A historical fantasy series by Canadian author Fiona Patton (partner of [[TanyaHuff Tanya Huff]]), focusing largely on the semidivine royal family of an [[FantasyCounterpartCulture alternate version]] of medieval Britain. Due to this, it contains a great many [[ReligionTropes Religion]] and [[RoyaltyAndNobilityTropes Royalty]] tropes.

The island kingdom of Branion is ruled by the [=DeMarian=] royal line, whose [[FounderOfTheKingdom founder]] Braniana conquered the realm roughly 900 years before the first novel takes place. She also became the first [[GodInHumanForm Vessel]] of the Living Flame, an elemental being worshiped as a god, which has affected her descendants to the point that they all have [[FireballEyeballs fiery eyes]] that denote their divine right and [[RoyaltySuperpower power]]. The other three [[ElementalPowers elemental powers]] are also worshiped, to a lesser extent, and are called the Holy Triarchy, so that the worshipers themselves are called Triarchs. The Flame also powers {{Seers}}. A rival faith, Essussiatism, also features prominently and is basically an ersatz Catholicism. The series follows 400 years of Branion history, as the monarchs strive to master their birthright. This is more difficult than it sounds, as having a fire god inside you is [[RoyallyScrewedUp not good for your sanity.]]

Notably, the society is sexually loose and has [[GenderIsNoObject no gender restrictions]], to the extent that there is a Guild of [[EveryoneIsBi (samesex)]] [[HighClassCallGirl Companions]] and the sovereign's title ("Aristok") is [[SheIsTheKing unisex]].

There are four books, written in reverse chronological order:

* ''The Stone Prince'' (1997) - Crown Prince Demnor, his [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen formidable mother's]] {{Unfavorite}}, is required to [[ArrangedMarriage marry]] at the same time that the northern province of [[UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}} Heathland]] rebels.
* ''The Painter Knight'' (1998) - 150 years prior to this, an Essusiate artist becomes the lone protector of the new Aristok Kassandra, a [[AChildShallLeadThem five-year-old girl]], when her [[EvilUncle beloved uncle]] tries to [[RegentForLife take over]].
* ''The Granite Shield'' (1999) - 100 years prior to that, the Aristoks have been [[StopWorshippingMe Essusiate apostates]] for several generations, until a Triarch woman from the [[UsefulNotes/{{Wales}} principality of Gwyneth]] seduces the latest Vessel of the Living Flame, has his firstborn son, and raises him to overthrow his [[ArchnemesisDad father]] and return the realm to the Triarchy.
* ''The Golden Sword'' (2000) - And 150 years prior to ''that'', Camden [=DeKathrine=] is devoted to the aspect of [[BlowYouAway Wind]] but is forced by family tradition to become a knight serving the Flame instead. Disillusioned, he joins a [[TheHeretic heresy]] that threatens to destroy the realm.

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!!This series provides examples of:

* AerithAndBob: So very much. Mixed with MyNaymeIs.
* AngstNuke: Anyone touched by the Flame's power may be affected and in some cases killed by the Vessel's own trauma. In extreme cases, the entire kingdom is effectively knocked off its feet.
* AnimalMotif: Every noble family has a heraldic animal. Animals also represent specific countries, religions and concepts within vision.
* AristocratsAreEvil: Largely depends on the plot, as the protagonists are often nobles as well. One particularly ambitious family, the [=DeSandra=] clan, constantly shifts its loyalties and provides villains in every book [[spoiler:until the Crown gets fed up and slaughters them]]. In Book 3, the generally [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits egalitarian people]] of Gwyneth are pitted against the arrogant nobility of Branion; zigzagged by the fact that Gwyneth is trying to put its own candidate on the Branion throne.
* {{Assassin}}: The Assassin's Guild, also known as the Cousins - although there are some independent ones as well.
* AssassinOutclassin: Happens occasionally, though not usually to members of the Assassin's Guild. Quindara actively dares rebels to try and kill her.
* AwesomeMomentOfCrowning: The Aristok's coronation ceremony (which can be combined with a wedding) has some pagan elements, like walking through a courtyard wearing nothing but mistletoe, and taking a drug that causes a prophetic vision.
* BadassGay: Demnor, who is also a ManlyGay.
* BadassPrincess: So many it's quicker to list the subversions: Book1!Kassandra (just a squire), Flairalynne (a royal bastard), Isolde (royal by marriage) and Llewellynne (daughter of an independent, elected Prince).
* BalconySpeech: Invoked when presenting a newborn heir to her people.
* BattleAura: Appears as white or red light (depending on religion) around a faith's Champions. Not necessarily controllable, but intimidating and awe-inspiring. Often causes a BattleHaltingDuel which may be mirrored by an overhead AnimalBattleAura.
