Literature / The Traitor Son Cycle

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/redknightcover.jpg

"Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.
Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders."
Cover blurb for The Red Knight

The Abbess of a fortified convent needs soldiers, as people under her charge are being killed by a wyvern and a nearby garrison is notoriously understaffed. To do the job, she hires a mercenary band led by a young fallen noble known only as The Red Knight.

The Red Knight might not have a name he'd wish to share, but he has much more - good birth, money, tactical brilliance, skill with magic, experience, loyalty of his men and hideous amounts of luck. But what should have been a routine monster hunt turns into something far more dangerous, and the wyvern is far from the only - or the most dangerous - monster plaguing the woods of Lissen Carak. Somebody's pulling the strings...

And so begins the story of The Traitor Son Cycle, an epic fantasy series by Miles Cameron (a pseudonym for Christian Cameron) which has four books so far, with the fifth and final one forthcoming:

  1. The Red Knight (2013)
  2. The Fell Sword (2014)
  3. The Dread Wyrm (2015)
  4. The Plague of Swords (2016)
  5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)

As well as two short stories, available on author's website:

  1. The Messenger's Tale Part One
  2. The Messenger's Tale Part Two


Tropes presented in the books are:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Red Knight's ghiavarina, his gift from the Wyrm of Erch, can slice through pretty much everything with ease, be it heavy plate or a dragon's hide. The first time he uses it, he's so surprised, he buries it blade-deep in rock before realizing it's not stopping.
    • Bad Tom's sword is equally sharp, as it was made by the same person.
  • The Ace: The Red Knight is an expert tactician, a great warrior, well educated and has the potential (later fulfilled) to be a powerful wizard.
  • Action Girl:
    • Several members of the company are female. The highest-ranked are Sauce, a female knight and former prostitute, and Meg, an ex-seamstress who is a powerful mage and in charge of the noncombatants.
    • Mogon, one of the leaders of the Qwethnethogs, is a non-human example.
  • Aerith and Bob: Most human characters have names lifted straight from the culture their own nation is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of. The Outwallers and the Wild creatures, however, aren't fettered by such conventions, which results in a mishmash whenever the two groups share a page.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • The Wyrm of Erch interacts with people in human form, under the name of "Master Smythe."
    • Ash mocks this by appearing as greatly misshapen humans, such as a person with two heads, or a pair of mutilated children.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Both the Red Knight and the Wyrm of Erch lose an arm in their battle against Ash.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Walks On Clouds, the Outwaller shaman accompanying Aneas, is always referred to as he/she in the narrative, and no-one is really certain what gender he/she is. He/She eventually states that he/she's a "changling", and slips between more female and more male depending on the occassion.
  • Amicable Exes: It's implied several times that before Red Knight's company was a thing, him and Sauce used to sleep with each other. They don't anymore, but they're still an effective team and good friends.
  • Antagonist Title: The Dread Wyrm refers to Ash, who choses to show his hand (paw) openly for the first time in this book.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: The Galles, as well as other nations subscribing to the Patriarch of Rhum, consider hermeticism to be pacting with Satan, and so forbid magic on their lands. Oddly enough, both the Patriarch of Rhum and the main anti-magic advocate in Alba, the archbishop, are making deals with Satan-like figures.
  • Anyone Can Die: Numerous well-established Point of View characters can be killed in a single sentence and most aren't even mentioned anymore.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Many preachers of Arles and Galle outright deny existence of the Wild and deem it a fairy tale, despite dragons and magic being very real in their world.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Jean de Vrailly, who believes that his superior fighting skills give him the right to kill everyone who disagrees with him.
  • Artificial Limbs: After the Red Knight has his hand burnt off, the Wyrm gifts him with a magical prosthetic made of silver, which, while mimicking the appearance and feel of the missing limb, has all the toughness of metal.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end of The Plague of Swords, Amicia overexerts herself magically and Ascends, vanishing into the athereal. It's unclear whether she becomes some kind of a ghost or is simply absorbed into the flow of magic.
  • Assimilation Plot: The main villain of The Plague of Swords wants to turn everyone into hosts of the Odine, and thus one great hive mind.
  • The Assimilator: The Odine, AKA the Necromancer.
  • Astral Projection: More skilled sorcerers, like the Red Knight or Desiderata, can leave their bodies and travel independently of them for some distance, albeit they can't interact with something that's not heavily imbued with magic.
  • Attention Whore: The Red Knight has an almost compulsive need for admiration and showing off just how skilled and brilliant he is.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Red Knight, Sauce and Bad Tom, the three leaders of the Red Company, are also its best fighters.
  • Back from the Dead: Ota Qwan and Ranald Lachlan are resurrected by fairies in Nita Qwan's Deal with the Devil early on.
  • Badass Army:
    • The Red Company, as it ends up being called, is a group of insane Badass Normals who routinely go against inhuman monsters, and are so good at it that when they get a task of slaying some regular humans, they complain that the job is boring.
    • The Order of Saint Thomas is a group of sorcerer-knights who can move in the Wild so quietly, the Wild creatures can't track them, and who are so good at fighting, people accompanying them sometimes don't even realize that a battle has just taken place.
  • Badass Family:
    • The Muriens. Of their three sons, one is an accomplished commander, the other is a master jouster and won his mettle by single-handedly slaying a Quethnethog, and the third is a skilled sorcerer. Their mother, Ghause Muriens, is one of the most powerful sorceresses and schemers of her time, easily rivalling Thorn, and the Earl of Westfall is a career soldier with over twenty years of fighting the Wild and the Outwallers under his belt.
