The Marla Mason
series by T.A. Pratt is an Urban Fantasy
set around the Marla Mason character
, the ruling sorceress of Felport, as she struggles to save her home from insane reweavers
, bloodthirsty Aztec gods and Death itself
The series has eight books so far, with a possible ninth in the future sometime:
- Blood Engines: The first book, which, paradoxically, was set not in Felport but in San Francisco. It features frogs. Lots of frogs.
- Poison Sleep
- Dead Reign
- Spell Games
- Bone Shop: The prequel, self-published after Pratt's publisher dropped him. It details Marla's Rags to Riches story as she ascends through the ranks of Felport's magical elite.
- Broken Mirrors: Written in response to the massive Cliff Hanger of the fourth book.
- Grim Tides: Continues from the ending of Broken Mirrors.
- Bride of Death
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Felport's dagger of office is this. Justified in that it's actually the sword of the angel of death.
- Afterlife Express: Mentioned in the first novel. becomes a major plot point in Dead Reign.
- All Theories Are True: Played with.
- The Archmage: Sanford Cole.
- Artifact of Doom: The cloak. It's a magical artifact that can heal its user or make them nearly unstoppable in combat... but it comes with a hefty price. It has a mind of its own, is quite malicious, and will try to overwhelm its wielder's mind. In this world, it fails—but in other timelines, it has succeeded.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Bradley Bowman's eventual fate.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Marla doesn't know the meaning of the word 'quit', even when she really should be quitting.
- Badass Cloak Well...
- Battle Butler: Pelham.
- Bi the Way: Neither Marla nor Rondeau care too much about the gender of their partners.
- Blood Knight: Marla is a little too fond of kicking ass.
- Body Snatcher: Rondeau.
- Body Surf: Rondeau's ace in the hole. If the body he currently inhabits dies, he can just acquire a new one. Goes horribly wrong at the end of Spell Games.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: One of the recurring themes is that sorcerers shouldn't rely exclusively on magic but learn mundane skills as well.
- Brutal Honesty: Marla is really bad at diplomacy.
- Came Back Strong: What happens to Marla at the end of Grim Tides.
- Career Versus Man: In Marla's case, the answer will invariably be her career. Double subverted and Played for Drama in Poison Sleep.
- Charm Person: Joshua Kindler in Poison Sleep. For a nonhuman example, there's the supernaturally adorable critter in Pale Dog which turns out to be a hellhound.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- The snake god's power to grow exactly as big as he needs to be to defeat his opponent.
- B's ability to summon an Afterlife Express.
- Rondeau's body-jumping.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Elsie Jarrow, first mentioned in book one, is one of the main antagonists in book seven.
- Combat Pragmatist
- Crazy-Prepared: Marla claims to have a contingency plan for a black hole coming to Felport.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Reversing the cloak from white to purple.
- The Determinator: Marla, full stop.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: An Aztec toad goddess in book one, the incarnation of death in book three.
- Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Marla ends up getting married to the god of death.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?
"If you do have any noteworthy nocturnal transmissions, let me know, all right?"
- Domain Holder: Powerful sorcerers can create pocket universes to retreat from the world or to practice the more inconspiciuous forms of magic. Notable examples include Artie Mann's Fantasy Kitchen Sink London, Ernesto's junkyard, and Genevieve Kelley's Dream Land.
- Don't Fear The Reaper: Death after his (relative) Heel-Face Turn.
- Eldritch Abomination: The cloak. Death is scared of it.
- Enemies with Death: Initially.
- Energy Beings: Rondeau is one kind, the Thrones are another.
- Entropy and Chaos Magic: The chaos witch Nicolette and the far more powerful Elsie Jarrow.
- Evil Counterpart: The Mason to Marla, Crapsey to Rondeau.
- God Job: Marla becoming the goddess of death is set in motion in Dead Reign and fully realized in Grim Tides.
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Flying is accomplished by insulting the forces of gravity.
- Healing Factor: The white side of the cloak can heal anything.
- Even being set on fire.
- Even headshots.
- The Hedonist: Rondeau.
"What's the point of staying alive if you don't live a little?"
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Teleportation is dangerous because something might just eat you on the way through.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Rondeau after the events of Spell Games
- Immortality Immorality: Not all methods of achieving immortality are immoral in themselves, but they're all bad ideas in the long run. Immortal sorcerers always eventually go crazy, and most do so in catastrophically destructive ways.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Rondeau loves these.
- Kill All Humans: The cloak/the Mason. Kill all dolphins.
- Kill the Aztec toad goddess.
- Kung-Fu Wizard
- Losing Your Head: Happens to Nicolette in Bride of Death.
- Made of Magic: Artifacts are this.
- Married to the Job: Marla. Her relationship with Felport is described in ways that make it appear like a romantic relationship more than once.
- Meet Cute: Subverted completely with Marla and Rondeau.
T.A. Pratt: "There has seldom been a less cute "meet cute" in the history of buddy-cop stories."
- Not Quite Human: Rondeau, who is actually an energy being possessing a human body.
- Odd Couple: See They Fight Crime below.
- Pragmatic Hero
- Puppeteer Parasite: Rondeau. The cloak.
- Rape Leads To Insanity: Happens to a Reality Warper in Poison Sleep, with disastrous consequences.
- The Red Mage: If you can't be very good at one thing, learn to be decent at a lot of things. Marla's style of magic has been referred to as brute-force-o-mancy in-universe.
- Sole Survivor: When Marla starts studying with Artie Mann in the prequel Bone Shop, she learns that Ernesto was the only survivor of Artie's last batch of apprentices. Marla herself is the sole survivor of this group.
- Strictly Professional Relationship: Marla and Rondeau, without the customary sexual tension.
- Supernatural Is Purple: The inner lining of Marla's battle cloak is purple. When it switches places with the white outside, things get serious.
- They Fight Crime:
Rondeau: "We’re doing the detective thing now? He’s a smooth-talking con man with a past, she’s a no-nonsense dame in a world she never made? They fight crime?"
- Un Equal Rites: There are countless ways to be a sorcerer and all of them are more or less right.
- Urban Fantasy
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Chaos magic is not good for the wielder's mind. Nor is immortality. Or using the cloak...
- Wizards Live Longer: Most sorcerers use magic to extend their lives in some way.
- Woman in White: Marla is this as long as she's wearing her cloak with the white side out.
- Workaholic: Marla's job of ruling and protecting Felport takes up almost all her time, and she has few interests outside of that job.
- Wham Episode: Broken Mirrors. The true nature of the cloak, Marla and Rondeau’s evil twins, the deaths of half the recurring characters, and of course Marla’s exile.