"First rule of dungeons," he said with a wry grin, "don't pin all your hopes on a gullible door."
The Spirit Thief is the first of a series of books by Rachel Aaron detailing the exploits of one Eli Monpress, a wizard and a Gentleman Thief. He is introduced having been captured by the realm of Mellinor, which by ancient tradition bans wizards from the land, and escaping by convincing the door to free itself from the tyranny of nails, hence the page quote. It then transpires that this is part of a scheme to kidnap the king of Mellinor and ransom him for a modest sum of cash, plus a truly huge pledge to his bounty should he ever be caught. However, it turns out that the king has a long-lost brother who is less than eager to see him returned to take the throne, and a Spiritualist from the Spirit Court has been dispatched to apprehend Eli before he further besmirches the reputation of wizards. And that's just the first book.The series is composed of five books: The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, The Spirit Eater, (which have all been published in an omnibus edition titled The Legend Of Eli Monpress), The Spirit War and Spirit's End.
Contains examples of:
A Chat with Satan: Nico ends up having these, as does any demonseed that becomes advanced enough.
Anti-Magic: The world's magic revolves around entering an agreement with spirits for them to help a wizard, or by enslaving them. However, this is completely useless against demonseeds, who eat spirits. The League has its own form of anti-magic to use against demon abilties though.
And I Must Scream: Being completely possessed by the Master can't be fun. Nor can being tortured by the Duke of Gaol. And of course, there's Renaud's little treat during the ransom exchange, then later with the pillar.
Attention Whore: Eli can be this at times, as Josef notes in one conversation with Nico
"If you want to do this Nico, I'm behind you, but only if you really want to. Don't let Eli make this about him."
Berserk Button: All spirits will flip out and try to kill a demonseed if they detect one, especially the stronger spirits, Gin included. Josef's berserk button tends to be when Nico is in danger, and vice versa. For Miranda, it's the abuse of spirits.
And as we see in Spirit's End, the thing that makes Eli do a complete 180 regarding Benehime (from reluctantly being her pet for forever to brutally insulting her and getting her truly angry for the first time in the series) is when she takes Karon away when he is sleeping.
BFS: Josef's Heart of War. Though 'BFM' might be more accurate, seeing as the Heart is a mountain transformed into a sword.
Captured Super Entity: In the first book, the "secret weapon" in Allaze's treasury turns out to be the Great Spirit of an inland sea which had been enslaved for generations, preventing it from flooding and drowning an entire kingdom.
Carnival of Killers: Everyone and his dog is out to get Eli and his team. Which is probably what you can expect when you're a notorious thief, one companion has a famously powerful sword, and the other is being hunted by the League of Storms.
Dysfunction Junction: Eli is blessed (or cursed, as he might see it) with Benehime's power and attention, Josef is a remarkable swordsman with the most powerful awakened blade, and Nico is a powerfully advanced demonseed.
Empathic Weapon: All spirits are conscious beings in this world, and awakened blades are no different. Weapons of note would be Josef's Heart of War, Sted's Dunolg the Iron Avalanche, Alric's Dunelle the Last Sunlight, and Coriano's Dunea River of White Snow.
Enemy Mine: In the final book, the imminent threat of all the demons in the universe coming to eat the world means that Nico, Eli and Josef have to work with the Lord of Storms, and the Demon of the Dead Mountain. No one of the three groups seems particularly enthralled with this plan.
Got Volunteered: Eli and his companions really didn't want to get involved in stopping the brand new evil dictator in Mellinor, but have no choice, mostly because it's their fault in the first place for kidnapping the king and creating a power vaccum.
Jerk Ass Gods: Benehime seems to be this with her attempts to manipulate Eli, as well as her treatment of the Great Bear, the West Wind, and the Lord of Storms. Most of the time though, she's just neglectful.
Karma Houdini: Sara. She creates enlaved, mad spirits in replica of Renaud's sandstorm to fight in The Spirit War, her Ollor Relay was as good as Powered by a Forsaken Child according to Banage, including the spirit of her loyal water spirit, she bound another human being as a sevant spirit for many years before killing him, and probably has many more horrible acts to her name. At the end of the books, all we know if that the rivers all hate her, but with Banage rushing off to her aid, it's likely that even that won't keep her down.
Knight Templar: The League of Storms are this towards demonseeds. They believe there is no possible help for seeds, so they must die. The Lord of Storms (the League's leader), is the personification of this, though his second, Alric, is more balanced.
Made of Iron: Tesset, who can even survive a building falling on him, Alric, because it's the nature of his League gift, Sted, for the same reason, and arguably the Lord of Storms, Nico and Josef (though Josef relies on the Heart of War for this).
Platonic Life Partners: Nico and Josef are incredibly close, extremely protective of each other, are the inspiration for so many Heroic Second Winds it's ridiculous, and even explicitly use the word 'love' in the text to realize how they feel about one another....and yet there is no hint of romantic or sexual feelings between them in the slightest.
Power Limiter and Restraining Bolt: Nico's cloak and silver bracelets help her suppress and control her demonseed. The prototype was made for Nivel, who has been containing a demonseed for ten years.
Rings Of Power: Spiritualists keep their companion spirits in rings and other jewelry, so one easy way to spot this type of wizard is to count how many rings a person's wearing.
Taking You with Me: In the last book, Nico grabs hold of the Demon Of The Dead Mountain as she is falling out of the world and drags him along with her. This particular instance of Taking You with Me is probably the Crowning Moment Of Crowning Moment Of Awesome for the series, because by pulling him out of the world, Nico knows she won't die, but will be in absolute nothingness, slowly growing more and more hungry until she is completely insane just like the rest of the demons, and will be like this for all of eternity. She even tries to resist when Josef pulls her back in, because she believes she is too dangerous to live in the world.
Think Nothing of It: Miranda genuinely believes the ideals of the Spirit Court, so she's occasionally surprised when people behave as if she's done something extraordinary when she upholds those ideals.
Took a Level in Badass: Nico, after mastering the demon. Josef, after becoming one with the Heart of War, Miranda at the end of The Spirit War, once she becomes the Rector Spiritualis and the Lord of Storms in the final book, upon becoming the Hunter.
Undying Loyalty: Technically Eli, Josef and Nico are all undyingly loyal to each other, but the latter two are especially of note. Miranda and her spirits also regularly put their life on the line for each other.