Literature: The Dark Sea Annals
The Dark Sea Annals are a Heroic Fantasy
book series by Christian author Wayne Thomas Batson. It follows the stories of many characters, all intertwined in a world where good and evil are in an eternal struggle for victory.
The first book, "Sword in the Stars" follows the story of Alastair Coldhollow, an ex-assassin who once worked for the Big Bad
, but seeks to atone for his past by finding the Halfainin and saving his world from the grip of evil, while the noble King Aravel must contend with his wicked brother Morlan and the savage Gorracks.
The second book, "The Errant King", focuses on Lochlan, the son of Aravel, who in more interested in seeing the world and getting to know his people than in following his royal duties. Behind the scenes, however, evil of all kinds begins to rise, and soon Loch realizes that it is up to him to fix his father's mistakes and protect his people.
The series is planned to be seven books long, with the third on its way.
The Dark Sea Annals contains examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Shepard Sebastian Sternbough.
- Achilles' Heel: The only way to kill one of the Pureline is to burn their heart.
- Raudrim-Quevara is Nigh Invulnerable, with thick scales covering all of her vitals. Her only weak spot is a small patch of skin behind her ears. Cythraul exploits this to control her, and later Loch and Ariana kill her by striking this spot with an arrow.
- Action Girl: Ariana. Abbagael too, if the situation calls for it.
- All of the female rulers of the various races and provinces are Action Girls and/or Ladies of War.
- Always Chaotic Evil:
- Implied with the Gorracks, who are also Neutral Evil, depending on their leader.
- The monsters of the Gray Hour are definitely this.
- Animal Motif: Morlan himself has wolves.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Cythraul was once Xanalos, the friend and best student of King Ealden, but Ealden’s incredibly strict standards of perfection were too much for Xanalos; no matter what he did, he was never good enough to please the First One, and thus he rebelled against all that Ealden stood for and began his decent into darkness. He was executed by the Wayfolk, but being Pureline, he came back and began his life as Cythraul. Ealden deeply regretted the unfair amount of pressure that he put his student under, and in the second book, he confronted Cythraul in order to apologize and offer him a second chance. Cythraul was too far gone into evil to be saved and he killed his former teacher.
- Arc Villain: Raudrim-Quevara is killed at the end of the second book, having played her role in Morlan’s scheme.
- The Atoner: This is Alastair Coldhollow's entire story arc.
- Awesome McCoolname: Alastair Coldhollow. Abbagael Rivynfleur. Cythraul Scarhaven. Anyone with the surname of Stormgarden (Aravel, Maren, Morlan, Lochlan). Duskan Vanimore. Laeriss Fenstalker. Pretty much everybody, actually.
- Badass Grandpa: Mosteryn the Old, an Elder Shepard with a fiery temper and the power to call lightning and storms.
- Badass Preacher: King Ealden could be considered this, as he is a firm follower of the First One and he conducts all of the religious ceremonies during the Ceremony of Crowns. He is also a viciously competent fighter.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Gorracks.
- Battle Couple: Alastair and Abbagael (whenever she chooses to fight); Loch and Ariana; Hagen and Darrow Kurtz. It’s implied that Aravel and Maren were this back in their prime.
- Also the husband and wife Commanders of the city of Rel-Vigil, who bravely battled against Raudrim-Quevara until their deaths.
- Big Bad: Morlan.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The spirax, a species of cow-sized insects that look like a mix between a spider, a centipede, and a praying mantis and spin toxic webs to ensnare their prey.
- Bigger Bad: Sabryne, this world's version of Satan.
- Blood Knight: Cythraul really, really likes killing things.
- Brother-Sister Team: Tango and Meli, the young Spriggans who escape from the Hinterlands.
- Cain and Abel: Morlan and Aravel, respectively.
- Canis Major: Skoll, Morlan’s huge pet blackwolf.
- Chekhov's Gun: Tango’s note at the Venture Inn.
- Chekhov's Skill: Ariana’s uncanny ability to make a pin-point kill-shot on the water serpent proves quite useful later on.
- The Chessmaster: Morlan. See Xanatos Gambit.
- The Chosen One: A double example. For the fabled Halfainin to rise there must first come the Caller. Alastair comes to the conclusion that he is the Caller, and desperately searches for the Halfainin, providing most of the plot for the first book.
- Combo Platter Powers: Due to the Victor Gains Loser's Powers factor with the Shepards, Morlan gains the powers of Touch of Death, Teleportation, and Blow You Away by killing their former wielders, one of which was his former ally.
- Complete Immortality: The Pureline, rare individuals of any race born once every twelve generations that can live forever and have an extremely powerful Healing Factor, making them virtually impossible to kill. There is only one way to kill them. (See Achilles' Heel).
