troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Literature: Castle Perilous

Take the High Concept of a gigantic castle at the center of The Multiverse, where every door or window can lead to another world; add in numerous characters from those worlds, each with his own special talent he develops just by being there; and then throw them into various wacky hijinks and screwball comedy, and you get John DeChancie's Castle Perilous series.

Novels in the series are:
  • Castle Perilous
  • Castle for Rent
  • Castle Kidnapped
  • Castle War!
  • Castle Murders
  • Castle Dreams
  • Castle Spellbound
  • Bride of the Castle

Join Gene, Linda, Snowclaw, Sheila, Thaxton and Dalton, Kwip, Jeremy, and many, many more as they search for a way home, learn to adapt, and have incredible adventures both ridiculous and frightening, all while Lord Incarnadine and his family work to keep the castle and its 144,000 worlds stable and safe (though not always sane). It's thought-provoking, it's crazy, it's weird, and it's unexpected, but it's almost always hilarious. Sadly, the author seems to have abandoned the series, leaving it on quite the Cliff Hanger, but it is still worth a read for its entertainment value alone.


The castle’s 144,000 Aspects include the following tropes (and many more!):

  • Aborted Arc: Upon arriving in Castle Perilous, the rakish barbarian lord Rance of Corcindor shows an inordinate amount of interest in Linda; at the same time, Melanie seemed rather interested in him, suggesting the beginnings of a Love Dodecahedron. Luckily, thanks to No Ending for the series, this never gets pursued, though even if the series had been continued this arc might not have been, since at the end of Bride of the Castle Gene was well on his way to convincing Rance to take over as Emperor of Orem for him.
  • Action Girl: Vaya, since she is a warrior queen and, in the two scenes where she gets to fight, she effortlessly kills Yerga and learns to use the Umoi weapon with surprising skill, taking out a number of Annau's robots. Appropriate, considering her source.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Osmirik mistakes Incarnadine for the castle librarian when they first meet—an intentional magical deception on his part.
  • Affably Evil: Clare Tweel. Not surprising, since he's actually Incarnadine's nephew (Dorcas's son).
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. The cities of the Umoi were perfectly and properly designed—it is just that after centuries of abandonment and neglect, some of them have either deteriorated to the point of it affecting their AIs as well, or their isolation has caused them to have mental breakdowns. In any event, the end result is a Split Personality for one, and a creative reinterpretation of its prime directive…
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Melydia, despite her sympathetic backstory, is pretty much depicted as an insane Rich Bitch for most of Castle Perilous; however, as soon as she and Incarnadine actually face each other, she becomes a lot more sympathetic, and pitiable, and once she recovers her sanity and regrets her actions, it isn't very hard at all to feel sorry for her fate—although she'll always be with Incarnadine in a sense, she also gets to remain a disembodied voice, combined with a transmogrified demon, forever. Ferne's fate is even worse, since she ends up put through horrible cruel Cold-Blooded Torture by the Hosts of Hell, to the point that when Incarnadine finally finds her he can't remove her from the devices without leaving pieces of her flesh still in them; she gets a chance to make one last Dying Declaration of Love for her brother and then dies in his arms. This last is even an in-story example, since the heroes, despite having faced her as an antagonist, are all very sympathetic to Incarnadine and go to her Meaningful Funeral.
  • Alice Allusion: More subtle than most examples, but the woman Alice whom Gene meets in the Big Brother Is Watching world of Castle War! is one of the rare few for whom InnerVoice does not work due to some natural immunity to the nanotech—i.e., she is one of the few who has not bought into (or been forced to accept) the status quo, retaining sanity among a form of madness.
  • All Just a Dream: What the entirety of Castle Dreams turns out to be. Made more complex by the fact that nothing which happens in the book is mentioned again, or even happened at all, since Osmirik claims the book is a work of fiction within the 'real' fictional world but perhaps happened in an Alternate Universe or Mirror Universe. So not only a dream but a What If?. However, there are hints that it does have bearing upon, or is a reflection of, the real world: Trent wakes from a dream at the start of Castle Spellbound that is implied to be the same events as those in Castle Dreams (complete with a Meaningful Echo of Incarnadine's last line of the book), and the feelings which Linda has for Inky that are first revealed in Castle Dreams are referenced again in Castle Spellbound when Gene guesses she has feelings for someone in the castle; it comes to a head in Bride of the Castle. In the end, though, things are left rather mysterious and unresolved.
  • All Myths Are True: The Hosts of Hell possibly inspired Earth's concept of Demon Lords and Archdevils. Castle Perilous itself is reminiscent of or even a Trope Namer for a place/tale in Arthurian Canon. Incarnadine theorizes to Trent that their father, who had a strong interest in Earth and Western European culture especially and gave them all British names, was Merlin. (And his name, as revealed in Castle Dreams, was Cawdor.) Thanks to stories of Castle Perilous told in Kwip's world, and legends of a "Castle of the Gods" in Vaya's, this may be true for the myths of all Aspects.
  • Alternate Universe: Every world accessed by an Aspect (including our own) is this, but the castle itself is in another world, and sometimes unstable Aspects or the destabilizing of The Multiverse itself creates strange variant alternates as well. Castle War! concerns a whole series of them that duplicate the castle itself, each slightly more different and off than the last; that same book includes an Aspect which Gene notes as having the same stars as Earth (and in many ways being an Homage to 1984 and Brave New World), and another where Jeremy meets Luster and Dolbert who mention the poets "Sheats and Kelley". Meanwhile, the golfing world turns into a Hell (and mythical creature) -themed variant.
    • Incarnadine claims there are an infinite number of possible worlds out there which are only given reality by the castle, and Bride of the Castle proves that even thinking about those possibilities in the real world can make them become "real" in an Alternate Universe. This same book also provides the example of the world Gene and Snowclaw become trapped in which, to judge by comments made by Gene about the empire he ends up attacking, is yet another alternate Earth—it allows slavery and bullies foreign lands but also has much culture and civilization worth preserving, is in danger of being destroyed by barbarians thus heralding a dark age, and its capital (which Gene says is "eternal" according to legend) is even named Orem.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Ferne, Jamin, and Tragg and Ruthven, though in Tragg's case he tries vainly to conceal it behind Revenge for supposed slights and insults committed by Incarnadine. Trent starts off seeming this way in his quest for the throne, but his motive is actually fairly pure—not wanting power for its own sake or what he can do with it, but simply believing he's the right man for the job and that it should have been his to begin with. Once he finds out what the job actually entails, he abandons his goal and goes back to a normal life.
  • Anachronism Stew: By its very nature the castle and all its worlds are this, particularly when residents of different aspects mingle and interact, but Gene is fond of making Earth references Snowclaw and others don't get while Trent and Incarnadine do the same thanks to their long years spent there. The "Afterlife" Incarnadine goes to in Castle Dreams is also this, since it crosses and alters several eschatologies, and the very nature of the spell in Castle Spellbound (wishing for anything and everything under the sun) creates a huge amount of this.
  • And I Must Scream: Ramthonodox's fate. Melydia's too, though she seems to either have resigned herself to it or even welcomes it as a fitting punishment, since there isn't any screaming.
  • And You Were There: In one of Linda's dreams in Castle Dreams, it is revealed that her boyfriend on Earth was (or at least looked like) Incarnadine. Because this dream, like all others in the book (and the book itself) never happened, this is never mentioned again, but it does explain why Linda fell for Incarnadine and why she ends up sleeping with his clone in Bride of the Castle. Things get more complex, though, when her boyfriend mentions dreaming that he died (which had also happened to Incarnadine himself), and his name, John, is the same as Incarnadine's Sue Donym. Even taking into account that the events of the book supposedly never happened, something is a bit off there...
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Used in spell casting, when speaking to the dead, and also by Incarnadine's nobles, Osmirik, and Kwip. Otherwise, it's all modern speak (or at least translated as such). In the case of the dead it seems to be merely a traditional affectation.
  • Apocalypse How: Incarnadine unleashes a Class 4 on the world of the Hosts of Hell.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Prince Vorn and his allies; Jamin. The latter is especially notable since he is first introduced as merely a rake, but ends up proving himself incredibly arrogant and hostile toward the Guests as magical rivals and posturing pretenders trying to reach outside their proper station.
  • As You Know: Unavoidable when one of the main conceits is that new random characters will continually show up and need to be apprised of the nature of Castle Perilous, but it does show up a great deal in Castle for Rent. Particularly true for Gene and Linda's initial chapter as well as Snowclaw's (essentially recapping how they came to the castle and became friends), and Incarnadine's talk with Trent where he retold the entire plot of the first book, as well as introduced the rest of their family, of which the reader had no inkling until that moment. Justified, however, since Trent had been out of the loop for a very long while.
  • Author Avatar: At various times Incarnadine, Trent, and Gene all vie for this title, but usually Inky wins out. By no coincidence.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Incarnadine, and Trent.
  • An Axe to Grind: Snowclaw's weapon of choice.
  • Badass: Gene, Snowclaw, Trent and Inky, Linda (particularly in the first two books), sometimes Sheila.
  • Badass Beard: Incarnadine, Kwip.
  • Badass Bookworm: Both Trent and Incarnadine are this. The former is Played for Laughs when, after spouting off a great deal of natural and survival knowledge to Sheila, he deadpans that he's "had a subscription to Reader’s Digest for fifty years".
  • Baleful Polymorph: On a larger, cosmic scale: the demon Ramthonodox was transformed into Castle Perilous by Ervoldt, Incarnadine's ancestor, centuries ago.
  • "Bang!" Flag Gun: Trent turns Ruthven's gun into this.
  • Batman Gambit: Ferne's plot in Castle for Rent. It has the basic framework of a Xanatos Gambit but has too many moving parts and unknown variables to truly be an 'all reasonable options benefit' plan. The best she can do is plan for the most likely outcome. In detail: If Incarnadine goes along with her and Deems, they join forces to remove the Blue Meanies, then they take out the Hosts of Hell, and then she turns on her brothers. If he doesn't, she uses the Hosts of Hell to get rid of the Blue Meanies, turns on Deems, uses the Hosts' powers to control Castle Perilous, and uses Incarnadine as her ace against them if they become too troublesome. Even not taking the assistance of Trent or the Guests into account, things didn't go as she planned thanks to her underestimating the Hosts and overestimating herself...
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Thorsby and Fetchen learn this the hard way.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Dorcas's husband is said by Trent to commit bestiality constantly, which Incarnadine excuses as a "religious ritual".
  • Beta Couple: Trent and Sheila. Deena and Barnaby count too, although they are rarely ever seen at all, let alone together; Kwip lampshades this by calling him her "sometime paramour" in his thoughts.
  • Big Applesauce: When Incarnadine looks for the Earth Aspect to go and visit Trent in Castle for Rent, it comes out in New York. As Incarnadine himself says, "All roads lead to New York." It turns out there's another reason for this...
  • Big Bad: Melydia, the Hosts of Hell. Ferne believes the Hosts of Hell are The Dragon to her (albeit with an agenda), or possibly a Big Bad Duumvirate, but in truth they're this (and The Man Behind the Man).
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The alternate Earth of Castle War!, which has numerous echoes to 1984, We, and Brave New World—from terminology like maladapt, Outforces, and the Citizens' Committee for Constant Struggle, to the nature and structure of the average (numbered) citizen's day (and their Stepford Smiler nature) and No Sex Allowed, to the society's slogans and place names (Boulevard of Social Concern, Conscience Avenue, Dedication Drive) and the entire concept of the nanotech InnerVoice, which uses your own body's chemical functions and emotional reactions against you to suppress and eventually obliterate The Evils of Free Will.
    Shout-Out: FREEDOM IS RESPONSIBILITY/FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, PEACE IS CONSTANT STRUGGLE/WAR IS PEACE
  • Big Damn Heroes: Happens in the very first book, where all the main characters converge on the Hall of the Brain to try and stop Melydia; despite some killer action scenes and Linda fighting off incredible magic to get this close to getting her hands on Melydia, they fail by that much. An awesomely successful version, however, occurs in Castle for Rent at Ferne's estate on Earth.
