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''The Grimnoir Chronicles'' is an AlternateHistory fantasy taking place in the early [[FilmNoir 1930s]]. Sometime in the 1800s [[TheMagicComesBack magic appeared in the world]], giving a small fraction of the population (the Actives) one of a standard set of super-powers, such as [[PlayingWithFire fire]], [[HealingHands healing]], and [[TeleportSpam teleporting]]. Just like his [[Literature/MonsterHunterInternational other series]], Creator/LarryCorreia provides some of the best action scenes out there, fueled by pure distilled RuleOfCool. A gravity-controlling private eye teams up with a guy who can walk through walls to fight a bulletproof samurai. A teleporting ninja with a katana goes up against a teleporting Oklahoma girl with a shotgun. Bullets fly, demons are summoned, and [[StuffBlowingUp stuff blows up]].

The first in the series is ''Hard Magic'' (released May 3 2011). After Jake Sullivan fails to bring in his former LoveInterest for murder, he makes some inquiries and finds out that things aren't what they seem. He's soon caught up with a [[MagicalSociety secret society]] (the Grimnoir) sworn to stop the Japanese Imperium, led by the indestructible [[BigBad Chairman Tokugawa]], from taking over the world. At the same time, an [[TheGreatDepression Okie]] named Faye witnesses the murder of her adoptive grandfather at the hands of a mysterious one-eyed man. His dying command is for her to protect a strange mechanical device, designed by someone named [[UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla Tesla]].

The sequel ''Spellbound'' is out as of November 1 2011. It follows up on some of the [[SequelHook sequel bait]] from the first book -- such as the [[CosmicEntity entity]] stated to be pursuing [[MetaOrigin The Power]] itself.

The third book, ''Warbound'' was released in August 2013.

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!!This work uses the following tropes:
* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: Harkeness... speaks in... THIS manner.
* ActionGirl: Both Faye and Delilah.
** And in the second book, Hammer. And Whisper, who throws a gods's fire back at it.
* AffablyEvil: The Chairman is really a very pleasant man, when he isn't subjugating whole nations or ripping the soul out of your body.
* TheAlcatraz: Rockville Penitentiary, the supermax prison for Actives.
* AlienGeometries: The Power seems to be made of strange glyphs that are strange but can be grasped by the human mind. [[spoiler: The Pathfinder's minions in ''Warbound'' are so complex and bizarre that even Fuller has trouble grasping them.]]
* AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs: [[spoiler: The Imperium Shadow Guard destroys 3 of the 4 Grimnoir strongholds in Shanghai before the attack on the false Chairman in Warbound, killing dozens of Knights, including Lance.]]
* AllYourPowersCombined: It's subtly hinted at at the end of ''Spellbound'', and outright stated by Fuller in ''Warbound'': [[spoiler: Faye isn't a Traveler. She's actually a Cog, whose power manifests in her understanding and being able to use ''all the powers''. She's not just a teleporting agent of chaos, she's a teleporting agent of chaos who can heal the injured, read your mind, and ''unleash black holes'']]
* AlmightyJanitor[=/=] BadassBureaucrat: "Anyone ever tell you you're the best accountant ever, [[spoiler: Chandler? (Raymond)]]"
* AlternateHistory: Aside from the major change of people starting to gain magical abilities in the mid-19th century some more traditional changes are Teddy Roosevelt pursuing a military career rather than a political one and becoming a general who dies in The Great War, Hitler being executed in 1929, the Great Dust Bowl getting an early start due to a misaimed government attempt at weather manipulation in 1929 (in OTL it didn't get really bad until 1933) and the Titanic being saved by an Active.
* AnIcePerson: Iceboxes.
* AnalogyBackfire: When one of the Grimnoir elders skeptically refers to the Pathfinder as Sullivan's "[[Literature/MobyDick white whale]]," Sullivan points out that the whale was real.
* AndIMustScream: Zombies are in this situation, since when they're brought back to life their injuries keep on hurting.
* AnimalEyeSpy: Beasties, such as Lance Talon.
* AntiHero: [[spoiler:Harkeness turns out to be a Grimnoir knight, who killed Pershing as part of a longer plan to defeat the Chairman. When Browning finds out, he still kills him for it.]]
* AntiMagic: The Dymaxion Nullifier, created by Fuller, is introduced in ''Spellbound'', and it cancels all attempts at making connection with Power within its range[[note]]Though if, for example, you take a possession of an animal outside of dymaxion's range and then use it to get into range, you don't get evicted from the critter.[[/note]]. You ''can'' destroy them magically, it's just not a good idea, as it requires spellbinding a Nixie's power... which is ''[[NiceJobBreakingItHero unleashing black holes]]''.
* [[ApocalypseHow/ClassX5 ApocalypseHow / ClassX5]]: Universes are being destroyed.
* AscendedExtra: Lady Origami and [[spoiler: Master Saito]] have very minor parts in ''Hard Magic'' but return for a much larger role in the sequels.
* AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever: [[spoiler: Spellbound's finale has a skyscraper-sized Demon, the most powerful in existence, attacking Washington, DC due to Crow's DealWithTheDevil.]]
* [[spoiler:BabiesEverAfter: Sullivan marries Lady Origami and fathers a son at the end of the third book.]]
* BackToBackBadasses: Sullivan and [[spoiler: Toru]] at the end of ''Warbound.''
* BadassAdorable: Faye is so cute that Browning jokes it must be the result of a spell, and so powerful that she can destroy an entire battleship single-handedly in less than five minutes.
* BadassBoast:
** Toru and Sullivan exchange them on their first meeting in ''Spellbound'':
--> '''Toru:''' Know that you face Iron Guard Toru, one of the thousand sons of [[BigBad Okubo Tokugawa]]!
--> '''Sullivan:''' That's gonna be nine hundred and ninety-nine sons if you don't get out of my face.
** From the climax of ''Warbound'':
-->[[spoiler: The Pathfinder:]] "I am ''everywhere!''"
-->'''Faye:''' "Well, [[TeleportSpam so am I]]!"
* BadassBystander: In the third book, none other than [[Film/IpMan Yip Man]] himself appears as one of these, taking on several teleporting, magic-wielding ninjas ''bare handed.''
* BadPowersGoodPeople: One of the Grimnoir is a Lazarus, an Active who can bring back the dead, and are universally despised.
* BatmanGambit: [[spoiler:Harkeness]] is running one against the Chairman.
* BatterUp: Toru's weapon of choice is an enormous tetsubo (iron club) that most people who aren't Brutes or Spikers wouldn't be able to lift (about 80 pounds). He eventually hits one of Crow's demons with it so hard that it ''breaks''. He then finds a new one during the next book.
