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!!The Heralds of Valemar books provides examples of:
!!! The Literature/LastHeraldMageTrilogy has its own page.

[[folder: Tropes A to M]]
* AbdicateTheThrone: Elspeth, from the position of Heir, to take on the mantle of the first Herald-Mage since Vanyel's time.
* AccidentalProposal: Tremaine tries to preempt this trope early in ''Storm Rising''. When he puts out a call for volunteers among his troops to help with the harvest (which means his soldiers working side by side with farm women), he realizes he will need to have the volunteers briefed on local courting customs. Otherwise, it's too likely one person might think they're in a casual relationship when the other thinks they're engaged.
* AchievementsInIgnorance: Valdemaran mages pull off a lot of this in and following the ''Mage Winds'' trilogy, simply because they're too new at magic to know what ought to be impossible. This also leads somewhat paradoxically to the use of SufficientlyAnalyzedMagic, when the artificers start getting involved. It turns out that one of the things they don't know about magic is that there are some things they can't proceed to ''learn'' about magic! Mages of more intuitive traditions, Firesong especially, are not amused.
* AchillesHeel: The bond between Companions and Heralds has a fatal weakness - killing a Companion will often incapacitate a Herald. The Karsites, especially, have targeted Companions for this reason.
* ActionBomb: A mage using the Final Strike technique effectively becomes one of these.
* ActionGirl: Most female Heralds. Jeri, Elspeth, Tarma, and Kerowyn are excellent examples. Myste is the only confirmed ''non''-example.
* AdvancedAncientHumans: Both magic and science were ''much'' more advanced back in Urtho and Ma'ar's era. They had literally rerouted the ley lines to help power things like permanent Gates. Urtho appeared to understand biology and genetic engineering to a great degree. Also, amongst the all the LostTechnology in the vault under his ruined tower there were a number of weapons of mass destruction that were explicitly stated to be non-magical. At least one was implied to be an ''atomic bomb''!
* AfterActionPatchup: Kero and Eldan have one in ''By The Sword'' after their first meeting, since said meeting involved her rescuing him from a Karsite priestess who was about to torture him. It leads to GladToBeAliveSex in fairly short order.
* AfterTheEnd: An event in the distant past called the Cataclysm [[WorldSundering violently reshaped]] large sections of the planet, and is generally responsible for most of history since it occurred. The Cataclysm and its immediate after-effects are depicted in the ''Mage Wars'' trilogy.
* AgeGapRomance: Vanyel (early thirties) and Stefan (17); Talia (18) and Dirk (mid-30s) [[note]] There's some dispute on this. When Talia first comes to the Colligium, she's told Kris' NeverLiveItDown story and he's mentioned as having recently got his Whites. During Talia's internship with Kris as her mentor, he mentions that he and Dirk discovered how well they work together because they were sent out on on a joint internship with the same mentor, implying that they're close in age. By that reckoning, Dirk can't be more than five years older than Talia.[[/note]]
* AlienNonInterferenceClause: Kal'enel and whatever god(dess) is behind the Companions hold to a rule that humans are to solve their own problems wherever possible, and divine intervention is to be restricted to situations where they can't succeed on their own; for this reason, the Companions aren't allowed to get their hooves into humans' relationship problems unless they're asked for help. The gods are not above breaking this rule if they think it necessary, however.
** Even Vkandis Sunlord, the least subtle example amongst the gods, allowed and endured rampant corruption within his priesthood for centuries. He only interfered directly in time to give his people a chance to survive the cataclysm.
** One place where this expressly does ''not'' apply is Iftel. No invading army ever crosses their border without either being turned around or turned into a smoking crater, and foreign mages are distinctly unwelcome, because the nation is protected by the direct intervention of a god who has declared the little hermit kingdom off limits. [[spoiler: It's Vkandis Sunlord, as it turns out, and the border defenses that he set up play a major part in ''Mage Storms''.]]
* TheAlliance: Between Valdemar and several neighboring kingdoms.
* AllAnimalsAreDogs: Deliberately invoked by the Shin'a'in in regards to their warsteeds. They've been bred over thousands of years (with magic incorporated into the beginning of the process) to change their social structure from herds (like normal horses) to ''packs'' (like dogs or wolves).
* AlliterativeList: Some of the music's titles:
** ''Heralds, Harpers and Havoc''
** ''Magic, Moondust, and Melancholy''
** ''Lovers, Lore, and Loss''
* AlliterativeTitle:
** ''Closer to the Chest''
** ''Take a Thief''
** ''Heralds, Harpers and Havoc''
** ''Magic, Moondust, and Melancholy''
** ''Lovers, Lore, and Loss''
** ''Shadow Stalker''
** ''Sun and Shadow''
** ''The Collegium Chronicles''
** ''Brightly Burning''
* AltarDiplomacy:
** Queen Selenay's first marriage is to Prince Karathanelan of Rethwellen, cementing Valdemar's longstanding alliance with its southern neighbor. Unfortunately, Thanel turns out to be TheEvilPrince who shortly attempts to [[TheUsurper usurp the throne for himself]] and is killed by Selenay's bodyguards. Their daughter Elspeth grows up with her father's crimes hanging over her head. Just a few years later, however, Selenay falls in LoveAtFirstSight with Prince Darenthallis--of Rethwellen, Thanel's brother, so that works out.
** Princess Elspeth herself is resigned to a political marriage as part of her duties as Heir--until she reckons up the neighboring kingdoms and realizes that all are either in stable alliances or are Valdemar's enemies, and none really have good candidates for her anyway. Her eventual love-match with Darkwind does help establish a new alliance with the [[MagicalNativeAmerican Hawkbrothers]], but only informally, as she [[AbdicateTheThrone abdicates as Heir]] to focus on combat magic, and the Hawkbrothers don't have a hereditary authority anyway.
** Near the end of ''Closer to Home'', two FeudingFamilies are [[BureaucraticallyArrangedMarriage ordered by the Crown]] to resolve their differences with a marriage of their heirs, only son to oldest daughter. When the son seduces the youngest daughter and [[spoiler:dies in an attempt to murder everyone else]], the [[spoiler:survivors]] put aside their fighting and pledge to attempt to find other, better matches for marriage.
* AmbiguousDisorder: In ''Closer to the Heart'', the character Tuck has some kind of mental disorder, implied to possibly be some form of autism. He is a genius at making/creating things, but he has some difficulty with interacting with others, as he cannot express his thoughts in words very well. Amily in fact discovers that his thoughts are similar to how an animal might think and is able to verbalize his thoughts and feelings for him.
* AmplifiedAnimalAptitude: Shin'a'in warsteeds and most bondbirds are not ''quite'' {{Intellectual Animal}}s, but are notably smarter than normal horses and birds thanks to extensive magically-augmented breeding programs. Some of the warsteeds' behavior, particularly as it regards their ability to learn and follow commands, is described as being more like that of a dog than a horse (see above).
* AngstComa: Vanyel in ''Magic's Price''. Talia gets her coma in ''Arrow's Fall'' the old-fashioned way (torture followed by a lethal dose of poison), but stays in it due to angst, requiring [[MindlinkMates Dirk]] and [[BondCreatures Rolan]] to join forces and coax her out via their psychic bonds with her.
* AnimalEyes: Nyara and An'desha have these, as the last physical remnants of their transformations at the hands of Mornelithe Falconsbane.
* AntiVillain: Grand Duke Tremaine, as decent a man as could survive in the [[DeadlyDecadentCourt Imperial court]].
* ArrangedMarriage: A running plot of several books. A common theme is that, while forced marriage is illegal in Valdemar, the law against it is routinely laughed at by many of Valdemar's subcultures (including their nobility), and is very difficult to enforce.
** Talia gets told on her thirteenth birthday by her father's wives that she is old enough for marriage and that one will be arranged for her from the offers her father received. The closest she gets to a choice in the matter is being asked if she'd like to be the secondary wife of someone old enough to be her father, the primary wife of someone closer to her own age (with her father deciding which offer out of these subsets to accept without any further input from Talia herself - she doesn't even get told the names of any of the people who had made an offer), or spend the rest of her life as a cloistered nun. This prompts her to declare that she doesn't want to be married and would rather be a Herald, and then she runs out of the house, to be Chosen shortly after.
** In the first book of the ''Collegium Chronicles'', Healer Trainee Bear goes home for the winter holidays only to be told that marriage has been arranged for him with a neighbor girl. He wants nothing to do with this, and three books later gets out of it by [[{{Elopement}} eloping]] with the actual girl he loves, Bardic Trainee Lena.
** The reasons and political maneuvering behind the various forms of arranged marriage among the nobility are a theme of ''Closer to Home''. Many of the young ladies (and, more to the point, their parents) are hoping to land [[NobilityMarriesMoney wealthy merchants]] who will parade them at social functions, instead of older nobles merely looking for someone to provide an [[HeirClubForMen heir and a spare]]. The DoubleStandard between ladies, who are expected to be faithful at least until the aforementioned heirs are produced, and young men, for whom mistresses and visits to brothels are winked at, is explored. The more sexually liberated Heralds decide that something ought to be done about a culture that raises girls to aspire to no more than a good match.
** Kethry had a really bad one in her backstory, having been married by proxy to a pederast by her brother. This was illegal in her nation, too, but it took a decade or so before she had the means and courage to call her brother and 'husband' out on this.
* ArtifactTitle: "Herald" is an in-universe example. They were named because the first three Chosen were the King of Valdemar, his son and heir, and his court herald; King Valdemar reasoned that a kingdom could only have one King and one Heir, but could have many Heralds. Very rarely does a Herald actually act as herald, and when they do it is duly Lampshaded.
* AscendedDemon: Attempted in ''The Oathbound'', when [[spoiler: Thalhkarsh is BroughtDownToNormal and captured by priests who hope to redeem her]]. There is no indication of whether or not the project succeeded, as she isn't mentioned again in any other book.
* {{Asexuality}}:
** Tarma, and the other Shin'a'in Swordsworn, due to religious vows. The Shin'a'in Goddess is both merciful and practical, however--rather than force her adherents to torture themselves, she simply puts in a mental block preventing them from feeling any sexual desire at all. But hey, they ''are'' all volunteers, and it's made clear that the Goddess won't accept anyone as a Swordsworn unless they've been given ''full'' disclosure first. In Tarma's case, it's necessary at first to keep her from being emotionally crippled due to her RapeAsBackstory.
** Solaris may be naturally asexual in comparison. It's never made clear if Vkandis did the same thing as the Shin'a'in Goddess to her.
** Strongly implied with Kalira [[spoiler:due to her being lifebonded with a human. Lackey was obviously wanting to avoid the possible {{Squick}} implications.]]
** In ''Eye Spy,'' [[spoiler:Abi]] eventually figures out that she is asexual aromantic.
* AuthorAppeal: Mercedes Lackey has a number of interests that work their way into her novels.
** Falconry. She's actually worked in raptor rehabilitation, which is largely the reason why we get things ike the Hawkbrothers and their bondbirds, the gryphons, and the avian humanoid ''tervardi''.
** Equestrianism. Companions are the most obvious result, but Shin'a'in warsteeds are a slightly less wish-fulfillment version of it too.
** Music. Many characters are musical in some fashion, most notably the bards, who use MagicMusic. Many others are ''not'', however -- {{Dreadful Musician}}s are fair game for humor, as in other Lackey works.
* More philosophically, it's not a ''Valdemar'' novel until someone extols the virtue of practicality. None of the good characters desire upper-class luxuries (except Firesong, who [[spoiler:very nearly turns evil]] and is mocked for his effeminacy by everyone else), and the narrative goes on detailed tangents about plumbing and logistics. Whenever a heroic aristocrat appears, it's with reassurances that they're not like the ''other'' rich people and they just want to be treated the same as everybody else. Pretty weird for a staunchly medieval culture.
** MayDecemberRomance is another one that recurs throughout her work. (Lackey herself is 16 years older than her husband, which may or may not have something to do with it.)
* AuthorAvatar: the character Myste is an obvious (and admitted) author self-insert; to make it clear ''how'' obvious, "Misty" is the author's nickname. And to make it even ''more'' obvious, Myste's position in the court is Herald-Chronicler, aka 'court historian', aka 'she writes down everything that's happening'. (She is also plump, BlindWithoutEm, and totally useless at any sort of fighting whatsoever, which dials down the potential Sue quotient considerably. [[Creator/MercedesLackey Guess who else]] is plump and BlindWithoutEm?)
* AuthorCatchphrase:
** Lackey re-uses several proverbs across different trilogies and cultures, attributing them to various in-universe sources. The most common one is probably "it is easier to apologize than to ask permission."
** She also uses the phrase "hit in the back of the head with a board" frequently. It seems that is the only way to describe shock in her world.
** Every character in the Valdemar universe licks their lips before speaking, no matter what they're feeling.
** In the most recent books, Lackey has been overusing the term ''al fresco'', an Italian phrase meaning "in the open air", with no explanation of how the Valdemarians know Italian.
* AuthorityInNameOnly: Karse is technically a kingdom, but everyone both in and outside the country knows that the king has no real power outside his palace and actual control of the country lies with the priesthood. The Mage Storms trilogy hammers this in by having Karse's ambassador to Valdemar be appointed by the Son of the Son rather than the court, and when Solaris makes a state visit to Haven, she is treated as a visiting head of state rather than merely the head of a church visiting a country where most people practice totally unrelated religions.
* AutomatonHorses: Mainly averted (see ShownTheirWork), but justified with the Companions, who use node magic to augment their endurance and can therefore run much faster and for much longer than any ordinary horse. They do still need to rest and eat eventually, although they are also much more capable of taking care of their own needs than ordinary horses.
* BabyDollBaby: In ''Arrow's Flight'', Talia encounters a Weather Witch whose child drowned when she wasn't attentive enough. She has gone mad from grief and guilt and is convinced that a rag doll wrapped in a blanket is her son.
* BackgroundMagicField: Composed of LifeEnergy, which flows like water into {{Ley Line}}s and [[PlaceOfPower nodes]], and is used to power all FunctionalMagic.
* BattleCouple: It's easier to list who is not.
