Literature: Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising is a fantasy novel by Ryk E. Spoor, published in 2012. The sequel Phoenix in Shadow, has been completed and planned to be published in May 2015.

It is set in Zarathan, a world of heroes and wizards and demons, adventures and quests and magic. It is mentioned that Zarathan was once mystically connected to another world, though the connection was sealed off long ago. The lost sister-world was called Zahralandar, or by some people "Earth". (It is thus a companion series to the Jason Wood stories, which are set on Earth and have backstory dating back to when it was connected to Zarathan.)

The novel concerns three heroes in particular.

Kyri Vantage, daughter of a family who have long protected the border of Southern Zarathan, seeks justice for her parents, slain by assailants whose identities and motives remain unknown. Tobimar Silverun, prince of Skysand, seeks the truth of his people's origins, a search which many a Silverun has set out on and from which none has ever returned. Poplock Duckweed, a roaming adventurer from a nation whose members rarely stir far from their own doors,note  seeks knowledge, of the world in general and also specifically of a group of demon-worshippers whose activities prompted the beginning of his career.

As the novel progresses, they find that their individual quests are connected to each other and to a massive plot being set in motion by the demon king Kerlamion Blackstar.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Kyri Vantage. Carries a greatsword that she uses to great effect, climbs mountains, and Guild Adventurer set on a vehement vector of vengeance (and justice).
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Tobimar do this with both Xavier and Kyri.
  • Bag of Holding: Every well-equipped adventurer has a "neverfull pack". It's not actually true that they can never be filled up, but they do let you carry a lot more equipment around.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Poplock is an intelligent toad. He is usually small for one such, and often pretends to be a normal dumb toad. At times, he also pretends to be Tobimar's pet toad.
  • Big Bad: Kerlamion Blackstar, the King of All Hells.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: A common category of roaming monster in uncivilized areas, including the dreaded doomlock spiders, and a kind of giant carnivorous caterpillar thing.
  • Civilized Animal: The Intelligent Toads, who can talk, live in houses, and use tools, but don't wear clothes and in many respects are just toads.
  • Cool Sword:
    • Any sword made by the Spiritsmith; each has a name and a special power.
    • Poplock's sword Steelthorn is quite small (a larger person might even consider it a dagger), but it's enchanted to deal damage as if it were a much larger weapon.
  • Deuteragonist: Tobimar, to Kyri's protagonist. But Poplock has a tendency to steal the show, whenever he gets half a chance.
  • Dual Wielding: Tobimar fights with two swords. When he meets another character that also fight with two swords and in the same style, they immediately explore their respective training backgrounds.
  • Eagle-Eye Detection: Used by Kyri to find the first clues on who killed her parents. However, due to inexperience she and her brother draw the wrong conclusions first.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: Kyri picks up a crate (containing stonesculpt hangings) weighing between 400 and 450 pounds by herself. Another had been giving two grown men and strong warriors trouble earlier.
  • The Exile: Tobimar. Under certain circumstances, people in Tobimar's family have to leave their country of birth to quest for their ancestral lands and legacy. They must leave at once, and never return until they succeed.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: Khoros's face is always hidden by the shadow of his hat, no matter what the lighting conditions or the angle you look at him from.
  • The Faceless:
    • Terian, Tobimar's patron god, is always depicted with his face concealed by a blaze of light.
    • Khoros's face is always hidden by the shadow of his hat, no matter what the lighting conditions or the angle you look at him from.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Tor, including tricks like turning invisible and killing demons with your bare hands. And that's only halfway through the art.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Zarathan has hundreds of gods, large and small; most people only follow one god or group of gods, though it's generally accepted that they all exist. Kyri follows Myrionar, God of Justice and Vengeance; Tobimar follows Terian, the Light in the Darkness; Poplock follows Blackwart the Great. One way gods show their power is by providing theurgical Functional Magic to their priests; Healing Hands and Living Lie Detector abilities are common.
  • Fantasy World Map: Vaguely L-shaped, with lots of mountains. Unlike many other fantasy world maps, it's created so that the heroes have no chance of visiting every place on it.
  • Five Races: Zarathan has many intelligent races, but five are particularly prominent and can be matched to the five common types. Odin's Children and the Artan resemble dwarves and elves, respectively, closely enough that the narration sometimes uses those terms for them (though both also diverge from the stereotypes in various ways); humans fit their usual Jack-of-All-Trades role; Saurans fill the role of the ancient advanced civilization; and the Golden-Eyed, Poplock's people, are the seemingly insignificant race with hidden strengths.
  • Forged by the Gods: The weapons wielded by the Justiciars were forged by the Ultimate Blacksmith called the Spiritsmith (who is not technically a god himself but is such a great smith that no weapon forged by an actual god could be an improvement).
  • Forging Scene: When the Spiritsmith sets out to create armour and a sword for Kyri, though a lot of it is delivered as an explanation for why he intends to accomplish, why he does things, and why she has to help.
  • Functional Magic: All over the place, in many varieties.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Kyri breaks down into hysterical laughter after her encounter with Myrionar, and her aunt brings her out of it with a slap.
  • God Emperor: God-Emperor Idinus, hundreds of thousands of years old and the most powerful wizard ever to live.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The Black Star has taken steps to prevent the gods actively interfering in his scheming, so it's up to the mortals to figure out what's going on and put a stop to it. Most of the gods, anyway; he didn't bother with some of the smaller gods, considering them no threat — including Poplock's patron god Blackwart, which subsequent events suggest may have been a mistake. After Kyri's Rage Against The Heavens moment, her patron god Myrionar starts actively assisting her as much as It is able to.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Pretty much how Khoros operates. He misdirects and uses everyone mercilessly. Though he usually is courteous.
