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Literature / Arcia Chronicles

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René (front), Roman, Gerika (mounted), and the Riders of Gorda (background) note 

The Arcia Chronicles (Хроники Арции) is a High Fantasy novel series by Russian author Vera Kamsha, set in a Constructed World of Tarra, which itself is a part of a multiverse. What makes Tarra stand out among other worlds is that unlike them, it doesn't have any gods: some nine thousand years ago, seven alien deities known as the "Lightbringers" conquered Tarra, slaughtered the native Old Gods and whatever worshipers they had, and ruled Tarra for seven thousand years in the name of the "Light". After that, the "Light" called them back, leaving Tarra effectively defenseless against cosmic threats. Therefore, it is up to local humans and a handful of Elves (left behind by two renegade Lightbringers) to punch out cosmic monstrosities eying Tarra. The books are mostly set in Arcia (hence the title), a Vestigial Empire (later, a much smaller kingdom) in what is likely the most densely populated region of the world.


The first book in the series, The Dark Star, is set two and a half millenia after the Great Exodus and opens with two men, a Wandering Minstrel named Roman and Duke René Arroy of Eland, a notorious explorer and pirate, stumbling across a string of mysterious brutal murders in Arcia's south-eastern neighbor, the Kingdom of Tayana. Following the evidence, they soon clash with the cultists of Roigu, the last surviving Old God, who aim to incarnate their eldritch patron as the child of the meek princess Gerika Godoya, who happens to be René's distant relative. Fortunately, Roman is not a simple bard but, in fact, an undercover Elven spy among humans, while Lucky René is a descendant of both Elves and the Old Gods, making him uniquely suited to withstand dark magics. Together, they take up arms against the Roigians to protect Gerika, the future "Dark Star", but in doing so, also kick off the devastating War of the Deer (named after Roigu's totem form)...


The Dark Starnote  started off as a Deconstruction Fic of the High Fantasy genre and, in particular, of Nick Perumov's Chronicles Of Hjorvard, but eventually lost all connections to the source material (with only slight conceptual overlaps, such as the "True Mages"), and when Perumov himself discovered the manuscript, he took it straight to his publisher. A total of six books had been published between 2001 and 2003, before Kamsha switched her attention to her second series, Gleams of Aeterna, for what turned out to be the next two decades. The official line since has been that Arcia will be completed after Aeterna, but unfortunately, it looks increasingly like it will never happen, due to a combination of the author's interests and style evolving in completely different directions and the zeitgeist changing too much in the intervening decade for the plot she had originally drafted (at least, according to the Word of God, although her comments from early 2018 suggest that she hasn't fully abandoned hope of one day giving the series a proper closure).

