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Literature: Cerberon
The first published novel by Fredric R. Stewart, Cerberon is unusual blend of Regency Romance and High Fantasy. The novel opens in Regency England several years after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, with George making a final, desperate, and futile attempt to convince a wealthy widow to marry him, with Cerberon's begrudging assistance. After being kicked off of the widow's estate, George and Cerberon soon encounter another widow, Margaret, who is significantly less wealthy than the ones George had been unsuccessfully courting. George promises to escort her and her children to their destination, which they then discover is America. They decide to follow through on this promise by taking them through an alternate fantastic world full of magic, strange creatures, and danger. George enters into a romantic relationship with Margaret while Cerberon learns more about what it means to be a unicorn than he ever suspected.

On their journey, they receive help from a villainous elven wizard that they're afraid to refuse, since they already know about The Fair Folk. Other strange creatures join the traveling group, forming a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits each going along for their own reason. They discover the country they are traveling through is marked for annihilation by the Dragon Queen, the supreme ruler of all the world's dragons. An epic battle ensues, while George and Cerberon seek to escape it, their only duty being the safety of their charges. They eventually make it to America, bringing with them guests from the fantastic world, including a dragon and a centaur, but antebellum America is not what they had expected.

While the story arc of Cerberon is complete in this novel, it is clear at the end a new arc is beginning, and work on a second novel, Cerberon's Herd has been announced by the author.

Cerberon provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: Cerberon was born when George was a child and they've been inseparable ever since.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Alicorn blades are shown to be absurdly sharp. Bryn Kravat easily slices Aladavan's steel sword in half with King Norrith's alicorn scimitar. A skilled magic user can take this even further by making the alicorn blade extend a magical energy blade as functional as a light saber. Aladavan uses one like this to decapitate a horse and bisect its rider in a single stroke.
  • Acrophobic Bird: The skraad in the story actively avoid flying in daytime, unless they're invisible, because if someone spots them there's a very good chance they'll be killed.
  • Affably Evil: This seems to be the standard mode of conduct for Obviously Evil characters in the book. Aladavan is clearly evil, but he's genuinely friendly, well-mannered, and a generous host. Oethelzeiren also acts this way, but he's probably neither truly affable nor truly evil, just polite and the most powerful asshole in the world.
    • All the dragons are extremely polite, and it's very clear that polite isn't necessarily nice.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The dragons espouse a version by which they avoid interfering in the lives of humans and other younger races. It doesn't stop them from interacting with them or severely punishing them when they become dangerously unruly.
  • The Alleged Steed: Thedrik's mule. Old, half blind, unreliable, and cranky. He still chooses her over a good horse when given the chance.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted with hackals, which can vary from evil to civilized Beast Man, depending on their tribe, clan, and individual disposition. This doesn't stop most people from considering all of them Always Chaotic Evil maneating monsters anyway.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the novel, Cerberon is reunited with some of his children and he plans to teach them all magic while chaperoning a dragon on the Grand Tour of Europe.
    • Another example exists with Thedrik. He plans to hunt down the vampires infesting his Corrupt Church.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The complete destruction of Loethess and everything around it is described in detail from multiple perspectives, from a mage in the center of the city paralyzed with Oh, Crap, to a family nearby hoping they'll survive, to a distant overview by a pair of people being carried away by a flying dragon.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Hackals kick this tropes ass and make it follow their orders.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Invoked by Aladavan. Whether he's only forecasting the heavy rain that falls later that night or he has insight into the battle that occurs while it's still raining the next day is unclear.
  • As You Know Bob: Played with in this exchange, where Aladavan passes along information which is common knowledge in his world, but which George, and the reader, couldn't possibly know :
    Aladavan: You should know that in the Silarsi tribe, humans and hackals share equal standing.
    George: No. I did not know that at all.
    Aladavan: I know, which is why I told you.
  • Attempted Rape: Twice, with the same characters. Lubek, a ruthless hackal, tries to rape Junapur after knocking her out in combat. He tries again later when she's sleeping, but she stabs him to death.
  • Automaton Horses: Averted. Most of the time horses are not used at all, but any time horses (and horse-like creatures) are shown, they are described in realistic terms, and their proper care is seen to, if not described in great detail.
    • Zofi, a centaur, is convinced to accept horseshoes to protect her hooves from the paved roads she's not used to traveling on. She refuses to use a saddle when carrying riders, which she later regrets, and gets extremely cranky when she's harnessed to Aladavan's wagon too long.
    • Thedrik takes care to regularly rest his old mule while pursuing Aladavan, she balks at the smell of death, and often bucks or otherwise misbehaves for him. She refuses to move anymore once she reaches her point of exhaustion, and requires magical healing to recover.
    • Cerberon observes that a pair of horses galloping past them will be killed by their riders if they keep their pace.
    • Aladavan's horses were uncontrollably spooked by Darkram's evil aura, so he killed and reanimated them, turning them into Zombie Automaton Horses.
  • Badass Boast: When Aladavan does it, it's equal parts warning and picking a fight. Example:
    "Be on your way if you wish to live. The sword in my hand was taken from your Wizard Royal Elect, Timneal Kravat, whose body lies three miles behind me with his Nine Fangs. I slew them all alone. You saw their airboat fly by, the coward priest of your ridiculous cult fled from me in terror."
  • Badass Grandpa: Merlen and Oethelzeiren are both over a thousand years old and are renowned worldwide for their power. The one person who dared to directly defy Merlen was vaporized mid-sentence with a glance. Oethelzeiren easily kick's Merlen's ass because he doesn't mind causing collateral damage.
  • Battle Strip: In anticipation of his Duel to the Death, Aladavan removes his coat and shirt, not to impress or intimidate anyone, but simply to avoid having his clothing soiled or damaged during the fight.
  • Beast Man: Hackals are basically humanoid hyenas.
    • Darkram is slowly turning into some kind of beastly creature, a major source of his Angst.
  • Beastess: Several. Sascia is a hackal. Junapur is big, imposing and strong, with (four) Boobs of Steel. Jena is a mule half, just as big, strong and intimidating as Junapur, but not as nice, and without such remarkable cleavage. She introduces herself to Thedrik with a punch in the face.