  • Big Eater: Snowclaw. Not just huge amounts of food either, but strange ones—like poisonous substances and other things never meant to be eaten. This reaches its peak when, while stranded on Earth, he ends up making a giant vat of hundreds of ingredients, eats it all, and gets sick...though whether this is due to the nature of the 'food' or overeating is never made clear.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: The dengs of the Noir Aspect. Also doubled.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Which is quite an achievement for a castle as massive as it is to begin with.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: While not all the suspects are related, in every other respect the tangled web of relationships, backstabbing, cutthroat dealings, adultery, and other criminal acts amongst those gathered at Hawkingsmere in Bride of the Castle is otherwise this trope taken Up to Eleven.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The world in which Incarnadine seems to die, and from which news of this is sent, is called Malnovia, pseudo-Latin for "bad news".
  • Booze-Based Buff: How Incarnadine gains the powers to stop the dengs—by getting drunk with an extremely powerful, magical bottle of "spirits".
  • Brick Joke: In the preface for Castle Murders, Osmirik complains about the improper use of "portfolio" in place of "folio" back in book one. Much later in the book, during The Summation that ends the Mystery Arc, a folio is again produced...with a footnote saying, "Up yours, Osmirik!" Another Brick Joke, also related to the footnotes, appears in the form of an essay question on Tierra del Fuego in Castle Dreams, referencing the previous footnotes on the subject.
    • A third appears in Bride of the Castle, calling back to Castle Murders: in the latter book, Gene had jokingly claimed he was a medium who channeled a mystic spirit from the other side named...Murray. This also turns out to be the name of the dead king's ghost who curses Rance.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Kwip gets to experience this in his very first scene, thanks to the seeming horror of the disembodied feet. Happens again later when encountering the Hosts of Hell's demons.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Incarnadine and Ferne, though never consummated, and apparently all one-sided on her part.
  • Building of Adventure: Castle Perilous is certainly a Big Labyrinthine Building, but the trope is subverted in that inside the castle are 144,000 universes.
  • The Bus Came Back: Following his assisting the rest of the heroes in facing the Hosts of Hell in Castle for Rent, Kwip disappeared from the series with no explanation; similarly, Barnaby Walsh also vanished, even though his sometime-girlfriend Deena Williams appeared briefly at the end of both Castle Kidnapped and Castle War!, and had larger roles in Castle Murders and Castle Dreams. Both Kwip and Barnaby, however, reappear in Castle Spellbound, the latter without any explanation but the former’s absence justified in-story by him having been off exploring the distant parts of the castle (and other Aspects) in his endless quest to be the greatest thief with the most loot. Their reappearance is yet another indication that Castle Spellbound may have been meant to be the last novel in the series before Bride of the Castle was added.
  • Butt Monkey: Kwip, Barnaby, Jeremy
  • Cain and Abel: Incarnadine and Trent, at one time.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Mordecai, at least to judge from his outfit.
  • Cast Speciation/Superhero Speciation: The very nature of the plot (everyone getting their own unique power) combined with a little judicious Personality Powers means there tends to be no duplication between the Guests. Even the mages like Incarnadine and Trent have their own styles, or schools of magic they are better at, or Aspects in whose magic they are more experienced, so that they can perform different roles or be useful in different situations. (Examples: Trent is better at Earth magic, but Incarnadine is better at more arcane and obscure magical systems and is generally a Jack-of-All-Trades when it comes to combining magic and technology; Ferne is one of the few who can tap into the interstitial etherium; she and Mordecai are the only ones who can burrow from one Aspect to another.) The one time when this rule is not followed is with Sheila, whose ability to understand and tap into any magical system in order to summon portals enables her to perform the same exact kinds of conjuration and magical tricks as Linda. This is likely why she gets shipped off to the ocean Aspect with Trent and disappears from the narrative, so as to keep from stealing the limelight (or breaking the story) and letting Linda still be relevant and a hero.
  • The Charmer: Trent, helped along by him also being the image of blond-haired, blue-eyed Prince Charming.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jamin; Tragg.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Ferne's ability to tap into the interstitial etherium between the universes.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: When Trent and Sheila are trapped on the Deserted Island in Castle Kidnapped, they see another island nearby with a volcano on it. Sheila proclaims, optimistically, that it's dormant, but Trent, noting the lack of vegetation on it, isn't sure. Naturally enough, it does erupt later, forcing them to flee a tsunami.
  • Chickification: Some of Linda's later appearances slide toward this, making her more of a Damsel in Distress despite her incredible summoning powers.
  • Cliff Hanger/No Ending: The end of Bride of the Castle not only leaves Gene and Linda's future up in the air after she calls off their wedding, but has Linda having slept with Incarnadine...or at least, his clone. And the real one just found out.
  • Clone Switch: Incarnadine pulls this magically in Bride of the Castle in order to escape the stresses and responsibilities of ruling. Unfortunately said clone is not his exact duplicate after all—while there is no degeneration, Empty Shell, soullessness, or any other negative repercussion of cloning, his personality and decision-making are different enough to allow his retainers and nobles to manipulate him for their own ends a little...and leads to him declaring his love for Linda, offering her the chance to be his official mistress, and sleeping with her.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Ferne's fate. Damn it.
  • Commitment Issues: Gene. It particularly becomes apparent, and a driving conflict, in Bride of the Castle where it causes him to seek out an Aspect to become lost in and danger to be caught up in just so as to avoid marrying Linda and being tied down. But it also appears before then—not only in his relationship with Linda, but in how his wanderlust compels him to wander other Aspects (and acquire a new Girl of the Week every book) rather than settle down or stay in the relative safety of the castle.
  • Contrived Coincidence: All the heroes just happen to find the room where the Brain of Ramthonodox is at the same time as the Big Bad so as to confront her...and just so happen to have a thief in their midst.
    • The entire climax of Castle for Rent: Gene, Linda, Snowclaw, and Sheila happen to take refuge in the library and summon the Earth portal there at the same time as Barnaby, Deena, and Kwip find Osmirik and bring him out of his cubbyhole, and he fetches the book with the spell to reseal the Hosts of Hell's Aspect. Then they all go through the portal to Ferne's mansion at the same time as Trent and Incarnadine arrive to take on the Hosts' forces, thus providing a distraction, helping bring the Hosts that much quicker to spell exhaustion, and bringing them the spell they need to win.
    • Gene and Vaya happen to be inside the Sidewise Voyager when Incarnadine summons it to help save The Multiverse and stop the Hosts of Hell. Lampshaded by Incarnadine himself.
    • The book containing the spells which were the inspiration for Oren's murder happened to be written by the same man whom Melanie encounters in the "Robin Hood" Aspect. This one really is just a meaningless coincidence (and perhaps an attempt to tie her plot to the rest of the book) since this knowledge has nothing to do with the plot or solving the mystery. It does establish, however, that the Aspect Melanie was trapped in must somehow have been the past of the Garden Aspect (since it was stated the book of magic was not only the only one which dealt with the magic of that Aspect but originated within it); this may explain the time differential between the one Melanie was in (but not the present-day Garden Aspect) and the castle which Linda observed.
  • Conversational Troping/Genre Savvy: The Guests indulge in this a lot, whether wondering why it is that only those who are at Rock Bottom find their way to the castle or why it is the castle hasn’t been invaded hundreds of times by now. The fact Gene tried to be a fantasy writer once (and Incarnadine moonlights as one) makes this even more natural.
    • Trent also indulges in this in the Greek Aspect thanks to being aware of the original events in The Iliad, including remarking on (and snarking at) the unbelievable nature of the Trojans falling for the wooden horse gambit...then subverting it by being more clever about it, instead using himself and his men in the form of actual horses to get inside Troas.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After freeing Ramthonodox, Melydia threatens to turn Incarnadine into her castle instead.
    • Incarnadine's punishment for Ferne: to be cast into a random Aspect until its gate closes and, if she ever manages to find her way back to the castle, to be sent into another, and so on for the rest of her life.
  • Cool Gate: Castle Perilous has 144,000 doors, each leading to an Alternate Universe, and they don't just wait for you to walk through—the portals wander, and actively seek out those who want to travel or get away.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Hosts of Hell's assumed form has shades of a Cosmopolitan Council or Omniscient Council of Vagueness composed of these.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Castle Perilous, since all of existence, and the reality of the various universes, depends on its existence. Played with, however, in that the castle cannot be taken or destroyed like most keystones; instead it can only be unmade, whether by undoing the spell upon Ramthonodox or by destabilizing the universes and the magic which holds them together. So while theoretically The Multiverse could be destroyed by unmaking Castle Perilous, none of the Big Bad's plans ever relate to this goal, it never actually gets carried out, and the few times it comes close to happening are as an unintended consequence of the Evil Plan of the week (or simple chaos and entropy).
  • Covers Always Lie: Castle Kidnapped featured on its paperback cover the primary characters, tied up and being borne away on the back of a huge blue turtle-like creature which nowhere appeared in the book. On Fidonet's old SF_LIT echo this spawned the acronym FBT, for "Friggin' Blue Turtloid".
    • Who are all those people, aside from Snowclaw, on the cover of Castle Dreams? It's possible that's Osmirik and Tyrene on the right of the coffin, the man in red and gold might be Gene (which isn't accurate if so, since he was off in Sativa's world at the time), and the woman and child are probably Incarnadine's wife Zafra and their son Brandon (who have only appeared once or twice in the series), but...
  • Creator Provincialism/Write What You Know: Several Earth Guests who appear at the start of the series, including The Hero, are from Pennsylvania (justified in-story by Ferne having a mansion there where she would periodically bring the portal before letting it wander) and quite a bit of time is spent there during Trent and Incarnadine's assault on the mansion as well as Snowclaw's Trapped in Another World subplot from Castle Kidnapped. The city of the Big Brother Is Watching Aspect is stated to be where Pittsburgh would be in reality. Pennsylvania is where John DeChancie resides (Pittsburgh, to be precise).
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gene
  • Curse: Aside from the one Cawdor cast on Trent to keep him from staying in Perilous any appreciable time, there's the one of bad luck which Rance gets for tomb-robbing. It is possible this Curse is responsible for things going wrong in the castle, like Gene's misadventures in Orem, the cancellation of his and Linda's wedding, and Linda sleeping with Incarnadine's clone since it always strikes those around him—meaning that being transported to another world didn't break it after all...except Gene and Snowclaw getting in trouble happened long before he ever appeared in the castle.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Almost all of Castle Murders for Thaxton and Dalton.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone at some point, but Trent, Incarnadine, Gene, and Kwip stand out (the latter's name even says as much).
  • Deal with the Devil: In the case of any dealings with the Hosts of Hell. As Ferne learns to her sorrow.
    • Also Clare Tweel's deal with the dengs of Necropolis.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: The Hosts of Hell
  • Deserted Island: Trent and Sheila are dumped on one of these for a good deal of Castle Kidnapped; they fall in love while there.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: All of the Guests, to various degrees, but especially Gene and Sheila. Also, Ferne.
  • Deus ex Machina: Whether it's Linda or Sheila pulling off an incredible summoning, Trent or Incarnadine showing up to set everything right, Osmirik finding just the right spell in the library, an Enemy Civil War, or a Spanner in the Works, something always seems to happen to save the castle Just in Time. And it's satisfying every time, too.
  • Die or Fly: Or in this case, drown: Sheila figures out the magic of the water world so as to save her and Trent Just in Time when the volcano's tsunami is about to hit. Learning a world's magic at the last second so as to save the day seems to be what she does.
  • Disney Death: Incarnadine in Castle Dreams; Dalton in Castle Spellbound. (The latter even looks like a Disney Villain Death.)
  • Distressed Damsel: Sheila at first; definitely Melanie.
  • The Ditz: Also Sheila at first. She gets better.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Sheila's ex pulled this on her, to the point of breaking into her house and trashing all her possessions after he was served the divorce papers; whether he did this because he knew she'd never let him have them, or simply out of petty spite, isn't known, but considering he'd been an adulterer, a drunk, and an extravagant spender, the latter is more likely.
