There's something broken inside your skull, [Tavi]. You do all your thinking sideways.
—Antillar "Max" Maximus, Princeps' Fury
Magical Roman Legionnaires straight out of Avatar: The Last Airbender versus the Zerg, wolfmen with Blood Magic, telepathic yetis and white-hairedelves. Riding ground sloths and terror birds. Sometimes, the Legionnaires fight each other, too.Yeah, it is about as awesome as it sounds.A high fantasy/intrigue series written by Jim Butcher (of The Dresden Files fame), the Codex Alera is set in a world that is populated by the descendants of the IX Roman Legion (according to the Word of God). They have carved out a massive empire led by the "First Lord" and they all have magic—specifically, they all bond with one or more "furies", elementals of air, water, fire, earth, wood or metal. Those who control enough furies can become Citizens, with increased privileges and obligations above the common freeman, but everyone has at least one fury. Well, everyone save one.Young Tavi is the only known Aleran who does not have access to any furies. At best, he is treated like a special needs child. At worst... well, they start at "freak" and move downhill from there. However, since he can not rely on furies, Tavi uses something that many of his countrymen fail to utilize: his brain.Shortly before Tavi was born, the only son and heir of the aging First Lord of Alera was killed in battle, causing the various high nobility to scramble and plot to position themselves to take power when the First Lord dies (or, in some cases, to move that event forward slightly). Chief among them are Aquitainus Attis, the High Lord of Aquitaine, and Kalarus, the High Lord of Kalare. As Alera falls into civil strife, the various non-human enemies of Alera prepare to take advantage of these divisions while a far more dangerous threat lurks in the shadows...Standing with Tavi are his uncle Bernard (an Earth- and Woodcrafter), his aunt Isana (a very powerful Watercrafter), the young Cursor Amara (a Windcrafter) and the half-wit slave Fade, along with the other friends and allies he makes (and one of Tavi's greatest skills is his ability to make allies, especially out of enemies: something lampshaded in the fifth book) as he is swept up in the battles to save Alera.The sixth and final book in the series, First Lord's Fury, was released in November 2009.A character sheet is now available.
Kord is a horrible father on general principles, and mistreats Aric while spoiling Bittan, his favorite.
High Lady Dorotea Antillus had her step-son, Antillar Maximus, viciously whipped at the slightest provocation. When it looked like he would be able to stand up to her and potentially outshine her son, Antillus Crassus, she moved on to more drastic measures.
Accidental Marriage: Tavi attempts to claim that he and Kitai have been accidentally married for years in order to reassure Kitai of the nature of their relationship and, more importantly, the legitimacy of their child.
In Academ's Fury, Tavi and Max discuss the various theories that Alerans have on the true nature of furies, whether they are truly living creatures or just part of the person doing the crafting. When Max asks why frontier furies seem to be so much stronger than city furies, Tavi explains that, according to one theory, since the frontier holders who claim them think that they are wild and strong furies, that makes them stronger than they actually would be than if they knew it was just themselves.
To quote Maximus:
"In the course of my life, I have more than once been too ignorant to know that something was impossible before I did it anyway."
Most Aleran scholars believe that furycrafting would not work if the crafter was not connected to Alera itself, and that earth- or watercrafting would be impossible on the foreign lands of Canea. Thankfully, when they end up in Canea nobody thought to inform the first crafters ashore, who went ahead and crafted anyway.
Amara is the first introduced character of the series and, though she never has the same power as the various High Lords of Alera, she has the training and skill (and exceptional speed due to her windcrafting) to hold her own throughout all six books.
Kitai, as one of the Marat, does not have any furies to lend her super-human strength or speed, but her life as a "barbarian" has given her the martial prowess of a legionnaire nonetheless.
High Lady Aria Placida is one of the most powerful beings in all of Alera, only explicitly outmatched by the First Lord himself and the Vord queen.
Action Mom: Isana gets more involved in the direct action starting in Captain's Fury.
Ad Hominem: Lord Aquitaine, in his first appearance, points out that ad hominem "is a notoriously weak logical argument. And is usually used to distract the focus of a discussion—to move it from an indefensible point and to attack the opponent."
After the End: The Marat once had an Alera-style civilization with large cities, but they were wiped out by the Vord and left with only a handful of "barbarian" survivors.
Alerans Speaking English: Each sapient species on Caran has its own language, or non-verbal means of communication, but the Marat and many of the Canim speak the Aleran language. The Marat, who have multiple tribes that each have their own tongue, explain that they use Aleran to speak amongst their tribes as a diplomatic and trading language. The majority of the Canim do not speak Aleran, but their leaders and ambassadors do, because they are expecting to talk to Alerans.
Also, apparently the Alerans are actually speaking English. In Furies of Calderon and Academ's Fury, Tavi explains lying (deceiving) to Doroga and Kitai, respectively, and both are initially is confused because she thought lying meant reclining. That doesn't work in Latin, German, Proto-Germanic, or even Old English; they're only homonyms in English. That said, Latin (and its romance languages) and German are largely the main languages from which English derived over the last 2000 years, so it's kind of plausible the language would have evolved similarly.
Alas, Poor Villain: Twice. Lord Acquitaine dies a slow, lingering death, having executed the duties of his office with great dignity and relatively conscientious, selfless regard; partially because Ehren all but set him up to die so he wouldn't consider threatening Octavian. And the second time is more surprising: the final Vord Queen herself, having shown an increasing fascination with human customs and mockingly called Tavi and Kitai her parents, admits before her certain death that she learned much from humans, that they were stronger than the Vord, and that her battle against them was never personal; she was just trying to do what she was supposed to do as a queen. She also asks if Tavi will make her suffer; he says no.
The Alliance: By the end of First Lord's Fury, all of the non-Vord races are getting along reasonably well and the New Academy will be open to all species with a variety of talents. Tavi even refers to it as "the Alliance" in the epilogue.
Almighty Janitor: The Cursors are, technically, only the messengers of the First Lord. However, since everybody "knows" that they are just glorified mailmen, they are also used as spies, saboteurs, assassins, infiltrators, and anything else the First Lord requires. Most of the High Lords and Citizenry seem to be aware of the truth, giving them de facto authority when they speak for the First Lord.
Amazonian Beauty: Mistress Cymnea is described as being taller than most men with broad shoulders and looking like she could physically hurl an armored legionare out of her tent if she had to, but that she retains curves that are emphasized by her gown.
Another Dimension: According to Jim Butcher, Carna is another dimension that has wormholes pop up in other dimensions and suck beings in. This is why there are so many different species of intelligent being (humans, Icemen, Canim, Marat, Vord) on the planet, as well as why some descendants of extinct Earth animals (Megatherium and Terror Birds) are roaming around. The most well known tear leading to Carna from the "real world" appears intermittently in The Bermuda Triangle.
Answers to the Name of God: When Amara sees the full fury of Garados and Thana, she expresses her shock in the standard Aleran swear of "great furies." Placidus Aria simply responds with, " Two of them."
Anyone Can Die: Flirted with, but ultimately averted. Some supporting characters, like Serai, are Killed Off for Real, and some theoretically important High Lords die in the last two books, but all the heroic characters survive to the end.
Appease the Volcano God: Inverted. Kalarus deliberately provokes the Great Fury Kalus into being as angry as possible in order to take as many Alerans with him as possible when he is finally killed.
The Knights Pisces. The Knights Pisces are dubbed such when Tavi notes they're the "fish" (barely competent recruits) of the Knights available. After taking several collective levels in badass, and seeing how badly "a bunch of fish" can hurt someone, they embrace the name and use it for the rest of the series.
The Battlecrows, from the same book, sort of. Instead of taking their name from an insult, they take it from the burnt and blackened standard that Tavi carries into battle after it's struck by lightning.
Arranged Marriage. There are a couple in the series, and not one of them end well. The ones we mainly see are between Gaius Sextus and his considerably younger wife Caria, which ends with Caria having poisoned Sextus, the marriage between AntillusRaucus (Max's dad) and his wife Dorotea, and the planned marriage between Gaius Septimus and Invidia. Septimus marries someone else and ends up dying because of it. About the closest thing to a happy arranged marriage we see is the one between Aquitainus Attis and his wife Invidia, who are mainly using the other for political advantage and plotting to usurp the throne.
Artificial Limbs: In Captain's Fury it's mentioned in that Sir Cyril had a metalcrafted prosthetic leg, to replace the one he had lost in the previous book.
Asskicking Equals Authority: An Aleran freeman can become a Citizen through several different means, but all of them (with the exception of appointment to a government position or marriage to a Citizen) involve combat in some way. The laws of the land ensure that the most capable and most powerful furycrafters end up at the top of the social order.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Vord specialize in this, at least while under a Queen's control. Though they can demonstrate considerable subtlety, they usually do not bother if they have an overwhelming numerical advantage, which they usually do.
Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Wind furies have very short attention spans unless under the control of an exceptionally talented crafter, which can make long-distance flight problematic.
Awesome But Practical: Catapults. Specifically when launching easily-made fire spheres. Their first use impresses upon everybody present that they have just shifted the entire Aleran social order, as they match the power of a High Lord but can be built and used by common Alerans with only limited furycrafting of their own.
Awesome McCoolname: Any prominent person is likely to have one in Alera, due to a combination of Altum Videtur and Earn Your Title. Tavi's eventual renaming as Gaius Tavarus Magnus ("Lord Super-Wolverine the Great") is probably the best.
"If you go and kill the ugly little girl right now, won't the steadholder object? And then you'd have to kill him as well. And anyone else upstairs. And all these people here... Why shouldn't we do this again?"
The "cutter" Navaris; she has a three-figure body count behind her, and that only counts the legal duels and "self-defense." Add in all of the suspected killings and the like and the number is in the four-figures range. Plus anyone with the slightest watercrafting ability (or eyes) can see that she's really not right in the head, especially where violence is concerned.
Badass Army: The First Aleran, particularly the Battlecrows. They started out as a bunch of half-trained recruits and "veterans" that no one wanted in their army, and eventually became the single most competent Legion in Alera (excepting maybe the Antillan and Phrygian Legions).
"Boy," Gaius said, his tone growing gentler, even compassionate, "you have a choice. You may chose to stand with your father against me. Or you may choose to live." Bencis let out a few small, breatless sounds. Then he said, "I'm not afraid of you." "Of course you are," Gaius said, "and should be."
Badass Normal: Tavi and Kitai. Played with in that the pair of them are abnormal by their respective societies' standards.
Badass Race: The Marat as a people qualify: Their race has faced off against the Vord three separate times prior to the beginning of the series, and they survived. Granted, they got knocked back to barbarian tribes, but given how quickly the Vord took over Canea, and that the Canim would have been wiped out if not for Sarl and Tavi, they've done pretty damn well. Bonus for Doroga possibly implying that the first time they encountered the Vord, they won.
Becoming the Mask: Fidelias/ Marcus has a complex relationship with this trope. "Marcus" was created before the events of the story by Fidelias, but had been abandoned for decades until he reclaimed the identity to infiltrate the First Aleran. Once he realized that Tavi was the son of Gaius Septimus, and thusly there was no need to place Aquitaine on the throne since the House of Gaius had a legitimate heir (and more importantly, a legitimate heir who was worth following), he decides to remain in the role of Marcus to look over and assist Tavi in any way he could. After he assumes the identity, and after it has been revealed to the reader who he really is, Butcher only writes him as 'Marcus' until he accepts the name Fidelias again himself.
Berserk Button: Do NOT scalp a Marat in front of their tribesmen or they will eat your heart.
Kestus, wounded while trying escape after seeing Tonnar ripped apart by the Vord, turns to Ivarus and says that he does not want to be killed by those creatures. Ivarus, understanding what he means, nods once, and Kestus thanks him before the chapter cuts out.
Justified by the Knights Terra, who use earthcrafting to boost their strength enough to wield them.
High Lord Placida carries a sword that is actually described in the text as a "monster," large enough to kill gargants and fell trees in a single swing.
Big Bad Duumvirate: Attis and Invidia Aquitaine married for purely political reasons and both are well aware that they are using one another. Invidia is actually the driving force behind most of the plots that would see Attis get the throne, and is more active in the main story.