    • The Lachlan brothers. Thomas is the company's best fighter, Ranald is a bad-ass knight and Hector, despite being only the Drover, puts up a hell of a fight before he's killed by Thorn's forces.
    • Tar and Lot, mother and son, are a pair of badasses thanks to the two of them being ancient and powerful dragons.
  • Badass Gay: Aneas, the youngest of brothers Muriens, is a great sorcerer and figher, and interested only in men.
  • Badass Preacher:
    • Father Ricard, sent as a chaplain to Red Knight's company, is a brilliant knight and sorcerer himself - in fact, he belongs to a militant order.
    • Sister Amicia is a sorceress, and makes a good use of her powers in a fight.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The hill men are a more heroic barbarian tribe of Scottish highlander expies. The Outwallers on the other hand encompass some of the primitive traits of this trope, including fighting in little more than loincloths and body-paint and the odd bout of cannibalism - although they're mostly based on American Indians.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: At the end of the second book, Harmodius fights Aeskepiles in the latter's mind palace, destroying his consciousness and taking over his body.
  • Bears are Bad News:
    • Golden bears are a type of intelligent animal from the Wild. In the first book, a female and her cubs are used as sideshow freaks, but when a religious zealot kills one of her cubs, the mother goes berserk and slaughters everyone at the show.
    • Inverted later, when John Crayford's forces are rescued from certain death by a pack of golden bears.
  • Bee People: The boglins are insectoid in appearance, live in large underground hives, and have a caste system that resembles an ant colony.
  • Better as Friends: After two and a half book of UST, Red Knight and Amicia eventually agree that their relationship will never go anywhere and they're better off as friends.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Thorn, a former archmage who has allied himself with the Wild, and Jean de Vrailly, the leader of the Gallish knights who try to take over Alba, are set up as major antagonists with unrelated agendas in the first book, until it turns out that both of them are manipulated by Ash, the true Big Bad of the story. Thorn is quickly Demoted to Dragon once Ash takes a more active role in the subsequent books.
  • Big Good:
    • Harmodius, being The Archmage and Mentor Archetype. He slips from the role as the time goes by, though, growing increasingly morally grey.
    • The much more powerful (and less active) Wyrm of Erch counts as well.
    • Tar/Tara is also the heroes' ally, though she appears even more rarely.
    • The Queen of Alba grows into the role, to the point where by book four, the Wild creatures call her "the Queen of Men".
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Dragons have some sort of echolocation-like magic sense - their roars resonate through the ethereal, letting them home in on their prey.
  • Black Knight: Hartmut Li Orguelleus, a mercenary knight hired by the king of Galle to wage a guerilla war against Alba, is a towering man clad in pitch-black armor.
  • Black Magic: It's considered evil because it's fuelled by death, and to a hermeticist, is has literally black colour, in contrast to green magic of the Wild and golden magic of the sun. It's apparenlty more restrictive than those two, as it's only ever used for necromancy.
  • Blade on a Stick: Red Knight gets a magic ghiavarina (a heavy spear) from the Wyrm of Erch, and later uses it as his main weapon.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Thomas Lachlan, also known as Bad Tom, loves nothing more than a good fight.
    • Jean de Vrailly is a villainous example.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: One of the main reasons why the Wild and the human kingdoms have warred against each other for so long is that neither side understands the mentality of the other. While many creatures of the Wild are shown to be quite intelligent, they see nothing wrong with casually killing each other or eating their fallen enemies, and have no concept of laws, possession or civilization in general. This leads to the humans seeing the Wild as dangerous animals that need to be exterminated while the Wild regards humans as greedy bastards with no respect for nature. In the end, Both Sides Have a Point.
  • Body Double: After learning that the King of Alba is going to be ambushed and killed, Jean de Vrailly has them switch their sets of armour and takes the should-be-killing blow for him.
  • Body Horror:
    • After Harmodius misuses Wild magic to heal him, Gavin has scales and spines covering his shoulder and back, and they eventually grow to cover more of his body.
    • Ash's humanoid forms, in a blatant mockery of A Form You Are Comfortable With, are each and all this.
    • At one point, Thorn possesses a bloated, long-dead body to have a conversation. The effect is suitably disturbing.
    • Whatever it is that Kevin Orley and his men mutate into, it twists them into parodies of humans.
  • Body Surf:
    • Thorn is capable of taking over his minions' bodies, if necessary.
    • Harmodius transfers his consciousness into the Red Knight after his death in the material world. The two share a body until the end of the second book, whereupon he hops into Aeskepiles.
  • Born in the Saddle: The Vardariotes, being Mongols expies, are all excellent horsemen, and have no infantry units.
  • Brainless Beauty: The Emperor of Morea is described as an exceptionally handsome man. Unfortunately, he's also astonishingly naïve and completely clueless when it comes to politics.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Morgon Mortimir is a brilliant hermeticist, but often ventures on tangents and becomes fascinated by theoretical problems when bigger ones are practically staring him right in his face (such as wondering about possible design of an anticonception amulet when there are sea monsters all around him).
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: The personal guard of the Morean Emperor is composed of Nordikans (Fantasy Counterpart Scandinavians). This is a reference to the real-life Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Emperors, which was recruited from various Germanic peoples.
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • The Red Knight often finds himself doubting his own choices and takes deaths of his subordinates very personally. He also grows more sober and less flippant as his responsibilities grow.
    • When Aneas is given command for the first time in his life, the inability to ask for advice and the need to project an aura of calm hit him hard.
  • Character Witness: In The Fell Sword, John Crayford and his men save a group of golden bears. When he's attacked by a swarm of boglins in The Dread Wyrm, the leader of the pack comes back and repays him in kind.