  • Don't Do Anything I Wouldn't Do: A rare example where the Stock Phrase is both justified and completely accurate—Incarnadine instructs Jeremy to tell this to his doppelganger because, as a Mirror Universe Evil Twin, what the real Incarnadine "wouldn’t do" is, well, evil.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Occurs in the first book during the confrontation with the Big Bad, when Linda conjures up numerous doubles of Gene, Snowclaw, and Osmirik to fight the duplicate zombie soldiers and servants. This later becomes Linda's favorite tactic in every book thereafter. However, in one Call Back to this, Evil!Gene of Castle War! convinces Linda to duplicate Snowclaw to fight the forces of Evil!Incarnadine...only things go horribly wrong when a funnel cloud starts producing endless clones of him. The multiple copies of Incarnadine and his soldiers also count, though the former end up settling in to try and solve the problem of the multiple castles and end up becoming a hilarious Me's a Crowd instead.
    • This also occurs in Castle Spellbound, since a number of the manifestations (belly dancers, gladiators, comedians, minstrels) are duplicates of each other.
  • Double Entendre/Unusual Euphemism:
    Isis: We’re both software, Jeremy. Why can't we interface?
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Vaya making Gene her concubine, complete with Dress Hits Floor. This may be due to Values Dissonance or as a deliberate Parody/Shout-Out to John Carter of Mars and other Pulp Fiction, but then again...
    Gene: Zond, I think I'm about to be exploited, abused, and generally treated as a sex object.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Thanks to the great powers possessed by Incarnadine, this almost always applies to him during the various crises and issues that arise. Sometimes his absence is actually engineered by the Big Bad or their minions (his being trapped on Earth in Castle for Rent, the zombie spell in Castle Dreams), sometimes it's an indirect result of what is going on (the Hosts of Hell's tinkering in Castle Kidnapped kept him busy trying to stop them and unable to help rescue the missing Guests, and the breakdown of The Multiverse in Castle War! shrank the portal from Merydion so he had to find another way home so he could deal with the issue), and sometimes it's a completely unrelated event that has him away (dealing with the dengs of Necropolis keeps him from being on-hand for the Mystery Arc; playing real-life war games with Trent keeps him away during the Literal Genie spell). Coming up with one excuse after another to keep him occupied/away (and thus straining the Willing Suspension of Disbelief) may be partly why DeChancie quit writing the series. A lesser example of this also applies to keeping Sheila and her Story Breaker Power from always saving the day.
  • Dramatic Irony: Osmirik, in researching Aspects to find the one which released the Blue Meanies, discovers information about the Hosts of Hell and, assuming them to be the Blue Meanies, pursues and eventually locates a spell to contain them. This then comes in handy for sealing off the Hosts of Hell when they actually do invade the castle.
  • Dying Alone: Ablomabel, until Gene, Linda, and Snowclaw find it. Sniff.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Subverted in Castle Murders—not because it isn't the center (the castle is) but because Thaxton discovers to his chagrin that the castle doctor's nanotechnology and DNA identification do not, in fact, come from being in close contact with Earth developments in modern police methods.
    Tyrene: Earth is hardly the most advanced aspect in the field of forensic medicine. Or anything else, for that matter. Not only can we positively identify the victim by the blood sample, but we can identify the murderer if he left any dead skin cells on the handle.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Hosts of Hell's true form.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: The status of Gene and Linda's relationship.
  • Enemy Civil War: In Castle for Rent, the Blue Meanies versus the Hosts of Hell, with Ferne and Deems's forces later thrown into the mix. In Castle War!, all of the Mirror Universe Incarnadines and their guardsmen versus each other.
  • Enemy Mine: Part of how Trent changes his tune, and how Inky comes to trust him, happens because they are trapped together on Earth and have to work together to get back to the castle.
  • Epigraph: Every book except the first has at least one literary reference quoted at the start. Castle for Rent quotes Tennyson's "Blow, Bugle, Blow", Castle Kidnapped quotes Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale", Castle War! quotes Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Castle Murders quotes Wordsworth's "Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm" (and Peele Castle further appears as a place in the narrative), Castle Dreams quotes Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life", Castle Spellbound quotes Nora Archibald Smith's "The Christmas Child and Other Verse", and Bride of the Castle quotes The Taming of the Shrew and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". While these last two are wedding themed, the rest tend to reference castles, portals, and windows, by no coincidence.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Not precisely evil, but after joining Ferne in her takeover attempt, not only does Deems have second thoughts but he makes it very clear that if he had known ahead of time of her deal with the Hosts of Hell, he would have joined Incarnadine and never helped her. In the end it is these standards which cause him to die in battle against the Hosts' demons. Ferne too could be said to have limits, since the assistance she gives the Hosts in Castle Kidnapped is only obtained under duress, and in Castle for Rent she shows true remorse for her actions, particularly Deems' death.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The golfing Aspect, just for contrast (and fun and adventure, occasionally).
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Played straight with Dorcas, averted (almost to God Save Us from the Queen! levels) with Ferne.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Completely averted with Charon—who isn't evil anyway, nor is he a Grim Reaper figure!—who very much enjoys Incarnadine's jokes and stories.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: What Prince Vorn (and Jacoby) learn all too well, when Ramthonodox is released. Also, Ferne's lesson after she makes a deal with and releases the Hosts of Hell, and Tragg and Ruthven's after their zombie-spell for Incarnadine is broken.
  • Evil Is Petty: Tragg, whose main grievances with Incarnadine are that he (supposedly) cuckolded him and that he once sued his estate for back taxes.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Linda's reaction to her Evil Twin in Castle War!
  • Evil Twin: Thanks to the Mirror Universe everyone has one. But special mention also goes to Jeremy's in the series of alternate realities in Bride of the Castle.
  • Exact Words: Incarnadine told his family he had dispensed of Ferne "with coldest justice". They took this to mean she'd been executed, but it was actually referring to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Excited Show Title!: Castle War!
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: The infinite number of variants of Earth found for Max by Jeremy's Evil Twin explores this in many permutations—some are For Want of a Nail where one simple thing having changed (his boss Herb Fenton having died in a car accident, him going into partnership with different men, whether or not he proposed to his beloved Andrea) changed his entire life; at the same time In Spite of a Nail the rest of the world is always identical save small things such as who the president is, and Max's overall personality and past are the same, as is everyone's in his life. Still others are complete Alternate Universes with versions of himself (and Jeremy) from the far past or the future. As soon as Max discovers the flaw in a particular universe, he immediately wants out and dismisses it, its denizens, and his alternate self from there as having any value. In the end, though, it turns out that no matter how many variants he finds, he can never find the original again—and in every one, whether due to his choice in partners, a ruined marriage with Andrea, or financial hardships with his company, Max will never, ever be able to find true happiness or the life that he wants. The trope is also played with (and somewhat Played for Laughs) in that all those alternate selves he dismissed as having any value show up at once at the end, clamoring for the right to have a world of their own to live in, to the point the alternate Jeremys have an auction where they can bid on the "best" world.
  • The Exile: Trent, courtesy of a Curse cast by his father.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Deems.
  • Faking the Dead: Linda, courtesy of a bulletproof vest after her Evil Twin shoots her with a poison dart.
  • Fat and Skinny: The Gooch brothers.
  • Fat Bastard: Jacoby.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Hosts of Hell adopt such an attitude in their dealings, but it's all just a mask.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: In Thaxton's own words, he is able to put up with volcanoes, earthquakes, acid hazards, and mythological beasts in the Golfhell Aspect, but when supernatural creatures start propositioning him for blood (or actively trying to trick him into falling prey to their Deadly Gaze), then It's Personal. (He proves this by maliciously ordering basilisk steak for dinner.)
  • Five-Man Band: Most of the time the Guests of Castle Perilous are either on their own or divide up into pairs for their adventures, save for the trio of Gene, Linda, and Snowclaw. But when they do team up...
  • Flanderization: Poor, poor Snowclaw. While never very bright, he certainly wasn't stupid, yet later installments play up his dumbness far more than earlier ones. His Big Eater status also gets worse as time goes on.
  • Flynning: What Gene's talent amounts to, only with the real Master Swordsman cred to back it up.
  • Footnote Fever: Castle Dreams, a rather surreal and existentialist entry in the series to begin with, has oodles of fun playing with spurious footnotes. The topics range from somewhat serious explanations of literary tropes, self-referential textual allusions, and obscure plot points to tongue-in-cheek humor, a hilarious send-up of many fantasy tropes and overall mockery of other examples of the genre (or the author!), fake attributions of famous poetry to modern-day celebrities, random comments which have nothing at all to do with the book, and times where the footnote writer propositions the reader for a date. And that doesn't even begin to describe the preface in which the supposed footnote writer reveals he didn't write them at all (or the preface!), as well as quizzes and tests scattered throughout the novel—usually based on info from the footnotes.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Dalton's ability to levitate is demonstrated once in the first book, mentioned once in Castle Murders, but otherwise never brought up again. The same is true for Osmirik's scent ability. Snowclaw can teleport (which is discovered right when they need it), but his power doesn't appear again either. The latter might seem justified in that Snowclaw is hardly the magical sort, more prone to thinking with his axe and wading in to attack, plus his usage of it in the first book is described as rather taxing and difficult for him and he later finds himself unable to perform it without running into a wall. But then in Bride of the Castle Gene speaks of Snowy "never having had magic" and theorizes about his talent relating to disguising himself instead; apparently DeChancie did forget.
  • Functional Magic: While mages need to attune themselves to each world they are in before they can perform spells properly, every world's magic seems to work in generally the same way with Ley Lines and nodes of force. While the Guests can tap into these to perform their talents, mages such as Incarnadine and Trent access them through incantations and other paraphernalia. Each magician also has their own style or signature to their spellwork that can be identified by others in the field.
  • The Fun in Funeral: Incarnadine wakes up right in the middle of his, thanks to a spell that made him appear to be dead getting broken by Trent. "Ye gods, can't a fellow take a little nap around here?"
  • Gender Bender: Unless either the laptop or the mainframe is gay, this trope has happened to one of the computers by the time of Castle War!—in Castle Kidnapped the two computers were romancing each other, but after the mainframe is destroyed and rebuilt, it "had the hots for" Jeremy, and this only becomes intensified when he boots up Isis. Further evidence: the laptop, which continues to call Jeremy "baby" or "sweetie", is used as the OS template for the mainframe. Its OS? MS-DOS.
  • Genius Loci: Castle Perilous is a vastly powerful interdimensional demon torn from primal chaos, who happens to get trapped in the form of a city-sized castle. The whole "chaos" deal means it frequently changes its internal layout and contains portals to thousands of universes.
  • Girl of the Week/Temporary Love Interest: For Gene: first Vaya, then Alice, then Sativa. The latter suffers the usual fate while Vaya gets Put on a Bus.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Trent and Sheila.
  • God Guise: Played with and inverted. Upon learning that the king of Mykos intends to sacrifice one of his daughters to the gods to alleviate the bad weather assaulting his fleet, Trent puts a stop to it by using magic for Divine Intervention...except instead of making himself seem like a god, he makes it seem as if the gods are showing their disapproval through a Bolt of Divine Retribution which also strikes him for interfering. This takes suspicion off himself as the cause and convinces the king the whole sacrifice was merely a Secret Test of Character a la Abraham and Isaac.
    • Played straight (but still played with) in the very first book when Incarnadine poses as God (or the Devil, or a God Is Evil situation) in order to manipulate Jacoby.
  • Grass Is Greener/Wanting Is Better Than Having: What Max discovers after trying to find a better life in an Alternate Universe—not only is he a failure no matter where he looks, but he can't even get his old, normal life back. Summed up best by his ruminating on his crummy, roach-infested apartment: "He'd sign a ninety-nine-year lease and never leave."
  • Grey and Gray Morality: What Trent discovers is true of the Arkadians and Troadeans—both are barbaric pirates.
  • Guile Hero: Gene, much of the time, and Incarnadine all the time (when he’s a hero at all).
  • Heel-Face Turn:
    • Trent, who was once a Rebel Prince and determined to claim Castle Perilous for himself to the point of being portrayed as dark, sinister, and not to be trusted, and who self-describes as amoral, ends up becoming one of Incarnadine's most faithful and loyal supporters, as well as a source of great help to the Guests when danger threatens. At least partly comes to pass thanks to his love for Sheila, although he does have a momentary relapse and hunger for power when Incarnadine seemingly dies—until he finds out a) his brother isn't really dead and b) ruling isn't what it cracks up to be.