  • Betty and Veronica: Margaret is George's Betty, and Junapur plays the part of Veronica. George chooses Margaret, and Junapur is very happy to see them betrothed (among other things), vicariously enjoying their relationship.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Margaret becomes attracted to George after he volunteers to be her escort for her journey to America. He is oblivious to her attraction until she mentions she wouldn't mind his intimate attention.
  • Boobs of Steel: Junapur has large breasts and she's a skilled fighter.
  • Brick Joke: Cerberon says something suggestive about Emma to George in the first chapter. It goes unmentioned until the final chapter when Emma asks Cerberon what he said.
  • Bring My Red Jacket: Aladavan is wearing a red jacket when he's nearly disemboweled by a skraad. He comments on this fact and is amazed that his white trousers didn't get bloody.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Aladavan is the only example of The Fair Folk who appears in the novel, and his general attitude and bearing fits this trope. He's also an extremely intelligent Manipulative Bastard capable of turning almost any argument in his favor.
    • Can't Argue With Dragons: Dragons have ruled the world for millions of years, and won't let you forget they're literally the top of the food chain.
    Cerberon: As polite as the Marquis has been, I still can't help feeling like we're being marched off to slaughter.
    George: Like cattle… But I'm not going to argue with a dragon. Are you?”
    Cerberon: No. It's unsettling to meet someone who'd as soon kill us as sit down for a nice cup of tea.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Averted, since the intelligent carnivores, dragons, hackals, and skraad, don't have a problem with eating other intelligent species. As far as they're concerned, meat is meat, regardless of the source. They do avoid outright cannibalism, but eating a half-human hybrid of their own species doesn't seem to count as cannibalism to them.
  • Character Title: The book is named after Cerberon, who is the Deuteragonist for most of the story.
  • Charm Person: Aladavan uses this ability frequently, often accompanied by a "subtle gesture." It doesn't seem to work well when people are actively resisting him.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Aladavan gives Robert a special sword which later becomes important in Darkram's Secret Test of Character. It may have other significance that isn't revealed in the rest of the novel. (Maybe the next one?)
  • Chekhov's Gun: Aladavan collects a burning timber with a magical device, which he pulls out later when he escapes the grasp of a dragon.
    • Aladavan loads George's pistols with experimental magical ammunition. George threatens to use them several times but never gets the chance. Captain Mayhew takes them from George and uses them against him. The results are spectacular and satisfying.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Thanades, a Unicorn, tortures Cerberon with magic darts because he is part horse, therefore not a true unicorn. If Zofi hadn't interfered, Thanades would have tortured him to death.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Aladavan will do absolutely anything to win/survive a fight.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: There are several in the novel, with Darkram's coming of age being most obvious. Cerberon, while already an adult at around twenty years old, learns through the course of the novel what it takes to be a real unicorn and not just a pretty, well-educated horse with a pointy thing on his head. George also gets his own Delayed CoA. Even though he's in his thirties and a battle-tested veteran, he hasn't had to deal with ordinary adult responsibilities until he meets and joins Margaret's family.
  • Compelling Voice: Darkram demonstrates this ability during his Secret Test of Character. No one, including himself, knew he could do this, and he doesn't try it for the rest of the book.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Most of the coincidences do seem genuine, but one that strains credulity doesn't become apparent until it completely unfolds and you think about it a bit: Cerberon's father, Cephalon, happens to have been slaughtered and sealed away in the basement of a magic tower as part of a ward to keep out dragons, with his horn becoming the key to mastery of the tower, and that master went out to investigate Aladavan's activities and bring him to justice, which failed badly, putting the horn in Aladavan's hands just at the moment Cerberon is dying from a hackal attack, allowing Cephalon's spirit to alert Aladavan that Cerberon needs to be saved, which Aladavan does just in the nick of time.
  • Cool Old Guy: Prince Aeronweyir is a dragon over three thousand years old, looks his age, has Seen It All, and still has a cheerful disposition.
  • Corrupt Church: The Church of Avander is infested with vampires who have manipulated its doctrines to serve their interests.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Aladavan always has something up his sleeve to get himself out of just about any situation, and he can quickly improvise a solution with whatever he happens to have on hand. Aladavan's wagon is packed full of useful things, including a folding table, a collection of magic wands, treasure chests, a library, and a spare wagon with a trunk full of emergency supplies.
  • Crystal Ball: Called scryballs, these are used to view other locations, communicate with other scryballs like a telephone, or to spy through uncovered scry balls. Aladavan keeps a miniature scry ball on a chain around his neck, which he keeps under his shirt when he's not using it. He's able to easily spy on and track Thedrik because his sword has a small scryball on the pommel, which Thedrik never covers. Scryblocks are employed to prevent people from using scryballs to spy on them, and to protect against mental eavesdropping.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Darkram's curse gives him perfect aim with his bow, the ability to put magical effects into his arrows and some Psychic Powers. It's also turning him from a human into some kind of demonic creature, he emits an evil aura, and his Supernatural Gold Eyes tend to creep people out. It is later revealed that he's not actually cursed, he's just the half-human offspring of a demon. He takes this news surprisingly well considering all his angst about it before learning the truth.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Junapur is described as quite beautiful despite her various nonhuman traits.
  • The Dandy: George definitely plays the part of a dandy when he can idly mooch off a wealthy widow, but when he has to travel, he's practical enough to wear his older, worn dragoon uniform (battle dress), to prevent his better clothes from becoming dirty or damaged.
    • Aladavan might be a better example, as he quickly adopts a variation of George's style, and always ensures his appearance is first rate. He readily admits his vanity when Sascia complains about her freakish appearance.
    • Both George and Aladavan are a bit of a subversion, as neither are averse to physical exertion, and are ready to enter combat at any time. George especially seems to observe the trope as a necessity of a stylish gentleman of his time more than as an occupation of its own.
  • Deader Than Dead: Cerberon's father, Cephalon, was killed twenty years ago and his ghost was trapped in the basement of a magical tower. After Aladavan frees Cephalon's ghost from its prison, it is forced into a Soul Jar, which the Dragon Queen later crushes, forever destroying the ghost.
  • Death Trap: Merlen and Oethelzeiren face off on the ground level of a colossal tower in the center of the city. After discussing the futility of a direct fight between them, Oethelzeiren improvises a Death Trap for Merlen by blasting out all the supports to the tower above them, leaving Merlen to hold up the tower with his magic while people inside the tower escape, and while an unstoppable Giant Wall of Watery Doom bears down on the city.
