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A series of Fantasy novels, notable for its extensive use of Reincarnation and the resulting highly anachronic order, written by Katharine Kerr.Near the end of the first century AD, one Celtic tribe fled their homeland in Gaul to escape Roman rule. Traveling by magical means, they were transported to another universe, where they founded their own kingdom, which they called Deverry.The main narrative thread starts ten centuries later. Through the use of frequent and extended Flashbacks, the main story is intertwined with the stories of the character's previous incarnations, revealing how present circumstances stem from events occuring in a previous lifetime. This illustrates the concept of Wyrd, or karma. As the series progresses, the flashbacks become longer, with some of the later books being more than half flashback.Originally intended by the author to be a short story, the work took on a life of its own, growing longer and longer. The series finally reached its conclusion with the publication of the fifteenth book in 2009. The author likens the series to a play, dividing it into four "acts," each containing three or four books.The novels use a richly detailed system of magic, called dweomer, which is based upon real-world magical traditions, such as Kaballah, Rosicrucianism and the Golden Dawn Although dweomer is nominally a path to spiritual enlightenment, it produces quite spectacular displays, and can be powerful enough to steer the destiny of nations. Dweomer requires both an inherent gift as well as long study to use, and is a combination of Theurgy and Force Magic.Note: Spoilers follow. Act One: Deverry
The Dragon Revenant - published in the UK as Dragonspell: The Southern Sea
Centuries earlier a young prince has found out that the Dweomer is his true calling in life. In his haste to begin learning magic, he makes mistakes and is disowned by his father, receiving the name No One (written as Nevyn for the reader's convenience). A bit later, this causes the tragic death of his former lover, her brother, as well as another nobleman. Having learned about reincarnation, he swears never to rest until he had put his errors right, and the Powers That Be accept his oath, granting him immortality.Time and again, the principals in that ancient tragedy are reborn, and repeat the same destructive patterns - as seen in the many flashbacks. As the series begins, they are reborn once more, this time as Jill, daughter of the notorious mercenary Cullyn, and Rhodry, a young nobleman. The characters struggle to find their destiny in life, while the followers of the dark dweomer attempt to plunge the kingdom into war.The first two books were later reissued in a revised edition. Changes to Daggerspell are minimal, but Darkspell contains a number of significant changes, mostly to the character of Sarcyn, who was brought more in line with how Kerr originally envisioned him before her editor overruled her. As a result, the old version is considered to be non-canon. Act Two: The Westlands
A Time of Exile
A Time of Omens
Days of Blood and Fire published in the UK as A Time of War
Days of Air and Darkness published in the UK as A Time of Justice
Several decades later Nevyn is dead, Jill is a powerful dweomer master, and Rhodry has a problem; he isn't visibly aging. As a half-elf, he can expect to live for another century, but he has no right to the noble title he holds. Revealing this would mean a disastrous war, so instead Rhodry fakes his own death and rides off into the sunset, straight into another threat arising from his previous lives.This time, the main threat comes from the Guardians. Evandar, leader of the Bright Court, has been manipulating the affairs of men, elves, and dwarves for millennia, in pursuit of his grand schemes. Unfortunately, his wife has plans of her own. Posing as a Goddess, she raises an army to conquer Deverry which, unknown to her, would also provide karmic retribution for the acts of the Deverrians' ancestors, when Evandar brought them out of Gaul. Act Three: The Dragon Mage
The Red Wyvern
The Black Raven
The Fire Dragon
The fake goddess who inspired them is dead, but the invading hordes remain. Now, the former priestess of the hordes must resettle into her old life, while her deeds in a past life begin to catch up with her. In the end, a despairing Rhodry agrees to be transformed into a dragon. Act Four: The Silver Wyrm
The Gold Falcon
The Spirit Stone
The Shadow Isle
The Silver Mage
A few decades later, Jill and Nevyn have both reincarnated, and taken up the problems left from their previous lives, including Rhodry, whose transformation was never meant to be.(NB: The Black Raven was originally intended to contain the material in The Fire Dragon as well; likewise The Silver Wyrm was split into The Spirit Stone and The Shadow Isle.)These books provide examples of:
All Beer Is Ale: At least some of the beer brewed in Deverry is small beer. After the siege of Cengarn, Rhodry remarks that once the beer runs out, they'll be forced to drink vinegar-sanitized water.
Anachronic Order - Flashbacks to previous incarnations and to the youth of long lived characters. Doubly so in that later there is one flashback to what used to be the "current" timeline. The chronologically earliest flashback is in the very last book.
Chekhov's Armoury - As noted in Continuity Lockout below, here are tons of references that only make sense later. One example: Rhodry's silver dagger is modified by Otho in book 2, which makes it reappear to him in book 5, it seemingly disappears in book 11, and turns out to be the cause of his unhealing wound in book 15.
