''A Wizard in Rhyme'' is a fantasy series by Christopher Stasheff, combining MedievalEuropeanFantasy with {{deconstruction}}, historical accuracy and a lot of troping. It is currently eight books long.

Our protagonist is Matthew Mantrell, [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent Ordinary Graduate Student]], English major and general intellectual, working on his doctorate during ThePresentDay (presumably TheEighties, as that's when the first book was published). During his researches he comes across a piece of parchment covered in a language unknown to man. It turns out to be a SummonEverymanHero spell that whisks him to "Merovence," the France of an AlternateHistory Europe still in TheHighMiddleAges. Once there, he makes a number of discoveries.
* FunctionalMagic exists, is controlled by [[WordsCanBreakMyBones rhymed verse]], and co-exists with normal physics. Matthew, having a good six hundred years' extra knowledge to draw upon in both fields, is enormously powerful by the standards of the day.
* God and Satan exist, bringing with them BlackAndWhiteMorality and the necessity of picking a side. Both forces offer power--evil in the form of [[DealWithTheDevil Deals with Devils]], good in the form of saints--and one must be sure to stay on the good side of your moral compass in order to avoid defeat both in the afterlife and here.
* Saint Moncaire, patron of Merovence, brought Matthew here to restore the BalanceOfGoodAndEvil. All the other nations of Europe--Ibile, Allustria, Latruria, etc--have fallen under the reign of evil men, and a usurper, Astaulf, now threatens the throne of Merovence, aided by his EvilChancellor Malingo. Matthew's job is to find [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses Princess Alisande]] and help her reclaim her throne, thus preventing all of Europe from falling to the clutches of evil.

The series is relatively obscure--and, if truth be told, deservedly so. Books are a ClicheStorm: Matthew is set a task involving setting to rights another European country. He collects a RagTagBunchOfMisfits as he travels, often supplementing them with {{Public Domain Character}}s created through SummonMagic; most of them fade back into obscurity, though two from the first book, the BlackKnight, Sir Guy de [[BilingualBonus Toutarien]], and the dragon Stegoman, make repeat appearances. Matthew makes more study into the fabric of magic and Stasheff gets to soapbox about morality and virtue, whether in a Christian context or no. Main characters are flat, with secondaries having more interesting moments. So on.

The ''real'' reason tropers will want to check it out anyhow is that it is decidedly, deliberately, unabashedly {{Troperiffic}}. The TheoryOfNarrativeCausality is in full force, and characters are GenreSavvy enough to actively ''[[InvokedTrope invoke]]'' tropes if they stand to benefit from them (in the first book alone Princess Alisande calls upon "UnderdogsNeverLose" and "TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin"). The result is a PostModern series in the trappings of an HistoricalFantasy (complete with YeOldeButcheredEnglish, even though technically they are speaking French), a flood of classic poetry, and a series of {{Lampshade Hanging}}s which can only be described as loving.

A [[TheWikiRule not-especially-complete wiki]] on the series can be found [[http://christopher.stasheff.com/wiki/tiki-print.php?page=A%20Wizard%20In%20Rhyme at the author's website]].

'''Please add all new character tropes to the [[Characters/AWizardInRhyme Character Sheet]].'''

!!Tropes displayed in this series include
* AbsurdlySharpBlade: Matthew conjures up a sword SharpenedToASingleAtom.
* AcrophobicBird: Stegoman, the dragon, who is afraid of heights.
* ActionGirl: Alisande for starters; more later.
* AdiposeRex: Astaulf, [[MightyGlacier tall as he is.]]
* ADayInTheLimelight: After Matthew disappears from our world, his friend Saul Bremener tries to figure out where he went. He travels to Merovence just in time to be the star of the third book, and becomes the series' only first-person narrator.
* AlternateHistory: The timeline split when Romulus and Remus fought. In this version Remus won and Reme became famous for it's peacemaking and negotiation prowess.
* TheAtoner: Father Brunel became a priest to find forgiveness for his curse and resist temptation. (He is cursed to transform into a werewolf if he starts feeling lust)
* AuthorAppeal: The last few books ditch the ongoing story and are mostly an excuse to play with the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prester_John Prestor John legend.]]
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Because magic in this setting is controlled by ExactWords, Matt has to be very careful with his phrasing. Otherwise, a spell to conjure fire can summon a [[BreathWeapon fire]]''[[InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons breather]]'', and and a [[HybridMonster Dracogriff]]-sized saddle can come out big enough for the ''Dracogriff'' to ride.
* BelligerentSexualTension: Matt and Alisande. They bicker and argue almost like an old married couple, call each other out on moments of weakness, and even after all is said and done in the first novel [[spoiler: [[CanNotSpitItOut Matt still has trouble admitting his feelings for her]]]].
* BareFistedMonk: Saul Bremener.
* BlackKnight: A non-villainous example in Sir Guy. He paints his armor black to hide the fact that he's lordless. [[spoiler:Well, as lordless as the heir apparent to the series' analogue to the Holy Roman Empire can get away with.]]
* DistractedByTheSexy: a ''lot'' of female characters try this at different times.
** Special mention to Sayeesa, a lust witch, who's power invokes this at all times, and [[spoiler: proves [[HeroicSacrifice instrumental]] in the final battle of ''Her Majesty's Wizard''.]]
* EvilChancellor: Malingo, being the reason Astaulf was even able to usurp the throne to begin with.
* FantasticRacism
* FishOutOfTemporalWater: Matthew. It's in his favor, though, and other characters are willing to overlook his 20th-century eccentricities [[BunnyEarsLawyer for the sake of his brilliant wizardry]].
* GuardianAngel: Saul summons one, though, as an agnostic, he can't fully accept its existence.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Sayeesa, with Max's help, is the one to destroy Malingo at the end of the first novel, at the cost of her own life.]]
* IstanbulNotConstantinople: many names are traceable to influences in our history. Merovence, for instance, takes its name from the same [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merovingian_dynasty dynasty of French kings]] that [[Film/TheMatrix The Merovingian]] is named after.
* LikeADuckTakesToWater: Matthew and Saul. ([[spoiler:Later, Matt brings his parents over as well. They are just as proficient at magic as he is.]]) Having access to centuries of advances and examples in the art of poetry gives them a major advantage.
* LiteralGenie: Magic in this series is shaped by words, so phrasing is important. See BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor.
* MeaningfulName: Sir Guy introduces himself in ''Her Majesty's Wizard'' as "Sir Guy Losobal," which Matt works out as the Merovencian equivalent to "Sir Guy, the Black Knight." ("''Le sable'' would be how you say "the black" in French.) Later on in the book, it's revealed that his real name is [[spoiler:Sir Guy de Toutarien. Toutarien = 'toute ou rien' (all or nothing); if evil completely takes over, it'll be his cue to rebuild Hardishane's empire.]]
* MixAndMatchCritters: Matthew meets a "dracogriff" during the second book. The necessary HotSkittyOnWailordAction is {{deconstructed}}. Short version: griffons have an estrus cycle that clouds their judgement, and a dragon took advantage. Since both species are otherwise sentient, this is considered rape by everyone who hears about it.
* NormalFishInATinyPond
* OneOfUs: Matthew Mantrell definitely is, and by extension Stasheff as well.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: They have their own government and arguably a nation as well.
* ThePromise: in the second book, ''The Oathbound Wizard'', Matthew rashly swears to conquer the neighboring kingdom of Ibile, as his common birth is preventing him from marrying Alisande. The universe holds you to your promises.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Stegoman.
* PublicDomainCharacter: RobinHood and his Merry Men, Literature/DonQuixote, [[Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream Puck]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell%27s_demon Maxwell's demon]] and more.