* BeautyIsBad: Not a general rule in the series, but Talia is notably mistrustful of handsome men thanks to childhood abuse at the hands of her older brother Justus, whose looks are described as "[[FaceOfAnAngelMindOfADemon angelic]]." She's more comfortable with "[[HollywoodHomely attractively homely]]" Dirk than with his gorgeous friend Kris, and admits to Kris that she'd rather he were cross-eyed or had a few warts or something.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo:
** The usual explanation for why Companions Choose who they do, when they do it and why people with the Gifts that will be needed always seem to turn up in time to get them trained before they have to be put to use. Between advanced psychic powers, powerful wizards, and activist gods, these people have turned BecauseDestinySaysSo into a ''science''.
** Lampshaded in ''Arrow's Fall,'' among other instances. To paraphrase: "The Firestarter we desperately needed to win this battle just happened to spend the night with a [=ForeSeer=], who had a prophetic dream and kicked him out of bed just in time to get here? How does that happen?" To directly quote: "Pure, dumb Heralds' luck."
** It's justified in ''The Last Herald-Mage'' as a magical web binding Heralds and their Companions that operates below the conscious level. Vanyel deliberately enhanced this web and tied it to the Heartstone he created beneath Haven. In ''Mage Storms'', the workings of the web and its spells are explained completely.
* BeingWatched: Weaponized when Vanyel arranges for any non-Herald mages entering into Valdemar to be monitored by minor air spirits called ''vrondi'', causing the mages to feel that they are being watched ''all the time''. Unsurprisingly, this makes people extremely anxious to leave -- even driving those who can't (or won't) leave ''insane'' -- and Valdemar is not bothered by magic for several hundred years.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Herald Talia is one of the nicest, kindest, and (literally!) most empathetic people in the world. But she has a point beyond which you just don't push it, and if you do... see the MindRape entry below.
* BigBad: Ma'ar, in the background or foreground of just about all of the novels through ''Mage Winds''. After he's finally disposed of, the series lacks a clear major villain, substituting TheEmpire and TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
** And the Cataclysm was in part caused by Ma'ar, bringing him back around to be the indirect villain for Mage Storms.
* BigGood:
** Urtho, in ''The Black Gryphon''. An interesting example because he [[TheChainsOfCommanding didn't want to be a leader]], but was forced into it because he was the only one who would stand up to Ma'ar. In ''Mage Storms'', we learn that the historical view of Urtho varies among the Shin'a'in, the gryphons, and others.
** Solaris, in ''Mage Storms''. As the first genuine High Priest of Vkandis in centuries, she has some pretty awesome powers but is only shown to exercise them once.
* BindingAncientTreaty: Established between Valdemar and Rethwellen at the end of ''Oathbreakers'', then somehow forgotten by Valdemar by the time of ''By the Sword'', when Valdemar needs Rethwellen's help fighting Hardorn. Kero, whose grandmother Kethry was vital in the events that forged the agreement, provides a gentle reminder of its existence.
* BirthdayHater: Since Holderkin birthday celebrations consist of the birthday child receiving a lecture from the adults of the household about the greater responsibilities that come with age, Talia doesn't celebrate or even spend much time thinking about her birthday once she becomes a Herald.
* {{Bishonen}}: Vanyel and Firesong in particular. Especially Firesong, who is described as though he stepped right out of a medieval fantasy anime. Very few readers were surprised to find out that Firesong is Vanyel's descendant.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: the [[TheGhost only-mentioned]] Lady Naril in the ''Arrows'' trilogy. Midway through book 1, Talia is being badly affected by pretty much everyone in the immediate vicinity burning up with rage, and Jadus tells her why: a young Herald named Dirk has been horribly played by a young Court beauty. Naril made Dirk fall wildly in love with her, all for the purpose of getting her claws into his best friend Kris, who had previously rejected her. A flashback by Kris in ''Arrow's Flight'' spells it out as "Come to her bed until she tired of (Kris) or she would make Dirk's life hell". But when Dirk finds her out, she unleashes a vicious verbal attack that flays his ego to shreds - Kris tells Talia later that he truly thinks it was only Dirk's Companion that stopped him [[DrivenToSuicide throwing himself in the river that same night]]. But the worst that can be done is [[KarmaHoudini to banish her from Court in disgrace]]. This also becomes a subtle ChekhovsGun: the tragic and near-disastrous [[PoorCommunicationKills cycle of miscommunication]] between Talia, Dirk and Kris mid-way through ''Arrow's Fall'' is due, among other things, to Dirk being utterly incapable of believing ''any'' woman would want him when Kris is around.
* BittersweetEnding
** ''The Last Herald-Mage'' trilogy ends with Vanyel dead and [[TheMagicGoesAway True Magic no longer known in Valdemar]], but he leaves the country so well guarded against magic that it doesn't suffer a serious major incursion for centuries. Also, Vanyel gets a personal happy ending, serving as a spirit guardian of the northern border with his lover by his side.
** ''Brightly Burning'' ends with the Karsite army burned to ash and Valdemar saved, but Lavan Firestorm and Kalira dead. It wasn't even a heroic death -- with his Companion gone, Lan had lost [[MoralityChain the last thing keeping his already-collapsing sanity together]]. Cue the inferno.
* BlackMagic: BloodMagic and demon summoning. However, BloodMagic is not considered evil when it's only the caster's own blood (or LifeEnergy) involved, and/or the sacrifice is voluntary.
* BloodMagic: One of the most potent forms of magic, this is based on the principles of CastFromHitPoints with a side of SympatheticMagic: blood is both a literal and symbolic sacrifice and a rich source of power. It's also a lot easier to handle than node magic, to the point where even people without mage gifts can use primitive forms of it. Of course, it's also [[TheDarkSide addictive]] and [[BlackMagic evil]], because unless it's a voluntary sacrifice, you're taking it from other people without their consent. For this reason, it also carries strong overtones of [[ImAHumanitarian cannibalism]] -- once you've practiced blood magic, it forever stains your soul.
* BluffingTheMurderer:
** A variant is employed by Talia and Elspeth in ''Arrow's Fall'' to catch the traitor in Selenay's court, by attempting to lure him into an EngineeredPublicConfession. It works better than expected, leading to a full VillainousBreakdown.
** Another one is used by Karal in ''Storm Warning'' to catch the mole responsible for [[spoiler:Ulrich's]] death, by presenting himself as an easy target for assassination.
* BoardingSchoolOfHorrors: Lavan attends a day school of this in ''Brightly Burning''.
* BoltOfDivineRetribution: Vkandis does this to reestablish his true priesthood in a truly unmistakable way - see SmiteMeOhMightySmiter.
* BondCreatures: The Companions, most prominently; also the bondbirds of the Tayledras. The Firecats of Karse may answer to this trope too. They're more independent-minded than their cousins the Companions, but still ultimately attached to one person.
* BondageIsBad: Zigzagged. There are multiple villains who use bondage and sexual torture to gain magic, obtain control over others, or just get their sadistic kicks. Notables include Hadenalith in ''The White Gryphon'', Mornelithe Falconsbane in the ''Mage Winds'', and [[spoiler: King Ancar]] in ''Arrow's Fall'' and ''Winds of Fury''. However, ''The White Gryphon'' implies that Amberdrake was trained in BDSM when he snarks that he's forgotten more about knots and ties than Hadenalith would ever dream. In ''Winds of Change'', [[spoiler: Starblade's]] therapy includes BDSM sessions to undo the mental and physical corruption that Falconsbane wrought on his body. While there are no on-screen depictions of good characters practicing BDSM, Lackey doesn't wholly condemn BDSM, instead indicating that lack of consent and violation of autonomy are what make the villains truly villainous.
* BreakInThreat: In one book, a minor noble sends an assassin after the Empire's heir (who is also an assassin). The heir kills the man and leaves his body in the nursery of the noble's son.
** PlayedForLaughs with Skif in his early years, especially in the ''Arrows'' trilogy. During his traineeship, one of his secret hobbies is breaking into the houses of certain highly placed nobles; he doesn't take anything, instead he leaves notes with sarcastic remarks on their lack of security ([[RewatchBonus after you read Take A Thief]], you get the impression these nobles were often selected by Alberich in his job as Spymaster). Elspeth also mentions in ''Arrow's Fall'' that Skif makes a habit of leaving funny notes - and sweets - in the 'secret' compartments of her desk.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: an unusual and hilarious version. For the DAW 30th anniversary anthology, Lackey wrote a short story where all the main characters of the Valdemar books to that point manifest in her bedroom and [[CallingTheOldManOut call her out]] on the TraumaCongaLine she's inflicted on them. Lackey apologizes specifically to Talia, saying she hadn't yet learned at that point in her writing career when to throttle back on the urge to show off what she'd researched [[spoiler:specifically, Talia getting her feet crushed during her torture in ''Arrow's Fall'']]. She even gets called out by [[AuthorAvatar ''Myste'']]! Lackey offers her Alberich as a love interest to buy her off.
* BreakTheCutie:
** Talia, quite comprehensively, in both ''Arrow's Flight'' and ''Arrow's Fall'', albeit for separate reasons.
** Vanyel throughout the ''Last Herald-Mage'' series. Each book puts him through a separate TraumaCongaLine.
* BrickJoke: In ''Magic's Promise'', due to his father still thinking that AllGaysArePedophiles, Vanyel ends up making a pledge that all children in Forst Reach are safe from his advances so he can spend time with a newly befriended nephew without him getting any ideas. In frustration of having to make the pledge in the first place, he ends up including "every damn thing down to the sheep". At the very end of the book, he's drinking with one of the few members of his household without any wrong ideas about homosexuality and he indirectly gets asked about his sex life. Celibate for three years at that point, Vanyel replies in irritation that it's been so long that both his (male, but much older) drinking buddy and the sheep are starting to look like options to him.
-->"Stick to the sheep, they don't snore."
** In Magic's Price Vanyel gets very drunk the night before a major spellcasting, and is very hung over the next day. Yfandes completely enjoys this, and Vanyel swears he will find a way to get a companion drunk in revenge. In the Mage Winds series, when the power of [[spoiler: a Vale Heartstone is moved to Valdemar's Heartstone,]] the Companions all have a magical hangover from the aftereffects. Lampshaded by Gwena to Elspeth that she would no longer mock her when she was 'wine sick'.
* BrokenBird: Winterhart of ''The Black Gryphon'' was a nascent [[TheEmpath Empath]] as a teen, but nobody noticed it. When the court of the High King was murdered by agents of Ma'ar with the aid of a [[EmotionBomb fear-inducing artifact]], she was particularly vulnerable and fled in terror, with psychic wounds that persist until Amberdrake [[DefrostingIceQueen breaks through her shell]] and helps her deal with them. Amberdrake himself also qualifies to a certain extent as he was a recognized Empath and Healer from a very young age until sent to a renowned, cutting-edge medical school that refused to recognize magical/occult abilities. Being around the sick, dying, and injured with inadequate emotional shields or training very nearly killed Amberdrake. Then he fled the school before it was overrun by Ma'ar's forces and returned home... only to find his childhood home razed to the ground and his entire family gone.
* BureaucraticallyArrangedMarriage: In ''Closer to Home'', Prince Sedric tries to force two FeudingFamilies to reconcile via AltarDiplomacy, by ordering Brand of House Raeylen to marry the oldest daughter of House Chendlar--which backfires badly when Violetta, ''youngest'' daughter of Chendlar, falls hard for him. Brand manipulates the situation and nearly manages to [[spoiler:kill off both families]] and inherit their lands.
* BurnTheWitch: Until Solaris' reforms, this was the fate of any magically or psychically gifted Karsite not chosen for the priesthood. Specifically this is why Alberich is now a Valdemaran Herald rather than a Karsite Captain; his Companion had to rescue him from a burning barn after he too obviously used precognition to ''[[UngratefulBastard save a village]] [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished from a bandit raid]]''.
* BuryYourGays: One of the more notable inversions of this trope occurs in ''The Last Herald-Mage''. The tragic suicide of Tylendel, Vanyel's first love, sets him on the path to become the titular ''last'' Herald-Mage, and the gods even [[spoiler:return Tylendel to him as Bard Stefen, and then [[TogetherInDeath reunite them after death]]]] in apology for his [[TraumaCongaLine suffering]].
* CallBack / CallForward: (depending on reading order). In the later parts of ''By the Sword'', Valdemar has to hire Kerowyn's Skybolts to bolster their war with Hardorn. Talia and Dirk are complimenting Kerowyn on the excellent behaviour of the Skybolts - no rape, pillaging or even scaring the populace! - and Kerowyn, annoyed by what she sees as condescension, starts a CallingTheOldManOut speech along the lines of "We're professionals, FFS! What did you ''expect''?". She then remembers that Valdemar hasn't needed anything but it's own standing Army for at least a couple of centuries, and the only experience anyone in Valdemar has had with mercenary troops in living memory was with the Tedrels (an entire nation of {{Jerkass}} mercs, blacklisted by the Mercenary Guild for being assholes decades ago, who tried to invade Valdemar with conquest in mind, and killed the current monarch's father and predecessor in the subsequent bloody war). Realising that the remarks come from genuine ignorance, she restricts herself to those few lines. In later-published books (namely ''Exile's Honor'') we actually see the Tedrel War, and you understand exactly why people in Valdemar are astonished to witness mercenaries behaving like actual professionals who understand the value of good PR.
* CallingTheOldManOut:
** Vanyel to his father in ''Magic's Pawn'', regarding his atrocious mistreatment of Vanyel in an attempt to prevent him from "turning gay".
*** Vanyel's deeply protective older sister gets in a few hits too.
** Skandranon to Urtho in ''The Black Gryphon'', regarding the latter's functional enslavement of the Gryphon race. He relents when he learns Urtho's true motives.
** Bear gets to do this twice during the ''Collegium Chronicles''. The first time is by proxy; he rakes his father's spy over the coals knowing a full report will be on its way to Dad before the day's out. The second time, direct to his father, it's this trope combined with YoureNotMyFather.
* CallToAdventure:
** Delivered without fail by Companions; their Chosen may [[JumpedAtTheCall jump at the Call]] or try to [[RefusalOfTheCall refuse the Call]], depending on their situation at the time. All accept eventually, though on one notable occasion the Call repudiated one of the Called.
** Subverted in one of the short stories. The FirstPersonSmartass narrator, Don, lampshades at one point that that's the point when some meddling Companion is supposed to Choose him. [[spoiler: Instead, he meets a [=MindHealer=] who reveals that he has a less-adventurous - but still important - job to do as another [=MindHealer=].]]
