Sometimes magic is hard...A world of fae, a young fairy having trouble with magic, a grumpy uncle, cool friend, winged cat, magic duels, bullies...Tough Magic is a trilogy of books (Absenscantia, Trenus, and Magithral), by E. G. Castle, about a young fairy struggling with his magic, and how -surprise, surprise- he overcomes his issues, with a good bit of magical beat-down being handed out on the way.
Tough Magic contains examples of:
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Tropes present in all of the books
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Thran has one, although she doesn't actually appear in the books; only being mentioned.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In one of the outtakes, Yil gives a whole emo spiel about how terrible his life is... then finishes with mentioning he hurt his pinky. In a different one, Yil, Thran, Uncle Rick and Holois all list a bunch of issues, all ending with some nonsense one.
- Author Avatar: In the outtakes section in the back of the book the Author appears, directing the scenes. Which usually end up going completely wrong, to his deep dismay.
- Background Magic Field: The rurant is a field of energy that a caster draws on to perform a spell.
- Beam-O-War: Spells clash with each other all the time in incuels.
- The Bully: A good few characters are bullies actually: Rungar, Jhosen, Vorne, Nist, Brath...
- Cats Are Magic: Holois, a large, winged and intelligent purple ca- Ahem. ‘Alafin’.
- Disability Superpower: Yil, despite being an absenscantia, becomes good at magic. It’s actually an inversion; he isn’t better at magic because he’s a absenscantia, he becomes good at magic despite being an absenscantia.
- Fictional Sport: Incuel is a sport that's the result of taking magical dueling and mixing it with martial arts. Not as dangerous as it sounds, thanks to invarmas.
- Flashback: There are two flashbacks in the beginning of Trenus, which help set up events later on in the book. There’s also one in Absenscantia, where the narration goes into flashback mode in response to Yil’s writing a letter; however, he specifically does not mention what happens in the flashback.
- Gang of Bullies: Two bully gangs briefly appear, one with Vorne, the other with Nist and Brath.
- Geometric Magic: Spell-diars, spells which use a physical diagram to help control and power the spell.
- Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Healing magic is mentioned to be very difficult a few times.
- The Hermit / Hermit Guru: Uncle Rick lives like a hermit, having a dislike for being social, living alone several miles away from the nearest town, and only leaving to go to his job.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Each book has a whole outtake section in the back. Yes, in a book.
- Homage: Uncle Rick’s car travels through time in an outtake, referencing Back to the Future. In another one, Bugs Bunny pops up, being hunted by an off-screen Elmer Fudd. Darth Vader appears in yet a third outtake, and spouts off a few of his trademark lines before fighting Yil.
- Instant Runes: Casting a trenus causes the spell-diar (diagram of a spell), to appear in the air.
- Kids Are Cruel: Yil has no friends because he’s not good with magic, being an absenscantia, and a good few bullies target him.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: Any incuelist is basically a spell-slinging martial artist.
- Magic Mirror: Temirs are mirrors that act as videophones, working off some form of magitek.
- Magic Misfire: Yiltry is prone to having his spells misfire, due to being an absenscantia.
- Magical Gesture: Gestures are often used to help direct spells; particularly notable in the incuels.
- Magical Incantation: Spells are often cast using spell-chants.
- Magitek: Emis is filled with magical technology; most of it resembling regular technology.
- Mana: Sorvs are how much magic being drawn/used is measured.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Before every incuel, the fighters announce their names while bowing.
- Our Fairies are Different / Our Elves Are Better: Emis is populated by various fairies, although aside from skin, hair, and eye colors (which vary greatly), they seem mostly human; pushing them into elf territory. They are all able to do magic, although with occasional... provisos...
- Pie in the Face: A pie is tossed into Thran’s and the Author’s faces in an outtake. Also happens to Yil in an outtake in Magithral.
- Power Crystal: Mesc and macrys are crystals that function as magic batteries; which powers the magitek.
- Punched Across the Room: It’s not uncommon in incuels for the fighters to be knocked off their feet and a good bit backwards with a kick or punch, although it’s more common with spells.
- Rapid Fire Interrupting: At one point Thran refuses (not deliberately) to allow Yil to get out a complete sentence. To be fair; he was really worked up at the time. Also, at the very end of Magithral, a crowd of kids talk over each other, creating the same effect.
- Running Gag: Holois’s hitting peoples’ noses with her tail. Mostly Uncle Rick, but it happens a time or two to Yil as well.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Anyone who spends enough time around Holois can usually understand her, although she usually only speaks in various ‘mrows’. Yil’s the best at it, though.
- Suicide Pact: In two separate outtakes, Yil, Thran, Uncle Rick and Holois kill each other after each gives a speech about how hard their life is, always ending in something ridiculous.
- Tournament Arc: Trenus contains a tournament for a few chapters, and Magithral is actually made up of two tournament arcs back-to-back.
- Translation Convention: Played with: Holois only speaks in mrows; with either the narration proving a translation, another character responding to what she said; implying what it was, or a character outright translating for the benefit of others.
- Wizard Duel: Incuel is a sport where wizards duel each other with magic and martial arts. No, not to the death.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Pretty much everyone has an unusual hair color (Skin and eyes too). Justified, since it’s a world of fae, not humans.
- Cathartic Scream: At one point early on, Yil goes off by himself to a quiet spot in the woods to think things over. It doesn’t go too well, until he screams to vent his frustration; after which he finds he can evaluate what he needs to do.
- F--: A bully tries to insult Yil by suggesting he had gotten double ‘F’s on his exams.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: Fe calls Yil by his full name (Yiltry Adler Wilven, since you ask.), when getting annoyed after Yil refuses to discuss with her why he thinks he passed his exams.
- Hippie Teacher: Yil’s teacher, Mrs. Hiolet, is widely viewed as being overly-bright and friendly, with strict views against corporal punishment.
- Symbol Swearing: Appears in an outtake; apparently because the Author forbade swearing at all in the book itself.
- Flowery Elizabethan English / Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: An outtake has the setup for the dupair being redone in a parody of old English/Shakespearean English..
- Inevitable Waterfall: A short outtake lampshades the whole ‘falling into a river and going/almost going over a waterfall’ business. The Author even lampshades it, “And who put a waterfall there?!”
- Mirror Match: Yil has a match with his doppelganger, a magitek golem designed to duplicate his skills.
- Robot Me: The doppelganger Uncle Rick makes for Yil is specifically designed to match his capabilities; it being a golem programmed to fight just like him.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Gast insists on being referred to as teacher or similar when he’s teaching. As he explains;"To learn, or take orders from someone, you need to respect them, and using a title is a way of ensuring that."
- Time Skip: Trenus skips about a month's worth of time from Absenscantia, using a few flashbacks to note anything of interest that had happened in the meantime. Weirdly, those flashbacks happen at the very beginning of the book.
- Angry Fist-Shake: Uncle Rick does this at Holois after she hits his nose with her tail one last time.
- Banana Peel: Yil fights a clown (Yes, really.) in an outtake, with the clown tossing a bunch of banana peels around. Ironically, when Yil goes through the peel field the first time he gets through perfectly fine. When the clown goes through it, however... And Yil doesn’t do too well the second time either.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: A bleep covers up a curse word in one of the outtakes. Actually makes some sense in context (despite it being a book), considering that the outtakes are mostly presented as blooper reels.