* BattleCouple: Demnor and Isolde, Llewellynne and Tuedwur, and Fay and Hamlin. Averted when Demnor orders Isolde to stay home because she's pregnant, and played with by Kelahnus and Florence, who are contracted to other people but practice free love.
* BlessedWithSuck: The royal family's divine status, full stop. Insanity is just a start to the drawbacks. They have to ''control'' the awesome powers of the Living Flame -- and if they can't, it will destroy them and quite possibly anything and anyone around them at the time.
* BoxedCrook: Two traitors in Book 2 are offered their lives in exchange for a HeelFaceTurn; Livy in Book 3 spends 18 years trying her best to get ''out'' of the box.
* CadreOfForeignBodyguards: Subverted in Book 3 when the Triarctic Shield Knights, traditional royal bodyguards outlawed by their Essusiate ruler, cross the border to Gwyneth to protect his Triarctic bastard.
* CapitalLettersAreMagic: Any noun or pronoun used to refer to the Gods is always capitalized. Even the genderless Living Flame is described as It.
* CelticMythology: Several elements, particularly the prophetic Sight and Braniana's legendary brother [[{{Mabinogion}} Bran Bendigeid]].
* AChildShallLeadThem: Happens frequently, and is a major part of Book 2. The five-year-old ruler judges traitors (ordering one to eat worms as a punishment), and talks an entire roomful of knights into supporting her by offhandedly threatening them with her divine powers.
* ChildSoldiers: Justified by the medieval milieu; the age of adulthood is sixteen. Demnor commands a rebellion and then a siege at sixteen; Quindara is knighted at fourteen; Rhys and Llewen are twelve and eleven when they fight their first battles; Flairalynne is eleven when she leads a raid; Kassandra is on the battlefield (though she doesn't fight) at five.
* ChurchMilitant: Both faiths have religious military orders. The Triarctic Flame Champions and Seer Archers use the Sight, regarded as a gift from the Flame, to fight more effectively.
* ChurchPolice: Essussiatism has actual Inquisitors, but the Triarchy has its own dungeons and heresy trials. Both have orders of KnightsTemplar to hunt down heretics.
* ColorMotif: The noble families all have two heraldic colors apiece. These don't appear to have particular significance, except possibly for the royal colors (black and [[ColorCodedPatrician dark blue]]). The Gods and [[ElementalPowers Aspects]] also have associated colors, which are found in the [[ElementalEyeColors eyes]] of their Avatars.
* ConflictingLoyalty: Often between love and duty, ''especially'' in Book 1.
* CrystalDragonJesus: Both faiths have parallels with Christianity.
** The Triarch Vessel of the Living Flame is a Christ-like (but hereditary) GodInHumanForm. Mass is celebrated and there is a sign of the Triarchy traced across the breast by worshipers.
** Essusiatism is continental Catholicism with a white dragon in place of the Holy Spirit. Its leader, the Pontiff, rules from the equivalent of Rome. It has many saints and icons.
* ElementalPowers: The Living Flame confers vaguely-defined fire powers upon Its Vessels, along with varying degrees of PsychicPowers. The other Aspects might be able to do the same, but none of them has a physical Avatar.
* EveryoneIsBi: It's even possible to have a Companion and a spouse at the same time. But generally, characters who aren't married have same-sex partners.
** Explained in-universe as a way of cutting down on the number of bastards. This is especially important since the Aristok's succession is determined by the Flame passing automatically to the next person in line, regardless of legitimacy, and there's only [[OffWithHisHead one way to skip someone]].
* EvilUncle: Ellisander in Book 2. Inverted in Book 1; Demnor's great-uncle is kind and gentle, while his grandfather and mother are tyrannical and insane.
* FieryRedhead: The royal family, literally. A version of AstonishinglyAppropriateAppearance.
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Braniana and her brother Bran, after whom the island, the country, the capital city, and half its monuments [[{{Egopolis}} are named]].
* GlowingEyesOfDoom: The fire in a [=DeMarian=]'s eyes waxes and wanes depending on their mood. If they're bright enough to feel heat, ''do what they tell you.''
* GooGooGodlike: Infant Rhys and four-year-old Kassandra.
* TheGrimReaper: The Shadow Catcher, who is sometimes described as a fisherman with a net.
* HarmfulToMinors: Five-year-old Demnor sees his guards [[BloodSplatteredInnocents brutally prevent his own assassination]], but what really traumatizes him is that the guards are more terrified of his [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen mother]] than the assassins. And five-year-old Kassandra is deliberately, though with justification, taken into battle.
* TheHeretic: Found in every book. Book 3 seriously zigzags the trope - to stop heresy (the Vessel is an apostate), the Triarchs have to commit heresy (by killing the Vessel).