* CannotTellALie: Inflicted on Duke Tremaine by High Priest Solaris in payment for his murder of her friend. Also occurs when the Truth Spell is invoked. This is also true of mindspeech in the series, most of the time.
* CanonDiscontinuity: In the first two ''Arrows'' novels, it is mentioned that a Companion repudiates his Herald about once every couple of centuries. Starting with the third, the only repudiation to have occurred is with Tylendel in ''Magic's Pawn.''
* CanonWelding: The Tarma and Kethry stories pre-date the original Arrows trilogy -- ''Oathbreakers'' established that they had all taken place in Rethwellan and other kingdoms south of Valdemar, thus linking the two series.
* CaptainErsatz: Herald Jakyr's family's religion is a direct copy of the Quiverfull movement, and he actually namedrops the idea of "a quiverful of children."
* TheCassandra:
** This trope is also why Alberiech doesn't speak up in regards to why he doesn't like Orthallen. The fact he's originally from Karse wouldn't help his case.
* CastFromCalories: There's a similar effect in the ''Mage Winds'' trilogy. At least once when Darkwind is training Elspeth, he has to remind her to eat because use of mage energy 1) uses up the mage's personal energy reserves (a.k.a. previous meal) and 2) suppresses appetite.
* CastFromHitPoints: Mages who are low on {{Mana}} can do this. The ultimate version is known as a Final Strike and is invariably suicidal for the mage attempting it. It's also possible for mind-mages to overstress their PsychicPowers into unconsciousness or even coma.
* CataclysmBackstory: The aptly named Cataclysm; see AfterTheEnd and WorldWreckingWave.
* CatGirl: Nyara, also a [[MadScientistsBeautifulDaughter Mad Wizard's Beautiful Daughter]], is this because her father magically experimented on her with the changes he intended to work on himself.
* CelestialParagonsAndArchangels: The Grove-Born Companions are essentially archangels in horse form. The Firecats of Karse and the Avatars of Kal'enel also qualify.
* TheChainsOfCommanding: Urtho suffers from this more noticeably than any other major ruler. The war with Ma'ar forces him to some rather extreme (and for him, amoral) acts that he profoundly regrets. Kerowyn also wrestles with the obligations of leadership in the third act of ''By the Sword'' after becoming leader of the Skybolts mercenary company, and one of the songs Lackey wrote to accompany the ''Vows and Honor'' books describes "The Price of Command" from the perspective of a leader in a similar position.
* ChangelingFantasy: Of a sort. Heraldic Trainees plucked away by their Companions from massively abusive childhoods usually find their "real" home and family in the Heraldic Circle. ''Arrows of the Queen'' gets close to [[LampshadeHanging lampshading]] it since before Talia gets Chosen, she has a fantasy of such a thing happening to her.
* ChangingOfTheGuard: As noted above, the focus character changes between trilogies. (Did you expect the same characters for all 3000 years?) Certain villains ([[spoiler:most especially Ma'ar]]) put in appearances throughout the series, and a number of protagonists have persisted as well, largely by [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence]].
* ChekhovsGun:
** The Oathbreaking ceremony is mentioned in passing early in the first part of ''Oathbreakers'', and unsurprisingly is a key part of the novel's resolution. Any piece of lore that Jadrek mentions also inevitably pays off at some point over the course of the story, most notably the legend of the Sword that Sings.
** Urtho's personal portal into the High King's palace in ''The Black Gryphon''. In a similar vein, the {{Antimagic}} box he has Skandranon "bomb" Ma'ar's forces with. The latter also serves to [[{{Foreshadowing}} establish]] the explosive potency of magic nullification.
** Karal's power is to be a "Channel", a very rare ability that can't even be trained. It's established right away in ''Storm Warning'', which is good because he ends up using this ability at the climax of each and every novel in that series.
** Talia is taught the Heralds' arrow-code in ''Arrow's Flight,'' and the fact that the exposition is depicted in full is a pretty clear forewarning that she will have need of the code's direst signals. [[spoiler: Sure enough, she has need of the signal for "catastrophe, situation helpless, do not attempt rescue" in the next book.]]
** A very subtle one, depending on whether you read the books in publishing or chronological order: in ''Arrows of the Queen'', Talia hears the Death Bell for the first time, and Keren explains that "there used to be a little chapel in Companion's Field" attached to the bell tower that holds the Death Bell, though "it's no longer there". In [[Literature/LastHeraldMageTrilogy Magic's Price ]] you find out why:[[spoiler: Tylendel [[DrivenToSuicide dies by jumping from the bell tower]]. A few days later, while Tylendel's lying in state in the chapel, Vanyel [[AttemptedSuicide cuts his wrists]] and the rescue party does considerable damage to the chapel in order to get to him in time.]] It could also be that after the chapel became the scene of one of the greatest ''ever'' tragedies of the Heraldic circle, and nearly another tragedy as a direct consequence, they decided the chapel was best removed regardless of damage.
* ChekhovsGunman: Several characters Talia meets in ''Arrow's Flight'', particularly the trader Evan, play a part in advancing the plot in later books.
* TheChessmaster: The gods, collectively, are the setting's ultimate chessmasters, manipulating the entire history of Velgarth from the Cataclysm onward to ensure that [[spoiler: humanity can prevent a repeat performance when the Mage Storms hit]].
* ChessmasterSidekick: Court-Baron Melles' valet, who is a gifted assassin in semi-retirement.
* ChildByRape: An'desha's mother.
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: [[{{Deconstruction}} Deconstructed]] with Need, which forces ChronicHeroSyndrome upon its bearers with no regard for any sense of proportion or self-preservation, [[spoiler:before she wakes up in the ''Mage Winds'' trilogy.]] Played straight by Heralds, for whom it's more or less contractually obligated. It shows up among the Healers, too, especially during plague situations.
* CircuitJudge: One of the primary everyday functions of the Heralds.
* CircusOfMagic: In ''Winds of Fury'', the protagonists, who have a variety of magic, PsychicPowers, and BondCreatures in the shape of large white horses, sneak into an enemy nation using a NeedleInAStackOfNeedles approach--they use their illusions and showy magic to disguise themselves as carnival performers, hucksters, and charlatans, and travel towards the capital as part of an actual carnival troupe. Performing in carnivals seems to be a common occupation for low-power mages, making it an excellent disguise.
* ClingyMacGuffin:
** Need. Even Kerowyn, who refuses to allow Need to have the kind of hold over her that it did over her grandmother, isn't entirely sure she could get rid of it if she really needed to, and -- considering the pain she went through the one time she almost lost it -- generally isn't willing to find out.
** A short story in ''Oathblood'' has Tarma and Kethry getting a cursed coin that requires serious action to get rid of.
* ClosetKey: Tylendel, for Vanyel. Firesong seems to be this for An'desha, but it is ultimately subverted as IfItsYouItsOkay.
* TheCobblersChildrenHaveNoShoes: Heralds can often fix anyone's troubles but their own. Comes up particularly in ''Arrow's Fall'', where -- irony of ironies -- the Herald with Empathy as her Gift and "most trusted adviser" as her job title cannot resolve ''any'' of her interpersonal problems.
* ColorCodedCharacters: Valdemaran Heralds (white), Bards (red), and Healers (green) wear distinct, {{Highly Conspicuous Uniform}}s because being highly visible is part of their jobs. It's also observed that the colors in question are difficult to counterfeit: red and green dye are expensive and white cloth is hard to keep white. Each group's trainees also wear distinctively-colored (but less conspicuous) uniforms: Heraldic trainees in grey instead of white, Bardic trainees in rust-red instead of scarlet, and Healers in pale green instead of forest green. In addition, the Collegium's Armsmaster wears Hearld's "Whites" done in grey darker than the trainee uniforms. This started as a personal habit of Alberich, but his successor Kerowyn did the same thing, cementing it into a tradition that seems likely to last.
* ColorMeBlack: In ''Oathbound'', Tarma and Kethry foil a bandit party that's been preying on caravans, killing the men outright and slaying the women after the bandits rape them. They kill the bandits, but save their leader. Said bandit leader gets transformed by illusion magic into a buxom blond woman, stripped naked, and sent back to his/her fellows. This comes back to bite the duo later, when the leader, having survived the experience, joins forces with the demon Thalkarsh.
* CombatPragmatist: The main philosophy of both Alberich and Kerowyn -- forget grace, dignity, or any illusions about a "fair fight"; just attack for maximum damage with whatever you've got on hand. It's probably not a coincidence that they were both successful professional warriors [[note]] Alberich was the youngest ever Captain in the Karsite Army, despite having no connections or wealth to fuel his rise, and Kerowyn was the Captain of a successful mercenary company [[/note]] before they were Chosen
* ComesGreatResponsibility: All Heralds are devoted to Duty above all else, even if their innate psychic Gifts are not that strong. For those whose Gifts ''are'' strong, they'll work themselves to death trying to take care of all the things that only they can do.
** This comes up particularly in the story of Vanyel, who wasn't thrilled at the idea of becoming a Herald after the Herald-related TraumaCongaLine he'd just been through. He finally signs on when he realizes that good people are being menaced by forces that only he has the power to fight.
* ComingOfAgeStory: Many of the series' heroes are teenagers at their first appearance, and the stories follow their growth into adulthood as much as their progress on TheQuest.
* CommonHollywoodSexTraits: Over and over, the stories seem to have no clue how female sexuality actually works. Having sex for the first time is always painful and bloody, no matter how skilled the partner or how turned on the woman is. Talia, Amily, and Violetta all fall prey to this, with the text of first-time intercourse all describing the "stab of pain", despite their partners taking time and care.
** Violetta's case is particularly aggravating, as it combines the pain with a huge dose of "Hymens Don't Work Like That". Dia rants that if Violetta had sex with Brand, everyone would somehow "know" she'd been "deflowered". In actuality, '''they wouldn't'''. Hymens can not only be easily torn by everyday exertion -- not to mention masturbation -- but often form as a ring of tissue that doesn't block anything. Not even a doctor can tell if a woman is a virgin.
* ComplainingAboutRescuesTheyDontLike:
** Alberich is sentenced to be burned to death for saving a village from bandits. Why? Because he learned that the village would need to be saved through [=ForeSight=], which marked him as a witch in the eyes of the Karsite priesthood.
** Alberich himself does this afterwards because he's been "rescued" by his sworn enemy, which earns him the undying(ish) hatred of his countrymen. [[note]]Particularly when he reasons out, and Kantor admits, that Kantor triggered his [=ForeSight=] to occur especially strongly in public to bring matters to a head - Alberich also comes to agree with Kantor's statement that he couldn't have hidden his Gift much longer anyway [[/note]] He gets over it later.
* TheConfidant: The position of Monarch's Own Herald, less formally known as the "King's Own" or the "Queen's Own", exists so that the Monarch always has one trustworthy, loyal, and completely honest friend, alleviating the [[LonelyAtTheTop loneliness that is part of the job]].
* ConflictBall: Elspeth ends up with it early in the Mage Winds trilogy. Sent out to find mages to recruit to Valdemar's cause, with Skif along as a bodyguard, she ends up fighting with him over his greater caution than hers, to the point of treating him as entirely in the wrong even after acknowledging that he has some valid points. She also decides, based on some rather spurious logic (mostly her opinion that [[ItsQuietTooQuiet things have been too easy]] so far) that she's being manipulated into following a path that someone else has chosen for her. She turns out to be right; the Companions threw their support en masse behind the plan to find mages, and bullied the Heralds who didn't agree with the idea into going along with it. Upon hearing this, Elspeth promptly ignores the very sound reasons for the plan (which she agreed with wholeheartedly when she thought it was ''her'' plan) and deliberately [[SpannerInTheWorks goes off in a completely unexpected direction]] in order to do things ''her'' way. Despite the fact that the plan laid out for her was ''exactly what she wanted'' and the fact that ''the fate of Valdemar was at stake''. She abandons her best chance of success because she doesn't like the fact that it wasn't ''her'' doing.
* ConjunctionInterruption: When a character begins to say something, and he opens with "But," that is almost invariably a cue for someone to interrupt him. One exception occurs when the character starts with "But," and pauses himself, unable to think of anything further to say.
* {{Conlang}}: Shin'a'in/Tayledras/Kaled'a'in. Other languages are handled entirely by TranslationConvention.
* ContinuityNod: Main characters in one trilogy will frequently appear as minor characters in others.
* ContinuitySnarl: Happens occasionally despite having the same author for the entire series; the perils of working in the same setting for several ''decades''.
** In particular, the early part of Queen Selenay's reign is extremely confused. According to ''Exile's Honor'' and ''Exile's Valor'' (which actually depict all these events, written in 2002 and 2003, respectively), there's almost exactly a year between the end of the Tedrel Wars and Selenay's marriage, she becomes pregnant not long after that, the King of Rethwellen (the Prince's father) dies after the marriage but before Elspeth is born, and the Prince dies soon after Elspeth's birth. However, according to ''Arrows of the Queen'' (written in 1987, the first book written in the series), the Tedrel Wars were about 15 years ago, but Elspeth is only seven years old. Meanwhile, ''Take a Thief'' (written in 2001, and set between ''Exile's Valor'' and ''Arrows of the Queen'') says the Tedrel Wars were 20 or 30 years ago. And finally, in ''By the Sword'' (which was written in 1991, and takes place at the same time as ''Exile's Honor'' and ''Exile's Valor'', but in a different place), the king of Rethwellen dies about a year after his son's marriage to Selenay -- because he has a heart attack upon hearing of his son's death.
** Skif's backstory is also given multiple, contradictory versions. In ''Take a Thief'' (where he's the main character), he was an orphan (his father unknown, his mother dying soon after he was born) who worked for his cruel, authoritarian cousin in a tavern owned by his greedy, neglectful uncle; Skif got out from under their thumb by learning thievery from Bazie, a [[ParentalSubstitute kindly]] adult who [[AnArmAndALeg lost his legs]] with fighting as a mercenary, so he now [[TheFagin leads a band of child thieves]]. Eventually (in separate incidents both unrelated to thievery) both Bazie and Skif's cousin are killed, but his uncle [[KarmaHoudini gets off scott free]]. According to ''Winds of Fate'', however, Skif learned thieving from his uncle, who was eventually caught and hanged for his crimes. Elsewhere in the Mage Winds trilogy, Skif claims to have learned to pick pockets from his mother, who was later killed by a rival thief.