    • Jeremy was an illegal hacker, drug-user, and criminal on the run from the law when he came to the castle, but quickly becomes one of the more powerful Guests, helping rescue others from various magical mishaps and becoming indispensable to Incarnadine and Osmirik as a redesigner of the castle's 'operating program' and incorporating both magic and technology in rewriting reality and restoring stability.
    • And speaking of Osmirik, he started off working for Big Bad Melydia, but a case could be made he was The Mole all along, since it seemed his whole intent in serving her was to get into the castle—since as soon as he did so, he made a beeline for the library, researched the spell Melydia was using to destroy the castle, and then did all he could to help Incarnadine stop her.
  • The Hero: Gene
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Or at least, Trent and Isis do.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Or some sort of cetacean anyway; they rescue Trent and Sheila on the water world.
  • Heroic Sacrifice/More Hero Than Thou: In Castle for Rent, Gene and Sheila vie for this role, to keep the demons from making it to Earth through the portal since Sheila can't close it from the other side—until Linda summons a bank vault over the portal...and then Ferne summons it back to her quarters, making the whole thing moot.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Ruthven. Unbeknownst to his cat's-paw Tragg, the Con Man mage only used him to get Incarnadine out of the way, and once it was revealed he'd be lying in state for ten days (and could possibly wake up from the spell during that time), he deliberately went behind Tragg's back by bribing his undertaker friend into claiming the preservation spell wouldn't work, thus shortening the time lying in state and getting Trent's attention...all so he could make Trent his offer to rule together.
  • Hidden Depths: Snowclaw has perfect pitch and can tell bad singing when he hears it, and Gene theorizes he may be smarter than he appears.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Both the original intention of this phrase, and what this trope has actually become, show up. Genuine humor and silliness during Castle Spellbound, but genuine danger, fear, and dire straits during any of the various invasions, attacks, and magical mishaps. (The Mirror Universe's Evil Twins of Castle War! come to mind.)
  • Hinduism: Dorcas's education and religious beliefs seem to stem from this, or a fantasy counterpart. (Samra, soul-substance; bramhara, a contemplative and sleeping position; the Internal Eye.)
  • Historical In-Joke: In Castle War!, when Incarnadine meets his uncle Mordecai in an attempt to get back to the castle and fix The Multiverse, he learns that the cosmic disturbance had caused a quake on Earth: in San Francisco. (The book was published in 1990.)
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kwip never would have lost his thief's stash to the spell-summoned crowds in Castle Spellbound if he'd just left it in his room, instead of assuming the cleaning homunculi were thieves come to steal it.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Averted for the most part; Jeremy can do incredible, amazing things with his hacking, but it is generally the sort of thing hackers in real life are known to do, nor is he shown to be able to access devices he shouldn’t be able to or create effects which are impossible. It isn't until he gets to Castle Perilous that he starts doing the jaw-dropping, crazy hacking...and this is justified since he has become a literal Techno Wizard.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The blessed bottle of seltzer water in the Noir Aspect (and nicely foreshadowed, too).
  • Hordes from the East: The army of Vorn from the first book, which is said to come from Hunra, capital of the Eastern Empire. The army which sacks Orem in Bride of the Castle is also this, by no coincidence.
  • How We Got Here: The first book begins with the main Five-Man Band meeting up and becoming acquainted, telling their backstories and how they arrived at the castle in retrospect. At the end of the book, when time is reversed and the castle is restored, the reader finally gets to see those moments before the Aspect opened, revealing some meaningful and thought-provoking details which prior to then had been conspicuously left out.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Melydia; Ferne.
  • Idiosyncratic Chapter Naming: Nine times out of ten, chapters are named after locations, particularly very specific locations in the castle by wing, tower, room, even stairwell. Or they are other Aspects or places found therein. Things get interesting when the characters don't know where they are so that the chapter names become vague epithets instead.
  • I Gave My Word: Why Trent won't abandon the siege of Troas even though he's left Sheila alone for a very long time (or so he thinks) and he doesn't even care which side wins (since they're both equally bad).
  • I Know You Know I Know/I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: The master of the local mages' guild in Malnovia has a conversation like this with Trent—and he manages to reveal the motive for Incarnadine's "murder", that the spell responsible is still working and he would look the other way if it were broken, what Trent will be up against, and the musical harmonics of the spell so Trent can locate its source...all without breaking any guild rules or giving himself away.
  • I Know Your True Name: Knowing Ramthonodox's true name gives a mage power over him, and allows him to be released. In the process his Laser-Guided Amnesia is reversed—in fact it is the very recollection of his name that releases him, so his true name allows him to have power over himself.
  • Informed Ability: We are told every Guest in the castle develops a talent if they stay there long enough, but there are a number of Guests whose talents we never see or even learn—Deena, Barnaby, DuQuesne. Thaxton hews even more to the trope, since he claims to not even have a talent but Dorcas says he has "great untapped potential"...which, other than his intellectual ability to solve crimes, we never see either.
  • The Ingenue: Sheila, at least at first.
  • Insistent Terminology: The 144,000 portals to other worlds, and the worlds themselves, are always called Aspects (because, as it turns out, they are natural aspects of the demonic magic which composes Ramthonodox). Travelers from these worlds, even before they stay at the castle for good or decide if they will, are called Guests by Incarnadine and his staff and fellow nobles, due to his noblesse oblige and medieval sense of hospitality. Incarnadine always calls himself lord, not king, because his ancestor had originally been vassal to a king, only gaining rulership after a war and in any event mostly ruling only an unpopulated desert.
  • Intangible Man: Kwip.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Apparently, Incarnadine does just that, in disguise as John DeChancie, with assistance (maybe) from Osmirik. See Literary Agent Hypothesis. Gene also rather tongue-in-cheekly claims he will do this to relate his adventures with Vaya.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    Incarnadine #1: Well, all you liberal pantywaists can hold a raffle for the door prize.
    Incarnadine #2: Who's a pantywaist?
    Incarnadine #3: Who's a liberal?
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Castle Murders opens on a college campus, with the line "It was a stark and dormy night..." He also later uses the line "It was a dark night of Sturm und Drang."
  • It Was His Sled/Late-Arrival Spoiler: The fact that Castle Perilous is actually the transmogrified demon, Ramthonodox, is referenced casually, albeit indirectly, in-universe in several books after the first and stated outright in Osmirik's first preface to Castle Murders and therefore treated as something the reader should know already, despite being a mystery and the big reveal of the first book. For anyone who missed the first book or read them out of order, however...
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Gene, who self-describes as a dilettante; he has several masters degrees (one in philosophy), went to law school, and wrote when not performing various odd jobs.
  • Kavorka Man: Gene
  • Killed Off for Real: Melydia, Jacoby, Ferne, Deems, Jamin, Tragg and Ruthven.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual/Robosexual: Jeremy and his AI, Isis.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: The Hosts of Hell (a name which was chosen because of their resemblance to, and possible inspiration for, Earth's myths of demons and devils), the Blue Meanies/Bluefaces that invade in Castle for Rent.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Ramthonodox himself suffers from this as part of the transformation spell, forgetting his name and identity so as to become the castle. Only this amnesia keeps him locked in his inanimate form.
    • This also happens to Incarnadine in the "Afterlife".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Jacoby's fate. And for that matter, Jamin's, Tragg's, and Ruthven's.
  • Last of His Kind: The Hosts of Hell, since they are actually a single Hive Mind.
    • Also, Ablomabel.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
  • Laughing Mad: Ferne, eventually.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall/Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Castle Spellbound, when Gene quips about them once more having to prevent The End of the Multiverse as We Know It, he notes, "Chapter Twenty-one, In Which Our Heroes Once Again Save the Universe". Counting the Idiosyncratically Named Chapters reveals this actually does occur in Chapter 21. Later they encounter Stephen Brust's Vlad Taltos and Gene actually asks him, "Are you in this book?"
  • Leave Your Quest Test: Downplayed version with Melanie, who almost goes off with the minstrels in Castle Spellbound until Jeremy of all people snaps her out of it by pointing out their unreal, Flat Character Doppelgänger nature.
  • Lie Back and Think of Jeremy: What Isis thought she was going to have to do as payment to the Gooch brothers. Luckily this was not the case.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Railing against this trope (and how it keeps women from having any power or authority) is Melydia's excuse for leading a siege against the castle; in truth, it's more about Revenge and insanely wanting to Take Over the World. It's also Ferne's motivation, in response to being denied the Seat Perilous in favor of her younger brother.
  • Literal Genie: The spell in Castle Spellbound.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The books are purported to be true adventures (except Castle Dreams) discovered in the castle library by Osmirik, Court Scribe and Royal Librarian to Lord Incarnadine, and are so 'introduced' by him at the beginning of both Castle Murders and Castle Dreams, although he claims no trace of John DeChancie exists on Earth and so he and the novels must be from a variant Earth where the castle is only fiction. Later it is revealed that Lord Incarnadine himself takes on the identity of a writer here on Earth, though he claims that he did not pass these off as his own fantasy works, something contradicted by the ending of Castle for Rent... (Presumably "John Carney" is a pseudonym for DeChancie himself!) This self-mockery also appears in Castle Murders when 'Osmirik' claims never to have seen the earlier novels until now, let alone written them or the prefaces, and engages in a long and lively debate about alternate realities, how the magic of the castle could have spontaneously produced such works, and the literary merit (or lack thereof) of such "cheap trash" with "terrible cover art", "written in an uneven, 'quasi-grammatical style' by turns breezy, serviceable, and sesquipedalian" with "all the conventions of the popular romance" (as well as debating the cultural origin of the "immodest" author’s name, and claiming that none of the critics and colleagues quoted on the covers are real either). It even enters Mind Screw territory when he not only denounces the footnotes which appear throughout Castle Dreams, but claims in the second preface of Castle Murders that it appeared in the book before he had even written it, complete with relevant footnote and his expression of astonishment at finding it.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Castle Perilous, aside from being a very apt name for such a dangerous, unstable place, is a reference to Arthurian Canon and the Siege Perilous, as well as a castle in the tale of Gareth and Linette. It is implied that it actually is the castle of legend, or of various legends throughout the Aspects.
    • In both a Stealth Pun and Genius Bonus, the supposed "castle editions" of the series found in the library by Osmirik are published under the overarching title Eidolons of the King. Not only is this entirely appropriate for a work whose central location comes from Arthurian Canon, but an eidolon, being a ghost or phantasm, could aptly describe what the events of the books, being fictional, would be to DeChancie and the readers here in the real world.
  • The Load: Thaxton and Dalton, Deena and Barnaby, Jeremy (at first).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: As might be expected in a setting where there are 144,000 possible worlds. We never even meet all the Guests (the non-human ones other than Snowclaw, and the humans who aren't from Earth, even have their own separate dining halls and never mingle with the main cast), and among the ones specifically introduced to the reader, there are a number who act only as window dressing and get little Character Development.
  • Long List: Of nautical terms known by the sailors on Incarnadine's ship in the "Afterlife".
  • Loveable Rogue: Kwip, though with more emphasis on the rogue part.
  • Love at First Sight: Sheila for Trent.
  • Love Triangle: Between Gene, Linda, and Incarnadine.
  • MacGuffin: The shard of the Brain of Ramthonodox, stolen by Kwip and then appropriated by Jacoby before finally making its way to Incarnadine's hands.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Melydia, post-breakup. Hastened by her study of Black Magic and other Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Played with. The rules of Functional Magic themselves remain consistent and reliable, even when the castle itself isn't due to its chaotic, entropic nature...but magic can act differently from Aspect to Aspect, causing spells to behave weirdly, having the opposite or no effect, and talents to go awry. Even Sheila summoning a portal can become next to impossible in certain worlds. On the other hand, once enough time is spent in a world, talents adapt and mages can make their spells work again; Sheila eventually attunes herself enough to draw portals wherever she goes.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: Science, particularly electricity and mechanical constructs, does not work within Castle Perilous, though it can work in certain Aspects. Justified by the castle actually being a transmogrified demon whose very nature could suppress or run counter to technology. This rule can be creatively gotten around: an elevator which has no mechanical parts and runs on magic, or a computer which is built entirely by magical means.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Hosts of Hell, to Ferne and then Jamin. Also, Ruthven to Tragg.
  • Man-Eating Plant: One is stopped from eating Jacoby. More's the pity.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Gene gets a great deal of sex, with every one of his Girls of the Week and, eventually, with Linda. At least one time, however, is actually important and plot-relevant—his ability to have sex with Alice proves he is no longer under the control of InnerVoice.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Ferne's, albeit off-screen.