  • Defector from Decadence: Aladavan claims to be one of these, but he's actually in exile for being just as deadly or worse than anyone else in the Deadly Decadent Court he comes from. However, considering how easily he was suckered by King Norrith's court, the fact that The Fair Folk are made of Deadly Decadent Court, and that Aladavan doesn't seem to mind being in exile at all, he just might really be a Defector from Decadence.
  • Deuteragonist: Cerberon is a very close second to George, who is the prime protagonist for most of the story. After George and Margaret are betrothed, and especially once they leave Aeronweyir for America, Cerberon becomes the protagonist, with George taking on a secondary role.
  • Divine Intervention: Eduard calls on Edu to take the spirit of Cephalon when he refuses to give up Aladavan's body. She shows up and snatches him away.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Edu, the goddess of death, is described as loving and merciful in her duty to provide rest and comfort after death. She's in charge of keeping the dead from bothering the living, but doesn't seem very proactive in this regard, considering all the zombies, ghouls, vampires and ghosts hanging around, although she does promptly respond to her priests' calls to take them away.
  • Dragon Rider: Averted, unless you want to count Robert and Agnes riding on the back of Prince Aeronweyir, who's a dragon. They're only playing, since the Prince is fond of children. It's still awesome.
  • Duel to the Death: After George punches Aladavan, and he's convinced Aladavan plans terrible retribution, George suggests they have a duel to get it over with. Fortunately for George, Aladavan considers the idea ridiculous.
    • Aladavan is forced to duel the son of a wizard he killed in a Trial by Combat. Aladavan is not allowed to use his sword or magic in the fight, while his opponent is fully armed.
    • George offers to duel Captain Mayhew to settle their differences. He tells Mayhew about the special ammunition his pistols are loaded with and lets him pick which one he wants to use. Mayhew takes a third option, which doesn't work out well for him.
  • Elite Mooks: Wizard Royal Elect Tmneal Kravat has a group of half-hackal warriors called the Nine Fangs explicitly described as elite soldiers. Their eliteness seems more like an Informed Ability when Aladavan fries them with a massive ball of lightning, and decapitates the blinded and severely burned survivors who are still trying to achieve their objective despite their fatal injuries.
  • Eloquent In My Native Tongue: When Cerberon speaks in Aramish, it's pretty broken but not difficult to understand, while in English he can be very eloquent and occasionally poetic. The Prince of Aeronweyir, a dragon, is noted to have the same ability to communicate telepathically and understand what people are saying in English, but he avoids this trope by refusing to speak in the foreign language.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Darkram creeps out any living thing he comes close to, until Merlen caps his horns with alicorn to mask his demonic aura.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Aladavan annihilates a clan of crazed haflings because they are rapacious cannibalistic monsters, worse than wild hackals.
    • Thedrik thinks this when he enters a tavern full of unsavory criminal types. Even they wouldn't help hackals raid human homes like he's doing.
  • Everyone Can See It: It is patently obvious to everyone but George that he and Margaret are a good match for each other. George complains about this when he finally realizes it. Cerberon also doesn't notice until George tells him about their engagement, and he doesn't really believe it until their betrothal.
  • Evil Overlord: The Dragon Queen. Most of the people understandably think of her and describe her as an Evil Overlord: Solitary ruler of the world? Check. Lives in a fortress of doom atop an active volcano? Check. Employs an enforcer with a Name to Run Away From Very Fast? Check. Personally responsible for the deaths of thousands if not millions? Check. Eats people as a standard part of her diet? Check. Except that she's actually a subversion. It turns out that she's really a Reasonable Authority Figure who has to Shoot the Dog. Unfortunately the dog in this case happens to be a human nation ruled by Knights Templar who want to exterminate the dragons and a few other races they don't like, and we only see things from their point of view for most of the book.
  • The Exile: Aladavan was exiled for banning his sister. The Ban is apparently an evil forbidden technique which is a Fate Worse Than Death for the person receiving it.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Probably describes a large portion of the human population of the world, considering the number and variety of half-human hybrids encountered. George might also qualify, as he's shamelessly attracted to a Petting Zoo Person (Junapur) and a centauress (Zofi).
  • Eyes Never Lie: Used multiple times in the novel, even for the purpose of gleaning a transformed character's true identity, though it requires substantial magical/spiritual aid to do this.
  • The Fair Folk: Aladavan is a sidhe. Helpful, threatening, kind, or cruel, depending on his whim, it's remarked of him that if half the tales of The Fair Folk that George has heard are true, then Aladavan has been extraordinarily kind to them. But he was exiled by his people, so maybe he's actually worse than the rest of them?
  • Fantastic Caste System: Implied. Dragons are at the very top of the order of intelligent races. Skraad, sidhe, unicorns and hackals occupy a level beneath them, though the order (if any) isn't entirely clear. Human civilization seems to be organized with humans at the top, haflings in the servant/slave class, and beast halfs very definitely at the bottom, barely above animals.
  • Fantastic Romance: Emma Bolton, a human from Devon, and Prince Aerinweyir, a dragon from Selatha. They become engaged to be married at the end of the book, but it's more for financial and security reasons than anything truly romantic.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Guns work, and gunpowder (called firedust) is known. Aladavan quickly identifies the function and use of one of George's pistols. He is interested in the technology, especially the possibility of combining it with magic. Prince Aeronweyir reveals he's even more familiar with firearms, but says the technology was abandoned years ago because it's impractical. As he says of George's carbine, "One shot, then it's useless." Of course, magic is pretty common, enough that magic bows can be issued in large numbers to troops, and battle mages are as effective as artillery. Given this, guns probably just never had a chance to be developed to the point they could compete with magic; it's actually more a case of Guns Are Worthless than arbitrary Fantasy Gun Control.
  • Foreshadowing: Occurs several times in the novel. One of the clearest examples is when George and Cerberon are discussing what to do with the bodies of two highwaymen they had just killed. Cerberon asks, "Shouldn't we bury them?" to which George replies, "No. Leave them for the carrion birds. Maybe they can carry their wretched souls up to Heaven. In the ground, they're just that much closer to Hell, and they need all the help they can get." Later on, they meet a family of skraad, human-sized intelligent avian carrion birds who have the ability and feel a duty to lead lost spirits on to their afterlife. In an interesting callback to George's foreshadowing statement, one of the skraad tells another character, "There is nothing in the sky for the soul. It returns to the Source and the body nourishes more life." There is no Fluffy Cloud Heaven awaiting people in this world.
  • For Happiness: Merlen advocates this philosophy, explicitly stating that the most important thing in life is happiness.
  • Functional Magic: Magic exists and follows a number of different rule sets.
    • Darkram exibits an inherent gift(s), with his ability to focus magic into his arrows, which never miss, and he has mind-control abilities related to his demonic heritage.
    • Some of the spells Aladavan casts resemble Vancian Magic. He keeps a loop of cord with numerous talismans and spell components he can use to quickly produce magical effects. He must prepare these beforehand, and once used, these items must be prepared anew. His most brutal spell, the Ossifrage, or bonecrusher, has a component of a rune-marked bone which must be touched to its target and then broken. It causes all the bones in the target's body to be broken, leading to an agonizing death.
    • Theurgy is demonstrated by Eduard, when he calls on Edu, the god of death, to forcibly remove a posessing spirit from Aladavan's body.
    • Rule magic and force magic round out the rest of the magical effects practised in the novel.
    • Device magic is shown in the form of scry balls, scry blocks, truth seals, identification documents, darkvision goggles, flying boats and battleships, and the dryers used in bath rooms.
  • Furo Scene: Not exactly Japanese style, as people actually wash themselves in the bath, but communal bathing is an important part of the culture. This scene marks the start of George's committed romance with Margaret.
  • Genius Loci: Oethelzeiren's Spring is a special location invested with the spirit of a powerful sorcerer. People go there to make wishes, if the wishes are possible, they will be granted, if not, a stone will be dropped on the wisher's head. Sascia's wish to have her body restored to health is granted, Lama's wish to have her mate resurrected has the spring drop a stone on her. Margaret attempts to wish for something while she's in the form of a horse, but nothing happens; one is required to speak the wish aloud, and as a horse, she can't speak at all.
  • Genre Shift: Starts out as Regency Romance with one fantasy element (there's a magical, talking unicorn), then shifts to a High Fantasy setting, then ends as a Historical Fantasy.
  • Giant Flyer: Dragons and skraad, which are basically intelligent human-sized vultures. Wyverns are also mentioned but do not appear in the novel.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The Dragon Queen's ultimate attack against Signolia involves flooding the major river valley where most of the population lives. Everything in the valley, including the city of Loethess, is completely destroyed.
  • Girl in the Tower: Played with. Princess Tara has lived her entire life in the Tower of Loethess, told she would die if she ever left it. She is not a prisoner and has the company of other mages and wizards there. She is less than pleased when a prince (Aladavan) rescues her from the tower.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Darkram's eyes glow when he makes use of his innate (demonic) abilities.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Dragon Queen seems to be straight example for most of the book, especially when she launches her apocolyptic attack on Loethess (and the rest of Signolia). Turns out she's actually been extraordinarily patient, waiting twenty years for King Norrith to set things right before giving up and launching the aforementioned attack. She's a Mama Bear, not an Evil Queen.
  • Gold Digger: George is transparently one of these at the beginning of the story. Emma is revealed to be one of these at the end.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: Even though the overall tone seems pretty high on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.
  • Half-Human Hybrids: Haflings, described as half human and half something else. Interbreeding is made possible with the hafling hex, a contagious magical disease. Beast halfs are more something else than human, and considered barely better than animals. Half-dragons are apparently not the same thing as haflings, although they are clearly half human and half something else (dragon). Best guess is that dragons use some other means than the hafling hex to produce half-dragons. Darkram is half demon, and also mentioned as not a hafling, so demons apparently use alternative means to interbreed with people.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Junapur and Mikal are both slaves, and Pavel occupies a slavelike status beneath them. Junapur seems quite happy to serve her family, and Mikal and Pavel, if not happy with their station, seem perfectly content with it. There exists an organization called the Slave Registry, which seems to have as its purpose the regulation, health, wellbeing and training of slaves, and the enforcement of their proper care and treatment.
  • Hates Baths: Robert and Agnes must be dragged kicking and screaming into the bath. George and Margaret are both reluctant to enter the bath, but this has more to do with being uncomfortable bathing nude in the presense of other people than hating baths in general.
  • Heinz Hybrid: Junapur's father was a half-hackal, and her mother was a hafling of very mixed ancestry.
  • Hitchhiker Heroes: George and Cerberon set out for London to get paid and get new leads for eligible wealthy women. They encounter Margaret and her children, who puts them on their real quest, then join up with Aladavan and Darkram. A skraad family soon joins the group, later Zofi, Sascia, and finally Thedrik.
  • Hive Mind: Zofi, a centaur, becomes this when she is split into separate human and horse bodies by a magic artifact. It's hinted that this is the reverse of the original purpose of the artifact: to fuse a human rider and horse into a centaur.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Cerberon has already figured out on his own a lot of things he can do with magic. Aladavan pushes him to do things he hadn't thought of trying, giving him simple instruction on how to do them. He also provides Darkram crucial instruction on harnessing his supernatural abilities.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Darkram can use this ability to stun or immobilize subjects he makes eye contact with.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Thedrik does this after using the memory of his dead girlfriend to make small talk in a tavern. His Mangst over this and that he's helping hackals raid people's homes has him take the free drink offered by the barman, and then ask for another.
  • I Work Alone: Aladavan prefers to fight alone, because he might kill his friends along with his foes if they're standing in the wrong place.
  • Idiot Hero: George isn't the sharpest spoon in the drawer.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The non-human carnivores encountered all shamelessly include humans in their diet. This is an accepted fact of life that humans are used to, but it doesn't make them happy to be on the menu.
    • Darkram has an I Ate WHAT? reaction when he's told he's been eating half-dragon (it's half human) from a dragon's breakfast buffet. All the dishes were clearly labeled, but he can't read; he just made an unfortunate selection when picking out something that looked tasty.
    • After going to Virginia with Cerberon and seeing the way white people treat their black slaves, Zofi says to him, "The pale people keep the dark people like hackals keep people they capture. Do the pale people eat the dark people?" She is seriously worried the "pale people" will want to eat her because her skin is dark.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Darkram always hits whatever he aims at.
  • Incidental Villain: Most of the time Aladavan is actually very helpful to the protagonists, but he easily switches to full-evil villain mode whenever someone pisses him off, or stands in the way of what he wants.
  • The Insomniac: Aladavan has been using an elixer of artificial sleep for days. He's had to take the elixer with increasing frequency and decreasing effectiveness until it runs out and its effects wear off. The results arent pretty.
  • Interspecies Romance: Several. Emma and the Prince (See Fantastic Romance, above). Eduard and Sera, a skraad and a human, are married and very much in love. They are surprised when they have a child together; they thought the father was an unknown human until the baby was born. Craig McKinzie and Desirée, a unicorn, hint at a sexual relationship between them, but they might only be joking.
  • Karmic Death: Captain Mayhew. His attempt to murder George backfires spectacularly.
    • Even Lubek's clan of undergound hackals think he got what he deserved for trying to rape Junapur in her sleep.
    • King Norrith gets it for his campaign to exterminate dragons, skraad, and other pesky critters. Not to mention he kidnapped the Dragon Queen's daughter, and tried to kill her after believing she was his own (human) daughter for twenty years. (She was a Replacement Goldfish for his own daughter who died at birth.)
  • Kick the Dog: Aladavan kills Thedrik's mule for the sole purpose of making him more miserable than he already is.
  • Ladykiller in Love: George falls in love with Margaret, but it doesn't stop him from ogling other pretty girls.
  • Legacy Immortality: Merlen offers this as a plausible explanation for his claim to have lived a dozen lifetimes. Oethelzeiren reveals it's actually Body Surfing, Merlen simply takes a new body when his old one is used up. Whether he was originally and always a unicorn, or is just one in his current incarnation is not revealed.
  • Lovable Rogue: George thinks he's one of these, when in reality the only thing that differentiates him from any other English gentleman of the era is a lack of wealth.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Aladavan reveals he is Cerberon's father. This confuses everyone until they realize Aladavan is possesed by the ghost of Cerberon's father.
    • Cephalon later reveals to Princess Tara that she's actually the Dragon Queen's daughter.
  • Mad Love: Sascia for Aladavan after his More Than Mind Control treatment of her.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: It's clear that the practice of magic follows certain rules, and to work a certain spell correctly and consistently, one must learn the appropriate procedure. Those with access to sufficiently powerul magic, such as unicorns, can shape magic wiith their will to create just about any effect they can imagine within the bounds of physics and biology, but without following a practiced procedure, the results are unpredictable.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When it's pointed out to Merlen that his entire arm is missing, he nonchalantly says, "Oh this? I got into a little fight with Oethelzeiren. I'll be fine." In that fight, Merlen had vaporized Oethelzeiren's wings, and he has a similar underreaction: "I hardly ever used them anyway." Of course they're both recognized as two of the most Bad Ass sorcerors in the world, so such reactions from them isn't surprising.
    • Having been nearly disemboweled, and facing George threatening him with a sabre, Aladavan says, "I'm rather busy at the moment, holding my innards in."
  • Mama Bear: King Norrith's Wizard Royal stole one of the Dragon Queen's eggs twenty years ago. She nearly wipes out the entire country after giving up on getting her daughter back.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Aladavan. So very much.
  • The Masquerade: The unicorns Cerberon meets in Loethess take measures to ensure few people recognize them as unicorns, and they advise Cerberon to do the same. The masquerade is necessary because unscrupulous people hunt unicorns for their valuable alicorn and other useful parts, and hackals will kill them on sight (and harvest their parts). On Earth, Cerberon's unicorn nature is automatically obscure to people without a certain innocence.
    • On Earth, Prince Aeronweyir, a dragon, gives little stock to the notion he should conceal his nature or any of the very extraordinary things he and his magical friends might do. He yields to Cerberon's insistence he maintain a masquerade out of respect for him as his host on Earth. He still reveals himself to people for his own amusement, and to Emma Bolton when she demands to know the truth.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Prince Aeronweyir and Emma Bolton. He's over 3000 years old, and she's in her thirties(?). Whether their marriage will become a real romance and not just a business arrangement remains to be seen.
  • Miles Gloriosus: You'd get this impression of George from the way he boasts about his part in the Battle of Waterloo, but he's a legitimate veteran of the war and a competent warrior who should not be underestimated.
  • Morality Pet: Kith and Lama travel with Aladavan explicitly for the purpose of being his morality pets.
  • More Than Mind Control: Aladavan demonstrates his magical sidhe charms early on, but doesn't use them at all as he gradually turns Sascia into his faithful servant willing to do absolutely anything for him without question.
  • Morton's Fork: One of Aladavan's main methods for convincing people to do what they don't want to do, often coming close to making them An Offer They Can't Refuse. Usually in the form of: "You may choose to do X unpleasant/morally suspect thing for me, or I'll force someone else to do it." Being the Magnificent Bastard he is, he's ready to respond with something even worse if they Take a Third Option. One exception to this was when he put Darkram through a Secret Test of Character, where the Third Option was the correct choice.
    • The Prince of Aeronweyir uses this too, relying heavily on Cant Argue With Dragons, to get George to invite him to go with them back to Earth.
  • Most Common Superpower: Junapur has four large breasts, which has an obvious effect on George.
  • Mugging the Monster: Zofi's human half tries to stop a thug from robbing Prince Aeronweyir's coach, and he clubs her in the head. Her horse half comes over and stomps his head into the ground, brutally killing him.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Oethelzeiren the Slayer. An (in)famous dragon slayer who doesn't limit his slaying to dragons, and has wiped out entire cities to kill one target. He's technically one of the good guys.
    • Thanades. The name evokes Thanatos and Hades. He's an arrogant unicorn purity zealot and definitely one of the bad guys.
  • Names to Trust Immediately: George Allgood made up this surname to invoke this trope after his family disowned him. He actually is a pretty good guy despite all his faults. Example: after winning some traveling money by gambling, he shares his room with the guy he won most of his money from, who also lost the most at the table. A bigger example is that he volunteered to escort a family from England to America with no ulterior motives whatsoever.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Aladavan doesn't adhere to this philosophy. At all. He thinks anyone not participating in a fight who doesn't run right the hell away deserves what they get. Quote: "There are no innocents on the field of battle."