* HighClassCallGirl: The Guild of Companions trains homosexual partners for the nobility. They also act as bodyguards and a powerful spy agency - you learn a lot of secrets between the sheets.
* HighPriest: Quite a few - the Hierarchpriest of Cannonshire (though this seems more of a secular position), Archpriests of the different Aspects, and the Essussiate Pontiff.
* HitSoHardTheCalendarFeltIt: The novels are set between 479 and 894 DR. DR apparently stands for [=DeMarian=] Rule, and 1 DR is the year Braniana [=DeMarian=] made her pact with the Living Flame and took the throne of Branion.
* HonorBeforeReason: Demnor becomes a RebelPrince, breaking his oaths and committing treason and heresy, because he refuses to [[IGaveMyWord break a promise]] to his lover. He fully expects to lose and knows the only possible penalty is death.
* IstanbulNotConstantinople: Pretty much every location is named with this in mind; major countries include Gallia (France), Fenland (the Lowlands), Danelind (Denmark), Heathland (Scotland), Eireon (Ireland), and Gwyneth (Wales). Cities include Yorbourne (York), Tiberia (Rome), Halmouth (Falmouth), and Albangate (St. Albans).
* JerkassGods: Llewen in Book 3 has good reason to think this, as he can See them playing [[CosmicChessGame strategy]] with the lives of mortals.
* JunkieProphet: Seers take dangerous and addictive potions to drop into prophetic trance, though it is also possible to do this without drugs though proximity to the Living Flame or its sacred sites.
* KingBobTheNth: Seven Kassandras, five Demnors, and five Kathrines. There seems to be an Atreus, Marsellus, and Kassandra in every generation.
* KingIncognito: In Book 2, the Aristok leaves the palace frequently to go drinking and fighting, but everyone can tell it's him because of his eyes, and it ''really'' unnerves the barkeeps. While his daughter is on the run, her [[FireballEyeballs eyes]] are blindfolded and her [[FieryRedhead hair]] is cut and dirtied.
* {{Knighting}}: Occurs frequently. Essusiate secular orders are named for saints, while Triarctic ones are named for weapons (The Sword, Bow, etc). There are also [[KnightTemplar religious orders,]] such as the Hounds of Essus and the Flame Champions.
* LetsYouAndHimFight: A notable use in ''The Granite Shield'', when an entire continent is distracted from fighting tiny Gwyneth by an eleven-year war set off when Gwyneth [[spoiler:assassinates the Pontiff]].
* ALighterShadeOfGrey: In many cases the "good" side is somewhat subjective to say the least. Certain things, like Heathland's persistent desire for independence from Branion rule, or the question of whether the Triarchy or Essusiatism is the nicer religion, are open to interpretation, with sympathetic (and unsympathetic) characters residing on both sides of conflicts.
* LittleMissAlmighty: Kassandra.
* MamasBabyPapasMaybe: Averted due to the royal family's FireballEyeballs, making it obvious who the father is. Has an impact in Book 3, as the Aristok keeps popping out bastards all over the country and can't hide them. The protagonist is able to take the throne because of this.
* MeaningfulName: Rhys in book 3 -- the future Aristok, his name means "King" in Welsh and, presumably, Gwynethian. Also, since noble families are named for the mothers of their founders, the royal demigod surname [=DeMarian=] may be a [[{{Jesus}} shout-out]].
* MeaningfulRename: Rhys takes a regnal name to emphasize his takeover, and picks one used by two highly successful historical rulers; the entire [[spoiler:[=DeSandra=]]] family changes its name after an act of treason.
* NobleFugitive: Happens to an extent in every book, but particularly to Kassandra in Book 2, as she's on the run from traitors and assassins.
* PraetorianGuard: The [=DeMarians=] have three: the common Palace Guard, the noble Knights of the Shield (who swear secular oaths to the ruler), and the Flame Champions (who swear religious oaths to the same ruler). They don't always get along. Subverted by a sizable fraction of Palace Guard who [[spoiler:desert and follow Demnor when he becomes a RebelPrince.]]
* PrincelingRivalry: A major plot element in every book - Quindara is jealous of her brother Demnor; Ellisander is an EvilUncle and rival of his cousin Terrilynne; half-brothers Rhys and Tristan are at war; and Alisha doesn't seem to care that her heresy, if successful, will result in the deaths of her siblings and father.
* RagsToRoyalty: Several cases, though more often Rags to Nobility or Knighthood.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The Aristok's rescuers in Book 2 include a family of artists, a band of traveling players, and two of the traitors who killed her father.
* RebelPrince: Demnor.
* RegentForLife: Zigzagged in Book 2, with three different regents: the immensely powerful woman who raised the previous two rulers and still wields a lot of influence; the current regent, who is the new heir's EvilUncle and plans to kill her later; and his cousin and rival, who plans to fight him for the throne until [[spoiler:the heir shows up at her door demanding protection]] and ends up fighting him for the regency instead.
