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Literature: The Sovereign Stone
A Dark Fantasy trilogy written by Margaret Weis
and Tracy Hickman - yes, those ones
. Rather less famous than its counterpart, it lacks the cult following their other series has gained.
The first, Well of Darkness
, is a classic example of a Villain Protagonist
novel - and also Start of Darkness
. It could best be described as an extended prologue, following two boys, Prince Dagnarus and his whipping boy, Gareth, from childhood to adulthood. And Gareth's death at his master's hands.
The focus shifts in the others with Dagnarus as an actual villain, leaving the story to 'the good guys'. The trilogy consists of:
- Well of Darkness
- Guardians of the Lost
- Journey into the Void
This Work Contains Examples of:
- A God Am I: Dagnarus presents himself as a god to the Taan, and it worked- until the most powerful Taan Vrykyl, K'let, realized he could resist Dagnarus' commands...
- Abhorrent Admirer: Dagnarus loved Valura the Elf. Valura the Vyrkyl, on the other hand...
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Taan are introduced as this, but are gradually fleshed out as a very brutal Proud Warrior Race that's been duped into serving Dagnarus, but are not inherently evil.
- Anti-Villain: Gareth, Silwyth. Dagnarus and Valura start out here, but quickly get worse.
- Badass Normal: The Trevinici people in general, but Ravenstrike in particular. Though a puny human with no magic and powers of his own he gains the respect of the Taan and of K'let through his sheer courage, guts and his ability to kill anything short of a vrykyl with nothing but his bare hands.
- Big Bad: Dagnarus, though unusually he's the main character of the first book an arguably of the entire series.
- Black and Grey Morality: The first is a rather straight example of this, with the few genuinely good hearted characters ending up dead by the end.
- Book Dumb: Dagnarus is by no means stupid, but he also has no patience for scholarship and tends to foist it off on Gareth so he can focus on his real interests- Black Magic and war.
- Cain and Abel: Dagnarus and Helmos.
- Cool Old Lady: The Grandmother. I defy you to say she's not.
- The Dragon: Shakur.
- Dragon Ascendant: The epilogue reveals that Shakur survived and is apparently building up a power base of his own...
- Elemental Powers: All magic takes the form of these. Even Void magic, though it comes from a different source, mostly serves to channel these magics (with a price).
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Averted. Surprisingly, no element is shown to have power over another explicitly.
- Evil Counterpart: The Vrykyl are explicitly created as such to the Dominion Lords.
- Evil Prince: Dagnarus constantly hints that he cares less for his brother than the throne.
- In something of a subversion, Dagnarus does genuinely love his father and wouldn't do anything to deliberately steal the throne from him. It's when big brother Helmos takes the throne that gloves come off...
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Medieval, middle eastern, nomadic, Persian, Asian etc. Strange in that some of them are in fact not human, but fairly recognizable nonetheless.
- Functional Magic: Mostly taking the form of a strange kind of theurgy: all four of the main races are capable of using magic, which is said to be left over from the gods. 'Hedge wizards' exist that pick of 'crumbs' of magic and use it for casting. Each race specializes in a particular element- earth for humans, fire for dwarves, water for orks, and air for elves. Anyone can do Void magic, but the Taan are best at it.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The Taan are the only non-human race that can interbreed with humans, in spite of being the least humanlike of the humanoid races. Half-taan have one ability that no other race has: They alone have vocal chords capable of speaking the languages of both Taan and Men.
- Knight In Shining Armour: The Dominion Lords are thus. Quite literally in fact: Helmos half blinded the audience when he became one.
- Large Ham: All orks tend towards this, but the Captain of Captains is the largest ham of them all, constantly shouting, hitting things, and declaring that he is hungry. Though he pales in comparison, and shouts less, Dagnarus around any kind of scholar or large amount of books seems to be a destructive and rather hilarious influence on anyone around due to his dress sense.
- Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid: Averted - all the characters have some reason for their alignment and actions, and the good characters try very hard to balance vanquishing evil with not destroying the lives of people around them. It's a very delicate matter. Perhaps the best example would be Helmos speaking out against Dagnarus becoming a Dominion Lord without breaking his father's heart. It fails wonderfully due to this.
- Lizard Folk: The Taan.