  • Never Mess with Granny: Grenda Yerta, who runs the Silarsi inn in Four Ways. She's old, very well respected, and very tough. She easily runs down Darkram when he tries to run away from Thedrik, and later silently takes Thedrik down when he's about to murder Aladavan in his room. She unfortunately gets Worfed near the end of the book when Jena takes her out with a surprise attack. Grenda Yerta doesn't seem to mind this much, since she recognizes Jena was Raised By Hackals, and that's just the way they are.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: Called darkvision goggles, these are issued to the Loethess Guard's Hackal Control Squad and are used to hunt hackals in the complete darkness of their underground tunnels. They render the environment in monochrome light, looking like light is projected straight out of the goggles. Most likely magical, how they function is not described.
  • No Antagonist: The main conflict of the story is the interpersonal relationships and differing goals and agendas of people who are traveling together. The only one who really qualifies as the Big Bad is King Norrith, who is not the antagonist to the protagonists.
  • Noble Bird Of Prey: The skraad are basically huge carrion birds and Perfect Pacifist People. But when Aladavan severely pisses off Lama, she demonstrates their natural weapons are just as effective at rending living flesh as dead.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Junapur complains about this. She says, "They look, but they're afraid to touch. I'm more manly than most men."
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Three hackals viciously attack Cerberon, mortally wounding him. When Robert kills one of them with George's carbine, he promptly receives a very swift and brutal Beatdown of his own. Thanades shows up and takes out the other two with bolts of lightning, then leaves Cerberon to die of his wounds.
  • Noodle Incident: George did something terrible that got him disowned from his family.
    • Oethelzeiren mentions a Noodle Incident that ended his friendship with Merlen, although they might never have been friends to begin with, it was this incident that made Merlen actively hate him.
  • No One Could Survive That: Spoken by Jena of a group of people blasted by dragon fire. She and Thedrik go look. She was right, they didn't survive.
    • Played straight with Merlen: Oethelzeiren assumes he'll die when the flood collapses an enormous tower on top of him. Stephanus sees Merlen swept away in the flood and is sure it killed him. They are both wrong.
    • Also played straight with a wild hackal who attacked Cerberon on the road to Loethess. He was shot by a dozen or more arrows and blasted in the back by a bolt of lightning which puts him down. Everyone assumed he was dead until they discover he got up and snuck away while they weren't looking.
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: Seems to be Prince Aeronweyir's attitude before meeting George and Cerberon. After they tell him all about Earth and all that has changed since the last time he was there, he decides there's one more thing to do before dying, and goes with them back to Earth.
  • Oblivious to Love: George toward Margaret for much of the story. He doesn't notice her as a potential love interest until she directly tells him she is interested in having him pursue her romantically. George still resists until he's forced to make a choice between Margaret and Junapur. Cerberon seems even less aware of it than George until they are betrothed.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: George is a major, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, and was at least raised in an environment that made him a gentleman. Emma points out at the beginning of the book that the only thing keeping him from being a real gentlemen is his lack of wealth. George's behavour is consistently that of a gentleman, even though he believes himself to be a Lovable Rogue instead.
  • Oh, Crap: Stephanus the lithomancer says this when he sees Oethelzeiren facing off against Merlen. He promptly runs away.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: The centaurs are fairly standard, except that their heads are more equine than human, their humanoid torsos are furry just like the rest of their bodies, and the females do not have breasts on their torsos. The centaurs shown in the book are socially closer to classical centaurs, mainly by being wild and uncivilized, although Aladavan describes these as wild centaurs, and Zofi says she doesn't want to join a farm herd, hinting that more civilized centaurs may also exist.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are about the same size as humans, have bat-like wings, are very intelligent and weild powerful magic. They use magic to gain enormous size and breathe fire. They have extremely long life spans but are not immortal. While they are extremely polite they are not necessarily nice. They have ruled the world for millions of years and view the younger intelligent races as children: often amusing, potentially dangerous, helplessly ignorant, and sometimes useful as slaves, pets, or food.
  • Our Gods Are Greater: Gods exist in this world who have specific areas of interest, such as Edu, the godess of death, Elohda, a god of luck/fate, and Lada and Danae, who are mentioned in relation to betrothal/marriage ceremonies. Even fake gods are worshipped, such as Avander, who is the human-invented god of the north star. Edu makes an appearance in the novel when she's called on to exorcise a powerful spirit.
  • Pair the Spares: Played with. George and Margaret are the primary couple, but most of the other characters end up in opposite sex couples. Cerberon and Zofi, Aladavan and Sascia, Darkram and Princess Tara, Thedrik and Jena, and Emma Bolton with Prince Aeronweyir. Except that none of these pairings are romantic, including Emma and the Prince, even though they're set to get married!
  • Paranoia Gambit: After George punches Aladavan, Aladavan tells George, "I don't think you'll be going back to England." Of course, George takes this as a serious threat and becomes increasingly agitated until he proposes a duel, which Aladavan refuses. George is genre savvy enough to know that sidhe are vicious vengeful bastards, and is convinced the punishment Aladavan has in mind will be exceptionally cruel. Everything goes very badly for everyone before Aladavan gets a chance to let him off the hook.
  • Parental Abandonment: Cerberon's father disappeared when he was very young. George's parents disowned him due to some horrible Noodle Incident. Darkram was raised by an adoptive woodsman, whom he left behind when the wise man of his village told him he was cursed by the Dragon Queen. Cerberon even abandoned his own children. (He has a reunion with some of them at the end of the book.)
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The skraad are a straight example of this. They are avian scavengers who will not kill, even in defense of their own lives.
    • It is possible to push them too far. Surprising everyone, Lama attacks Aladavan after his machinations led to her mate's death. If Aladavan wasn't Crazy-Prepared, she might have actually killed him.
  • Pet the Dog: An almost literal example, when Aladavan lavishes Sascia with positive attention (inluding petting her). It's part of his More Than Mind Control treatment of her, but Darkram later points out that Aladavan probably really does care for her much more than he thinks he does.
  • Petting Zoo People: Junapur has mostly human features with distinctly (though nonspecific) animal characteristics. She's probably closer to Little Bit Beastly on the scale.
    • Beast halfs (like Pavel and Jena, who are mule halfs) are your more typical petting zoo people—opposite end of PZP scale from Junapur, they're borderline PZP.
  • Planar Shockwave: Oethelzeiren creates one of these from energy gathered from a bunch of magical attacks on him. It takes out everyone attacking him causes a lot of collateral damage.