Continuity Lockout - The author has written the books to be accessible for the first-time reader, but you need to read them a couple more times to understand how extensively each book is linked to the others. Sometimes many books in advance.
Cursed with Awesome - Nevyn's endless life makes it possible for him to become a peerless master of magic, but after a few cycles of seeing others reincarnate, he begins to wonder whether he'll ever find the relief of death. Similarly, Rhodry's transformation into a dragon makes him practically invulnerable, but drives him mad.
Encyclopedia Exposita - Quotes from genuine 9th century Welsh poetry and the fictional The Secret Book of Cadwallon the Druid
Expy - Only for the 835-843 timeline, but: Nevyn is Merlin, Maryn is King Arthur, Maddyn is Lancelot, Merodda is Morgan le Fay and many others. The whole plot arc plays out as a retelling of the King Arthur legend.
Fictional Document - The Secret Book of Cadwallon the Druid and the Pseudo-Iamblicus Scroll are the most prominent.
Heir Club for Men - The death of a king who had no sons and three daughters - each of whom had married a powerful noble and given him a son - resulted in the century long Succession Crisis referred to in the series as the Time of Troubles. Trouble brews in Eldidd in the first arc when Gwerbret Rhys turns out to be sterile and unable to produce an heir.
Important Haircut - Jill, after leaving her home village with her father; Lilli (twice), first when running away from her mother, and later when mourning for Branoic.
Karma - Bad actions will have consequences in your next life, if not earlier. The elven priests also tried to invoke it to justify their excesses.
Legacy Character - Nevyn's common explanation for having the same name and skills as an old advisor or sorcerer mentioned in historical accounts.
Lie to the Beholder - The illusion Evandar placed on Dalla. Worked on all humans but not elves.
Literary Agent Hypothesis - The narrator of the books is an 18th century Deverrian woman, though this is only made explicit at the end of the final book.
Loads and Loads of Characters - There are four major time periods and seven minor ones, and over twenty characters who reincarnate in more than one of them. And then there are those characters who are only in one time period.
Meaningful Name - Nevyn and Yraen, though you need to check the spelling guide.
Meaningful Rename: Galrion to Nevyn. Also, Dun Hiraedd was not the original name of that city, but the soldiers who were transferred there dubbed it Fort Homesick, and the name stuck.
Mêlée à Trois - Though not in the actual battles, the civil war is this on the national scale.
Must Make Amends - Nevyn spends several hundred years trying to get the chance to teach magic to various incarnations of his lover Brangwen after he had caused her death.
"Brangwen, my love, forgive me! If we ever meet again, I swear I'll put this right. I swear to you—I'll never rest until I set this right."
No Man of Woman Born - The most obvious one is that Lord Corbyn "can never be slain in battle except by sword, but he'll never be slain by any man's hand." A frequently used one is any reference to no one. Since that is the literal translation of Nevyn's name...
Obfuscating Stupidity - Salamander, who prattles endlessly and travels as a common gerthddyn (roaming bard) to conceal the fact that he's a sorcerer.
Jill: Do you have to babble on about everything?
Salamander: Well, actually, I do, because it relieves my feelings and makes me sound like a fool, which is exactly what I want our enemies to think me.
Poor Communication Kills - The series would be a lot shorter and quite different if the Dweomer-masters of different races had better contacts between each other. This is mostly justified, though, in that this is only obvious to a (modern) reader who starts thinking about it.
Retcon - Daggerspell and Darkspell were later released in a revised edition. Changes to the former are minimal, but there are considerable changes to the latter, especially the character of Sarcyn, who was rewritten to be more in line with how Kerr originally envisioned him.
Sacred Hospitality - Not as strong as in some other places, but a definite element of the Deverrian culture.
Silly Reason for War - The first war shown in the series is fought over pig food. Of course, the real reason was that the two noble families in question had hated each other for generations, the swine rights issue was just the excuse (They'd run out of good ones over the course of three generations of on and off feuding).
You Killed My Brother - Averted. Rhodry did kill Meer's brother, and they both know it, but Meer acknowledges that things like that happen when two soldiers on opposite sides of a war meet on a battlefield and doesn't hold a grudge.
Magic A Is Magic A - Consistent to the degree that there's noticable repetition in different books when the characters build Bodies of Light or create Seals. The limitations of magic are also clearly shown, affect the story and are commented upon by the dweomerworkers.
Talking in Your Dreams - Used a lot; Dallandra is the most prominent but the Guardians, Nevyn, Nananna and Niffa are also proficient. Considering that Rhodry doesn't have any training in magic, he manages pretty well in this too.