Big Bad Ensemble: Attis Aquitaine and Invidia Aquitaine, both of whom are arguably seperate threats despite being husband and wife, are the Bigger Bads of the first book and have a presence in all the rest; Kalarus is part of three different Big Bad Ensembles in books 2-4, and Sarl is mostly a seperate threat in book 3 despite his treacherous and tenuous alliance with the former, as is arguably Big Bad Wannabe Senator Arnos; however, the Vord are the Big Bad of the overall story, both as a species and in the form of the primary Vord Queen, who is involved in an Enemy Civil War with the other Queens.
Bishojo Line: The Vord Queen goes through several forms as she matures; the first few are clearly monstrous and insectile, but her ultimate form looks almost exactly like a cross between Isana's sister and Kitai. In other words, like the daughter of Kitai and Tavi. This makes sense, as the Vord Queen absorbed both Tavi and Kitai's blood when they were in the Wax Forest in the first book.
Blood Magic: The Canim. Unusually, it is not inherently evil, and while there are quite a few Evil Sorcerers, a number of ritualists can be surprisingly decent.
Blue and Orange Morality: Tavi explains, repeatedly, to other Alerans that the Canim are reasoning, intelligent beings who have plans and goals, that they are not mindles brutes or insane, but also that their manner of thinking is different.
Bond Creatures: The Marat can do this with any animal and call their Bond Creatures "chala"; they gain not just communication with their animal, but actually begin to gain some of their physical attributes. This works in reverse, too; Tavi's general endurance and his senses all improve after being bound to Kitai for a while, while she in turn develops the ability to furycraft.
Book Ends: Very near the beginning, Tavi and Amara take shelter from a furystorm caused by Garados and Thana in the Princeps' Memorium. At the end of the series, Tavi kills the Vord Queen there in the middle of a furystorm caused by Garados and Thana.
Both Doroga and Kitai remark that Alerans must get bored out of their minds repeatedly practicing their maneuvers (for combat and singing) over and over again, but Bernard and Tavi point out that they seem impressed by the results.
When Tavi questions why he needs to learn the basic, almost clumsy combat techniques of the Legion when he is already a rather skilled swordsman, Max points out that the entire reason the Legions are able to stand off the larger, stronger Canim and the more numerous Marat is because of their coordination and basic efficiency. Dazzling swordplay is nice on an individual basis, but it is useless when fighting in concert with others, where learning the basic interlocking formations is what makes a Legion infinitely stronger than the individual swordsmen composing its ranks.
Bring It: Pirellus does this gesture to a crowd of Marat toward the end of the first book.
When Ivarus, Kestus and Tonnar are ambushed by the Vord, Ivarus says that it is more important for Kestus to escape and warn Alera than it is for him to stop and assist Ivarus, whose horse has been killed.
When Amara and Bernard are spying on the Vord, they debate whether or not they should go further into Vord territory or leave now and bring their discoveries to the First Lord. They ultimately agree to continue deeper into enemy territory, but Bernard makes Amara promise to return directly to the First Lord, without him if need be, once they complete their mission.
Bug Caste System: There are lots of different kinds of Vord. Queens, Warriors, Takers, and Wax Spiders seem to come standard, but more specialized castes such as Vordknights, Vordbulks, mantises, and Cane-forms pop up, too, depending on the needs of the situation and what enemies are available to copy.
But He Sounds Handsome: Inverted. In Cursor's Fury Max and Tavi briefly discuss the reported assault on a slaver and the freeing of all his slaves, congratulating and praising the mysterious man who did it, and are each very surprised to learn that it wasn't the other one who did it.
Camp Followers: The First Aleran Legion has the standard merchant, vagabond and prostitute followers. Eventually, Mistress Cymnea, their nominal leader, is added to the staff of the legion.
Cannot Spit It Out: In the fourth book, Isana finally tries to explain to Tavi who his parents were and why he does not have magic powers like everyone else. Unfortunately, he chooses just that moment for some Oblivious Guilt Slinging, talking about how great it is to see family again without all the political intrigue and backstabbing of his job, which makes it even harder for her to confess to a lifelong deception, so she puts it off. Eventually, Araris does the job for her. Tavi is a bit sore about it for a while.
The Captain: While Legions are commanded by a Captain, their role tends to be more along the line of Colonel Badass. Demos is a somewhat more usual example, since he is in command of a ship with a Badass Crew.
Captain Ersatz: High Lady Placida bears a striking resemblance, personally and physically, to one Cordelia Vorkosigan.Word of God says that this (as well as High Lord Placida's similar resemblance to Aral Vorkosigan) is deliberate.
Not a person, but the Shield Wall is an enormous structure designed to keep out the inhuman, ice-infused hordes to the north who constantly threaten the civilized lands of humanity. It must be kept in constant supply of soldiers to hold them in check. In other words, the addition of the word "Shield" is main thing differentiating it from the one in Westeros.
"They're trying to kill you!" "I can't tell you how glad I am that you're here to tell me that."
This gem in First Lord's Fury:
(signal flare appears)
Antillus Raucus: Well. There it is.
Lord Phrygius: Brilliant last words, that. We'll put them on your tombstone. Right next to, "He died stating the obvious."
Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: When Tavi and Maximus are sent to join the First Aleran Legion, Max knocks out two legionares who are disrespectful to Tavi, who is there undercover as an officer. When Tavi points out to Max that he could have handled them himself, Max explains that that is not the point; an officer wouldn't dispense corporal punishment, regardless of his capabilities, since that is the job of the Centurions.
Cardboard Prison: The Grey Tower is supposedly impregnable. Tavi breaks two characters out of it, the first with only a couple hours' preparation, the second after the prison's defenses had been redesigned by Tavi himself. note No, Tavi did not deliberately leave a weakness in the defenses in case he ever needed to stage another jailbreak.
When Isana and Fade first interacted, she was unsure if he could truly understand her simple instructons due to his mental disability. Later scenes in the same book would reveal that she was privy to his true identity the entire time.
The Charmer: Antillar "Max" Maximus. The reason he is so outgoing is because he does not think he will live past 30, since the Wicked Stepmother sees him as an impediment to his half-brother's political success and has been arranging "accidents" since he was 14.
Chekhov's Boomerang: In the first book, Tavi and Kitai are sent into the Wax Forest to retrieve a mushroom that can cure any poison. After a little too much excitement ensues, this property turns out to be all that saves Kitai's life. They do not show up again until the last book, when Isana uses them to save Amara and Lady Placida from death by Vord poison. And, as a bonus, heals Amara's blight scars, allowing her to conceive.
Chekhov's Gun: Lots and lots, some of them held across the entire series before they go off.
The longest delay was the fact that the Calderon Valley contains the great furies Garados and Thana, introduced in the beginning of the first book and are of great importance in the climax of the final book.
Tavi learns about icebergs at the beginning of Princeps' Fury. At the end of the book, he has his crafters carve giant ships out of them, since leviathans avoid them and he needs a way to transport a lot of Canim noncombatants away from Vord-controlled regions.
Chekhov's Skill: See Tavi learning/demonstrating some new skill? There is a pretty good chance he is going to use it for something absurdly badass by the end of the book.
At the beginning of Cursor's Fury, Tavi and Magnus are testing out a catapult they made based on old Roman documents. It promptly gets smashed when an irate Max almost gets hit by a rock and chucks it back at them. No more mention is made, and it seems to be a funny but irrelevant side-note. Until the last book, when we learn that Tavi wrote home to his uncle about it, and Bernard set up over a hundred of the things as part of the defenses in the Calderon Valley, and loaded them, at Tavi's suggestion, with glass spheres full of fire furies that explode when they break. They do more damage than the High Lords when turned on the Vord army, and the ammo is easy enough to manufacture that they can outlast them, too.
Chekhov's Volcano: The climax of Captain's Fury (well, one of them) has the First Lord unleashing Kalus, the Great Fury within the volcanic Mount Kalare, from Kalarus, destroying the High Lord, his capital city, and all of the other towns and steadholts for hundreds of square miles, killing hundreds of thousands.
The Chessmaster: Both Aquitaines, Doroga, and the Vord Queen. Kalarus attempts to be, but Gaius is better at it.
Chrome Champion: The First Lord goes to battle. First Lord's Fury has Araris Valerian doing the same.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Invidia, so much so that nearly every character that has extensive dealings with her tries to take her sudden but inevitable betrayal into account. When she tries to turn on the Vord Queen, the queen is not even upset and sees no reason to punish her for it, since that is just what Invidia does.
Click Hello: The sword equivalent. Navaris and her team corner Tavi in his office, intending to kill him... and then Max, Crassus, and Araris show up behind them, swords drawn.
Colonel Badass: There is not a rank of "colonel" in the Legions, but some captains, especially Tavi, fit this trope pretty well.
Fidelias mentions at least once every book that he avoids a fair fight whenever he can.
Tavi mentions at one point that "if he had his way, he would never engage in a fair fight ever again."
Captain Demos, whose entire ship is a single wood Fury, mentions that the last fair fight he had was when he was twelve years old.
Combat Sadomasochist: Kalarus' Immortals have been conditioned since childhood through discipline collars to enjoy pain, to the point that one of them seems to be happy when he is forced to chop off his own leg.
Consummate Liar: Fidelias (as various watercrafters learn to their dismay and disturbance).
Continuity Nod: After Bernard and Amara have been engaged in a sexual relationship for several years (and multiple novels) Amara asks Bernard when he first realized that he was attracted to her. His response was when he first bandaged her ankle, which occurred in the first novel, soon after they first met.
The biggest recurring obstacle impeding Amara, Tavi and Bernard from warning Garrison of the Marat threat in Furies of Calderon was Kord and his two sons (Aric and Bittan), who kept interfering at crucial junctures in the hopes of derailing the trial of Bittan for rape. It turns out Bittan really was innocent; simply letting the trial go through would have made the story easier not only for the "good guys", but would have saved Kord and Bittan's lives as well.
As time goes on, multiple characters (even those loyal to the First Lord) point out that Gaius could have prevented a lot of the scheming amongst the High Lords by fathering another child after the death of Septimus, or at least designating an heir from one of the nobility. It would not have solved everything, especially once the reader learns that some of the High Lords created the problem in the first place by assasinating Septimus, but it would have resolved the most public crisis of a disputed succession.
Covers Always Lie: Furies of Calderon appears to have Tavi covering his eyes a bit to see through a storm while holding his sword as wind furies assail him. More technically, that scene in the book has Tavi losing his sword (never even drawn against the wind furies) and being thrown into the mud while trying to run by them.
The page's picture is also an example. Contrary to what it and the caption make you think what's happening, the water lions were summoned by allies to help Tavi.
Covert Group With Mundane Front: Cursors, to an extent. Lots of people think of them as just messengers, although aristocrats know better than that. By about halfway through the series, nobody seems to bother even paying lip-service anymore to their "official" position as simple messengers, and "Cursor" is synonymous with "Spy".
Lampshaded in Captain's Fury, when Tavi has Ehren engage in "the other part of Cursor business" and deliver a message to Nasaug.
Crazy Enough to Work: Almost every plan of Tavi's relies on this. So much so that Kitai finds the Final Battle by going to the place only a lunatic would enter.
Ehren: The plan is insane. You are insane. (beat) I'll need some pants.
Comes up pretty often given the number of Chessmasters in play, but the precedent is set early in the first book when Amara realizes that Gaius Sextus had designed his own son's tomb as a shelter against enemy furies, weapons stockpile, and site for healing. Hidden in plain sight!
When Fidelias enters a seemingly empty tent he turns to the empty air and makes a verbal greeting. Lady Aquitaine, hiding under a veil, reveals herself and asks how he knew that she was there, but Fidelias is actually very surprised to see her. Apparently he greets the empty tent every time he walks in, just in case there is somebody invisible hiding in there.
Invidia is one of the most powerful crafters in the series, and is motivated solidly by ambition and greed.
Navaris is regarded as one of, if not the most deadly swordsperson in Alera (Araris, the other single most deadly swordsman in Alera, gave any fair fight between them a 50/50 chance of going either way), but is motivated solely by bloodlust and a need to prove herself better than everybody.
In their first skirmish with the Canim forces in Alera, where they defeated a group of approximaely fifty Canim raiders, two members of the First Aleran cavalry are killed. When Tavi realizes that neither he nor Maximus know their names, he asks Max to find out.
