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Literature / Air Awakens

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Air Awakens is a series of five Young Adult fantasy novels by Elise Kova, self-published by the author in 2015.

Eighteen-year-old Vhalla Yarl is a modest library apprentice in the Imperial Library of Solaris, the capital of the Solaris Empire. She lives a quiet and boring life with other library apprentices and her only passion is reading. And then, one night she happens to save the life of the mysterious crown prince Aldrik — and learns that she is in fact a sorcerer. This brings a huge change in her life.

The books in the series include:

  • Air Awakens (2015)
  • Fire Falling (2015)
  • Earth's End (2016)
  • Water's Wrath (2016)
  • Crystal Crowned (2016)

The series gives examples of the following tropes:

  • Alliterative Title: All book titles in the series.
  • Altar Diplomacy: By the end of Earth's End, North agrees to surrender, as long as Aldrik marries their Chieftain's daughter.
  • Anachronism Stew: The world is ostensibly medieval, with very strictly enforced class system, a ruling family with almost absolute power, swords and bows (and magic) as main weapons, horses as main means of transport, torches and candles as the main source of light, as well as parchment instead of paper and no printing press. And yet the palace has running water, hot and cold (there is a mention of aqueducts but they would not be enough to bring water to higher levels of the palace), there is a well-known fashion designer Chater with his own store and branded boxes for his wares, Vhalla's maternal grandparents worked at a post office and the servants' dining room looks like a modern-day canteen, complete with trays and a window to bring dirty plates to. And Vhalla, a lowly apprentice, has her own room.
  • Artistic Licence Medicine: When tending to Vhalla's wounds, prince Baldair pours something stinging over the deepest one. You should never pour alcohol (or compatible, we don't know what it was) into a wound, only clean water should be used for that.
  • Beautiful All Along: Vhalla is not very feminine, likes wearing leggings and a tunic, never makes up and has trouble with her frizzy hair. Following the makeover at the hands of servants, not to mention a tailor-made dress, she turns out to be stunning.
  • Blow You Away: Vhalla's powers of the air include conjuring a tornado.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In book 2, a dagger that Daniel buys in Crossroads to wear hidden on the leg, turns out to be very useful a few days later in the fight against the Northerners.
    • And a dagger Vhalla buys on the same day, with Daniel's help, finds its use in book 3.
    • Another thing that makes its appearance on that day in Crossroads, a silver watch from a curiosity shop, turns out to be indispensible in book 5.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Royal family of Solaris dresses in white and gold, blue is the color of the South, red of the West and purple of the East. And only sorcerers wear black.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: In book five Vhalla does not even know she's pregnant, she thinks her lack of periods is due to insufficient food, exhaustion and stress. And then she makes a trade with Vi and as a result loses the baby. Elecia at least claims it was a blessing in disguise, since Vhalla and Aldrik haven't wed yet so the child would have been suspected to be a bastard.
  • Cute Bookworm: Vhalla, at least at the beginning. Shy, innocent, basically brought up in a library (as a librarian's apprentice) and very well-read (if she slacks on her duties, it's only to hide in a corner and read).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: While the sorcerers are the only ones in the Empire who wear black and they are shunned by the general public, they are just people — Groundbreakers make good healers and Firebearers often work as smiths or jewellers.
  • A Deadly Affair: In his Back Story Jax killed his betrothed (it was an Arranged Marriage but he loved her very much) as well as her lover and her family when he found out she was cheating on him. Only later it turns out it was a lie and the truth involved killing the man who raped Jax's beloved, as well as some innocent bystanders.
  • Death by Childbirth: In Back Story, Aldrik's mother died soon after giving birth to him although in book four we learn that's just the official story, the truth is she gave her life to block Crystal Caverns.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The Northerners make a huge mistake when they decide to torture Vhalla instead of simply killing her and Aldrik.
  • Elemental Powers: Firebearers, Waterwalkers, Groundbreakers and Windwalkers have the corresponding elemental Affinities (fire, water, earth, air).
  • The Empire: Vhalla starts out as a loyal citizen of the Solaris Empire but slowly begins to realize that most of the things she has been taught are lies and its war against the North is fueled by the Emperor's greed and his ambitions.
  • Fantasy Contraception: Magical Elixir of the Moon, which women apparently drink after every intercourse. It tastes terrible but seems to be highly effective.
  • Fictional Age of Majority: In the Solaris Empire, the coming-of-age ceremony is at the age of fifteen.
  • Five-Man Band: In Crystal Crowned, the group of five sorcerers travel through the Empire to rally people to fight the false king. The group includes Aldrik, crown prince and future Emperor; Jax, his old friend and opposite; Vhalla, the smallest yet the most powerful once she gets her powers back; Elecia, well-educated healer and cleric; and Fritz, the only one among them who has not lost his innocence during the war in the North.
  • Gender Is No Object: True among sorcerers, which means that while the Empire's army consists mostly of men, the Black Legion of sorcerers has a female major.
  • God of Light: Mother Sun is one of the the most important gods of the Solaris Empire and is associated with the sun, daylight and fire — as well as the royal family, who have sun as their symbol.
  • God of the Moon: Father Moon is the lover of Mother Sun and together they created the world. He is also the patron of sorcerers.