This series contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: According to the Word of God, the original series conclusion, which would have comprised the Wild Wind duology, has been abandoned as early as 2005 and will be rewritten from scratch, should Kamsha ever return to the series. She has incorporated elements of this abandoned arc into her 2005 short novel Crataegus Sanguinea,note  which she describes as her "farewell to Arcia and to Richard York".
  • Above the Gods: The Lightbringers are the gods of the setting, however they serve an even more powerful entity known only as "the Light".
  • Alliterative Family: All seven Lightbringers.
  • All Witches Have Cats: Gerika keeps pet lynxes before and after she gains powers, but switches to ordinary cats when she pretends to be a swamp witch while healing Alexander in book five (which is lampshaded). She can also possess her cats, look through their eyes, and use them as conduits for her power (which probably explains it).
  • Arc Words: "Dark Star" throughout book one. Also, the entire Prophecy of "St." Eric:
    "You must wait; wait, even when it sounds like madness. Wait and remember. The seeds have been sown. They need time. The Year of Three Stars will come, and the Last of Kings will take up the sword. The Blue Star will sink in sea, the Red one will rise again, the Dark one will not fade. She was lit by the Chosen One but will light the way for the Last, heralding victory. Don't fear the Night, don't fear the Day. Darkness will protect from Darkness; Light, from Light. Don't weep for those marching off to war. The Lynx Constellation... The Dark Star... They cannot converge, but their light is timeless..."
  • Artifact of Doom: Ciala's Rubies, which have a very corrupting effect on all who wear them, turning even The Ingenue in a Manipulative Bitch over a few months. According to some pieced-together lore, they were made by Greditara out of the blood of a demigod who lived in the ancient jungle temple.
  • Author Tract: Kamsha clearly doesn't like Christianity. Or Henry VII (as well as anyone who was historically opposed to Yorks in general). She misses no opportunity to remind readers of that.
  • Badass Army: The Orc/Goblin infantry are one of these and that's probably why they tend to be rather peaceful.
  • Badass Family: The Malvani clan. They are so badass that the title of the Marshal of Arcia seems to be their family heirloom, regardless of the petty power struggles in the court. Even the priests from the Malvani family quickly turn into Church Militants. And they can shapeshift into tigers, apparently.
  • Bastard Angst: Pierre Tartue/Lumen comes from a bastard bloodline of the Lumens — one of the two clans vying for the throne of Arcia from book three onwards. He does a lot of very unsavory things to cover up his illegitimacy both before and after he usurps the throne, and hates being reminded that he is still a bastard.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: Nanniel is a staunch proponent of Elven supremacy, permanently in opposition to her husband Asten and his brother Emzar's more pro-human stance. After Asten is killed by Nanniel's faction and Emzar decides that he had enough and leaves the hidden Elven kingdom with his supporters to live with the humans, Nanniel realizes that despite their differences, she has actually been in love with Emzar for thousands of years and decides to follow him. Ironically, she dies saving a bunch of human victims of a Roigian cult because that's what Emzar would do, but neither he, nor anyone else ever learns about her change of heart.
  • Best Friend: Raphael Kerna is Alexander Tagere's closest friend, who accompanies him everywhere. In fact, he seems to be the only major character in the second duology who is not based on a historical personality from the Wars of the Roses, and basically becomes the living Point of Divergence by taking steps to ensure Alexander's survival where Richard III, lacking a comparable ally, died.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Raphael and Dariolo Kerna.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: All Elves are basically interrelated somehow. Also, the royalty and aristocracy of Arcia and nearby countries.
  • Black Sheep: Geoffrey Tagere (based on George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence), the only one of Charles' children who is presented without any redeeming qualities.
  • Blue Blood: Lots and lots of blue blood. About 90% of all recurring characters are aristocrats or related. The other 10% are supernatural creatures.
  • Born Lucky: René, while not completely immune to misfortune, is by far the luckiest character in the books. Even though he gets screwed up pretty badly every so often, most notably, in the end of the second novel.
  • Born Under the Sail: Eland is a small northern kingdom that is (in)famous for its disproportionately huge sometimes-merchant-sometimes-pirate navy, to the point where the terms "Elander" and "mariner" are used as interchangeable ethnonyms. This goes doubly so after the old coastal Eland from the first duology is flooded by natural cataclysms and its refugees settle on a well-hidden archipelago in the south seas, basically precluding any land contact with other countries.
  • Break the Cutie: Let's see. Marita is raped by the Big Bad and Driven to Suicide. Solange/Anastasia is separated from her beloved Charles Tagere, loses their child, and eventually becomes a Big Bad herself. Dariolo is in love with Alexander but coerced to marry Arthur Barrot, and Alexander is apparently killed, on top of that.
