Literature: Prophet's House
"In the first days was God's Daughter sent among men, and on her shoulders was the Mantle of Dominion laid and to her words did the pious hearken..."
— The Conqueror's Gospel
An epic dark fantasy series by Micah E.F. Martin, Prophet's House
tells the story of the incestuous, prophetic Rassianus family in the aftermath of their fall from grace and defeat at the hands of the militaristic House Kvalus and (in a strange semi-subversion of Rage Against the Heavens
) the Rassianus's one-time slaves, the angels of Eden. Fast-forward 30 years from the catastrophic end of the Rassianus reign. The prophets are scattered and, for the most part, killed off by agents of Eden and House Kvalus, which now rules the continent of Artaxas with an iron fist. The survivors of the massacre include the aging Sepirahkt, locked in a sewer prison since the end of the War of Usurpation, father-daughter team Marius and Drusilla and the debauched and irresponsible Alisayne. Well, the known survivors, anyway.
The story of Prophet's House
is told from a myriad of viewpoints ranging from the caustic, embittered legionary Ira Rostov and manipulative princess Sofia Kvalus to the guilt-ridden Chancellor Saul Lyr; his wife, Katrina, and their Bookworm
daughter, Ysabelle. Other characters include Alisayne Rassianus, Anora Sen'Tan and her brother Irion, Sieur Siegfried Ramm, Sieur Magnus Rothenslay and Sieur Jonathan Blackwall.
An extensive secondary cast and the sheer unadulterated misery of Artaxi politics and theology form a backdrop for the sprawling, labyrinthine fortunes of the Rassianus family, their supporters and their enemies.
When the series begins, the Empire is flagging under the reign of Stephen Kvalus. A bloody war with the neighboring island of Umzad has divided the continent against itself after Stephen married an Umzadi princess to quell the fighting. Now Rassianus loyalist Lord John Blackwall leads a coalition of Houses known as the Covenant against Stephen's crumbling Empire. The angels wield enormous power over the peasantry via their Corrupt Church
, but have been absent Artaxas since the end of the war. Princess Sofia has vanished en route to one of the northern cities and the Empire is in an uproar with the exiled and psychotic Prince Anaias currently the only living heir to the throne. Cue drum roll, curtain on three.
The series lives and breathes Incest Is Relative
and Big Screwed-Up Family
and is rife with the machinations of various CorruptChurches
. The Quartet is concerned largely with broad issues of religion, political treachery and theocratic imperialism vs. patrician democracy. (Note: Both are portrayed as equally horrible.)
The Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
lacks an entry cynical enough to express just how much of a Crapsack World
the continent of Artaxas is.
Has a Character Sheet
The Prophet's House Quartet consists of:
- Prophet's Altar
- Prophet's Tomb
- Prophet's Mantle
- Prophet's Throne
This series provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: John to Jonathan. Alecad to Anora, Inari and Irion. Ira's (secretly) adoptive mother, Anja Rostov. God the Leviathan to his daughters Eleazora and Lysandra, with nasty consequences for everyone else.
- Aerith and Bob: Justified for the different nationalities of the characters, but the Artaxi themselves have a mixture of Roman Imperial and more biblical names. So, everything from Quintus to Paul.
- A God Am I: Half the Rassianuses. It is implied that Lysandra Propheta was imprisoned by her son for losing her marbles in this particular way.
- Airborne Mooks: The angelii.
- Alchemy Is Magic
- Alien Invasion: Implied with the original two angeli, Lysandra and Eleazora.
- Ancient Keeper: The Ginchori, for the Rassianus monasteries.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Sepirahkt. "He came out of their mother with Areina's cord wrapped 'round his neck, and that's the way he wanted it I've no doubt."
- The Antichrist: Lysander/Ira.
- Anti-Hero: Most of the characters.
- Anti-Villain: Again, yes. Marius particularly.
- Apocalypse How: Lysandra plans to execute a Class 6 with an eye toward rebuilding in her own image.
- The Archmage: Aelius is a rare evil version of this trope.
- Arc Words: A cup will be offered, and you shall drink of it. Also, come, and eat of your father's flesh.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Played straight and subverted.
- The Atoner: Sieur Magnus.
- The Antichrist: Asimir, then his twin children, briefly Lysandra, finally Ira/Lysander.
- Backstory: Lysandra Propheta's ministry, the Conquest of Artaxas by her son Lysander, the War of Usurpation and the later Whitecrown War all fall under this category. Most characters have a bit of their own to boot.
- Ax-Crazy: Gabriel. Vitalia. Ira. Lysandra Propheta.