After a pair of Hunters are killed in battle with the Vord, Tavi asks their leader what their names were, and asks if anyone will sing a Blood Song (Canim funerary ritual) for them.
One Cane ritualist, Master Marok, uses this to take the wind out of the sails of one of his less-honorable colleagues. After Tavi is forced to kill two Canim in self-defense, the ritualist says that a blood price must be paid for them — and Marok undercuts him by asking if he even knows their names, when he clearly doesn't.
Death by Childbirth: ...sort of. Tavi is brought up believing that his mother was Isana's sister and that she died giving birth to him. While Isana's sister did die when Tavi was born, it was not in childbirth since she was not his mother; Isana was. Her sister died from blood loss from an arrow wound she took when they were attacked shortly before Tavi's birth, which was not properly treated since she was focused on helping Isana deliver Tavi, making her death an example of the trope by proxy.
Death by Despair: When Gaius Septimus died, his mother took ill soon afterwards. She had his portrait, which she was in the middle of painting, hung in her room as she wasted away.
Death by Origin Story: Tavi's father was a member of the Crown Legion and his mother was a member of the camp followers, both of whom were killed by the Marat at the First Battle of Calderon. As a result, Tavi was raised by his Aunt Isana and Uncle Bernard, his mother's older siblings. Except it turns out that his father was not a legionnare in the Crown Legion, but rather the Princeps Gaius Septimus, and his mother is actually Isana, who claimed to be his aunt in order to obscure his heritage.
Death Equals Redemption: Amara mourns "the man he became" after Gaius Attis is fatally maimed by his wife and spends his remaining days calmly leading the Alerans and planning for his death.
Defiant to the End: When Invidia has Amara and Bernard at swordpoint, but seems willing to talk for at least a little while, Amara tells her to quit stalling and explains that she is just pitiful and pathetic, whose actions have no justification or excuse. When Invidia increduously asks Amara who she thinks she is to talk like that, Amara points out that she is somebody who is willing to give her own life in the service to others, while Invidia is nothing but a traitor and coward who will get neither sympathy nor last-minute forgiveness from her.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: Slavery, torture, and genocide of nonhuman species are all accepted in Aleran society, remnants of their Roman ancestry. Women are also stuck in a second-class status, but the patriarchy has weakened slightly due to their ability to gain Citizenship by proving their martial abilities.
They may be second-class, but it's a pretty-close-to-first one. Both unmarried men and women have to spend time in the Legion, both can become Citizens and both can study at the Aleran University. The only real stumbling block for gender equality appears to be the lack of female senators.
Deus Exit Machina: Gaius Sextus could easily handle a lot of the problems of the first four or five books, so a pretty good fraction of the plot revolves around taking him out of the picture somehow.
Discriminate and Switch: Several women take umbrage at implied sexism from members of the Legion, only to be told that the issue is not their gender.
When the Vord first attack Aricholt, Amara draws a sword and manages to save several legionnares and the holders that they were protecting. When Giraldi says that she did good "for a, uh..." she asks if he meant good for "a woman", and he responds that she did good for a civilian, Bernard cannot help but laugh.
When Tavi suggests adding Mistress Cymnea to the staff of the First Aleran Legion, Max instantly objects. When Cymnea asks if his problem is with the fact that she is a woman or because she is a madam, Max says that the problem is that she is a civilian.
Disproportionate Retribution: The entire story is ultimately set off by Gaius Septimus being murdered by assassins sent from treacherous High Lords who had been put up to it by Invidia as revenge for him breaking their engagement.
Distressed Damsel: Isana is generally the character to be rescued, as she is held hostage or attacked by (in order) Kord, Kalarus, Navaris, and the Vord Queen.
Strangely enough, kind of justified. Her inability to shield herself from the intense emotions of the battlefield means she struggles to defend herself as she just gets overwhelmed by people's anger, pain, fear and so on. Isana is possibly the only regularly Distressed Damsel who is also pretty damn badass.
Doomed Hometown: Inverted. By the end of the series, the Calderon Valley is the only place still intact and not under seige by the Vord.
Antillus Raucus: When we get back, you and I are going to have a talk in which you lose your teeth. Because I'm going to knock them out of your head. With my fists.
Phrygius: I think we all understood what you meant at the end of your first sentence, dolt.
Double Meaning Title: To those new to the series, fury is just a word for wild anger. Once they learn what how the furies of the series work, the titles using the pattern <Occupation's> Fury in reference to Tavi's current job have their usage of fury specifically highlight how they must mean the former definition due to Tavi's inability to furycraft. When he later can furycraft, it obviously simply refers to both the normal definition of fury and the universe's furycrafting magic.
Drama-Preserving Handicap: In Academ's Fury, all the rest of Clan Gargant are apparently too injured to readily join Doroga and Bernard's sortie to destroy the Vord. Which is a real shame, because given how effective Walker is — holding half the cave by himself and casually crushing and slapping away Taken holders — if there had been even two or three more of Clan Gargant present it would've been a lot less "desperate last stand" and a lot more "Curb-Stomp Battle".
Drop the Hammer: Knights Terra often wield giant hammers as their weapons, using their earthcafted strength to swing them with crushing force.
Duel to the Death: The juris macto; it is mentioned in various points through the series, and we see two duels in completion:
Tavi challenges the corrupt Senator Arnos to bring him to account for ordering the slaughter of Aleran freemen trapped behind the Canim lines. The senator sends in his second, Navaris, to fight, but Tavi defeats her and "Marcus" kills Arnos when he tries to escape.
In the fifth book, Isana challenges High Lord Antillus. He beats her easily, as she knew he would, but she psychoanalyses him as he does and "wins" when he realizes that she is right.
A third duel, between Araris Valerian and Aldrick ex Gladius that lasted for ten hours, took place fifteen years before the start of the series, and is repeatedly mentioned by characters.
The Canim sing a "Blood Song" for fallen warriors. Warriors who become Hunters (spies, assassins, and saboteurs) have their blood songs sung when they make the transition, because their old life is over.
The legionares who die serving on the Shieldwall, the fortifications protecting Alera from the northern Icemen, are burned on a funeral pyre instead of being buried. It is symbolic of keeping them away from the Icemen.
Gaius Sextus blowing up Alera Imperia, taking out most of the Vord army in one strike.
High Lord Cereus diving into a vordbulk's mouth and blowing it up from the inside to prevent it smashing the wall behind which his granddaughter is hiding. As Ehren puts it, "It was one thing for a man to say he was willing to lay down his life for his child-but quite another for him to actually do it."
Early-Installment Weirdness: Very minor example, with the books' titles - every one, save for the first, uses a format of <Occupation>'s Fury. The first is instead named Furies of Calderon. As the trivia page can attest, Butcher's original plan was to call it Shepherd Boy's Fury; this only happened because the marketing for him didn't think that title would work very well.
In addition, the first book has only two characters (Bernard and Fidelius) who can use more than one kind of Furycraft (in both cases, wood and earth). The second book announces that most people in the cities can call on as many as five kind of Furycraft, and the First Lord can command all six.
Woodcrafting (Knights Flora): Manipulation of plants, including encouraging them to grow, or animating them directly, which also (as the name implies) applies to dead wood. It also grants the ability to create veils when enough plant matter is present, specifically with shadows. Most Woodcrafters are archers, since control of the arrows and bows gives them Improbable Aiming Skills.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Each element (above) is canceled by its opposite: fire with water, metal with wood, air with earth (or just a pinch of salt), and vice versa. This is mainly used to design prisons and other restraints, but is occasionally used in battle. For example, a Wind-crafter can be cut off from their fury by covering them in enough dirt (or mud), while an earthcrafter merely needs to be suspended above the earth, unable to touch it.
Any sufficiently powerful watercrafter can feel the emotions of surrounding people. One compares a visit to any sufficiently-sized city as the following:
"a low but steady 'noise', like being constantly accompanied by half a dozen nightmarishly persistent crickets. It was never horribly loud, but it didn't stop, and the intrusive sensations could make it maddeningly difficult to sleep or concentrate."
The Icemen, who can communicate amongst themselves with no speech at all. Their intense enmity for the Alerans comes largely from the mix of their water-based empathy with the minor firecrafting that Alerans use to stay warm in the cold northern regions. When fire and water are mixed, it creates feelings of anxiety and anger, so just by being next to each other the two sides were feeding each other's hatred.
Alerans, the Marat, and the Canim join forces to stop the Vord, with an armistice with the Icemen at the same time.
Erotic Eating: When Tavi and Kitai finally have an actual date, the text spends quite a bit of time detailing exactly how Kitai is eating, and at what speeds. Tavi is particularly transfixed by how she eats a berry. Slowly.
Eureka Moment: After Furies of Calderon, every novel contains a scene where a character realizes that Tavi is Gaius Octavian when they receive some final bit of information and put it together with what they already knew.
Even Evil Has Standards: Aldrick has no problem with killing, but even he says he has no stomach for Fidelias snapping the neck of a girl the Marat were going to eat alive. It's unclear whether he meant Fidelias' actions or the Marat's (probably both).
Everybody Knew Already: Though it comes as a surprise to many, the fact that Tavi is the son of Gaius Septimus and Isana, and grandson of First Lord Gaius Sextus is known (or deduced) by many people before Tavi himself learns the truth. When Varg reveals that he also knew the truth, Tavi remarks that sometimes it feels like he was the only one who did not know.
Everyone Went to School Together: In the third book we learn that Aria and Kalarus were both at the Academy together, though possibly in different years; the mother of all examples is the second and final books where we learn that Araris, Aldrick, High Lord Antillus (the father of Crassus and Max), High Lord Aquitaine, and Princeps Septimus were all friends from school as well, and continued that friendship until the night Septimus died.
In Cursor's Fury, Invidia suggests that Amara use forceful methods to get information out of Rook. Amara instead determines Rook's driving motivation for being loyal to Kalare (her daughter) and promises to rescue her daughter because it is the right thing to do. When Rook breaks down crying and agrees to help, Invidia is described as looking on the scene with a confused expression like someone watching a "silent play performed by lunatics".
The Vord queen. In a twist, however, she knows that there is something fundamental about humanity that she is not understanding, and she keeps trying to learn what it is. She observes families, interrogates humans as to what "love" means, and tries to replicate the traditions of everyday life (family meals). Despite all this, she never does learn what it is that makes people tick, though she does manage to form a bond with Invidia and is a little put out by her death.
The above scenes put Invidia more or less in Amara's old position — the Vord Queen doesn't "get" love, and Invidia is the one who has to explain it to her. Invidia does understand love, and appreciates it (since she reminisces fondly about her family) — she just has a very bad case of Ambition Is Evil, Green-Eyed Monster, and It's All About Me going on; so for her, power matters more.
Evil Sorcerer: The Canim Ritualists are generally considered to be this, though only some of them are as bad as they are made out to be: the blood they need for their rituals can as easily be taken from already-dead corpses as from live sacrifices. In fact, the old school of ritualists do not believe in using anyone's blood but their own; Marok, in First Lord's Fury, demonstrates how decent this type can be. However, Sarl and later Khral embrace the trope thoroughly. Unfortunately, the Old School ritualists are badly outnumbered by the rest.
Expecting Someone Taller: Amara uses the standard line to subtly insult Pirellus of the Black Blade, Knight Commander of Garrison. When she first encounters Pirellus he is completely naked, having just been roused from a bath, and she mentions that she thought he would be taller after looking him up and down, during which she lets her gaze linger "significantly".
Extranormal Institute: The Academy is a school for teenaged youths in a world where everyone has magic abilities, so between math and history classes, there are also classes on magical theory and actual training on how to use magic.
Expy: The Vord of Academ's Fury share several important traits (insect-like biology, hive mind, ability to infest living humans, reliance on a substance they smear across the ground in their nests) with the Zerg.
Eye Scream: Turns out, a sufficiently powerful watercrafter can regrow her own eyes after they have been clawed out.
Failure-to-Save Murder: The source of many characters' resentment towards Gaius Sextus, whose son, Gaius Septimus, was killed by the Marat approximately fifteen years before the start of the series.
