Tanith Lee is a prolific SF writer, who has written over 70 novels and over 200 short stories. She has written science fiction, fantasy, and horror, for adults and for children.
Her first novel, The Dragon Hoard
(1971), is a comic fantasy that takes the mickey out a wide range of fairy tale
tropes while telling the story of how Prince Jasleth was forced to go on a quest after his family was cursed by a sorceress who wasn't invited to his birthday party. Other notable works for younger readers include The Unicorn Trilogy
(1991-1997) and the Piratica
Lee's first novel for adults was The Birthgrave
(1975), which was nominated for a Nebula Award
. Other notable works for adults include The Silver Metal Lover
(1981); the Biting the Sun
duet (1976-1977); and the Flat Earth
Tanith Lee also wrote two episodes of the 1970s science fiction TV series Blake's 7
Works by Tanith Lee with their own trope page include:
Tanith Lee's other work provides examples of:
- Awesome McCoolname: Tanith Lee.
- Abusive Parents: Jane's mother in The Silver Metal Lover.
- Berserk Button: In Vivia, Vaddix was in peace negotiations with a defeated enemy when one of the disarming soldiers accidentally discharged his crossbow, killing Vaddix's horse. He crucified the lot of them right there and then.
- Body to Jewel: In the Flat Earth series, Ferazhin, who was created from a flower, has tears that turn into gems.
- Chariot Race: Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, aka Shadowfire, has a chariot race that's an obvious homage to Ben Hur.
- City of Canals: The Books of Venus.
- Clothing Damage / Defeat by Modesty: Vivia hides inside the flames after an attempt to burn her at the stake only succeeded in reducing her clothes to ash.
- Country Matters: In case the brutal murders were not enough to tell the readers that Vivia's father is a nasty man, he also swears a lot and calls his underlings rude words.
- Cry for the Devil: "The Demoness"
- Dead All Along: Parl Dro in To Kill the Dead.
- Deal with the Devil: Beautifully deconstructed in the short story "Sold". A woman with serious medical and financial problems calls on the devil, asking if he would really give her health, wealth, beauty, and long life in exchange for her soul. When he replies in the affirmative, she calls off the deal: all she really wanted was proof that she had a soul and that it was worth something.
- Disease Bleach: Felix Phoenix of Piratica used to have dark hair, until years in a workhouse as a child turned his hair white.
- Fisher King: In Death's Master, Narasen's kingdom is cursed to be as barren as she was. After her death, she returns and reinvokes the curse in jealous revenge, contaminating the land with the poison that killed her.
- Gender Bender: One of the main characters of Death's Master, the second novel in the Flat Earth fantasy series, is this.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Lords of Darkness in the Flat Earth series are personifications of human ideas such as Death and Madness, and most would cease to exist without human belief; the first Lord, the personification of Wickedness, is stated to be older than humanity, but it's implied even he would be diminished without humans around. The Gods themselves don't seem to care one bit whether humans die or not, and regard a very real threat to humanity with a nonchalant shrug.
- Grimmification: Some of her fairy tale retellings.
- Haunted Fetter: In Kill the Dead, ghosts have an item from their previous life that links them to this plane. If the item is damaged or destroyed the ghost is sent to its final destination.
- Humans Are Bastards: To Vivia
- The Hunter: Steel in "Eva Fairdeath"
- Horny Devils: "The Demoness" Sex with the title character leaves men completely insane. Made all the more tragic by the fact that she doesn't really understand what she is most of the time.
- I'm Not Afraid Of You: In Companions on the Road, three mercenaries involved in sacking a castle are pursued by the vengeful spirits of people killed there. The ghosts invade their sleep and kill them in nightmares; but when the last remaining member of the group realizes that he pities the ghosts more than he fears them, they vanish.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: In the Piratica books, this is practically a signature move for Art and her pirate crew. Almost all of them are actually actors, and have only been trained in stage combat.
- The Insomniac: In Companions on the Road, the main character is in danger from ghosts that kill in dreams, and so does everything possible to stay awake, including using drugs. After a few days, he's in terrible shape, exhausted and thinking confusedly, though not delusional.
- Interspecies Romance: The Silver Metal Lover and its sequel, Metallic Love, in which, you guessed it, girl falls in love with robot.
- Istanbul Not Constantinople: The Secret Books of Paradys are set in an alternate Paris, while The Secret Books of Venus are set in an alternate Venice. She also refers to the "Remusan Empire" in Cyrion.
- Lady Land: In East of Midnight, a charming rogue unwittingly travels from a male-dominated world to a parallel female-dominated one, in which he happens to resemble the consort of the (female) Moon King.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: In Death's Mistress, the Queen of Hell was a human princess who ousted Death from his throne instead of serving him for 1000 years. Death decided he liked roaming the Earth, but the inhabitants of Hell want him to come back.
- Orifice Invasion: Featured in a story about a demon that takes possession of humans via their orifices.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vivia
- Perspective Flip: Red As Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer
- Pirate Girl: The Piratica series.
- Power Perversion Potential: A vampire demonstrates in Vivia.
- Quest for Identity: The Birthgrave, Prince on a White Horse
- Sex Bot: In The Silver Metal Lover (and its sequel, Metallic Love), a corporation comes out with a line of male and female humanoid robots in various metallic skin tones; they're advertised as "artists" (golds specialize in acting, silvers in music, coppers in dance) and though they can do those things, everyone seems to assume that they're really intended as sex bots and the other capabilities are just frills. Kind of a robotic High-Class Call Girl.
- Show Within a Show: The entirety of Electric Forest, which isn't revealed until the final chapter that completely turns the preceding events upside-down and purple, creating a last minute Mind Screw while simultaneously acting as a Mind Screwdriver.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: "Strindberg's Ghost Sonata"
- Spooky Photographs: "Yellow and Red"
- Taken for Granite: The witch in Prince on a White Horse has an annoying habit of paralysing people at random, fortunately temporarily.
- Talking Animal: In Prince on a White Horse, the Prince has reason to suspect that the horse can talk, but the horse says he can't.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Sabella, Kill the Dead
- Twice Told Tale: Many, including all the stories in Red As Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer.
- Vagina Dentata: "The Weasel Bride"
- Wicked Stepmother:
- Subverted in "Red As Blood", a retelling of "Snow White" in which the stepmother is trying to save the day.
- Subverted majorly in "The Reason For Not Going To The Ball" Turning her stepdaughter into a scullery maid was to shield her from the notice of her molester father. The story/letter is to offer her stepdaughter a safe home and a way to escape the prince, a man who'd make the Marquis de Sade proud — the reason for trying to prevent her from going to the ball in the first place.
- Wonder Child: In one of the Flat Earth books, the lady who wants a child has a date with an angel. They kiss, and she is told she'll conceive the next time she and her husband are together; she does, and thereby hangs the tale.