- Badass Family: The Blackwalls and the Rassianuses. The Rosecrowns qualify too, but in a monstrous sort of way.
- Badass Grandpa: Sepirahkt Rassianus. Also Asimir Rassianus. Lord John in spades.
- Badass Preacher: Marius. Later Ira/Lysander.
- Bad Boss: Anaias.
- Bechdel Test: Scores well.
- Berserk Button: Don't call Magnus a failure.
- Big Bad: Eleazora, Queen-Imperial of Eden.
- Big Brother Mentor: Titus to Jonathan, in the Backstory.
- Bigger Bad: Lysandra.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Black and Gray Morality: And how.
- Black Eyes of Evil: The Rassianuses get these when exercising their prophetic gifts.
- Blood Knight: Sieur Arman. Jonathan. Lysandra Propheta.
- Blood Magic
- Bolivian Army Ending
- Brother-Sister Incest: Ira/Lysander and Alisayne. Implied with Irion and Anora. A particularly nasty example occurs with Anaias's rape of Sofia, though it later turned out they were "only" cousins.
- The Brute: Sieur Arman Rosecrown.
- The Caligula: Anora and Anaias. Jonathan has aspects of this as well.
- Cataclysm Climax
- Catch Phrase: Sieur Magnus's all my failures, and Sieur Siegfried with nothing changes.
- Character Filibuster: Eleazora spends nearly two pages explaining her history and reasoning to Saul. When he finally questions her, she loses it entirely.
- Church Militant: The Angelist and Rassianus churches are both armed, violent and explicitly militaristic.
- Combat Pragmatist: Ira, Anora and Jonathan.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Lord Mark Rycroft and the restored Inquisition.
- Cool Mask: The angelic drones wear them to conceal their hideous appearance.
- Corrupt Church: The Angelist Church is meant to keep the people of Artaxas complacent and stupefied while the angels harvest and eat them. The church's priests are chosen specifically for corruption and depravity so they'll be easier to blackmail and control.
- Daddy's Girl: Alisayne to Sepirahkt, her grandfather.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Ira, Sofia, Anora, Jonathan, Alisayne to a lesser degree.
- Dark Messiah: Ira/Lysander, Asimir, Marius and, in the backstory, Lysander the Conqueror and Lysandra Propheta.
- Deal with the Devil: House Kvalus made a pact with the angels of Eden in order to win their war against House Rassianus. Freed from slavery, Eden has made the Kvaluses virtual puppets and dictate all Imperial policy while snatching citizens off the streets for transfer to meat farms and dragging off any dissidents to torture at the hands of their [[Inquisition. Note that House Rassianus rose to power by enslaving Eleazora and her hive.
- Eldritch Abomination: Eleazora and her sister, Lysandra.
- Emotion Bomb
- Emotion Eater
- Emperor Scientist: Eleazora.
- Encyclopedia Exposita: The Conqueror's Gospel and the rest of the Prophets' Texts.
- Heel-Face Turn: Marius in the fourth book.
- Ethnic Magician: The morticians (read: necromancers) Lharo and Lharys are citizens of the Egypt/Ottoman Turkey hybrid
- Everything's Better with Princesses: So, so subverted with Sofia, Anora and Alisayne.
- Evil Minions: Eden's children, all-devouring swarms of mindless angel drones, form the bulk of the angelic population and answer unquestioningly to Eleazora.
- Evil Uncle: Marius Rassianus to Ira/Lysander and Alisayne, and Veldred Kvalus to Sofia.
- Failure Knight: Sieur Magnus Rothenslay and Jonathan Blackwall.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: Extremely graphic. Lysander mauling civilians to devour their souls in the third book is an especially good example.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Umzad is Japan/warlord-era China. Artaxas is the Byzantine Empire/Imperial Rome. Al-Dosht is the Ottoman Empire with an Egyptian death cult in power.
- Feuding Families: The Blackwalls and the Sen'Tans. The Rassianuses and the Kvaluses(who went to war over a Rassianus Prince killing Lord Kvalus's second son at a wedding).
- Functional Magic: The Three Sorcerous Eyes, Liminal, Numenal and Ontic.
- Gambit Roulette: Stephen's and Lord John's plot to install Sofia as Queen of Artaxas and restore House Rassianus to power...by waging a war to distract from Sofia's true nature and propping up Alisayne as a false Rassianus heir. The idea being that once the (low casualty) war between John and Stephen is done and the armies of both sides are in one place they can crown Sofia, form an alliance and crush the Throne. Unfortunately Sofia goes missing and John takes things into his own hands, determined to use Alisayne instead of Sofia and to simply conquer Stephen's Empire. Not to mention Lord Kazimir's even more blatant and insane gambit to train Lysander badly and instill poor impulse control in him so that the End Times would come and everything would be returned to nothing, all so Kazimir would cease to exist rather than die and go to hell.