* BattleCouple:
** Jake & Delilah used to be one before he got arrested. They later get a brief chance to work side by side.
** Faye and Francis, briefly, when fighting together as Grimnoir agents.
* BattleInTheCentreOfTheMind: In ''Warbound'', Toru has to [[spoiler:resist the Pathfinder spore that he's been infected with. While he briefly loses control of his body, he manages to retain his mind.]]
* BerserkButton: Faye's dangerously unstable most of the time, but if Francis is threatened, she's downright ''terrifying.''
** She also reacts badly to pretty much anything involving her grandpa's death.
** Trying to harm Jane will result in Dan ordering you to blow your own brains out, and you ''will'' consider it an excellent idea.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Faye very calmly vows to kill both Madi and the Chairman himself. She [[spoiler: manages half of that, facilitates the other half and makes up the difference in mooks and property damage]].
** Jake notes that she's really the nicest person in the world most of the time, until you [[BerserkButton cross her invisible line]], whereupon she just kills you without a second thought.
** Dan's a nice guy; in fact, his power revolves around being pleasant and ingratiating with people. Unless he gets really mad, whereupon he speaks with the voice of a god and can cause all but the most strong-willed individuals to instantly commit suicide.
* BewareTheSuperman: Part of the Imperium's plan for taking over the world is to sow distrust of Actives in the United States, by framing them for a Peace Ray attack.
* {{BFG}}: Jake carries three different ones at various points of the book. During an Imperium assault on a Grimnoir safehouse, Heinrich and Francis break out a Browning M2 heavy machine gun, a weapon so large that Faye mistakes it for some piece of farm machinery. In the introduction of Hard Magic, Jake carries a Lewis Gun, usually vehicle or aircraft mounted but usually crew-served, weighing roughly 30 pounds without ammunition, and firing 50 to 600 RPM of .303, 30.06, or 7.92x57 Mauser. He evidently uses it as a shoulder-fired weapon.
** In ''Warbound'', an Imperium super-bazooka that's basically a launcher for Boomer power appears, and it obliterates the top half on an apartment building in one shot.
* BigBad: The Chairman.
* [[spoiler:BiggerBad: The Great Enemy]]
* TheBigDamnKiss: [[spoiler: Faye and Francis share one of these]] when they're reunited in the third book. They have ''maybe'' fifteen minutes before the world is destroyed, but she figures they can spare a few seconds.
* BiTheWay: Whisper. She mentions to Faye that she's distracted the gas station attendants (all male) from getting too suspicious by flirting with them. Faye asks what she's going to do if they encounter a female attendant. Whisper replies that she can flirt with girls too. Faye is confused and assumes it's just French people being weird.
* BoxedCrook: Jake is a fairly free-range one at the beginning of the book.
* BoxingLessonsForSuperman: Not all Powers are useful for combat, those that are have limited amounts of Power, and some combat-useful powers are most efficient when used to supplement mundane fighting. Everyone gets mundane combat lessons.
* BullyingADragon: One of the Grimnoir knights is rude to Faye. Browning reminds him that this is the girl who killed several hundred Imperium troops, fought the Chairman, and [[spoiler: teleported an airship across the Pacific.]] The other knight quietly apologizes.
** A lot of the prisoners in Rockville Penitentiary liked to pick on Jake in an attempt to make a name for themselves. They all ended up leaving in bags.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: A common trait of Cogs. Buckminster Fuller is a prominent example: he's staggeringly brilliant and has a habit of making up words and expecting everyone to understand them.
* CameBackWrong: Lazaruses can bring people back from death, but most resurrectees go insane and become shambling monsters due to having to constantly experience the pain of their fatal injuries. Only a handful of strong-willed people such as [[spoiler: Heinrich's Father and Delilah]] can remain functional for a long period of time.
* CosmicEntity: The Power itself turns out to be some kind of massive space... thing, which is in a symbiotic relationship with the people of Earth. It's on the run from a mysterious Enemy; can you say 'SequelHook?'
* ChekhovsGun:
** Early on, it's said that the Chairman could only be [[spoiler:killed by a direct hit from a Peace Ray/Geo-Tel. Guess how he dies at the end.]]
** A literal one - the tiny pistol Faye buys for ten dollars at the start of the story to make herself feel better ends up saving her life, though not in the usual way.
** The Rockville State Penitary is important to Jake's backstory as the place where the most powerful Active criminals are locked up. [[spoiler:Guess where the Pathfinder goes to feed at the end of ''Warbound''.]]
* ChekhovsGunman:
** Buckminser Fuller is introduced only briefly in ''Spellbound'' as the man who makes the dymaxions. In ''Warbound'', he joins the regular cast and proves invaluable.
** Dosan Saito is mentioned as one of Madi's teacher. In the long run, he turns out to be so much more than that.
** Drew, the architect Francis meets briefly at the start of ''Warbound'', turns out to be [[spoiler:Pathfinder's chief agent in the USA.]]
** Ori is a very minor character in the latter half of ''Hard Magic'', introduced as trying to seduce Jake for a one-night stand, but becomes his love interest by ''Warbound'' and eventually [[spoiler:marries him.]]
* CliffhangerCopout: Jake and Toru's last scene in book 3 proper has them about to be killed by a point-blank Boomer attack from [[spoiler:the fake]] Chairman. Then they both show up in the epilogue. [[spoiler:Both had been rescued at the last second, Jake by Heinrich showing up and Fading him out, and Toru by his Shadow Guard brother Travelling him away.]]
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Faye is not like you.
* CombatPragmatist: Pretty much everyone, but Heinrich most of all. At one point, he actually ''bites'' his enemies.
* CommonalityConnection: Despite his detesting Okies, when Travelin' Joe guesses that Faye might be a Traveler, he feels impelled to find out and then show her how to survive.
* CompellingVoice: The Mouths, such as Dan Garrett, can make people do what they tell them, and wish to do what they tell them. It's possible to resist, provided one realizes they're being manipulated.
* ContrivedCoincidence:
** Two of the few people capable of recognizing [[spoiler:the false Chairman as an impostor]] just so happen to be stationed together in the place where the Grimnoir goes to pass this information.
** Toru finished putting his PowerArmour on for a test trial at the exact same moment his location is attacked.
* CoolGun: John Browning is a senior Grimnoir knight, and he makes custom firearms for his brothers in arms.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is all too happy to sell cutting-edge military tech to the Japanese, without caring for the Imperium's sadistic "schools" and experiments.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Every volume cover shows Sullivan hefting a Thompson SMG. His actual signature weapon, received early in book 1, is a heavily customized [[{{BFG}} BAR light machinegun]].
* CrapsaccharineWorld: [[spoiler: Shanghai]] is a pretty nice place, with modern buildings, most of the war destruction patched up and everything you could ever imagine for sale. Give any reason to doubt your undying loyalty to the Imperium conquerors, however...