  • Charm Person: The Powers of the Wild - the most powerful magic users - can bend the minds of Wild creatures to their will.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Necromancer, mentioned briefly in book one and two, becomes the main antagonist of The Plague of Swords.
    • In The Red Knight, Mogon is mentioned only in passing as the sister of the Quethnethog leader. She becomes one of the leaders of the Wild by the next book.
    • The golden bear John Crayford saves in book two returns the favour in book three and reveals himself to be the most influential of golden bears' pack leaders.
  • Child by Rape: The Red Knight is a child of the King's rape of his sister Ghause.
  • Chivalrous Pervert:
    • The Wyrm of Erch makes no secret of being interested in many, many women throughout the series, but he's clearly considerate of them, as Blanche's converstion with one of his flings shows.
    • Bad Tom, while crass in his interactions with Sauce, is one of few people who respect her as a fighter rather than laughing at the idea of a female knight.
  • Church Militant: The Order of St. Thomas are a highly positive version, magic knights who fight against the wild. They're highly trained and able to move so silently that even the wild can't detect them in the forest.
  • Civil War: When the Queen is imprisoned under false charges in the third book, the hostilities between the pro-Gallish faction of the royal court and the Queen's loyalists erupt into open war.
  • Combat by Champion: The Red Knight and Jean de Vrailly decide to resolve the conflict between the Queen's loyalists and the Gallish faction by duelling, with the loser's side leaving the country.
  • Cool Sword:
    • Fell Swords are magic constructs which can cut through souls, but not through matter, making them extremely useful in the athereal.
    • The Wyrm of Erch gives Bad Tom a huge two-handed sword which can cut through pretty much everything.
    • Pavalo Payal's weapon is a double whammy - it's both an Absurdly Sharp Blade and a Fell Sword.
  • Cooperation Gambit: Harmodius suspects the Wyrm of Erch of this; after all, if humans become too powerful, he'll have trouble too, so he won't be their ally for long.
  • Court Mage:
    • Harmodius fills this role, as did his mentor and predecessor Richard Plangere before he became Thorn.
    • Al Rashidi, the Hemerticist of Dar Es Salam also fulfills this role
    • Master Petrarcha of the local Venice expy.
    • Morgon Mortimir also becomes one of these when The Red Knight becomes the Emperor of Morea
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Averted, the people of the world really do worship Jesus Christ, God etc. There are some small differences, though, such as the faith being led not by a pope, but by two Patriarchs, in Rhum and Liviapolis, with the world split between subscribing to one or to the other.
  • Curse: The King of Alba is said to have been cursed by one of his previous lovers to be infertile as a punishment for stopping the romance. In reality, Ghause Muriens put the curse on him because he raped her.
  • Dark Secret: The Lissen Carak abbey is this for the church - all women there are hermeticists, and they have an interdimensional gate under the convent. By book two, though, it's pretty much an Open Secret.
  • The Dead Have Names: The Red Knight remembers the names of all men that die in his employ. When Giselle suggests that it'd get easier if he let himself forget, he only glares at her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Red Knight has his moments.
    Wyrm: (portentously) We could do great things together...
    Red Knight: We could buy gloves together.
  • Decoy Antagonist: Subverted with the Ondine in Plague of Swords who are set up to be the next big threat after Ash only to be defeated and return the heroes's attention to the former Big Bad.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Albans have no problem sending children as young as twelve to battle.
    • The creatures of the Wild consider eating their fallen enemies to be a normal behaviour.
  • Demonic Possession: When occupying Red Knight's body, Harmodius sometimes takes over when the former is too exhausted to go on or a spell that he doesn't know has to be cast. A doctor sent to treat the Captain outright calls his unwelcome host a demon.
  • Demoted to Dragon: When Ash reveals himself as The Man Behind the Man, Thorn gets demoted to his right-hand man.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: At the end of the first book, when the main characters form an alliance with the Wyrm of Erch, and in all of his subsequent appearances.
  • Does Not Like Magic: Bad Tom is creeped out by magic, and prefers to pretend that his commander isn't a sorcerer. He grows out of it, though.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": The Red Knight is very averse to being called by his given name, partly because he's faked his death and doesn't want to be discovered, and partly because he wishes for his old life to remain in the past. As Character Development sets in, however, he eventually returns to it.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first book, it's mentioned that there's a young dragon's head mounted in the trophy hall, which becomes weirder in later books, where the dragons are defined as pretty much Physical Gods and where there's said to be only five of them. It could be that in-universe, someone mistook a wyvern for a dragon, though.
  • Elite Army:
    • Morea has two in the Vardariotes and the Scholae, who are the only professional soldiers the country has.
    • The Albans have the Order of Saint Thomas, an elite group of sorcerer-knights.
  • End of an Age: The first book has that feel; many characters comment that the Wild, once trapped far behind the Wall, has now become commonplace in Alba, and that a battle of Lissen Carak, which in the years past would be considered barely a skirmish, has now become a desperate struggle to survive. This mood slowly dispassates in later book, as our heroes make progress.
  • Enemy Mine: On several occassions, forces of Man and Wild side with one another against Thorn's forces. Eventually, it turns into a full alliance, and they stop being enemies.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jean de Vrailly is horrified when his companions kill a group of enemy knights from afar with crossbows, givng them no chance to defend themselves and thus denying them an honorable death. He also curbs a lot of the archbishop's more horrifying ideas.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • In the first book everyone calls him Captain or the Red Knight.
    • The Keeper of the Inn of Dorling is never named.
    • The King.
  • Expy: There is a strong Arthurian influence in the series:
    • The Red Knight is an expy of Mordred. His mother is the king's sister and in a throw-away line, the Red Knight notes that he was born from incest and rage. His mother intended him to be raised as a Champion of the Wild who would destroy the kingdom of Alba.
    • Jean de Vrailly is a darker version of Sir Lancelot. He's a giant of a man who's being manipulated by "an angel" to declare and later proves himself to be the greatest knight in the world, he comes from an expy of France and has designs on the Queen.
    • The Queen of Alba is an expy of Guenevere, but while she has that characters beauty, she's also intelligent, loyal and a powerful magician in her own right.
    • The caliphate of Dar Es Salam is a vague Middle Eastern expy; its people are described as looking North African and being Muslims.
    • The Empire of Morea is an expy of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Eye Scream: Some unfortunate victims of the Odine worms are infected via their eyes.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Ota Qwan gets lured by Thorn into returning to his old identity to extract his revenge on the Muriens. He eventually goes even further, outright enslaving himself to Ash.
  • The Fair Folk: What the Wild are collectively. They include everything from intelligent animals to trolls and demons.
  • Faking the Dead: A few years before the start of the story, the Red Knight faked his death to get his family off his scent after he ran away. It's why he's going by the "Red Knight".
  • Fantasy Contraception: Generally averted, though invoked when Morgon, hearing about a woman worrying about pregnancy, starts figuring out how to make an anticonception amulet.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Guns have been unknown in Alba until the designs of one show up with a mysterious stranger, though it is implied that while Alba just had its first experience with firearms, these weapons may have existed elsewhere and possibly in greater numbers.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture / Istanbul Not Constantinople: Most of the series' nations are direct counterparts to medieval states, often with alternate historical names:
    • Nova Terra, the continent where the action is set, is an expy of colonial North America, despite the two major human civilizations being expies of England and the Byzantine Empire. The Wild-allied humans are analogous to Native American tribes, the fur and wild honey trade is vastly important and the fortress of Ticondaga is a direct take away from the real Fort Ticonderoga, even down to its weaknesses.
    • Alba is 1300s England, specifically after the Black Plague. It is under the rule of law and has substantial rights for the peasantry, although there is a strong guerilla movement called the jacks that is allied with the Wild. A generation ago it won a great battle against the northern wild, but lost huge amounts of manpower doing so. Great amounts of the country have reverted to the wild and only a fifth as many men can be raised as a generation before.
    • Galle is medieval France. It's the most powerful and prosperous human state and is rarely attacked by the Wild. However, its peasantry is oppressed and its nobles operate under the Laws of War, requiring them to go armed and armored at all times and to constantly duel to the death over small slights.
    • Morea is the late Byzantine Empire. It's under the rule of the Paleologue dynasty, has lost much of its territory and is both bankrupt and dependent on mercenaries. Interestingly, it is not in the Balkans and Middle east but borders Alba, both being on the continent of Nova Terra.
      • The Morean capitol of Liviapolis is a counterpart to Constantinople, which was named after the Roman emperor Constantine. Liviapolis was named after the semi-legendary Archaic empress Livia
    • Hoek is the Netherlands, specifically the Dutch Republic with them known primarily for being merchants.
    • Occitania is the historical region of the same name, though it borders on Alba rather than Galle.
    • Iberia is, of course, Spain.
    • Arelat is the Kingdom of Arles, which was known under the same name.
    • Ifriquy'a clearly resembles Northern Africa. Even its name is based on an Arabic spelling of Africa.
    • Etrusca and its various cities all essentially cleave to this trope.
      • Venike is Venice, complete with Canals and a massive port/mercantile economy.
      • Rhum is Rome, and is ruled by the Patriarchate of Rhum, the local expy of the Roman Catholic Papacy, much like the Lateran States during the Middle Ages.
      • Mitla is Milan, complete with its rivalry with the local version of Venice.
  • Fertile Feet: When Tar appears somewhere, she leaves behind flowers and grass, even if it's a dark, damp cell.
  • Final Battle: Both The Red Knight and The Dread Wyrm end in those, the latter bringing the first arc of the story to an end and officially opening the endgame.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Even with Ash in his head, Thorn manages to communicate his true intentions by writing in the sand.
  • Flaming Sword: One of the villains, the Black Knight, has a magic sword which can be set aflame.
  • Fog of Doom: Initially, Ash takes form of a cloud of black smoke stalking the underground of the Harndon castle.
  • Foreshadowing: The tournament the King wants to organize is mentioned since early in book one, when the Queen convinces him to make one. It's mentioned time and time again thorughout book one and two, and eventually comes to fruition in book three.
  • French Jerk: Almost every nobleman from Galle is a complete ass, save for the Only Sane Man the Comte d'Eu. The King, an insane rapist, is actually a puppet for his chancellor, who runs the country behind his back for his own ends, their clergy utterly denies the existence of the Wild and attempts to destroy all users of magic (which is one of the few things keeping humanity alive against the Wild) and their nobles are honor-obsessed psychopaths who casually commit murder over the slightest insults.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The rukh are humanoids, but animalistic, so they don't wear anything in battle, meaning that more than a few people are treated to a sight of dangling giant testicles. Brain Bleach is in high demand on those occassions.
  • Giant Mook:
    • Thorn's forces include giant Rukh, trolls and wyverns.
    • The Odine have an honest-to-god dragon under their control.
  • Given Name Reveal:
    • Halfway through The Red Knight, Gavin Muriens reveals that the eponymous character's name is Gabriel Muriens.
    • In The Dread Wyrm, the Wyrm of Erch's name is revealed to be Lot, though that doesn't impact the story much at this point.
