Canfyre is two unfinished fantasy novels by The Evil Oboist. She has been working on them for most of her life (though the current incarnation looks absolutely nothing like it did when she first started. Granted, she was six years old).The story is thus:Amy Canfyre is a fourteen-year-old member of the Canfyre clan, a hated and exiled clan of Dragonriders. A revolution is brewing in the Xionocri Empire, which has oppressed the Canfyres for three hundred years. If it is successful, Amy and her family will be free of both fear and oppression. If it fails, they will die. Set in a semi Steam Punk, semi Regency England, semi Standard Fantasy Setting world, it's a little different from a typical fantasy. I like to focus on the characters rather than the setting, and while magic exists in this world, none of the main characters are mages.The second book starts off after the revolution, which (surprise!) was successful. Almost three years after the events of the first book, Amy finds herself serving in the new Imperial Army. Things start sucking really quickly, though, when she loses her adoptive mother and turns to laudanum to escape reality. She gets better after almost dying of an overdose, but she finds out that she ruined her reputation and damaged that of her family, and lost the respect of her boyfriend Matteo. Also, there's zombies. And forbidden romance.Main themes include revenge, forgiveness, the importance of family, and the importance of standing up to oppression and intolerance, regardless of the consequences.I've tried to make this character-based and the plot has suffered for it. That's my biggest challenge with this story, developing the story and the characters at the same time and rate. Another challenge happened because I made too many characters and I can't keep track of them all.Canfyre provides examples of:
A Boy and His X: All of the Dragonriders have deep, unique relationships with their dragons. They kind of have to—even if their friends and family all die, the dragon will be with them until their very last breath. You know someone's hit rock bottom if their dragon is considering leaving them forever.
Action Girl: Many of the main female characters, especially Amy.
Aerith and Bob: First we have totally normal names like Amy, Alex, and Sam. Then we have names that are real but unusual, like Arianne, Durand, Landra, and Azalea. Then we have names that are totally made up, like Halan, Kidator, and Kaylanie.
Anti-Hero: Most characters are morally ambiguous at times. How they get to a solution doesn't matter as much as the solution itself.
Badass in Distress: Arianne definitely needs help getting out of the Winter Palace. But once she has Celesterra anchoring her Bedsheet Ladder and Amy and Alex flying around outside the window, she rappels out by herself. In old-timey undies. Also, Alex and the rest of the berserkers, once Amy and Matteo break into the compound where they're being held. They rescue their own damn selves.
Bedsheet Ladder: Lampshaded by Arianne during her escape from the Winter Palace. Googling this phrase was actually what led me to TV Tropes for the first time.
The Berserker: Alex and Amy. A bunch of other berserkers take up minor roles in the second book.
In this story, berserkers are technically a class of mage, only they can't control their powers, they are much rarer than regular mages, and no one likes them. Their powers allow them to go into an indiscriminate mauling rage during battle and kill anything and everything in their paths—no matter who or what it is. They cannot distinguish between friend and foe, which leads to... accidents.
Berserker Tears: Sometimes happens to berserkers, in which case they weep blood.
Bishōnen: Lucien. Gee, I seem to have a thing for writing bishonen named Lucien...
Black and Gray Morality: The "gray" side is generally good, but the things the "good" characters do involve torture, pretend torture, (arguably) treason, armed rebellion against the established government... see Anti-Hero.
Blond Guys Are Evil: Faust. Averted with Durand, who is probably the nicest guy in the whole story.
Body Horror: The process by which berserker zombies are created. Unlike regular zombies, which can be killed and reanimated some time later, berserker zombies go immediately from living to zombified. While they're still alive, a form of The Corruption is introduced into their bodies, which pretty much eats them from the inside out with horrifying results. An escaped berserker in the late stages of corruption begs Amy for a Mercy Kill.
Book Dumb: Amy. She is quite smart, but not very good at school. A modern psychologist would probably diagnose her with ADD.
Break the Cutie: All of the cuties are broken at some point. Amy, Azalea, and Matteo happen in-story, but Alex was also broken when he was younger and more bishie. This is also a significant part of Adianna's backstory.
