Tomes of Prophecy and Fate
Homework has never been this fun.
People have wanted to know the future ever since the concept of "future" existed, so the idea of inverting
a History Book from a recounting of the past into a Tome Of Prophecy
that predicts the future has found lasting appeal
. This tome is pretty much Exactly What It Says On The Cover
; it's a book written by a prophetnote
, a school of seers, or possibly even a god.
As such all the Fate and Prophecy Tropes
apply, including being open to interpretation, often compounded by being written in a dead language. Inexactness notwithstanding, just about everyone and their Hot Librarian
will want to steal this MacGuffin
Now, imagine what would happen if rewriting parts of the Tome of Prophecy didn't make it inaccurate, but instead changed
the prophecy. In these cases, what you have is a Tome of Fate
, the "big brother" to the Tome of Prophecy. Rather than be a normal book with a mystic prophecy written on it, you have a mystic book that turns whatever is written in it into fact. A Tome of Fate can vary considerably from setting to setting in what it can do, though usually they can do one or all of the following: provide an exhaustive record of every event
past and future written in its nigh infinite
but comfortably portable pages
, act as a
literary genie (with all the risks
that that implies
), and serve as a Cosmic Keystone
that defines the nature of existence and is capable
of Rewriting Reality
. If a Tome of Fate
is indeed magic, rather than merely being written by someone who is magic, then it will probably overlap with Reality Writing Book
The Tomes of Prophecy and Fate need not mean that You Can't Fight Fate
; a lot of the time they're designed to work without compromising free will, though they do exert (or reflect) a great deal of power over existence. As a carry-on size Deus ex Machina
, the Tome of Fate may be safeguarded
with a number of features, especially when it doubles as a Cosmic Keystone
. It may be a Clingy MacGuffin
that can't be destroyed except under specific circumstances, paired with a magic quill, ink, or eraser to make rewriting it more difficult, or out and out made "read only" to avoid Edit Wars
Compare Reality Writing Book
, Tome of Eldritch Lore
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Anime and Manga
- Bloody Cross has The Book of Prophecy and The Book of Da'at (which means knowledge), two powerful God's Inheritences that appeared for the current Holy War. Though, their exact nature and powers haven't been fully revealed yet.
- In the Dragon Magazine comic Libram X, the eponymous tome is both the accurate self-writing log and can be written (one magic quill is included in the kit). Which naturally explains why everyone and their dogs tried to find it all this time.
- The book of Destiny, from The Sandman series is a Tome of Fate; being already complete, the book can't be edited. It is heavily implied that Destiny's sole purpose is to read the book.
- Actually, it's outright stated that his sole purpose is to keep and read the book. It's heavily implied that the book is an actual part of him (or vice versa).
- A storyline that ran for several issues of The Brave and the Bold had Destiny lose the book and several characters using it to change events, so it can be edited. Note however that this story is from the main DC Universe and so not canonical with Sandman's version.
- Several examples from The Belgariad. The most prominent one is the Mrin Codex, but there is also the Darine Codex (less detailed than the Mrin Codex, but much easier to read and comprehend due to the insanity of the Mrin prophet), the Ashabine Oracles, and the Book of Kell.
- The Book of Three in the Chronicles of Prydain is a Tome of Prophecy.
- In Good Omens, "The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch" are a Tome of Prophecy with extensive annotations.
- The Night Watch has a Tome of Fate, though it's not the tome that's important but the Chalk to write in it. If a Great Sorceress of Light holds the Chalk of Fate in her hand and performs a certain ritual, the spectral Tome of Fate will automatically appear before her, allowing her to rewrite a small portion of fate. The fact that the Tome of Fate can be summoned in two places at once proves to be crucial when the characters realize that while the main heroine was rewriting a person's fate, another Great Sorceress simultaneously rewrote her fate without the Day Watch noticing.
- In the Redwall series, there is a cavern that functions as a Tome of Prophecy in Salamandastron behind the Badger Lord's throne, sealed with a boulder so huge that only a badger warrior can move it. The warrior seer badger lords retreat into this cavern when so moved and paint their prophetic visions on the walls. Outsiders are allowed in only at the behest of the current Badger Lord, so generally only the lords themselves know what is painted there.
- In Transformers: Exodus, Alpha Trion writes things out with the Quill in the Covenant of Primus, whereas the rest of Cybertronian society prefers typing things out. The Covenant details future events but it's a matter of context on interpretation, and the Quill has a limited ability on writing new events, but the future is quite mutable and the changes don't always last. Hence, Alpha Trion sticks to chronicling Cybertron's history.