* CoolChair: The Iron Throne[[note]]Introduced two years before George RR Martin's[[/note]] of the Eastern Emperor, constructed of the personal weapons of the rulers of the countries the Empire has conquered.
* CoolGate: Gates, especially the rare permanent Gates.
* CoolHorse: Shin'a'in warsteeds. Companions readily acknowledge being cool, but [[InsistentTerminology tend to get bent out of shape over the horse thing]].
* CoolOldLady:
** Savil Ashkevron, in the ''Last Herald-Mage'' trilogy. She's an elderly Herald-Mage who acts as Vanyel's instructor and mentor. It's [[spoiler:her death]] that finally pushes him over the edge and turns him into a {{revenge}} seeker.
** Need is (or was) a mage-smith in her original mortal life. Faced with the destruction of all she held dear, and being too old to fight effectively, she sacrificed her body to bind her soul to a sword so that her favorite student could [[TakeUpMySword take it up]] and wield it to seek justice.
* CoolSword: Need, in spite of her unique drawbacks.
* CorruptChurch: Played straight with the official sun-god worship of Karse... until the deity in question got sick of it and [[BoltOfDivineRetribution made his displeasure known]].
* CostumePorn: Usually at least once a novel.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Played straight with some books and averted with others. The most notable aversions, in that once you've read the book, you can recognize the exact scene on the cover, are ''The Silver Gryphon'', ''Magic's Promise'', ''Brightly Burning'', ''Exile's Valor'', ''Arrow's Fall'', and ''Storm Rising''. ''Closer to Home'' is one where the cover image does not lie, but the dust-jacket description of the book does: Most of it talks about Mags' backstory as was revealed in the previous five books, but then it goes on to say that he's going to need all that experience to handle a conspiracy that doesn't actually exist, as the book actually centers around Mags' efforts to keep two FeudingFamilies that independently decided to spend the Season in the capital on the same year away from each other's throats.
** The cover for the first batch of the first print run of ''The Hills Have Spies'' uses the synopsis for one of the very first drafts of the book, rather than the proper synopsis. The error was caught and corrected very early in the print run, making the copies with the incorrect synopsis collectors’ items.
** Take a look at the page image - it's the cover of ''By the Sword''. Then read the book, and come across the lessons/rants on appropriate fighting attire. The outfit Kero wears on the BtS cover is so blatantly something Kero wouldn't be caught dead wearing [[note]]the torso armour, with the multiple curved shoulder pieces just begging to be caught on something, could be justified because she's trapped behind enemy lines and has to take whatever armour she can get. The pink pants? Could be salvaged, but Kero would absolutely stain them with mud or even blood to darken them. The ''bright blue scarf with a long, fluttering end''???? Could be an improvised belt, but the only way Kero would wear it with a long fluttering end, that just begs to be used to reel her in or catch a lookout's eye would be if she was playing bait, or joking about hanging herself with it{/note]] - because it's likely to get her killed - that it's hilarious!
%% Crowning Moments go on their respective subpages. Thank you.
* CringeComedy: Early in ''Storm Warning'', Firesong jokingly flirts with Darkwind right in front of other guests and An'desha, who's his lover at the time. An'desha, already tired, feeling excluded from the conversation and not realising the whole thing is a private joke between two good friends, gets ''really'' mad at them, culminating in almost killing Darkwind with his magic without anyone noticing. In the meantime, the fake flirting between Firesong and Darkwind is so hillarous that the reader can easily be torn between laughing and wanting them to stop before An'desha gets pushed over the edge.
* CrushingHandshake: Alluded to in ''Take a Thief''--when Skif and Deek agree to work together, Skif is impressed that Deek ''doesn't'' try this.
* CrystalDragonJesus: The Karsite church and its god Vkandis have a distinctly Medieval Christian flavor to them. This comes complete with monotheistic worship, a hierarchical church complete with a pontiff and an emphasis on scripture.
* CueTheFlyingPigs: Early in ''By The Sword'', Kerowyn reflects that finding a man who could accept her and her chosen lifestyle for what they are would be as likely as her horse talking to her. When she ends up in Valdemar in the last third of the book, it's not hard to see where this is going.
* CultureClash: Subtly woven throughout the series, particularly in ''Closer to Home'', between Valdemaran subcultures. The Crown and its employees (Palace staff and Heralds, along with most Collegium-trained Healers and Bards, and most of the Guard) believe in equality of the sexes and tolerance for all, but the Valdemaran nobility as a whole (and the guilds to a lesser extent) are patriarchal and classist. Furthermore, Valdemar has plenty of foreign cultures that have moved in or been absorbed, all with their own values; the Lake Evendim people are monotheistic and friendly to the point of cuddly, while the Holderkin are suspicious of outsiders and adhere to the forced version of ArrangedMarriage until Selenay learns just what's going on down there.
* TheDarkSide: BloodMagic is dangerously addictive to those who practice it thanks to EvilFeelsGood, and it stains your soul, marking you indelibly with its taint. It's also a good way to get DrunkOnTheDarkSide.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: The court of the Eastern Emperor, to the point where "master assassin" is considered a respectable entry on a prospective Emperor's resume, and one of the main characters reflects that being cursed to be unable to lie is the single most horrific fate that could ever possibly befall an Imperial nobleman.
* DeadlyPrank: Some unaffiliated students pull one on Talia -- as attempted murder. "[[PreMortemOneLiner Give our love to Talamir]]" indeed.
* DeathWorld: The Pelagirs are not a nice place to wander without native protection. Leftover magebuilt living weapons and other critters from a magical war two thousand years back, check. Flora[=/=]Fauna[=/=]People mutated by either the wave of magical power unleashed by the Cataclysm that ended said war or the abnormally high level of background [[ILoveNuclearPower mana]] even since, check. People both crazy[=/=]misanthropic enough to live there and badass enough to survive, check. The most consistently benevolent people there (the Hawkbrothers, pledged to their goddess to decontaminate the place) will give intruders exactly ''one'' chance to properly justify their presence or flee before using lethal force.
* DefectorFromDecadence: Admittedly Herald Alberich did not defect so much as get shanghaied but the end result remained thus. He protests it, too, once he recovers from his [[strike:mad dash for freedom]] journey. He even considers - for a few moments anyways - [[spoiler: having his bond between himself and his Companion severed.]] He doesn't go through with it, [[spoiler: mostly because of the mention that it would leave both of them ''badly'' damaged]] but it seems a close thing, even so.
** Duke Tremaine defects from the Eastern Empire.
** Baron Valdemar in the prehistory of the kingdom, implied to be from the Eastern Empire as well.
* DefrostingIceQueen: Kerowyn, who is not so much cold as very narrowly focused. Played arrow-straight in ''The Black Gryphon'', with Winterhart. PlayedForLaughs in ''Oathbreakers'' with the bard Leslac, who thinks he can pull this on Tarma. He's badly wrong.
* DerailingLoveInterests: Skif in the Mage Winds trilogy. Largely [[JustifiedTrope justified]] and even when he's being an idiot he still acts as an ally.
* DeusAngstMachina: Winterhart's backstory in ''The Black Gryphon'', thoroughly justified by the CrapsackWorld setting at the time. Amberdrake, too, although he deals with it differently. Vanyel's upbringing is equally angst-ridden but is mainly [[TraumaCongaLine told in the story]].
* DirtyMindReading: Heralds and others with strong "Communication" gifts often wind up an unwitting third party to someone else's fun. Herald Talia gets a double whammy -- through her Empathy and her unblockable bond with Rolan, she can 'overhear' Companion encounters as well as human ones.
* DiseaseByAnyOtherName: "Summer Fever" sounds just like polio, right down to being (what a modern doctor would call) a viral disease.
* DistressedDamsel: Happens on occasion - Dierna in ''By the Sword'' and Lady Myria in ''The Oathbound'' play it particularly straight - but in most cases the damsel in question does more than just sit around waiting for rescue. In one notable incident from the ''Oathblood'' anthology, the kidnapped girls manage to leave a scent trail for their rescuers to track them by, and then poison their kidnappers to slow them down for the rescue team to catch up, without being suspected until it was much too late.
* DividedWeFall: The Tayledras and Shin'a'in do this, as they have diametrically opposite ideologies regarding the use of magic. It takes a direct order of their Goddess to get them to start working together. Also, in ''Mage Storms'', Valdemar's nascent alliance is on extremely shaky political grounds and frequently suffers from this problem.
* DoctorsOrders: Healers call the shots.
* DontAskJustRun: In Brightly Burning, foreseers see Lavan’s final firestorm just in time and all the Heralds start frantically calling the retreat to get their army out of the way before all hell breaks loose.
* DoomedByCanon: Vanyel Ashkevron and Lavan Firestorm, both of whom have the [[ForegoneConclusion conclusions]] of their stories told in ''Arrows of the Queen'', the very first novel of the series.
* DoppelgangerReplacementLoveInterest: Inverted somewhat with Stefen, who does not resemble Tylendel all that much but ''is'' his reincarnation, making his lifebond with Vanyel not so much a ''replacement'' lifebond as a ''re''-lifebond.
* DownerEnding: The ForegoneConclusion of ''The Black Gryphon'', with Urtho dead, Ma'ar NotQuiteDead, and the survivors of the Cataclysm forced to rebuild in exile, with their homeland all but annihilated.
* DramaticIrony: A lot of the books are prequels to the main series which is set in Selenay's reign which means that the reader already knows the outcome. Mercedes Lackey milks this for all it's worth.
** [[spoiler: Lord Orthallen is revealed to be an EvilChancellor in Arrow's Fall.]] Alberich's and Skif's series has them trying and failing to find out the person being the various evil plots, something that the reader already knows is due to him.
** Vanyel has a dream of his death that he thinks he overcomes by the end of the first book. This is the death that is mentioned in the ''first page of the series''
* DreadfulMusician: Used for comedy in the supplementary {{filk}} song "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night". Both Tarma/Kethry and Kerowyn are also pursued throughout their careers by bards trying to sing (frequently awful) songs about their "heroic exploits". In Tarma's case, it's particularly hilarious because the bard in question, Leslac, believes himself the one to [[DefrostingIceQueen Defrost the Ice Queen]], proving that he did no research about the Swordsworn.
* DreamCrushingHandicap: One of the stories in ''Sun and Glory'' details a half-witted boy who's under the delusion that he's a Herald. He is not Chosen, because he doesn't have the mental capacity to serve as a Herald, but the Companions like him and generally treat him as a Herald in every other way. The narration says that he "wears his Whites on the inside."
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Some Foreseers have prophetic dreams. Vanyel has a recurring one which he deals with throughout his trilogy, predicting his ultimate confrontation with Leareth. He originally thought he'd resolved the prophecy in ''Magic's Pawn'', but the dreams come back in ''Magic's Price''.
* DrippingDisturbance: In ''Exile's Valor'', Selenay is already having trouble sleeping due to grief over her father's death, and the drip in the royal suite's bathing room isn't helping matters.
* DrivenToSuicide: Tylendel. Vanyel and Talia both make good tries at it, too. Bard Stefen is interrupted before he gets his chance.
* DrowningMySorrows: Dirk, in ''Arrow's Fall'', due to being wracked with guilt for having procrastinated on teaching one of his trainees a DangerousForbiddenTechnique which might have saved her life. She died trying to save infants from a fire while on her intern circuit. And of course, the one person who could help him resolve it, Talia, is in a LoveTriangle with him and Kris. He doesn't snap out of it until he collapses completely.
* DualWielding: Mastered by Alberich.
* EarlyBirdCameo: Vanyel, Stefen, and Lavan Firestorm are all mentioned, and Herald Eldan makes an appearance (by description only) in the very first trilogy published.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: The ''Arrows'' trilogy includes a detailed description of Heraldic arrow code, a coded system of communication which is heavily used by Heralds and serves a plot-critical purpose on several occasions. This code is never mentioned again in subsequent books. This is discussed in more detail on the Headscratchers page.
** Talia is one of the few Heralds we see that doesn't have Mindspeech and can't mindspeak their Companions. Probably because it's too difficult to write Companions in when they can't speak. The increasing frequency of Mindspeech explains the lack of arrow code as it's easier and faster to mindcall then send a coded arrow.
** A type of mushroom is weaponized in ''Arrow's Fall'' [[spoiler: to mess with Talia's Empathy.]] This is never mentioned or used again. (However, it only grows in Valdemar and Hardorn. Presumably the Heralds went on a search and destroy mission in Valdemar, and given the wreckage that's left of Hardorn by the Mage Storms Trilogy, it may very well have been rendered extinct. Or more practically, Heralds are taught how to recognise and avoid it.)
* EarnYourHappyEnding:
** Particularly in the ''Mage Storms'' trilogy when it seems as if TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt is going to happen no matter what anyone does to stop it, and the eventual victory comes at a heavy cost for the heroes.
** Bard Stefen gets a personal version -- he can join Vanyel in the Forest of Sorrows, but only if he works the rest of his life trying to dispel the stigma against "ordinary" Heralds.
* TheEmpath: Empathy is a standard, if uncommon [[PsychicPowers Psychic Power]], generally found among Healers. Exceptional individuals who can project this ability are called [=MindHealers=] -- the most notable examples being Talia and Amberdrake. There are also a rare few evil empaths, said to leave a trail of twisted minds behind them.
* EmpathicWeapon: Need until she wakes up in ''Winds of Fate.''
* EmperorScientist: Urtho and Ma'ar serve as good and evil varieties, doubling as SorcerousOverlord.
* TheEmpire: The Eastern Empire. An easy to miss reference in one book names it the Aurinalean Empire, but it's never mentioned again.
* EnemyMine: Valdemar and Karse, which have been enemies time out of mind, unite against the threat of Ancar. Subverted in that once they unite, they are no longer enemies.
* EthicalSlut: Many Heralds lean toward this. As few are willing impose themselves on a spouse that would end up taking third place behind Duty and a Companion, friendly encounters with their colleagues are often seen as preferable. Also, it's mentioned that, since Heralds can pretty much expect to die in the line of duty, many prefer to become hedonistic and "anything but chaste" in their off-duty hours rather than try to form a strong bond with a single person when either of them may never come home again.