  • Glamour: The various creaturs of the Wild are automatically compelled to obey the Powers, the most powerful magic users, though many of them can resist it to some extent.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The King tells Desiderata at one point a story of how, on Christmas Eve, Harndon was visited by a group of Faery knights - with whom Alba was at war at this point - and rather than have a battle, the king and Tapio had a tourney on a frozen lake.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The Wyrm of Erch has very little influence and power outside his Circle around Inn of Dorling - not to mention his policy of non-interference, though that goes out of the window once Ash starts to plot mankind's destruction.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When Ash finally shows up on the battlefield during the climax of the third book, the heroes respond by unleashing the Wyrm of Erch against him.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Sir Jerent resents the Red Knight's captaincy for two reasons - the Red Knight being a nobleman and Sir Jerent has over a decade of experience as a mercenary while the Red Knight has only five years under his belt. Bad Tom points out, though, that Jerent lacks the charisma and money to be a respectable military captain.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Thorn is an incredibly powerful magician, but he's also easily provoked and prone to sudden emotional outbursts, resulting in a number of serious tactical blunders during his siege of Lissen Carrak. He seems to learn from his mistakes, though, as he's notably more composed in his later appearances.
  • Happily Married: A lot of people in the series get a happy ending to their love story. Most notable examples:
    • Michael and Katherine, despite initially getting married only because her family was afraid he'll leave her with a baby and never own up to it, end up being a happy and loving couple.
    • Gabriel and Blanche, after a lot of fussing about, do get married and are clearly happy together.
    • Nita Qwan and his wife are a happy couple despite having gotten married pretty much by accident and not knowing each other's language for the first few months of their marriage.
  • Happy Place: The hermeticists' mind palaces work this way - they're ethereal locations, usually based on the place the sorcerer feels the most comfortable, where memories, power and spells are stored. Time in them flows much more slowly than in the real world, so the Red Knight often uses his mind palace to think, relax or simply back away to when a difficult situation comes up.
  • The Heavy:
    • Thorn is merely The Dragon to Ash, but acts as the main antagonist for the first three books in the series.
    • Despite the Odine being the main antagonists of The Plague of Swords, the biggest obstacle in the heroes' path is their pet undead dragon.
  • Hermetic Magic: The magic in the books is called Hermeticism, and it certainly utilizes the principles, such as geometry and like-to-like, but it's also augmented by some elements of Vancian Magic, like pre-prepared spells.
  • Hero Killer: After Ash manifests fully in his dragon form, he kills more of the named cast within the first fifteen minutes than all other villains over the previous three books.
  • Heroic Bastard: The Red Knight is the illegitimate child of Ghause Muriens and her brother, the current King of Alba. While he despises the idea of God and is highly blasphemous, he has deeply held morals and works to restrain the worst inclinations of his mercenary band.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Prudentia's ghost sacrifices herself to provide the Red Knight with enough power to fight Thorn on even terms.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: In the third book, Jean de Vrailly begins to doubt the promises of his "angel", suspecting that he's being manipulated, and is generally shown in a much more sympathetic light than in his previous appearances. He's killed in the same book during a duel with the Red Knight.
  • High Priest: A heroic and a villainous examples in the Patriarchs of Liviapolis and Rhum respectively. The two of them lead Christianity, but they disagree on doctrine.
  • The High Queen: Queen Desiderata of Alba is beautiful, intelligent and regal, to the point that even after the Galles start to shred her reputation to pieces, most of the country adores her. She eventually grows into the Big Good of Alba.
  • Hive Mind: The Odine are all one entity in multitude of bodies.
  • Horned Humanoid:
    • Trolls are humanoid beasts with antlers.
    • Kevin Orley and his men, after getting mutated by Ash, have antlers sprouting out of their heads.
  • Horse Archer: The Vardariote archers are, like all Vardariotes, horsed.
  • Hot for Preacher: The Red Knight is in love with a nun.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Both Thorn and Ash believe this, though for a different reason - the former considers humans to be a pest infesting the perfection that is the Wild, while the latter is convinced that men are little more than animals, and it takes only a slightest push for them to turn into monsters.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Of the "Humans are Soldiers" variety - at one point, Thorn argues that humans shouldn't be underestimated, because they're experts at making war. Ash scoffs at that, but Thorn is later proven right.
  • Hypocrite: The archbishop of Alba is staunchly against hermeticism and condems it as evil, yet has a hermeticist in his employ.
  • Implied Love Interest: Walks On Clouds clearly has something for Irene, and Irena reciprocates the feeling, but with Walks On Clouds, one never knows, and Irene is too preoccupied with not dying at the time for an introspection.
  • Improbable Age: At the start of the novel, the Red Knight is twenty, and has been leading the company for four years. Even with the Deliberate Values Dissonance between Alba and real life, this is a pretty early start, especially considering that at the age of sixteen, Michael is still Red Knight's squire.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Many knights and men-at-arms use poleaxes, common weapons in the real middle ages but rare in fiction.
    • The armor used by many characters - the coat of plates, the intermediate armor between mail and full plate - is also rarely depicted in fiction.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Harmodius is one of the most powerful and skilled sorceres of his generation and he's very well aware of both of those facts. He's convinced that he's always correct and if he can't solve a problem, no-one else can. The Red Knight quickly grows tired of that.
    • The Red Knight himself is little better; he's an avid schemer, and needs to prove himself to be the smartest person in any given situation, which other characters often find annoying. This being said, he really is that brilliant.
  • Interspecies Friendship: One of the archers, Cully, becomes good friends with boglin Urk of Mogon.