- Good Magician Humphrey Book of Answers in the Xanth series, which is a magical compendium of every bit of information Humphrey came across in his 100+ years of life, and which is able to make prophecies based on acquired data.
- In the first book of the Young Wizards series, the protagonists use a Tome of Fate to alter the nature of the Big Bad, from irredeemable to redeemable.
- Lord Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana has Trogool, the thing that is neither god nor beast, which sits at the edge of creation reading one of these, turning the pages black and white until THE END. When IT turneth a black page it is night, and when IT turneth a white page it is day, and "[t]hough the whirlwind of the South should tug with his claws at a page that hath been turned, yet shall he not be able ever to turn it back."
- The Power of Five series has a dream world where the five main characters can talk to each other. It has a library that holds the book of every person who has ever lived (and possibly who will live). Each book tells the entire life story of that person from birth to death, Matt reads his in order to find out how to defeat the Old Ones.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel had a lot of these, sometimes in book form (codex) and sometimes in scroll form. Few reach the complexity of the Pylean tomes of prophecy, however, which are written in both demon tongues and trionic, meaning part of a passage begins in one book, continues in a second book and ends in a third book. Not only does the reader needs to be able to read the demonic language being used but they need to understand it enough to translate the rhythm in order to know when to switch books to get the rest of the information.
- Mahou Sentai Magiranger/Power Rangers Mystic Force had the Book of Prophecy, a tome that unerringly predicted the future.
- Charmed: In the episode "They're Everywhere", the Akashic Records are described to be this. However they will never be read; being destroyed before it was possible at the end of the episode.
- Makai Kingdom. The Sacred Tome predicts the future with absolute certainty, and whatever is written in it BECOMES the truth. 'Badass Freakin' Overlord' Zetta is pissed off because the tome claims that he will destroy his own Netherworld through foolishness and arrogance, so he burns it. This causes the entire world to collapse, and he has to quickly transform HIMSELF into the Sacred Tome to prevent a total collapse, though his own Netherworld still bites it, thus proving the prediction true... Most of the gameplay basically centers around using the powers of the Zetta-Tome, by having various characters write 'wishes' into it, thus making them come true.
- Super Paper Mario has the Dark Prognosticus and it's counterpart, the Light Prognosticus which was written to counteract the former.
- Tales of the Abyss - the Score contains all the significant things that will ever happen.
- Even the insignificant things, as everybody gets a birthday score told to them on their birthday that tells them anything that might happen to them over the next year. Unless the score foretells them their death, which they won't be told of.
- Some even consult the Score for every-day matters like what to have for dinner.
- The Elder Scrolls series has the eponymous scrolls that supposedly contain a record of everything that ever has and ever will happen. Some of them are kept in the Imperial Palace and studied by an order of monks who gradually go blind from reading them. In Oblivion, the Thieves' Guild final quest is to steal one. It looks like a large sheet of parchment covered in bizarre runes, lines and geometric shapes. In Skyrim, you find one in an ancient Dwemer ruin, and reading it in the right place gives you a vision of the dragon Alduin's first defeat. Reading it anythwere else temporarily blinds you.
- There also supposedly exists a Book of Fate, which appears blank when you try to read it, implying the Dragonborn is Immune to Fate. On the other hand, it might be a con, considering that you later discover that Calixo, the guy telling you about the book, is actually a deranged serial killer with a penchant for necromancy.
- Histoire in Neptunia is implied to be this.
- The basic premise of Avalon Code (pictured above) is that the world is going to end and be reborn. Your homework is to record everything worth keeping or changing.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Sibylline Books in Ancient Rome. These were a collection of ancient books containing ominous prophecies and religious instructions that were consulted by the Roman government in times of crisis. Supposedly Tarquin the Proud, the last king of Rome, had bought them from the Sibyl of Cumae. They have not survived, so their contents are only partially known from secondary sources.
- The Sibyl was a good salesman: she offered a price, Tarquin refused, so she burned three of the twelve books. She offered the same price, Tarquin refused, so she destroyed three more. She offered the same price again, Tarquin refused, so she burned three more of the books. She offered the same price for the last three, and Tarquin accepted.
- The Garencières by Nostradamus.
- One interpretation of the book of the Book of Revelation is that it is this trope.