* CuteAndPsycho: Faye is an adorable farm girl who will also kill anyone she thinks is a bad person without hesitation (sometimes with unfortunate results).
* CuteBruiser: Delilah.
* DamselInDistress:
** At one point, Jane is kidnapped, and a rescue must be mounted.
** Both Lady Origami and Whisper, in their backstories. Their nicknames stem from the way that, at the time of their rescue, they were too traumatized to speak and give their names. Both subsequently TookALevelInBadass.
* DangerousForbiddenTechnique: Using too much of your Power will kill you. (And everyone who risks it during the trilogy does die. And is awesome.)
* DarkActionGirl: Toshiko.
* DeadlyDodging: How Faye kills Toshiko. She has one of her allies shoot at herself, then teleports out just before the bullet hits, causing it to instead hit Toshiko, who had just teleported in in an attempt to backstab Faye.
* DealWithTheDevil: Crow invokes this near the end of ''Spellbound.'' [[spoiler: The demon just eliminates him as soon as it has what it wants]].
* DecoyDamsel: Interesting variation in ''Spellbound:'' the attack is real, but Hammer deliberately provoked it and could have easily handled it herself. She just wanted to test Jake.
* DefectorFromDecadence: [[spoiler:Toru]].
* DemonicPossession: Inverted; Crow is a [[SummonMagic Summoner]] who can possess the demons he summons. He prefers these bodies over his real one, but using a powerful enough demon causes its personality to influence his own, which makes him somewhat AxCrazy while in such a body.
* DesignatedGirlFight: Faye vs. Toshiko. Despite this, it's an ''awesome'' fight scene featuring frenetic TeleportSpam on a [[BattleAmongstTheFlames flaming]] [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld zeppelin]] in the middle of a [[SkyPirates pirate attack]] on said [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld zeppelin]]. Did we mention Toshiko is a {{Ninja}}?
* DeusExMachina: Faye's PortalCut skill shows up only once, in a pivotal moment, surprising absolutely everyone, and having done its job, promptly disappears, never to be used or mentioned again.
* DieselPunk[=/=]FantasticNoir: The setting is noir with magic powers, assisted by all the advantages mad science gives people.
* DifferentlyPoweredIndividual: In-universe, supers are variously referred to as Actives, Magicals and more.
* DirtyCoward: Saito prefers to [[spoiler:infect Toru with Pathfinder spore]] rather than face him in an "even" battle, despite the tremendous power difference between the two.
* DistressedDamsel: [[spoiler:Jane]] is kidnapped by the Imperium in the middle of the book.
** DamselOutOfDistress: [[spoiler:And at the climax she grabs a gun and starts shooting the Chairman's men, and even the Chairman himself. He admits he's impressed.]]
* DontBeRidiculous: One of the opening chapter quotes features one scientist gleefully mocking his colleague's theory that magic comes from the lost city of Atlantis. He concludes by smugly assuring him that magic comes from ''crystals.''
* DrivenToSuicide: Almost; Toru decides that because he sullied his father's name by believing the impostor's lies, he has to finish his father mission and then commit honorable suicide. A dream/vision of his father, imploring Toru to become Okubo's worthy successor, seems to finally dissuade him from this idea.
* DudeWheresMyRespect: Actives saved President-Elect Roosevelt's life, and exposed the parties behind the assassination attempt - which was done to push the government to strip Actives of civil rights. Upon inauguration, FDR proceeds to submit an Active Registration Act to Congress - and requests that they not think too hard on whether or not said bill is even Constitutional.
* DumbMuscle: The stereotype of Heavies is this.
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: Dear God, [[spoiler: Lance]]!
* EldritchAbomination: The Enemy is a PlanetEater that chases the Power to feed on the worlds it's touched. Even pieces of this entity are almost as powerful as [[SuperpowerLottery Chairman Tokugawa]], and the Enemy itself is so horrible that a Fortune Teller capable of perceiving it ''bleeds'' when he tries to get a good "look" at it.
* EliteMooks: The Iron Guard and Shadow Guard are superpowered, ''very'' highly trained and magically enhanced to boot.
* TheEmpire: The Imperium, natch.
* EncyclopediaExposita: Each chapter is opened with some historical quote, throwing out hints about the AlternateHistory, such as Hitler being executed before rising to power, UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt dying in WorldWarOne against the Kaiser's zombies, etc. Some are fictitious, some are modified version of real life quotes, some are said at a different time and place, and some are just the same as in real life.
* EnemyMine: [[spoiler: Toru]] joins forces with the Grimnoir to track down the Pathfinder.
* EqualOpportunityEvil: The Chairman doesn't mind -- hence Madi in the Iron Guard -- but realities mean that the Iron Guard is mostly Japanese.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is a thoroughly selfish bastard, but he does love his grandson Francis.
** Harkeness cares for his granddaughter [[spoiler: Jane]] and is very proud of the fact that she was able to counteract his curse for years.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Madi is actually quite squeamish about Unit 731.
* EvilCounterpart: See EvilTwin. Same applies to Faye and Toshiko.
* EvilTwin: Not a twin ''per se'', but Jake and his brother ([[spoiler:Madi]]) look similar enough that [[spoiler:Faye shoots him on sight]].
* ExplainExplainOhCrap: Madi does this to himself near the end of ''Hard Magic'' when he notices that Jake has brought Dan along. He remembers the dumpy little guy from the mansion, but can't quite remember [[MindControl what his power is]]... then he remembers, just as Dan [[spoiler: commands Madi's troops to commit suicide]].
* ExplosiveOverclocking: [[spoiler: When Lance is fatally wounded by a Shadow Guard strike force in Warbound, he draws upon a lethal amount of his possession magic to take over the body of a Shadow Guard, deciding that he has nothing to lose.]]
* ExtranormalPrison: The Rockville State Penitary is a facility made specifically to house Actives. It has deaf guards on staff to stop [[CompellingVoice Mouths]], ''extremely'' thick walls to have [[IntangibleMan Fades]] and [[{{Teleportation}} Travellers]] run out of Power before they'd leave, no fire and very little electicity to limit [[PlayingWithFire Torches]] and [[ShockAndAwe Cracklers]]' resources, and more. The only person who's ever managed to escape was a [[{{Humanshifter}} Ringer]]. Jake comments that he probably ''could'' have escaped if he wanted to - but it would have required him to kill a lot of the guards on the way out, and they hadn't done anything that he considered grounds for squishing them.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: The Japanese ambassador takes to an order to commit seppuku very calmly, asking Toru to assist him and finding time to by sympathetic to the Iron Guard and offering him last words of advice.
* FairCop: Hammer is one of the first female lawmen, and there's a reason there's a certain tension between her and Jake.
* FakingTheDead: The Grimnoir include several allegedly dead characters.