* EvilChancellor:
** Hulda infiltrates the courts of both Valdemar and Hardorn by posing as a nursemaid and seeking to corrupt their rulers' respective heirs.
** Lord Orthallen straddles this and TheEvilPrince. Despite being a senior member of the privy council and a close personal ''friend'' of three generations of the Valdemar Royal Family, he either instigated or was heavily involved in at least four plots against the crown over the course of 20 years while avoiding suspicion almost completely until the day of his death.
* EvilerThanThou: Ancar and Hulda, meet Mornelithe Falconsbane. Among several other examples, he takes their WeHaveReserves strategy to truly epic heights.
* TheEvilPrince: Ancar of Hardorn. To a lesser (or at least less competent) extent Thanel of Rethwellan, Prince-Consort of Valdemar.
* ExcaliburInTheRust: In ''Oathbreakers'', the long-lost Singing Sword of Rethwellan that is used to identify the country's rightful king is discovered to be none other than a rusty, dirty old sword that Kethry picked up along the wayside.
* ExpositionBeam: For most characters, learning what being a Herald means and adjusting to Collegium norms form a big chunk of their arc ([[NaiveNewcomer and helpfully explains those things to the reader, as well]]), but in ''Foundation'', Mags' Companion telepathically injects all that information into him instantly. He somehow has no problem absorbing it, despite being a traumatized child slave with no knowledge of the outside world. Makes you wonder why future Companions never thought to do that.
* {{Expy}}: ''Closer to Home'' has clear expy of Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet. It's mostly a {{Deconstruction}}, showing, among other things a) what shitty parents the Montagues and Capulets were and b) just how silly and possibly dangerous the lovers' attitudes towards romance were (and in Juliet's case, what a bad idea it was to keep the Nurse around, because she was a major enabler of this). It's really driven home when [[spoiler:this version of Romeo turns out to be a psychopath, who's perfectly happy to seduce (and ruin) Violetta, marry her under false pretences, and murder both their families (and a whole bunch of innocent servants) horribly in order to inherit all the wealth of both Houses.]]
* EyeColourChange: Mages who work with [[PlaceOfPower node magic]] see their eyes gradually lighten to blue because of the magic's bleaching effect. They also gain MysticalWhiteHair.
* TheFagin: A LoveableRogue type. Skif falls in with a group of young thieves led by an adult man (Bazie), who is unfortunately crippled; he gives them food, shelter and lessons (both educational and in how to be a good thief) in exchange for helping him out with his daily life and stealing for him.
** In ''Closer to Home'', a man named Gripper is running his own gang of boys that steal for him. Unlike Bazie, however, he's abusive and mean to them, so when Mags rescues them and recruits them to be messenger boys (and keep an ear out for any useful information), they're quite happy to do so. By ''Closer to the Chest'', it's established that there are other cruel men running gang boys to act as thieves, with the subsequent result of Mags stepping in and recruiting the boys for his messenger group.
* FamedInStory: The story of Kerowyn's first heroic exploits follows her throughout the rest of ''By the Sword'', rather to her chagrin. She follows in the footsteps of her mentors, Tarma and Kethry, whose mercenary careers are plagued by tales of their "heroic unselfish deeds". As they put it, it's tough to get paying jobs when people expect you to help them out of the goodness of your heart. Their ''kyree'' companion Warrl evidently became this as well; another ''kyree'' is introduced later whose favorite phrase is "my famous cousin Warrl!" Vanyel also gets quite a bit of this in ''Magic's Promise'' and especially in ''Magic's Price''.
* FantasticHonorifics: "Siara" is the default honorific, when its not clear what the right one would be.
* FantasticNuke: The most powerful mages [[PersonOfMassDestruction explicitly embody this concept]], the most obvious example of which is the Cataclysm at the conclusion of the Mage Wars.
* FantasyContraception: Female Heralds (and presumably, other women who venture afield) employ an herbal concoction that reduces or eliminates "moon days" and also has contraceptive properties.
* FantasyGunControl: Velgarth never developed firearms, though the tech level in other respects ranges from the Renaissance to the Steam Age.
* FantasyWorldMap: The name of the world is Velgarth and it's enormous, containing countries that are mentioned only by name in publications and more beyond that. Vadlemar and it's neighbors encompass a tiny part of the West.
* FascistButInefficient: Ancar turned Hardorn into a giant machine to create and supply an army to conquer his neighbors. Because none of the five wars of conquest he launched actually succeeded in taking any territory, by the time he died, he had stripped so much manpower and resources from his country to fuel an unproductive war machine that the people who managed to survive his reign were barely capable of supporting themselves... if they were lucky.
* FashionBasedRelationshipCue: Hawkbrothers indicate they're in a serious relationship by wearing a feather from their partner's bondbird as a hair ornament.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Inflicted by Kethry on Idra's brother in ''Oathbreakers'', as punishment for the betrayal of his kingdom and the brutal rape and murder of his sister.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Lord Orthallen straddles this as well, most vividly seen (or not, rather) when he was acting as Selenay's confidant.
* FeudingFamilies: The plot of ''Closer to Home''. The noble houses Chendlar and Raeylen have been fighting for a couple of generations, but the King has managed to keep tensions low by simply manipulating Court so the two families are never there at the same time. In this book, they both show up before he can stop them, and Mags and Amily spend most of the winter trying to keep them from going at each other's throats--until [[spoiler:the son of Lord Raeylen tries to kill them ''both'', except for one of the Chendlar daughters, so he can marry her and inherit both Houses. They reconcile after that debacle]].
* FictionalGenevaConventions: The Mercenaries' Code binds all Guild mercenary companies, and any nation that ever wants to be able to hire Guild mercenaries - that's everyone except Karse, the Empire, and Iftel. (Valdemar doesn't ''generally'' use mercenaries, but they treat them fairly when they do, or when they fight against them.) It boils down to "abide by the contract," "don't send mercenaries into a suicide mission," and "mercenaries don't loot without permission or commit atrocities against the population."
* FightingForAHomeland: A common theme across the series is that, while some mercenaries are scum, most hired fighters just want to get enough money together to buy some land, marry, and settle down. Tarma is a subversion -- she already has the land for her Clan, but unless she [[GlorySeeker personally establishes its fame and fortune]], she won't attract quality people to repopulate it.
** A less sympathetic example is the Tedrels, who are so desperate for a country that there are no depths to which they will not sink to get one.
* FightingFromTheInside: An'desha in ''Winds of Fury'', from within the body that Mornelithe Falconsbane stole from him.
* FilkSong: There are eight albums of songs written by Lackey. In the early series, the last book in each series had the song lyrics printed in the back as well as information on where to order cassette tapes of the songs.
* TheFirstCutIsTheDeepest: Vanyel after losing Tylendel. His deeply romantic (and deeply in denial) mother likes to tell young women "he lost his first love tragically" -- fortunately by the time Stef comes along she seems to have accepted things.
* FisherKing: Inverted and invoked in ''Mage Storms''. After years of misrule by Ancar, who ruined the land with magic, the people of Hardorn insist their new king go through a ceremony to magically bind him to the land so that he will personally feel the effects of any abuses inflicted upon it. Later in the series, all of the allied lands get a monarch Earth-bound to help set the last wave of defenses against the Final Storm.
* FishOutOfWater: Newly-Chosen Heralds almost always have to go through an adjustment phase when they arrive at the Palace for training.
* ForDoomTheBellTolls: The Death Bell, which the Companions ring when a Herald dies.
* ForegoneConclusion: Vanyel and Lavan Firestorm again, not to mention Urtho and the Cataclysm.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** In ''Mage’s Pawn'', when Tylendal and Savil are talking about how to get through to Vanyel after his dreams of being a [[TheBard Bard]] are dashed, Savil asks if him [[DrivenToSuicide attempting suicide is likely to be a problem]]. Tylendel replies that Vanyel is unlikely to go that far, however, if it was himself...
** In ''Arrows of the Queen'', when first describing Companions, Talia remarks that they transcend horses in the way that "panthers transcend cats, or ''"angels transcend men"''. Yeah, about that...
* ForHalloweenIAmGoingAsMyself: Specifically invoked in ''Winds of Fury'' when a bunch of mages and a CatGirl have to sneak into Hardorn. "Where do you hide a red fish?" "In a pond full of red fish."
* ForgedLetter: In ''Brightly Burning'', a forged letter is used to lure Lavan out where the assassins can get a shot at him.
* FosteringForProfit: Dialogue from ''Foundation'' hints that Cole Pieters may have been doing this with Mags and the other orphan children he had working in his mine. Since families with working children get a yearly stipend from the Crown if they have a child Chosen (until he or she becomes a full Herald), Cole Pieters could have continued it if he had been smart about things. However, he tried to obstruct Dallen from Chosing Mags, which resulted in him being found out.
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Baron Valdemar, fleeing the corruption of the Eastern Empire [[TheMigration with his followers]], founded both his namesake kingdom and the Heralds. According to what is told in ''The Mage Storms'' the crown was half forced on him because his people didn't want a mere ''Baron'' as their ruler while everyone else around them was declaring themselves kings, no matter how small a place they had.
** Urtho's were split up after the Cataclysm and groups and companies went on to found k'Leshya, the Shin'a'in, the Tayledras, [[spoiler: Iftel and possibly Karse]].
* FourElementEnsemble: As of ''Mage Storms'', the major countries in the setting correspond to one of these elements (although a Water country has not shown up yet).
** Valdemar is Air. Its sigil is a winged horse, its ideology emphasizes freedom above all else, and its people specialize in 'mind-magic', which is invisible to the naked eye. Valdemaran spirit guardians are white horses that can run as fast as the wind.
** Karse is Fire. Its tutelary deity is a sun god, and its spirit guardians are great cats with thick red fur. Most Karsites with magic are pyromancers, [[PersonalityPowers typically passionate]] about their religion and duty to the state.
** Hardorn (and the Eastern Empire its laws are based off of) is Earth. It unifies many races and religions under a ideology that emphasizes humility and practicality. With the magical Gates that Hardonen mages specialize in, they can link almost anyone on earth together. Additionally, their king has strong earth-sense.
* FreakLabAccident: Vanyel has strong mage-potential but it takes a freak accident involving the backlash from a collapsing Gate to unlock his powers, transforming him into the third most powerful mage in history and granting him almost every other Gift in the book as well.
* FriendToAllChildren: Tarma. Kids know it too, running to her for protection even though she's usually the scariest-looking one in the room.
* FullFrontalAssault: In ''The White Gryphon'', Hadanelith, a SerialKiller and [[MindRape mind-rapist]], conducts a series of assassinations against prominent members of Haighlei society... by climbing into their windows nude. This has several purposes: it shocks the victims, who are mainly high-class females, into being unable to resist; it avoids leaving evidence in the form of scraps of clothing or shoe-prints; it helps frame the White Gryphon delegation since no Haighlei would ever consider such an act; and [[ForTheEvulz it amuses him]].
* FunctionalMagic: Has elements of almost all types.
* {{Geas}}: The magic sword [[EmpathicWeapon Need]] (before she awakens), compels her bearers to go to the aid of women in trouble. Many of Tarma and Kethry's adventures are due to this effect, but Kerowyn uses her Mindspeech to get Need to back off a bit so she can make her own choices in life.
* GenkiGirl: Natoli, almost to the point of being a ManicPixieDreamGirl for Karal.
* GeniusLoci: The Forest of Sorrows. [[spoiler: Leave it Vanyel to turn himself into this in death.]]
* GenreShift: Over time the franchise shifts from epic fantasy to slice-of-life. Most of the ''Mage Storms'' trilogy is about political debates and Tremane's reconstruction of Shonar, and the ''Spy'' series rarely involve any crisis worse than sexual harassment.
* GiantFlyer: Gryphons.
* GladToBeAliveSex: Kerowyn and Eldan in ''By the Sword''.
* GlorySeeker: Tarma, quite unhappily. A wiser Shin'a'in cautions her that if she wants to attract quality persons to repopulate her clan, she'll have to rebuild its reputation personally.
** Elspeth gets a brief version of this -- when she returns to Valdemar after her long visit to the Tayledras lands, she ''has'' to make a grand entrance through the streets of Haven because 1) rumors are circulating that she's been murdered by her stepfather and 2) there's no way to hide her new allies (especially the gryphons).
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: In ''The Oathbound'', the demon Thalhkarsh attains a godlike state by drawing power from the worship and sacrifices by his followers. Averted in that there's no indication that the real gods (or the One, depending on how you look at it) need worship.
** In Darian's Tale, it's noted that the tribal totems of the Northerners probably play this straight; the character in question wonders if there's a level of spiritual warfare when tribes clash as well.
* GoodFeelsGood: Heralds in general and especially Skif, who does a HeelFaceTurn because of it- not that he was all that bad to start with.
* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: {{Averted}} near the end of ''Arrow's Flight'' in which Talia allows a midwife to abort a young woman's pregnancy if she wishes it (which was due to [[ParentalIncest her stepfather]] [[ChildByRape raping her]] and she'd found that it was non-viable anyway since the girl was underage).
* GoodIsNotNice:
** Weaponmaster Alberich, who believes that he cannot afford to be kind or merciful to his students lest their training fail at a critical moment.
** Alberich's successor, Kerowyn adopts the same rule, having come from a mercenary background and also having seen firsthand what happens to trainees whose weapons instructors are too easy on them.
** Talia is a very reasonable person and good at sorting out people's problems, but her [[MindOverManners psychic ethics]] are largely restricted to people on ''her'' side. Enemies beware!
* GrandTheftMe: BigBad Ma'ar has been [[DemonicPossession possessing]] his descendants for thousands of years.
* GreaterScopeVillain: The Eastern Empire [[spoiler: is responsible for Hardon's war with Valdemar having manipulated Ancar]]. However, they're never actually fought or even seen (except for a small outpost). [[spoiler: The problem becomes moot after the Mage Storms wreck havoc on magic and thus the {{Magitek}} society]]
* GrimUpNorth: For Valdemar, the Northern Wastes; Valdemar itself is this for Rethwellan and Karse.
* GroupieBrigade: Herald Alberich takes advantage of one of these in ''Exile's Valor''. When he realizes that the actor Norris is trailing him, he goes into a large inn and "happens" to mention the fact that Norris is outside to a roomful of young ladies ... then dives for cover as they charge outside and mob Norris.
