Literature / The Shamer Chronicles

Look at me!

The Shamer Chronicles is a series of children's fantasy novels written by the Danish author Lene Kaaberboel. There are four books in total: The Shamer's Daughter, The Shamer's Signet, The Serpent's Gift and The Shamer's War. The books are about Dina Tonerre who has unwillingly inherited her mother's Gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions from even the most hardened wrong-doers, simply by looking into their eyes. Starting with the second book, her older and completely normal brother Davin becomes the second point-of-view character.

The story starts with Dina's mother being called to Dunark Castle to elicit a confession from the seventeen year old heir to the throne who is blamed for committing a bloody triple murder. Dina's mother promises to return as fast as she can, but the next day comes and she is not showing up. Which is when a yet another person comes from Dunark and takes Dina with him, telling her that Dina's mother needs her help.

In Denmark, the series is very popular and influential. Many young people credit it as one of the only books they've enjoyed reading, or the book that first got them into Fantasy or books in general. The theater that made The Musical have said that this is the reason they wanted to turn it into a musical.


This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Karmiana
  • Abusive Parents: Ebnezer to Nico.
  • Afraid of Blood: Nico because he sat with his family's blood on his hands and clothing for days. He wasn't alloewd to clean himself before Dina came.
  • The Alcoholic: Nico. This is why it's so easy for Drakan to convince everyone, even Nico, that he comitted the murders.
  • Angry Mob Song: The Musical has two. "Dommen" is a Burn the Witch! type, while "Skidenstad" is more of a mix between the two types.
  • Anti-Hero: Sezuan is either this or Anti-Villain. Even Lene Kaaberbøl isn't sure.
  • Bastard Bastard: Drakan
  • Berserk Button: Implying Rose might have stolen something or mentioning where she grew up.
    • Hurting children emotionally or physically is Nico's.
  • Black and White Morality: Unsurprisignly, as the books are meant for 10-12 year old kids.
    • The first book is very much Black and White Morality, but the story becomes a bit more grey in the later books. The third book could even be said to be about Dina learning that the world isn't always like this, as although her father has done questionable things, he's not evil as her mother claimed.
  • Big Brother Bully: Aun Rose's half-brother, who beats her and blames her for everything.
    • Nico's older brother as well, as seen when Dina looks into his memories.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Taking care of Melli seems second nature to Davin, and Dina clearly looks up to him in the first book.
      • Especially clear in "Vær ikke bange" where he reassures Melli by reminding her she has her big brother with her.
    • Nico towards Dina and the girl he teaches in The Serpent's Gift.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Melussina and Callan. Though downplayed as it isn't mentioned until Davin figures it out in The Shamer's War
  • Burn the Witch!: It's mentioned that people have started burning shamers in the Lowlands.
  • Compelling Voice: Only those who drink dragon blood can disobey the Compelling Voice of a shamer.
  • Dark Skinned Red Head: Davin is depicted as such on the cover art of The Shamer's Signet and his personality fits the associated one.
    • In the text he's described as having reddish brown hair, while his skintone isn't described.
    • None of the adaptions have depicted him this way.
  • Deuteragonist: Davin.
  • Development Hell: It took over 10 years and two different studios for us to get a movie adaption.
  • Disappeared Dad: Melussina's kids have two different dads, and none of them is around. Until Sezuan shows up in The Serpent's Gift and Rikert is revealed to be Davin and Melli's in The Shamer's War.
  • Dub Name Change: A few examples, even though the author translated it personally:
    • Rose is Rosa in the Danish version.
    • Karmiana is Carmian.
  • Dawson Casting: In The Musical.
    • Nico and Davin are 17 and 14 respectively in the first book, but are played by adult actors in the movie.
  • Duel to the Death The unfinished duel between Davin and Ivain Laklan, and the duel between Nik and Drakan, with villain taunting and all.
  • Determinator: Rose is willing to walk mile after mile with a heavy backpack to get what she wants.
  • Dream Weaver: The Serpent's gift.
    • Sezuan, Azuan and Dina have this gift.
  • Drowning His Sorrows: Nico, mostly in The Shamer's Daughter.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Ludovic, Nico's brother, called him "Nicoline" to make fun of him for not being masculine.
    • Drakan uses it as a taunt in "Dommen (Reprise)."
  • Emotion Bomb: Dina and her mother can make people feel buried in shame by looking them in the eyes.
  • Evil Matriarch: Sezuan's mother, according to Melussina.
  • Evil Is Hammy: In the musical:
    Dama Lizea: Let me help you... DIE!
  • Father, I Don't Want To Fight: Nico, which is why his father disliked him so much.
  • Fearless Fool: Davin has a tendency to be like this in the first two books.
  • Fiery Red Head: Rose, but only in The Musical, as she's blond in the books.
  • Flirty Step Siblings: Rose and Davin.
