''Shadows of the Apt'' is a fantasy series by Adrian Tchaikovsky (real name: Adrian Czajkowski). The basic plot is fairly familiar- a [[IgnoredExpert single visionary]] must persuade his people of the imminent threat from a [[TheEmpire rapacious, conquering empire]]- the main twist is the idea of the insect-kinden; all humans inherit powers based on the idealised abilities of a particular arthropod.

The books (so far) include:
#''Empire in Black and Gold'' (2008)
#''Dragonfly Falling'' (2009)
#''Blood of the Mantis'' (2009)
#''Salute the Dark'' (2010)
#''The Scarab Path'' (2010)
#''The Sea Watch'' (2011)
#''Heirs of the Blade'' (2011)
#''The Air War'' (2012)
#''War Master's Gate'' (2013)
#''Seal of the Worm'' (2014)

The website also contain loads of short stories and [[AllThereInTheManual histories]] based in the same world.
!!Tropes found in this series:
%%%Zero Context Examples are commented out. To restore them please read the tropes and describe
%%%how this work uses them.

%%* AboveGoodAndEvil
* AGodAmI:
** [[spoiler: All of the Slug-kinden of Khanaphes. They actually have the [[BrickJoke stones]] to back up their claims though.]]
** [[spoiler: Empress Seda and her hunger for recognition of her power.]]
* AllThereInTheManual: Quite a bit of back story and History of the Lowlands can be found on the Shadows of the Apt website, along with other short stories based in that world.
** Quite a few of the characters/ events from the short stories are woven into the main plot. The duel in Ironclads is brought up more than once in ''Heirs of the Blade'' (and the ghost story Avaris tells is most likely to be the same story as The Dreams of Avaris)
* AncestralWeapon: [[spoiler:Tynisa]]'s Mantis rapier, passed on by Tisamon.
%%* AnxietyDreams
* ArbitrarySkepticism: Che knows that people can gain powers through meditation, among them telepathic hive minds, ultraviolet vision, wings, and the ability to shoot energy from your hands. She initially refuses point blank to believe in "magic." In fact, nearly all Apt characters fall into this category.\\
This is because magic works in an entirely diferent way to 'Art' as noted when [[spoiler:she noticed something off about Stenwold's agent in Helleron]], whereas the people in this world can identify something as an 'Art' immediately even if they haven't seen it before.
** In addition, it is stated on the blog of the author that everyone has basically outgrown the silly superstitions of religion. The Inapt believe in spirits but only the ones that can be commanded, not worshipped.
* ArmorIsUseless: Averted, the new alloys created by the Iron Glove society is quickly worked into advanced body armour and walking tanks. This makes them nearly invulnerable, even the armour-piercing snapbow bolts just glance off them.
* AndThenWhat: What Thalric says to [[spoiler:his would-be assassin]] in ''Dragonfly Falling''.
%%* ArtifactOfDoom
* TheAtoner: In ''Salute the Dark'', Tisamon sees himself as an Atoner, although the main thing he's atoning for would, to most people, seem like ''[[ValuesDissonance a good thing]]-'' but Mantids mate for life...
* AuthorAppeal: Tchaikovsky is something of an entomology fan. It shows.
* BadassArmy: An army of one thousand Mantis-kinden from Felyal doesn't quite live up to their boasts- they said they'd be able to kill the whole of the 20,000-strong Imperial Fourth Army. [[spoiler: They only got three quarters of them before the rest fled.]]
* BadassLabcoat: Sort of; Stenwold and Totho both wear their artificing gear (Heavy leather clothes, fireproof aprons, tough gloves etc.) rather than armour in the first few books because firstly they are artificers before warriors, and secondly because [[HiddenInPlainSight none of the guards would pay attention to]] [[NeedleInAStackOfNeedles an artificer looking for work in an imperial city.]] Infact, [[spoiler: during the siege of Collegium the city's defence was upheld by a last-minute militia that was equipped with what poor reserves the city had. After that each man woman and child grabbed whatever could be used in a fight. Seeing how the local residents are mostly artificers... You get the idea]]
* BarehandedBladeBlock: Used rather well in ''Empire in Black and Gold''. Colonel Ulther attempts it (and gets his arm cut open for his troubles) when fighting [[spoiler: Thalric]], a few pages before Tisamon's duel with [[spoiler: Tynisa]], in which he pulls off the same trick, thereby reinforcing his badassitude.