* HasTwoMommies: Kethry and Jadrek have BabiesEverAfter, and HeterosexualLifePartner Tarma helps. They essentially become a three-parent family, and Kethry's children become the nucleus of Tarma's reformed Shin'a'in Clan.
* HealingHands: The Healers generally have this as an ability, though it costs energy that comes from the Healer's personal magical reserves, so it's better to use medicine and care whenever possible.
* HealingShiv: Need, though close contact or even physical proximity is just as effective.
* HeirClubForMen:
** Notably {{averted}} by the Valdemaran royal family; with Companions Choosing as many girls as boys, the Heralds know better than to think a Queen would be less effective a ruler than a King. Queen Selenay rules both before and during her marriages (and her husbands remain Princes, even though Daren legally ''could'' have been crowned King if he wanted), and her daughter Elspeth remains Heir even after her younger half-brother is born. Valdemar's nobility, however, is not so enlightened, preferring male heirs strongly.
** A side plot in the ''Literature/LastHeraldMageTrilogy'' is that King Randale is sterile -- an obstacle to any possible alliance marriage. To hide this fact, his consort Shavri conceives a child with Herald Vanyel, with Randale's full knowledge and consent.
* HellHound: Wyrsa, pretty much. They're described as an unholy fusion of sighthound and venomous snake approximately the size of a horse; they're incredibly fast-moving, vicious, and absolutely tenacious in pursuing their prey. Anyone who manages to hurt or kill a wyrsa will have the entire pack after them until they either die or manage to kill off the entire pack. To make matters worse, wyrsa affected by the mage storms caused by the Cataclysm developed the ability to ''eat magic''.
* HellYesMoment: In ''[=OwlKnight=]'', Darian and his companions are up against a snow-drake when heading northwest to find his parents. Things seem impossible, until Healer Keisha fires an arrow hitting it at the right spot. To Darian's amazement, Keisha runs right up to face the snow-drake, followed by younger sister Herald Shandi who shouts the Trope expression.
* HeroicBSOD: Just about every major hero in the stories has at least one.
** Vanyel, after the Gate backfire gives him Adept-level magic and nearly kills him (grief and self-pity).
** Vanyel again, after being raped by bandits and subsequently [[PayEvilUntoEvil Paying Evil Unto Evil]] (self-loathing).
** Talia, when her Gift goes wild and nearly kills herself and Kris (self-loathing).
** Talia again, after being imprisoned in Ancar's dungeons, subjected to rape and torture, and attempting suicide (despair).
** Amberdrake, after Skandranon apparently fails to return from a mission (grief).
** Karal, after Ulrich's death (grief), and Altra the Firecat (grief and guilt that he couldn't save both Karal and Ulrich).
* HeroicFatigue: It is not uncommon for Heralds to experience this, however Vanyel suffers worse than most. Throughout the second two books he is in almost constant state of overwork, starting with returning after an entire year of filling in for five other Herald-Mages simultaneously on the battlelines.
* HeroicRROD: Pushing one's magic (or PsychicPowers) too far can result in backlash; see also CastFromHitPoints.
* HeroicSacrifice: Several. The Final Strike technique (used most notably by Vanyel) is basically a prepackaged Heroic Sacrifice in the form of a suicide-weapon-of-last-resort for mages, using all their energy at once in a huge explosion.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Tarma and Kethry, one of the classic examples in fiction. Tarma of course is [[{{Asexuality}} celibate]] by divine oath, and Kethry is more than het enough for both of them, as she demonstrates by getting HappilyMarried at the end of ''Oathbreakers'' and having BabiesEverAfter. It doesn't stop them from being subjected to HoYay in-universe, though.
* HiddenElfVillage: The Hawkbrothers' Vales are these, until the events in the ''Mage Winds'' bring them out.
** Iftel was a Hidden Elf ''Nation State''. For hundreds of years it showed up on maps, but few ever went in or out. It was well known that trying to invade or sneak over the border would lead to instant death, but sometimes people were ''permitted'' in and came back out reporting that it was otherwise a ''very'' boring place which there was no real reason to visit, ever... [[spoiler:In reality it contained a people (true Kaled'a'in) and even an entire sentient species (the Gryphons) that virtually everyone in the setting would have been ''floored'' to learn still existed in the world. Why visitors reported otherwise isn't quite explained, but it's implied to be because the same magic that guarded the borders also imposed a WeirdnessCensor.]]
** Valdemar itself is a downplayed example after Vanyel's era up until the ''Mage Winds'' trilogy. While they trade with their neighbors and maintain good relations with everyone except Karse, they generally don't have much to do with the world outside their borders unless things have gone totally pear-shaped, in part because Vanyel's web and the gods are working to keep Valdemar secluded (being in a corner of the map, with nigh-impassible barriers on two borders, helps). Outsiders see Valdemar as a strange but harmless hermit kingdom, and a saying in Rethwellan is that "when the wind blows folk from Valdemar, prepare for heavy weather."
* HighlyConspicuousUniform: Valdemaran Heralds (white), Bards (red), and Healers (green) all wear these in their normal duties. In each case it's because it's their job to be highly visible, even when being visible is sometimes a liability, like on the battlefield.
** Two Heralds of note refuse to wear Whites, and both are Weaponmasters who come from a different country: Alberich and Kerowyn. Kerowyn calls it her "just shoot me" uniform and only a royal decree can get her into one. For his part, Alberich also prefers "grays" but will occasionally don Whites in order to disguise himself, as his reputation for disliking them is so well established.
** In the ''Mage Winds'' series, the Hawkbrothers (specifically, their ''hertasi'' helpers) take such a dislike to Elspeth's Whites that they literally steal them until they can come up with something better. She insists on them remaining white, but they at least manage to make her the most stylish Herald in the history of Valdemar.
* HiredGuns: Tarma, Kethry and Kerowyn are all mercenaries, and the Mercenaries' Guild is a very important organization in most of the non-Valdemar stories (particularly ''Oathbreakers'' and ''By the Sword''). Guild mercenaries are consistently portrayed as clean-cut good guys even if they're OnlyInItForTheMoney; non-guild types vary widely in their ethics and competence.
* HonestAdvisor: The position of Monarch's Own Herald exists so that the ruler always has at least one completely honest, absolutely trustworthy friend.
* HorsingAround: There are several instances, including the famous gray stud of Forst Reach and a beautiful but brainless horse in ''Oathbreakers''.
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Don, from one of the short stories, is a male example. He's a whore, and he does specialize in older married women (he considers this [[EthicalSlut ethical]], as his clients' husbands nearly always have their own bits on the side), but he spends half a page explaining to an Herald that ultimately, he leaves his partners better than he found them, while he leaves with heavier pockets. [[spoiler: What cements this trope, however, is that he turns out to have been an unconscious and untrained [=MindHealer=], using his empathic talents to soothe his lovers' cares.]]
** In the ''Herald Spy'' books, they work at the ethical brothels (ones where the ladies are decently-treated and the taxes are paid like at other businesses) in Haven. Some of the brothels, or at least the madams running them, are part of Nikolas's network of spies.
* HotDrinkCure: In the first book of the Collegium Chronicles, a severe blizzard hits Haven. Some people barely make it to the shelter in time and are treated for hypothermia, with some of the treatments being heated alcoholic drinks.
* HugeGuyTinyGirl: Dirk and Talia.
* HuntingAccident: Prince Thanel's attempt to assassinate his wife Selenay, and also the [[TheCoronerDothProtestTooMuch official explanation]] for Thanel's death when the attempt failed.
-->'''Talia''': I [[DeadpanSnarker suppose that's marginally true]]. [[MetaphoricallyTrue They]] ''[[MetaphoricallyTrue were]]'' [[MetaphoricallyTrue hunting Selenay]].
* HurricaneOfAphorisms: There are a lot of old Shin'a'in proverbs, and everyone loves to quote them.
* HurtingHero: Vanyel especially.
* {{Hypocrite}}:
** The Karsite Priesthood hates magic, burns magic-users and hates Valdemar ostensibly because they're a witch-nation full of demons. Many Karsite Priests are mages who summon demons. For extra irony, Valdemar has not had any mages since around the time Karse declared magic anathema.
** Valdemar's Heralds in ''Closer to Home'' oppose the system where women are seen as tools of political alliance rather than as people in their own right, and yet the King commands an ArrangedMarriage between two FeudingFamilies to settle the feud. Even centuries later, it's accepted that Valdemar's Monarch and Heir may need to make a marriage of alliance, whatever Valdemar's national values on the subject say.
* ICallItVera: Generally averted -- most fighters in the Valdemar 'verse are too much of a CombatPragmatist to become sentimentally attached to any one weapon. Played straight with "Need," an EmpathicWeapon, and various musical instruments. Lamshaded by Alberich in the Exile duology: he bans such weapons from the training salle.
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: Most of the series use it:
** ''The Mage Wars'': The X Gryphon:
*** ''The Black Gryphon'' (1994)
*** ''The White Gryphon'' (1995)
*** ''The Silver Gryphon'' (1996)
** ''[[Literature/LastHeraldMageTrilogy The Last Herald-Mage]]'': Magic's X:
*** ''Magic's Pawn'' (1989)
*** ''Magic's Promise'' (1990)
*** ''Magic's Price'' (1990)
** ''The Collegium Chronicles'': All {{One Word Title}}s. The last two are a type of building.
*** ''Foundation'' (2008)
*** ''Intrigues'' (2010)
*** ''Changes'' (2011)
*** ''Redoubt'' (2012)
*** ''Bastion'' (October 2013)
** ''The Herald Spy'', a sequel to the ''Collegium Chronicles'' with an adult Herald Mags.
*** ''Closer to Home'' (October 2014)
*** ''Closer to the Heart'' (October 2015)
*** ''Closer to the Chest'' (October 2016)
** ''Vows and Honor'': Oath-X:
*** ''The Oathbound'' (1988)
*** ''Oathbreakers'' (1989)
*** ''Oathblood'' (1998)
** ''Exile's Duology'': Exile's X:
*** ''Exile's Honor'' (2002)
*** ''Exile's Valor'' (2003)
** ''The Arrows Trilogy'': Arrow's / Arrow's X:
*** ''Arrows of the Queen'' (1987)
*** ''Arrow's Flight'' (1987)
*** ''Arrow's Fall'' (1988)
** ''Mage Winds'': Winds of X:
*** ''Winds of Fate'' (1991)
*** ''Winds of Change'' (1992)
*** ''Winds of Fury'' (1993)
** ''Mage Storms'': Storm X:
*** ''Storm Warning'' (1994)
*** ''Storm Rising'' (1995)
*** ''Storm Breaking'' (1996)
** ''The Owl Trilogy (Darian's Tale)'': Owl-X {{Portmantitle}}s:
*** ''Owlflight'' (1997)
*** ''Owlsight'' (1998)
*** ''Owlknight'' (1999)
* IdiotBall: Near the end of the Mage Winds trilogy, Elspeth, princess of Valdemar, goes undercover in enemy territory. Among the weapons she brings? A knife emblazoned with the Valdemaran crest. A ''throwing'' knife. Which she uses for its intended purpose, on an envoy of the Eastern Empire -- just as he's [[{{Teleportation}} Gating]] back home. As one of her companions notes, "very subtle, Elspeth."
-->'''Skif:''' So the envoy arrives falling out of a gate with a knife that has the royal symbol of Valdemar carved on its pommel embedded in his throat. Why not just send the Eastern Emperor a note? 'Your father won the Horse Faire. Your mother tracks rabbits by scent. Love and kisses, Elspeth of Valdemar!'
* IfItTastesBadItMustBeGoodForYou: Valdemaran Healers bounce back and forth between averting this trope and playing it straight:
** The standard herbal medicine for overstraining one's psychic abilities tastes absolutely horrid. Most Healers will provide a "chaser" with no medical properties but which will clear the taste out of a patient's mouth; one character who needs the potion because he just invoked WhatAnIdiot gets the potion but ''not'' the palate-cleanser.
** At one point in the ''Collegium Chronicles'', Mags has a huge fight with Healer-Trainee Bear, then a few chapters later needs medical treatment. Bear tells him that while Mags had some good points, he's getting medicines made with the worst-tasting alternatives Bear could find as payback.
** In an aversion, when Karal collapses from stress and overwork, he's assured that potions for stomach ulcers are deliberately made to be tasty (it's the only way to get people who need them to take them).
* ImaginaryLoveTriangle:
** Gets almost ridiculous in ''Winds of Change''. Darkwind likes Elspeth, Elspeth seems interested in return. Then Firesong shows up and Elspeth seems slightly more interested in him than in Darkwind. Firesong notices and has a talk with both of them "SorryImGay and happen to like Darkwind. But I know Darkwind likes Elspeth, so I won't try anything". But Elspeth is in the middle of learning about Tayledras customs, so her thoughts after the talk are "Could Darkwind be bi and interested in Firesong?" (he's not). Luckily that gets cleared up immediately after.
** Dirk, Kris and Talia: Talia had an affair with Kris during her internship, but it had ended by the time she realized she actually liked Dirk. Dirk picked up on remnants of their relationship, deduced they were ''still'' together, and abandoned any pursuit of Talia because he was certain she'd never want him. The result is a tangle of misery that doesn't resolve until things have become truly terrible.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Dirk tries this in ''Arrow's Fall''. Talia, the LoveInterest in question, is not amused when she finally realizes what's going on.
* IdenticalGrandson: "The Ashkevron family look tends to breed true, and when it doesn't the poor thing usually runs off to Haven."
* IgnoreTheFanservice: Vanyel, to a tavern wench. He doesn't understand why at first, because he doesn't yet realize that he's gay.
* ImpoverishedPatrician: Kethry's backstory.
* IncompletelyTrained: Talia's Gift training in ''Arrows of the Queen'' amounted to the other Heralds realizing that she had full Empathy. Since they didn't have any other Heralds with the Gift and she seemed to have it under control, they shrugged it off and let her go - a mistake that nearly had dire repercussions later and went into the Chronicles "for sheer wrongheadedness."
