Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Tortall Universe

Go To

  • Pages are required to learn how to wrestle, as well as close-contact hand-to-hand combat. Even with her chest bindings, how did someone not notice—by accident, at least—that "Alan"'s body wasn't quite the same as that of the other boys?
    • The wrestling thing really makes no sense. Maybe she claimed it was for rib support or something?
    • "Alan" was never good at wrestling so I would imagine that she would lose quickly and not give the other boys something to think about.
    • Also, they wore heavy tunics and (later) weighted leather harnesses. That had to have masked the feeling somewhat.
  • On the same note, Trebond is in the Book of Gold, and yet no one in the entire court, including the nobles who must have been familiar with The Lord of Trebond, mentions that the Trebond twins are not twin boys, but one girl and one boy. Especially when "Alan" started getting noticed because of his swordsmanship and relationship with Prince Jonathan—it seems strange that none of the nobles who potentially wanted to judge the power-dynamics of the future did their research on Alanna.
    • To be fair, Alanna does say to Gareth (the elder) that she doesn't think her father even ever reported her and Thom's birth, and Gareth confirms this. Perhaps the first that anyone at Court ever heard of Trebond children was the letter saying that "Alan" was to train as a page.
  • In the Protector of the Small quartet, Jon and Thayet explain to Kel that changing laws take time. This all seems well and good, until you realize that they've formed the Queen's Riders, started schools to promote mass literacy, and allowed women the chance to try for their shields. And yet, changing a law that keeps the nobility from treating servants like trash is impossible?
    • He doesn't say it's impossible. In fact, he says that it will definitely happen, but not for a while. Also, women being able to try for their shields had historical precedent at least, and didn't really change anything about how nobles had to act. Fathers could still forbid their daughters from becoming knights on a case-by-case basis, after all. Commoners, on the other hand have always, as far as we know, been treated as lesser than nobles, so this is a big change, and the most similar thing we know of happening in Tortallan history is the abolition of slavery ,which was not well-received. And it's 100% mandatory if it goes through, while the "women can be knights" law was only hypothetical, and it took ten years for any girl to even attempt to get her knighthood.
    • In addition, Provost's Dog shows that there were female knights. Alanna wasn't the first ever, she was the first in over a hundred years. Also, there weren't laws against schools and things like the Queen's Riders.
  • Why on earth does Thom raise Roger from the dead? Because Delia taunted him? Thom is supposed to be a genius—surely he isn't that stupid. And even after that, how does he not know that Roger is slowly killing him?
    • This question is exacerbated by the fact that Thom is supposed to be able to see the future.
    • Thom had some serious hubris going on, but I think the whole Roger-back-from-the-dead thing was confusing on a few counts, and this is definitely one of them. Maybe he knew Roger was leeching off him, but couldn't stop it. And I do think that Delia taunting him was probably enough to get him to do it, tbh.
    • Originally Thom and Roger were going to be in a relationship together, but then when she changed it to be cut into four books and aimed at kids, she took that out. Maybe that was part of his motivation, getting back his lover?
    • I always thought that Thom and Roger's relationship would have taken place after he rose from the dead, it never occurred to me that it could have been before that, since they don't meet before that in the final version of the book. But I suppose if things were very different in the original version, that could be.
      • It does not make much sense in the final version as Thom is vocal about how Roger is dangerous and should not be trusted.
    • Advertisement:
    • Thom is explicitly an Insufferable Genius who is Not Good with People. Being taunted by Delia, told that he couldn't possibly do that, he'd have to be the best at magic to succeed, makes perfect sense as a motivation. Smart he may be, but he is terrible at reading people.
  • What was the deal with Alex? When he tries to kill Alanna in their practice duel, he seems to come out of it, and is horrified by what he did. By the end of the last book, he is totally batshit and ready to kill her just to see who is better at swordplay, while the palace is crumbling around them. Was he just naturally crazy, or did Roger magic him crazy, or what?
    • It would not be the first time that he magically controlled someone to kill someone else. Like wolves or boars. He is also shown to control people through proxy via the magical sword.