Door Stopper: The original version of the first book was over four hundred pages in Word. That was before I decided most of it was utter crap and started over.
Double Entendre: Oddly, most of them were unintentional. I decided to keep them in because I thought they were appropriate and funny.
Dragon Rider: All of the Canfyres and some other important characters. Different from the Pern-type Dragon Riders in that the dragons don't bond immediately after they hatch, and it is possible for them to leave their riders forever. Also, there's no telepathy involved—the dragons just talk with their mouths.
Driven to Suicide: Whether Ramira was killed in the final battle or killed herself when she realized that she'd lost is left ambigious.
Also left ambiguous is the question of whether Amy accidentally overdosed on laudanum while desperately trying to get her fix, or if her despondency caused her to overdose on purpose.
Drugs Are Bad: I'm trying to make this not be a main theme, but simply a personal struggle of Amy's.
Mr. Fanservice: All of the guys (except Kael, Faust, and the old King, unless you're into that sort of thing I guess...) seemed to turn into this. However, Alex is my favorite of the EB Bs. He seems to be everyone else's favorite, too...
Fake-Out Make-Out: Amy initiates one of these with Matteo (they're both naked, by the way) to distract some soldiers who were sent to bring her in. It works—they're Distracted by the Sexy long enough for Amy to come up with a better plan.
Landra, the resident Ms. Fanservice, gets a lot of scenes in rather slinky outfits (inluding a little silk nightie. Anachronistic? Yes. Who really cares, though?) Arianne also gets scenes like this, particularly when she's lounging around in bed with Alex, in which case it's a double fanservice scene.
The dudes also get Shirtless Scenes, or, in Matteo's case, a shirt-pants-socks-shoes-less scene. Alex's various shirtless scenes show off his many badass scars and his tattoo.
Amy seems to discover her own hotness in the second book and uses it to her advantage. She dresses up (down?) into a sexy disguise as part of the torture plot, which involves a corset and a flower tucked into her cleavage. Also, she gets naked at the same time as Matteo. I think my keyboard just exploded from the sexy.
A lot of the supporting male characters are just walking fanservice. Lucien, Sam, Rikart... they don't get a lot of screen time, compared to the others, but the female characters ogle them just the same.
Fantasy Contraception: Notably absent. Anyone wanting sex but not babies must make do with what was available in 1810, with rather sketchy results.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Xionocri Empire is Regency England, the Canfyres are Scottish, the Fiores are Italian, the Cesars are Spanish, the Audees are East Indian, and the Kaiyasoshi seem to be a weird mix of Gypsies, American Indians, and some shade of Cossack. I'm not sure what Gortina is, but they seem to have an American flavor.
It's significant to mention that all of the humanoid races are actually human (i.e. not elves or whatever). But the major ethnic groups we have are the Temaar (Amy and the rest of the Dragonriders), the Xionocri (Arianne, Durand, Landra, etc) and the Audees (they don't get much screen time).
Fantasy Pantheon: The big Xionocri religion. It's a bit ill-defined compared to some Fantasy Pantheons, and the evidence pointing to the gods' existence is a bit ambiguous—you know, just like in real life. The gods (at least the ones I've made up so far):
Janeia: Supreme goddess, may or may not be a deified version of the first Xionocri ruler. A Lady of War; protects warriors, the ruler, and women.
The Dragon: The patron god of dragons and Dragonriders. Not to be confused with The Dragon. Prior to the beginning of the story, his worship is forbidden in the Empire
The Phoenix: Goddess of love, rebirth, and fertility. Her celebrations are famously the most fun. Also protects women and oversees childbirth.
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Goldenclaw delivers an epic one of these to Amy, reminding her that they have to work together and that they'll never be able to rescue Alex and a bunch of other berserkers if she's going to fly off the handle.
Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Amy and Matteo at the very end of the story. Amy had already made a decision that she wouldn't have sex until things were less chaotic and dangerous in the Empire, just in case she happened to get pregnant (this came from seeing the many and sundry ways Arianne suffered because of failed herbal birth control).
Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Arianne. She considered the possibility at first. However, she decided that carrying the child to term and suffering the social consequences of having an illegitimate child were preferable to either dying because of abortion-related complications (it is 1810, remember) or suffering the worse social consequences that would happen if anyone found out she had an abortion.
After Arianne warmed up to the fact that she was going to have a baby (and became too pregnant to hide it), the option of abortion becomes something of a Berserk Button for her, especially since some of the nobles keep insinuating that she should have just gone through with it.
On the other hand, Arianne offers tansy (an herbal abortifacient) to Azalea following her rape, just in case, and she accepts it.
Good People Have Good Sex: Alex and Arianne. However, I know full well that I can't write a sex scene, so I just imply that they have really good sex. While they're together, Alex and Landra also have good sex, but that appears to be all there is to their relationship.
Groin Attack: Azalea, towards Kael. Unfortunately, that doesn't slow him down for long.
Happily Married: Pretty much the kiss of death for anyone who starts off this way. Arianne's husband Durand dies. Adianna's husband James goes missing, and then Adianna herself dies. Alex's wife Catherine died ten years before the story even starts. Others get happily married later, and stay that way.
Heroic Bastard: Rikart. His second-class status in Imperial Society, despite his rank as a general, foreshadows the kind of situation Iris will be in as she gets older.
Heroic BSOD: A lot of characters suffer them, including Amy, Alex, Azalea, Arianne, Matteo, etc.
Honey Trap: Sort of. Amy disguises herself as a prostitute, solicits to Kael, and gets him to drink some drugged wine so she can drag him off to a small, secluded room where no one can hear him screaming... Afterwards, of course, she takes a Bath Of Angst to wash the Squick off, as well as the Nightmare Fuel induced by seeing torture for the first time.
Mercy Kill: Near the end, Amy has to give one of these to a berserker that escaped Ramira's compound. He was suffering from the effects of the zombification process and begged for a swift death. Afterwards, Amy is spurred into finding Alex faster.
Mordor: The Zombie Apocalypse turns parts of the Xionocri Empire into this after a while. The zombies kill a town and Ramira reanimates the victims, making more zombies. The Empire sends in Dragonriders to burn out the zombies, leading to scorched earth and death.
Necromancer: Ramira. Everyone sees necromancy as an abomination, so Ramira knows that she faces certain death if she loses the war. Leading to the ambiguous Driven to Suicide mentioned earlier.
Nightmare Fuel: The berserker zombies, for anyone who sees them. Worse, Ramira starts to systematically abduct all of the berserkers in the Empire for the purpose of torturing them and turning them into berserker zombies. This leads to Paranoia Fuel for Amy and eventually desperation when Alex disappears.
I'm also trying to make Alex's attitude while he's torturing Kael Nightmare Fuel. Let's see if I can at least make it not be complete Narm.
Berserkers of the non-zombie variety are also Nightmare Fuel for pretty much everyone, including themselves. Hence why a lot of them turn to drink (Alex) or drugs (Amy) to distance themselves from the horrors they wrought without even trying.
No Periods, Period: Averted. Amy's first period is mentioned when she's talking about the first time she went berserk, and she also uses The Curse as an excuse as to why she doesn't want to go hang out with Azalea (the real reason being she wants to spend the afternoon in a laudanum-induced haze). Arianne also mentions that her periods made it impossible to tell when she first got pregnant, since they had been irregular since she was a girl.
Parents in Distress: Amy stops at nothing to save Alex from being turned into a berserker zombie. Part of this comes from her subconscious guilt at being unable to save Adianna, her adoptive mother, but it is also when she realizes that she loves Alex like she never thought she would.
Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Amy is more than capable of kicking your ass, as is Alex, though he's not quite small enough to play this trope completely straight.
Let me take a moment to explain just how badass this statement is. Amy, Matteo, Goldenclaw, and Hotfang are planning to infiltrate Ramira's camp and free about thirty captive berserkers. The camp is full of zombies, death-seeking ex-Legionnaires, and Ramira herself. Not to mention they have no idea if the berserkers have been zombified or not. And while Amy has the advantage of being a berserker herself, Matteo does not. He is essentially signing up for a death mission.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: Everyone's clans/peoples/families/whatever have elements of this. The Kaiyasoshi, Audees, and Canfyres play it straightest, but the Xionocri Empire has important warrior roots despite being comfortably in power for the last three hundred years or so.