  • Meaningful Name: Castle Perilous. Incarnadine. Kwip.
    • Thanks to Classical Mythology, the "good" half of Annau's Split Personality is this: Dis, the alternate Roman name for Pluto/Hades. Thanks to his questionable (if unfair) reputation, any place named after him is sure to make one wary, though in this case it could also be a reference to the wealth Annau once possessed, and the fact the sane portion of the city was underground.
  • Medieval Stasis: Justified; while technology will work in various Aspects, it does not work in the castle, in fact even gunpowder can be suppressed by a simple spell. Thus, all fighting is done with medieval weaponry or magic.
  • Medium Awareness: Gene is very much aware he is in B-movie Parodies (and, once in a while, books).
  • Metafiction: Castle Dreams is made of this trope, but it appears earlier than that in "Osmirik" and his prefaces, acting as Royal Scribe to describe the world of Castle Perilous, the novels, and their possible origin, then revealing in the second preface that he did no such thing. They were instead the work of some 'hack fantasy author' on Earth...the very one Incarnadine poses as. Also of note is the bit of Blatant Lies in which he claims the book in the reader’s hands is "painstakingly set in movable type, printed on vellum stock, and bound in fine-grained leather with gilt lettering and filigree...faithfully reproduced without editorial emendation or gloss" instead of being made with "cheap pulp paper, hastily glued bindings, and garish covers".
  • Metaphorgotten/Sidetracked by the Analogy: From the ending of Castle Kidnapped: "This particular tale is almost done, but for the wrapping up. It's been a long concerto, and the soloist has one more cadenza in him, if the audience will allow, in which the theme is restated for the benefit of those who've drowsed, wonder-weary, through the third movement—"
  • Mind over Matter: Jacoby's power. Which leads to...
  • Mind Rape: Thanks to Bad Powers, Bad People, and Jacoby enjoys said powers and what they can do with corrupt, sadistic glee.
  • Mind Screw: The crossover of Literary Agent Hypothesis, Metafiction, and All Just a Dream (or is it?) that is Castle Dreams. But Castle Perilous itself is a Mind Screw, from its Mobile Maze, Bigger on the Inside, chaotically shifting, insanely wild nature to how many worlds, creatures, spells, and mysteries lie within it. And that's just in the first book...things get even worse when Time Travel, Alternate Universes, and a Mirror Universe get involved.
  • Mirror Universe: In Castle War! By the end of the book there are actually multiple ones. (And in fact the breakdown of reality gets to the point that any Aspect in the castle can become a Mirror Universe, each with its own 144,000 possible Mirror Universes, which each have their own 144,000...)
  • Mobile Maze: The entire castle acts this way. The outer regions are especially chaotic and unstable, quite Escher-like, while the Guest areas are relatively safe with only a few minor gravity and perspective shifts every so often. Since the castle is also a massive Portal Network to 144,000 worldsnote , a trip to the bathroom can lead to adventure, terror, or the bathroom.
  • Momma's Boy: Vorn.
  • Monster of the Week: Aside from the threats which manifest in each book (the Blue Meanies, the Hosts of Hell, the doppelgangers), random monsters often appear around every corner or through every door whenever an Aspect is crossed.
  • Most Writers Are Human: Despite the fact there are 144,000 worlds, many of them alien and nonhuman, and that nonhuman Guests are mentioned in the background, all the main characters are from Earth or a similar world, and are human. Except Snowclaw.
  • Mr. Smith: Variation—Incarnadine's author pseudonym on Earth is "C. Wainwright Smithton".
  • The Multiverse: And Castle Perilous is at the center. And thus maintains all of existence.
  • Mystery Arc: In Castle Murders.
    • Asshole Victim: Viscount Oren. Not only does hardly anyone like him, he is guilty of spousal abuse (verbal and physical); openly flirting and making out with Lady Rowena right in front of her husband the Earl of Belgard; making a pass at Sheila that almost became more; and betraying various friends for political or financial gain. In fact it ends up being revealed that several of the suspects actually did intend to kill him, had gone so far as to prepare a dagger with the proper spells, but were either beaten to it (Trent), had problems with the spells (Belgard), or came to their senses at the last moment (Lady Rilma). Ironically, though, the motive for his death turns out to have nothing to do with any of this, though his murderer is someone who didn't like him.
    • Bluffing the Murderer/Lying to the Perp: How Thaxton gets Lord Arl's confession. Trent lampshades this as the reason for/intended result of the Summation Gathering.
    • Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: Played with, and also enforced: Lord Arl doesn't hold onto the murder weapon himself, but he isn't able to find and remove it as evidence against him either because it's invisible even to him. Thus, Thaxton is able to find it first.
    • Closed Circle: The party guests are not allowed to leave the Garden Aspect until the murder of Viscount Oren is solved. Justified since otherwise the killer could escape into any of the 144,000 Aspects.
    • Conversational Troping: Thaxton not only discusses the Locked Room Mystery (and its lack of plausibility in Real Life), but makes note of the fact most murders are crimes of passion and not premeditated, and therefore not well-planned. Happens because Thaxton is himself an avid mystery reader.
    • The Corpse Stops Here: Averted; despite Thaxton being found with the viscount's body, and a brief moment of suspicion from Lord Arl, neither he nor Dalton are ever accused of doing the deed, possibly because Oren was a fairly proficient magician while they, as Guests, were not. A bit surprising though, since one would think Arl, the real murderer, would have been eager to pin the crime on someone else and so used this as a pretext. Then again, him being a Sympathetic Murderer and Oren being an Asshole Victim may have made him wish to not involve or blame anyone else.
    • Dramatic Thunder: When Dorcas makes her confession to Thaxton and Dalton.
    • Eureka Moment: Thaxton has one, after reading the book of spells and getting a good night's sleep.
    • Everyone Is a Suspect: At least, everyone who is a powerful magic-user. Although before magic is conclusively proven to have been involved in the murder, everyone at the party is indeed held on suspicion just in case. Also, everyone who is a powerful magic-user is a suspect because everyone hated the victim.
    • Fair Play Whodunnit: Although the specific spells which were required to commit the murder have no real way of being guessed by the reader (though it becomes clear fairly early on that invisibility must have been involved somehow), the clues as to who the murderer was were indeed in the text all along. Not only was Arl the actual first suspect met in the narrative, and revealed in that conversation to not be close to his brother, but he is mentioned in passing during Linda and Melanie's visit to the library as having been there that morning, and Lady Rilma remembers him touching Oren just before the viscount left the party.
    • He Knows Too Much/Saying Too Much: Seems to be the motive for killing Count Damik since he had previously been going around telling everyone in Peele Castle that he had seen one of the suspects buying the murder weapon, and trying to decide if he should tell the authorities what he knew. (This would seem to be a Too Dumb to Live moment, except that he was counting on noblesse oblige to protect him and was in fact using his obvious attention-grabbing move to try and warn the killer he was on to him, thus giving him time to either hide the evidence or come clean.) However this is all a Red Herring: not only was the person he saw not the killer, but he wasn't even the target and was in fact a friend of the real murderer. (The actual target was, in fact, slated for killing due to this trope.)
    • Hidden in Plain Sight: The murder weapon, since it was made invisible.
    • If You Kill Her, You Will Be Just Like Him: Why Lady Rilma didn’t go through with killing, not Oren, but Lady Rowena.
    • Important Character, Important Evidence: Thaxton and Dalton are not only the ones to find the body, but Thaxton finds the murder weapon and later the book of magic that helps him figure out the solution. Particularly noteworthy since before this they were usually only the Butt Monkey or The Load, but once they got A Day in the Limelight...
    • Murder by Mistake: Poor Count Damik.
    • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The murder weapon is chosen precisely because it is a plain, very common, and easily procured knife and thus easy to confuse with others of its kind, as well as easy to find sold anywhere (thus proving nothing about where the purchaser came from).
    • Never One Murder/Suspect Existence Failure: Knowing that Dorcas had discerned his guilt, Lord Arl tries to kill her as well. In the process, however, he accidentally kills Count Damik instead—which also happens to exonerate him, since prior to this he'd been a strong suspect due to his fascination and skill with knives.
    • Old Dark Castle: Peele Castle, complete with seacoast cliff, crashing waves, and a thunderstorm.
    • Red Herring: A number of them, and lampshaded when Thaxton interrogates each suspect in turn during The Summation, but particular emphasis goes to Trent being a suspect.
    • The Summation/Summation Gathering: At Peele Castle. Both enforced and a subversion, since Thaxton arranged it in order to get the murderer to incriminate himself.
    • Sympathetic Murderer: Lord Arl. Aside from disliking Oren and believing he deserved to die for all the various sins, cruelties, and appalling habits the viscount had committed, he only wished to ensure a good future for his son by making sure Oren died childless instead of divorcing Rilma, thus causing the peerage to devolve to him, and then to his son. Despite this motive, and the fact everyone wished Oren dead, he does in fact still get taken to prison, his scheme abrogated, partly because murder is still unjustified but mostly because of the accidental death of Damik and attempted murder of the princess.
  • Naked on Arrival: Sheila, thanks to the Aspect opening in her shower.
  • Narnia Time/Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time varies widely between the castle and its many Aspects. In some you emerge exactly the moment you left; in others, you come out after being gone for what you think is months or even years, only to find it was just a few hours. (This is quite helpful for Gene on the one hand, and Trent and Sheila on the other, in Castle Kidnapped, and again for Trent and Incarnadine in Castle Spellbound.) For still others, it's the reverse.
  • The Native Rival: The head of Vaya's royal guard, to Gene. It only gets worse when, after challenging and defeating him, Gene chooses not to kill him because of Honor Before Reason (and If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him). The fellow takes this to be Cruel Mercy instead...and makes Gene and Vaya pay for it.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Happens a lot early on in the series. One of the most memorable would be the weird time dilation/Timey-Wimey Ball effect that happens at Ferne's mansion on Earth. Another is the breakdown of the castle's magic caused by the Hosts of Hell's tinkering in Castle Kidnapped.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: At least until they meet beautiful female AIs, anyway.
  • Never Split the Party: A constant danger when wandering through a Mobile Maze, and always leading to trouble throughout the series. Osmirik learns it in the very first book.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Literally, as every person who comes to the castle develops a talent which may just happen to be exactly what is needed at that moment to save the day. (I'm looking at you, Sheila.) Or not; but the nature of the plot still causes such magic to show up, regardless of its usefulness.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Trent, as a certain guildmaster learns to his chagrin.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The whole frickin' battle between Trent, Incarnadine, and the Hosts of Hell. Dinosaurs and fighter jets and missiles and horror movie monsters and demons, oh my! Helped along by the ability to summon working technology, once Earth magic has been mastered.
  • No More for Me: The reaction of the pot-smoking truck driver who sees Snowclaw's disguise spell momentarily break down.
  • The Nose Knows: Osmirik's power. Enables him to find the library, and then the Hall of the Brain, but otherwise useless.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Naked Sheila...in Gene's bed.
  • Nubile Savage: Vaya, who is also a Statuesque Stunner and barbarian queen. Possibly an Expy of Ayesha or Dejah Thoris—Linda even lampshades the latter. Then subverted when she goes to Earth and begins studying at college (although helped along by Incarnadine using magic to teach her English.)
  • Number Two: Tyrene, for Incarnadine.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The armorer, who seems to take great pleasure in taking as long as possible to describe every type of weapon he possesses, at least until Snowclaw simplifies things—although in his defense Gene's newbie status did make his requests quite vague.
    • Incarnadine also runs into a demonic form of this when going to rescue Ferne from the Hosts of Hell. Like Snowclaw, he gets his way through threat of violence; unlike Snowclaw, he actually carries it out.
    • And Trent encounters this when made regent, to the point he realizes he can't handle the quotidian aspects of ruling and that being king isn't really worth it in the end, so he drops his ambitions.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Trent makes one to the Privy Council after Incarnadine’s "death": make him Regent for Life, or until he gets tired of the job and steps down to allow Brandon to rule, or he'll pursue his claim to being the rightful heir through the courts and wrest the throne from Brandon. The Council takes option one, partly because they are sure he'll win his case, but mostly to spare their pocketbooks the litigation fees.