* RequisiteRoyalRegalia: Plenty, but particularly the [=DeMarian=] [[ManInAKilt Plaide]], won from the deposed royal family of Heathland. The Heaths, once in rebellion, go to the extreme of sending a herald into the Aristok's camp and ''formally demanding it back''.
* RightfulKingReturns: Kassandra. Downplayed by Demnor, who isn't actually lost, but only his arrival home [[spoiler:averts a civil war in the week after his ascension]].
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: The [=DeMarians=], pretty much by definition.
* RoyalBastard: Six of them in one book. Llewellynne deliberately upends the trope by [[StalkerWithATestTube seducing the Aristok]].
* RoyalInbreeding: In The Painter Knight, several pages are devoted to explaining how an exiled member of the royal family, over the course of about 75 years, managed to tie his bloodline back into the ruling line by marrying his cousin, having their children marry second cousins, and having their grandchildren marry third cousins one of whom is the current monarch. His child inherits the powers of four different septs of the dynasty in one go.
* SaveYourDeity: Inverted repeatedly in Book 2. The Flame's own priests are unknowingly trying to return Its Vessel to the control of her EvilUncle and one of them is TheMole, while the leader of her protectors follows Essus. He's saving ''someone else's'' deity, at the command of his own God.
** And Book 3 is all about this trope - see RoyalBastard and StalkerWithATestTube.
* SealedInsideAPersonShapedCan: Describes the Living Flame.
* {{Seers}}: Play a major role in the series.
* SentientCosmicForce: Pretty well describes the Holy Triarchy and the Living Flame.
* SheIsTheKing: Type 3. The sovereign of Branion is the Aristok, period, regardless of gender. Which makes sense since the first titleholder was a woman. Princes, Dukes, Knights, etc can all be female. So can the Essusiate [[ThePope Pontiff]].
* SiblingRivalry: Between Demnor and Quindara, who refuse to call each other by name, only title. A cousinly variant between Ellisander and Terrilynne.
* SilkHidingSteel: A perfect definition of the Companion's Guild.
* SlidingScaleOfFreeWillVsFate: Discussed frequently by Seers.
* StalkerWithATestTube: Llewellynne is this towards Marsellus, bearing Rhys as a TykeBomb and ChosenOne.
* StopWorshippingMe: Marsellus appreciates the sentiment but warns Tuedwur not to do it again.
* StraightGay: Half the characters, but particularly Demnor.
* SuccessionCrisis: The first three books, basically.
* SympatheticAdulterer: Llewellynne convinces her fiancee Tuedwur that it is a good idea for her to seduce another man in order to [[SaveYourDeity save their deity]], and he comes with her to provide distraction.
* {{Telepathy}}: Exhibited by some seers.
* ThemeNaming: Branions tend to have Classically-derived names (often feminized - for example, Gawaina and Lysanda). Branion Essusiates during the period of Book 3 often have French names to indicate how they are influenced by the Continent. Noble families are named for the mothers of their founders. There's also a college of Heralds with bird-themed names (Robinarden, Raventarian, etc).
* UnproblematicProstitution: The Companions, high-class, same-sex courtesans to the upper class. Their guild wields tremendous influence thanks to their ability to manipulate the politics of nations by way of their clientele. They are contracted to specific nobles, but are not expected to be monogamous, and are paid very well. It is repeatedly shown that their noble clients are frequently more in love with their Companions than with their own spouses. Quite a few Companions reciprocate, although this is actually a taboo in their guild and something they keep quiet about.
* WarriorPrince: Pretty much required for the royal family. Dovetails with BadassPrincess due to the unisex titles.
* WellDoneSonGuy: Demnor; his sister Quindara to a lesser extent.
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: All the [=DeMarians=], but particularly five-year-old Kassandra, who talks and acts more like eight or nine, and Flairalynne, who at eleven plans and leads a nationwide civil insurrection. Possibly justified by their divine connection; their fiery eyes give them a serious and adult gaze.
* WorthyOpponent: Alexander towards Demnor, and Caliston towards everyone.
* WreathedInFlames: Happens frequently, usually in battle, religious occasions, or when the Vessel gets particularly angry. At one point, psychic trauma causes Kassandra to effectively ''[[AngstNuke explode]]''; this blows one of her protectors into a tree, wrecks a nearby village, and paints the wagon she's riding in bright red.
* YoungConqueror: Par for the course. Braniana ruled 63 years so must have been fairly young when she conquered Branion, and Rhys in Book 3 is a teenager when he ''re''conquers Branion. Demnor's mother in Book 1 led a "Charge of Carnage" at the age of 14, winning a large portion of Gallia.
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