- Cool Sword: Three of them, actually. Alastair's Star Sword, Cythraul's Moonblade, and Loch's Talking Weapon, "Fred".
- Creepy Crows: Rooks are huge, vicious predatory birds that are the mortal enemies of the Willowfolk.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Cythraul is an expert at these.
- Special mention should go to Morlan's Touch of Death. The victim's blood and skin turn black and begin to fester, boil, and rot, with their body heating up until they are literally boiled in their own blood. It's just as painful and squicky as it sounds.
- Dark Is Evil: Many examples.
- The Dark Times: When the Red Queen Quevara ruled the Hinterlands many long years past. Her reign was so cruel and terrifying that the people never even dare to speak her name.
- Differently Powered Individual: The Shepards, who are individuals (mainly human and Wayfolk) that are born with superhuman powers, usually of the Elemental Powers variety. Sebastian Sternbough and Mosteryn the Old are notable examples.
- Double Weapon: The glaives that are the standard weapons of the Wayfolk, notably King Ealden. Telwyn gets Ealden’s glaive after the king dies.
- The Dragon: Cythraul to Morlan. After Morlan is banished across the Dark Sea, Cythraul becomes a Dragon Ascendant.
- The Dreaded: Both Raudrim and Quevara separately, but most especially when they fuse together; then she becomes a Hero Killer.
- The black ships of the Gray Hour.
- The Dark Shepards are a major example. Even Morlan is wary of them.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: King Drust, leader of the Windborne. Realizing that he has no options left, he flies right into the jaws of Raudrim-Quevara, hacking at her mouth and tongue with his axe and laughing madly as he goes.
- Evil Redhead: Quevara, even while in dragon form.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Cythraul is noted several times for his deep voice, which is described as low, slithering thunder.
- Elemental Shapeshifter: Jonasim, the 17 year old human Shepard, can turn his skin into granite. Cythraul later gains this power by killing Jonasim.
- Epic Flail: One of Cythraul’s weapons is curved blade attached to a long chain that is hidden up his sleeve.
- Family-Unfriendly Death
- Family-Unfriendly Violence
- Fat Bastard: Choiros, the Jerkass archer from the Wetlands who is an antagonist to Ariana and Millard.
- Fate Worse than Death: To be sent across the Dark Sea to the Isle of Lost Souls.
- Femme Fatalons: Quevara’s double as Wolverine Claws.
- Fictional Colour: The Windborne race can see many colors that the other races cannot. This seems to be due to their eagle-like eyesight.
- Fish People: The Marinaens, one of the nine races of Myriad. They are bipedal, have blue, green, or purple skin, three webbed fingers on their hands, and fins on their arms and legs. Somewhat overlaps with Apparently Human Merfolk, as they have very human-like faces, but are otherwise recognizable as a totally separate race.
- Fiery Redhead: Abbagael; in keeping with the Author Appeal of redheaded main heroines in his other series'.
- Quevara is literally this.
- Forgiveness: A major theme in the series, and the element that fueled Alastair Coldhollow’s Heel-Face Turn.
- Freudian Excuse: Morlan was always jealous of his twin brother Aravel, who was born only a few seconds before him, and thus gained the right to the throne. Feeling like he was always second-rate to his brother, Morlan tried to one-up him by winning the heart of Maren, with who they were both in love, but Maren saw the hatred inside Morlan and chose Aravel instead. Morlan took this as a personal insult and thought that she chose Aravel only because he would be the High King. In his lust for power and revenge he turned to Black Magic and the rest is history.
- Friend to All Living Things: Telwyn has the uncanny ability to tame almost any creature he comes across, which earns him a pet snow drake, Icetooth. He tries and fails to tame Skoll, Morlan's pet blackwolf, and has to resort to killing the beast instead.
- Fusion Dance: The ancient dragon Raudrim and the tyrannical Queen of the Hinterlands, Quevara, were merged into one form, Raudrim-Quevara. This form is of the Composite and Mixed-Form-Shapeshifter variety. Quevara's mind is dominant, due to her being human, but the dragon's treasure-hoarding, animalistic instincts often guide her into doing more bestial acts, such as slaughtering a whole herd of scormount just For the Evulz. Her body, however, can take on either a human or dragon form, or a composite, such as her human form morphing her arm into the dragon's claw to impale someone on her talons.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Quevara, the Red Queen of the Hinterlands.
- Averted with Queen Maren, Queen Briawynn, Queen Savron, and all the other good queens.
- The Good King: King Aravel, and later his son, King Lochlan.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Morlan notices that whenever he killed a Shepard, he would get a scar on his face in addition to their powers.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Alastair is a Master Swordsman, and Abbagael prefers to fight with a bow and arrow. Loch and Ariana fit this as well.