- Gainax Ending: And how.
- Give Him a Normal Life: Offscreen with Lysandra Minora surrendering Ira/Lysander to an abusive, fanatically religious fisherman. Alisayne lucked out and got sent off into hiding with the Blackwalls. Then again, she wasn't in any danger of becoming The Antichrist.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Sofia to some degree, but Anora defines the trope much better. Inari, too.
- Grim Up North: Played straight with the Northern Provinces.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Alisayne isn't a prostitute, but she is a slut and a drunk with a profoundly maternal and loving nature.
- I Have No Son: John to Jonathan, many times.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The angels, and several of the Rassianuses.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum
- Incest Is Relative
- In Medias Res
- In the Blood: The Rassianus "gifts" of prophecy, psychokinesis, faith healing and mind-bending charisma are passed on this way.
- Lady Drunk
- Large Ham: Lord Graham Belfast.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Dozens of Noble Houses, each of which has at least two or three named members. At least fifteen or sixteen Point of View characters to boot.
- Long-Lost Relative: Ira/Lysander and his cousin, Sofia.
- Magic Is Mental
- Medieval Stasis: Averted. Artaxi technology includes trains, dirigibles and automobiles.
- Mind Rape: The Rassianuses can do this, and Gabriel revels in it. That isn't even counting what Lysandra does to Ira.
- Mommy Issues: Alisayne and Anora both suffer from this.
- Muggle Foster Parents: For Ira/Lysander.
- My Greatest Failure: Sieur Magnus' defeat at the Grieving Reach and the subsequent destruction of most of House Rassianus.
- The Obi-Wan: Gaius and Lord Kazimir to Ira.
- Offing the Offspring: Borderline traditional in Umzadi High Families.
- Offstage Villainy: Eleazora, until the meat farms are seen. Also Marius, after the first book.
- Old Master: Sepirahkt. Later subverted with the broken and deranged Asimir Rassianus.
- Only Sane Man: Saul and Ysabelle both display this trait.
- Our Angels Are Different: Oh, God.
- Our Souls Are Different
- Parental Favoritism: Lord John preferred his heir, Titus, to Jonathan and blames Jonathan for Titus' death.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone
- Psycho for Hire: Sieur Boris. Gabriel.
- Psycho Lesbian: Anora.
- Rebellious Princess: Subverted in that instead of being hotheaded and reckless, Sofia is a coldly manipulative bitch.
- Religion of Evil: The Al-Doshti death cult and the Angelist Church.
- The Renfield: There's a minor character named Lord Renfield, but he isn't one.
- Retired Monster: Asimir Rassianus, who got cold feet about bringing the End Times to Artaxas, conferred his mantle on his twin daughter and son and took off to hide in a lighthouse.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Sepirahkt's twin, Areina, was killed at the close of the War of Usurpation. A desire for endless, gruesome vengeance for her death is mostly what keeps him going.
- Royally Screwed Up: The Rassianuses in spades. Most of the other Houses to one degree or another.
- Scaled Up: Lysandra when she fights her sister.
- Scars Are Forever: Ira's fingers were brutally broken by his nurse as a child. Later Marius cuts open his cheek.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Lysandra Propheta. Eleazora in the backstory.
- Secret Legacy: Sofia is the daughter of the deceased Prince Arein Rassianus and Stephen's sister, Naira Kvalus. Ira is the son of Lysandra Rassianus and her rapist, the physician Quintus Lorne. His regnal name is Lysander Sextus.
- Sinister Minister: Ira/Lysander and Marius both squeeze this trope over their Wheaties every morning.
- Sinister Scythe: The sickle is a traditional Rassianus weapon.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Guess.
- The Stoic: Lord Rhovan Khalimoff, as well as Sieur Randall Gaunt and Sieur Howell Strompike.
- Those Two Guys: Lharo and Lharys, to some extent.
- Twincest: Offscreen with Sepirahkt and Areina.
- The Unfavorite: Jonathan to his father, Lord John.
- The Watchmaker: Asimir has aspects of this.
- World of No Grandparents: Subverted with Sepirahkt, grandfather to Ira/Lysander and Alisayne, and with Asimir, theirs and Sofia's great-grandfather. Played straight in that many of the heads of the various noble Houses were killed either during the War of Usurpation or during the war with Umzad.
- Villain Protagonist: About half the cast.
- Your Mind Makes It Real
- Your Soul Is Mine