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: One of the Heralds' defining traits. It's worth noting that the potential for this has to exist in order for the Companions to Choose them in the first place, and many a Herald with a troubled past has had to reconcile it before fully embracing his/her destiny. Also, Heralds are not completely incorruptible, but it is observed that [[EvilCannotComprehendGood evildoers couldn't possibly understand what it would take to do so]] and couldn't offer it even if they did. In the entire history of the kingdom, only one Herald has ever been repudiated: Tylendel, who wasn't corrupted but instead went mad and attempted a RoaringRampageOfRevenge.
** CanonDiscontinuity: In ''Arrows of the Queen'', it is mentioned that a repudiation occurs about once every couple of centuries. By ''Arrow's Fall'', it had changed to only one ever.
* TheInfiltration: Tarma's role in ''Oathbreakers'' is to get inside the court in Rethwellan to uncover the truth of what happened to the King's sister. She does, and it is not pretty.
* InstantExpert: One of Need's powers is to make its bearer a master swordfighter if they are not already experienced in martial combat, turning a SquishyWizard like Kethry into a MagicKnight. In the hands of a completely unskilled bearer, the effect goes [[WeaponWieldsYou even further]].
* IntellectualAnimal: Companions, most notably; also gryphons, Firecats, ''kyree'', and ''hertasi'', all of which were either divinely or magically created. Some of the smarter bondbirds also qualify--for example, Hyllar the hawkeagle, who demonstrates a capable grasp of abstract concepts such as "acting" and "sarcasm."
* IntentionalHeartbreaker: Lady Naril in ''Arrows of the Queen'' pretended to love Dirk so she could get closer to his handsome best friend Kris. When Kris rejected her, she tore into Dirk for believing a beautiful woman like her would want a homely man like him. Dirk's self-esteem was so shattered that he didn't believe ''any'' woman would want him, complicating his relationship with Talia.
* IntergenerationalFriendship: Talia's close bond with her equestrian instructor Keren in the ''Arrows'' trilogy. Perhaps even moreso, her equally close friendship with the elderly and mostly retired Herald Jadus in ''Arrows of the Queen''.
* InterspeciesRomance:
** Skif and Nyara are only sort of an example, since Nyara was originally human before her father altered her. Later her CatGirl features are reverted until she's almost completely human in appearance.
** Lavan Firestorm and his Companion do have a lifebond as well as a Companion bond; this is necessary to anchor his sanity.
** There's something of a {{deconstruction}} or [[JustifiedTrope justified]] [[AvertedTrope aversion]] of this issue in the ''Mage Storms'' trilogy, where the true nature of most Companions ([[spoiler:reincarnated Heralds]]) is revealed. The Companions go to great lengths to conceal this secret to avoid exactly the situation where a Herald is forced to confront a former loved one in a ... slightly different body.
* IntimateHealing: Sexual therapy is just one of a Kaled'a'in ''kestra'chern'''s arts, though they don't use it in every case, and calling it prostitution is not only ignorant but an enormous insult.
* JustBetweenYouAndMe: Hadanelith in ''The White Gryphon'' does this after having Amberdrake and Skandranon captive. Skan [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] this in the beginning by asking, "Good gods, does every half-baked villain have to boast about what he’s going to do before he does it? Can’t you just kill us so we don’t have to endure your boring speech?” Hadanelith retorts that he wants them to know everything so that they can suffer in not being able to thwart his plan. Skan and Amberdrake then proceed to feign boredom instead of interest to keep Hadanelith talking.
* KeystoneArmy: Several, mainly out of Hardorn. The "keystone" in most cases is the mage whose spells are keeping the massive conscript force controlled -- take him out and the army collapses.
* KidsAreCruel: Talia, Vanyel, and Lavan Firestorm suffer considerably at the hands of attackers who themselves are minors. Vanyel is merely ostracized; Lavan is bullied until his Gift involuntarily retaliates; and Talia is almost drowned.
* KnightOfCerebus: Ancar in the first trilogy, arguably. While the first two books of the trilogy deal with some weighty subjects, the focus is on Talia and her experiences as she comes of age and grows into her power and her role as Queen's Own. When Ancar takes center stage in ''Arrow's Fall'' he shifts the threat level from local to national - kicked off by murdering one major recurring character and subjecting Talia to the most horrific tortures he can come up with - and he remains the major looming threat of the series until the end of the ''Winds'' trilogy.
* LadyOfWar: Queen Selenay; also something of a WinterRoyalLady, since she (like all Heralds) wears white on duty.
* LadyInWaiting: Amily, with the help of her friend Dia (who runs things) and the monetary sponsorship of Princess Lydia, sets up the Queen's Handmaidens. The Handmaidens consist of young ladies of good station but are poor, who are trained to act as general purpose ladies-in-waiting to the noble women at court and also function as spies on the nobles for the Crown.
* LapPillow: Tylendel does this with Vanyel the morning after they first get together. Vanyel’s reaction shows his gradual acceptance/realisation of their relationship.
* LargeHam:
** Firesong, deliberately. He views showmanship as an inherent part of his art and when the opportunity comes to play at being a carnival charlatan, he hams it up with gusto.
** Hilariously, Hyllarr the bondbird hawkeagle, who with only a little prompting from Darkwind proves more than willing to shamelessly ham up his injuries to get Starblade's sympathy.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Occasionally inflicted on Heralds by their Companions to preserve their {{Masquerade}} as being nothing more than supernaturally intelligent horses. Also, Vanyel's scheme to keep magic out of Valdemar is partly based on a massive node-powered amnesia spell that compels its inhabitants to forget that magic exists, or ever existed except in legend.
* LeyLine: The basis of the magic system is LifeEnergy, which bleeds off of living things into the BackgroundMagicField and collects into "streams" and "rivers" of energy called ley lines that eventually flow to another plane. Where two or more ley lines meet, they form a [[PlaceOfPower node]], an extremely powerful magical energy source.
* LifeEnergy: This forms the basis of all magic. See LeyLine above as well as LiquidAssets.
* LikeBrotherAndSister: Skif and Talia swear blood brotherhood after their failed teenage romance. Interestingly, they mean it, and any {{UST}} becomes moot after Talia acknowledges her [[MindlinkMates lifebond]] to Dirk. Also occurs between Talia and Kris, although they were lovers during her internship.
* LiquidAssets: Healing magic (and its DarkSide counterpart, BloodMagic) explicitly work this way.
* LivingLieDetector:
** All Heralds learn a "truth spell" which has this effect. Many can also perform an upgraded version which ''forces'' the subject [[TruthSerum to tell the truth]].
** Gryphons, [[TheEmpath Empaths]], and powerful Mindspeakers such as ''dyheli'' can detect falsehood without resorting to magic. Occasional individuals, such as Herald-Chronicler Myste, seem to have the ability as an independent Gift, as well.
* LockedRoomMystery: The short story "Keys" requires Kethry to solve one of these. To add tension, Tarma is stuck outside fighting single combats with every warrior in the keep until she dies or Kethry figures it out, whichever comes first.
* LogicalWeakness: Valdemar's AntiMagic defense isn't absolute and there are major loopholes namely centered around Vanyel's original order to the vrondi, who are very literal.
** The defense only activates if a mage uses magic inside Valdemar, thus any mage who simply doesn't use magic doesn't trigger the vrondi. This is how [[spoiler: Hulda managed to operate for years in Valdemar]].
** The vrondi are only meant to watch and don't offer any other protection which means that a mage can still cast spells outside the borders and use them to attack Valdemar. The Sun-priests used to summon demons to attack Valdemar and the same with Hardornian mages. [[spoiler: That is how Leareth bypassed the webs protection]]
** A powerful, determined or crazy enough mage could simply ignore the vrondi long enough to accomplish an objective.
* LonelyAtTheTop: A common theme used for anyone in a position of authority, such as the various monarchs in the series. Selenay in particular had this problem, which is part of which allowed her to be so easily seduced by Prince Karathanelan. Rank-and-file Heralds largely avoid it, having their peers for company, but particularly powerful ones (whether politically, like the monarchs, or personally, like Herald-Mages in general and Vanyel in particular) do suffer from it.
-->'''Vanyel''': Heralds are all lonely; we’re different [...] Herald-Mages are one step lonelier than that. Then there’s me.
* LongRunningBookSeries: ''Arrows of the Queen'' was published in 1987, and the Tarma & Kethry stories predate that. Books are still being published to this day.
* LoopholeAbuse: Valdemaran law requires that the monarch be a Herald--but it doesn't say anything about ''regents''. So if you want to run the country, you ''could'' marry the monarch, have a baby, arrange an "accident" for your beloved, and rule in the child's stead for at least eighteen years, more if you play your cards right. [[spoiler: Which is exactly what Prince Thanel, Selenay's awful first husband, nearly manages--it doesn't work because Thanel is working on the plans of someone far smarter than him and falls apart when not being explicitly instructed, and Alberich spots the assassination attempt in time.]]
* LordCountry: The Kingdom of Valdemar is named after its first ruler, King Valdemar. He in turn was merely Baron Valdemar in the [[TheEmpire Eastern Empire]], which he fled with his people when it became too despotic. When they settled, they insisted that he crown himself and named the land after him. Whether his barony on the Empire's western border was ''also'' named Valdemar is unknown.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Supposedly this is true of all lifebonds. ''By the Sword'' provides probably the most dramatic example without a lifebond.[[note]]According to the WordOfGod.[[/note]]
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: Inverted with Lavan Firestorm, whose lovebond to his Companion kept him sane. When she died, he burned a mountain pass down to bare rock, along with the invading army that was ''in'' the pass at the time. (And himself, of course.)
* LoveTriangle: A [[TriangRelations Type 4]] between Dirk, Kris, and Talia. At least, that's what Dirk thinks; his [[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy reluctance to "break up"]] Kris and Talia, while the two of them are trying to set Talia up with Dirk, causes a tremendous amount of heartbreak.
* LowerDeckEpisode:
** ''The Mage Storms'' is the first trilogy to feature characters who are not Heralds (and largely not specially Gifted), to show how small acts at just the right moment can be enough to save the world.
** ''The Owl Trilogy/Darian's Tale''. Compared to the more kingdom- and world-shaking events of previous books, especially the previous trilogy ''The Mage Storms'', Darian's books basically describe the world from the view of yet another cog in the machine and within a small local area as well. The more world-shaking events are merely looked at vaguely, hinting at future books and problems for Valdemar.
* MagicAIsMagicA: Gifts and true magic are portrayed fairly consistently, despite a bit of EarlyInstallmentWeirdness. Each novel in the series goes deeper into the underlying mechanics of the Valdemar 'verse and the actors behind it.
* TheMagicGoesAway: Three times in the series.
** At the end of ''The Black Gryphon'', the Cataclysm shatters magic over the entire continent and it takes years before things settle down enough that it's safe to use again.
** Following ''The Last Herald-Mage'' trilogy, Vanyel's efforts to protect Valdemar from foreign mages and to ensure that "normal" Heraldic Gifts weren't seen as inferior to magic have the unintended side-effect of causing the country as a whole to forget that magic even exists. This gets revoked at the beginning of ''Winds of Fury'', setting the stage for the return of the Herald-Mages.
** At the end of ''Mage Storms'', the Final Storm causes most nodes and ley lines to be drained and scattered across the land, depriving mages of most of their power. Again, it's stated that things will get back to normal eventually.
* MagicKnight: Vanyel, Elspeth, and Darkwind are the most notable examples. Most Heralds and many Tayledras tend at least a little toward this. That said, true [[MagicKnight Magic Knights]] are rare, since keeping ''either'' martial or magical skills up to date is a full-time job, and doing both of them together pretty much precludes a social life.
* MagicMusic: The Bardic Gift.
* MagicIsAMonsterMagnet: This is a danger particularly in the [[LostWoods Pelagirs]], where magic use can attract magic-twisted monsters. It also makes the mage obvious to any enemy mage.
* {{Magitek}}: The Eastern Empire's infrastructure uses magical devices both in place of technology and in conjunction with it. Many of Urtho's devices also count.
* TheMagnificent:
** Vanyel picks up quite a few epithets through between-books exploits; among other things, he becomes known as Vanyel Shadowstalker and Vanyel Demonsbane.
** In ''Brightly Burning'', Lavan Chitward becomes informally known in the Herald's Collegium as "Lavan Firestarter." (He is unaware that the name was actually bestowed on him by the King.) Down south on the Karsite border, he became "Herald Lavan Firestorm."
** Urtho (Mage of Silence) and Ma'ar (Mage of Dark Flames) as befitting the two great Archmages of their age.
* {{Masquerade}}: The Companions spend over a thousand years as partners to the Heralds without ever revealing their true natures: [[spoiler:reincarnated Heralds, or even actual divine avatars in the case of Grove-Born Companions]]. This is deemed necessary as knowing it could cause the Heralds to worship or even become dependent on them, not to mention the trauma of knowing that [[spoiler:a loved one came back in a forever-inaccessible form... or worse, ''didn't'' come back]].
* MasqueradeBall: In ''Exile's Valor'', Selenay holds one when the official year of mourning is over for her father, partly as a way to see if [[TheEvilPrince Prince]] Thanel is serious about her.
* MassiveNumberedSiblings: In one of the short stories, the main character is the youngest of twelve children in the royal family (his mother kept having twins and triplets). All of them were Chosen, which is why he rides on an Internship Circuit out in the field rather than being kept to the palace and capital city.
** In the ''Collegium Chronicles'', Herald Jakyr's parents belonged to a religion that believed in having as many children as possible for the Glory of God. He tells Mags that his parents had so many children that half the time they called them by the wrong names, and that according to the brother he still talks to, they never even noticed when he was Chosen and left. Jakyr ends the conversation by saying that "Just because you can have a quiverful of youngsters, it doesn't mean you should. Or any."
** Dirk has six siblings: three older sisters, two younger sisters, and a younger brother. Talia has numerous half-siblings from her father's many wives (eleven in total, with nine still alive at the start of her trilogy). However, she does not have any full siblings, as her mother [[DeathByChildbirth died giving birth to her]].
** Tuck, Lavan Firestorm's best friend, has nine siblings: five sisters and four brothers.
* MayDecemberRomance: An AuthorAppeal. Several appear early in the series:
** Stefen is 17 and Vanyel is 35 when they meet.
** Talia (19-20) marries mid-30s Dirk. However, this is RetCon; when Talia first meets Dirk and Kris (who interned together) she is thirteen, and they are both new Heralds, roughly eighteen or nineteen.
