The Last of the Renshai series is a set of fantasy novels by Mickey Zucker Reichert, focusing on a tribe of Norse-ish warriors, the majority of whom are wiped out in the early chapters of the first book, also called Last of the Renshai. Its two sequels expand on the fates of the characters from the first book and shift the focus to the adventures of Colbey Calistinsson, a Death Seeker who is left to avenge the destruction of his tribe and avert the coming Ragnarok. The second trilogy focuses on the events After the End, with a largely new cast of characters, although some of the old figures receive cameos and Colbey remains a major player in events.The novels included
The Last of the Renshai (1991)
The Western Wizard (1992)
Child of Thunder (1993)
Beyond Ragnarok (1995)
Prince of Demons (1996)
The Children of Wrath (1998)
Tropes featured in the series include:
Action Girl: Mitrian, Kevral and every other female Renshai ever born.
A Real Man Is a Killer: In the original trilogy, a Renshai is only considered an adult after killing a foe in battle. In a rare expansion of this trope, it applies to women just as much as men.
Attempted Rape: The threats of the bandits encountered by Mitrian and Garn make their intentions towards her pretty clear. Understandably, Garn takes this very badly.
Badass Normal: Although their enemies believe them to be demons, the Renshai's ability with a sword is down to hard work and a culture built on the glory of death in battle. This even allows them to go toe-to-toe with monsters and still come out on top.
Death Seeker: Every Renshai counts: they believe that any death that is not in battle, while trying your best, is a coward's death and deserving of an eternity in Hel.
Determinator: Pretty much every major protagonist counts. Special credit goes to Rache, who manages to overcome a broken spine in order to face death on his feet, as a Renshai.
Doomed Hometown: Well, not so much a hometown as an entire freakin' way of life, but the point still stands.
Dual Wielding: Colbey and Kevral both prefer to wield a sword in each hand.
Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Sterrane talks like a little child when using the Trader Tongue, but is perfectly competent when speaking his native Bearnese.
Empathic Weapon: The Three Swords that together can summon Ragnarok. While Harval (the Neutral sword) simply acts as an indicator of imbalance between Law and Chaos, Morshoch (the Chaotic sword) can eventually drive its wielder insane.
Exact Words: In the third book, Colbey ends up the unwilling recipient of both the Staff of Law and the Staff of Chaos. Colbey had previously come to believe that the world needs more Chaos, but the gods and the other Wizards disagree, believing that too much Chaos will trigger Ragnarok. When the other Wizards confront him, Colbey tells Shadimar that he's giving him "the one weapon capable of stopping me from unleashing chaos on the world" and hands him one of the two identical-looking staffs. Shadimar and the other Wizards resolve to use the Staff of Law to fight Colbey. The weapon wasn't the Staff of Law, though. It was the Staff of Chaos!
Eye Scream: Arduwynn loses his eye at the end of the first book. Particularly horrible, as Sterrane has to cut out the damaged remains. Rache also blinds an attacker with his bare fingers.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Played straight and averted. Although the Renshai only ever wield swords, disdaining shields, armour and bows as "toys for cowards," many of their allies, such as Arduwynn and Sterrane prefer more conventional (and less expensive) weapons.
Honor Before Reason: The Renshai are pretty big on this; their religion pretty much requires it. As a rule, they're usually Bad Ass enough to pull it off, though.
Inspector Javert: Rache performs this role towards Garn, believing him to have kidnapped Mitrian rather than simply run away with her.
Knight in Shining Armor: Subverted in the original trilogy, where most of the Knights of Erythane are jerks. Played dead straight in the second trilogy through the character of Ra-khir, who is so knightly that he is willing to sacrifice his knighthood to save the life of his controlling mother. OK, so it's just a trick, designed to test his honour, but still...
Loophole Abuse: How the Northmen get away with massacring the Renshai. They were assured they could live their days in peace. No one said anything about their nights...
Pair the Spares: Hooking up Arduwyn and Khitajrah in the last half of Child of Thunder smacks of it.
Prophecy Twist: Lots. For example, exactly who is the "swordsman unmatched by another mortal man"?
Screw Destiny: Many characters attempt this, with varying degrees of success. In particular, there is one god that wasn't mentioned in any of the prophecies about the Ragnarok, and could end up being a Spanner in the Works who completely changes the outcome.