* BlackMagic: While magic is not inherently bad, it is said that there are couple truly bad magic. [[spoiler: The Darakyon ritual and the blood magic Mosquito-kinden utilizes in general]]
** A lot of foreshadowing is happening with the prophecy that [[spoiler: Stenwold hears from the monarch of the Commonweal]] and towards the end of the Heirs of the Blade with what Che [[spoiler: says about the crest of worms while she was in a trance like state]]
* BladeBelowTheShoulder: Mantis-kinden have two flavours- their Art-grown spines and the Claw.
* BlindSeer: Subverted by the Moth-kinden; they are all Seers and magicians, but rather than being blind they can see better than any other race with their Art for being able to see in the dark. Crosses over with ProphetEyes (See below).
* BloodKnight: Tisamon is one in Helleron where he fights continuously, still wounded over the long past hurt and taking it out the only way he can.
** In Salute the Dark [[spoiler: It's Tiasmon again, anguished over his "betrayal" of Atryssa willingly lets himself be captured by the Wasps as a gladiator slave to get a chance to kill the Emperor as a form of redemption]]
** Tynisa, [[spoiler: his daughter]], also demonstrates this trait, getting a profound joy out of fighting and killing.
* BloodMagic: Well obviously you have the whole [[spoiler: Mosquito kinden]] utilizing blood for their magic.
** Due to their influence [[spoiler: Empress Seda seems to be doing pretty much the same. Except that it seems to have a uncontrollable hunger vibe compared to the Uctebri's controlled hunger]]
** In ''Salute the Dark'', Stenwold [[spoiler: hears a prophecy from the Monarch of the Commonweal and how there's blood coming out from the ground]] and in addition in the Sea Watch [[spoiler: Stenwold then hears a similar prophecy of blood coming out from the lands, that will spill into the sea and consume it]]. Things aren't looking too bright in the insect-kinden world.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: At the end of ''Blood of the Mantis'', [[spoiler: Tynisa]] is forced via magic to attack [[spoiler: Achaeos]].
* CartwrightCurse: Both Stenwold Maker and his niece Che believe themselves to be bad luck for others.
* TheCavalry: Many examples, especially in Dragonfly Falling [[spoiler: once with the Spider reinforcements arriving at Collegium to break the siege; and then twice at the Battle of the Rails, first with the Moth and Mantis army arriving to aid the Sarnesh, and second with Totho arriving with snapbows to save the Wasps and create a victory for the Empire.]]
%%* CelestialDeadline
%%* TheChainsOfCommanding
* ChekhovsGun:
** It is occasionally mentioned that Totho is always carrying his "project" on his back, apparently a prototype for a weapon he has designed. This becomes important when [[spoiler: Achaeos notices that Totho hasn't had it since they left Myna and realises that this is because he actually left with Salma and the Totho with them is a doppelganger.]] [[spoiler: Totho's weapon later falls into the hands of the Empire and his Snapbow is put into mass production, leading to a last minute Wasp victory at The Battle of the Rails. The allied Lowlanders then nearly tear themselves apart trying to create their own snapbows while preventing their allies/ rivals from doing the same.]]
** Stenwold's Piercer bow makes a reappearance in Salute the Dark for a while as well.
** And then again in 'The Air War', where it was literally hanging on the wall before being used.
* ChekhovMIA:
** Nero. Later in the series,[[spoiler: the entire race of Mosquito-kinden turn out to be not so mythical!]]
** Just read the lore sections of the author's website and the date posted. Dude's been planting Chekhov's mines everywhere and priming them to blow for a loooong time. No wonder he's pumping books out so fast. Everything is already planned.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Thalric; not that it helps him, [[spoiler:given that the Empire eventually decides he's better off dead - and then changes its mind again, at which point he betrays and murders a top-ranking general. He's hauled to the capital in chains, and arrives at just the right time to marry the new Empress, who needs a male figurehead. Then the Rekef decide they would prefer a new male figurehead... In Heirs of the Blade it seemed he was pretty content to put the past behind him and tag along with Che (although that is what we thought at the end of Salute the Dark with Seda...)]]
%%** Arianna as well.
* ClockPunk[-/-]SteamPunk: The world is in a transition phase between the two technologies, the Apt parts of it anyway.