    • Alex has always had the drive to be the best, and the early duel showed that ruthless tendency... though he did snap out of it, it was clearly a problem he had. Being page to Roger could not have been good for his mental health, and he was probably manipulated into being more and more ruthless and obsessed with his own skill and prowess.
  • Was it ever explained why exactly Alanna inherited her father's lands, and not Thom? Tortall seems pretty patriarchal...
    • Wouldn't be surprised if Thom gave the lands to her. He cared about nobody but himself (and her, to some extent) and certainly not the entire fief.
    • Actually, Alanna never inherited the Trebond lands. After Thom died, it reverted to the Crown (since the Trebonds only had males inherit), and Jonathan granted it to Coram (along with a noble title) for his services. Coram was ready to retire and marry Rispah, and Alanna had no reason to challenge him for it. During the second book, when Alanna is running the fief from a distance as 'Alan', she is serving as Thom's deputy - she had posed as the secondborn twin son, so that Thom was still heir - because Thom was indifferent and too busy studying. While Alanna was also busy with knight training, learning a lord's responsibilities, including running a fief, tied in better with her training than it did Thom's. A second son deputized to run a fief for an older brother was not uncommon even in reality, so everyone just ran with it.
    • Further, since she was technically knighted as a man, she might have legal grounds to inherit as a man as well, despite being openly a woman after that point. Myles of Olau recognized that, which was part of why he adopted Alanna as an adult.
  • In The Woman who Rides like a Man, George's men find Alanna—how, exactly? She' hasn't contacted anyone, and as far as we know, the desert is pretty humongous. In addition, the men George sends are obviously not used to the Bahzir or desert lifestyle. So... blind luck?
    • Probably asking around at the border towns, combined with knowledge of how Alanna thinks. There are pretty severe limits on where and how she could travel with only her horse to carry supplies, so she would have had to restock relatively often, leaving a trail. And it being a desert, she couldn't forage the way she normally would in the kinder lands of Tortall.
  • Whats up with the witch hunts that happen now and again? Magic is known and so are gods. Why would anyone be surprised that a female could use magic?
    • I can't think of a witch hunt offhand other than the one that killed the sorceress of Alois, and they killed her purely because she had magic, it had nothing to do with her being female as far as I remember. The village was starving, and the priest of the magic-hating god convinced them it was her fault. I remember the Bazhir don't let women be shamans, but they know women have the gift in general.
  • George, Alanna, and the rest of he Tortallan embassy seem remarkably okay with the fact that Aly has basically committed treason.
    • On the same note, aren't they worried at all about the fact that the spy master of the Copper Isles' knows quite a few Tortallan secrets? And quite possibly all the names of the Tortallan espionage system?!
    • Except Aly didn't commit treason. Her actions in the Copper Isles had nothing to do with Tortall whatsoever; it was all purely internal. And Tortall doesn't exactly have the best history with the Rittevons anyway; remember Josiane? I'll bet Tortall was quite happy to see them get overthrown. As to the second, George pulled all his people out of the Isles as soon as Dove was crowned, and while Aly learned spycraft from her father, he'd be a poor spymaster indeed if his daughter knew all of Tortall's secrets. She knows how to spy, but I doubt she knows that many specifics.
      • That excuse goes right out the window when Aly chooses to stay on of her own volition to serve Dove after the rebellion, though. And she knows Tortallan codes and a number of Tortallan agents - heck, we're told she helped train some of them! So yeah, while Tortall was undoubtedly thrilled to have the Rittevons overthrown, having the daughter of their own spymaster stay on as spymaster to another nation later ... really shouldn't thrill them. Especially since there's really no guarantee of any sort of alliance between the Isles and Tortall, and Aly's loyalty is very clearly with the Isles over her homeland.
      • Tortall was definitely happy to see the Rittevons overthrown; George sent a big box of unmarked cash to the rebels to further the rebellion. I'm pretty sure they do mention at the end that it is going to be awkward in the future, though (friendly nations still spy on each other; as Vetinari says, that's how they stay friendly), and it's just going to be something they have to deal with.
    • None of it was initially her choice. Kyprioth brought her to the Isles so she could help play her part in a prophecy she knew nothing about- who's going to argue against a trickster?

Example of: