Literature / A Game of Universe

Eric Nylund's Cyberpunkish novel about a mage assassin with multiple personalities.

Tropes used:

  • Celestial Deadline: The contract with the devil has a loophole: One year before it runs out, 13 heroes can be recruited to find the holy grail. If they find it before the contract runs out, the contract is nullified.
  • Deal with the Devil: Erybus plot to get out of one form the major kickoff for the loophole quest to fetch the Grail, and thus the main plot of the book.
  • Exact Words: Germain's quest was to retrieve the Grail and give it to Erybus. There's nothing saying that he couldn't take it back immediately after.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: They use some odd system where they can travel faster than light but relativity still applies.
  • God Was My Copilot: Setebos, the AI who runs the Grail Angel and has mysterious powers turns out to be a neutral angel using his powers to help Germain win the Grail quest..
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Are the other personalities magically created or is Germain nuts?
  • Magitek: The universe generally seems to accept magic as a scientific, physical fact, and many aspects of the ships run off of it, from the "protective circles" to Germain's mnemonics. The general attitude towards it is "figure it out later, use it now".
  • Meaningful Name: Morning Star (Lucifer)
  • Murder, Inc.: Umbra Corp, which started out as a means of allowing revolutions to take place on oppressed planets, but these days run on a series of identity-less assassins who kill people for money.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: A literary variant: the book is best described as an Arthurian Post-Cyberpunk High Fantasy Space Opera.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The Holy Grail is the primary motivator of the story and Germain's quest. Notably, in-universe the Grail also acts as this, since its various forms over the ages have made it into many other legends.
  • Time Master: Setebos. To a lesser extent, Germain's absorbed consciousness of his master has the ability to rewind time seven seconds.
  • Timed Mission: The Grail Champions have a single year to find the Grail before the demons suck them down to hell.
  • Vancian Magic: Of an interesting sort. Muses, as they're called, spend YEARS learning everything possible about a single subset of physics so that they can cast it in very specific ways as spells. Psychologists tend to view it as mysticism veiling a perfectly rationale explanation for all of their bizarre powers, but the book never really says one way or another.