%%* ColdBloodedTorture
%%* ComeToGawk
* CoversAlwaysLie:
** None of the weapons in the series glow.
** The cover of ''Blood of the Mantis'' features a Mantis (possibly Tisamon) wielding a Claw. It doesn't appear to work in the way described in the books.
* CoolAirship: A fair few, notably the Sky Without in ''Empire in Black and Gold'' and the Starnest invasion ship in ''Blood of the Mantis''.
** And of course, it's worth mentioning the "Triumph of Aeronautics", an armoured airship.
* DawnOfAnEra / EndOfAnAge: Depending on your viewpoint the revolution of the Apt was either the dawn of science and the end of fear and superstition; or the end of magic and the start of a polluted, ignorant future.
* DirtyOldMan: Ulther, Wasp governor of Myna. He keeps a harem of about thirty slave women, all much younger than himself.
%%* DividedWeFall
%%* DreamSpying
%%* DrivenToSuicide
%%* DrowningMySorrows
%%* DyingDeclarationOfLove
* ElegantWeaponForAMoreCivilizedAge: The Mantis Claw- a "laughable anachronism" if you don't know what they can do with it...
* ElvesVsDwarves: The kinden are dived between the Apt (Dwarves) and Inapt (Elves).
** A very close approximation: the Inapt are graceful, (usually) tall and some use magic, while the Apt are generally bulkier and use technology.
*** This is partially averted in later books where it is shown that many Skater-kinden are becoming Apt whereas they had all been Inapt a few generations before.
*** Especially obvious between the Apt Beetles and Inapt Moths, given their mutual dislike. While the Spiders and Mantis (Mantises? Mantids?) are both similar to elves in different ways, their virulent enmity is also reminiscent of the elf/dwarf conflict of other settings.
* TheEmpire: The Wasp Empire.
%%* EvilCanNotComprehendGood
%%* EvilSorcerer
%%* FalseFlagOperation
* FantasticRacism: All kinden have their stereotypes about each other, but 'half breeds' tend to suffer far worse.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Elements of it, but certainly not to the extent often seen. Nevertheless, it's interesting to look at the Dragonfly-kinden, with their [[KatanasAreJustBetter unusual long-handled swords]], their "golden skin" and their surnames before their personal names. Did I mention that the Dragonfly was used in Japan as a symbol of the Samurai?
** If Creator/LeonardoDaVinci had ever managed to create a [[ClockPunk working flying machine]] and spread it throughout Renaissance Italy, Solarno and the Spiderlands would probably feel a lot more familiar to the reader.
** The Wasp Empire is surprisingly similar to the Roman Empire, with their use of Auxillians, and constant need for slaves.
* FantasyGunControl: Subverted with crossbows being the "weapon of the revolution" that put the Apt in charge and the Inapt on their long journey down the pecking order, and then again when [[spoiler:Totho invents the "snapbow" for the Empire, which is basically an air gun that shoots further and harder than crossbows ever could, and makes even the awesome Mantis-kinden obsolete]].
** Played with in Book 8: The Air War, it's explained that the Apt haven't fully mastered gunpowder technology. They haven't been able to create a man-portable gunpowder weapon that's accurate, but they have them for artillery and vehicle-mounted weaponry (the leadshot and greatshotters).
* GambitPileup: The Spiderlands political landscape, especially in Solarno. Not unexpected seeing how every Spider is born a natural [[TheChessMaster chessmaster]].
%%* GladiatorGames
%%* GoodIsOldFashioned
%%* HealingHands
* {{Hobbits}} - Fly-kinden.
%%* IGaveMyWord
* IgnoredExpert: Stenwold, at the beginning of the series.
* InterruptedSuicide: In ''Dragonfly Falling'', [[spoiler: Tisamon stops Felise from killing herself.]]
%%* ItWasAGift.
* LampshadeHanging: Uctebri has a sense of the dramatic, it seems.
-->Uctebri: [[spoiler:Laetrimae]], would you come forth? Drama now requires it.
* LaResistance: The Mynan resistance, which [[TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized isn't particularly nice.]]
* TheLastOfHisKind: Cesta believes that he is the last of the Assassin Bugs [[spoiler: 'The Air War' proves him wrong]]
* LensmanArmsRace: Because of the war, both the Empire and Collegium have greatly advanced their military technology to counter each other's efforts. This reaches its apex in the The Air War, where the Empire built Farsphexes (diesel-powered, fixed-wing fighter bombers) and specific tactics to counter the Collegium's Stormreader interceptors which were still limited to windup power. The presence of the Iron Glove society accelerates the arms race even further as they willing sell their unique cutting-edge technology to any side.
