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Literature / A School for Sorcery

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A School for Sorcery is a 2002 fantasy novel by E. Rose Sabin. Tria, the daughter of a farmer, receives an invitation to the Simonton School for the Magically Gifted. Excited to be able to use her talent, she travels to the school only to find that the glorious buildings of the brochure are dilapidated, and that most of the instruction is not on how to use one's gift, but on philosophy and theory of why it should not be used. Complicating things, her roommate is a spoiled rich girl who has no qualms about using her power with reckless abandon with no hint of the staff trying to quell her and there's a sinister conspiracy among the students to take over the school. It was followed by A Perilous Power in 2004, a prequel about the establishment of the school, and When the Beast Ravens in 2005, which follows one of the victims of the first book as he recovers.

These books contains examples of:

  • Almighty Janitor: Veronica is the school's maid but frequently dispenses advice that helps Tria advance in her magic. She is revealed to be a 7th level Adept, and implies that Tria will acquire the same job after tending to a tiny world.
  • Alpha Bitch: Lina Mueller is rich, conceited, and very magically powerful. She also is seemingly exempt from many of the rules of the school. As the book goes on, however, Character Development sets in when she has to face the consequences for her actions and the Headmistress tells her that she can't keep using magic to take her name off the chore lists.
  • Animorphism: Lina can transform into a panther at will.
  • The Atoner: At the end of the book Oryon's clone replaces the real one after the original Oryon dies. He is more subdued and kinder than the original.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Kress kills the real Oryon when they're both trapped in the Dire Realm.
  • Blessed with Suck: It reveals that powerful Adepts are hit with this hard, either because any unethical actions come back to bite them, or they have to suffer a lot to get to each level.
  • Break the Badass: Most people who gets hit with Dire Women power or trapped in their realm has their Gift become dormant. This happens to Taner, Lina, Kress and Oryon. Taner's gift comes back, but the others' do not, though Lina can change back into a human.
  • Break the Cutie: Tria over the course of the school year, finally culminating in her attaining the seventh level and committing to a lifetime of loneliness.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Headmistress reveals that she can strip any student of his or her gift if she feels they are using it improperly, and especially if they want to leave the school. She does this to Tria and Lina for a day after Tria is forced to use her powers to defend against the latter and Lina declares she will leave.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the first book Wilce goes traveling around the world as a soothsayer, with a staff that marks all the suffering he went through.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Eventually subverted; although Tria is disappointed that Simonton School has terrible, dilapidated buildings and food, she actually does learn magic and starts attaining levels.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Tria gets in trouble every time she misuses her magic, either by accident or on purpose, despite her good intentions:
    • She accidentally turns back time for an hour to get ready for dinner, and the Headmistress humiliates her in front of the school for doing it.
    • When she fights Lina, who was using Orion and Gray to absorb their magic, the Headmistress punishes her by taking hers and Lina's power away for a day even though Headmistress says it was for self-defense.
    • Later on when she, Rehanne and Lina try to read the Breyadon using Astral Projection, Oryon takes the opportunity to steal the book and start decoding it.
    • Lina decides that she and Tria should summon the Dire Women to bring Wilce and Grey back, and Tria aids her by capturing a dove to sacrifice. Her actions lead to the dove dying senselessly, the Dire Women taking Lina who in a Moment of Weakness tried to bargain for their power, Taner's gift going Dormant, Rehanne leaving the quest, and the other students ostracizing Tria.
  • Clone Angst:
    • Unbeknownst to her, by the end of the first book, Tria has managed to create mirror clones of herself three times, and once she realizes that it has happened, she grapples with angst over to what degree each was human and the real Tria. Particularly since the Tria who survives to the end of the book is one of the copies who absorbs the power of her former selves.
    • Oryon had also done this, which was where Tria had gotten the idea. His clone, who was rotting away and replaces him, reveals that his powers remain feeble and he is much kinder.
  • Creating Life: Creating life is specifically forbidden in the student handbook as students are not considered responsible enough to take care of life that they create. At the end of the first book, Tria has accidentally created a world with one of her tears and her first task as a graduate is to keep that world alive as long as she can with the implication that she will fail the moment that her attention wavers, snuffing out all life in the created world.
  • Deadly Prank: The boys who didn't ask the girls out are horrified on learning that Kress and Oryon used them to summon Dire Women that carry away Wilce and Gray at the Midwinter Ball, who were each an Innocent Bystander.
  • Deal with the Devil: Summoning Dire Women works in this way. You have to sacrifice an innocent animal, and offer an equivalent of power in exchange. Tria gets ostracized after she and Lina summon Dire Women.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Gender inversion. Although Tria and Wilce love each other, they don't stay together after graduation.
  • Enemy Mine: Veronica tells Tria to ally with Lina when Oryon and Kress target the both of them. Lina agrees to it for pragmatic reasons, though eventually she and Tria become Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • The Dire Women turn Wilce and Gray into wolf-like monsters.