  • Police Are Useless: When Thedrik warns Lieutenant Hanlon, of the Loethess Guard's Hackal Control Squad, about the underground preparations for the Dragon Queen's imminent attack, Hanlon dismisses the warning. Hanlon actually has a point: the Queen's attack has been imminent for years, and they've heard warnings similar to Thedrik's so many times they've gotten used to it.
  • Power Levels: Magicians are ranked according to the amount of power they can weild. Mages are the weakest, and tend to focus their skills into very specialized fields. Examples in the novel include battle mages, healers, a clerical mage, and a lithomancer. Wizards are able to work more powerful magic and tend not to specialize, as they can do just about anything, but must still operate within the framework of known spellcraft, following specific magical procedures for specific magical effects. Sourcers can draw massive amounts of power directly from the Source, and can shape it according to their will as they desire, without necessarily following prescribed procedures. A higher level of power is mentioned, Dreamers, and no mention is made on any limits they might have to their power and ability. The one dreamer identified in the novel became an actual god after she died (Edu, the godess of death).
    • Magic itself is apparently given power levels, at least by the Union of Professional Magicians. It is mentioned that one must have a license to practice Class Two or higher magic. What exactly the various classes of magic exist is not described.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Arguably hackals, who have combat as a central part of their culture and believe Asskicking Equals Authority. Unanimously regarded as the most capable and fearsom fighters in the world, but they don't seem to value the concept of honor as deeply as the typical Proud Warrior Race Guy.
  • Psychopomp: Skraad perform this function for lost souls they encounter. They can also very easily put down zombies and vampires, which may be why they have been singled out for extermination by the local Corrupt Church.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They might not be on a quest to save the world, but otherwise this describes the band of travelers going along with George and Cerberon.
  • Raised by Orcs: Jena has been serving the Cathern Clan hackals for a long time, and behaves a lot like one of them. It might not have taken much hackal influence, since one character notes that mule halfs always look like they'd rather be kicking you in the face than whatever else they happen to be doing.
  • Real Place Background: In the sections taking place in England and America, real-world locations are named and/or described as they were in the early nineteenth century.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In a subversion of the trope, the skraad have red eyes, but this is no indication of an evil nature, as they're described as Perfect Pacifist People, even if their general appearance might otherwise be frightening.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Wizard Royal Ivinovar cursed the Dragon Queen's daughter as a human and presented her to King Norrith in place of his own daughter who died at birth.
  • Retired Badass: King Norrith killed a hackal who specialized in slaying unicorns, in Hawthren, a country ruled by unicorn-slaying hackals. He also had the balls to try killing the Dragon Queen in her lair and lived. But even he knew to get right the hell out of town when he heard Oethelzeiren had shown up.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Played with. When George discounts the possibility of him being a decent suitor for Margaret because of his poverty, Aladavan suggests he should court her instead, since he's quite wealthy. George punches him in the face, revealing he has deeper feelings for her than he realized. Aladavan eventually removes this obstacle for George by giving them a small chest full of treasure as a betrothal gift.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The human nobles in Loethess seem to be mostly busy with their own schemes and social activities, leaving their bloated bureaucracy to do most of the actual work. In contrast, the dragon nobility are shown to be actively involved with their duties: the Queen personally leads her forces in the attack on Loethess, and afterwards is demonstrated as being quite busy with the process of installing new nobles to replace the ones that had been killed. The Marquis of Wenthoerl was tasked with setting up the underground explosives to take down the city of Loethess, and to secure a safe vantage point from which to help direct the battle. Prince Aeronweyir is a close advisor to the Queen, and one of his responsibilities is to ensure her visitors are properly vetted so as to not waste her time or present a threat to her. This is in addition to his job managing a great stonegate which is a major axis of travel, communication and commerce, and also directly connected to the Queen's palace. In fact the royal titles among the dragons seem to be more like job titles indicating social rank and including significant privileges, and not inherited, so it is expected of them to actually do something.
    • To be fair though, King Norrith was quite willing and eager to personally lead his forces in battle against the Dragon Queen, and probably would have if she hadn't attacked first. Considering the overwhelming scale of destruction and death she brought down on him, the only sensible thing for him to do was to get right the hell out of town. He even steps up and faces Oethelzeiren the Slayer when he's found hiding among refugees, despite knowing he was hopelessly doomed at that point.
  • Sacred Hospitality: A major theme running through the whole book. Aladavan, arguably the prime villain in the story, is actually very protective of George and his friends because he considers them guests in his home world. Eduard's colossal failure to protect Thedrik, and Junapur's fight to rescue him show just how vital they consider hospitality to be.
  • Sapient Steed: Cerberon is probably quite a bit smarter than George.
  • Secret Test of Character: Aladavan is aware that Darkram is half demon, and forces him to make a sadistic choice: kill an innocent skraad, or let his friends run into a deadly trap. Refusing to make the choice is the correct response, but Robert accepts the deal and goes to kill the skraad. Darkram stops him, passing the test and showing exceptional moral character.
  • Second Love: George is Margaret's Second Love.
  • Seen It All: The dragon Prince Aeronweyir expresses this trope.
  • Sequel Hook: There are several possible Sequel Hooks. First, Cerberon is set to take his new herd on the Grand Tour of Europe with Prince Aeronweyir, which promises to be an interesting and unusual adventure at the very least. Second, it's clear that Thedrik's adventure is not over and the story of his hunt for vampires could easily fill another novel. Third, we have Princess Tara/Vizenda and Darkram, who are just beginning new lives together (as friends, but a romance story could easily develop, and there's a hint that Darkram's demonic father could come back to cause some serious trouble).
  • She Is the King: The Dragon Queen rules in her own right. The title of queen only indicates she is a female ultimate ruler of the dragons, not that her power is derived from a king. From what little is shown of dragon culture, they don't seem to place the same value on marital relationships as humans do.
  • Shipper on Deck: Junapur, while mercilessly flirting with George, is really trying to get him to realize his obvious feelings for Margaret by forcing him to choose between them. Jun might also be trying to get a piece of him while he's still available.
    • Aladavan does this to George and Margaret in a much more subtle but no less effective manner. He notes at the end of the novel that they were already on their way to becoming a couple, and he only provided a few nudges to ensure they got together.
    • Aladavan does this to Emma and Prince Aeronweyir, mainly to get her to stop looking at him as a suitor. It works.