  • Ironic Name: The name "Gabriel" means "God is my strongman". Gabriel believes that God doesn't care about him.
  • Kids Are Cruel: As a kid, Red Knight used to be bullied by his brothers, and still has some psychological scars from that.
  • Kill All Humans: Ash wants to destroy all of human civillization and twist what's left into savage monsters.
  • Kill the God: With time, Harmodius becomes hell-bent on slaying all of the dragons and other "gods" which have divided the multiverse among themselves.
  • Knighting: Starting with Sauce, at least Once per Episode, some members of the Red Company are knighted - Red Knight has a habit of making knights of people before or after bigger battles. The formula is always the same, and always wrapped up with someone smacking the newly-made knight on the back and advising them to never take another blow without retribution.
  • Knight Templar: De Vrailly's convinced that he's on a Mission from God and he's saving Alba, rather than destroying it (which is what nearly happens thanks to his interference).
  • Light 'em Up: The Fiat Lux spell is basically a weaponized burst of light.
  • Light Is Not Good: Jean de Vrailly's angel, A.K.A. Ash.
  • Lovable Rogue: Bad Tom is very deserving of his nickname - he's a scroundel and a man you definitely don't want to meet in a dark alley - but he's unflinchingly loyal to the Red Knight and saves the day more than once.
  • Magic Knight:
    • The Red Knight is initially a mid-level practitioner of magic of the Wild, but an expert warrior. However, he has been deliberately neglecting his magic in the hopes that his powers would atrophy from disuse, and the rare times he uses magic it's done in secret - although by book three, circumstances force him to be more open with it, turning him into a good example of this trope.
    • The Order of Saint Thomas is an entire group of sorcerer-knights.
  • Magic Is Mental: A sorcerer crafts his or her spells within the mind palace, and thus a sharp mind, an ability to focus and a good memory are all necessary to be a good hermeticist.
  • Magnetic Hero: The Red Knight is almost superhumanly good at commanding loyalty and making friends - Gavin notes at one point that after being with the company for merely a year, he already feels like he's belonged with it since its inception.
  • Mana: The magic comes from either the Wild (green magic) or the sun (golden magic), and hermeticists have to "charge up" from one or another before they can cast any spells. There's also black magic, coming from death.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Ash the dragon, who's behind most of the series' main villains.
  • The Marvelous Deer: The cream of the crop of Irk cavalry rides deer to battle.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Ash's magic literally smells of ash, and he wishes for the world to burn.
    • The Sossag have names that are meaningful in their language - for example, Ota Qwan means "Take Life", and he's a warrior, while Nita Qwan is "Gives Life", in memory of how he made a Deal with the Devil to save Ota Qwan's life.
    • "Desiderata" comes from "desired", and Queen Desiderata is World's Most Beautiful Woman.
    • In real life, Irene was an empress of Byzantium. In-universe, Irene is an heiress to this world's Byzantium expy.
    • In Finnish folklore, Haltija is an elf-like creature that guards and protects. Tapio Haltija in an elf-like irk knight who helps protect the creatures and people of the Wild from Thorn.
  • Meaningful Rename:
    • Upon joining the Sossag, Peter is given - and eventually adopts - name Nita Qwan to mark his new allegiance.
    • Ota Qwan returns to his old name when he decides to come back to the path of revenge he left behind back when he joined the Sossag.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: an odd mix of the late 1300s Europe, The Arthurian Mythos, folk mythology and the French and Indian Wars.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Monstrous Humanoids that Aneas' squad is hunting in book four are very durable and powerful, but their increased size and armour come at the cost of making them very slow. While fighting them, Aneas is practically able to run circles around them.
  • Mission from God: Jean de Vrailly claims to speak with an angel who has told him that it's his destiny to prove himself as the world's greatest knight and become the King of Alba. Said angel is later revealed to be Ash, this world's equivalent to Satan.
  • Monster Knight: Tapio Haltija, also known as the Faerie Knight, is a powerful and famed Irk warrior who rides a giant white stag into battle in the manner of human knights.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Many predatory creatures of the Wild are known to eat members of their own kind - it's not uncommon to find bodies after the battle eaten by the boglis even while the fight was still raging around them.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: Kevin Orley, post-transformation. He's large and lumbering, with a twisted face, blackened skin covered in some inhuman substance and antlers sprouting out of his head.
  • More Than Mind Control: Ash makes Thorn do his bidding by subtly manipulating his emotions and slowly changing his personality, so that eventually, Thorn does what Ash wants him to without realizing that he's being manipulated.
  • Mother Nature: The Outwallers worship goddess Tara, who's supposed to be a nature deity. She's actually a dragoness.
  • The Multiverse: The world the story takes place in is apparently one of many "spheres", as the Wyrm of Erch calls them, with various creatures of the Wild - and possibly humans - having arrived on it from other spheres. The main conflict of the series is revealed to be for control over interdimensional gates that lead to seven other spheres.
  • Mystical Plague: Early parts of The Plague Of Swords concern a hermetical plague designed by Ash which scours Alba and Morea before a cure is found.
  • Naughty Nuns: Many male members of the company note that the nuns at Lissen Carak are very pretty. The most visible example is sister Amicia, with whom the Red Knight is very obviously infatuated.
  • Nay-Theist: In early books, one of the Red Knight's favourite sayings is "God doesn't give a f***".
  • No Name Given:
    • For most of the first book, the Captain goes by either his rank or "the Red Knight". His real name is Gabriel Muriens, which he goes by openly by The Dread Wyrm.
    • The King is a straight example, as his name is never given at any point.