  • Healing Hands: Healing magic is a common sign of a god's favour.
  • Invisibility: Xavier Ross has the mysterious ability to become invisible at will. It's even more mysterious when it becomes apparent that he simultaneously becomes intangible as well.
  • Legacy Character: The Justiciars carry weapons and armors that has been handed down for several thousand years. Each armor has a name associated with it — Bolthawk, Condor, Mist Owl, Shrike, Silver Eagle, Skyharrier, Thornfalcon — and a newly-chosen Justiciar is given the name that goes with the armor. After the Justiciars are corrupted, Kyri becomes the first new Justiciar in centuries, the Phoenix of the title, with new weapons and armor forged for her by the Spiritsmith.
  • Little Hero, Big War: The efforts of Kyri, Tobimar, and Poplock are an important part of the fight against the Big Bad, but only a part.
  • Lizard Folk:
    • The mazakh are the bad-guy type; they're demon-worshippers and commonly appear as mooks. The point is made, however, that their unpleasantness is due to culture and upbringing, not inherent nature, and that non-evil members of the species can and do exist (though they tend to call themselves something other than mazakh).
    • The Saurans are a larger and more impressive type of lizard folk (the appendix uses the phrase "miniature Godzilla"), reputedly descended from dragons, who fill the setting's ancient and advanced civilization role.
  • Locked into Strangeness: When Kyri makes her pact with Myrionar, she is marked with Multicolored Hair in the god's colors.
  • Magical Seventh Son: Tobimar is "Seventh of Seven", the seventh child of a seventh child.
  • Meaningful Rename: Poplock comes from a culture where a person is given one name when they are born, and chooses a second name that has some personal significance when they become an adult. His name-choosing occurs early in the novel.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: At one point Kyri visits a village that's under attack from giant centipede creatures; it turns out that they're only trying to retrieve their eggs, which one of the villagers gathered up thinking they were interesting rocks. Fortunately for all concerned, Kyri works it out in time to settle the matter before there's serious bloodshed.
  • Mook Horror Show: The scene in which Tobimar and Poplock first meet, as Tobimar is rescued from attacking mazakh by a mysterious force that seems to attack out of nowhere and then disappear. The mazakh who aren't killed outright flee in terror, and even Tobimar is distinctly unsettled.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: The prologue is the attack on Kyri's parents, with one of the attackers as the point-of-view character, without revealing their identity. Several interludes throughout the novel feature the leader of the attackers, again without revealing his identity; each interlude reveals more about him, but the audience doesn't learn who he is until Kyri does.
  • Mysterious Backer: Khoros, the wizard in the funny hat who shows up from time to time to give events a nudge. He has no scruples about putting people into danger with incomplete information, and on at least one occasion seems to have deliberately steered someone into getting seriously injured; the presumption is that it all works out for the best in the long run, but he attracts a certain amount of distrust and, from at least one character, intense and personal dislike.
  • Named Weapons: Each of the Justiciars has a trademark weapon with its own name.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Tobimar and Poplock. Though Poplock will probably claim that Tobimar is his sidekick.
  • Noodle Incident: The incident that led to Victoria Vantage's old adventuring colleague gaining the nickname "Bridgebreaker". In the matter of Auntie Victoria's own nickname, we not only don't get the story behind it, we don't even get the nickname itself (beyond "V—") because she cuts off anybody who starts to say it when her niece is in earshot.
  • The Paladin: Several of the gods have dedicated holy warriors; the Justiciars, dedicated to Myrionar, God of Justice and Vengeance, play a significant role in this novel. Rion Vantage, Kyri's brother, joins their ranks at the beginning, and Kyri herself becomes a true Justiciar after his death.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Saurans, who greet each other formally with the armed bow, showing all their weapons openly. It is a major faux pas to be formally introduced without a weapon.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: After Kyri learns the truth about her parents' death, she spends several minutes ranting at the sky, accusing her god of abandoning Its faithful and demanding an explanation. And then It answers her.
  • Shoulder Teammate: Poplock usually rides on Tobimar's shoulders (he switches shoulder regularly) once they team up.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Kyri is captured by an enemy this way. Played with; she's cautious enough to only pretend to drink from the glass, but it turns out the knock-out stuff isn't the drink, it's magically incorporated into the glass itself.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Poplock Duckweed.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Used frequently. Poplock manages to charge batteries through magical means, and then there is the magical forensic examination after the Five broke out of an ultra-secure prison.
  • Summoning Ritual: Popluck's debut as an adventurer involved foiling a massive attempt to summon a powerful demon, featuring ritual movement, chants, symbols carved into the floor, and Human Sacrifice.note 
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The armor (and sword) that Kyri obtains from the Spiritsmith so that she can take on her parents' murderers.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: When Tobimar sets out on his quest, his mother gives him a (magical) pre-recorded message from his mentor, Khoros, who had foreseen that he would be chosen for the task, and furthermore turns out to have successfully predicted and incorporated responses to Tobimar's reactions while viewing the message.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Kyri does the inverted version on several occasions — "Lady Vantage is my aunt. Just Kyri will do."
  • Tomato Surprise: The first chapter with Poplock as a point-of-view character goes out of its way to avoid mentioning, until the final sentence, that he isn't human.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Poplock, soon after he is introduced. Went from being a frightened small youngster to a seasoned fighter capable of taking on a room full of mazakh in just a few chapters.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: The Spiritsmith, who makes weapons and armor so great that even the gods themselves commission work from him. Like many Ultimate Blacksmiths, he lives on a remote and hard-to-climb mountain.
  • The Usurper: What has happened in Evanwyl.
  • Utility Magic: Magic is used for many things that we use technology for: air conditioning, burglar alarms, surveillance, locks, printing...
  • Villainous Crush: Aran aka Condor for Kyri.