- Love Makes You Evil: Both people that love Dagnarus end up being utterly corrupted by his influence: Valura casts aside her previous life to elope with him at the risk of death, becoming a Vrykryl in the process. At the end of the third book she outright admits that her love for Dagnarus turned her into what she is but since its the only love she's ever known she's still loyal to him. Gareth does all manner of things, notable learning Void magic. A slight subversion in that he's not actually evil, he just does it all out of devotion and duty. Then dies for his efforts.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: The four Dominion Lords spend the last two books fighting off Dagnarus' forces so that they can get the four pieces of the Sovereign Stone back to the Portal of Gods, so that they can put it back together and return it to the Gods. Apart from the returning bit, this is exactly what Dagnarus was planning to do with the pieces once he got them from their current owners.
- Magic Knight: Dominion Lords and Vrykyl.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Prince Dagnarus, Lord of the Void.
- Our Dragons Are Different: They're ancient, incredibly powerful, affiliated with the elements, and generally range from benevolent to apathetic rather than actively malevolent. They're actually "born" from humanoids via a complicated process that involves a dragon hiding their "egg" inside a humanoid fetus. The dragon hatchling doesn't realize what they are until adulthood- some never do at all.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted good and hard. Unfortunately, they got the least focus of any of the races, so they didn't really get a chance to show this fact off much.
- Our Elves Are Better: Or so the Elves would have you believe. Elves are airy, beautiful, exceptionally polite and gracefully tall.
- Subverted in that most named Elves are either complete asshats or outright evil, their obsessive dedication to honor, politeness and tradition just serves to hide(and encourage) the incredibly vitriolic relationships between different houses, and between the Divine(spiritual leader of the race) and the Shield of the Divine(military leader) and associated houses that have the entire elven nation constantly on the verge of an all out civil war.
- Thankfully averted with Damra and Griffith(and Silwyth to a lesser extent), who are all quite nice, if somewhat aloof.
- Our Orcs Are Different: The Orken are a Proud Warrior Race of nomadic sailors. They're generally considered barbaric and superstitious by everyone else, but have a definite noble streak and their superstitions are actually on the nose more often than not.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vrykyl, which are shapechangers, resemble animated suits of skeletal armor in their true forms, and absorb life energy through knives they make from their own bones.
- Outside-Context Villain: The Taan. That would be because they're from another world, where Dagnarus is flung after the destruction of Vinnengael and is able to use his status as Lord of the Void to recruit them.
- Power of the Void: Where Dagnarus, the Vrykyl, and mortal Void mages get their powers from. It can replicate the powers of any other element, but only for destructive purposes.
- Proud Warrior Race: Dwarves, Orks, and the Taan, definitely. Elves are what happens when a Proud Warrior Race meets a Deadly Decadent Court.
- Punch Clock Villain: Silwyth in the first book, nearly everything he does he does because it is his duty, and he hints at several points that it's the only reason he does it.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Vrykyl, with Shakur, Valura, and K'let being the three most prominent.
- Red Right Hand: Void magi break out in sores all over their body in order to perform their magic. Apparently, they continue to itch and burn even when they heal. Arguably, the mark on Gareth's face also counts as this. Dagnarus is markedly devoid of this - in fact, his descriptions would better be applied to a gallant hero.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Tamaros spends a disproportionate amount of times stopping the foreign races from chewing his proverbial head off - and succeeds. His son, the Crown Prince, serves the country as a Dominion Lord, while his youngest... has other plans.
- She Is the King: Dominion Lords are always "Lords", even if female.
- Son of a Whore: Shakur. Notable in that his mother allowed clients to pay to use his body when he was only a boy, as well. The fact that Gustav is known as the Whoreson Knight implies that he was one as well.
- Spirit Advisor: Literally: Elf Houses each have an ancestor who has given up the afterlife to remain with their House and give them advice. They are dead, often crotchety, and much revered.
- The Starscream: K'let.
- Start of Darkness: Well of Darkness is this for Dagnarus, Shakur and Valura
- Time Skip: Guardians of the Lost picks up about two centuries after Well of Darkness.
- Villain Protagonist: Arguably the main point of the first novel. Even in the second two, when more traditionally heroic characters take more of the focus, Dagnarus remains the thread tying everything together and no individual heroic character gets the same level of attention he does.
- The Wise Prince: Helmos.