    • Nita Qwan's wife and the Sossag matrons are never named.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Dread Wyrm ends with the Albans, the Moreans and the Wild forming an alliance, ending centuries of animosity. A Plague of Swords opens with showcasing how things are different now, with Wild creatures and Outwallers openly trading with humans, an irk and boglin joining the Red Company, and the Wild participating in the tourney.
  • Not Just a Tournament:
    • The tourney in Harndon is de Rohan's excuse to burn the Queen alive, and kill her champion in the process, the aim of those being ending the anti-Gallish resistance in Alba.
    • The later tourney in Dorling is engineered so that the commanders of the alliance can meet inconspicuously.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Gavin feels this way about Jean de Vrailly, going out of his way to replace the Red Knight on the tourney where the two are going to fight. When Gabriel kills him in combat by champion, Gavin is furious.
  • Only Sane Man: In contrast to his fellow knights, the Comte d'Eu tries his best to alleviate the tensions between the Gallish and the Albians. Predictably, things rapidly go downhill after he's murdered.
  • Open Secret: By The Fell Sword, pretty much everyone knows that the nuns of Lissen Carak are all sorceresses.
  • Our Demons Are Different:
    • The Qwethnethog, who serve as the guardians of the Wild, are called demons by most humans, but seem to resemble large dromaeosaurids more than anything else.
    • All creatures that possess other creatures are nicknamed demons, even if they were human in life.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • The more common wyverns are your typical bipedal giant lizards, incapable of breathing fire and somewhat intelligent, with few of their kind capable of magic.
    • The rarely-seen dragons more closely resemble typical Western beasts, with the ability to breathe fire and turn into human. They're immortal, humongous and have magical powers that border on godlike levels.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Irks are immortal shape-changers, able to switch between an elf-like party face and a hideous war form. Many of them have magic powers.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Rukh are actually smaller than most examples of this trope, but still much bigger than humans. They're humanoid, but bestial, and any Power of the Wild can easily command them.
  • Our Griffons Are Different: They grow rapidly and not only generate, but feed off love. They will bond with the first person to demonstrate immense love in front of them and can talk with their bondsmate telepathically, though their intelligence is rather childlike.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: They're possibly an artificial warrior race and while they do serve the standard brute role of a troll, they are rather svelte and have giant antlers.
  • The Paladin: Pavalo Payal, a wielder of a magic blade and a dedicated fighter against supernatural evils on behalf of the master of Ifriquyan school of magic.
  • Pet the Dog: In the first book, when de Vrailly's angel orders him to let the King of Alba die in an ambush, de Vrailly's horrified and instead acts as the King's body double, almost dying in his place. Unfortunately, the angels spins it as a Secret Test of Character, thus further securing de Vrailly's loyalty.
  • Plaguemaster: Ash has a habit of engineering plagues that are designed to weaken or decimate the human forces.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Apart from being highly misogynistic and notorious rapists, most of the Gallish knights have nothing but disdain for the common people. At one point, Jean de Vrailly proudly admits to having slaughtered countless peasants who dared to defy him.
  • Portal Door: There are seven interdimensional gates in the world, leading to other spheres. The two we've seen directly so far - in Lissen Carak and Daar As Salam - look like large and ornate door.
  • Protagonist Title:
    • The "Traitor Son" in question is the Red Knight.
    • The Red Knight, obviously.
  • Punch Clock Villain: When he's introduced, Kronmir works for the duke of Thrake, but doesn't have anything against the Red Knight, and doesn't go any further than what his boss orders him to - in fact, he eventually bails out and sells his services to the Knight.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The Red Knight has a more subdued version of this, boiling under the surface; he's angry at God for all the crap he's been through as a child, and has taken to saying "God doesn't give a shit" whenever someone else has a fit of piety.
  • Really Gets Around: The Abbess of Lissen Carrak used to have many lovers, including the magus Richard Plangere before he fell and became known as Thorn and the King. The King himself, before meeting his current wife, had even asked for her hand in marriage.
  • Religious Bruiser: With the story being set in medievalesque times, this is to be expected.
    • The entire Order of Saint Thomas, being a militant order of knights, is obviously composed of this.
    • Father Ricard is both a chaplain (from the abovementioned order, no less) and knight, though on-page, he acts in the latter capacity much more often.
    • Pavalo Payam is a devoted Muslim and one of the best fighters in the story.
    • Double-subverted with Bad Tom. He's outwardly very Christian, but eventually reveals that it's mostly just to avoid annoyance - because he's actually a devoted follower of Outwaller goddess Tara.
  • The Runaway: The Red Knight ran away from his home at the age of fifteen to get away from his mother's dream of making him the leader of the Wild and the destroyer of Alba.
  • Schadenfreude: In early books, the Red Knight gets a kick from blaspheming in front of more religious members of his company and watching them tremble in terror, as if a bolt of lightning was about to strike him for his temerity. He grows out of it, though.
  • Scary Black Man: Pavalo Payam is an Ifriquyan (fantasy!African) man of an imposing posture and excellent swordsmanship. After he saves Blanche's life, people in Alba (unaccustomed to black people) think he's a demon she's conjured up.
  • Sea Monster: The Eeeague are octopus-like, tentacled beasts that plague the seas around Nova Terra, and often go for the ships. Even one of them can dish out terrifying amounts of damage.
  • Sharing a Body: Harmodius and the Red Knight are stuck in one body after the former is killed in battle. At the end of the second book, Harmodius manages to take over a new body for himself.
  • She Is the King: Sauce, as a woman knight, is titled Ser Alison rather than "Lady", as ladies don't fight.
  • Shown Their Work: Miles Cameron is apparently an avid medieval reenactor, and the depth of information on the weapons, armour and procedures of the Red Company in the books is a proof of that.