** Lance pretended to have died in the attack that killed his wife and their baby.
** Browning feigned that he had suffered a fatal heart attack.
** Later, [[spoiler:Faye does this to let her handle the Spellbound problems.]]
* FalseFlagOperation: In the second book President-elect Roosevelt is attacked by an Active assassin sent by [[spoiler:the OCI]] so that they can manipulate public opinion and use that to pass various laws controlling Actives and place them under their authority.
* FantasticRacism: Many people hate and fear Actives and even among Actives some types like Fades, [[TheNecromancer Lazaruses]] and [[MoreThanMindControl Mouths]] are disliked and distrusted.
* [[FarmersDaughter Farmer's Granddaughter]]: Faye.
* FateWorseThanDeath: [[spoiler: The "angels" and "demons" that are summoned by the Power are actually the remnants of the souls from the destroyed planets and/or dimensions that the Power has previously inhabited that have been destroyed by the Enemy.]]
* TheFettered: Jake could have been the first non-Shifter to escape Rockville, but he chose not to because he'd have had to kill several guards in the process, and he refused to kill honest men just doing their jobs.
* {{Fiction 500}}: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is the richest man in the world, and owner of [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld United Blimp & Freight]]. [[spoiler:Francis is his grandson, and ends up inheriting the company]].
* FightsLikeANormal: Despite their oft-incredible powers, most of the characters default to firearms in battle, and everyone has guns for backup.
** Some characters, like Hammer or Lance, have powers that are more or less useless in battle, but are nevertheless talented and dangerous fighters.
* FlawExploitation: Everyone's been told that you're evil. How can you tell them what the real evil guys are doing? [[spoiler:Indulge in some "Villainous Gloating".]]
* FriendlyFire: [[spoiler: Faye attacks Jake, believing he's Madi; Lady Origami attacks Faye when she appears out of nowhere; Faye attacks Toru when he wants to join up.]] None lethal but some serious consequences ensue.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Faye starts the first book as a poor Okie girl with a power that's likely to get her killed trying to use it. By the end of the third, she's fought ''and injured'' the Chairman and survived that, teleported ''an entire airship'' thousands of miles, killed ''the'' uber-Summoned, and manages to kill a zeppelin battleship ''by herself''.
* FunctionalMagic: The Active abilities are all rather rigid, and based on connections between the Actives and different sections of the Power, with a skilled Active being able to reach into adjacent sectors of the Power; the kanji/runes are based on replicating various parts of the Power, forming connections with it.
* GadgeteerGenius: Much of the current technology is produced or at least initially developed by Cogs, whose Power is a supernatural aptitude for a particular branch of science.
* GeniusBruiser: Jake. Exceptionally well-read, brilliant enough to figure out what the Power really is, and a giant hulk of a man.
** Invoked by Walter Donovan in one of the chapter quotes: "the ideal OCI man is a [=PhD=] who could win a bar fight."
* AGodAmI: [[spoiler:Faye gives up the Spellbound power]] at the end of the third book specifically to ''avoid'' ending up like this.
* GoodIsNotNice: Ian Wright is an arrogant, argumentative jerk, but he's a loyal knight and can be incredibly brave in a pinch.
* GravityMaster: Sullivan [[spoiler:and his brother Madi]] can control gravity. Most Heavies can only lighten objects that they try to carry, but Sullivan practiced with his Power enough that he can change the direction of gravity, amplify it, etc.
* GrayEyes: A trait shared by all Travelers.
* GunPorn: Toned down from the Literature/MonsterHunterInternational series, since they have magic to fight with too this time, but that doesn't keep John Moses Browning from giving Sullivan a tour of his workshop.
* HandicappedBadass: Madi only has one eye. Lance has a very pronounced limp.
* HappilyAdopted: Faye... until her adopted parent is killed by Imperium agents.
* HavingABlast: Boomers.
* HealingHands: Healers such as Jane are in high demand, and a standard part of any rich person's retinue.
* HealingFactor: Passive Healers. Also, anyone with one or more kanji of healing.
* HeartIsAnAwesomePower: Lance's power is mostly strictly limited to recon unless there are large predators handy, but he can be pretty creative with it, as when he stops a car chase by [[spoiler: making a cow run in front of the other car. And wink.]]
** Heavies are generally considered among the most useless Actives out there, since all most of them can do is make heavy things a little lighter. Jake has practiced and studied enough that he's one of the most powerful characters in the series.
* {{Heavyworlder}}: [[GravityMaster Spikers/Heavies]] can become this by using their powers on themselves for prolonged periods of time.
* HeelRealization: Toru's implied to have one in his backstory; as he explains to one of the people he wronged, he used to partake in the Japanese blood games in China (with the Chinese people being the ones shedding blood) with as much joy as his fellow soldiers and Iron Guard, because the Chinese didn't [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman feel like real people]] to the Imperium, until something happened that made them become very real to him.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Near the beginning of Book Two, the Grimnoir are framed for an assassination attempt on FDR, and spend the rest of the book dealing with the fallout.
* HeroicSacrifice:
** [[spoiler: George Bolander and Whisper]] both do this in ''Spellbound,'' the former so spectacularly that he becomes a folk hero.
** In ''Warbound'', an anonymous Iron Guard [[spoiler:reveals the imposter Chairman at the cost of his life.]]
* HeroicSelfDeprecation:
** In ''Spellbound'', Jake, despite having saved the world twice at this point, believes that he shouldn't pursue a relationship with Hammer because she deserves someone better.
** Dan jokes that his wife would run away screaming if she could see anything more of him than his innards, and it's implied that he jokes about it to mask a genuine feeling of inferiority.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter:
** John J. "Black Jack" Pershing and John Moses Browning are both Grimnoir knights, and Sullivan has some unpleasant dealings with J. Edgar Hoover. Pershing mentions a Colonel Eisenhower when explaining something to Jake.
** In the second book, Buckminister Fuller makes a brief but significant appearance (he has a larger role in the third book). A United States Navy "[[Creator/RobertAHeinlein Lieutenant Heinlein]]" makes a briefer, much less significant appearance.
** In the third book, it's revealed that [[spoiler:Winston Churchill and William Donovan]] are Grimnoir elders.
** Also in the third book, turns out that [[spoiler: Rasputin]] was one of the Chairman's students.
** In the second and third books, Francis's [[HyperCompetentSidekick right-hand man]] is [[spoiler: Raymond Chandler]].
** ''Warbound'' features a very brief cameo by [[Film/IpMan Yip Man]], who's a member of the Shanghai Grimnoir.
* HistoricalPersonPunchline: The UBF accountant (who helped in the climactic battle, explaining that he fought with the Gordon Highlanders in WorldWarOne), turns out to be [[spoiler:Creator/RaymondChandler]].