Red Right Hand: While they're not fundamentally more evil than anyone else, all berserkers have a birthmark shaped like a bear paw. Amy's is on her right shoulder near her collarbone, and Alex's is on the inside of his left forearm.
Real Women Never Wear Dresses: I've tried to avert this in my writing as much as I possibly can. Feminine women like Arianne and Landra are real women, as are tomboys like Amy and Erica. Given the feminist tone that leaks into whatever I write, all of the women have strong characters, no matter their choice of apparel or activities. Now I just hope my future readers will feel the same way.
Rebellious Princess: Somewhat subverted with Celesterra. She's not very badass, she has the appearance and personality of a Princess Classic, and she never lifts a weapon (that we know of). Her rebelliousness comes from her not wanting to inherit the throne from her father (and subsequently finding herself under Ramira's thumb) and helping Arianne escape from the Winter Palace.
Red-Headed Hero: Most of the Canfyres, including Amy, Alex, Sam, Azalea, and Adianna.
Usually avoided during the torture scene, at least at the beginning—we see exactly what happens to Kael as Amy forces herself to watch, but eventually she breaks and runs out of the room just as Alex starts using the Kaiyasoshi NervePick.
She Cleans Up Nicely: The first book consists of Amy running around in grubby hand-me-downs. The first half of the second has her attending balls in beautiful Regency gowns, and the second half has her running around in a grubby army uniform.
Ship Tease: Arianne's rescue from the Winter Palace quickly turns into one of these with Alex, paving the way for plenty of others. The whole second book seems to be one big Ship Tease with Amy and Matteo.
Shipping: Heimdall is a major shipper of Alex and Arianne.
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: All of Arianne's suitors try to seduce her with their wealth, power, and rugged good looks. She isn't interested in any of them, preferring instead to be with someone who is a friend first and a lover second, with whom she has a common history.
Sleep Cute: After the rescue from the Winter Palace, Arianne is riding behind Alex on Heimdall. She falls asleep against his back. Also in the second book, Amy and Matteo sleep together because they couldn't fall asleep separately.
Squick: Amy has this reaction upon hearing about a hickey that Arianne is having trouble concealing. Ewwww.
Steam Punk: To some extent. I like to call it "pre-Steampunk" because the aesthetic is Regency rather than Victorian and there aren't that many airships. And there aren't any steam-driven robots or intrepid explorers or whatever, it's mostly just Napoleonic men-o'war in the sky that puts it in this category.
Stop Helping Me!: Amy to Matteo, when she runs off looking for Alex and the other captured berserkers. Luckily for her, Matteo refuses to stop and saves her from losing her leg to infection.
Their First Time: Amy and Matteo give themselves to each other at the very end of the story. As has been established, I can't write a sex scene, but the event is implied to be (understandably) a bit awkward. Still, neither of them really care, since they have nothing to compare it to and they love each other.
Took a Level in Badass: Matteo, the shy, unassuming, generally peaceful young man who never seemed like he had what it took to be a warrior, kills the first berserker zombie and Faust. One after the other. By himself. With a broken arm.
Tranquil Fury: Berserkers. See also Alex at the beginning of the torture scene, before he completely loses it.
Wizard Needs Food Badly: After berserkers go berserk, they need food right away because they are extremely weak afterwards and can be picked off with minimal effort. Hence why berserkers use different tactics when fighting, and also why regular people use different tactics when fighting berserkers.
The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Arianne's few true friends know her to be a warm, bubbly, down-to-earth yet romantic person who likes exploring in the woods and working with her hands. But in these troubled times, she has to be The High Queen and hide her true personality.
You Are in Command Now: In the first book, Amy's commander gets shot. Since she was up on a tower with him, she just starts shouting out orders to keep the group together for the duration of the battle. They listen to her.