  • Sinister Minister:
    • The newly-appointed Gallish archbishop of Alba, who's more evil - and less ideologically motivated - than Jean de Vrailly, and who's not-so-subtly implied to be cooperating with Ash, without the "angel" facade the dragon has put up for de Vrailly.
    • The Patriarch of Rhum, implied to be in cahoots with the Odine.
  • The Siege: The main plot of The Red Knight centers around a pair of sieges. One takes place in the barely-defended city of Albinkirk, the other in the heavily fortified nunnery of Lissen Carrak.
  • Spirit Advisor:
    • Prudentia is one for the Red Knight. She used to be his magic teacher, whose soul he saved from passing on by pulling her into his mind palace when she was killed, and now she assists him with magic and acts as his devil's advocate and sounding board.
    • Harmodius serves as one to Red Knight in The Fell Sword. He leaves behind a Prudentia simulacrum when he hops into a new body.
  • The Spymaster: Kronmir, an expert spy and owner of a fairly extensive network of spies and assassins, provided he has time to build it first.
  • Sssssnaketalk: Tapio Haltija talks like this.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: The Quethnethogs can emit aura of fear that makes people trying to fight them freeze and panic, which is why killing an adversarius one-on-one is considered a really impressive accomplishment.
  • Taking the Veil: Amicia takes her vows at the end of the first book.
  • Tautological Templar:
    • The archbishop's justification for employing one of the hermeticists (whom he considers evil), is that he's a man of God, and God has used Judas to advance the cause of good before.
    • Hartmut Li Orguelleus at one point states that as a knight, it's his duty to kill the enemies of his king and his religion by any means necessary, and if Satan himself were to offer him his aid, he'd gladly accept it. Fittingly enough, he later makes a deal with Thorn, who is himself the servant of a Satanic figure.
  • That Man Is Dead: Kevin Orley abandons his old identity when he goes through a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Token Evil Teammate: While the worse members of the Red Company are crass and unpleasant to be around, Cat Evil is an outright mysoginist, and when Blanche stumbles into him, it's implied that only Wilful Murder's and Cully's company stop him from getting his hands on her.
  • Token Good Teammate: Jean de Vrailly's cousin Gaston, Comte d'Eu, is the only Gallish nobleman in the series who isn't a complete dick.
  • To Serve Man: Much like they have no taboo against Monstrous Cannibalism, the creatures of the Wild will often eat humans - sometimes while the battle said humans have been killed in is still raging around them.
  • The Tourney: Happens several times, either to celebrate victories or as an excuse for the organizer to get some people together under a false pretense. Most notably, a tourney forms a large part of the plot of The Dread Wyrm.
  • Tykebomb: The Red Knight's mother intended him to be her weapon against the King of Alba and has trained him to be a Power of the Wild as a child, but he's run away from that.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The Earl and the Duchess of the North. It's directly stated that none of their five children are his and both cheat on each other insult one other at any opportunity. However, they're also deeply in love and make a formidable pair of rulers due to his military skill and her magical power and political savvy.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between the Captain and Amica. Both have an obvious attraction to each other - which they acknowledge - but the nun remains true to her vows.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Jean de Vrailly eventually turns out to be this - while he's trying to save Alba, his "angel" is playing him like a fiddle for his own ends.
  • Vancian Magic: Hermeticists often work by preparing a spell beforehand and leaving it in their mind palace to grab whenever it's handy and use it. Those spells can also be passed between mind palaces.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: After the Final Battle of The Dread Wyrm ends in the annihilation of his forces, Ash gets the hell outta dodge pretty much unopposed, as he's already incapacitated the one person who could match him.
  • Villainous Friendship: The King of Alba (who's on the darker end of the grayscale) and Jean de Vrailly are very good friends - in fact, as de Vrailly laments after the King is killed (he's the only person to honestly mourn the King, too), they might be each other's Only Friends.
  • Villainous Valour: While he's one of the main villains and a Jerkass of epic proportions, Jean de Vrailly has a very strict code of honor and shows respect to those he regards as worthy opponents.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sauce and Bad Tom are always exchanging insults, but they're good friends, owning largely to the fact that Bad Tom sees Sauce as a fighter, not a woman.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Thorn eventually learns to do this, thanks to Ash powering him up. He can turn into both made-up creatures and real animals, but seems unable (or unwilling) to mimick appearance of others.
    • Dragons can take on variety of forms, with the "natural" one being a giant lizard - the Wyrm of Erch takes on a form of human most of the time, and Ash loves him some humanoid Body Horror.
  • Weak-Willed: Boglins and Rukh are very easy pray for the Powers of the Wild because of this.
  • When Trees Attack: The archmage Thorn has become an ambulatory tree that towers over even the trolls.
  • World of Badass: This being a military-focused fantasy, it's not really a surprise. Pretty much all armies are Badass Armies, the non-combatants are more often than not powerful sorcerers, the Wild creatures are all capable of tearing a grown man apart with their bare hands or teeth and dragons are pretty much Physical Gods.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman:
    • A male version of this - the Emperor of Morea is the most beautiful man in the world on account of being a product of generations of intermarriage between beautiful princesses and princes from different countries around the world. Sadly, he appears to be as dumb as he is beautiful.
    • His daughter Irene is a straight example, though smarter than her father.
    • The Queen of Alba is outright stated to be the most beautiful woman in Alba.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: The Odine are very clearly shocked when Red Knight and Mortimir manage to slay their enslaved dragon.
  • Zerg Rush: What the Wild lacks in tactical expertise, they make up for with superior numbers.

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