** Keren is ten to fifteen years older than Sherrill; though her first wife, Ylsa, was roughly the same age as her.
** Ancar (late 20s) and Hulda (probably 60s, possibly older) are a less positively portrayed couple.
** In the Herald-Spy series we have Lady Dia (early to mid-twenties) who is the second wife of Baron Jorthun; implied to be in his fifties at least, with grown children who greatly resent Dia, and [[spoiler: was Herald Nicholas' mentor in spying.]]
* MeaningfulName:
** [[DefrostingIceQueen Winterhart]], which she chose deliberately in an attempt to conceal her [[BrokenBird tragic backstory]].
** Hawkbrothers take a use-name upon reaching adulthood, almost always reflecting some aspect of their personality. When something dramatically changes their personality, they may take a MeaningfulRename.
** The High Priest ''directly'' appointed by the sun god is named "Solaris", Latin for "of the sun."
** a bit of black humour version: Mags grew up as a child slave for a gemstone mine. No one ever bothered to give him a real name, instead being awarded the nickname 'Magpie', (a bird known to be a collector of small, shiny things) because of his skill at spotting small pieces of valuable gemstone while sorting through rocks.
* MeaningfulRename: Contributing to the tendency of the Tayledras to have {{Meaningful Name}}s is the fact that they sometimes change their names following life-changing events. For example, Darkwind was called Songwind in the backstory of ''Winds of Fate,'' but he changed it when the Heartstone was sabotaged. The ''Mage Winds'' trilogy manages to play this for a bit of humor when Starblade quips that he considered changing his name to Starshadow to reflect that he feels like a shadow of his former self... but there's already a Shadowstar and [[OneSteveLimit it would be too confusing]].
* MedievalStasis: Averted, over the course of a series spanning three thousand years.
** It's hinted that in the time of the ''Mage Wars'' trilogy, magic had allowed society to advance far beyond what we see in Valdemar, a few thousand years AfterTheEnd. For instance, Amberdrake attended an "advanced" medical college that denied the reality of HealingHands and other [[PsychicPowers Gifts]], and several ''non-magical'' LostTechnology weapons can be found in Urtho's tower (including something implied to be an ''atomic bomb''). After the Cataclysm, societies rebuilt themselves to the medieval status we see. Over the course of several hundred years, Valdemar is founded by migrants from TheEmpire, grows, absorbs smaller kingdoms, and enters into a long-standing a SpaceColdWar with [[CorruptChurch Karse]].
** Up until Vanyel's time, this roughly applied in Valdemar and the surrounding petty kingdoms that would later join with Valdemar. Magic was widely used, particularly by the Herald-Mages, while technology and society remained essentially medieval. Vanyel, however, was the [[TitleDrop last Herald-Mage]], and after that, Valdemar would have to rely on [[PsychicPowers Gifts]] alone.
** After Vanyel's death, Valdemar's society undergoes enormous upheaval as magic fades into myth and Valdemar has to adapt to governing a much larger kingdom without the aid of magic, and limited technological development begins. ''The Collegium Chronicles'' and ''The Herald Spy'' show the establishment of formal university education at the Collegium, the development of technology to supplement more-limited Gifts [[note]]For instance, Bear becomes a recognized Healer without a Healing Gift simply by becoming the Collegium's foremost expert on herbs and chirurgy[[/note]], and most importantly the birth of the Artificer's discipline. Society also begins shifting away from the medieval; among other things, we see increased acceptance of homosexuality and development in women's rights. Much of the plot of ''Closer to Home'' is driven by the tension between the medieval values of the nobility (who see women as property to be traded off) and those of the Crown and Heralds (who are liberal Havenites who see women as equal to men).
** By the reign of Queen Selenay, Valdemar is technologically into the Renaissance (with the exception of gunpowder), and significantly beyond that in societal advancement. Indoor plumbing can be found in decent houses, a system of public works has provided Haven with free fountains, and every child is taught to read, write, and figure (the latter two started to be implemented back in Vanyel's day, though it took a few generations for the public works projects to spread across the entire city because of the method the crown came up with to trick the noveau rich into paying for it). The raw beginnings of Steam Age technology even emerge during ''Mage Storms'', as the Artificers of the Collegium begin a crash development program to save Haven through both magic and technology. Elsewhere, it's more or less the Middle Ages, with the exception of the Eastern Empire, which has developed along [[{{Magitek}} a different technological path]].
** Militarily, knights and lance charges were obsolete even in Vanyel's time. (One party in ''Closer to Home'' is themed like an "ancient tourney," with centuries-old armor and banners dragged out of an attic in Haven.) Instead, the Valdemaran Guard develops into an early-modern national army, supplemented by nobles' household units in wartime. The Empire and Karse also have national armies, but elsewhere, the dominant army is a combination of feudal retainers and [[HiredGuns mercenaries]], with an international [[WeirdTradeUnion Mercenaries' Guild]] providing the most elite and reliable soldiers and combat mages.
* MenCantKeepHouse: Keisha refers to this in ''Owlsight'', when she thinks back to when the village women cleaned up Justyn's old cottage. She concedes that he kept the treatment areas clean, but the living areas .... Later, when she first sees Darian's home in the new Vale, she can't believe at first that a single male lives there because it's so clean. (Darian does not score any aversion points, since the ''hertasi'' clean the place for him.)
* MentorOccupationalHazard: Ulrich, Karal's mentor and Karsite ambassador to Valdemar, gets this deadly straight; he's killed by a magical assassination attempt halfway through ''Storm Warning'', forcing Karal to take his place.
* MightMakesRight: The philosophy of the Bear Clan barbarians, as exemplified by "Song of the Bear Clan." Soft virtues like compassion are useless and meaningless; there is only strength or death.
* AMindIsATerribleThingToRead: Hoo boy. There's a reason most Mindspeaking Heralds won't poke around in another's thoughts without cause, and why many with untrained Gifts who haven't yet been Chosen have a miserable time.
* MindlinkMates:
** Lifebonded pairings, with all the angst and drama that typically accompanies the trope. Discussed in ''Winds of Fate'' between Stefen, Skif, and Nyara, and then again at greater length throughout the "Mage Storms" trilogy when Firesong (mistakenly) believes that having a lifebond would be the end of all disagreements and misunderstandings.
** Eldan and Kerowyn. They're not lifebonded - they're just both strong telepaths and linked that way.
** Alberich and Myste as well. Like Kero and Eldan, they aren't lifebonded -- they're just both capable of Mindspeech and sharing basic emotions.
** [[FriendsWithBenefits Talia and Kris]], who are involved during her internship but don't have serious romantic feelings for each other, are also shown to add a psychic dimension to their lovemaking.
** Empaths know exactly what their partner is feeling and what they need to do to please them. As most Healers have at least a touch of Empathy, the profession has built up a reputation for being wondrous lovers. And Don works as a HookerWithAHeartOfGold before being recruited as a Mindhealer.
* MindOverManners:
** The IncorruptiblePurePureness of all Heralds means that they basically never abuse their mind-magic.
** Kerowyn uses hers as little as possible mostly out of the fear that the people around her would not be able to trust her if they knew she could read their minds.
** Most individuals with mind-gifts are either Heralds (and thus nigh-immune to corruption), or otherwise trained in a profession that comes with a code of ethical conduct. Twisted Empaths and telepaths are rare and horrifying.
** Companions are supposed to obey this rule, though the OmniscientMoralityLicense means that Rolan is willing to [[LaserGuidedAmnesia mess with his Herald's memories]] to protect Companion secrets. Also, Dastin from one of the short stories is individually a bit loose about the rules, and has to be rather forcefully reminded to keep his brain to himself.
* MindRape:
** Practically a hobby of several villains, most notably Mornelithe Falconsbane. It's established that anyone with strong [[TheEmpath Empathy]] is capable of this, but since most of them become Healers or Heralds, it's extremely rare.
** [[BewareTheNiceOnes Talia]], while mostly using her Empathy to help other Heralds who have had traumatic experiences, has done this as well on at least four occasions. The first was when she simply overwhelmed the mind of a madwoman to knock her out. The second occasion involved taking the worst nightmares of a boy who tried to seduce Elspeth and forcing him to experience it, then threatening to make him repeat the experience ''every time he closed his eyes'' if he said a word to anyone about what had happened. The third was when she lashed out at a dungeon guard who was hoping to rape her. The most extreme use of her powers ever, MindRape in the most literal sense, happened when she forced a man who had raped his stepdaughters to relive what they had felt in a constant neverending loop, from which he could only be freed if he acknowledged that what he'd done was wrong.
** interesting variant with Mags. He's been kidnapped by two agents of the Assassin society his parents defected from; after putting Mags in a smoke-induced trance, (implied to be the local equivalent of hashish) some kind of magical technique is used to implant memories copied from others in the Sleepgiver cult, which is meant to overwrite his morals and loyalties to convert him to the Sleepgivers while leaving his personality more or less intact. It doesn't work mostly because of Mags' bond to Dallen, and to a certain extent his Mindspeaking training. It does, however, leave him with the memories, so Mags now possesses a great deal of potentially lethal and dangerous knowledge.
* ModestRoyalty: Nearly every good ruler. High Priest Solaris would be one if her role didn't require episcopal pomp; the Emperors of the Eastern Empire wouldn't be one except for their philosophy that austerity is more intimidating than opulence.
* MonochromaticEyes: The Shin'a'in Star-Eyed Goddess, as implied by her name, appears as a woman with starfield eyes. Souls chosen to serve her, called Avatars, have the same eyes.
* MoralityChain: Lavan's Companion. When she dies, everything burns.
** played with for Mags and Dallen. Mags is an unusually strong Mindspeaker, being trained as a master spy. Thanks to his Sleepgiver memories (see MindRape) he comes up with ideas for some highly effective techniques of dubious morality, which in the right circumstances could mean the difference between life and death. In discussing this with Dallen, Mags is wondering when the needs/end justifies using them. Dallen immediately replies (paraphrased) "Trust in me. If things get that bad, I'll give you permission."
* MostWritersAreWriters: Her aforementioned AuthorAvatar is a chronicler or, in other words, a writer.
* MuggingTheMonster: Lavan Chitward was bullied at school by the older students. During one such session, [[PlayingWithFire his powers]] manifested and his tormentors paid the price.
* MultistageTeleport: In the ''Mage Storms'' trilogy, Altra's "Jumping" is range-limited. When Altra jumps from Shonar (in Hardorn) back to Haven (in Valdemar) with Karal, it takes multiple jumps to cover the distance, which makes Karal's resulting TeleportationSickness worse than normal. The exact reason for the limit isn't spelled out, but is implied to be due to Altra stepping physically into the plane of mage-energy to jump--as the Mage Storms get worse, his range decreases.
* MultilayerFacade: Falconsbane can easily sense and see through illusions, and Companions stand out and won't take dye. Kero suggests a trick her mercenary mages once used: layer one illusion over another, so that anyone who senses magic and looks past the first illusion will think they're being hidden for more mundane reasons. The Companions are disguised as worn-out nags, with an illusion of fancy show horses over that. Nyara is [[ForHalloweenIAmGoingAsMyself disguised as herself]], over an illusion that makes her CatGirl features look like cheap makeup.
* MundaneLuxury: Used repeatedly with heraldic trainees, who are provided comfortable-but-not-decadent lifestyles; for nobility, it's a significant step down, but for others this trope is in full effect.
** Talia was raised in a culture with extremely strict traditions, and gender roles in particular; she's initially overwhelmed by such concepts as "not being forced to marry someone she doesn't want to" and "being allowed to read during her free time". And "having free time", for that matter.
** Skif, a former thief, is amazed that trainees recieve a modest stipend. The idea that anyone would just ''give them money'' is utterly foreign to him.
** Mags, a child slave at a gem mine before he was Chosen, is probably the best example. He considers it the height of luxury to have food that is both wholesome and plentiful, not to mention clothes that are more than rags.
* MundaneUtility:
** Averted in Valdemar, where the prevailing philosophy is that any use of magic or psychic powers which costs energy should be saved for real emergencies.
** Contrasted with Valdemar is the Eastern Empire, which relies so heavily on {{Magitek}} that their society is thrown into chaos when the Mage Storms hit and magic becomes unreliable.
** Mags and his Companion Dallen share Mindspeech so strong that Dallen can control Mags' hands remotely. They use this to weave Midwinter presents.
* MutantDraftBoard:
** A borderline example. The Companions ''don't'' ask permission of their Chosen before they Choose them, and have, on a couple of occasions, forcibly seized the Herald-to-be and dragged him off against his will. However, the OmniscientMoralityLicense is in play: the Companions never choose anyone who would not accept the CallToAdventure if they knew all the facts, and no Herald has refused to serve once he or she is made aware of the situation.
** An in-story subversion occurs in Stefen's backstory in ''Magic's Price'': as he relates to Vanyel, Bard Lynnell kidnapped him right off the street declaring that "you belong to Valdemar now." In fact Lynnell had recognized Stefen's extremely potent Bardic Gift and - being as undiplomatic as a sack of hammers - stopped only to confirm that he was in fact [[StreetUrchin living on the street]] with no blood kin before grabbing him to pack off to the Bardic Collegium for training.
** ''Owlsight'' features an implied aversion when Keisha sees a Companion coming and panics at the thought that she'll be Chosen and expected to leave her village without its only Healer and herbalist - only for the Companion to turn towards her sister instead. Whether she was really on the verge of being Chosen or just jumping to conclusions is left deliberately unclear. However, elsewhere in the series it's stated more or less outright that some people who would otherwise make very good Heralds are specifically ''not'' Chosen because there is some other role that it is more vital for them to play; ''Arrows of the Queen'' specifically notes that those with the Healing Gifts are almost never Chosen because they are needed far more as Healers than as Heralds. Ultimately, as in so many other things, BecauseDestinySaysSo is in full effect regarding who does or doesn't get Chosen.
* MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning: Ma'ar, who goes so far as to declare the fact with his [[FinalSpeech dying breath]].
* MysticalWhiteHair: Adept-level mages who work with [[PlaceOfPower nodes]] gain white hair at a relatively young age. All Tayledras see their hair whiten as well, simply because they live their lives around powerful magic. The Companions are all pure white, blue-eyed steeds, and eventually reveal that this is because they use nodes as well, to fuel their incredible speed and endurance.
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How well does it match the trope?

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