Literature / Chronicles of Elantra

Kaylin: Did you ever learn anything about time in your magical studies?
Nightshade: Yes, I've learned it passes very, very slowly when I'm bored.
Cast in Silence''

Chronicles of Elantra is a fantasy series by Michelle Sagara (also known as Michelle Sagara West, her pen name for The Sun Sword series). The series has nine books, with a tenth book set for release in July 2014. The books follow the life of Kaylin Neya as she deals with the issues surrounding the City of Elantra and the races within it and the strange marks left on her body by the Old Ones.


Provides Examples Of:

  • A God Am I: Makuron
  • A Wizard Did It: Aerians can fly because the world has enough magic to support them. When they fly over Ravellon, they drop right out of the air.
  • Badass Normal: Severn is the only recurring character that doesn't have any sort of powers or magic. He still manages to catch up.
  • Bishōnen: Every single male Barrani, but especially Nightshade.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: In the Barrani High Lord's line, the power to rule is passed from father to son, and the power to give babies their true names is passed from mother to daughter. Needless to say, the Barrani royal line is extremely inbred.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: It's considered extremely inadvisable to argue with the Barrani, because they're Magnificent Bastards at best and Wicked Cultured at worst.
  • Cool Sword: Nightshade has Meliannos which is about as cool as a sword can get in this universe. It kills Dragons. While they are in Dragon form.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The creatures of Shadow are, to say the least, unnerving. Body Horror abounds, along with gratuitous numbers and arrangements of eyes—some of which shoot beams of magical energy—and loads and loads of teeth displayed in a variable number of mouths.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Kaylin likes to pretend that that's all hers are.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The quartermaster doesn't have a name, apparently.
    • And since, according to the Dragons, if you don't have a name you don't have a soul, he lacks a soul as well.
  • Friend to All Children: Take a guess.
  • Genius Loci: The fiefs have a peculiar awareness of their own, and form bonds with the people who take the role of fieflord.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Averted. In a world with five races living in such close contact with each other, it's surprising that there are absolutely no hybrids ever mentioned ever, and Kaylin x Nightshade is the only Interspecies Romance alluded to in the entire series. This may be a case of Reality Ensues that is exceedingly rare for this genre - realistically, different species most likely wouldn't be able to successfully produce offspring. There are also a lot of political barriers to interracial couples in this setting and any that did succeed would likely not produce children.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The "ancestors" in Castle Nightshade look very much like Barrani. They are not Barrani.
    • Gilbert is a creature of Ravellon, the stronghold of Shadow. He's adopted—or been adopted by—a young girl from the fiefs.
  • I Know Your True Name: Both the Barrani and Dragons have true names. Knowing them can allow a person to communicate telepathically with the name's owner, or try to use it to overpower their will. Kaylin has, in the course of the series, acquired four. Nightshade gave her his name (Calarnenne) to prevent her from being overwhelmed by his Castle's heart. The Lord of the West March gave his (Lirienne) when she was trying to rouse him from a magically-induced coma. She gained the name of a Dragon's champion (Maggaron) and that of a Barrani Lord (Ynpharion) while trying to wrest them away from the control of Shadow. She also knows Makuron's true name, but flat-out admits that she is unable to say it, or even really think it.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Severn uses a blade on a chain. How this manages to be effective is best left unanswered (though it may be a variation on the Japanese kusarigama or kyoketsu-shoge). But it looks very, very cool—and the chain deflects Dragon fire and other magical attacks.
  • The Ingenue: Subverted by a main character who drinks swears and bets at every opportunity.
  • Late for School: Kaylin. All the time. To the point that in the sixth book, when she's actually ON TIME, there are bets on how long this will last.
  • Living Prop: Anyone remember Tanner? No? I rest my case.
  • Love Triangle: Nightshade x Kaylin x Severn. None of the boys seem to actually compete with each other though.
  • Mauve Shirt: Samaran appeared for one book and has never been mentioned again.
  • Mood Ring Eyes: This series loves this trope. Every race except humans have eyes that reflect their mood, using a different range of colors for each race.
  • Mystical Waif: The Tha'alaani and Tara.