  • Shoot Your Mate: When Darkram has Thedrik hold Lama hostage and threaten to kill her while Cerberon and Zofi go to rescue George and Margaret, Aladavan turns the tables on them and demands Darkram kill her to save Cerberon and Zofi from the trap he had set for them. Unfortunately, Zofi unintentionally shoots Kith, Lama's mate.
  • Sliding Scale of Unavoidable vs. Unforgivable: Aladavan regularly performs acts clearly on the unforgivable side while arguing they're only unfortunately unavoidable. Lama calls him out on this after he brutally murders a wizard, and pointing out his habit of convincing people to leave him alone by persuading them to death.
  • Spell Book: Aladavan has an impressive collection of these, including at least one book which contains multiple other spell books that can be used by removing the page for the book. He refers to these books to learn spells he doesn't already know or rarely needs to use.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Merlen the Conjurer likes to use this trope, intentionally appearing and disappearing when no one's looking just because he can. He even does this with other objects, such as sitting in a chair that wasn't there a moment ago, acting as though it was always there. The objects similarly disappear when they're no longer required.
  • Superior Species: The dragons qualify. They've been around for millions of years and have collectively Seen It All. Of course they're smarter, stronger, live for centuries, and have more powerful magic than anyone else. They created the network of ley lines and portal gateways that permit near-instant travel over vast distances and even to other worlds. They've created entire species for specific purposes, including unicorns, hackals and half-dragons, but have a general rule not to interfere with other races, as long as they don't become a threat to them or their world. They view all the younger species condescendingly, to the point they don't think they deserve to know their given names. They don't seem to be excessively arrogant about their superiority, even as they explain exactly why they are better than you as a matter of objective fact. As explained above, you can't argue with them.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes:
    • Darkram's eyes are yellow, and have a golden glow when he uses his powers. Both are attributed to his half demon heritage.
    • Dragons are described as having amber eyes, and they are all creatures of great power.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: George attempts this with Zofi when they go to America. No one is fooled, but they get away with it anyway.
  • Technical Pacifist: Aladavan talks as though he is one, but he seems to prefer peace to combat only because combat requires more work, and peace requires more patience. He's not very patient.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Thanades gives one to Cerberon while torturing him to death. Zofi's intervention saves his life but not before Cerberon feels completely worthless.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Dragon Queen's ultimate attack on Loethess. Thousands of dragons and their half-dragon troops probably could have done the job, but they also had an enormous fleet of flying warships raining down multiple varieties of Death from Above, then they blew up the city from underground, which was then flooded by a river swollen with rain, and finally it was completely erased by a Giant Wall of Watery Doom released from a mile high dam she created specifically for that purpose. Lesson: Don't fuck with the Dragon Queen.
  • Translator Microbes: Unicorns communicate primarily through telepathy, and Cerberon eventually learns that since he thinks in English, he telepathically communicates to others in English, but they can understand him since the underlying meaning and intent of the words are included.
    • Aladavan creates language charms for George, Margaret, Robert and Agnes to allow them to communicate with others who don't understand English. They function very similarly to unicorn telepathy.
  • Trial by Combat: Aladavan has to engage in trial combat to be pardoned for all the mayhem and destruction he's caused in the country.
  • Trick Arrow: Magically altering arrows to deliver specific effects is Darkram's primary special ability, from capturing a target with a net, to incinerating or decapitating it. He can even manage something resembling teleportation by shooting an arrow a long distance and having it take him with it; he vanishes with the arrow and reappears where it lands. Rather than creating special arrows beforehand and selecting the appropriate one to use, he simply takes an ordinary arrow and invests it with the desired magical effect when he shoots it.
  • Tsundere: Jena. After beating Thedrik into submission (it actually doesn't take much since he's mostly broken already), she tells him, "You know I can be hard, but I can also be soft." She does show her softer side to him after their hackal raid.
  • Underestimating Badassery: A pair of highwaymen catch George literally with his pants down and attempt to rob him at gunpoint and steal Cerberon. The robbers don't survive the encounter.
  • Unicorn: Cerberon, of course. Cerberon meets several other unicorns, including Thanades, a purity-zealot who wants to kill him for being part horse, and Merlen, who is much more tolerant. They don't seem susceptible to Virgin Power, or consider virgins special enough to even bother mentioning, although they do seem to value innocence, virginity notwithstanding. They are extremely powerful magic users and are very highly regarded by other people, and their alicorn is highly valued for its various magical uses. They despise hackals and will kill them on sight (hackals feel the same about unicorns). The Prince of Aeronweyir tells Cerberon that dragons created unicorns to gather, amplify and focus ambient magical energy.
  • Unobtainium: Alicorn, produced by unicorns in their horns and hooves, which they are understandably reluctant to give up, has many valuable properties. It's a powerful healing agent, a magic collector/amplifier, powerful aphrodesiac, poison neutralizer, and an extremely hard material that is great for an Absurdly Sharp Blade.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Any time Aladavan talks about his past, one can't be sure whether to believe it, accept it as an embellished version of the truth, or a complete lie.
  • The Voiceless: Pavel has no lines of dialog, but expresses very clearly how silly he thinks Margaret's nudity taboo is, by draping a wash cloth over his eyes when she demands everyone looks away while she strips.
  • Watching Troy Burn: The complete destruction of the city of Loethess is viewed by several characters.
  • Weather of War: The Dragon Queen launches her attack after heavy rain storms have saturated the ground, flooded underground tunnels, and raised the level of the Loethess river. This has the effect of making the devastating deluge she sends down the river even more effective.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: This is Aladavan's plan for Sascia when he rescues her from a clan of deranged haflings. It takes the combined efforts of Aladavan, Cerberon, and a magic wish-granting spring to accomplish the task.
    • After Aladavan's sister maimed his hands, he managed to build his own biomechanical replacement hands, and installed them himself.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Aladavan's standard mode of operation. He always has plans in place for everyone and everything, and constantly modifies them as situations change. He manages to turn everything to his favor, even when things go pretty badly for him or completely against his plans.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Aladavan tells the Wizard Royal Elect, "You do not know who you've chosen to insult today." He proceeds to massacre him and the Elite Mooks with him.
    • Thedrik tries to warn the patrol he's riding with by using this phrase. Again, it doesn't work.

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