- Haunted Castle: Vulmarrow, both during and after Morlan ruled from it.
- Heroic Fantasy / High Fantasy
- Hero Killer: Cythraul. Literally, in the second book.
- Hidden Weapons: Cythraul is fond of keeping his toys hidden until the opportune time to strike.
- The High Queen: Maren
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the first book, Alastair impales Cythraul through his heart with the Star Sword, and leaves him for dead. Obviously, he gets better. In the second book Alastair does it again, but this time Cythraul recovers immediately by turning his flesh into stone and returns the favor. Unfortunately, Alastair does not get better.
- This is also one of Quevara’s favorite methods of killing, via her long talons.
- Interrupted Suicide: Sebastian Sternbough (several times) prevents Queen Maren from jumping into the Dark Sea after her Despair Event Horizon due to Aravel's horrible death.
- King Incognito: Loch's whole plot in the second book is about him traveling around the land and mingling incognito with his subjects so that he can escape the pomp and pressure of being King and get to know his people more.
- Knife Nut: Cythraul, as expected.
- Queen Valaril Nascent, who took up rulership of the Fen province after Morlan was banished. She carries several knives on her at all times and is considered to be one of the most proficient and lethal fighters in Myriad. She’s also a case of Dark Is Not Evil.
- La Résistance: By the end of the second book, half of Myriad is a smoldering ruin thanks to Raudrim-Quevara, the Dark Shepards have returned, and Morlan has taken control of the throne. Naturally, Loch (along with Ariana and Telwyn) begins a rebel alliance, which will lead into the next book.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Master Swordsman: Alastair Coldhollow is the prime example, but Aravel, Morlan, and Cythraul are all highly skilled as well.
- Meaningful Name: The land of Myriad is home to a wide variety of peoples and creatures.
- The Mentor: Shepard Sebastian Sternbough is the wise mentor, adviser, and friend of Aravel, Maren, and Loch.
- Mineral MacGuffin: Emberstones are gems that have magical properties, depending on the color. Green stones speed up healing processes on non-lethal wounds, blue stones purify drinking water, yellow stones give off light when shaken, etc. When the emberstones mature long enough they become vaskerstones and their power greatly increases. Black vaskerstones are the rarest, and can be used like a Crystal Ball to spy on and communicate with others. Morlan was in possession of the only known black vaskerstone (called The Eye of the North), which was made into a table.
- Modest Royalty: King Aravel and Queen Maren are very humble rulers, but their son Lochlan is this trope and it is the focus of his story in the second book.
- Monster Mash: A rather terrifying version. During the dreaded Gray Hour on the coastlines of Myriad, a fleet of black ships appears on the horizon, and a swarm of monsters invades coastal towns and settlements, killing or abducting anyone in their path. Golems, shades, banshees, and several other unnamed beings number among them.
- Not Quite Dead: Both times that Cythraul is “killed”; first by taking a two-hundred foot fall and then by being stabbed through the heart. Due to his being Pureline, he survived both instances, but was nonetheless pissed off about them.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Raudrim-Quevara. She sees life itself as an insult to her, and revels in burning and decimating everything in her path.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Ariana's parents were killed by the creatures of the Gray Hour when she was small, giving her a deep-seeded fear of it and a longing for acceptance by her strict community.
- Our Banshees Are Louder: Banshees number among the horde of creatures in the Gray Hour.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are split into two categories: the huge, ancient wyrms of old, and the smaller drakes, which are considered to be like regular wildlife. Notable examples of each are Raudrim and Icetooth, respectively.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The Stonehands are your basic dwarven race. Their cousins, the Spriggans, are more like Hobbits.
- Our Elves Are Better: There are two sub-races of elves: the Wayfolk and the Elladorians. Subverted in that neither race, as a whole, views themselves as superior to other races, although there are individual exceptions (i.e. Cythraul).
- Our Fairies Are Different: The Willowfolk are a race of Badass Adorable sprites that live in the Greenshire Forest.
- Our Wights Are Different: These wights are the spirits if the dead that have been entrapped by Sabryne and are chained forever in the Abode of Wights. How they got that way has not yet been revealed.
- Point of View: The series is written in the third-person, except for a few chapters in the second book that are told from Ariana's perspective.
- Precision F-Strike: The books are generally profanity-free, but in The Errant King, during King Ealden’s confrontation with Cythraul, the latter gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and accentuates it bitterly by calling him a “self-righteous bastard”.
- Precocious Crush: Tango has one on Clarisse Graymane.
- Platonic Life Partners: Ariana and Millard.
- Power Nullifier: What the Dark Shepards do to the normal Shepards.
- Professional Killer: Alastair. He does a Heel-Face Turn and becomes The Atoner, but he's still a pro when it comes to killing.
- Religion of Evil: The Sabrynites.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Pretty much every king or queen in the series is actively involved with defending their people.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Alastair and Abbagael.
- Shining City: Anglinore
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Cythraul
- Straw Misogynist: In ‘’The Errant King’’, Ariana lives in a wetland village that is led by a group of Elders, who are ruthlessly strict and are repressive of women, especially when it comes to the use of weapons. The High Elder Plebian Scandeer is particularly misogynistic, and viciously refuses to allow Ariana to compete in the Huntmeet, despite the fact that she is one of best (if not the best) archers in the area. He eventually gets a taste of humble pie when he is forced by tradition to award Ariana the Crimson Bow for killing the water serpent.
- Strike Me Down: After Aravel defeats Morlan in their final duel, Morlan urges his brother to kill him, to finally end their feud. Aravel doesn’t, and instead cuts off Morlan’s hand and banishes him across the Dark Sea, in what he sees as a Fate Worse than Death. This is exactly what Morlan wanted.
- The Stoic: King Ealden and Cythraul, partially due to their race.
- They both become Not So Stoic during their final confrontation.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: Morlan’s eyes are described as being like those of a wolf.
- Those Two Guys: Skappy and Fez, two guards in Anglinore.
- Token Evil Teammate: Morlan was considered an ally to the Council of Myriad, due to being the High King's brother. While he was disrespectful of the First One and drew the suspicion of several leaders with his cunning ways, his Wolfguard were a valuable asset to Myriad, and he showed no signs of open rebellion (at first). Once he shows his true colors, however, he goes right into being the Big Bad.
- Torture Technician: Cythraul, of course.
- Trapped In Villainy: The Spriggans that chose to serve Quevara, due to the only other alternative being death. One in particular, Vilnus Skevack, outright told her that he would follow her, but that he refused to kill his own kind. While she looked down upon such “weakness”, she was fine with it, as she preferred to kill people herself.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Loch, Telwyn, and Ariana.
- The Vamp: Quevara. When she returned to her former place of residence, she killed the current king and queen, and the way she killed the king is quite... suggestive. The queen enters her bedchamber to find Quevara passionately writhing about near the bed with her husband. Quevara turns to her and reveals that she had been eating his throat out; she calls it "kissing".
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Willowfolk
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: This is explored with Cythraul. When he enters the Abode of Wights, he finds the last Queen of Grayvalon who was trapped inside and, due to also being Pureline, still alive in a body of flesh. She is crazed from the decades of solitude and begs Cythraul to kill her and end her misery. She shows him the only device that could kill either of them (a small pump filled with an incendiary power and a long needle used to inject it into the chest, thus burning their heart) and tries to take it from him, imploring him to kill them both, specifically because of this trope. But being the sadistic prick that he is, Cythraul decides that Living Forever Is Awesome and departs without killing her, leaving her to an endless life of crazed loneliness in a dark, empty cavern. It is hinted, however, that deep down he really fears ending up like her.
- Winged Humanoid: The Windborne race.
- Wise Beyond His Years: Telwyn due to his being the Halfainin.
- Would Hurt a Child: As expected, Morlan, Cythraul, and Quevara; the latter two taking specific pleasure in it.
- Xanatos Gambit: Morlan’s plan. He first goads the Council of Myriad into starting a war with the Gorracks by sending out troops disguised as Gorrack soldiers to decimate villages, then bringing this to the attention of the Council and urging them to fight back. While Aravel and the other leaders are away at war, Morlan spys on them via The Eye of the North, sends his troops to Anglinore and begins gathering power for himself by killing specific Shepards. If Aravel is killed in the war, Morlan wins. If Aravel survives the war, he returns to a castle in Morlan’s possession and Morlan kills him. If Aravel defeats Morlan in combat and kills him, Morlan will have succeeded in corrupting the image of his brother, and he could possibly come back to life via Sabryne’s pact. If he doesn’t kill him, Morlan can play Xanatos Speed Chess on whatever fate Aravel has for him. This happens to be sending him across the Dark Sea, which is exactly what Morlan wanted. Morlan, who had never previously revealed his Shepard powers, gives his brother one last handclasp before boarding the Ship of No Return, and uses the wind-controlling powers that he stole to guide the ship once it is out of sight. Even while he is gone, Cythraul continues his plan by unleashing Raudrim-Quevara on the land, killing Alastair (the previous Spanner in the Works), and beginning experiments with necromancy to forge an undead army. The results of all this have yet to be seen.