  • Friend to All Children: Nico.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The first book, when Dina sees Nico's past via Exposition Beam, mentions teenage!Nico repeatedly whispering Adela's name into his pillows. At night. Make what you will of that.
  • Gilded Cage: After Dina had been captured in The Shamer's Signet, she was kept in one of these.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Karmiana.
  • Heroic Bastard: All of Melussina's kids and Rose.
  • Honor Before Reason: Davin is like this a lot, and still have shades of it after his Character Development.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Davin.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Dina have a hard time getting friends, because people don't want to look into her eyes. Wich leads to the below.
    • The song "Alle kan vel trænge til en ven" ("Everyone can need a friend") in The Musical.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Dina would love to be normal and play with other girls the way she used to when she was younger.
    • The first book is a lot about how she comes to accept herself and her abilities and she've largely grown out of it in the Shamer's Signet where she feels a bit wrong without her abilities.
  • I Want to Be a Real Man: Davin.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: In The Shamer's Signet, Dina is forced to use her Shamer powers on anyone her captor sees fit, for trivial things. If she refuses, he'll kill Tavis, the random kid who was with her when she was kidnapped.
  • Lad-ette: Karmiana.
  • La Résistance: A poorly trained group of a few hundred men that hides in the woods and plans to somehow damage Drakan's army
  • Lean and Mean: Dama Lizea.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Sezuan to Dina. Indirectly.
  • Magic Music: Those with Serpent's gift can weave illusions and mind control people by playing a flute.
  • Medieval European Fantasy
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nico, when he thinks he really did kill his whole family.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Drakan and Valdracu are not nice people.
  • Never My Fault: Aun.
  • Non-Action Guy: Nico doesn't like swords. Or violence. He feel he has to look past that in The Shamer's War though
  • No Eye in Magic: To use their abilities fully, a shamer has to make eye contact, but trained shamer's can use their voice too, but it doesn't work as well.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Black-Arse real name, Allin, is only mentioned a couple of times.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Would be nothing more than just oversized reptiles if not for their blood having... unusual properties.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Nico.
  • Parental Incest: Not present in the books, but due to Nico's brother being Adapted Out and combined with the character of Ebnezer in The Movie, Adela is Nico's stepmother, and the backstory with Nico and Adela's affair is kept, making the whole thing fairly squicky. Additionally, a drunk Nico is seen delivering a Take-That Kiss to his abusive father. All of this falls under Getting Crap Past the Radar as well.
  • Perception Filter: One of the abilities Sezuan and Dina have, as part of the Serpent's Gift.
  • Pretty Boy: Davin is described as being very slender and looking like a wood fairy, just like Melussina.
  • Room 101: The Serpent's Gift featured a room that was covered head to toe in carvings of faces that would whisper the worst things you could imagine to you - remind you of horrible things you have done or play on your insecurities until you were driven mad.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Davin is the red to Dina's and Nico's blue.
  • Smart Ball: The author seems to try her hardest to prevent Fridge Logic moments, which often results in the 11 year old Dina suddenly doing genius things, and then reverting to being a normal little girl.
  • Shaming the Mob: A quite literal example, as Dina in a moment of Heroic Resolve manages to use her powers on the entire crowd that has gathered to see her mother's execution. The crowd goes from cheering on the executioners to first falling quiet, then demanding that the execution is stopped, before finally openly rebelling against Drakan.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Nico, who doesn't want to fight which makes him gender non-conforming by his society's standards and Davin, who is eager to become a warrior [[Spoiler: until he understands what that entails, at least.]]
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: This is what Melussina fears will happen to Dina, if she gets too used to using the Serpent's gift.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Lene Kaaberbøl have said that Sezuan is the reason the series is not a triology.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Orm, a huge serpent who lives in a lake.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Davin is described as looking a lot like Melussina.
  • The Musical: There've been made on in Denmark, running in fall 2012. [1]
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The equipment of the villagers who chased the Tonerre family away from their village.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Nico.
  • Tsundere: Rose towards Davin.
    • Karmiana too.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Ebnezer had this kind of attitude towards Nico.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheShamerChronicles