Literature / The Sundering
Malthus the Counselor leading Haomane's Allies to war
(For the Walter Jon Williams novel, The Sundering, see Dread Empire's Fall.)
(For the Richard Knaak novel, The Sundering, see The War of the Ancients.)

When the unknown is made known, when the lost weapon is found, when the marrow-fire is quenched and Godslayer is freed, when a daughter of Elterrion weds a son of Altorus, when the Spear of Light is brought forth and the Helm of Shadows is broken, the Fjeltroll shall fall, the Were shall be defeated ere they rise, and the Sunderer shall be no more, the Souma shall be restored and the Sundered World made whole and Haomane's Children shall endure.
- Haomane's Prophecy

The Sundering is a fantasy duology by Jacqueline Carey, better known for her series Kushiel's Legacy. The two books are Banewreaker (2004) and Godslayer (2005).

The Sundering tells a story deliberately very similar to J. R. R. Tolkien's stories (The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings), but with the twist that it is told from the perspective of the "villain" characters.

It is not a true case of Villain Protagonists, though, because the story makes clear that the "evil" characters are really not evil at all, merely misunderstood.
This series provides examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: Contrary to their usual stereotype, the Dwarves. They eventually try their hand at war and are victorious in a skirmish, but are so horrified that they leave the battlefield and tend to the wounded for the rest of the battle.
  • All Love Is Unrequited
  • And the Adventure Continues
  • The Archer: Fianna
  • Awesome McCoolname: Ushahin-who-walks-between-dusk-and-dawn.
  • "Big Bad": Satoris.
  • "Big Good": Haomane.
  • Break the Haughty: Cerelinde.
  • Captain Ersatz: Nearly every character.
  • Child by Rape: Ushahin Dreamspinner.
  • Co-Dragons: Tanaros, Ushahin, and Vorax.
  • Cold Sniper: Fianna is an archer, but otherwise plays the trope straight.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Ushahin is clearly meant to look like David Bowie.
  • Consummate Liar: According to Haomane's Allies (the "heroes"), Satoris is this. According to Satoris, Haomane himself is this. The "heroes" also call dragons this, while the "villains" think that the dragons are the only ones who really know what is going on.
  • Cool Sword: In-universe example with the male madlings being infatuated with Tanaros' sword.
  • Dark is Not Evil
  • Deconstruction: Of the Evil Overlord trope and Tolkienesque fantasy as a whole.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Satoris, sort of. After treating Cerelinde well as his "guest", he eventually lets her kill him (for the sake of the prophecy) without provocation, thus robbing her and her side of their claim to a moral high ground. Only after this does she consider the possibility that Satoris might be telling the truth, but by then it's too late.
  • Downer Ending
  • Dragon Ascendant: Ushahin Dreamspinner takes up Satoris' mantle.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lilias.
  • Evil Overlord: Deconstructed.
  • Five-Man Band: Malthus' Company.
  • Five Races
    • Fairies: Were.
    • High Men: Ellylon.
    • Stout: Fjelltroll.
    • Mundane: Men.
    • Cute: Dwarves.
  • Gray and Gray Morality
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ushahin Dreamspinner is the result of the rape of an Ellyl woman by a human man.
  • Harmful Healing: Performed by Satoris on Ushahin Dreamspinner.
  • Hobbits: In contrast to many other elements in this series, the Yarru-yami are strikingly different from Hobbits. Sure they're short and go barefoot, but they are dark-skinned and live in the middle of a desert rather than the idyllic Shire.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Tanaros to his unfaithful wife.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Justified for the Ellylon, since they have no sex drive. This trope could have been averted had Haomane, creator of the Ellylon, accepted the Gift of Satoris for his children.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Ushahin is nearly stoned to death by a group of children when he's a child of no more than seven or eight, all because he's a Half-Human Hybrid.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Satoris' one truly evil act (although not unprovoked) indirectly leads to his death.
  • Last of His Kind: By the end of the book, it's implied that there's only one dragon left.
    • It's likewise stated that the other races besides men are dwindling rapidly, leading in particular the Fjeltroll and Were towards this path.
  • Light is Not Good
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Ushahin's mismatched eyes mark his psychic powers.
  • Moral Dissonance: "We can either hunt you all down and exterminate you to the last one, or we can leave you in peace - as long as you never have any more babies." This is the choice forced by the "hero" onto a race who have dealt with the Big Bad in the past (under a different leader) and have now washed their hands of any more involvement.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Tanaros succeeds the first time, but fails on the second.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Satoris Banewreaker the Sunderer.
  • No Ending
  • Orcus on His Throne: Justified, since Satoris has been wounded for millennia and is not as powerful as he once was.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same
    • Actually averted on a couple of points; the Dwarves as mentioned above are an Actual Pacifist race, and they are also more closely associated with orchards and fruit than the usual Dwarven mines.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Called "Ellylon" (singular "Ellyl") here, but otherwise deliberate clones of Tolkien's Elves.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The Fjelltroll are less intelligent than humans, but very loyal, honorable and not inherently evil.
  • Perspective Flip: We get to see "Big Bad" Satoris as a character, but "Big Good" Haomane remains unseen.
  • Physical God: The Seven Shapers are this.
  • Pieces of God
  • Poor Communication Kills: Brutally justified, because the "heroes" think the "villains" are consummate liars, and don't realize that if they just ignored the prophecy that the "villains" would just leave them alone.
  • Power Trio: Tanaros, Vorax, and Ushahin. Malthus, Dergail, and Ardreth used to be this before the last two died.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Subverted. While all the conditions for the end result of the prophecy are fulfilled, Ushahin stealing Godslayer prevents the actual end result from taking place, meaning that the prophecy's end result was averted for a reason that had absolutely nothing to do with the necessary conditions the prophecy mentioned, and that all attempts to fulfill or avert those conditions were pointless.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The "good guys" win and Cerelinde is rescued, but the last part of the prophecy is unfulfilled, so the Rivenlost are still stranded and the other races are still separated from their gods.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Satoris' attempts to avert Haomane's prophecy (when he does attempt to avert it at all) only serve to further its fulfillment.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Even after all the effort Haomane's Allies put into fulfilling the prophecy they still don't get what they want, meaning that they basically killed Satoris for nothing.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The dragons Calandor and Calanthrag.
  • Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy
    • The Emperor: Satoris.
    • General: Tanaros Caveros.
    • Guard: Vorax.
    • Oddball: Ushahin.
  • Start of Darkness
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: The whole premise. Though the main characters do make some pretty stupid (or at least dubious) choices that pretty much doom them from the start.
  • That Liar Lies: Haomane's Allies are fond of using this trope on the "villains", to the point that you wonder how the "villains" keep from flying into an uncontrollable rage.
  • Triang Relations
    • Haomane and Satoris -> Arahila (in this case a sibling version).
    • Tanaros -> Callista -> Roscorus Altorus.
    • Meara -> Tanaros -> Cerelinde -> Aracus Altorus.
    • Carfax -> Fianna -> Blaise.
  • The Unreveal: The books never say exactly what the "Great Pattern" is and what knowledge the dragons have.
  • Vain Sorceress: Lilias, and she knows it.
  • We Are as Mayflies: The Ellylon do not die from old age. As such those somewhat over 1000 years old are still considered young.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: And Ellyl life, and Fjeltroll life, and Were life.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's unclear at the end of the book if Dani is still alive or not.
  • Why Don't You Just Kill Her?: Both Ushahin and Vorax say this to Satoris, and eventually try to do it themselves. According to Satoris, it would not matter anyways since supposedly she is not the only female descendant of Elterrion and therefore killing her would only delay the prophecy, not prevent it.
  • Woman Scorned: Meara.
  • World Sundering: Happened in the distant past, hence the title.
  • You Can't Fight Fate
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Inverted. The "villains" never get very far in explaining their side of things to the "heroes" without being faced with disbelief or being called liars.

Alternative Title(s): Banewreaker