* RagTagBunchOfMisfits: OnceAnEpisode.
* RealityWarper: any wizard would count, but special mention goes to Frisson, a genius-savant who comes up with brilliant poetry as easily as breathing... which, given the setting's FunctionalMagic, can go OffTheRails ''real'' fast.
* RecycledScript: A weirdly blatant example, the Grendel scene from the second book is repeated verbatim in the third with the names changed to the closest equivalent in the new party even though it means the characters refer to and use abilities they don't actually have and ignore the ones they do. The troll trying to fly away is a highlight.
* RescueRomance: Matthew breaks himself and Alisande out of Malingo's prison and from there it's obvious they will end up together... But not without some entertaining {{BST}} along the way.
* RightfulKingReturns: subverted. There's stories of a descendent of Emperor Hardishane, a KingInTheMountain who will return to SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong if evil manages to overwhelm all of Europe. AllMythsAreTrue, and such a man does exist, but he's striving with all his might to ''prevent'' his own crowning, as it can only take place AfterTheEnd. ([[spoiler:It's Sir Guy.]])
** Similarly, the rightful male-line heir to the ancient Empire of the Latini-Etruscan Federation of old Latruria, and through it [[IstanbulNotConstantinople Reme]], abdicates any right he has to the throne in favor of becoming modern Latruria's first [[spoiler: university professor]].
* RousseauWasRight: Temptation is all over the place, [[spoiler:Matthew actually came close to ending up in Hell]], but redemption is also readily available.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: all over the place. Whether villainous or virtuous, there's one thing to be said for the royals of this alternate Europe: they work for their crowns.
* SuccessionCrisis: not only is this how some evil rulers take charge, but there's a genuine one at the end of the second book. Of the two people competing for their grandfather's throne, one is the eldest son's daughter, the other the younger son's son. (Solved when the lady [[PairTheSpares marries a third party]], removing herself from the line of succession.)
* {{Succubus}}: Sayeesa from the first novel is a variation, in the form of a Lust Witch. It takes Alisande to break her hold over Matthew.
** True {{Succubus}} do appear but the book doesn't do a good job at explaining what they actually are; demon, illusion or if they're just other people like Sayeesa.
* SufficientlyAnalyzedMagic: Increasingly as the series goes on and the characters have time to study it. Basically, magic seems to be a malleable energy invoked and shaped by RuleOfSymbolism, with words being the most convenient symbols. Also, {{Magic Wand}}s work by focusing a field of magic into a more intense beam, like a spotlight as opposed to a bare bulb.
* SummonEverymanHero
* SuddenlySuitableSuitor
* TalkingIsAFreeAction: Zigzagged. In some battle situations, Matthew snaps out rhymed couplets to cast his spells. In another, he recites much of Byron's "[[http://www.bartleby.com/106/173.html She walks in beauty, like the night]]."
* TrappedInAnotherWorld
* TrueNeutral: InvokedTrope. Saul is a major ally for the good guys and a hero in his own right, but he refuses to accept their religion or belief system in favor of systematically studying how magic ''really'' works in this setting, and makes sure to commit a "technical sin" (like eating meat on Friday) for every good deed he does. The religious characters are rather bemused by this.
** Similarly, but for different reasons, King Boncorro in ''The Secular Wizard'' does evil things for the good of his country so he'll be richer so he can stop throwing more and more depraved BreadAndCircuses at his nobles so he can be rich so he can keep from going to Heaven while not falling into the grasp of Hell- a good example of StupidNeutral with a heart of gold if ever there was one. His genuinely evil chancellor warping his plans was behind a lot of that.
* UnreliableExpositor: A few books in it's revealed that the initial idea of this world operating entirely on Christian theology with Satan and the Saints powering all magic is a local misconception, and in fact AllMythsAreTrue. Although the version of Catholicism practiced in the Europe equivalent is the "correct" religion, Islam is considered close enough and magic works fine even for cultures with no real religious equivalent to the Christian god or devil.
* WickedCultured: Fadecourt the cyclops.
* YearInsideHourOutside: at one point, Matthew returns to "our" dimension after five years in Merovence, to discover that it's been three days since he left. This inches into NarniaTime territory, since Saul had been transported into Merovence searching for him after he'd been missing several days years previously from their perspective.