Aldrick ex Gladius often serves as The Dragon for whichever character is currently in control, and not as a clear antagonist on his own, but he is legendary throughout Alera for his famed skill with the sword. His duel with Araris Valerian, also legendary because of his skill, is still being talked about fifteen years later. To hear Araris tell it:
Araris:: [Aldrick had] more than a hundred duels to his credit. He used to hire out as a champion, before he took up service with [Septimus]. That one got a lot of attention. We went for about ten hours, all the way around Garden Lane and Craft Lane both. Must have been fifty or sixty thousand people that came down to see it.
Like his brother Araris, Sir Miles ends up with a bit of this after fighting to stop an attempt on the First Lord's life in Academ's Fury. Though Araris did most of the fighting after a point, Miles takes the credit to preserve his cover, and gripes a chapter or two later that some fool bard has already composed a ballad about his "heroic stand".
The social classes of Alera are: Slaves, freemen, Citizens, and Lords/Ladies, with several different ranks of nobility somewhere at the level of Citizens and higher. There is a strong but not perfect correlation between strength in furycrafting and social rank, and strength in furycrafting is at least partially heritable, so while many characters have moved their way up in rank over their lives, the caste one is born into is still very determinative.
The Canim castes are the Makers (farmers, workers, and artisans), Ritualists (doctors, priests, and sorcerers) and Warriors (Exactly What It Says on the Tin). The Warriors and the Ritualists are continually at odds as to which caste is higher, though they both claim to serve the Makers.
Fantastic Nuke: Many smaller versions, but Gaius wiping out Kalare by unleashing a volcanic Great Fury and then slowing the Vord by destroying the remnants of Alera Imperia with another volcano probably take the cake.
Farm Boy: Tavi. Even when he is recognized as the Princeps of Alera and on a secret mission behind enemy lines, he still stops to admire the efficiency of a livestock pen.
Tavi: "They can change the size of their pens, or set it up so that you can cut some animals out and leave the rest penned up. That's handy."
Max: "Don't tell anyone, but our Princeps was brought up on a steadholt. Herding sheep, if you can believe that."
When the Windwolves, mercenaries in service to the Aquitaines, save the lives of Bernard and members of his legion, Bernard insists that they address him by his first name instead of title.
High Lady Placidus Aria is the only member of the Aleran nobility to insist that other characters address her by her first name, indicating that she is friendly and approachable.
Five Races: Averted, though notable because there actually are five sentient races in the setting. While Alerans are High Men and Marat can be put into Fairy without too much effort, Canim, Icemen, and Vord defy categorization in the system. (When the closest thing you have to Mundane are nine-foot-tall wolfmen, you know you're not dealing with the traditional fantasy races...)
Flying Car: The favored and fastest way around Alera is by flying coach. Interestingly, the draft "animals" are other human beings, specifically windcrafters who lift the coach up.
Follow the Chaos: Provides the page quote, and is how the final battle is located.
In the initial Marat assault on Garrison, Pirellus gets a small cut on his forehead when his helmet cuts into his skin. Though he dismisses it, Centurion Giraldi urges him to get it treated so that dripping blood does not blind him at a crucial moment. During his fight with Aldrick ex Galdius, the cut is re-opened and he is blinded by a drop of blood at a crucial moment, giving Aldrick the opening to disable and then kill him.
At the end of Furies of Calderon, Gaius speaks with Fade about the sword he gave Tavi and remarks that the sword is a "princely" gift.
In Academ's Fury, while Bernard is preparing for the final push against the Vord Queen, he notes the ugly weather being brought down by the great furies around Garados and remarks that "Even if we don't finish them, the furystorm will finish what we started." At the end of First Lord's Fury, a furystorm is what hurts the Vord Queen enough to allow Tavi to finally finish her.
When traveling to the First Aleran Legion, Tavi, Max, and Magnus discuss the inevitable intrigue that will spring up around the camp, and explain that anybody competent in the legion will be a spy. In the epilogue, it is revealed that Valiar Marcus, a legendary centurion whose stolid nature and loyalty helped hold the Legion together, is a disguise of Fidelias, who was (originally) there spying for the Aquitaines.
For Want of a Nail: Thematically lampshaded: Everything in the series is kicked off by a serving girl wanting some pretty flowers.
Fragile Speedster: Any windcrafter without an accompanying skill in metal- or earthcrafting. Particularly Amara, who is possibly the fastest flier in Alera aside from the High Lords, but at one point actually starts breaking her bones and tearing muscles from speeding herself up too much in a fight.
Free-Fall Fight: Any fight with Amara or any other Knight Aeris. During one such fight, she and the Knight take a glance at the rapidly-approaching ground, and decide silently to stop the fight in the interest of not going splat.
Freudian Excuse: Her poor relationship with her father is why Navaris is the way she is. Exploiting it is how Tavi beats her in a duel to the death.
Captain Demos is a slaver and a pirate, theoretically an enemy of the Aleran government, but he frequently talks about how much he loves working with the Cursors, the spies and assassins of that same government. As he explains it, the Cursors pay on time and almost never try to kill him once the job is completed.
The Canim term gadara essentially means this. They even see a gadara as worth more than a friend: a friend can always disappoint you, but your gadara is always your enemy. However, Tavi and various Canim always make it a point to explain that they are still an enemy, and in a conflict will do their best to kill one another.
A somewhat more benign example is seen in Varg and Nausag; Varg is Nausag's father and mentor, but they are also gadara to each other.
Functional Magic: Several systems. The Alerans, the Vord Queen, and the Icemen to a degree use a combination of Inherent Gift and Theurgy (the elemental furies do all the heavy lifting, but Alerans have the inborn power to summon and control them), while the Canim Ritualists use a sort of blood-based Rule Magic. The Marat also have the ability to bond with various creatures, but that is more one inherent power than a complete system.
Game Changer: The final book sees the first use of catapults, loaded with spheres containing fire furies (which can be produced by people with even moderate firecrafting ability) which prove incredibly devastating on the level of a High Lord. Several characters note that if Alera survives the Vord this is going to be a game changer for their civilization, because now the destructive power of a High Lord is in the hands of the common people.
Of a sort. Though background Marat characters are of both genders, all named characters of any tribe are the same gender (All named members of Gargant, Wolf, and Herdbane tribe are male, all named members of Horse tribe are female).
Also referenced with the Canim. At one point it's mentioned that nobody in Alera had ever seen a female Cane before, leading to unsavory rumors about just how the species propagated itself.
Get It Over With: Amara refuses to listen to Invidia's justifications or explanations for why she is helping the Vord Queen and tells her to "get on with it" when she holds Amara and Bernard at swordpoint.
Glass Cannon: The more powerful furycrafters, including the various High Lords. Multiple characters point out that, despite their strength and skills, their flesh and bone is no harder than the average human; provided you can get to them, they can be felled by a single blow like any normal person.
Go for the Eye: Subverted in First Lord's Fury. One character remarks that attacking the vordbulk's eyes would normally be a good way to slow them down... except that they don't have any eyes.
Gondor Calls for Aid: In First Lord's Fury, the Marat join the Alerans in the battle to defend the Calderon Valley and the Canim fight beside Tavi throughout his campaign.
Isana's mission in Princeps' Fury is to call for aid, and convince High Lord Antillus to send it.
Gone Horribly Right: Gaius Sextus hopes to push High Lord Kalarus into action by pretending to appoint High Lord Aquitaine as his successor, knowing that this will force Kalarus to accelerate his plans to seize the throne. Unfortunately, both Gaius and Amara believe that Kalarus will pursue a subtle means of displacing the First Lord, and are surprised and unprepared when he launches a full-scale insurrection.
Good Is Not Dumb: While none of the main cast are stupid, Tavi and Ehren take the cake, being both genuinely good people and absolutely brilliant.
Good Is Not Nice: Kitai and Hashat are two of the Marat most friendly to Alera, after Doroga, and assist them in their fights against Atsurak, the Canim, and the Vord. However, they remain "barbarians", including practicing cannibalism and living with an almost sexual desire for combat and bloodshed.
Good Is Not Soft: Combined with Good Is Not Dumb, right after the generally peaceable Lord Placida is told by Lord Kalare that he kidnapped his wife to ensure his neutrality in the civil war, he mobilized his legions but kept them inside his territory. Lord Placida figured his wife would either be rescued or killed in short order, and wanted to be ready to kick Kalare's teeth in, the moment either one happened. Amara invoked this trope when discussing Placida's counterattack on Kalare's army, "there will always be fools who believe that if a man dislikes violence and goes to great lengths to avoid it, it is a sign of weakness and vulnerability."
The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: At first, Tavi is the good, Aquitaine is the bad, and Kalarus is the evil. Later on, you have Tavi as the good, Aquitaine as the bad, and the Vord as the evil.
Healing Hands: Watercrafters can heal using their furies, but all but the most powerful need a tub of water to immerse the patient in.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Fidelias. See Becoming the Mask. He is always loyal to the Realm, but at one point decides that the current First Lord, old and heirless and pushing himself too hard, cannot provide the stable, strong leadership that the Realm needs and should be replaced by another High Lord. Later, he learns that his current allies are even more ruthless than he thought and that there is a legitimate heir after all. Later still, that legitimate heir learns about Fidelias' past and almost has Fidelias crucified before he is talked out of it.
Heroic BSOD: Varg gets one in Princeps' Fury when he learns that his home range has been consumed by the Vord. Tavi snaps him out of hit by hitting him with a Canim cattle prod.
A recurring problem for Amara, who occasionally uses her windcrafting to move so fast that she winds up breaking her own bones and tearing her muscles.
The First Lord spends most of Academ's Fury in a coma after being driven to collapse defending the continent from Canim-manipulated hurricanes. The poison he was being slipped certainly did not improve his condition, either.
He Who Fights Monsters: Lord Aquitaine began conspiring against the First Lord because the uncontrolled High Lords had killed his best friend, Septimus, and he saw that Gaius's political macinations would ultimately lead to civil war. In his efforts to gain the throne, he himself became an uncontrolled High Lord whose political machinations nearly lead to civil war. He redeems himself, however.
Hive Mind: The Vord. Furies might also count, surprisingly enough — we learn in First Lord's Fury that a single room has thousands or millions of tiny air furies living in it, so the smallest visible furies may be simply amalgamations of the microscopic ones.
The Horde: Before a tentative truce was struck between Alera and the Gargant/Horse clans of the Marat, almost the only contact between the two peoples was when a Marat horde would sweep into the Calderon Valley to raid the Steadholts there.
While regular horses exist, a prefered secondary beast is the Gargant. The descriptions in the books are a little vague, but Word of God finally came out and said that Gargants are descendents of Megatherium, the Giant-Ground Sloth, but with gigantic tusks and having the same disposition and ecological niche as Indian Elephants, only omnivorous.
The Canims' mounts, the Taurga. Descriptions are vague, but they give the impression of being massive, predatory camel-analogues, especially in disposition.
Huge Holographic Head: The most powerful watercrafters can create life-size, full-color images of themselves in water to communicate at a distance. In the last book, Tavi and the Vord Queen figure out that if you do not bother to make it two-way, you can project copies of the image to every body of water in the country.
I Did What I Had to Do: Gaius tries to justify blowing up Kalare by unleashing Kalus this way, pointing out that it actually saved lives compared to the alternative.
Idiot Ball: Allies and enemies alike point out that Tavi had no reason to think that he could turn the Vord Queen in Shuar against her mother and sister, since it relied on assuming a history and motivation that he had no evidence to support, and that his plan was doomed from the start. All his deductions about the history and motivation of the daughter queens was correct. Vord just don't make alliances.
Ignored Expert: Nobody believes Bernard about the threat the Vord pose. He eventually just gives up on trying to convince the idiots and starts fortifying the Calderon Valley instead, but Ehren believes that Bernard had convinced the First Lord and had been operating under secret orders to prepare for an invasion.
I Have Your Wife: One of Kalarus's favorite tactics. It backfires in several instances.
I'm a Humanitarian: The Marat eat their enemies to "partake of their strength," with some clans eating them while they are still alive.
I Meant to Do That: Tavi's talented at this. Considering everything else he manages, people usually assume he really was planning on whatever it was, be it a dramatically well-timed volcanic eruption or his plan to get into Riva accidentally leveling several blocks of buildings, the latter of which led to the phrase appearing almost verbatim in the narration.