  • Once per Episode: At first, it was "an army/host of evil/crazed mob invades or attacks the castle". Then it became "something weird/strange/silly happens with the castle’s magic that nearly overwhelms the heroes". The end result of both was that the characters end up having to flee, hop in and out of Aspects, and have ridiculous random adventures. Eventually the trope becomes "Gene gets stranded/lost/goes off to get the juices flowing and find himself and the others worry/try to rescue him".
  • Once Upon a Time/Happy Ever After: Castle Spellbound actually starts and ends this way.
  • Only in It for the Money: Deems.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Hosts of Hell state that they are greatly disturbed by chaos and wish to "establish a semblance of rationality" through "a benevolent order".
  • Our Demons Are Different: In two flavors, the Hosts of Hell (which are not true demons but did inspire them and are certainly wicked, destructive, and hateful) and demons like Ramthonodox which are more like Cosmic Horror Story antagonists. They also have a Number of the Beast which is 144,000 rather than 666 (although it's still from the Book of Revelation).
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolf encountered in Golfhell is apparently more on the vampiric side, since he's interested in Thaxton's blood. When Thaxton claims "Everybody Knows That werewolves don’t drink blood", the creature quips, "Everyone’s wrong, I’m AC/DC."
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: As evidenced by his sci-fi series, DeChancie loves this trope. Here it appears in Sativa's world, where Faster-Than-Light Travel is made possible by dangerously skirting seams or faults in the "plates" of spacetime called the Thread, then using these "cracks" as Hyperspace Lanes.
  • Out of Focus: While this could be said of any character who becomes less important or common in later installments, this is particularly true of Sheila: undergoing Character Development from The Ditz to a smart, competent sorceress, she is a key character in both Castle for Rent and Castle Kidnapped, but after this her Happily Married bliss with Trent coupled with her insistence on staying in the ocean Aspect to run her resort makes her vanish from the narrative, only having brief appearances in Castle War!, Castle Murders and Castle Spellbound (the latter consisting only of waiting around for Trent to return and then showing up with everybody else at the end).
  • Overly Long Gag: The inscription in the Zinnite tomb detailing the nature of the curse, which ends up rambling on and on about the rudeness of robbing a tomb and the unfairness of stealing from a long-suffering king—to the point that it covers all the walls and runs down numerous passages.
  • Parody: Of a number of genres, tropes, and specific writers or tales. One Aspect Gene ends up stuck in resembles an Italian romance, another where he and Snowclaw lead a revolution resembles a Dumas novel, still another comes right out of a pulp novel like those of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, while Incarnadine gets a Noir Episode and plays out an Expy of the Trojan War with Trent.
    • Bride of the Castle contains a Parody of the Mystery Arc in which Thaxton, believing he can solve the murders because of his experiences three books previously, valiantly tries to gather facts and formulate theories. Not only do the bodies keep piling up while the numerous suspects, alibis, motives, and lies make it next to impossible to figure out anything, while it all takes place in a microcosm of upper-crust England perfectly mimicking Christie Time (complete with class warfare and racism), but in the end it all dissolves into utter nonsense with the Summation Gathering turning into a convoluted mess of accusations and confessions worthy of Murder by Death followed by a literal bloodbath while the inspector merely stands around and lets it happen to 'sort itself out'. About the only mystery trope it doesn't mock or play with is The Butler Did It, although the butler in question actually seems to be quite Genre Savvy to the whole business as being a regular occurrence in this insane Aspect; whether people are just murdered constantly, or if they actually come back to life and play it out again the next day, is unknown.
  • Personality Powers: While not all Guests' talents have anything to do with their personalities or interests, several do—Gene, who always wanted to do something heroic and meaningful, gets to be a Flynning Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass; Sheila, who only wants to go home, can summon portals; Kwip the rogue is Intangible; Jacoby, the Manipulative Bastard, has mind-control powers; and Jeremy the hacker ends up becoming a Techno Wizard.
  • Pineal Weirdness: Dorcas and her Interior Eye, the Eye of Yahura.
  • Plot Magnet: Castle Perilous itself, besieged by no less than four armies or takeover attempts during the series. Justified because any number of powerful people, armies, or mages would love to have access to 144,000 worlds, or just to its immense magical power.
    • The Guests wonder, twice, why it is that despite this the castle has not been invaded before or ever fallen. The conclusions are that because it is a Genius Loci, it makes sure to open only to unpopulated worlds or ones where civilization has collapsed and thus there is no imminent threat of invading armies; or that only those who are at Rock Bottom and thus wish to abandon their life and world can ever even see the portals. This last would seem to be undermined by the Bluefaces and the Hosts of Hell except that the latter, at least, do indeed hate their own world (and themselves, and all of creation) while the Bluefaces, as aggressive as they are, do seem to at least hate each other as well as what they consider lower life forms. And, as Dalton points out, the castle doesn't have hard and fast rules. (I.e., wishing to leave one's world, but only for the purpose of conquering another, still counts in making an Aspect open.)
  • Portal Network: Variation. Like the Wood Between the Worlds of Narnia, each of the 144,000 worlds is connected to Castle Perilous as the nexus, but none of them connect directly with each other. Certain powerful mages can 'burrow' from one Aspect to another, but this is rare and difficult.
  • Portal Slam: Happens much more frequently early on, when the instability of the castle causes Aspects to move ("wander"), close, or otherwise change their nature. (Some are even "orbiting", not staying within the confines of the castle!) Becomes less of a problem when Sheila appears with her ability to control them, and less still when Incarnadine finally gets the castle and its magic under control...but every once in a while it still happens. Comes from the chaotic nature of the demon Ramthonodox and its magic.
  • The Power of Creation: Linda's conjuration (and by extension, Sheila's when her understanding of magical systems lets her mimic this). Generally considered to be done through No Conservation of Energy, though the things summoned can be either permanent or temporary (the latter starts off being accidental on her part, but she later can create weak versions of things that will fizzle out on their own). It is possible, however, that she is actually summoning them from somewhere else; the possible moral ramifications of this are briefly explored in the case of Goofus and also when they consider summoning Incarnadine and Melanie (i.e., is it the real person or merely a clone). In any event, whether summoned for real or formed out of nothing, she is able to conjure things she's never seen before based solely on descriptions or the thoughts of others.
  • Power Floats: What Dalton can do, though only on a very limited level, and only objects.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    (after they have figured out how to get the Sidewise Voyager back to the castle)
    Jeremy: Great! Isis, I love you.
    Isis: Jeremy, darling!
    Melanie: We are going to fucking crash if you people don’t get on the stick!
  • Pre-Climax Climax: With neither of them being any good in a fight, Deena and Barnaby take refuge in a bedroom during the climax of Castle for Rent...and then, since they think it might well be The End of the World as We Know It, one thing leads to another and...
  • Properly Paranoid: Incarnadine in Castle for Rent, it turns out, though the family member causing problems wasn't the one he thought.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: That Castle Perilous would be unmade, Ramthonodox freed to ravage the land, but restored again by one whose "name shall be as blood".
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: Subverted in the world of the Umoi—Gene rises from humble beginnings as the Queen's concubine, only to become her captain of the guards and king who does lead the tribe to the glory of the Old Gods...except The Native Rival comes back for Revenge, the tribe is almost entirely slaughtered save those who will join other tribes, and Vaya loses her throne so that she and Gene are forced to go to Annau alone in order to escape that world. Played straight, however in Alice's world where Gene's magical gift (and ability to resist InnerVoice) inspires him to begin a rebellion—and when he leaves, he passes on his gifts to her so that she can lead it in his place.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Melydia to Incarnadine. Played with, however, in that even before their break-up she was mad, or had the potential for it, and that the break-up acts as merely a Freudian Excuse which doesn't in fact excuse her villainy at all.
  • Put on a Bus: Vaya. First she learns English and goes to Earth to attend UCLA off-screen sometime between Castle Kidnapped and Castle War!, then (as we are told in Castle Dreams) she drops out of college to join a biker gang some time before Castle Murders.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: What happens when spells go awry, the castle's transformative magic is being picked apart, or invaders unleash their own spells. Particularly memorable moments would be the final stages of the castle's transformation back into Ramthonodox, the breakdown of the castle in Castle Kidnapped, and the entirety of Castle Spellbound, which everyone remarks is really weird, even for Castle Perilous.
  • Reality Warper: Both Linda and Sheila, and to a fair extent the castle itself. And the minitranslator from Bride of the Castle that can banish things or people from one reality to another.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Incarnadine and Trent are centuries old (as is the rest of their family) though they all look in the mid-30's to late 40's. This is also true of many of the castle's nobles, at least the ones who are also mages.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure/The Good King: Incarnadine and, it turns out, Trent.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Occurs when Incarnadine interrupts Mordecai's impressive display of "godhood" in Castle War! Justified since there really was a background soundtrack—in this case, a magical one of a chanting chorus.
  • Recycled Premise: Either The End of the World as We Know It, or invaders/besiegers trying to take over the castle. Justified in the first case due to sealed evils being released from their cans or the generally unstable nature of the castle, justified in the second due to the castle being a Plot Magnet.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Deems, Ferne.
  • Refuge in Audacity: This, and Vulgar Humor, comes into play in how Incarnadine defeats the dengs of Necropolis: he puts out the fires of Hell by emptying his bladder on them.
  • Required Secondary Powers: In order to summon portals, Sheila is able to understand and harness any world's magical system. This also lets her conjure and perform other magical tricks similar to Linda's.
  • Reset Button: The main heroes receive this at the end of the first book when the castle is first restored to its original demonic form, then transformed back again by Incarnadine. Despite all knowledge of the castle and the events of the book being wiped out, they all meet up again, become close friends, and gain savvy knowledge of the castle since apparently You Can't Fight Fate. Unfortunately one of the things forgotten is Gene's Anguished Declaration of Love, resulting in a Will They or Won't They? for the rest of the series. It is later revealed in Castle Murders that perhaps not everything was forgotten, as Linda has memories of Ramthonodox and the castle breaking down, though it all seems like a hazy dream to her.
  • Revenge: Melydia's motivation, and to some degree the Hosts of Hell's as well.
  • Rich Bitch: Melydia.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Thanks to the fact he spends most of his time moonlighting in other dimensions (including a stint as a fantasy writer here on Earth), Incarnadine often comes across as this. Has been called on it a number of times, by both Ferne and his enemy plotters, but when he does pay attention and act like a king, it is always awesome and badass. And he does in fact directly and decisively rule in many of the Aspects he lives in, though at least once he abrogates his huge load of responsibilities to go jogging while letting his clone run things...which does prove to be a mistake.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: See Incarnadine. See Incarnadine make the Hosts of Hell pay for what they did to Ferne.
  • Rock Bottom: The situations of most Guests, prior to coming to the castle. Gene was unemployed with no prospects for the future. Kwip was on death row, to be hung for his thievery. Snowclaw had gotten buried in a crevasse of ice and intended to kill himself. Linda, although wary of doing so, was also contemplating suicide; so was Thaxton after being divorced by his cheating wife. Jacoby had been arrested for embezzlement and was about to be put away for his crimes. Jeremy was on the run from the law for his hacking. Dalton was lonely and depressed after suffering a heart attack. Deena was from Bed-Sty—'nuff said. Sheila was stuck in worthless, piddling Wilmerding. (And, admittedly, was upset by the way her last marriage had ended.)
    • Melanie's is a special case since she was actually approached and befriended online by Linda before being offered a way into the castle via Jeremy’s magical computer. However, it is still played straight in that the reason Linda brings her there is to save her from suicide after she is left by her boyfriend, flunking college, and soon to be a single mother.
    • Even Rance, who doesn't come to the castle the normal way, counts thanks to the Curse of ill-fortune he was suffering from. If Max had ever made it to the real castle, he certainly would have counted too.
  • Running Gag: Not as many as you might expect, but a few. Gene continually compares Linda to Samantha from Bewitched (and himself to Darin). Thaxton perennially complains about Dalton always wanting to play golf all the time instead of his game of choice, tennis, yet always goes along with him and enjoys it anyway. Much more hilarious is the bizarre fixation on Tierra del Fuego that runs through the footnotes and quizzes/tests in Castle Dreams. There's also one related to the poor Land Surveyor in Castle Murders.
