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After the End, two scientists and a shipload of war orphans left Earth-That-Was and traveled to a new planet. Generations later, their descendants have split into two separate and distinct cultures. The Kindar live in a Tree-Top Town, have Psychic Powers at an early age (which are fading), and have no knowledge of violence whatsoever, and the best they can express of unhappy feelings is "unjoyful."

The other group (Erdlings) is what happened when those who believed the kids should be brought up being told what violence is so they will want to avoid it were trapped by the other group into living Beneath the Earth.

Protagonist Raamo is a young Kindar who is elevated to the ranks of their society's elite priesthood, keepers of the ancient secrets and the ones responsible for exiling the Erdlings. Things get shaken up when an Erdling named Teera escapes and is discovered by Raamo, and becomes BFF's with Raamo's sister Pomma (an Ill Girl), subsequently triggering massive upheaval in both societies.

This young-adult trilogy (Below the Root, And All Between, and After the Celebration) was written by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It spawned a video-game adaptation called Below the Root, which is considered canon.

Examples of:
  • Actual Pacifist: Your character, in the game. If you're facing a hostile that wants to kidnap you, normally the only thing you can do is run away. Late in the game you can find a machete that's supposed to be used for cutting through undergrowth. You can go on a killing spree with it, though, if you don't mind watching your mana go poof and the game becoming Unwinnable by Design.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The thought-dead power of Uniforce, two or more people using their Psychic Powers in concert.
  • Ambiguously Brown: the Erdlings, which is kind of strange considering that they've been mostly cut off from sunlight for generations, while the Green-sky folks presumably should have caught more sunlight, but tend to be pale.
    • Partly explained as that the only spots where the Erdlings get any sun or food are spots where the trees have been cleared away or don't grow while the Kindar spend their lives in the shade of the grunds.
    • Kindar think that Erdlings speak in "softly slurring" accents; Erdlings think Kindar voices are "curiously crisp", "sharp and sudden".
  • The Atoner: D'ol Falla
  • Awful Truth: (several of them)
  • Batman Gambit: D'ol Falla had intended Raamo to be a Reluctant Ruler. The only one who could set things right was someone who wouldn't be caught up in the trappings of power.
  • Big Good: D'ol Falla and (in the backstory) D'ol Neshom.
  • Brain Drain: Implied. Genaa's dad is one of many brilliant minds with too many questions about the true nature of the "pash-shan". While she never comes right out and says it, Erda has many craftsmen and engineers who are described as creatively brilliant, and math is one of the most important school subjects.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: A rabbit is a lapan, a monkey is a sima and at the very end D'ol Falla says "we should all be the Zhaan, the people" (les gens). Snyder simply says they are descendants of a colony from another world, but it's pretty clear that world is Earth and the colonists were primarily German and French. There is a bit of Hebrew in the mix as well, with people named Neshom ("soul"), Teera ("enclosed") and Kanna (Chana, "beautiful"). She does a fairly good job of demonstrating linguistic drift over many centuries.
  • Chekhov's Gun: very literal version
  • Crap Saccharine World
  • Disappeared Dad: Genaa is on a search for hers.
  • Disney Villain Death / Heroic Sacrifice: Raamo, ironically suffering a villain's usual death as his heroic sacrifice.
  • Double-Speak: Most notably, the Kindar lump all negative emotions under the heading of "unjoyfulness" (which is to be avoided).
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: In a lot of ways. Although it's also plain that they once were one people.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: The Erdlings versus the Kindar, although the Kindar are less stoics than just repressed. This divide could actually be traced back to the Erdlings' ancestors being dissidents who wanted to teach the full, ugly history of their ancestry, and the concept of "negative" emotions whereas the Kindar were descended from those who stayed ignorant - willfully or otherwise.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: The Ol-Zhaan hierarchy.
  • Expy: Anyone who has read Snyder's earlier work The Changeling will recognize not only The Land of the Green Sky, but Martha Abbott and Ivy Carson.
  • Fantastic Honorifics: "D'ol," which turns out to be a corrupted form of "Doctor."
  • Fantastic Racism: There are tensions between the dark-skinned Erdlings and the pale Kindar, although that's more cultural than ethnic. For example, the Erdlings are hunters and the Kindar are vegetarians, and the Emotions vs. Stoicism debate. There's also the fact some Erdlings resent the Kindar for their exile beneath the ground (Befal and followers want violent retribution), and (as one Rejoyner put it) "[Some Kindar] try to think 'Erdling,' but they feel ' Pash-shan ' [the mythic monsters fabricated to keep Kindar away from the ground]."
  • Fantasy Contraception: The "youth wafers." A shrub grows in the higher branches of the city-trees, is pressed into wafers, used by the Kindar for birth control. Because a similar herb isn't available among the Erdlings, they end up suffering from overpopulation issues.
  • Genius Programming: The game, which was made in 1984 and was one of the earliest games to put in concepts now taken for granted in CRPGs. It was perhaps the first to offer a choice in your race, gender, and age of avatar, have certain game elements work differently based on avatar (an example is that Kindar take a hit to their "spirit skills" if they eat meat, and Erdlings are hit much harder by Wissenberries), have NPCs react differently based on said avatar, and be the Canon sequel to something written for another media.