* LikeBrotherAndSister: Che, to Totho. He's not happy about it.
%%* LivingShadow
%%* LonelyAtTheTop
%%* LoveMakesYouEvil: [[spoiler: Totho]]
%%* MadeASlave
%%* MadScientist:
%%** Colonel-Auxilian Dariandrephos.
%%** [[spoiler: Totho eventually turns into this.]]
* MagicAIsMagicA: Art is Art, and is inherited and instantly recognisable ''as'' Art; technology is only usable and creatable by the Apt, and Aptitude is nearly always decided by kinden; magic is only usable by the Inapt, and relies on doubt and fear.
* TheMagicVersusTechnologyWar: The setting's backstory has the magic using Inapt races being overthrown by their mechanically proficient servants several centuries ago.
** Particularly prominent in ''The Scarab Path'', with the attitude of the city of Khanaphes to progress.
* MagicallyBindingContract: We find that while the Apt do not believe in such a thing, especially the Wasps, the Inapt races like the Dragonflies do. [[spoiler: The Monarch of the Commonweal signed the Treaty of Pearl with her name. This means that they cannot break it no matter what.]] Even the Wasps didn't know the treaty would be so binding.
* MasterSwordsman: The Mantis [[PlanetOfHats Hat]] in general, the Weaponsmasters in particular, though many prefer the Claw.
%%* MayDecemberRomance
* MeaningfulRename: The Butterfly-kinden change names after major changes in their life.
%%* TheMedic
%%* TheMenFirst
%%* TheMole
%%* MoreHeroThanThou
%%* TheMourningAfter
%%* MyCountryRightOrWrong: Thalric
* NearVillainVictory: The series starts off this way, with the Wasp Empire nearly strolling into the Lowlands without a fight while Stenwold and his spies try to rally the Lowland cities to fight back. This is even lampshaded in Blood of the Mantis [[spoiler: by the emperor when he comments that so far the invasion of the Lowlands had not counted as war, merely a sequence of skirmishes. Now that Collegium, Sarn and the Ancient League had allied themselves against the Empire it just about passes as a war.]]
* NeutralNoLonger: [[spoiler:The Moth-kinden and the Helleren militia]] at the end of ''Empire in Black and Gold''.
%%* NotAGame
* NothingIsTheSameAnymore: Pretty much '''every''' character has their world turned upside down and is uprooted from their old life.
** ''The Sea Watch'' has to take the cake though. Despite some foreshadowing from previous books and online material, hints from WordOfGod, and even the front cover of the book itself; nothing prepares for [[spoiler:the reveal that the "Sea-kinden" aren't just insect kinden that live underwater but are kinden of entirely non-insect related origins, and that these kinden are divided into families of unrelated kinden. Considering that the histories of the insect kinden are still a mystery to the reader its a pretty big shock to be suddenly introduced to Octopus- and Jellyfish-kinden. It also raises even more questions about how much Scyla (and her teachers) truely knew about the different types of Kinden.]]
** This is basically what Adrian Tchaikovsky is trying to do. He says that he's trying to subvert the whole idea in fantasy that after an event, everything goes back to normal.
* OneOfUs: Adrian Tchaikovsky's [[http://www.panmacmillan.com/interviews/displayPage.asp?PageID=8245 author A-Z]] on his publisher's website includes references to Webcomic/DresdenCodak, [[Webcomic/GirlGenius Jaegermonsters]] and [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons ten-foot-by-ten-foot rooms containing an orc and a chest.]]
* OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame: Beetle-kinden.
* OurElvesAreBetter: Spider-kinden and Moth-kinden.
* OurOrcsAreDifferent: Scorpion-kinden.
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: The Apt in general, Che in particular, have outgrown the silly superstitions of magic[[note]]''Actually'' it's not quite as simple as "Inapt believe in magic, Apt don't"; people who have grown up in places ruled by the Apt also tend to believe that magic does not exist (eg. Tynisa is Inapt but was brought up in Collegium and does not believe in magic) where as people who have grown up in places ruled by the Inapt believe that magic does exist (eg. the Beetle servants in Tharn are Apt but they certainly believe in their master's abilities to perform magic.)[[/note]]. This being a fantasy book, they are wrong. Meanwhile, ''everyone'''s outgrown the silly superstition that gods exist, as well as old wives tales of unusual kinden [[spoiler: both of which in a manner return in ''Seal of the Worm''.]]
