was afraid of Uncle Cotton and feared what he would do next. However when he finally met him in person, he was able to trick and defeat the haint. After learning he is still around and manipulating Brer Bear's anger, he becomes fearful but manages to rid the bear of his control. Thinking he was gone for good, he goes back to his world only to learn the haint is still around and has recruited more haints.

    At first Tristan feared the Maafa. However upon learning it was forcibly awakened and simply desires to have its story spread, Tristan agrees to do so if it retreats to the bottom of the Burning Sea. The two meet again soon after and it tells Tristan the origins of the Shamble Man and attacks him and his companions when it is finished.


    • Tristan is a name of Welsh origin meaning "noise of arms", or "clanking sword".
    • Strong is a surname of Irish origin.


    • Tristan has acrophobia, a fear of heights. As well as insectophobia, fear of insects.
    • He says "Sweat Peaches" whenever he is startled.
    • His favorite boxer is Muhammad Ali.
    • Tristan is the first character in both the main literary universe and Rick Riordan Presents to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    • He does not like football.
    • Tristan enjoys reading science fiction novels and graphic novels.
    • He is a fan of the Pokémon franchise.
    Tristan Strong Trilogy
    Books: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky | Tristan Strong Destroys the World | Tristan Strong Keeps Punching
    Main Characters: Tristan Strong | Ayanna | Gum Baby | Anansi
    Secondary Characters: Thandiwe | Uncle C | John Henry | Eddie Garvey | Maafa | Chestnutt | Nana Strong | Junior | Patty Roller
    Minor Characters: Alvin Strong | Mrs. Strong | Walter Strong | Fezile | Netta | Old Familiar | Reggie Janson
    African American Gods: Brer Rabbit | Brer Fox | Brer Bear | Sarah | Rose | High John | Tarrypin | Sis Crow | Keelboat Annie | Mami Wata | Lady Night
    West African Gods: Anansi | Nyame
    Creatures: Haint | Fetterling | Hullbeast | Brand Fly | Leopard Statue | Python Statue | Abiyoyo | Mmoatia | Plat-eye | River Spirit | Talking Skull | Boo Hag
    Related Content: Kwame Mbalia | Rick Riordan Presents