A two-part series of novels written by Greg Keyes, based upon The Elder Scrolls video games.The first novel is set forty years after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and follows the story of Anna´g, a prodigal young alchemist living in Black Marsh, and her Argonian best friend Mere-Glim. Anna´g spends much of her free time either getting into trouble or reading adventure stories, and she dreams of adventure far from her crapsack hometown of Lilmoth. As usually happens in these sorts of books, she gets her wish when a huge airborn city comes drifting over the ocean to threaten Tamriel. The two of them get stuck in the titular infernal City, known as Umbriel, while it sucks up the souls of everyone in Lilmoth and turns them into an undead army. Now the not-so-dynamic duo have to find a way to destroy Umbriel before it ruins all of Tamriel.In the author's typical style, despite Annaig being the top billing protagonist the book actually follows several different heroes/hero groups in a character-based third person (basically, you get no more information than what the character the narration is following receives. Likely because being in first person would make it harder to follow which character was speaking). These hero groups are Annaig and Mere-Glim, who do get separated early on and are followed separately. Annaig works in the "kitchens," and Glim, because he can breathe underwater, is put to work in the "Marrow Sump", where all the dead of Umbriel are buried and subsequently reborn. Prince Attrebus is the Warrior Prince who quickly learns his whole life is a lie after his bodyguard is ambushed and wiped out. He is quickly paired with Sul, a Dunmer Knight in Sour Armor who is out for the blood of those who are responsible for the destruction of Morrowind, and therefore also responsible for the deaths of everyone and everything he ever held dear. The ones responsible are his former friend, Vuhon, and the mysterious Umbra, the being once trapped in the weapon of the same name. They go on a chase to find the titular City by taking "a shortcut. Through Oblivion." There is also Colin, a spy for the New Empire, sent to investigate the disappearance of Attrebus, and continues to do so even when reassigned by a jealous superior.The second novel starts where the first left off, and is largely the payoff to the first novel's buildup. Colin is trying to find the missing pieces of the puzzle of Umbriel on the ground as the College of Whispers and the Synod try to find out just what it is in the first place. Attrebus and Sul are desperately clambering after Umbra the Sword, in order to stop Umbra/Umbriel the Person. Annaig and Glim try to survive day to day on Umbriel the Place, but as their goals and loyalties begin to drift apart, things begin to look bleak.
This series provides examples of the following tropes:
Action Survivor: Anna´g tries to be a more typical action-hero at first, but she winds up as this.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: At the start of the first book, Mere-Glim suggests to Annaig some other things they can do instead of pursuing her idea: Stay in her father's villa and drink his wine, take some of her father's wine down to the docks and drink it there, or drink some of her father's wine at the villa and some at the docks.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Multiple occasions for multiple characters. Toel is shocked and disgusted to learn how people are born on Tamriel, and Anna´g is horrified at the implications of Umbrielan reproduction.
The Empire: Three of them, now! The Septim Empire of the games has fallen, now there are the An-Xileel Empire encompassing Morrowind and Black Marsh, the Aldmeri Dominion from Summerset to Valenwood, and the Mede Empire, encompassing Cyrodiil, and is usually just called "The Empire."
Extradimensional Shortcut: Infernal City includes a subplot where Prince Attrebus and Sul need to cross the entire continent of Tamriel in a hurry. The quickest way to do so is to pass through several planes of Oblivion and return at their destination.
Fake Ultimate Hero: Emperor Mede and the Imperial Court have been manipulating Attrebus's entire life to make Attrebus look good. Attrebus is convinced that he has won many great battles when in fact they were all rigged in his favor.
The Thalmor, if you know your Elder Scrolls lore, are a group of Elven Supremacists who want nothing more than to crush the Empire of Man under their heels, but they don't play a major part in the first novel.
There is also all the racism from the games, Argonians conquering the Dunmer, the Mede Empire letting Umbriel wreak havok on the An-Xileel Empire, the urban and nomadic Khajiit, and the view of Nords as uncivilized barbarians.
This is surprisingly averted by the Nords in Solstheim, who were very hospitable to their ancient enemies. Most of them get along very well with the Dunmer refugees (many of which now rule over the Nords), and there are even a few Khajiit amongst the Nordic populace. Who, like the Dunmer, are accepted by the Nords.
Knight in Sour Armor: Sul. He explicitly states that he doesn't care if Umbriel destroys the world, only as long as he can kill Vuhon. However, he begins to snap out of it as he forms a friendship with Attrebus, even foregoing the opportunity to kill Vuhon by saving Attrebus' life.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Remember how in Morrowind, you destroyed the source of the Tribunal's power? Well, winds up Vivec's power was all that kept that big rock from destroying all of Morrowind. To top it off, the destruction of Morrowind allowed the creation of Umbriel in the first place.
Turns out it wasn't a good idea to give the sword Umbra to Clavicus Vile in Oblivion either. It kick-starts a chain of events that lead to Umbriel's creation.
Science Hero: Anna´g. She uses her knowledge of alchemy quite a lot to survive, in a world where alchemy is a science.
Secret Police: The Blades no longer protect the Emperor directly, since they were bound by tradition only to the Dragonborn Septim line. The new organization that does so for the Medes is known as the Penitus Oculatus.