Sun Wolf and Starhawk are the protagonists of three novels and a short story by Creator/BarbaraHambly.
In ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn'', the eponymous, and previously very genteel and traditional, women attempt to hire mercenary captain Sun Wolf to train them as warriors so they can rescue their men, who have been forced into slave labor by the evil wizard Altiokis. When he sensibly declines to become involved, they kidnap him and force him to help them by dosing him with a slow-acting poison to which they hold the antidote. While Starhawk sets out to rescue him, Sun Wolf sets about his task, and along the way learns to unlock his own magical potential.
In the sequels, ''The Witches of Wenshar'' and ''The Dark Hand of Magic'', Sun Wolf and Starhawk encounter dark sorceries while travelling in search of someone to train Sun Wolf in his new magical abilities.
Additionally, Starhawk is the protagonist of the short story "A Night with the Girls" in the second ''Literature/ChicksInChainmail'' anthology.
!!This series provides examples of:
* ActionGirl: All over the place, most notably the titular Ladies of Mandrigyn in the first book.
* AmputationStopsSpread: At the climax of ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn'', [[spoiler:Sun Wolf]] is attacked by a magical creature that burrows through people's eyes into their brains, and [[EyeScream tears his own eye out]] to save himself.
* AntiHero: "Good" characters in this series tend to be either this or [[BreakTheCutie broken cuties]].
* ArrangedMarriage: Tazey and Incarsyn in ''The Witches of Wenshar''. [[spoiler:Incarsyn calls it off when it turns out Tazey's a witch. Then, he dies.]]
** In the first book, [[spoiler:Sheera's husband is revealed to have collaborated with Altiokis and sold out the rebels. No wonder Sheera...ahem, ''[[TamperingWithFoodAndDrink mulled his wine herself]]'' one night.]]
** Some of the victims in the second book fully deserved what happened to them. [[spoiler:Nanciormis is probably the most blatant example.]]
** Sun Wolf and Starhawk, after the first novel.
** [[spoiler:[[ButchLesbian Denga Rey]] and [[BiTheWay Amber Eyes]]]].
** Altiokis in the first book.
** [[spoiler:Nanciormis]] in the second book.
** [[spoiler:Purcell]] in the third book.
* BiTheWay: By the end of the first book, it's clear that [[spoiler:Amber Eyes]] reciprocates Denga Rey's affections.
* BigBeautifulMan: Nanciormis in ''The Witches of Wenshar'' is a LongHairedPrettyBoy gone to seed; debauchery and considerable weight gain haven't ruined his looks. [[spoiler:Too bad he's a skeevy, conniving JerkAss who's arguably the main antagonist of the piece, and who ultimately [[KarmicDeath gets his in the end]].]]
** The second book is ''swimming'' in them. [[spoiler:Anshebbeth]] comes off as petty and grating, but generally harmless. [[spoiler:Nanciormis]] is initially [[AffablyEvil affable]] [[spoiler:(although [[FauxAffablyEvil the façade drops]] even ''before'' he's revealed as the ArcVillain)]], if self-absorbed and thoughtless. [[spoiler:Incarsyn]] is ''stated'' to be one--and ''definitely'' has some significant character flaws which suggest that [[spoiler:Tazey really ''was'' better off out of it]]--but it's possible that [[spoiler:Nanciormis]] was just [[MaliciousSlander smearing]] him.
** In the third book, [[spoiler:Purcell]] initially seems to be nothing but a prissy little functionary; thanks to [[spoiler:his [[HiddenInPlainSight distraction spell]]]], no one recognizes [[spoiler:the similarly fussy and nebbishy drug dealer "Sugarman"]] as him, either.
* ButchLesbian: Denga Rey, a big, rawboned, [[BaldOfAwesome shaven-headed]] gladiator girl [[spoiler:who's involved in the events of the first book in an attempt to win the heart of the courtesan Amber Eyes (it works)]]. She's also pretty nice.
* ClockworkCreature: The Djerkas in the third book, serving the bad guy.
* CoolOldLady: Lady Wrinshardin, in the first book, supports the rebellion. Additionally, she's [[ScrewPolitenessImASenior wry, snarky]], spry enough to still be an avid horsewoman, and ''completely'' unintimidated by Sheera's (admittedly still very raw) troops (or even by ''Sun Wolf'').
* [[DirtyOldMan Dirty Old Woman]]: Nexué from the second book.
* DeathOfAThousandCuts: When [[spoiler:Anshebbeth]] finally loses her patience with [[spoiler:Nanciormis, the demons drawn to her malice attack him and more-or-less flay him alive...and when she finally manages to call them off, they turn on ''[[HoistByHisOwnPetard her]]'' instead. As for Nanciormis, his subordinates leave him to bleed out]].
* EldritchAbomination: In ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn'', [[spoiler:Altiokis's power source. It gets him in the end]].
* EyeScream: What [[spoiler:Sun Wolf]] ''has to do to himself'' in the climactic scene of ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn''.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: Any of the Demons' victims ends up splattered all over the place.