When fighting the Vord Queen, Tavi was pinned to a rock with a razor-edged, poisoned vord-chitin sword. He almost cut his fingers off trying to get himself free.
The Vord Mantis-Warriors in First Lord's Fury tend to do this. One almost kills Ehren such, pinning him to a fortress wall in the process.
Implausible Fencing Powers: Most Metalcrafters have this as their primary means of offense. Although they have to build up their reflexes and muscle strength naturally, their Metal Furies give them the ability to sense all metal around them, giving them a sort of metal-detecting bullet time, as well as allowing them to cause the metal in their blades to become magically superhard to the point that they can easily cleave through solid stone walls. Aircrafters can use their Furies to boost their reflexes and movement speed to give them increased swordfighting powers as well.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Anyone with strong woodcrafting ability becomes an incredible archer, among them being Bernard, Fidelias, and any Knight Flora. In Academ's Fury, a group of Knights Flora looses a barrage of arrows that are so precise they can fly between a legionaire's ear and his shield, or beneath a rising sword arm as the soldier in question strikes out. In Captain's Fury, a woodcrafter named Iris the Hawk is so accurate that she can put arrows into men's heads or throats from four hundred yards, while on the rolling deck of a moving ship. By comparison, the classic English longbow could potentially reach those ranges in ideal conditions, but with only inaccurate, arching barrage fire.
I Never Told You My Job: Beritte, who fancies herself as something of a seductress, accidentally gives away that she was eavesdropping when she refers to Fidelias as a gem merchant, which was the cover story he had just relayed to Bernard.
Innocent Fanservice Girl: Kitai grew up in a culture where nobody past childhood, male or female, wears anything but a loincloth, and they only wear that for functionality so they can have pouches to carry things. Consequently, she has no problem stripping down, and Tavi has to think of creative interpretations of Marat customs to get her and other Marat women to cover up and wear Aleran clothing.
Insult Backfire: The knights in the First Aleran Legion invoke this in Cursor's Fury. The previously inexperienced division of Knights had gotten the nickname Knights Pisces, based on the naming convention for the knight divisions by craft (Knights Ferrous, Knights Flora, and so on) and the tradition of calling new recruits fish.note Because their flailing around is less like a legionaire and more like a landed fish. After their exceptional performance in dire circumstances, they make themselves insignia of a shark as a Badass Boast because of Tavi's little trick with the cattle blood in the river.
Crassus: "Apparently, they never realized how bad a bunch of fish could hurt them."
Interspecies Romance: Tavi, a human, and Kitai, a Marat. The Marat are humans that are taller, have higher body heat and are less "civilized," so it is easy to overlook. They can also interbreed with humans, though mutual longstanding hostility between them means no one knows this is possible.
Irony: At one point in book two, Tavi's Jerk Ass professor scoffs at the idea that there could ever possibly be a functioning, advanced society created without the use of furies. Now, lets not forget that the author has confirmed that Alera is a parallel dimension to our furyless world.
It Can Think: The Vord, when commanded by a queen. This is especially evident the first time they show up as a major threat, when they have not yet built up a truly absurd numerical advantage and fight a guerilla war instead.
It Has Been an Honor: Amara and Aria as dawn arrives on the first day of the final stand in Calderon.
"It" Is Dehumanizing: Throughout Academ's Fury, every bit of narration also refers to Varg as "it," and this continues through Cursor's Fury, until the very end, when the narration uses "she" to refer to a fleeing Cane, with the wham that this is the first time anyone's ever seen a female Cane. Afterward, the proper gender pronouns are used. When Isana first sees Ambassador Varg in Captain's Fury, she remarks at just how large "it" is. Tavi responds that yes, he is quite big.
Inverted—It's what he does—when Tavi and Nasaug discuss Varg and why he is imprisoned in the Aleran capital. Nasaug states that Varg is imprisoned unjustly since he did not act dishonorably, and when Tavi asks what makes Nasaug think that, he simply replies that, "He is Varg."
The Vord seem to have some sort of genetic imperative to destroy all other living species on the planet. In the end, the Queen tells Tavi that it was never personal; she was just doing what a Vord Queen is supposed to do.
As of Princeps' Fury, High Lord Antillus Raucus has spent huge chunks of his life locked in constant battle with the Icemen. He is obviously emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by the constant strain, but he gamely carries on with it, because "it's what one did".
In the sixth book, After Invidia's sudden but inevitable betrayal of the Vord Queen, the Vord queen isn't even particularly mad about it because it's what Invidia does.
Jackie Robinson Story: Isana becomes the first female steadholder at the end of Furies of Calderon. Tavi becomes the first non-crafter to be, well, everything.
Kansas City Shuffle: Tavi figures out that the best way of combating an enemy who can read minds is to make sure nobody but him knows all of what is going on, so he uses plans that rely on complicated sets of sealed orders issued to many different people. And in return, they do not tell him about the fact that they are sending backup.
Tavi: "The best part about this plan is that I don't have to explain anything to anybody."
High Lord Kalarus, in his bid to overthrow the throne and take it for himself, demonstrated that such petty things as "morals" or "humanity" do not concern him. When he kidnaps the wife and daughter of two High Lords in order to blackmail them into non-action he puts one of them in the same room as the five year old daughter of his spymaster and explains to her that, should she try to escape, his security systems will kill the child first and then try to stop her.
Senator Arnos orders an entire town of civilians executed "for conspiring with the enemy" after the town is liberated. He does it for the sole purpose of having an excuse to remove Tavi from command of his Legion when Tavi balks at the order.
Kraken and Leviathan: The leviathans are mammoth deep-sea creatures that regularly sink ships which attract their notice. Infants are a "mere" forty-feet long.
Lady Macbeth: Lady Invidia Aquitaine is much more evil than her husband. The Cursors even had a betting pool going on "Which one will win when they finally try to kill each other?" Invidia, it turns out.
Late Arrival Spoiler: Quite a few, but especially Princeps Gaius Octavian and First Lady Gaius Isana, which is a major plot twist foreshadowed for the first three books and explicitly revealed in the fourth, but is so central to the plot of the last two that it is near-impossible to give a plot summary without giving it away.
Law of Inverse Fertility: Amara was rendered infertile in her youth due to the blight, and toward the end of the series finally reconciles herself to having no children and adopting wayward orphans. It is after she accepts this that the blight damage to her womb is healed by the Blessing of the Night, and she becomes pregnant.
Let's Get Dangerous: Throughout Furies of Calderon, Aldrick has been telling everyone who challenges him that the only person who could defeat him is Araris Valerian, and they're not Araris. And then a dim-witted slave shows up. Yes, he is Araris. Aldrick has a major Oh Crap moment.
Fade tends to have a habit of these in the first three books, though by book four, he drops it and operates openly.
Lightning Bruiser: The Vord. They are fast, come in huge numbers, are almost impossible to kill, and if directed by a Queen, are smart. The Vord Queen also qualifies, seeing as balest bolts bounce off her skin, she can craft better than any Aleran, is faster than any windcrafter and stronger than the Canim. It takes the efforts of Tavi, Kitai, and two great furies to put her out of commission.
Living Lie Detector: All watercrafters with at least Knight-level skill. Mind, it is possible for very good liars, like Fidelias and Tavi, to deceive them, if they're being spoken to; a truthfinding, however, is much harder to trick.
Load-Bearing Boss: Kalarus, the failed Chessmaster, took out an insurance policy against his demise: he has bonded the elemental of a sleeping volcano. He dies, the volcano blows its top. At least, that was the plan. The First Lord made the hard choice and detonated it prematurely. It wiped out the city below, but if he had given it until the end of the civil war, the city would have been filled with refugees and the soldiers of his own armies, which would have doubled the number of casualties at least.
Locked into Strangeness: Gaius Sextus's hair goes solid white after his collapse during the second book. He still looks 40-something otherwise.
Lost Roman Legion: The Alerans are descended from a people that their histories refer to as "Romans," who claimed to have come from 'Mother Rome,' and who originally appeared on Carna in numbers equal to a single Legion and its camp followers. Word of God is that they were the IX Roman Legion, and were transported to Carna by a wormhole.
Low Fantasy: Despite this series being Butcher's attempt at High Fantasy, Furies of Calderon bears a stronger resemblance to Low Fantasy: the scope of events affects only one province of Alera (though it could theoretically spread to the rest of the empire), humans are the only sentient species depicted (though the Marat have some unusual biology, such as some sort of metaphysical bonding ritual and a much higher body temperature), the primary conflict of the story is a political power play steeped in Grey and Gray Morality, all of the objectively good characters are working through their own emotional baggage (Isana's is insecure about her body, Bernard is still grappling with the death of his wife and daughters after fifteen years, Tavi is embarrassed that he can't furycraft, and Amara is reeling from her mentor's betrayal) and the only objectively evil character isn't sacrificing virgins to a demon lord, he's a slaver who enjoys the power trip he gets from committing rape.
There's also the way the setting treats magic in general. While furies (and therefore, magic) are ubiquitous, they focus mostly on Mundane Utility, and there are no dedicated casters (a la Gandalf) to speak of.
Luxury Prison Suite: The Grey Tower, which is the most escape-proof prison in Alera. The cell on the top floor is the entire floor and includes dining areas, luxury furniture and plenty of books. Max points out that anybody who ends up in that cell is there for politics, and the bars are simply for show.
Max: Actually, the room they had me in was quite a bit nicer than any I've ever had to myself. Killian: Mmmm. Gaius Secundus had a prison suite installed when he arrested the wife of Lord Rhodes, eight hundred years ago. She was charged with treason, but never tried or convicted, despite interrogation sessions with the First Lord, three times a week for fifteen years.
Kitai: "You will no longer lie with me. You will treat me in exactly the fashion that you would any proper young lady of the Citizenry. You will court me, and do it well, or so help me I will strangle the life from you. And you will court me properly after the ways of my people. You will do so with legendary skill and taste. And only when that is done will we share a bed once more."
Magical Defibrillator: Veradis, the daughter of High Lord Ceres, can do this through a combination of watercrafting and windcrafting to channel electricity.
Magitek: In daily life, most Alerans use technology roughly equivalent to medieval Europe, which is about what one would expect considering the origin of Alera. However, different aspects of furycrafting stand out as modern conveniences: furylamps, which function exactly like lightbulbs, coldstones, which provide refrigeration, watersending, which provides communication across thousands of miles, and air-coaches, which stand in for airplanes. Combined with the healing of watercrafting and the ability of woodcrafting to stimulate the growth of food crops, Alera has a life-expectancy and quality of life equal to the modern day.
Make It Look Like an Accident: Max's mother succumbed to this, and his Wicked Stepmother has been trying to arrange a similar accident for him since he was 14. It is her preferred method of operation against all opponents, and she is damned good at it.
Makes Us Even: Odiana explains at the end of Furies of Calderon that she and Isana are now even after she saved the lives of Bernard, Fade and Tavi.
Manipulative Bastard: Gaius Sextus is legendary throughout Alera for his skill and abilities in pitting his enemies against one another. Unfortunately, this is also his downfall, as many of his enemies became his enemies when they saw how preoccupied he was with keeping his other enemies at one anothers throats instead of planning for his succession.
Manly Tears: In Academ's Fury, when Miles witnesses his brother Araris in battle again, after believing he had been dead for fifteen years, he weeps at the sight.
In First Lord's Fury, Marcus weeps as he watches the First Aleran's Last Stand.
Marat Bites Man: When Tavi and Kitai are ambushed by Kalaran thugs, Kitai bites off one of their noses. When Tavi reacts in shock she explains that she could not reach his eyes.
Master Swordsman: Any Knight Ferrous is this by definition. Araris Valerian, Aldrick ex Gladius, and Phrigiar Navaris are the three most significant to the story, and each of them has a deserved reputation as one of the top blades in Alera. Araris is probably the best, though Aldrick once famously dueled him to a draw, and he admits himself that it could go either way between him and Navaris.
Centurion Giraldi was introduced towards the climax of Furies of Calderon as a soldier stationed at Garrison, returns in Academ's Fury as Bernard's second-in-command and spends Cursor's Fury as Isana's companion, guard and assistant. He returns in First Lord's Fury, back at Garrison where it all began.
