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YMMV: Doctrine of Labyrinths
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Felix: horribly-damaged Woobie who hurts people only as a defense mechanism and who only needs unconditional love, or Felix, the mildly-deranged, extremely-manipulative sadistic asshole who doesn't know how good he has it? Yes.
    • Also, Mildmay as a responsible character? He's great with Felix, but he also has a habit of having sex with strange women, including possibly-indentured prostitutes, which means that, in all likelihood, he's perpetuating the cycle of unknown, unwanted children who will in turn wind up indentured to thief-keepers, pimps, and crime lords.
  • Author Appeal: A disproportionate number of important characters in this (and Monette's other work) are delicate-looking men.
  • Canon Sue: Word of God says she realized Felix has all the qualities of a Mart-Sue (beautiful, unusual hair and eye colours, scars, a tragic past, loads of people in love with him, magic) but his entire character can be seen as a deconstruction of a Sue.
  • Gratuitous Rape: Felix's assault by Malkar in Mélusine naturally made for a dark setup, but it made sense in context of the characters' relationship and motives. But throwaway character Edwin Beckett's gang subjecting Felix to another combination of magical and physical rape to restart a clock in Corambis? Even for a Crapsack World, that's piling on.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Mildmay insists that he's ugly and that no one could possibly be attracted to him, and though his scar does make him look scary, it doesn't stop Felix, Mehitabel, Ginevra, Kolkhis, Cardenio, Corbie and loads of other people from being attracted to him and Felix calls him 'beautiful' on many occasions. Most fan artists usually draw him as a hot guy with a scar.
    • Mehitabel is supposedly quite plain, yet she has an endless supply of fascinated men, including the Lord Protector, on her string.
  • Ho Yay: Felix and Mildmay. Especially since Felix is explicitly stated to have the hots for his brother and they have shared one kiss. With tongue. Despite the potential Squick, a quick jaunt to a fanfiction site will prove that some readers found the pairing very appealing.
    • They spend almost the whole of Corambis sharing a bed, occasionally cuddling and are comfortable with seeing each other naked. And there's the infamous bathhouse scene.....
    • Then there's Murtagh in Kay's bedroom, the implications of which are lampshaded by Kay when he observes that Murtagh's wife "will have stronger words than unwise an she catches you creeping" to Kay's bedroom.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Felix again. The utter trauma and horror he's been through in his life, as well as the genuine need for love and companionship he has that is masked by his defense mechanisms, makes him a Woobie. His personality makes him a Jerkass.
    • Lieutenant Vulpes also qualifies, based on his dreams being haunted by Louis Goliath, his assignment to act as a Honey Trap to Felix, and then what happens at the end of The Mirador and in Corambis. The Jerkass part is pretty obvious from the get-go.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Mikkary. Oh, god, mikkary.
    • And a lot of Felix and Mildmay's dreams. {"I spent all night looking for someone who wasn't dead."} Many of the sex scenes. And anything involving Malkar. For example, when Felix was young, Malkar cast spells on him to make him deaf, mute, and blind for hours on end.
  • No Yay: Felix and Malkar. Mildmay and Kolkhis. Mildmay's dreams about Kolkhis and Ginevra in The Virtu. *shudder*
  • Porn with Plot: The sex isn't the only reason to read these books— fans avidly promote its highly individualized first-person narration in particular— but there's a lot of it here, especially in ''The Mirador''. Of course, readers vary over which parts are hot and which parts are just disturbing. Not that Felix doesn't prefer it both ways...
    • If Costume Porn counted toward this, the work would violate site rules.
  • Stoic Woobie: Gee, guess who? Mildmay.
    • What about Mehitabel? She's been molested by her uncle, her lover is chained by magic spells with his thumbs cut off in a part of the Bastion she can't reach, Louis Goliath and Lieutenant Vulpes force her to spy for them by sleeping with the Lord Protector, the company she works for nearly goes out of business, and her apparent best friend is Felix... and she never whines to anyone. No wonder Felix says that she "would stand like iron" when lesser people "mewled and ran."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Stephen and the Curia, for not wondering why a prostitute-made-good in Marathat would even want to destroy the Virtu, or why a typically sober, if eccentric, Cabaline was "too far gone on Phoenix to cause you any trouble" when they caught up with him and Malkar. Everyone who Thaddeus browbeat into recognizing the compulsion on Felix— a compulsion that was supposed to be utterly impossible— and does absolutely zero investigation. Pretty much everyone in Hermione, for ignoring the possibility of the fantome. Stephen again, for not asking himself why Mehitabel, a shamelessly promiscuous, proudly independent woman, would agree to his demands for unilateral fidelity in their relationship. But the dunce's cap has to go to Gerrard Hume: he wanted to tackle a superior military head-on, refused to negotiate a treaty with a critical ally, and is genre blind enough to get himself and most of his top officers killed or maimed while awakening a legendary, mysterious engine of destruction... with human blood. Could anyone even imagine that scenario ending well for them?
  • Wangst:
    • Felix falls into this at times. Gee, Felix, you're beautiful, intelligent, charismatic, powerful, and rich, and everyone and their dog is falling over themselves to make you happy... and you still act like an asshole and mope over what a monster you are.
    • Kay. He ordered his people to fight a hopeless war just because the guy he had a crush on wanted him to, executed his prisoners of war out of spite, performed a blood sacrifice with an ancient engine of destruction, and constantly whines about the consequences (admittedly, going blind and being chained to a coffin are unpleasant). Not to mention that he feels terribly persecuted because he knows Gerrard wouldn't be interested in his advances, even though he can and does have pretty much any other handsome man he wants, seeimingly without condemnation.
  • The Woobie: Mildmay. Oh, Dear God, Mildmay...
    • Felix, as well. The crap he's gone through almost justifies the crap he puts other people through.
    • Up until he murders Gideon and attempts to push it on Felix (like whoa), Isaac seems like this progressively throughout the third book.
    • Gideon, who falls in love with a madman (Felix) who is more often than not terrified of him, gets separated from said Felix by the people who he is absolutely terrified of being captured by, is captured, gets his tongue cut out, is rescued, meets up with now sane Felix, lives with Felix for upwards of two years— but it's Felix, so those two years are fraught with constant fighting and bickering— can only sleep with Felix in a way he personally finds demeaning and squicky, leaves Felix over a lover's quarrel, and is killed by the man who was the source of said lover's quarrel. Slowly killed. Oh, and through all this, Felix is only able to admit to himself that he loves Gideon back after Gideon is dead. Oh, and it's implied that Gideon was ripped away from his family at a young age, sexually abused by older wizards and tried to kill himself, all before the books ever start. All of this is hugely understated and matter-of-factly revealed to the audience, and never dwelled on very long. Poor, poor Gideon.
    • Kay. He grows up with a neglectful mother, resentful sister (the one who didn't resent him died), father who constantly criticized him, had to hide his homosexuality from his conservative society, and his love for his (straight and married) king. And on top of it all, he had to kill from a young age and ended up being blinded.
    • Poor Vincent: haunted by ghosts, orphaned by his father, sold into slavery by his mother, and put through a series of brothels before spending at least 12 years in seclusion as Ivo Polydorius's Sex Slave, then dragged to court and unwittingly used to spy on Lord Shannon, for which he nearly gets burned to death. And even after he's freed from Ivo's schemes, people continue to blame him for his master's faults and abuse him shamelessly.
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