Literature / The Darksword Trilogy
There will be born one to the Royal House one who is dead yet will live, who will die again and live again. And when he returns, he will hold in his hand the destruction of the world... ...Or its salvation.
A trilogy by Margaret Weis
and Tracy Hickman
consisting of Forging the Darksword
, Doom of the Darksword
, Triumph of the Darksword
, and Legacy of the Darksword
. Also has an associated Tabletop RPG
, Darksword Adventures
, and a (now hard to find) companion book, called The Darksword Companion
In the magical land of Thimhallan, Magic is considered to be the same as Life. Those born with no magic are considered Dead. As an ancient prophecy tells of the destruction of the world by one who is Dead, those born without magic are routinely killed. However, royal-born protaganist Joram manages to escape this fate. Joining with a group of unlikely allies such as the elderly scholar Saryon and the erratic trickster Simkin, he plans to forge the magic-consuming
Darksword and retake his royal position
, unaware that doing so may bring the prophecy to fruition.
- Adult Fear: The Deathwatch and ensuing murder of all children born Dead. Saryon is understandably traumatized when he has to participate in such rituals, where a parent's child is killed ten days after they're born just because they, the child, are different.
- Alien Invasion: The Hch'Nyv in the fourth book. In this case, they go for the total extinction of mankind.
- Angel Unaware: Scylla
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Simkin is a personification of Magic.
- Anti-Magic: The Darksword
- Artifact of Doom: The Darksword
- Baleful Polymorph: Powerful sorcerers can do this.
- Black Magic: Techno-magic, which draws power from death.
- Black Swords Are Better: The Darksword
- The Atoner: Saryon, eventually.
- Back from the Dead: Simkin comes back from the dead because "it was boring." Later on, Joram.
- Belated Happy Ending
- Black Widow: The Duchess D'Longeville, subject of number of Simkin's anecdotes.
Simkin: Never take tea with the Duchess D'Longeville. Or, if you do, make certain she doesn't serve you from the same pot she serves her husband.
- Break the Cutie: Gwendolyn. Occurs between book 2 and book 3.
- Chekhov's Gun: Very subverted: What ends up saving the world is not the Darksword. It gets lost partway through the fourth book and is never seen again.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Simkin
- Cloudcuckoolander: Simkin is a self-described "fixed point of insanity in any sane situation".
- Crossover: In the 3rd Dragonlance book, Tasslehoff finds a map with 'Merilon' listed as a major city.
- Also "Saryon" is the name of a major character in another fantasy setting by the two authors: The Deathgate Cycle.
- Deadly Euphemism: Those born Dead (ie without magic) are "Allowed to slip out of the world" - it is implied that this means starving them to death.
- Death World: Beyond the Border, Thimhallen is this, complete with raging storms and deadly aliens.
- Distinguishing Mark: The scars Joram acquired as a baby.
- Either/Or Prophecy: The complete version of the Darksword prophecy, which the prophet died in the middle of delivering. The government then began the infanticide of low-magic newborns. Poor Communication Kills... babies.
- Enemy Mine: In the fourth book, the only reason Earth's army hasn't lost the war yet is that they've allied with evil mages who need to save the world so that they can conquer it.
- Fainting Seer: The seer who made the Darksword prophecy died in the middle of speaking it.
- Fake Wizardry: Not being a wizard is punishable by (sorta) death. Joram is taught sleight of hand as a child to escape this.
- Fantasy Metals: Darkstone and the Darksword.
- The Fool: Simkin is strongly associated with this archetype, being symbolized by the "Fool" tarok card while Joram is represented by the "King of Swords".
- Foreshadowing: After the readers already know, through Saryon, of Joram's heritage, the following exhange takes place:
"So now the curse becomes the blessing, just like in the House Magi's tale," said Simkin, a smile playing on his lips. He smoothed his mustache with one finger. "Our frog becomes a Prince..."
"Not Prince," said Mosiah, exasperated. "Baron."
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Hch'Nyv from the fourth book fill this role perfectly. They are alien invaders who plan to destroy humanity, but weren't mentioned at all in the first three books.
- Ironic Echo: Simkin is mistaken for a pocket of residual magic by technomancers. Later when he is asked who he is he replies that he is a pocket of residual magic, then goes on to explain that if you don't believe in him it doesn't matter what he is.
- I See Dead People: Gwendolyn gains the ability to speak to the dead... but loses the ability to speak to the living.
- Large Ham: Simkin
- Life Energy: In Thimhallan, Magic is considered to be synonymous with Life. They're wrong.
- MacGuffin: The Darksword
- Madness Tropes: In addition to the problems suffered by Gwendolyn (explained elsewhere), we also have:
- It was implied that Joram has Bipolar Disorder, although there is some inaccuracy in how the authors depicted it.
- He has cycles where he will retire to his bed without interacting with anyone for several days, followed immediately by several days of "doing the work of three men".
- In Triumph of the Darksword (the third book) he reveals that when Beyond (in the technological, non-magical universe) he was diagnosed with a psychosis and now takes medication.
- Mixed in with this, Joram also seems to fit a mix of the tropes Loners Are Freaks, Reluctant Psycho and Intelligence Equals Isolation.
- Saryon seems to have Depression. It is also implied that his mother had Black and White Insanity.
- Anja seems to have had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- The Magic Goes Away: In the third book; the fourth deals with some of the repercussions.
- The Magocracy: To the point where anyone without magic is exiled or outright killed.
- Man-Eating Plant: The Kij vine.
- Meaningful Name: The city Merilon, which is eventually revealed to be so named because it contains Merlin's tomb.
- Medieval Stasis: The failure of Thimhallan to advance at all due to the prevalence of magic is an important theme. The third novel repeatedly uses the metaphor of mice sealing themselves in an attic with unlimited food and water where cats can't reach them, then dying of suffocation.
- Meet Cute: Gwendolyn, via Simkin, meets Joram when she rescues him and his party from the Duuk-tsarith.
- Messianic Archetype: Joram, in the final book.
- The Millstone: Simkin ruins many a plan with his flamboyant carelessness.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Joram
- No Sex Allowed: Sex is forbidden; all procreation in Thimhallan is carried out through magic.
- Noodle Incident / Noodle Implements: The majority of things Simkin says. In a private conversation with the Emperor bystanders overhear the phrases "Contessa", "chafing dish", and "Unfortunately discovered naked".
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: During the final battle, Simkin is present and in shapeshifted disguise as an inanimate object. Being a Large Ham, he waits for the Big Bad to declare victory before revealing himself.
- Not So Above It All: Whatever Simkin told the emperor about the contessa and the chafing dish and nudity, his regal facade crumbles into helpless laughter. Simkin is that powerful.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: The Empress of Merilon. Due to the political situation, everyone spent a year pretending that she was still alive.
- Offing the Offspring: Joram's parents, because of the prophecy.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: These centaurs are cruel, barbaric savages who torture any humans they come across.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: These giants are roughly double the size of a man and as are usually friendly, peaceable and kind of dull.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: The Corridors.
- Prophetic Fallacy: Turns out the missing last line completely changes the meaning.
- Punch a Wall: Or rather a tree. Or rather Simkin disguised as a tree. Oops.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The various revolutionary groups that appear through the series are all Black Magic users who are just as bad (or possibly even worse) than the ones they're rebelling against.
- Science Vs Magic: All technology is forbidden in Thimhallan, even the use of simple tools like levers.
- Secret Police: The Duuk-tsarith
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Everything done to avert the Darksword prophecy ends up being responsible for bringing it to pass.
- Taken for Granite: A ritual method of execution, eventually used on Saryon.
- Tarot Troubles: Simkin can predict the future with tarok cards. His reading of Joram has him drawing the Death card twice, reflecting the prophecy: One who is dead yet will live, who will die again and live again...
- The Unpronounceable: The Hch'Nyv, an alien race appearing in book 4.
- Trickster Archetype: Simkin
- Trilogy Creep: The "trilogy" has four books.
- Un-Sorcerer: Joram.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Can be done by anyone with enough magic, but Simkin's best at it.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: Joram remains accepting of Simkin no matter what he does, even when the others want to Just Eat Gilligan.
- Wrong Context Magic: Simkin's abilities.
- Year Outside, Hour Inside: Due to the effects of the magic Border, ten years outside Thimhallan is only one year inside.