Legionare Schultz was introduced as a trainee in Cursor's Fury and worked his way up to Centurion of the Battlecrow Cohort, functioning as Tavi's primary battle component in the First Aleran.
Serai and Nedus from Academ's Fury, the former a courtesan Cursor and a friend of Amara, the latter a retired Knight Captain. They spend their time trying to help Isana get in contact with the First Lord. Isana even notes to Serai that Nedus adores Serai like a daughter, to which she responds with a sad smile that she knows this, after Serai tries to tell Nedus to not come along and guard them as they go out into the city. They both die defending Isana from assassins.
Meaningful Echo: When Captain Demos asks if Ehren is a Cursor, Ehren responds "I don't know what you mean, sir," but both he and Demos know it is simply a pro forma lie. Later, when Ehren asks if he was working for Kalarus, Demos responds with the same phrase, and makes an effort to impersonate Ehren's inflection. Again they both know it is just a lie to keep up appearances.
In Cursor's Fury, there is a character named Rook. In one scene, she exchanges places with a member of the royalty for the sake of both protection and greater maneuverability. Or, to put it simply, Rook castles.
When first introduced, the Placidas are noted for staying out of the turbulent politics.
And if you happen to know obscure Roman history, there's a lot. Suffice to say that Butcher really likes using historical names.
Varg dubs Tavi "Tavar." A tavar is a highly intelligent wolverine-like predator native to Canea, stupidly brave, incredibly dangerous, and rather small. (Albeit considerably larger than a real-world wolverine.) Varg says he has never heard of a Canim taking one down without receiving extreme injuries of its own, and the Canim have a saying that, despite its small size, only a fool messes with a tavar. Even the Vord tread lightly around them: Apparently while they're conquering a continent filled with giant wolf people, taking out a tavar that's actively hunting Vord is too much trouble for what it's worth. Soundsaboutright.
Minored in Asskicking: Magnus. Archeologist-professor-butler by day, spymaster by night, and retired legionnaire.
Mistaken for Gay: Briefly, when Max notices that Tavi has stopped complaining about being separated from Kitai, he says that it is good Tavi finally got himself a woman to take his mind off things. When Tavi explains that he has not gotten himself a woman, Max asks if it was a boy instead. Tavi has to explain that he has not had any kind of sexual partner.
Mood Whiplash: Often. Particularly when Max goes in and out of scenes.
Moody Mount: The Taurga, which try at every opportunity to dislodge, bite or kill their riders.
Muggles Do It Better: One of the most devastating weapons the Canim use against Alerans is an enormous crossbow. There is nothing magical about it, beyond the fact that it is scaled to a Canim warrior, making it somewhere between a ballista and a man-portable crossbow.
Mundane Solution: A whole lot, mostly courtesy of Tavi. Earthcrafting makes someone super strong, but it does not increase weight and you have to be touching the ground to use it. Throwing an earthcrafter on a wooden deck cuts off their strength, and salt injures wind furies, disrupting fliers. Metalcrafters can sense blades or arrowheads coming at them, but not flint or stone weapons.
Mundane Utility: All of the different types of furies and their crafters have some form of mundane utility; wind-crafting allows for flight, earth-crafting increases strength to the point that loads in the hundreds of kilograms are no issue, water-crafters are healers, metal-crafters are smiths and have endurance that allows them to block out pain or keep going for days, wood-crafters can manipulate any form of plant life, making them excellent farmers—and archers—and firecrafters create the equivalent of both lightbulbs and refrigeration. The economy is so based on fury-crafting that most forms of technological development have completely stagnated.
My God, You Are Serious: When Tavi suggests that Ehren attempt to make contact with Nasaug, the war leader of the Canim, Ehren burts out laughing before he realizes that Tavi is not joking.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Tavi and Kitai are inadvertently responsible for the awakening of the Vord. They do fix it, however, though it takes a while.
In the final battle, Tavi leads the Vord Queen to the Great Furies, and accidentally gives her the idea of claiming them, which would make her unstoppable. Kitai is not amused.
Nigh Invulnerable: The Vord Queens are far more durable than anything made of flesh and bone (and chitin) ought to be.
Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: Those Taken by the Vord are essentially zombies, having similar capacities to their living selves save for now they don't care much about pain or emotion. The Taken Alerans can even do furycrafting after watching others do it if their bodies were capable of it in life, letting them be capable of being zombie wizards. In Academ's Fury, some Cane are Taken, thus making them zombie werewolves, except for how they are always bipedal wolves. Fighting the Taken sucks, especially since Alerans are better off not using furycrafting in front of the Taken Alerans at all rather than risk their enemy using it upon them.
No One Could Survive That: Lady Aquitaine, conspirator extraordinaire, gets shot with a poisoned crossbow bolt while in disguise as a washerwoman. The combination of the two highly deadly poisons on the bolt plus the fact that the bolt went through her back and out through her chest reportedly kills her within minutes despite the best efforts of the healers. But her body was not in the morgue when the guy who shot her went to make sure. The fifth book reveals that she was indeed mortally wounded, but was able to heal enough to get away... where she was found by a Vord Queen who offered to keep her alive in exchange for her loyalty.
Nothing Personal: When Bernard confronts Aldrick over their conflict atop the walls of Garrison, Aldrick explains that he took no pleasure from it, but that he also refuses to apologize. Bernard, as a soldier, should understand that.
Not Now, Kiddo: Bernard to Frederic, regarding the vord parasite he has captured in a cup.
No Woman's Land: Though Alera's women do enjoy plenty of rights as freemen, the number of female Citizens is limited; up until Gaius promoted Isana to the Citizenry at the end of Furies of Calderon, no woman had ever gained Citizenship without either serving in the military note Difficult, as women could not normally be legionares, so this requires them to serve as either healers or Knights, both of which require strong furycrafting, or the woman had to disguise herself as a man until such a point that her deeds on the battlefield proved her worhty of being a Citizen if she revealed her gender, winning a Citizenship bout (requiring strong furycrafting) or marriage into the Citizenry (strong furycrafting being nearly required as well). In short, women without Knight-level furycrafting are generally out of luck in Alera, at least until Gaius promoted Isana. This becomes an important plot point as the series progresses, as Isana's promotion is taken as an official statement by the First Lord regarding parity of genders and a sign of his power, making Isana a target for those trying to undermine Gaius' authority. It also resulted in an increase in sale prices for female slaves and caused chaos and pressure in the slave trade in general. Since Kalarus is one of the two High Lords with eyes on the First Lord's crown, and the province of Kalare is heavily dependent on slave labor, this seriously hampers his economy and pushes him into launching the brewing civil war earlier than he planned.
The first thing Kitai says about her father, Doroga, is that he does not seem clever.
Fade, seemingly a mentally disabled slave, is really Araris Valerian, possibly the greatest swordsman alive. He slowly drops the charade after Tavi discovers the truth, eventually abandoning it completely in the epilogue of the third book.
Inverted with Ullus, the fence in Westmiston. When he draws a sword on Captain Demos, the Captain is surprised to find that Ullus really is as stupid as he seemed; Demos had thought it was an act.
Kitai has a kind of Obfuscating Savagery: She is entirely frank about many things Alerans prefer not to discuss openly, but Isana realises soon after talking to her that she grasps the subtler things quite easily.
Occurs in Captain's Fury, when Tavi makes an offhand comment about how you can always trust your family while Isana is in the room. Isana, who has been lying to him his entire life about his parentage and the reason for his lack of crafting ability, was getting up the nerve to confess.
Fidelias/Marcus gets it from both sides. On one hand, Max, Nalus, Crassus, and most of the First Aleran keep going on about how good a friend, adviser, and all around soldier he is, while he is technically working for Lady Aquitaine and has orders to kill Tavi, and on the other, Lady Aquitaine keeps complimenting him on his ideas to get Tavi out of the way, when he feels horribly guilty about coming up with them.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: It would not be Alera without them, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and positions of authority. Naturally, they cause innumerable headaches. However, in at least one instance, they proved useful: one such official, Pluvus Pentius, protected some children by obstructing a roving monster with his accounts ledger. Repeatedly. To the head. Because hey, in Alera even theaccountantscan kick your ass.
Odd Name Out: Isana, Amara, Fidelias, Maximus, Araris, Invidia... Tavi? Which is foreshadowing, as it happens. "Gaius Octavian" fits right in with the rest of those awesome Latin-derived names.
Offhand Backhand: Walker provides the Gargant equivalent when charged by a mantis Vord in First Lords Fury. The creature charges with berserk fury until Walker squashes it while paying next to no attention to it.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The frequently recounted duel between Araris and Aldrick which took place nearly twenty years before the start of the story proper. Everyone who saw it claimed it was the single greatest swordfight in history.
All powerful watercrafters, to the point where even the eldest High Lords almost never look older than their forties, with the majority of them looking like they are in their mid-thirties or even younger. Gaius Sextus spends the entire series dying of old age (with a little help) but still looks like he is in his forties.
Tavi looks young for his age and does not reach his full height until he is over twenty, since Isana purposely stunted his growth as a child. More than a few dim bulbs in Aleran society make the mistake of assuming that just because someone looks like they are in their late teens or early twenties that they really are that age.
Olympus Mons: Though most Alerans do not believe they truly exist, "Great Furies" embody the larger geological formations of Carna, including mountains, volcanoes and Alera itself. These Furies can be stirred to action, held to inaction, and (If the crafter is powerful enough) bound to a person as any smaller fury can be.
One Curse Limit: Only one discipline collar can be fitted to a person at a time; the furycrafting involved does not take if a second one is added later. Amara uses this to her advantage.
When the gates to Garrison are breached by the Marat horde, Pirellus of the Black Blade orders Amara to have the remaining legionares regroup on the top of the walls to prevent more Marat from scaling the fortificaions. When Amara asks him who will hold the gate, he responds that he will, and proceeds to do so. Singlehandedly. Against the entire horde.
Giraldi explicitly calls Araris a "one-man Legion" in Cursor's Fury after he massacres dozens of Kalarus' Immortals.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Tavi and Varg, especially in Princeps' Fury. Earlier, in Academ's Fury, Varg tells Tavi that the entire reason he is helping him protect Gaius is because Varg wants to be the one to lead the army that will destroy Alera with honor, and that he does not want Alera to fall to Sarl and the Vord Queen's trickery and deception. Applies to any sets of gadara as well, and other Canim will get out of the way in order to let them challenge each other.
Open Secret: The Cursors are "officially" just messengers, but everyone—aside from Tavi in one scene in the first book—knows that they're really the First Lord's spies and special operatives, to the point that nobody seems to bother with the fiction of their "official" jobs past the second book.
Orifice Invasion: Vord Takers crawl in through your mouth, secreting a poison to numb your flesh so you do not know they are crawling into you until it is too late.
Our Elves Are Better: Marat are basically neolithic Wood Elves, though the term is never explicitly used for them.
Our Orcs Are Different: Like the Marat's correlation with Wood Elves, the Canim bear all the hallmarks of a Blizzard-style orc—except for green skin. Prior to Princeps' Fury, the Icemen are essentially arctic-flavored Tolkien Orcs (for what little exposure they get).
"I gave you even odds of seeing through the switch."
Do not try to get in the way of Gaius Sextus. Even if you think you won, he will have something else in motion that makes everything turn out in his favor. Even after his death he has plans in the works: He left instructions for Ehren to set up Aquitaine for death in order to make sure that Tavi would not have a challenger for the throne.
Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The Alerans speak with scorn of the ancient Roman traditions of praying to "gods" and trying to tell the future by scattering animal entrails. Some doubt that these practices ever occurred at all.
Out of the Inferno: Cursor's Fury. Tavi gets hit with a massive evil magic lightning bolt. Twice. And is unfazed the second time.
Papa Wolf: Sextus did not take it kindly when a couple of his High Lords killed Septimus. It may have taken him twenty-five years, but he got his revenge. How? He killed one with a volcano and he set the other one up for death by the hands of the oncoming Vord.
Kord's would seem pure evil if it were not obvious that he cares for his favorite son, Bittan. Unfortunately, this also fuels most of his despicable actions throughout Furies of Calderon.
Do not interfere with Kitai getting to safety, or Doroga will drop a boulder on you. The size of a coffin. From two hundred feet up a cliff.
