Literature: The Word and the Void aka: Running With The Demon
A trilogy of urban fantasy novels by noted author Terry Brooks, that deals with several recurring characters caught up in the ongoing war between The Word, which created all life, and The Void, which seeks to destroy it.The Knights of the Word walk the earth performing missions for The Lady, and each night they dream of what will happen if they fail. They are locked in a secret conflict with the demons of the void, once-human shape shifters dedicated to the destruction of all things.The books are as follows:
Running With The Demon
A Knight Of The Word
Angel Fire East
In Running with the Demon, Cute Witch Nest Freemark finds her life thrown into chaos when the titular demon arrives in her hometown of Hopewell, pursued by Knight of the Word, John Ross. Both want something from her, though Nest isn't sure what that could be, and seem to have ties to her family's past, specifically her mother, who committed suicide some years earlier. The demon also goes out of his way to stir up trouble around the town, which is in the middle of a long and bitter strike, putting in motion numerous plans which, if successful, will lead to Nest's subversion, and the end of the world as they know it. A Magical Native American named O'olish Amaneh is also in the area, and provides Nest and Ross with some important, if cryptic guidance as the story moves towards a violent climax.Several years later, in A Knight of the Word, John Ross, following a personal tragedy, has renounced his position as a Knight, and is now working for a mundane charity. Concerned that the demons will attempt to turn him, O'olish Amaneh recruits Nest to do for John what John did for her, charging her with saving the fallen Knight before it is too late. Unbeknownst to John though, one of the demons is already closing in.After another Time Skip, both John and the demons return to Hopewell in Angel Fire East, hunting a fairy of enormous potential.The books were retconned into the backstory of Brooks' ongoing Shannara series (see The Genesis of Shannara for details). One of the author's few ventures outside the world of High Fantasy, The Word and the Void paints a disturbing image of a world caught up in an ongoing war that it isn't even aware of. Highly recommended.The character sheet for this series, and the Shannara books can be found hereThis series provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: Jared Scott's mother and boyfriends. Many others are alluded to.
Down on the Farm: Hopewell is the cynical version of this, being a dried up, poor Midwestern town with no future, and residents whose morals are slowly decaying at best. The steel mill is the only source of income, and farming just doesn't pay like it used to. The town slogan of "We're Growing Your Way" is a bad joke at best.
The Dragon: In Running With The Demon the demon invokes the trope's inspiration by loosing the maentwrog on John Ross.
Dying Town: Hopewell. Most of the population is older, the people left behind are desperate and/or poor, and the only real source of income is the steel mill. Brooks paints a very sad picture with it of a town dying a slow death.
Hero of Another Story: O'olish Amaneh, one of the Lady's other servants, definitely gives off this vibe. It's not hard to imagine him out there contributing in ways that are every bit as important as those of Nest and Ross.
Hero Killer: Findo Gask specializes in hunting Knights of the Word.
Heroic BSOD: Ross before the beginning of Knight Of The Word.
Heroic Fire Rescue: Stefanie subverts this in A Knight of the Word as a cover for the bumps and bruises that she had endured during her fight with Nest; despite her shapeshifting abilities, she couldn't hide those injuries completely.
Mugging the Monster: In the first book, a boy demands a toll from anyone who crosses his street, using his dog as the threat. He tries it on the demon. The demon makes the boy smell like a rabbit and the whole affair ends very badly for the bully.
Mutants: Ross runs into a few of these "once-men" in the future.
Revenge by Proxy: Nest's existence is the result of this. When the demon was spurned by her grandmother, he went away for years, then came back and seduced her daughter Catelyn, got her pregnant and then revealed the truth, driving Catelyn to suicide shortly after Nest's birth.
Satan: The Void, which only speaks once (in Angel Fire East) could be considered the setting's Satan analogue.
Shape Shifter: Most demons can alter their appearance in one way or another. Stefanie is the most obvious example.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The maentwrog in Running With The Demon. Or more accurately Sealed Evil In A Tree.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Derry Howe from Running With The Demon is what happens when this character is dumb, easily manipulated, and dropped into the middle of a town that's in the middle of a strike. Ross and O'olish Amaneh both have aspects of this.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Each book's demon is more dangerous than the last one, most pronounced with the jump from Stefanie to Gask. Definitely justified by John Ross' epic level of badassery. Most demons go around sowing general chaos and are a roughly even match for a Knight of the Word, but by the third book they figure out that for Ross they need the demon (Gask) who specializes in hunting Knights. And even he recruits two more demons to help him.
The Soulless: All demons. They're the remains of humans who sold their souls to The Void in return for more power.
It's implied that all demons are actually capable of adopting any form they want, it's just for most of them it takes weeks for them create a new form, Knight's Big Bad was special in that it could change forms in mere minutes.
Was Once a Man: All the demons were once human, and gave up their souls for power.
World Half Full: It's a cynical, depressing setting, in which the war between The Word and The Void can never be ended, but it is possible to make a small difference in peoples' lives. That's what keeps Nest and Ross going.