** [[spoiler:Altiokis]] in the first book.
** [[spoiler:Nanciormis]] in the second.
* FatIdiot: [[spoiler:Altiokis.]]
* FeetOfClay: [[spoiler:Altiokis.]] The description for TheManBehindTheCurtain, below, holds for this one too.
* HealItWithFire: Happens a few times, usually after [[NotUsingTheZWord nuuwa]] attacks, as they're extremely dirty.
* HiddenInPlainSight: Wizards can do this by manipulating the attention of other people. In the third book [[spoiler:Purcell does this the whole time disguised as the camp's drug dealer]].
** In the first book, [[spoiler:Altiokis is turned into a Nuuwa by his own Hole]].
** In the second book, [[spoiler:both Shebbeth and Nanciormis are [[DeathOfAThousandCuts torn to pieces]] by the crazed demons]].
* HolierThanThou: Kaletha the White Witch has this attitude towards Sun Wolf.
* TheJinx: The curse in the third book involves sheer bad luck on Sun Wolf's mercenaries: the provisons rot, spiders and rats invade the camp, swords rusts and siege machines break down without a cause.
* KidnappedByTheCall: When Sheera tries to hire Sun Wolf, he refuses and proceeds to wonderfully explain his reasons in three points: 1) A conquered town wouldn't be able to gather so much gold to pay him. 2) He doesn't lead wars in winter and 3) He won't risks the lives of his men against Altiokis. Sheera resorts then to plan B: poison him and take him away by force.
* KnowNothingKnowItAll: Kaletha and her magic teachings.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy[=/=]LoveMakesYouEvil: [[spoiler:Anshebbeth]] is commanding the demons [[spoiler:out of love for the indifferent and manipulative Nanciormis]].
* MacGuffinGuardian: Kaletha is smart enough to use snakes of all kinds and ''scorpions'' to guard her books of magic.
* TheManBehindTheCurtain: In ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn'', the whole world fears Altiokis the Wizard King, shadowy ruler of a mighty empire, the greatest wizard the world has ever known, immortal, invincible... [[spoiler:It turns out he's a third-rate magician who stumbled upon the Hole Between the Worlds and surviving by sheer luck in his youth; by some combination of his own nature and the mind-corroding effects of the alien power, he's become a vicious, dull-witted, infantile glutton who whiles away the centuries indulging his base appetites.]]
* TheManBehindTheMan: Each book contains a female example of this, including Sheera for Prince Tarrin, Illyra to her brother Incarsyn in the second book, Lady Prince Renaeka Strata to the King of Kwest Mralwe.
* NotUsingTheZWord: Altiokis has a nasty habit of turning people into blind, slavering, mindlessly vicious freaks. The canon term for the process's victims is "nuuwa", and that's all that they're ever called.
* OhCrap: Altiokis, [[spoiler:when he finds out that Sun Wolf ''is'' a Sorcerer.]]
* OurDemonsAreDifferent: Demons in this setting are incorporeal and usually harmless, though the Witches of Wenshar were said to use demons to do their bidding. [[spoiler:As Sun Wolf found out, is because they fed them with hate, lust and other dark emotions, making them dangerous.]]
* OurZombiesAreDifferent: Nuuwa were once people, before getting a "gaum" (a sort of fire dragonfly) in their eyes and brains. After the transformation they turn into flesh-eating monsters.
* PoisonAndCureGambit: How the ladies secure Sun Wolf's assistance in ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn''.
* RomanticTwoGirlFriendship: Sheera and Drypettis had one in their schoolgirl days in ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn''. [[spoiler:Sheera got over it, although she still considered Drypettis a friend. Until Drypettis went all yandere, anyhow and ends up selling Sun Wolf to Altiokis when they really need him.]]
** During the events of the second book, Sun Wolf becomes one for the various murders.
** In the last book, [[spoiler:Moggin.]]
* TheStarscream: [[spoiler:Zane]] in the third book.
* TrainingThePeacefulVillagers: ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn''. It may also count as a subversion, as Sun Wolf explains that he'll need years to turn them into effective warriors, and his recruits are eventually pared down from 100 to less than 30 well trained women. However, at that point he has really bonded with them as their leader.
* TookALevelInKindness: Sheera, after [[spoiler:Sun Wolf's near death due to anzid.]]
* UngratefulBastard: In the end of ''The Ladies of Mandrigyn'', [[spoiler:the council of the city actually exiles Sun Wolf for "corrupting the costumes of the city" by training the women and making them less docile.]] While [[spoiler:King Tarrin promises to reverse the order once the situation stabilizes again, Sun Wolf and Starhawk]] are ''not'' holding their breath.
* VillainousGlutton: Altiokis.
** In the first book, is explained that the "Holes" from which the gaums are spawned are destroyed by sunlight.
** In the second book, is revealed that sandstorms will dispel demons.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Sheera Galernas is willing to kidnap and utilize a PoisonAndCureGambit in order to recruit an armsmaster for her rebel army. [[spoiler:It's later revealed that she assassinated her husband for selling out.]]