  • Get It Over With: Neric, the closest thing the series has to a cynic and Deadpan Snarker, all but challenges Salaat and Regle to go ahead and set off the bomb at the end of the second book.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Wissenberries, a "sacred" herb that is widely used as a narcotic; even to the point of passing them out in school to keep the kids docile. Neric's parents "wasted" to death on them.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Former generations kept inborn Psychic Powers into adulthood, but by the time of the story most children lose them at six or even earlier. Everybody goes around wondering why the kids are losing their ESP so young. It didn't used to be this way, did it? Have another Berry and don't worry about it. The Ol-zhaan will figure it out, right? But even they haven't made the connection (or maybe some of them have) that the ESP goes off just about the time kids start eating a lot of Berries to suppress illegal "unjoyful" emotions. They also learn mindblocking to protect others from said emotions.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: Unless you like living in caves for the rest of your life. In the back-story anyway — by the time of the novels every non-conformer had been long since weeded out.
    • One of the first things we learn, though, is that more and more Kindar are being "taken by the Pash-shan". Genaa's dad is "taken" while investigating the disappearances.
  • Lightworlder: Green-Sky's gravity is gentle enough that a toddler falling from the treetops is merely injured. The Kindar are generally "willowy and light-boned" as a result, although we see some overweight people. The Erdlings, due to their generations underground, are "sturdy" and stockier. This also factors in as a game mechanic, as you cannot fall to your death.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Totally averted in the game. Walk into someone's house, or find a named object, and you have to ask the object's current owner in order to obtain it.
  • Knight Templar: Most of the Ol-Zhaan in general. The Geets-kel in spades.
  • Living Lie Detector: Your character once you learn telepathy. That guy kindly offering you a place to sleep for the night may be thinking "The reward is mine!"
  • Magic by Any Other Name: "Spirit skills" in the game. The Psychic Powers were expanded to things like growing plants instantly (in the book, "grunspreking" takes a bit longer).
  • The Magic Goes Away: Practically the first thing we learn about the decline of Kindar society is that children are losing their Psychic Powers instead of retaining and increasing them with maturity. In the third book The Magic Comes Back.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. (D'ol) Wissen is outright named to have endorsed some shady stuff, and implied to have a hand in a lot more.
  • Never Say "Die": The Kindar, being pacifists, tend to use "dead" as a verb instead of saying "kill." (And cringe while doing so.)
  • Newspeak
  • Nude-Colored Clothes: Teera's rescuers weren't sure if she was wearing clothing until they approached. She had on a jacket and trousers made of rabbit fur — and they thought it was hers. The fact that the "Pash-shan" monsters are supposed to be furry beasts contributed to this perception. For a split second they must have wondered if she were the offspring of a Pash-shan and a Kindar captive.
  • No Problem With Licensed Games: The game was shockingly advanced for 1984, containing elements now taken for granted in CRPGs.
  • Not So Different
  • Not Quite Flight: The planet's gravity is light enough that it's possible to glide by wearing a garment called a shuba (a bodysuit with built-in artificial patagia).
  • The Evils of Free Will: Essentially, the layers of complex ritual, meditations, and the embarrassing stigma of "unjoyful" emotions did a pretty good job of getting the Kindar to a place where any kind of questioning their place or path was unthinkable.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: the Ol-zhaan
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Kindar, although the Ol-zhaan are more in the "technical" category. They have no qualms about sending dissenters to what they believe is certain death.
    • The Erdlings are mostly pacifists, but there are a few rotten pan-fruits like Befal. An Ol-Zhaan also pulls out a "tool-of-violence", implied to be a gun or bomb, when the Rejoyners make it known they're going public.
  • The Reveal: that the evil Pash-shan are really the normal human being Erdlings.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: the Geets-kel are a subset of the Ol-zhaan who are totally in the know about who's been shoved underground and why.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - Despite some of the nastier stuff that goes down, it bleeds idealism.
  • Stepford Smiler: Kindar do not believe in expressing "unjoyfulness." Or even in feeling it too strongly.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: The ending of the final book. Raamo, a telepath, becomes disoriented by the mental confusion of the people around him and falls into the underground lake while trying to keep the gun away from the bad guys. This resulted in quite a bit of mail screaming "Why not just chuck the gun in there?!" The computer game continuation was a self-admitted Author's Saving Throw.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Kindar culture.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Raamo, although it turns out that he really was Just Hiding.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Pomma is approximately eight years old and addicted to psychotropic berries. Nobody other than Raamo seems massively concerned by this.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The original premise behind Kindar culture.
  • Veganopia: The Kindar, however, are not as superior as they'd like to believe.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: There is a way to obtain a Wand of Befal (otherwise known as a machete). Using it on any living thing permanently lowers your mana, which can quickly render the game Unwinnable. However, Pomma can actually get away with one or two murders due to her high starting mana.
  • Wham! Line: Pomma all but destroys a society when she announces "I know what the Pash-shan look like — they look just like Teera. Because Teera is a Pash-shan."