Peeling Potatoes: Tavi pisses off an officer and ends up measuring latrines in Cursor's Fury.
Relegating Amara to peeling "a sack of tubers" is the first time that Bernard shows his future wife any measure of trust.
Person of Mass Destruction: All the High Lords, and especially the house of Gaius. A single High Lord is said to be equal to an entire cohort of Knights, and Gaius was able to influence weather on a continental scale.
Planet of Hats: A rare fantasy aversion. Although there are five different races, each one is shown to have its cowards and its heroes, individuals noble and villainous. The Canim and the Marat may be Proud Warrior Race Guys, but there's far more to their outlooks than just killing stuff for honor. It is what makes The Alliance at the end possible. Even the Horde of Alien Locusts are exempt, as the original Vord Queen develops a personality very different from her daughters.
Posthumous Character: Princeps Gaius Septimus. In the first book, he is mentioned briefly and it almost seems like a bit of scene-setting: this is why there is a succession crisis and scheming noblemen, and the monsters in the storm are so dangerous the only safe place is a tomb fit for a prince, and that is all we know about him until halfway through the second book. However, Septimus gets developed as a major character later.
Pragmatic Villainy: Lady Aquitaine gives Isana an impassioned (for her, anyway) speech about how she can be trusted to honor loyalty, oppose violence and protect the people she has sworn to protect. Not because she feels some sort of moral duty to do so, but because she knows that that is how she gains loyal servants, preserves Alera as a prosperous whole and sways others to her cause.
Pretender Diss: Aldrick ex Gladius, regarded as one of the greatest swordsmen living, is legendary partly because of his famed duel with Araris Valerian. At multiple points throughout the series he crosses swords with other famed warriors, calmly informing each of them, "The only man who has ever matched me in battle was Araris Valerian himself, and you aren't Araris." When it turns out that one of them actuallyisAraris, Aldrick practically collapses.
Pronoun Trouble: Marat children are referred to by their parents as their "whelp," instead of "boy" or "girl", until they pass a certain rite of adulthood. In the first book Tavi meets (and is injured by) a Marat child (Kitai), and the narration refers to this child with male pronouns since that is what Tavi assumes her to be. Before the reveal, Tavi asked Doroga, Kitai's father, about his "son" - it seems he is confused by the homonym, as a bit of a language barrier had been established earlier, it is only later that it is revealed that it is because he has a daughter instead.
Psychic Static: When the mind-reading Vord Queen is questioning Amara about the location of Bernard, Amara follows the resultant train of thought and brings up every memory relating to Bernard that she can think of. The Queen remarks that her mind is surprisingly disciplined, and has to resort to other methods of information extraction.
Punch Clock Villain: Though some of Senator Arnos' singulares are the among most notorious murderers and thugs in Alera, others are instead famed for their past heroic rescues of kidnapped women and protection of Citizens from assassination. They currently have no agenda or stake in the senator's schemes, they are simply here because they have been hired for a job.
Puppeteer Parasite: The Vord's most potent weapon are the Takers, insects the size of a mouse that crawl in through your mouth and take over your body. The Taken bodies are impervious to pain, have strength far beyond their normal capability, and are used to sow dissent and fear amongst the populace. When the Taken is an Aleran, they can even use furycrafting, provided that a non-Taken furycrafts first to "activate" the furies.
Quip to Black: Tavi pulls a mild one in Captain's Fury after surviving an assassination attempt at the end of a chapter. The text even includes a perfect moment for a Glasses Pull:
"It would seem," Ehren said, "that someone doesn't want you making this trip."
"Then someone," Tavi replied, "is going to be very disappointed."
Rags to Royalty: Tavi (Sleeping Beauty-style) and Isana (Cinderella/Goose Girl-style)
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Rape is a "Realm offense;" if somebody is convicted then punishment is meted out not only to them, but even to their family if the judge deems it worthy.
Ravens and Crows: Crows are seen as a symbol of death and war by Alerans, and are frequently seen on and around the many battlefields throughout the series. In fact, almost every Aleran curse centers around crows.
Really 700 Years Old: Varg. Potentially any Cane for that matter, as their life expectancy seems to be near a millennium.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Amara gives one to Invidia First Lord's Fury, then Isana to Invidia and the Vord Queen later in the same novel.
Red Baron: Skilled swordsmen of Alera are often given sword-based nickames which become part of their actual names.
Aldrick ex Gladius. "ex Gladius" means "of the sword," and when he is introduced Fidelias explicitly states that he is known throughout Alera as "the sword."
Pirellus of the Black Blade.
Red Shirt: Tons of people without names die, from legionaries to civilians. Even the palace's own Royal Guard can be rendered to this as they desperately try to hold off a surprise attack by Taken Cane within Academ's Fury.
Required Secondary Powers: High Lords/Ladies and the First Lord are generally very strong in all six elements. Most other people, though, are only strong in one or two, which means they might lack these. This results in situations where speedsters pull their own muscles if they do not have the earthcrafting to augment their own strength; see Fragile Speedster above. In the same way, metalcrafters have the pain tolerance to keep fighting far too long for their own good because they do not have the earthcrafting to prevent injuries in the first place or watercrafting to heal them. Watercrafters have the empathic ability to sense everyone's emotions, but might lack the pain tolerance of a metalcrafter to avoid going crazy from the mental cacophony.
Riddle for the Ages: When Aldrick ex Galdius explains to Fidelias why it is that he hates Gaius Sextus, Fidelias claims that there is something more that Aldrick is not telling him. Aldrick admits that there is something more, but refuses to say what. Though later books do delve into Aldrick's history, including how he and Odiana became a couple and his relationship with Princeps Septimus, the series never does explain just what it is that makes Aldrick really hate Gaius.
Right for the Wrong Reasons: After surviving an attack that killed or injured almost every other officer of the First Aleran, and then unleashing a dramatic and extremely effective fire attack on the Canim forces, the members of the First Aleran begin to believe that Tavi has amazingly powerful furycrafting abilities. Coupled with his appearance, that leads to rumors that he is the son of Gaius Septimus. Though Tavi has no furies and accomplished what he did through blind luck and quick thinking, the rumors are true after all.
Rogue Drone: Played interestingly with the Vord, where it's one of their Hive Queens who starts developing her own personality (leading the other queens to try to kill her to prevent her from "infecting" the rest of their race). She stays a villain even while developing increasingly humanlike personality traits although her death scene is surprisingly moving.
Kitai would like to point out that she wanted a horse.
Maximus frequently utters the term "sacred right," which is a legionare's right to complain about his duties, no matter how frivolous his complaints are, for as long as he wants. Tavi co-opts the phrase at least once to refer to his right to be mysterious and secretive as part of his authority.
Once Ehren becomes a Cursor he carries numerous knives hidden about his person. Eventually people begin commenting on just how many he has tucked away from view.
School of Seduction: Lord Kalare is said to have used a training program incorporating this as well as other things for all his female agents. The Cursor's Academy also teaches some agents the ropes, but none of the main characters are so trained.
Senseless Sacrifice: When Amara and Bernard are spying on Vord activities, they see a Ceresian cohort sacrifice themselves in an attempt to hold off the Vord long enough for a group of civilians to reach the safety of the city walls. Amara is particularly sickened when, after killing the last of the soldiers, the Vord catch up to the holders in less than two minutes, rendering their brave sacrifice completely pointless.
Sequel Hook: In the epilogue, Alera mentions to Tavi that the Vord Queen in Canea will be ready to cross the sea in one-hundred and fifty years, and he better be ready.
Centurion Giraldi was stationed at Garrison since before the the first novel; he remains there for several years and serves as Bernards primary subordinate for numerous battles. He was offered a promotion to officer after Second Calderon, but turned it down; as he explained, he had spent so much of his life making fun of the officers of the Legion that he could not very well join them now.
Valiar Marcus, First Spear (Senior Centurion) of the First Aleran Legion. One of the few men living that was 'promoted' to the House of the Valiant (Valiar) for his service to Alera. It turns out he is Fidelias in disguise.
Schultz grows into this, becoming one of the senior Centurions of the First Aleran Legion
Shades of Conflict: The characters have to make some interesting ethical decisions over the course of the series. The Vord border on Blue and Orange Morality: the queen in Academ's Fury cannot comprehend the idea of Taking You with Me. She has an intellectual understanding, but is entirely incapable of wrapping her mind around the idea.
Shock and Awe: A very limited form. Windcrafters, working together, can capture a storm's electrical energy and keep it bouncing around between themselves until they find something they want to throw it at.
Shock Collar: In this case the collar does not only hurt the slave when they misbehave but also reward them with sensations of pleasure when they do well.
Shout-Out: Jim Butcher is a fanatic about martial arts of all types and ancient weapons. This series is full of shout outs along those lines, but one example is in "First Lord's Fury." Doroga, the chieftain of the Marat's Gargant Clan, rides to Ehren's rescue with his big freaking club and shouts "Good day!" as he pastes a Vord. How is this a shout out? There's a Danish weapon called a gotendag ("good day"), which is basically a giant wooden club with spikes. Supposedly, its wielders would shout "Gotendag!" when using it to take down knights on horseback.
Tavi, whose name is remarkably similar to Rikki Tikki Tavi, a mongoose that regularly overcomes greater foes with cunning and skill in the works of Rudyard Kipling.
Sickening Crunch: When Gaius Sextus kills three cohorts of Immortals, at the same time, the sound of all their necks breaking "was a rippling staccato of sound, somewhat like a saw going through wood."
Single-Stroke Battle: Ultimately, the Vord War is decided by a single lunge between Tavi and the Vord Queen.
Slave Collars: When it comes to the magical discipline collars... well, it is not pretty. When one is put on you, you are buried in indescribable pleasure, until the mere absence of that pleasure is like torture. From then on, you must obey the orders of the person who put the collar on you, or you will feel pain, while obeying causes pleasure. Worse, you will die if anyone other than the person who put the collar on you tries to take it off, even if that person is dead.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Furies of Calderon features a relatively minor struggle against invading "barbarians". By First Lord's Fury, the world is about to end. The Vord have this as a superpower- kill some, and all you have really accomplished is teaching the Queen new tricks to incorporate into the next generation.
Spanner in the Works: Throughout Furies of Calderon Fade repeatedly saves Isana's life by tripping over people and spilling hot soup right at the critical moment. All on purpose.
Spoiler Title: At some point, the reader will likely realize that the titles of the books refer to Tavi's rank and position during that book.
Spring Is Late: Tavi gets Alera to bring cold air from the arctic much farther south than normal for late winter/early spring. The extra week of winter allows Tavi to craft the snow into a surface that allows ships to sail on land, getting Tavi's army to the main battle earlier than expected.
Star-Crossed Lovers: After most of Furies of Calderon had established that Heddy had been raped by Bittan, it is revealed that Heddy had actually been having consensual sex with Aric, Bittan's brother. Aric's father, Kord, was an abusive, violent, lecherous bully, and Heddy's father, Warner, knew all too well what Kord was like, so both partners had to keep their relationship secret from their families.
Subverted Trope, by the events of the second book, Academ's Fury. The two have married and Aric now owns Kord's steadholt which has become prosperous under his watch. Double Subverted and extra-star-crossed as the Vord arrived and made Taken out of almost everyone there, leaving the children of the steadholt and Heddy the only survivors. Life brings the pair together to then split them apart with extreme prejudice.
Stealth Hi/Bye: Varg's Hunters do this repeatedly, including once emerging from a room that Tavi and company had been in (alone) only moments before. Eventually, Sha (their leader) pulls this on Valiar Marcus so often that Marcus stops being surprised at finding him in his tent.
Stealth Pun: See one of the Meaningful Names above. A character named Rook switches places with a royal figure for the sake of maneuverability for her and protection for the royal. In other words, Rook castles.
When Doroga and Kitai see examples of precise, choreographed Aleran activities (Military formations and rehearsed singing, respectively) they both comment that Alerans must be bored out of their minds rehearsing in advance, part and parcel of Aleran "madness." The people they are talking to (Bernard and Tavi) both then point out that they seem extremely pleased with the results.
When Isana and Araris have been kidnapped and bound with bags over their heads, Isana complains internally about the fact that it is a dirty bag. The banalty of this thought causes her to start laughing, and when Araris asks why she explains that she was marveling at her ability to take umbrage at minor details in such dire situations. Araris then remarks the, too, was wondering at the poor quality of their head coverings.