  • Guilt-Induced Nightmare: Vhalla has (inadvertently) caused her friend Sareem's death. After finding his heavily mutilated body, she is plagued by nightmares in which he accuses her of killing him (which is actually not true, she just wasn't there with him when the city was attacked).
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Baldair, the golden prince, has blond hair and is very cheerful, jovial and friendly — and contrary to his brother, beloved by the people of the Empire.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Daniel says that head major Jax is "a few pieces shy of a whole Carcivi board". Carcivi being a board game mentioned a few times in the series.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Aldrik is very tall, while Vhalla mentions several times that she is shorter than most people she knows, with the exception of 12-year-old Cadance.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Roan is ready to give up her beloved Sareem because she believes he would be happy with Vhalla.
  • Immune to Fire: Firebearers are immune to fire and heat.
  • Important Haircut: At the end of book one, Vhalla cuts her long, frizzy and difficult to tame hair with a razor. This marks her transition from a library girl to a sorcerer and a soldier.
  • Innocent Means Na├»ve: Vhalla is accused of it by prince Aldrik. He claims that her "transparent innocence" and lack of knowledge has made it easy for him to manipulate her. On the other hand, thanks to their relationship, Aldrik also changes for the better.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In his Back Story young Aldrik tried to kill himself by cutting his veins but his servants burst into his room just in time.
  • Kangaroo Court: Senator Egmund intends Vhalla's trial to be this. Fortunately for her, he is thwarted.
  • Last of His Kind: The last Windwalker, kept imprisoned in Norin dungeons all his life.
  • Love Triangle: Vhalla, Sareem and Aldrik. Vhalla, Aldrik and Baldair. Vhalla, Sareem and Roan. Later Vhalla, Aldrik and Daniel. Overlaps with Muggle and Magical Love Triangle.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Vhalla is told by older, more experienced women that marriages usually work like that.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Solaris", which is both the name of the royal family and the whole Empire. Their symbol is the sun and their ancestors justified their conquests with the need to spread faith in Mother Sun;
    • Aldrik's mother was called Fiera and she was a Firebearer with a fiery temper.
  • Military Mage: A whole Black Legion of them in the Solaris army.
  • Mundane Utility: The sorcerers' Tower is lit not by candles and torches (as the rest of the palace) but by flames in glass bulbs, presumably created by Firebearers. And at one point Larel uses heat from her hands to straighten Vhalla's hair to make it look nicer.
  • Night and Day Duo: Mother Sun and Father Moon, the main gods of the Empire, believed to be a pair of lovers. Overlaps with Solar and Lunar.
  • Odd Name, Normal Nickname: Seems to be the case for men in the Charem family. Vhalla's friend Fritz is really called Fritznangle while his father Orel is Orelerienum.
  • Parental Substitute: Vhalla is just 11 when she leaves her father and starts living in the palace. From that moment on, the staff of the Imperial Library becomes her family, with Master Mohned as a father figure.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Vhalla. She's really small (at one point she complains that the only person shorter than her is Candace, who is still a child) but she is also an extremely powerful sorceress, able to summon a tornado or mow through enemy soldiers.
  • Playing with Fire: Firebearers can control fire and cannot feel the heat or get burnt.
  • Really Gets Around: Prince Baldair, also known as Heartbreaker Prince. He often invites commoner women to his chambers to dine, wine and bed them. But as he claims, they are all willing.
  • Sadist: The Northern archer who claims that death without pain is no fun and tortures Vhalla.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Aldrik and Baldair. A dark-haired and dark-eyed sorcerer, secretive and often nasty to people, and a blond-haired, blue-eyed warrior, open, direct and loved by the people.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Aldrik to Vhalla, especially the moment he throws her down from the spire.
  • Smug Snake: Egmun, Head of the Senate, who is constantly scheming against Aldrik and Vhalla.
  • Survivor Guilt: Vhalla, when she realizes Sareem is dead because of her. And in book two, even stronger, after Larel's death.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Aldrik, the silver-tongued prince. Handsome in a bit eerie way, he is very intelligent and a very powerful sorcerer but he often treats people with contempt or hides compliments within insults (and insults within compliments). For Vhalla at least, he's also Tall, Dark, and Handsome.
  • Those Two Guys: Daniel and Craig, two nice prison guards, who treat Vhalla very well and often exchange jokes. In book two, they turn out to be accomplished soldiers from Prince Baldair's personal guard.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening:
    • Vhalla's Awakening comes at the moment when she is pushed from the palace spire. She has to recover for a week.
    • Larel was just five when her Firebearer powers Manifested for the first time. She burnt a man who tried to rape her, as well as her abusive parents and their house. Since Firebearers are immune to fire, she was found sitting among ashes.
  • Warrior Prince: Both Aldrik and Baldair fight in the war. Out of the two, Baldair fits the trope better, as he is a strong, muscular warrior trained in swordfighting, while Aldrik usually uses his fire magic. In book five, Northern princess Sehra also goes to war against false king Victor.
  • War Is Hell: Or at least that's how Aldrik perceives the war against the North. And by book three, Vhalla starts to agree with him.
  • Wizarding School: The Tower, a part of the palace in Solaris, where the young sorcerers live, study and share all chores. When a child Awakens their powers, they can either join the Tower or be Eradicated (have their powers removed). The West has its own Academy of Arcane Arts.