** Hilariously subverted with [[spoiler: Rasputin]]. Most readers have probably guessed his identity long before he reveals it, and he expects Faye to have done so as well. He's therefore rather disappointed to find she's never heard of him.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: In RealLife, UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan was racist, militaristic, and expansionist, with an array of atrocities to its name. The Imperium is all of that, turned UpToEleven, and more successful.
* HonestCorporateExecutive / BenevolentBoss: Francis, after he [[spoiler: inherits UBF]].
* HopeSpot: Just after defeating the Bull King, [[spoiler:Delilah gets run through by a ninja]].
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Faye kills [[spoiler: Rasputin]] by Traveling him into the path of his own spell.
* HugeGuyTinyGirl: The massive Jake and the petite Delilah.
** Non-romantic example in the two protagonists: enormous Jake and tiny Faye.
** And another straight example with Jake and [[spoiler: Lady Origami]].
* HumansAreSpecial: [[spoiler:It turns out that humans are the first rational, creative beings the Power has found, which is what makes it think it can defeat the Enemy at last.]]
* IAmNotLeftHanded: [[spoiler:Faye isn't really a Traveler. She's a Cog whose specialty is understanding magic so well that she can use ''any'' power.]]
* IAmNotPretty: Faye thinks of herself as quite plain. Most people who meet her seem to disagree.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: When [[spoiler:he's infected with the Pathfinder, Toru]] begs his brother to kill him, as he's tied up and can't do so himself. [[spoiler:Hayate ignores him.]]
* ICantBelieveAGuyLikeYouWouldNoticeMe: Charmingly, neither [[spoiler: Faye nor Francis]] can quite figure out what the other sees in them.
* [[IfYouEverDoAnythingToHurtHer If He Ever Does Anything to Hurt You]]: Lance cautions Faye to be careful, because he really doesn't want to have to break Francis's neck for dishonoring her.
* InsistentTerminology: Sullivan ''really'' prefers the term 'Gravity Spiker.'
* InsultToRocks: After Faye calls Toshiko a fat cow, she mentally notes that that's not really fair, since cows are nice.
* IntangibleMan: Heinrich, one of the Grimnoir knights, is a Fade, who can walk through walls and let weapons pass right through him.
** In the final book, Captain Southunder warns Sullivan that if he doesn't make [[spoiler: Akane]] happy, he'll find himself having a lethal 'accident.'
* InterClassRomance: [[spoiler: Faye and Francis]]
* InterserviceRivalry: The Iron Guard and Shadow Guard (or at least Madi and Toshiko) do not have a high opinion of each other. The BI and OCI conflict plays a significant role in the second book.
* ItHasBeenAnHonor: [[spoiler: Sullivan and Toru]] share a moment of this when surrounded by Imperium troops at the end of ''Warbound.''
* ItsRainingMen: In ''Warbound'', Sullivan decides to interrupt [[spoiler: the false Chairman's Shanghai visit]]. How? By donning a suit of PoweredArmor and dropping in. ''From seventy-five thousand feet up''.
* JerkAss: Cornelius. Gould. Stuyvesant.
* JustTheFirstCitizen: In the epilogue of book three, [[spoiler:Toru]] becomes the new Chairman. Well, he ''claims'' that he's just another one of the Emperor's ministers, but Jake doesn't doubt that [[spoiler:Toru]] has managed to acquire the power of that position even if he hasn't gotten the official job title.
* KingpinInHisGym: Just before the climactic battle of ''Hard Magic,'' there's a scene of Madi sparring with increasingly larger groups of Imperial Marines all at once. He compliments a man who managed to get through his guard during a 10-on-1 match.
* KnownOnlyByTheirNickname: The real name of Lady Origami (also known as Ori for short) is Akane. This doesn't get revealed until late in the third book.
* LadykillerInLove: Francis had "been around a few blocks" before [[spoiler: falling in love with Faye.]]
--> ''"Francis had loved a lot of women. He only cared about one."''
* LastMinuteHookup: Jake only gets a love interest in the latter half of the final book of the trilogy.
* LastRequest: [[spoiler:Delilah]] makes one as a zombie, rather commandingly. [[spoiler:Jake is to get over her, marry, have kids, and live to a ripe old age.]] The first three points are fulfilled as of the epilogue of ''Warbound''.
* LetsGetDangerous: Lance is a Beastie, who can control animals, and generally uses squirrels, birds, and dogs for recon. And then the final battle in ''Spellbound'' he decides to borrows a ''Siberian Tiger'' from the National Zoo. In ''Warbound'' he uses a ''Polar Bear''. [[spoiler:And in his final battle he takes over an Imperium Shadow Guard and has him murder all his comrades before committing suicide.]]
* LikeFatherUnlikeSon: While Francis' father had morals more malleable than Play-Doh, Francis himself is the epitome of HonestCorporateExecutive.
* LivingLieDetector: Justices, such as Hammer, can apply their power to discover the intent behind the speaker's words.
* LivingOnBorrowedTime / TheLastDance: Shortly after [[spoiler:Delilah is killed, she is accidentally revived as a zombie by an Imperium necromancer. Rather than being immediately put down, she decides to go out fighting]].
* LittleMissBadass: Faye, who may or may not be 18 yet and is pretty small. She irritates everyone trying to fight her by not being where they think she is and, in the final battle, kills around a hundred Imperium marines and wounds the Chairman. In ''Spellbound'', the evil OCI chief is scared by Sullivan and a Lance-controlled Siberian Tiger. He's ''utterly terrified'' of Faye.
** In ''Warbound'' she kills an Imperium ''Kaga''-class zeppelin ''by herself''. As in, she solos the largest, most powerful warship ''on the planet''. In under four minutes.
** [[spoiler: It's eventually revealed that she can use ''any power she wants''.]]
* MadeOfIron: Madi and Rokusaburo in particular, Brutes, Massives and people with [[PowerTattoo kanji]] of durability in general.
* MagicAIsMagicA: Turns out there are very structured cosmological underpinnings to the seemingly-random magical gifts.
* MakeThemRot: Pale Horses can induce illness - sometimes truly horrific ones - in anyone they touch. This is why they're the only type of active hated more than Lazari.
* MakeUpIsEvil: Downplayed. Faye thinks that Whisper's make up is a bit scandalous in America; she supposes it's different in France.
* MassiveNumberedSiblings: Toru has nine hundred and ninety nine siblings; though granted, given the Chairman's age, it's uncertain how many of them are still alive by the time of the story.
* MassTeleportation: At the end of ''Hard Magic'', [[spoiler:Faye manages to teleport an entire zeppelin full of people out of harm's way.]]