Succession Crisis: The overarching plot of the series, and the cause (However indirectly) of the entire story. Princeps Gaius Septimus, only son and heir of First Lord Gaius Sextus, was killed in the First Battle of Calderon by a Marat horde more than fifteen years before Furies of Calderon, leaving Alera without a clear inheritor for the position of First Lord. Multiple High Lords have spent the intervening years scheming and positioning themselves as Gaius's successor, to take his role once he dies, and some have decided to hasten his end in order to claim the throne sooner.
Super Reflexes / Super Speed: A primary combat ability for windcrafters. This also allows them to increase their own speed in a Flash-like manner. Later deconstructed in that if the windcrafter tries to take it Up to Eleven, their bodies can not keep up and/or they end up with torn muscles and broken bones.
In the last book, Varg knocks down Khral, an attacking ritualist, with what is strongly implied to be a copy of the Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
Time Abyss: Alera, Spirit Advisor to House Gaius, remembers billions of years back. This is because she is essentially the spirit of the continent itself.
Time Skip: A two year one between the first two books, and another (technically two and a half, but the first chapter or two starts about half a year before the rest of the book) two and three. There are about two years between three and four, and about six months between books four and five and another six months between five and six.
Tavi takes one in every time skip between books, but perhaps the most noticeable is Ehren, who goes from being a wimpy kid obsessed with his studies in the second book to a BadassAnti-Hero (of sorts) in the third to all that and a brilliant Chessmaster in the fifth.
Centurion Schultz, who starts as a fish in Cursor's Fury and is a Centurion by Captain's Fury, mirroring the First Aleran's transformation into one of the most elite armies on Alera.
Threatening Shark: In Cursor's Fury, one of several tricks Tavi pulls during the defense of the Elinarch is to dump blood into the river, attracting sharks that very effectively prevent any Canim from swimming across. In Captain's Fury, they have to swim through the Leviathans' Run, and Demos says that the sharks will be more of a problem than the leviathans — but since they have Isana with them, when one shark is stupid enough to bother them, she throws it a good fifteen feet out of the water to land on the deck of a pirate ship.
Tavi: If we survive this I'm taking it out on your hide.
Kitai: That could prove interesting.
In Cursor's Fury, Odiana actually implies that she wants to have a discipline collar put on her by Aldrick, but only Aldrick. This is played for tragedy, not humor; in the first book she reveals that she used to be a slave, used for sex, and her watercrafter abilities let her feel the emotions of her attackers, which is what broke her. Notably, Aldrick will not do it, possibly because, in the final book, we learn that he was one of the men who saved her from said slaver.
Training Accident: Amara's test at the beginning of the series was not really to see whether she could get information; it was to see if she would stay loyal and be able to escape after Fidelias's betrayal, which Gaius saw coming.
Trial by Combat: The Marat language has no word for "lying," the closest concept they have is to say that someone is "mistaken." When one Marat accuses another of being mistaken, they fight each other to the death in order to see who is correct.
Tunnel King: Earthcrafters can phase through earth and rock, allowing them to travel underground without leaving any sign of their passing.
Twin Threesome Fantasy: Antillar "Max" Maximus is introduced after spending the night in the company of Ladies Celine and Celeste. When he obliquely mentions this to Tavi and Ehren, they are shocked and jealous, especially when they realize he means both, not just one or the other.
The Unfair Sex: When Kitai learns of the complicated rituals of courtship and marriage among the Citizenry of Alera, and that the relationship she has with Tavi is (by those standards) that of a concubine or whore, she becomes infuriated with how Tavi has treated her. Tavi, however, points out that she was the one who initiated their relationship, and that by her own Marat customs he has behaved perfectly honorably. Alerapoints out that that really is not relevant at all, and when Tavi accuses her of supporting Kitai simply because she is a woman, Alera agrees.
Unhappy Medium: Watercrafters, the strongest of whom tend to be incapacitated by sufficiently powerful emotions unless they are also good at metalcrafting.
The Unsmile: The Vord Queen's smile is described as something without meaning or warmth, a movement of facial muscles that is a replication of something she has seen in others.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Tavi and others in the series are quite good at playing their cards close to their vests. Becomes even more true in the fifth book, when Tavi realizes that the Vord are able to read the minds of their foes... and thus sets up a plan that is unspoken even to those who are carrying it out, using a whole network of sealed orders.
The Uriah Gambit: The First Lord sends out the High Lord of Rhodes to be killed by the Vord at the vanguard of the Aleran forces for multiple reasons: A dead High Lord underscores the fact that the Vord truly are a threat to the whole realm, whereas previously many of the Lords and higher-ranking Citizens had dismissed them as a danger; killing Rhodes in particular gets him the loyalty and assistance of the High Lord of Aquitaine, who viewed Rhodes as a potential threat to his own plans to attain the throne; and killing Rhodes was a matter of personal vengeance, as he was one of the cabal of citizens who, decades earlier, had killed Gaius Septimus, the First Lord's son.
Villainous Rescue: Used frequently. In addition to Enemy Mine situations that are key to the plots of the first three books, The Only One Allowed to Defeat You is a fundemental part of Canim culture. Many times from the third book on, if certain situations were taking place entirely between humans or even if the roles of humans and Canim were reversed, one character would call another a friend or ally who needs their help. But since they are Canim or talking to Canim, though, one goes to great lengths to make it clear that they do not like helping the other, but neither another rival nor the Big Bad can be allowed to kill them, so they are working together just this once...
Villainous Valour: When Gaius Sextus unleashes a fearcrafting on Kalarus' Legions, the entire force is instantly routed. Many simply die of fright, and the rest are panicked to collapse and flight. However, one single legionare resists the mental assault and actually raises his sword in defiance. Amara feels pity for him and regrets that the reward for his courage, which was greater than the entire rest of his Legion, is to be killed by the First Lord.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Watercrafters are healers and, if they are sufficiently skilled, they can alter their features to make themselves look younger and, if they are really skilled, look like someone else. It is really uncomfortable, though, to imitate someone larger or smaller.
Weak, but Skilled: Amara is not exactly one of the strongest furycrafters in the series, but she has plenty of skill and a quick mind.
Tavi's nonexistent talents and Ehren's weak crafting forced this on them as a matter of survival. Until Tavi's powers finally awakened.
We Are as Mayflies: At least, compared to the Canim, who can live for centuries (unless they die in battle first). The other races' lifespans are never explicitly stated, but the Vord seem to have some sort of Genetic Memory at least.
We Are Not Mates: When Ambassador Varg refers to Tavi and Kitai as "mates," they each (at the same time) state that they are not mates.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: A female example in Phrygiar Navaris. Tavi guesses that she never knew her father (as evidenced by her using the city of her birth as a family name), and she became so focused as a cutter to build a name for herself so that he'd be impressed and acknowledge her.
Fidelias, who betrays the First Lord for what he views as the greater good, the long-term stability of Alera, by ensuring that there is a strong and younger First Lord in charge.
Aquitainus Attis, who sought the throne because he believed that Gaius Sextus could no longer control the High Lords and would ultimately lead to civil war.
In Cursor's Fury, the Libertus Vigilantes are mentioned. They're a group dedicated to the abolition of slavery, and often resort to murdering slavers to make their point.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Aldrick and the Windwolves are last seen getting ready to fight against a Vord army. They are not seen after the battle's end and are not mentioned in the epilogue, though some of the people they were fighting alongside do show up alive.
What the Hell, Hero?: The First Lord's decision to contain the threat of Kalarus unleashing Kalus by setting off the volcano and killing the majority of Kalare's population did not go over well with Amara.
When Bernard asks Amara why she did not kill Invidia when she had the chance, since she could easily have blamed it on the enemy or even natural causes, Amara explains that she refuses to live in Invidia's world, where actions are determined by power and practicality. Her world has laws and justice, and she would rather live there and suffer than win Invidia's way.
White Sheep: Aric is no saint, but his father, Kord, is a brutish thug and his brother, Bittan, is offensviely loud-mouthed and is being raised in the same vein. He eventually turns on his father and frees Isana from her captivity.
Wicked Stepmother: Max's stepmother, Lady Antillus, wants the best for her son, the heir of Antillus. It just so happens that her husband's bastard child has the support of the legions and good connections, and could probably take the position of heir if he wanted it. Which he does not. This has not stopped her from killing Max's mother and arranging "accidents" that have very nearly killed him several times. She also betrays the Alerans to the Canim.
Wild Card: Fidelias will sometimes be motivated to help those still loyal to the realm, even if it does not benefit his goals, and he eventually becomes loyal to Tavi, albeit in a Secret Identity, upon realising that Tavi would make a better ruler than Aquitaine, as well as being a better man.
Woman Scorned: It turns out Invidia arranged Septimus's death because he rejected her for a peasant- Isana.
Worf Barrage: The battle for Ceres in Princeps' Fury gets quite a few of these. The Alerans let the Vord come all the way into the city before Gaius opens it up with an enormous eagle-shaped thunderbolt that vaporizes every living Vord inside the city, followed by complimentary and almost-as-devastating attacks by the High Lords in their respective colors and symbols. Unfortunately the Vord Queen and her 100,000-strong army of Knights Aeris-inspired fliers turns it into a Negated Moment of Awesome.
World Half Full: By the end of First Lord's Fury, only a few thousand Canim refugees escaped the destruction of their homeland and a very small number of Aleran redoubts have survived out of an empire that once spanned a continent. But the new First Lord Gaius Octavian forms a new Alliance where slavery is banned, freemen are not treated like dirt, illegitimate children are embraced, humans live in peace with the Marat, Canim (Varg becomes the first nonhuman High Lord!) and Icemen, all of whom get their own states in Alera. Tavi even changed the way magic works, so furycrafting ability will be based on effort instead of blood. The Vord are still out there, but the new alliance will have over 150 years to prepare for them. Tavi comments that he will not go after the Canea Queen yet because she is so darn useful in getting everyone to work together.
You Are in Command Now: For Cursor's Fury, Tavi is inserted into First Aleran Legion as the Third Subtribune Logistica, a non-critical post that serves as an excuse to be present and spy on the legion, but he winds up in command as the Captain of the whole Legion when the Canim kills or incapacitates every other officer by using their sorcery to strike a bolt of lightning upon the Captain's tent during an officers' meeting while Tavi simply had yet to be present to it. There are other far more experienced men about that Tavi ends up commanding around, but nonetheless none of them are within the officers' ranks.
You Are Not Alone: Tavi to Kitai, when he figures out that he has been bound to her as her chala, her totem. Marat tribes are based on having the same totem, and since no other Marat has an Aleran as a chala Kitai has no tribe.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lady Aquitaine orders Fidelais to asassinate Antillus Crassus after he has helped the Senatorial Guard defeat the Canim, since he will no longer be necessary to help command the First Aleran.
You Just Told Me: Magnus had been suspicious of Valiar Marcus for a long time, and several times tried to catch him out. None of them work until, during a fight with some Vord, he yells, "Fidelias! Behind you!" and "Marcus" whirls around.
You Need to Get Laid: Max to Tavi during much of Cursor's Fury and at the beginning of First Lord's Fury.
Also Sir Miles to Gaius Sextus at the beginning of Academ's Fury.
And in Furies of Calderon, Bernard gets this from his own earth Fury, Brutus, when he and Amara are locked in a cell together, and the fury starts earthcrafting both of them into arousal before they realize it.
You Remind Me of X: When Phrygius Cyricus threatens to kill Varg if he harms any of the citizens of Phrygia, Varg asks Tavi in Canish if Cyricus reminds him of anybody. Tavi, understanding what Varg is referring to, comments that he was holding a knife to Varg's throat at the time.
Varg: It did give you a certain credibility.
You Shall Not Pass: The latter half of the Cursor's Fury and all of Princep's Fury, culminating in Gaius Sextus drawing almost all of the Vord army onto Alera Imperia and detonating a volcano underneath the city to wipe them out and buy the country critical months to fight the invaders.
This is how the Canim get fleets across the ocean without Watercrafters. They can't calm the leviathans, so they just charge a huge number of ships at full speed across the ocean, knowing that the leviathans will only destroy a few ships.