Book one of the
Patricia C. Wrede
. It's set in an
where magic is a normal part of life for the settlers on the Columbian (their version of America) frontier.
Eff Rothmer was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the
seventh son of a seventh son
. This means he's
supposed to possess amazing talent
— and she's supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.
This book provides examples of:
The Ace: Lan Adults Are Useless: Averted. The adults are the people Eff, Lan and William go to with concerns for good reason. Age Cut: Happens a few times with Eff going through a few years in just a paragraph and then resuming the narrative All of the Other Reindeer: Eff's aunts, uncles and cousins. Alternate History: Nineteenth century American frontier with magic, dragons and wooly mammoths Alternate Universe Always Chaotic Evil: Thirteenth children, according to Eff's aunts and uncles Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Jeweled minks, silverhoofs and other wildlife from the Plains Ancient Artifact: The wooden pendent seems like this Apologizes a Lot: Eff Arbitrary Skepticism: Professor Rothmer thinks Eff's aborted attempt to blow up her uncle was a fluke, even though he's presumably seen stranger things from his students. As You Know: Eff starts the book by talking about how everyone knows seventh sons are special. Audience Murmurs: How the Rationalists crowd in Oak River showed its approval of Eff being willing to go out without protection spells Badass Longcoat: Seemingly a requirement for living west of the Great Barrier Spell Bad Powers, Bad People: Eff's aunts and uncles seem to think this is at play Because Destiny Says So: Eff spent years being sure that she was going to go bad one day Berserk Button: Don't pick on Eff when Lan is around. Or any of her other siblings, for that matter. Big Damn Heroes Boarding School: Lan and William go off to one in the East. Born Lucky: Professor Rothmer and Lan Bratty Teenage Daughter: Rennie is this for a long time Break the Cutie: The first five years of Eff's life. Bug Catching Bullying The Dragon: Eff's aunts, uncles and cousins spent the first five years of Eff's life bullying her Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Poor Eff can't even get away with things she didn't do! Character Witness: William serves as this for Eff Child Prodigy: Lan Children Are Innocent: Examined. Eff treated as a monster by her extended family for the first five years of her life, despite never doing anything to deserve it. Years later, when she catches herself wondering whether her sister's possible death would change her status as an unlucky thirteenth, her first reaction is to believe that her aunts and uncles were right about her all along. Close-Knit Community: Mill City, as they are assured as soon as they arrive. Conflict Killer: Lan's double-seven status The Conscience: Eff is this for Lan sometimes. Containment Field: The Great Barrier Spell is this writ large Cool Teacher: Miss Ochiba and Wash, to a lesser extent Crying Little Kid: Poor Eff Cub Cues Protective Parent: Wash's rule of thumb when in the settlement territory Determined Homesteader Determined Homesteader's Wife Don't Split Us Up: An unusual example, as it was only for the month or so that the family stayed in their old hometown, but Lan insists that he and Eff stay together so he can protect her. Doom Magnet: Eff thinks she's this, among other things, thanks to her extended family's abuse. Elopement: Rennie and Brant Energy Absorption: The grubs, beetles and mirror bugs Enfant Terrible: Another thing the extended Rothmer family suspected Eff of having been Ethnic Magician: Miss Ochiba and Wash, who use Aphrikan (aka African) conjure magic rather than the Avrupan (aka European) magic of almost everyone else Evil Uncle: Earn Expospeak: The professors do this occasionally. William and Lan get in on it too, after they go East for school. Family Disunion Fantastic Time Management: Quick-drying spells, speed-travel spells and more Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Professor Graham Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Played with. As the setting is an AU Earth, the lands and cultures are pretty much the same, but they all have different names. Columbia is America, Aphrika is Africa, Avrupa is Europe, Ashia is Asia, Cathay is China, among others Feathered Fiend: Terrorbirds Flat Earth Atheist: The Rationalists, to some extent, though instead of not believing in something that's there, they decide to go without it (meaning going about their lives on the frontier without the use of magic to protect them.) Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Lan and Eff, respectively Free-Range Children Friendly Rivalry: Lan and William have one going when they come back from boarding school. Functional Magic Fundraiser Carnival Gentleman Adventurer: Wash is an interesting variant of this, as is Dr Mc Neil. Good Parents: Daniel and Sara Rothmer Guilt Complex: Eff Harmful to Minors: The extended Rothmer family. Hannibal Lecture: Uncle Earn tries to give one to Eff. It doesn't end well. Head-in-the-Sand Management: The Settlement Office, particularly under Mr Harrison. Held Back In School: Eff after having rheumatic fever. Here There Be Dragons Hermetic Magic: Avrupan magic Heroic Safe Mode: Caused by Professor Rothmer with a magic-dampening spell after Eff's argument with Earn Higher Education Is for Women: According to settlers, at least Historical-Domain Character: Ben Franklin was a double-seventh son in this world. He and Thomas Jefferson, also a double-seven (Something neither was in our world - they were a tenth and an only son, respectively), created the Great Barrier Spell to keep the United States of Columbia safe from western wildlife. I Just Want to Be Normal: Eff Ill Girl: Eff is this for a while after fighting off rheumatic fever Inept Mage: Eff, after the incident with Uncle Earn Intergenerational Friendship: Eff and Wash, also Eff and Prof Jeffries. Istanbul Not Constantinople: Columbia is America, Gaul is France, etc. Ivy League Just Think of the Potential: Brant about a successful Rationalist settlement opening up the rest of the West to settlement. Kicking Ass in All Her Finery Kids Are Cruel: Eff's cousins torment her as a child. Lady of Adventure: Eff Lamarck Was Right: Seventh and double-seventh sons are an odd case of this Last Fertile Region: Oak River Lecture As Exposition The Load: Mr Harrison, even before he's named in the book Ma'am Shock Magic A Is Magic A: Just like magic B and magic C Magic Is a Monster Magnet Magical Negro: Played with in both Miss Ochiba and Wash Magical Seventh Son: Lan. It isn't until the third book that people realize that Eff, as the seventh daughter of a seventh son, also applies. Magic Tool: Wash's pendant Magic Versus Science: Averted. Magic is treated as a science. Mama Bear: Mrs Rothmer Massively Numbered Siblings: Eff has seven brothers and six sisters. Her father has six brothers and several sisters. A Minor Kidtroduction Missing Mom: William's mother is an invalid, never shows up in story, and is implied to be unable to have any role in William's raising MRS Degree Muggles Do It Better: Rationalist engineers. Also Brant on the Mc Neil Expedition My Secret Pregnancy Neet: Rennie No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Played with. Jefferson and Franklin did leave behind their notes for the Great Barrier Spell, but since Franklin was self-taught and Jefferson tended to assume that everyone was as well read as he was, nobody can make any sense out of them. Numerological Motif: 7 and 13 Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mr Harrison Our Dragons Are Different: They produce steam. Overshadowed by Awesome Parents Know Their Children: Daniel and Sara Rothmer do, at least. Professor Graham, however, does not. Polar Opposite Twins: Lan and Eff Power Incontinence Power Limiter: Power Trio: Eff, Lan and William are ego, id and superego, respectively. Prim and Proper Bun: Miss Ochiba The Professor: Several, Eff's father being the main example Reasonable Authority Figure: Eff's parents and mentors Screw Destiny: Not Eff's response, but everyone else's Settling the Frontier She Is All Grown Up The Sheriff Shut Up, Hannibal!: Eff to Uncle Earn Silver Has Mystic Powers: As does sulfur, and other minerals and metals. Skip of Innocence Slave Liberation: How Miss Ochiba's parents met. Southern-Fried Private: Wash has a Southern drawl and, like many other black men, fought for the North in the Secession War. Spanner in the Works: Allie is this for Rennie's plan to run away with Brant Stern Teacher Supernatural Sensitivity: Aphrikan world-sensing Synchronized Swarming: Swarming weasels Terminally Dependent Society: The Rationalists believe society is too dependent on magic Textile Work Is Feminine: The Rothmer women are in charge of laundry and mending clothes Thirteen Is Unlucky: Why Eff's extended family dislikes her. Too Dumb to Live: Mr Harrison, Uncle Earn Troubled Child Twin Desynch: Happens a bit after Eff spent a year bedridden Twin Telepathy: Averted, later invoked by William Unable To Support A Wife Unequal Rites: Avrupan mages are called magicians while Aphrican mages are conjurefolk and leaders Hijero-Cathayan covens are called adepts. The Unfavorite Unlikely Hero Unstoppable Rage: Eff fears this is what her magic will become Walking Techbane The Watcher: Wash functions as this for a little while. Whatevermancy Wicked Weasel: Swarming Weasels Wide-Eyed Idealist: Professor Rothmer considers Brant to be this to some extent Wild Magic: What Aphrikan magic uses The Wild West With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Double-seven powers Wonder Child: Lan, as a double-seventh son You Know What They Say About X Youngest Child Wins: Subverted. Lan is supposed to be the great magician of the family, but Eff is the one that saves the day