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: In ''Warbound'', severely wounded, unconscious Toru dreams of a past event, which goes off the rails as the Chairman reveals himself to be his own ghost, speaking to Toru from beyond the grave. He tells Toru that he's proud of him and he shouldn't have overlooked him - something that Toru, suffering from a bad case of WellDoneSonGuy, desperately needed to hear. Now, the question for the reader - is this the Chairman actually visiting Toru, or was it the Iron Guard's fever dream? Toru believes the former, but Okubo's slightly OOC behaviour leaves the matter ambiguous.
* MeaningfulRename:
** Several Iron Guards adopt a new name.
** Whisper and Lady Origami both adopted the nicknames they were given (when too traumatized to speak) as their names as they TookALevelInBadass.
* MetaOrigin: All magic powers (be they innate or the kanji brands) come from [[CosmicEntity The Power]].
* MightyWhitey: Madi is a villainous example leavened only by the fact that there ''are'' other Caucasians in the Iron Guard, albeit none of whom are on his level or that of the Japanese members.
* MiniMap: Faye has a "head map" that shows her all people and obstacles around her. It lets her teleport safely without ending up in a wall, makes her impossible to sneak up on, and she can punch the map through a communication spell to travel long distances.
* MindControl: Beasties such as Lance can control animals and see through their eyes for reconnaissance. Mouths like Dan can control people to a limited extent, but can't make them do anything they wouldn't consider anyway.
* MindOverMatter: Francis comes from a long line of Movers.
* MirrorMatch: Twice, Sullivan has to go head-to-head with his brother, pitting gravity powers against gravity powers. See also Faye vs. Toshiko
* MotorMouth:
** Faye. When she starts talking, she just doesn't stop.
** Buckminster Fuller has a habit of talking a whole lot. Jake develops a habit of stopping him few sentences in.
* MundaneFantastic: Actives are a known entity and many types like Heavies, [[ShockAndAwe Cracklers]], [[AnIcePerson Iceboxes]] and [[MindOverMatter Movers]] are commonly employed while the rarer types like [[HealingHands Healers]] and [[GadgeteerGenius Cogs]] are highly sought after.
* MundaneUtility:
** Donald Bryce is a [[{{Necromancer}} Lazarus]] who works for the Grimnoir. He used to be an NYPD homicide detective known for ''always'' closing his cases.
** Jake is a Heavy and can control gravity. In a fight, he often lugs a gun by limiting its weight until he has to shoot. (And then increases it while shooting to limit recoil.)
* NearDeathExperience: Both Jake and Faye. When caught up in it, they can see the two most powerful beings on Earth: The Power itself, and the Chairman.
* {{Necromancer}}: In-setting, an Active (such as Hiroyasu) that can raise and command zombies is called a "Lazarus." They are the second most universally hated groups of Actives, even by other Actives, due to their power.
* NegativeSpaceWedgie: Nixies can create black holes, which fortunately never grow more than a mile or so across [[spoiler: except for the giant one that Faye creates to swallow the Enemy at the end of ''Warbound'']].
* NewPowersAsThePlotDemands: Faye's abilities, even after they're explained, seem to grow and change based on the demands of the plot. First, she spontaneously develops the skill to teleport other people with her; then, she somehow manages to master PortalCut without ever considering it possible before (note that the ability to do so disappears after book one). When she has to teleport a lot of people, her power suddenly grows to accomodate that; then when the plot needs her to hop all over the world, she can suddenly travel through communication mirrors; and finally, when faced with the Enemy, [[spoiler:she discovers that she can actually use all Powers, and masters them all with no training whatsoever.]]
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: In the first book Faye almost kills Sullivan [[spoiler: after mistaking him for Madi, his older brother]].
* NietzscheWannabe: The Chairman's philosophy has elements of this; Madi takes those elements and runs with 'em as far as they can go.
* {{Ninja}}: The Shadow Guard. Membership is restricted to highly trained [[IntangibleMan Fades]] and [[TeleportersAndTransporters Travelers]].
* NinjaPirateZombieRobot: Ninjas, pirates, and zombies all come together for the big climactic fight scene of ''Hard Magic''.
** Then, of course, robots show up in the sequel ''Spellbound''.
* NobleBigot: Travelin' Joe hates the Okies that pass by his farm, but not so much that he doesn't adopt one to keep her from killing herself with her power.
* NotQuiteSavedEnough: The Chairman killed two Pathfinders of The Enemy, but a third is on the way and he isn't around to stop it this time. [[spoiler:He actually only killed one. The third Pathfinder is actually the second, which escaped him and has been subverting influential Actives around the world for half a century, and is now ready to call its master.]]
* NoSell: Iron Guard are ''tough''. It takes fifty Gs to kill Rokusaburo, and Toru's only reaction to a point-blank shot to the head is annoyance.
* OddFriendship: Smooth, friendly Mouth Dan and taciturn, paranoid Fade Heinrich.
** Similarly, enormous, stoic Sullivan and the tiny, CuteButPsycho ball of excitement that is Faye.
* OddlyCommonRarity: The first book mentions multiple times that Healers in particular are the rarest of the rare among the rare individuals at are Active... and yet it also mentions multiple forms of Actives who are so rare that they're barely known. People with enough money can find multiple Healers to have on-call, but no one can find a Nixie to ask what he does, despite the name being known. The second book doesn't have anyone talk about how rare Healers are, probably because the heroes keep finding Actives they didn't know of in the first book.
* OhCrap: In ''Spellbound,'' OCI thug Sharps has this reaction when he realizes that [[spoiler: Heinrich, whom he had just been working over, has gotten his magic back.]]
* OnePersonOnePower: An in-setting rule of thumb to which Chairman Okubo Tokugawa is the sole exception as far as anyone knows, though people who are very skilled with their one power can often emulate a related one. For example, Jake can use fine gravity control as a makeshift telekinetic ability. [[spoiler:In the third book, Faye is revealed to be a Cog who can use any power she wants.]]
* OutOfCharacterAlert: Toru tests the Chairman by asking him to interpret one of his poems. The Chairman answers with a perfectly acceptable interpretation. [[spoiler: But the ''real'' Chairman would never have lowered himself to interpreting one of his poems.]]
* PetTheDog:
** In a very human and even kind moment, the Chairman [[spoiler:consoles Sullivan over Delilah's death and helps him come to terms with it; Sullivan even sincerely thanks him for it... right before saying that he still plans on killing him regardless.]]
** It's eventually revealed that the reason Toru got assigned to the US Embassy - an stain on a honour of an Iron Guard - was because he [[spoiler:opposed the horrible practices of Japanese soldiers in China.]]
* PhoneCallFromTheDead: At the beginning of ''Spellbound'', [[spoiler:the Chairman]] uses Edison's Spirit Phone[[note]]Something Edison once told a reporter he was working on IRL because he didn't want to admit that he was between big projects at the time[[/note]] to communicate with Jake from beyond the grave.