    • Lina gets stuck in panther form after Orion brings her back from the Dire Realm as a token of good faith. She reveals later on that though she can change back, her power isn't the same.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Subverted with Lina's more pragmatic methods after she Took a Level in Kindness. People with magic have to stay somewhat soft or they forget the ethics they were taught and face ostracism.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Tria attains the seventh level in two years, but she nearly suffers a Heroic RRoD several times because of it and knows that she will endure a lifetime of loneliness.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Tria when Lina and her attempts to summon Dire Women to bring back Wilce and Gray cause her to get ostracized, to lose her allies and her spirit. Headmistress has to order her to return to classes.
    • Rehanne briefly after the above events, who decides to stop helping and to let Headmistress handle it and that if she doesn't, then it's not worth fighting for the school. She goes back on this after hearing that Tria stayed up all night rescuing Lina, since that fact shames her.
    • After all of this, Tria when she's exhausted and has completed her task is nearly hysterical. Veronica manages to calm her down and take her to dinner.
  • Heroic RRoD: After saving Lina in panther from from a farmer's shotgun and dogs, the original Tria falls asleep in Veronica's room after the latter offers her a cup of tea.
  • Hidden Depths: Lina reveals she's handy with a needle and thread after adjusting one of her gowns for Tria to wear at the Midwinter Ball.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: The trap that Kress was delivering to Tria ends up getting him instead and trapping him in the Dire Realm.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Headmistress says that by school rules she cannot challenge Oryon and Kress to return Wilce and Gray because it would be an unfair fight, but several students can. Tria is annoyed and worried that the ethics and rules come before saving two students from Dire Women.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Even when changed into a monster, Wilce remembers Tria when she calls his name.
  • Karma Houdini: All the boys who assisted Oryon and Kress for their "prank" at the Midwinter Ball escape punishment by Oryon claiming that they had nothing to do with it. They also don't volunteer to help Tria, Lina and Rehanne with the quest to rescue Wilce and Gray.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: For being a parasite and absorbing other's power, Lina suffers a Break the Haughty with her dormant gift, as does Oryon's rotting clone and Kress finds himself under probation and under oath to not do it anymore.
  • Misplaced Retribution: By virtue of being Lina's roommate, Oryon and Kress target Tria for her part in their fight while they plot their revenge. She has to ally with Lina to defend against them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Tria trying to read the same phrases from the Breyadon that brought her to the crystal cavern ends up leading Oryon to the book, and to his stealing it for power.
    • Also, Tria and Lina deciding to summon Dire Women leads to them capturing Lina and making Taner's gift Dormant. Rehanne also decides to give up on the quest after seeing this.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Oryon ends up bringing Tria out of her Heroic BSoD by springing a trap for her with Kress's help, and when that fails to ask for her as an ally in creating a power net around the school as payment for the Dire Women. The trap gets Kress instead and forces Tria into fight or flight mode after she bargains with Oryon to bring back Lina.
  • Not What I Signed Up For: The boys who assisted in the Midwinter Ball "prank" are horrified when Headmistress reveals they could be expelled and stripped of their gift if they take responsibility.
  • Omniscient Morality License: A lot of the school's curriculum focuses more on magical theory and ethics than on practical application. This frustrates Tria to no end when she keeps getting called out for her lapses while Oryon is allowed to strut around the school after he endangered two students and broke the rules on summoning Dire Women. Oryon pays for his actions in the end, but Tria's frustration is understandable since the only benefit of magic seems to come from having it and learning more about it.
  • Perspective Magic: Nubba's vision of a terrible monster called the Shalreg is defeated when she looks at it through a reversed telescope and she smooshes it with her foot at graduation.
  • Ritual Magic: The characters use rituals to allow Tria's spirit to leave her body and enter a locked room, and to summon a Dire Woman. When brainstorming about magical abilities, Tria reasons that ritual magic is probably an ability in itself— which she most likely doesn't have, since rituals make her uncomfortable.
  • Stating the Simple Solution:
    • Headmistress mentions that if she weren't bound by ethics in having to engage in only fair fights with Adepts she could summon Wilce and Gray. But since she is bound, several students need to take up the task.
    • Lina brings up the possibility of summoning Dire Women and having them bring Wilce and Gray back, unethical as the summoning it. Tria eventually decides to engage in it while desperate, which has tragic consequences.
  • Summon Binding: Tria and Lina sit inside a pentagram drawn on the floor to summon a Dire Woman, which they order to bring Gray back to them. It works, until Tria accidentally erases part of the pentagram (by moving backward in horror at the monster Gray has been transformed into), and the Dire Woman immediately escapes.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: "The worlds are born of dust and tear of the gods." When Tria attains the seventh level, she acquires these sort of tears and creates a new world with them and the dust on the graduation table.
  • Time Master: Tria can turn back time, but quickly learns that it has consequences, namely that any time reversed in this fashion has to be paid back. She has to pay back for it at graduation, when she's running late for her ceremony.
  • We Can Rule Together: As part of Oryon's Nice Job Fixing It, Villain moment, he offers this to Tria when the trap meant for her grabs Kress instead. She pretends to agree long enough for him to save Lina and recover the Breyadon book, and then to thwart his scheme. Her other self allies with him as a means to stab him in the back and to recover Wilce and Gray
  • Wizarding School: The Simonton School for the Magically Gifted.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Out of all the students, Taner is the only one who says this after Tria helps Lina summon the Dire Women. She says that she would have done the same in Tria's place, and faced with similar circumstances.