  • Named Weapons: Meliannos.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Barrani are elves with sneakiness, cunning, and all around bastardry taken Up to Eleven. They've also been known to cause wars because they're bored.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Elantra's Dragons can shift from human to Dragon form. Other than that, they're pretty much the same. They breathe fire and have hoards.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Kaylin is still a Private, despite the fact that she saved the fiefs, twice; saved both of the sons of the former Lord of the High Halls; survived the Barrani Test of Name; saved her Sergeant's sister-in-law; saved the city from a tidal wave, survived two encounters with Makuron; exonerated her Sergeant of murder; saved the Barrani Consort twice; served as harmoniste in recitation of the regalia; saved the Lost Children; saved The Green. There are reasons for this, such as *cough* her attitude *cough*.
    • When one immortal is explaining her situation and lack of position to another, he says that Kaylin is in the position she is because she chooses to be. From Kaylin's perspective she is a private, a helper of the midwives, and a helper of the Foundling Halls. From the immortal perspective, she is the Chosen—for starters. She is also the Erenne of Lord Nightshade, capable of killing a dragon in dragon form through pure magical power, a Lord of the High Court, kyuthe of Lord Anteela, kyuthe of the Lord of the West March, kyuthe of the High Lord, friend and equal to the Consort, backup for the Consort, friend of the Tha'laani Castelord, welcome in the Tha'alan, friend of the Keeper, go-between for the Keeper, welcome in the Elemental Garden, priestess of Elemental Water, capable of freeing the dead, capable of carrying True Names, capable of telling stories in the Old Tongue beyond the greatest mages, welcome in the Birthing Caves, student of Sanabalis, claimed friend of Sanabalis, healer, wielder of magic the Dragons find legendary, friend of Lord Tiamaris, friend of Tara, capable of rewriting the words of the Old Ones, Traveller, capable of a feat that killed Old Ones, capable of rewriting True Names, savior and friend of the only living female dragon, former harmoniste, friend of the Hallionne, friend of the Green... The reason she is a private, rather than a princess in the palace, is because she really doesn't want to be, because those are parts of her life that she chooses to ignore. Almost no one is willing to fight her over it.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Kaylin. This isn't even a spoiler.
  • Poor Communication Kills: There are so many instances where dire situations would have been far more easily handled if people would just explain things to Kaylin rather than getting tight-lipped, snotty, and dismissive of her "ignorance". Dragons and Barrani seem especially prone to this—even those who really ought to know better by now.
  • Power Tattoo: The markings on Kaylin's body.
  • Precursors: The Old Ones.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Nightshade and Severn, respectively, although Severn...while not as rich as Nightshade, still manages to have more money than Kaylin.
  • Sapient House: While each of the fiefs counts as a Genius Loci to one degree or another, and their individual Towers respond to the will of the fieflord, only Tara is fully awake, aware, and able to interact with people.
    • The Hallionne also fit the bill; they're sentient hotels that offer protection and hospitality to travelers. Most of them have apparently gone dormant, however—the basic functions of the waystation are active, but there is no "avatar" to interact with. The Consort can awaken them at need. And so can Kaylin.
    • Helen is probably the most true-to-trope example, being neither the physical hub of a fief nor a temporary residence for travelers, but an actual house.
  • Scary Librarian: You do not mess with the Arkon's Library. EVER.
  • Secret Police: Shadow Wolves are a benevolent form.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Subverted by Severn, but he watched her from the shadows for seven years.
    • Nightshade might be a slightly more true-to-trope example. Thanks to meeting her in a Stable Time Loop, he knew about Kaylin before he even took over a fief, and one of the first things he does upon meeting her in her own timeline is put his mark on her.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The Barrani look so perfect that it's actually hard to tell them apart from one another if you don't know them well enough.
  • The Chosen One: Kaylin is "Chosen". Nobody's really sure what that means. Cast in Flame gives the best hint so far...
    Helen: "It is your responsibility to use the words given you to...finish things. To resolve stories that have been left hanging; to offer closure to the things abandoned long ago."
  • The Empire: Subverted. The Empire is actually an okay place to live. Not perfect, but okay.
  • The Mentor: Sanabalis. Since he's immortal...and can literally breathe fire and eat people, he's unlikely to be subject to Mentor Occupational Hazard.
  • The Multiverse: The world the story is set in is the original world, but others exist.
  • Those Two Guys: Teela and Tain, when they come out together. Also, in the second book, Andellen and Samaran.
  • True Companions: Kyuthe, Pridlea, fellow Hawks.
  • Winged Humanoid: The Aerians.
  • Willfully Weak: Whenever Kaylin puts on the Bracer applies, but when she is offered control of the Tower, combined with Offeredthe Crown. She turns it down. She's already an Apocalypse Maiden, but later an ancient character mentions that if she had bonded with the Tower, she would have become exponentially more powerful. It happens again when she gains a Familiar, and becomes a potential Reality Warper if she was willing to pay the cost.

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