* PlayingWithFire: Torches. Most Torches are actually employed to ''put out'' fires, especially on zeppelins.
* PlayingWithSyringes: Frequent mention is made of the [[TruthInTelevision horrific medical experiments carried out by Unit 731.]]
* PocketProtector: In their TeleportSpam duel, Toshiko believes she has the upper hand when she slices into what she thinks is Faye's spine. That is until Faye reveals that what was actually hit was [[ChekhovsGun the cheap pistol she had purchased earlier]]. Toshiko does not take this revelation well.
* PoisonousPerson: Harkeness is a Pale Horse, an Active so rare they border on mythological status. He can control his power at will, but that doesn't make Stuyvesant any less wary of him.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Despite being set in the 1930s, by far the most explicitly racist (American) character is [[TheDragon Crow]].
* PortalCut: How Faye [[spoiler: cuts the Chairman's hands off]].
* PosthumousCharacter: [[spoiler:The Chairman]] dying doesn't stop him from casting a long shadow on the plot - or interfering in it, for that matter.
* PowerArmor: The Imperium developed some for the Iron Guard, which were restricted to the elites because of the difficulty of manufacture. Fuller makes a set for Sullivan in the third book. While wearing one, Toru is described as a walking samurai tank.
* PowerStrainBlackout: Using too much power at once can put an Active into a coma, or even kill them.
* PowerTattoo: The kanji used by the Imperium to enhance their operatives. They are technically brands or scars though, as opposed to actual tattoos.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: The Chairman is the very first Active, and is thus considerably older than he looks. Other members of the Dark Ocean were given dramatically reduced aging by him, but were not immortal.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Francis delivers one of these to ''Franklin Roosevelt.'' Needless to say, it comes back to bite him.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Literally, by implication: it's noted that only truly incompetent Imperium officers get assigned to the [[spoiler: Pathfinder monitoring stations]] built near the poles.
* RequiredSecondaryPowers: Iceboxes are immune to cold. Travellers have the ability to track everything around them so they they don't accidentally kill themselves through a TeleporterAccident (Though many of them die before they figure out how to use it). Averted with Torches and Edisons, who are not immune to fire and electricity, respectively.
* RichIdiotWithNoDayJob: Francis purposefully cultivates this image.
* {{Ronin}}: The Chairman's backstory
* RuleOfCool: Are autonomous war robots programmed by perforated tapes plausible? Could a demon hundred feet tall even stand? Is it likely to have a PowerArmour in nintey thirties? Wouldn't a fall from seventy thousand feet kill you? ''Do you care about that?''
* SadisticChoice: Presented by an accident rather than malice. When [[spoiler:Faye shoots Jake, and Heinrich shoots her]], Jane only has enough healing power to save one of them.
* SchoolOfSeduction: Part of Toshiko's training as a ninja, as Madi notes. He exploits this.
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale: Underplayed example of the "no sense of time" variety. The Chairman is a bit over a hundred years old and noted to have a thousand recognized children - if we give him twenty years to grow up, he'd have to have one kid per month, not counting forgotten one-night stands. While that's not ''impossible'' per se, it strains credibility.
* SecondLove: Both [[spoiler:Jake and Lady Origami]] lost their original loves.
* SeenItAll: Due to his [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld advanced age]] & [[WalkingTheEarth extensive travels]], the Chairman suffers from a mild case of this.
* {{Seppuku}}: A fixture of honor-bound Imperium culture, treated as a normal part of life there. The [[spoiler:false Chariman]] uses this to get rid of problematic people, and Toru initially proclaims that he will commit seppuku after finishing his father's quest.
* SequelHook: [[spoiler: The ending has Toru and Sullivan on a beach, with the latter stating that, while the Imperium has shut down its schools and Unit 731, war may resume one day with America or the Grimnoir. He also speculates that the Enemy may one day find a way to escape and have to be dealt with for good. On a positive note, Faye has become an inventor that's changing the world with her inventions and her next project might involve the fact that she misses Travelling...]]
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Buckminster Fuller. This is apparently a trait he possessed in RealLife.
* SheCleansUpNicely: Faye turns out to look really good in a nice dress.
* ShockAndAwe: Cracklers, although they prefer to be called "Edisons."
* ShoutOut: When Sullivan stops to ask directions from an Imperium soldier: "English! [[Film/PulpFiction Do you speak it]]?"
** After Francis [[spoiler:inherits the family fortune]], he considers [[Franchise/{{Batman}} wearing a costume when performing his Grimnoir duties to distinguish himself from his playboy millionaire public image]]. He decides against it.
** When Sullivan drops in on the Imperium in Shanghai, a couple of Iron Guards have a "Is it a [[{{Superman}} bird/plane/man]]?" conversation.
** The climax of ''Spellbound'' features [[spoiler: a hundred-foot super-demon]] [[Film/KingKong1933 climbing the Washington Monument while fighting off biplanes]].
* ShutUpHannibal: Crow tries to convince Faye to come with him quietly, offering to spare her friends and explain the true nature of her power to her. Her response:
-->'''Faye:''' "You should have thought of that before you beat up my boyfriend."
** In the same book, Dr. Bradford outlines his grand vision to Francis to try to get him on board with it. Francis responds with "''Fuck'' your vision!"
* SinisterMinister: [[spoiler: Rasputin the Black Monk]] is posing as a Russian holy man in ''Warbound.'' Faye is ''quite'' offended that a man who wants to help [[spoiler: the Pathfinder]] kill all of God's creatures is posing as a man of Christ.
* SkyPirate: The last piece of the Geo-Tel is protected by Southunder, who preys on Imperium ships in the Pacific ocean from his zeppelin.
* TheSpartanWay: The Imperium's infamous magic schools take anyone with a drop of power away from their families to be pushed as hard as they can. Thousands have died from being considered too weak or being pushed too far.
* StealthHiBye: Faye, being a Traveler, does this all the time.
* SuperFunHappyThingOfDoom: Tesla's "Peace Ray."
* SuperStrength: Delilah, enough said. Jake, to an extent.
** In the second and third book, Toru.
* SwarmOfRats: Lance unleashes one of these in ''Warbound''
--> ''"So much blood!"''
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: Zig-zagged; while Faye's natural talent lets her run circles around the well-trained Toshiko, Jake's greater power does not generally keep him from getting smacked around by the more skillful Madi.
** Given his TrainingFromHell and [[PowerTattoo Iron-Guard-issue kanji brands]], Madi was both more powerful and more skilled than Jake. Jake was just [[CombatPragmatist smarter]] and more focused on winning -- as opposed to proving a point.
* TeleportSpam: Any fight involving a Traveler such as Faye, Toshiko, Travelin' Joe, etc.