%%* PowderKegCrowd
* ThePowerOfBlood: Type AB, with a touch of Type O when it's used in prophetic dreams. [[BlatantLies Surprisingly enough]], the Mosquito-kinden have a bit of a thing about blood...
* ProudMerchantRace: The Beetle-kinden of Helleron also to a certain extent the Fly-kinden.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: The Mantis-kinden. Ant-kinden and Wasp-kinden are more Proud Soldier Races.
* ProudScholarRace: Moth-kinden are type 2 while Collegium Beetle-kinden are Type 1
* ProphetEyes: The Moth Kinden and Butterfly Kinden.
%%* {{Revenge}}
%%* RoyalBlood
* SadisticChoice: In ''Salute the Dark'', [[spoiler: General Tynan tries this on Stenwold. Subverted in that a DeusExMachina prevents Stenwold from having to make the choice.]]
* SchizoTech: Because of the divide between the Apt and Inapt races, technology levels vary tremendously. For the Inapt, even the act of trying to use a doorknob is impossible (doors for Inapt are pulled open by a looped rope). The highest weapon achievement that the Inapt have are longbows. Amongst the Apt races, there's a gap in high technology, the Ants are conservative and are decades or even a century behind in tech in comparison to the Beetles. The Apt also have oddly limited mastery in gunpowder technology - they haven't been able to make guns that a person can carry, but they can use it for artillery and vehicle weapons. However the Apt are capable of creating walking machines that are capable of highly articulate movement, something that our technology hasn't quite mastered. One mad scientist in the Collegium even created his Lightning Engine, a LightningGun specifically designed to destroy aircraft.
%%* SecondLove
%%* SecurityCling
* SpiderSense: Hilarious when you think about it: it's the '''Flies''' that have this ability with their Art!
* SquadNickname: Every one of the Wasp Armies, generally referring to some particular aspect of the reputation- for example, the Sixth Army, the Hive, are based around a core of Bee-kinden veterans.
* StormingTheCastle: Empire in Black and Gold has [[spoiler: Stenwold and the Mynan resistance sneaking in to rescue Che, Salma, Kymene and any other prisoners they can help.]]
* SweetPollyOliver
* TakeUpMySword: Combined with AncestralWeapon, and symbolizing [[spoiler:Tynisa]] accepting [[spoiler:her]] Mantis heritage.
%%* TalkingInYourDreams
%%* TenderTears
%%* ThickerThanWater
%%* ThinkNothingOfIt
* TheMagicGoesAway: While alluded to in previous books, in The Scarab Path and The Air War, it finally comes out that magic was once truly the stuff of miracles. If the Inapt races were capable of the sorceries of their ancient times, the Apt would never have been able to overthrow them. However the Inapt races were caught up in devastating wars amongst each other that greatly diminished their power. Since magic thrives under a climate of darkness and mystery, the current age of reason and technology has prevented magic from being the force it used to be, except in certain isolated parts of the world.
* TheUnFavourite: What Che sees herself as.
* UnfortunateNames: ''Cheerwell'' Maker.
* UnluckyChildhoodFriend: Totho. A ''very'' interesting treatment of it, as it's Che's merely fraternal affection for him that leads to Totho [[spoiler: working for the Wasps.]]
%%* UnwillingSuspension
%%* WhatHaveIDone
* WorthyAdversary: Quite a few of the Imperial high command are presented at least somewhat sympathetically.
** All weapon masters view each other this way. It also happens to be the traditional way of seducing a Mantis.
** The Pilots of the Exalsee are compared to a dueling society; they all know and respect each other, some are very close friends, and if they were to find themselves pitted against one another their feelings wouldn't change. However this wouldn't stop them fighting to the death and shooting each other out of the air. Probably the best example of this is between Taki and [[spoiler: Axrad (a Wasp pilot who seeks her out for an Air Duel during the invasion of Solarno)]]
** Stenwold and Thalric are worthy adversaries as opposing spymasters [[spoiler: and nearly [[FriendlyEnemy friends]] later in the series if it wasn't for the fact that Stenwold and his spies don't trust Thalric enough to let him become that close. However it is clear that Thalric regrets this fact and often despairs about how he has more in common with Stenwold's friends than he does with any of his own kin.]]
%%* YourWorstNightmare