  • Science Fiction Versus Fantasy: The series unabashedly and gleefully picks no sides or favorites, throwing in whatever audacity, coolness, and fun will allow, so that very little makes sense and the books defy classification. There are Aspects of High and Low Fantasy, as well as Hard and Soft Sci Fi. Dragons, mages, mythical creatures, deity-class beings, ruined cities and medieval citizenry appear alongside time machines, computers, fighter planes, spaceships, laser weapons, lost colonies, and robotics. And then there's Earth.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Subverted. At first it appears Lord Tragg is the only member of the Privy Council who will stand up to Trent's Blackmail and refuse his offer, that he won't compromise his principles or the realm for money or expediency. But then it turns out he was so adamantly opposed to Trent taking over because he was one of those behind Incarnadine's "death", and he wanted to rule instead.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Ramthonodox himself, but also the Hosts of Hell (courtesy of Incarnadine's ancestor).
  • Seers: Melanie's talent seems to be seeing the immediate future, though whether only for herself, or only in relation to her pregnancy and children, is never fully explained.
  • Servant Race: The Umoi created the yalim to be this through the use of genetic manipulation of "the more highly developed fauna". They also created the hrunt as Half-Human Hybrids through LEGO Genetics to be actual slave laborers, as opposed to domestic servants. Thanks to What Measure Is a Non-Human? and racism, the yalim hunt the hrunt; Gene wishes to modify them to be more human again, but finds it rather hard to go against centuries of Values Dissonance.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness/Buffy Speak: DeChancie isn't afraid to show off his vocabulary, nor does he underestimate the intelligence of his readers. At the same time, there is a deliberate dissonance between this and modern colloquial speech, thanks to Incarnadine and Trent having lived on Earth for so long. The switch between the two is also deliberately invoked by Incarnadine (and Trent) to annoy or confuse his enemies (Castle Dreams), and vice versa (the Hosts of Hells' "used car salesman" shtick).
  • Sex Changes Everything: What Gene and Linda worry about when considering whether or not to have a Relationship Upgrade. And judging by what happens in the next book, they may have been right.
  • Sherlock Scan: Parodied in Castle Murders when Incarnadine pretends to deduce all manner of things about Father Sealey's niece, then reveals he knows everything he does because "your uncle talks about you a lot".
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Gene's jaunt into Sativa's world ends up being this. While it's true the rebel munitions dump does get blown apart by nuclear grenades, and this presumably kills the rebels who were after her, Sativa herself also dies in the process, leaving Gene to return to the castle with nothing to show for it, and knowing that the rebel movement will likely still continue on to cause trouble for the galactic government—perhaps even strengthened thanks to her death. So the whole adventure and her death are indeed all for nothing.
    • Shaggy Dog Story: The whole episode on Hellas is this, since there is no point to the story—Trent is put through the grueling campaign for no reason except to give Incarnadine another strategist to face since he couldn't duplicate himself, and although his favored city Troas is saved, he reveals that in time the bay will silt up and the valueless citadel will be abandoned. Its only point was for him to play out real-life war games (and, admittedly, give Trent something to do to keep him occupied and his blood flowing); no wonder, then, that Trent believes Revenge is a dish Best Served Cold.
      • Max's jaunt through Alternate Universes turns out all to be for nothing, since he can never find one that is exactly perfect and the way he wants it, he can never find his original home, in every world he is a failure no matter how successful he appears on the surface, and in the end he's left stuck in a Me's a Crowd situation, hoping that one of the Jeremys can eventually help him find a home again...though with the number of duplicates versus 'good' worlds, his chances are bleak.
  • Shout-Out/Homage: The Wizard of Oz, Bewitched, Poe (both "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee"), among many, many others.
  • Shown Their Work: The scene in the conservatory in Castle Murders, where Incarnadine plays the Rachmaninoff concerto. Also, all the detail given to golf when Thaxton and Dalton are trapped in Golfhell in Castle War! is lampshaded in a footnote in Castle Dreams, along with mocking the fact that doing so much work and research keeps the author trapped inside without a social life.
    • When Trent visits the Greek-like Aspect Hellas, he remarks on how all the massive marble buildings are painted in bright, garish colors instead of being the plain unadorned white of modern buildings in that style.
  • Single-Biome Planet: A few Aspects are this, or at least appear to be; for example, the ocean Aspect that is eventually called Sheila's World. A variation is what everyone calls the "golfing world", an Aspect known not for having only one climate but existing for only one purpose, having been deliberately created with golfing in mind but superimposed on a tropical dinosaur world.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Why Linda has been without a man since before she came to Castle Perilous.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: The first book is fairly balanced, with the zaniness and weirdness of learning about and becoming accustomed to the world of the castle offset by the genuine danger of the siege, Melydia's spell work, and the true terror and desperation of trying to maneuver through the castle and stop its destruction even as it is changing back into a demon. The invasions by the Blue Meanies and the Hosts of Hell, and the destabilization of the castle, are also treated seriously, albeit with much levity and comic relief at the appropriate moments. The longer the series goes on, however, the sillier it gets, though moments of seriousness do still creep up.
  • Something Completely Different: Castle Murders manages to have two examples at once, the Mystery Arc and Incarnadine's Noir Episode which has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot and only exists to keep him from being there to solve the crime. Other examples include Incarnadine's eschatological experiences in Castle Dreams; the entirety of Castle Spellbound, but also the subplot regarding the Iliad Expy; and almost all of the disconnected plot of Bride of the Castle, with Rance's adventures being completely extraneous until he finally makes his way to the castle, Thaxton and Dalton having an insane Lower Deck Episode, and what happens to poor Max being entirely self-contained to yet another Alternate Universe.
  • Spanner in the Works: How Incarnadine defeats Melydia and restores the castle: because Kwip had broken a piece off of Ramthonodox’s brain, it was missing an Aspect. Demons must have all their Aspects to feel complete, so without it he was vulnerable to manipulation and control. Particularly because Incarnadine, Chessmaster that he was, had gotten said shard away from Jacoby and could use it to bargain with.
    • In Castle for Rent, Sheila's portal-summoning power allows her and the others to escape to Ferne's mansion on Earth right as Trent and Incarnadine are trying to break into the estate. This, and the others fighting the Hosts' forces, provides the distraction (and uses up the Hosts' spell power) for the brothers to save the day.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal/Friend to All Living Things: In Castle for Rent Barnaby is implied, but never confirmed, to have the ability to speak to animals; the strange feline beasts he and Deena encounter are able to communicate empathically with both of them, but only he hears the actual thoughts of one when they flee the Aspect. Since they've never encountered beasts or bestial sapients since then, this point is never pursued later on.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Ferne; Vaya.
  • Status Quo Is God: Despite the fact that with the reinstitution of the transformation spell, Castle Perilous is more stable and reasonable than it has been in years, and that between Incarnadine, Trent, Sheila, and Jeremy the Aspects become much more manageable and Earth is made accessible again after years of wandering, something still always manages to happen to make the castle unsafe and cause the characters to go haring off into dangerous, unstable Aspects. As proof Tropes Are Not Bad, this is half the fun of the series!
  • Stealth Pun: When dining in Golfhell, Dalton drolly makes note of the cockatrice au vin on the menu—"breast of cockatrice sautéed with wild mushrooms and fresh tender roots in a light wine sauce". Between the other elements of the dish and the fact a cockatrice (another name for/variation of basilisk) is often depicted as part-bird due to its unusual origin, this would seem to be a reference to the joke that "everything Tastes Like Chicken".
  • Storming the Castle: Oddly enough, not Vorn's armies besieging Castle Perilous, but Trent and Incarnadine invading Ferne's estate on Earth.
  • Story Arc: Most of the novels in the series are stand-alone adventures, including the very first, and while newcomers to the series might be confused as to who all the characters are and their relationships (aided by helpful bits of As You Know and the occasional footnote here and there), they can mostly be read in any order and without any need for continuity. However, Castle for Rent, Castle Kidnapped, and Castle War! could be said to form one arc revolving around Ferne and the Hosts of Hell—from the first book, where Ferne attempts to use them to gain control of the castle, to the second where they turn the tables and use her for the same purpose, to the last where The Multiverse is endangered due to all the magical and spatiotemporal tinkering going on in the previous two.
  • Story Breaker Power: Sheila. She can conjure portals. Granted, there is a great deal of How Do I Shot Web? at first, but once she figures it out, there is no more danger of characters being trapped anywhere, the wandering portal to Earth can be easily located and tied down, and characters can travel wherever and whenever they want. Luckily the author manages to consistently have her get cut off from the others, her magic is blocked, or she's simply not available.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Not only does Trent make the exact same comment as Incarnadine when he wakes up from a bad dream, but he even tells the same jokes and stories.
  • Subverted Trope: DeChancie uses these a lot, right from the very first book where the "horrible" thing pursuing Kwip up the stairwell turns out to be a pair of disembodied feet, the seemingly terrifying beast Snowclaw is actually fairly well-spoken, intelligent, and a loyal, brave companion, and the thief who breaks off a piece of the castle's magical brain does end up being a Spanner in the Works—but for the Big Bad, not Incarnadine. The Reveal of The Man Behind the Man is common. Sheila goes from being The Ingenue and The Ditz to one of the most powerful sorceresses the castle's ever seen. Trent, when given the chance to rule Perilous, is a Reasonable Authority Figure and The Good King instead of proving Ambition Is Evil, and ends up saving his brother instead of joining the Big Bad. There's even a Double Subversion in Bride of the Castle when the ghost town Rance discovers seems to be full of demons ready to capture and torture him, only for them to be upset and offended by his violent attack and accusations...but they still really are demons who try to kill him.
  • Sue Donym: Incarnadine's alias on Earth (and in the Noir Aspect) is John Carney.
  • Suicide by King/Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: The Hosts of Hell's true final goal.
  • Superpower Lottery: It's anyone's guess what talent a given Guest will end up with, with some being awesome and badass and others complaining (or not) about how lame their heart is. Linda and Sheila have to take the cake though for most powerful and versatile talents ever. Lampshaded by both Incarnadine and Trent, who note they are two of the most powerful magicians in generations who are not members of the royal family.
  • Take Our Word for It: The Hosts of Hell's true form, since it could never be truly seen or comprehended.
  • Take That: A number of these appear throughout the series, usually at other authors (Foundation's Robots, I Remember Rama), genres ("What's 'cyberpunk'?"), or the literary world in general (see Incarnadine's meeting with the book editor in Castle for Rent), but a particularly epic (and mean-spirited) one occurs in Castle Dreams, complete with explanatory footnote:
    Trent, regarding the spell trigger: I ought to give this to Inky as a present next Solstice. He's a science-fiction writer. He ought to appreciate a totally worthless block of Lucite.note 
  • Taking You with Me: Villainous version, where the dying Vasagaroth kills Jamin before collapsing.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Incarnadine. And Gene, according to Linda. Which would explain why she fell for both of them.
  • Team Mom: Dorcas, at least according to Incarnadine; Linda.
  • Team Pet: Goofus, the Big Friendly Dog who is conjured to be able to follow scents psychically across worlds.
  • Techno Babble: Naturally, much of Jeremy's descriptions of the castle computers and how they work is this, much to the bafflement of Osmirik—which is Played for Laughs since the way the scribe spoke of spells and historical texts was really Not So Different. Which, aside from their both being at the tops of their fields, is why they were paired up together.
  • Techno Wizard: Jeremy's computers and AIs don't even need batteries, they run on pure magical phlebotinum!
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Snowclaw's power (at least originally). Interestingly, while it can be done mid-run, it generally seems to work as a reverse Call On Me, where he is able to teleport to a person he cares for whom he knows is in danger, simply by homing in on their feelings or thoughts of him.
  • Tempting Fate: Gene really shouldn’t have talked about Aspects closing on them in Castle for Rent...
  • Theme Naming: In Castle Murders several chapters are named after rooms which appear in Clue. The tagline for the book is also in the form of a Suggestion ("Was is it the Royal Scribe? In the library? With a broadax?").
