Speculative Fiction / Planetary Romance trilogy written by Meredith Ann Pierce in the 1980s. The backstory is that long ago, humans terraformed the Moon, but eventually things got out of their control and they returned to Earth (known as Oceanus), leaving behind a race of people who are similar to humans but adapted to live in the low-heat, low-oxygen environment. The humans who originally colonized the Moon are viewed as legendary, almost godlike figures called the Ancients.In the main body of the trilogy, a young slave girl named Aeriel sets out to rescue her mistress when she is kidnapped by a darkangel (a creature akin to a handsome, ruthless, winged, soul-drinking vampire). Although she soon finds that her mistress is beyond saving and she is pressed into service as a maidservant for the previous thirteen wraithlike “brides” of the darkangel, she discovers she has one year in which to stop the darkangel from claiming his fourteenth bride and destroying her land forever. But it isn’t only the darkangel at work; there are forces far beyond any mortal’s comprehension at war, and Aeriel eventually finds herself at the center of it all, complete with an ancient prophecy and a star-crossed love.Titles in the trilogy:
And Now You Must Marry Me: The darkangel decides Aeriel is beautiful enough to warrant becoming his fourteenth and final bride, or else that it’s just not worth the trouble of kidnapping anyone else. Subverted when Aeriel goes along with it and eventually falls in love with him when he is restored to human form.
Less climactically, the suzerain of Orm, who hypnotizes Aeriel into apathy to gain her consent, and then bricks her into a wall when she refuses his advances.
Because You Were Nice to Me: This is the most important aspect to Aeriel's character, to the point of it being the trilogy's Central Theme. Absolutely every victory she has comes as a direct result of her kindness to others.
Chained to a Rock / Fed to the Beast: This was to be Erin’s fate, in order for the villagers to placate their local darkangel, until she was rescued by Aeriel. Fed to the Beast is subverted in that they thought the darkangel wanted to marry the girl, not eat her.
Diabolus Ex Machina: Ravenna passing on her legacy to Aeriel after she’s reunited with Irrylath.
Downer Ending: The ending of the last book. Aeriel is eternally set apart from everyone except Erin and forced to spend her life repairing the universe instead of ruling beside Irrylath, with whom she’s finally celebrated her long-awaited wedding night only hours previously.
Bittersweet Ending depending on one's opinion of various other characters and how healthy their relationships were. In a post-Twilight world, is it such a bad thing for the girl to NOT end up with the vampire she loved self-destructively? Instead, she has Erin, who loves her freely.
Green Eyes: Aeriel's eyes are originally described as "fig-green,” once as “emerald,” and later as "peridot.” After Aeriel’s travels in the second book, they are widely regarded as a symbol of her supposed magic powers.
I Gave My Word: Irrylath honors his promise to the avarclon, even though for all he knows it might result in his immediate death and it does contribute to his being forever separated from Aeriel.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After Aeriel accepts that she will have to take up Ravenna’s legacy and live apart from the rest of humanity, she tells Irrylath to marry Sabr because she thinks Irrylath likes her and she will make him a good queen, even though she hates her.
Impossible Task: Aeriel is required to spin clothing on an empty distaff for the wraiths, who are too frail to bear the weight of any kind of fabric. Aeriel succeeds when she develops enough empathy for the wraiths that she can spin them thread made out of her compassion.
Kissing Cousins: A love triangle in which all three of the participants are cousins: Sabr is Irrylath's cousin on his father's side, and Aeriel is his cousin on his mother's side. None of them consider this to be any sort of bar to their romance.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Aeriel in the third book, after being stuck with the Witch’s pin. Possibly a subversion, since she apparently loses her ability to speak.
Passing the Torch: Ravenna, being herself mostly dead and unable to heal the world of the wrongs done by the Witch, passes her torch (or pearl, as it were) to Aeriel, which might be a good thing for the world but is effectively a Diabolus Ex Machina for Ariel.
Servant Race: the duaroughs are largely this to the Ancients. Subverted by Oriencor when she actually enslaves some and turns them against the Ancients’ purpose, even though she is half-Ancient herself.
Scheherezade Gambit: In book one, Aeriel prevents the darkangel from killing small animals (and possibly her) for amusement by telling him stories. Her final story is of Dirna and Irrylath.
Shotacon: The lorelei raises potential darkangels as her lovers.
Shrouded in Myth: By the third book, Aeriel has become this to the world at large.
Soul Jar: The darkangel drank his brides' blood but collected their souls in vials for the lorelei. Getting them back so they can die properly is the wraiths' main preoccupation.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Aeriel and Irrylath, to heart-wringing effect by the end of the last book.
Stockholm Syndrome: Aeriel leans towards this in her time of service to the darkangel. However, it's important to note that her initial adoration of the darkangel's beauty is eventually broken once she returns from the desert. It's a crucial plot-point that she's able to operate outside his thrall.
Sweet Polly Oliver: Erin masquerades as a boy for much of her travels with Aeriel in the second book.
Walking Wasteland: Full darkangels. The smarter ones move around their territory to avoid destroying it beyond habitability.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The suzerain of Pirs has a pretty significant role to play in the second book, but after Aeriel escapes him he's never seen or mentioned again. His fate remains entirely unknown.