* TeleporterAccident: One of the reasons Travelers are so rare: most kill themselves early on by teleporting into flying insects or tree-branches.
** Faye gets a beetle stuck in her foot early in ''Hard Magic.''
* TheDragon / TheHeavy: Madi, to the Chairman.
** In the second book, Crow to Bradford.
* TimeAbyss: In ''Warbound,'' an oracle states that the Power has been on the run from the Enemy for at least 1 million years.
* TinyGuyHugeGirl: Dan and Jane.
* TokenEvilTeammate: Sociopathic psychologist Dr. Wells in the third book. In the end it's revealed that [[spoiler: he's taken control of the Shanghai underworld]].
** Arguably Mr. Bryce the Lazarus, who seems to enjoy turning dead criminals into zombies and beating on them a ''little'' too much.
* TookALevelInBadass: Whisper and Lady Origami both had backstories of turning from Damsels In Distress to effective and dangerous agents of Grimnoir.
* TrainingFromHell: Madi has this in his backstory. Presumably, the other Iron Guards did as well.
* TranquilFury: Jao the Icebox in ''Warbound.'' When he meets the man who murdered his family, he very calmly lists the man's crimes while freezing him solid.
* TriggerHappy: Faye is a strong believer in "shoot first, ask questions later", which comes to bite her in the back first when she [[spoiler:shoots Jake, thinking he's Madi, and almost gets killed for it by other Grimnoir]], and then when she shoots Toru, not realizing he's on her side, and he completely {{No Sell}}s it.
* UglyGuyHotWife: Plain, overweight Dan and movie-star gorgeous Jane. It helps that, as a Healer, she sees people's insides rather than their outsides.
-->'''Jane:''' "Oh, Dan! I love you just the way you are: squishy and filled with juice."
* UnEqualRites: There are two forms of magic in this world: the innate magic that people are born with, and magic that comes through drawn symbols (kanji). As it turns out, they have the [[MetaOrigin same ultimate source]].
* TheUnfunny: Toru. He ''has'' a sense of humor; he just considers it beneath his dignity to let it show. Doesn't stop him from being frequently hilarious.
--> '''Toru:''' "I am wet."
* VictoryIsBoring: The reason the Chairman doesn't just wipe out the Grimnoir? Because they're interesting, and being immortal can get very dull sometimes.
* WalkingTheEarth: The Chairman's backstory includes a long period of doing this.
* WaveMotionGun: [[NonIndicativeName Peace Rays]]. One shot, at ''seven percent power'', is sufficient to wipe the city of Mar Pacifica off the map. The Geo-Tel is even more powerful, able to destroy everything for hundreds of miles around; TheTunguskaEvent was a test fire.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In the assault on OCI headquarters, Lance manages to hijack a Siberian tiger. Then everything goes to hell, almost literally. What happened to the tiger is never explained.
* WhatBeautifulEyes: When Francis first meets Faye, he doesn't find her that attractive… except for her striking gray eyes. They're easily her most commented on feature.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: A sadly based-on-real-events variety; the Imperium soldiers have been trained to see the Chinese as subhuman, so many treat them like animals or even objects.
* WeCanRuleTogether: The Chairman speculates about making the offer to Jake. Jake's answer?
--> '''Jake:''' "Whatever."
--> '''The Chairman:''' [[DeadpanSnarker "You sum up so much philosophy in so few words."]]
* WickedCultured: The Chairman. Madi tries to emulate his mentor in this, but fails miserably.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: Crow's summoning magic has been augmented to the point that he can [[spoiler: possess the bodies of the creatures he summons.]] The drawback is that this has a negative effect on his mental stability, especially when he uses a powerful demon.
* WellDoneSonGuy: Toru desperately needs to prove himself as a worthy son to his father - who's the Chairman himself, making this rather complicated. Turned into a somewhat sweet moment in ''Warbound'' as [[spoiler:he has a vision of his father speaking to him from beyond the grave, admitting that in his pursuit of poer he might've overlooked some of his best children (with Toru, of course, implied to be one of those).]]
* WellIntentionedExtremist:
** The Chairman just wants humanity to be strong so we'll be able to fight The Enemy when it arrives.
** [[spoiler:Harkeness curses the General in order to set up a BatmanGambit against the Chairman.]]
* WhamLine: Buckminster Fuller mentioning that [[spoiler:Faye is a very gifted Cog.]]
* WorthyOpponent: The Chairman views Sullivan as this. The feeling isn't entirely mutual.
** [[spoiler: Toru]] comes to think of Sullivan as this over the course of the second and third books. This time, the feeling's mutual.
* WouldHitAGirl: Most Grimnoir. When there are members of the allegedly weaker sex capable of bending steel bars with their bare hands, it's safer to treat all potential enemies equally.
* WretchedHive: In ''Warbound,'' Sullivan muses to himself that, if God doesn't destroy [[spoiler: Shanghai]], then he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.
* XRayVision: Healers like Jane only ever see people as walking bags of fluids and organs.
* YellowPeril: Averted. Despite the Imperium (which consists of Japan and its conquered territories of China and Korea) being the initial antagonists of the series, it's made clear that this is due to the Chairman and his followers, not the people in general. When Sullivan meets Lady Origami, a kind Japanese woman working as a crewman on a Grimnoir pirate zeppelin, the captain points out that Japan only became the fascist hellhole that it is by killing or exiling people like her. It's also shown in Spellbound that [[spoiler: the United States could be just one corrupt and powerful senator away from becoming another Imperium.]]
* YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm: Trying to draw the Enemy causes an oracle to start writing so hard that his own blood mixes with the ink and he claims the only a blood-ink mixture can begin to illustrate its horror.
* YouFightLikeACow: Faye ([[{{Irony}} who grew up on a dairy farm]]) spends much of her fight with Toshiko tossing insults at the ninja.
* YouHaveFailedMe: [[spoiler:Dan]] clears a room of Imperium soldiers by telling them that they have failed the Chairman and must atone with their lives. [[spoiler:Thanks to his Mouth abilities, all the non-Iron Guard present believe him and commit sepukku on the spot.]]
* [[YouKilledMyFather You Killed My Adoptive Grandfather]]: Why Faye joins the Grimnoir.
* ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld: Kind of. Zeppelins play a large role in the story, but it takes place during a time when they really were used in RealLife, though not to the extent they are in the story. It's also justified, as Cracklers and Torches manage to alleviate many of the dangers of the technology.
* ZombieApocalypse:
** [[spoiler: The second Pathfinder attacked the Chairman and the Dark Ocean with wave after wave of skinless undead bodies that it had taken control of. The third Pathfinder spreads them around, preparting to feast on all Active living zones at once.]]
** On a smaller scale, the fate of Berlin after the Great War, as the zombies raised by the Kaiser have been locked up there.
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