  • Three Lines Some Waiting: In most books there are only one or two main plot threads, and in the ones where the many Guests split up and have separate mini-adventures, the reader tends to get to visit them equally and find out what happens to everyone in a timely manner. Sometimes though minor plots get delayed for the major ones, and others get forgotten altogether. Exhibit A: anything with Deena and Barnaby, sometimes Kwip or Thaxton and Dalton. Exhibit B: Melanie's plot with the "Robin Hood" Expy, forgotten entirely until near the end of the book thanks to Gene's wanderlust, yet another mishap with the Sidewise Voyager, and the murder mystery taking center stage.
  • Those Two Guys: Thaxton and Dalton; Thorsby and Fetchen; Luster and Dolbert.
  • Time Machine: The Sidewise Voyager. Prone to Phlebotinum Breakdown.
  • Token Minority: Deena, who is also a Sassy Black Woman.
  • Translator Microbes: Within the castle only. Shown off in a very well done scene when DuQuesne gets Linda to actually listen carefully, and hear the French he is speaking beneath the English. It can be turned off at will, and in other Aspects characters can get the general gist of other languages if they concentrate or have been exposed to them enough. Sometimes the translation lacks precision ("Elizabethan couplets" sounds to Snowclaw like "snow queen poetry"), but other times it is intriguingly accurate (as when "medieval" comes out as "middle ages").
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Beeswax candles dipped in Thousand Island dressing, for Snowclaw.
  • Tragic Villain: Despite the fact she was unstable and often quite insane, and that she nearly gave the castle to the Hosts of Hell, killed Incarnadine, and destroyed The Multiverse, and did cause Deems's death, you can't help but feel sorry for Ferne—if not because of her railing against Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits and her inability to inherit the throne, thus driving her into I Did What I Had to Do and eventually madness, then because of what happens to her once she falls into the clutches of the Hosts of Hell.
  • Trapped in Another World: Technically this is true for all the Guests who come to Castle Perilous, but the specific plot of someone being trapped in an Aspect also recurs throughout the series. Incarnadine gets stuck on Earth while Gene, Linda, Snowclaw, and Sheila get stranded in a jungle world with ruined temples in Castle for Rent; Gene, Thaxton, and Dalton get stuck in dangerous alternate variants in Castle War!; and Melanie gets stuck in a "Robin Hood" Aspect (while Gene, Linda, and Snowclaw get stuck on a dying future world while looking for her) in Castle Murders. This type of plot is also the whole point of Castle Kidnapped, where it happens to almost everybody as part of the Hosts of Hell's takeover attempt.
  • Trophy Wife: What Melydia was supposed to be for Vorn, courtesy of his controlling mother. She had other ideas...
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: Incarnadine, His Serene and Transcendent Majesty of the House of Haplodite, Lord of the Western Pale, Liege Lord, Imperator and Gatekeeper, King of the Realms Perilous, Sovereign Ruler of Ylium, Zephorea, Halmudia, Grekoran, and West Thurlangia, Protector of...
    • Also, His Royal Highness Trent, Prince of the House of Haplodie, Protector of Zilonesia, Vice-regent of Ulontha, Beloved of the Gods, Holy Warrior, Keeper of the Stone of Truth-telling... Though this may not all be true, since his introduction came from Incarnadine.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Ferne really should have known better than to trust the Hosts of Hell, or believe she could outsmart and overpower them. See Evil Is Not a Toy.
  • Two-Fisted Tales/Pastiche: Gene's solo adventures seem to be made of these, to the point of seeming like Author Appeal. The very first, the world of the Umoi, their ruined AI cities, and their Servant Races which have degenerated into barbarian tribes seems like a cross between Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard—Gene even compares his first sight of Zond to the "cover of Astounding Stories" and refers to Edmund Hamilton, and the world's name is later revealed to be New Barsoom. The episode plays out as a Mighty Whitey Planetary Romance. Meanwhile, Alice's world could be 1984 or Brave New World while Sativa's could be any Physics Plus Space Opera out there.
  • The Unintelligible: Dolbert. Also, amazingly, a Genius Ditz.
  • The Unreveal: Kwip is a thief. But this fact is never actually revealed to the majority of the characters. Jacoby figures it out...but the secret dies with him. Gene is understandably suspicious of him...but this is all forgotten when the Reset Button is pushed. And Deena and Barnaby, other than a moment of disbelief and derision for him chasing after valuables he claims are his in Castle Spellbound, never seem to think ill of him or distrust him. Even Incarnadine, who retains his memories of the first book, does not act in any untrusting manner when they are introduced in Castle for Rent, but then he tends to be forgiving of any transgressions which may lie in a Guest’s past (see Jeremy), probably because he isn't exactly squeaky clean himself. The rest never learn or care, even when such a revelation might possibly have been dramatic or at least interesting.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Great White Stuff!"
  • Unwitting Pawn: Poor Deems.
    • Trent as well, as the patsy for Incarnadine’s Mykos/Troas scheme in Castle Spellbound.
  • Valley Girl: Despite being from California, Linda only lapses into speech like this once in a blue moon. Oddly, despite being from Pennsylvania, Sheila is the one who talks like this consistently at first before, thankfully, growing out of it. Most likely an example of this trope being conflated with The Ditz.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked in-story when Trent is repulsed by the Mykosians' usage of human sacrifice to propitiate their gods.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Jamin has quite an example in Castle Kidnapped.
  • We Can Rule Together: The offer Ferne (and Deems) makes to Incarnadine in Castle for Rent. Also, Ruthven’s offer to Trent in Castle Dreams.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Trent, so much Trent. He even lampshades it as his Freudian Excuse when rejecting the kingship and Ruthven.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Vorn, if you squint right. Although a conquering warlord, he also fully believed he was doing a right and holy thing by capturing and destroying Castle Perilous, that it was a fortress of evil ruled by the Devil himself and only by doing as Melydia directed would the world be saved. What he didn't know was that she was only using him, and that instead of destroying the evil, her plan for the castle would actually free it.
    • Ferne was one as well, since she fully believed she should rule, or co-rule, Perilous and was thus willing to open up dangerous Aspects (and use the power of the Hosts of Hell) to get what she wanted, but never truly intended to harm her brother, the castle, or any of its inhabitants if she could help it.
  • We Will Use WikiWords In The Future: InnerVoice.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Happens often to the bit players when their plots are mere amusing hijinks or are simply not deemed important when compared to the main plot. Sometimes their stories are resolved with a quick Hand Wave or a brief narration of what happened off-screen; other times it's forgotten entirely yet the characters still show up just fine in the next book.
    • A very specific example, however: unless she was merely mistaken, Vaya claims to be pregnant by Gene, yet no mention of this or the baby is ever made after she comes to the castle and goes to Earth. It is possible she lost the baby either due to the injuries she suffers in Annau or the explosion and healing in the lab, but again this is never actually mentioned or addressed—until Bride of the Castle, when Linda finally mentions that Gene believes she aborted it but doesn't actually know.
    • Another example: the fate of Goofus after he is used to rescue Melanie in Castle Murders; he's never seen again, but invokedjudging by the fact Linda's conjurations eventually fade away...
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Snowy's reaction to humans and their mating rituals.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: While some Guests get to have incredible powers (like Linda and Sheila) or ones clearly meant for heroics (like Gene's), others have to contend with nearly useless abilities. A case could be made that most of the Guests whose talents we never learn have talents like this. And a very good example of such a talent would be Osmirik's: an enhanced sense of smell, which comes in handy exactly once in the series, is never mentioned again, and almost as soon as he develops it becomes a hindrance since he managed to find himself in the castle's Water Works...
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Averted, discussed, and otherwise explored and deconstructed in a surprisingly serious, contemplative, and sympathetic manner with Incarnadine and the sphinx statue he temporarily brings to life.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Ruthven double-crosses Tragg and offers Trent the chance to join him and become king of Perilous in truth by murdering Incarnadine and Brandon. Trent, whose original purpose in seeking him out was simply to keep from being accused of having murdered his brother himself, shows his quality and refuses—granted, partly because he's discovered his ambition isn't what he thought it was, but also because he won't be a party to murder. Naturally Ruthven, not being aware of Trent having changed, doesn't understand this.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?/Lonely at the Top: Incarnadine. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rather epic speech he gives to Lemarr Hamilton in Castle Murders.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Discussed by the multiple Incarnadines when trying to decide which of them gets to be "real".
  • Wicked Cultured: Jacoby. The Hosts of Hell alternate between this and Vulgar Humor when their plans go awry or Incarnadine blasts them with a banishment spell.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Gene and Linda. (Finally, after seven books, they do.)
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Ferne, apparently, and certainly Melydia. Lampshaded in the latter's case when, having used up all her power to release Ramthonodox, she is suddenly sane again.
  • A Wizard Did It: Literally, in the case of Ervoldt, Incarnadine's ancestor, who cast the spell to change Ramthonodox into Castle Perilous. But a number of times, when something strange happens in the castle, whether a part of its usual idiosyncratic quirks or something actually going wrong, it's always blamed on/explained by "magic".
  • Woman Scorned: Melydia.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Believe it or not, the Hosts of Hell. This still does not justify their acts.
  • World Gone Mad: Even when it's not the case that Reality Is Out to Lunch, this still pretty much describes the castle itself and justifies almost everything that happens. If it isn't Rule of Cool. As a sign of how strange the castle is, and how used to this the Guests become, when the Literal Genie spell gets out of control no one bothers to question whether the castle's magic going awry isn't responsible, instead trying to figure out just how it screwed up this time. In fact they're so blasé it takes things getting really out of control before most of them even bat an eye. Snowclaw assumes it's just situation normal for those "interesting", always busy humans, and finds the lack of his Thousand Island dressing more odd than all the rest of it.
    He encountered more humans, and these sang as well as danced. The males carried black canes and wore black suits and black cylindrical hats, and the females wore little. The males picked the females up and threw them around. More music played. Well, good.
  • World of Pun: The series is actually rife with puns and wordplay, especially from Gene, but one which has to take the cake due to the set-up and the long wait before DeChancie finally drops the other shoe would be this extreme groaner from Castle Murders:
    Helen Dardanian, after Incarnadine asked her where she used to work and noted she was from Illinois: I worked in a cracker factory. Nights, I sang in speaks. Real dives. In one of them the dancers went bare-breasted.
    Incarnadine: What did you do?
    Helen: I was a taste tester. But I quit to come here.
  • Write an Urban Fantasy: The side story in Castle Murders has Lord Incarnadine visiting an Aspect based on Film Noir, complete with demon gangsters and transparent Captain Ersatzes of 1920s and '30s celebrities.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: While this is generally true for all the villainous schemes in the series, it is especially notable in Castle Perilous and Castle for Rent.
    • Despite all of his magical (and mundane) defenses, Incarnadine can't stop Vorn's armies from winning their siege, despite all of his research and study (and Osmirik's) they can't find any way to stop Melydia's spellwork, and despite the Big Damn Heroes moment wherein the main characters take out all of her guards (zombies and duplicates included) and Linda almost gets her hands on Melydia, the castle still gets changed back into Ramthonodox. Partly this is due to the fact prophecy said it would happen, but it's also because Incarnadine ends up letting it happen as part of a Batman Gambit—on the one hand, Ramthonodox's release eliminated the besieging armies, drained Melydia of her powers, and made her sane again so she could help him re-cast the Baleful Polymorph; on the other hand, he allowed it to come to pass because he knew of the broken shard of the Brain and how this loss would weaken the demon and allow him to regain control of it again.
    • As for Ferne's scheme, she succeeds in trapping Incarnadine on Earth, releasing the Blue Meanies so as to take over the castle and drive all the Guests and soldiers into the countless Aspects, and using the power of the Hosts of Hell to keep the Blue Meanies and Incarnadine in check. Her scheme only falls apart because she trusted the Hosts, Deems turned on her, the Guests succeed in wrenching away the Earth portal and attacking the demons on her estate (and bring a banishment spell for the Hosts with them), and Trent and Incarnadine also arrive to take the demons out.
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: Gene is rather determined to convince himself the worlds beyond the portals aren't real, just lifelike holograms or movies he can step into...to keep from having to think about Sativa.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: Melydia's fate.

Captain Pantoja and the Special ServiceComic LiteratureCatch-22
Bridge of BirdsComic FantasyCharlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Castle in the AtticLiterature of the 1980sThe Cats of Seroster
The Castle in the AtticFantasy LiteratureThe Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen

alternative title(s): Castle Perilous
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
290799
40