  • Character Overlap: There is a possibility that the Chronicles and Kamsha's other cycle, Gleams of Aeterna, are set in the same multiverse: in Black Poppies, Gerika mentions that her last love interest (while she was still amnesiac, wandering the other worlds) was a certain "blue-eyed Alva from Cinaloa". It just so happens that Reflections feature a major character named Roque Alva, who has blue eyes and rules a province named Kenalloa (though Gerika's lover may have been any one of his ancestors, too). Word of God, however, says that this is just a coincidence.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The magical power of the Orders comes from the belief of the congregation. In a twist, The Church originally had little to no magic but since the Elven magic during the War of the Deer was intentionally attributed to clerics to uphold The Masquerade, the people started believing in miracles, allowing them to perform even more miracles... Also of note, the only Order who don't have their own magic are the Erastians — because all power gathered by them goes directly to Erasti (who is still alive!) himself.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: Dariolo Kerna is supposed to be a virgin when she marries Arthur Barrot, when, in fact, she already has two (illegitimate) children. Arthur, being not the sharpest tool in the shed and madly in love with her, assumes her hymen was broken while riding a horse and cuts himself to produce a stained bed sheet as proof that his wife was a virgin before marriage, as the nobility custom dictates.
  • Cool Boat: René's Lynx Constellation, which becomes a literal Flying Dutchman at the end of the second novel.
  • Cool Horse: Gib, the Water Horse. He is not so much a horse as a force of nature, in fact... Many Elves also see him as a Hellish Horse because he is part of Old Tarra, inherently opposed to the Light.
  • Corrupt Church: The Church of Arcia is generally portrayed this way but individual priests are often shown in positive light.
    • This is especially evident with several religious Orders, first of all, the Cialian Order.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Oh so much. Roman draws upon the "Power of Darkness" so often, he eventually arrives at the conclusion that it's no different from the Power of Light inherent to all Elves.
  • Dashed Plot Line: The second duology is prone to multi-year time skips between parts.
  • Deader Than Dead: After killing the Old Gods, the Lightbringers fed their bodies to the Burier, a minor Eldritch Abomination, to make sure they stay dead, since "gods have a tendency to spontaneously come back to life". They didn't really count on having to leave Tarra for good later...
  • Death of the Old Gods: Part of the backstory of includes the Seven Lightbringers physically destroying all the Old Gods of Tarra. This returns to bite Tarra mightily in the ass nine thousand years later when the Lightbringers leave and a bunch of cosmic monstrosities show up to devour the now completely defenseless world.
  • Defecting for Love: Gerika is daughter of the first duology's Big Bad Mikhai Godoi but falls in love with René and joins his side.
  • Dramatic Wind: One of abilities Rene acquired after returning back from the dead seems to be conjuring wind to dramatically ruffle his hair even indoors.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Owing to its origins, the first duology is crammed with light-hearted elements aimed mainly at deconstructing fantasy staples — in a rather jarring contrast to the author's later, much more somber and politics-heavy Low Fantasy. The Dark Star (pre-Edge of the Storm updates) is particularly egregious, both in terms of lore (e.g. it is the only book where "trolls" are regularly mentioned as inhabiting Tarra) and in style (the book has a habit of heavily foreshadowing future consequences of decisions the characters have just made — something that is completely absent from later volumes).
  • Experienced Protagonist: The human lead of Dark Star is Rene Arroy, who is 48 years old at the outset and is Famed in Story as both a Bold Explorer, having spent much of his 20s out at sea, and a shrewd politician, having had to assume the duties of the head of his clan when every other member died of a mysterious illness 20 years prior to the events of the book. There is also Roman, who is quickly revealed as a 300 years old elven spy and is well-versed in both magic and martial arts. Subverted at the very end of the book, when Gerika rounds off the protagonist trio, having exactly zero knowledge of her magic, and a very superficial understanding how the real world works.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Of the Wolf Cubs, only Alexander, Raphael, and Louis Truelle survive the Battle of Graza in the beginning of Black Poppies.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The War of the Daffodills duology is a fantasy retelling of the Wars of the Roses.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Starting from the third novel, Arcia becomes very much like the England during the the Wars of the Roses. Ifrana is France (King Joseph is obviously Louis XI), Orgonda is the Duchy of Burgundy, Cantisca is Vatican, Miria is Spain, Darnian Union is the Swiss Confederacy, Er-Atev is the Abbasid Caliphate, Tayana is, per Word of God, a mixture of Poland and Hungary, Frontera is Ukraine, Escota is Scotland, etc. Original Eland from the first duology is Viking Scandinavia.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted in the Deer duology, where pistols were common among rich nobles, but played straight after the Time Skip. It was justified in-story by The Church discovering a magic that'd make gunpowder explode prematurely, rendering guns useless since they could explode in your hands at any moment. The Deer duology had not only pistols, but early 17th-century level of tactics in warfare, with the mix of musketeers and pikemen ruling the field.
  • Fantasy World Map: A map of Arcia and neighboring countries is included on endpapers of most volumes of the series. Notably, the parts east of Tayana and Tarska (including the mythology-relevant Grizzled Field) have never been mapped until now.
  • Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: Happens in the prologues and epilogues of some volumes, with two or three mysterious figures discussing the events of the respective volume in the context of the apocalypse Myth Arc. Their identities have not yet been revealed but two of them are strongly implied to be the Great Brothers, the Eagle and the Dragon revered as gods by the Eland mariners.
  • Feuding Families: The Elven Clans of the Swan and of the Silver Moon were left behind in Tarra on purpose by their Lightbringer patrons. However, desperate and believing that the other Clan was guilty, they engaged in a suicidal conflict known as the War of Monsters, where most of the remaining Elves in Tarra died. Eventually, the sides struck an uneasy truce but even two thousand years later, there's still enmity between them (not helped any by the circumstance that most participants of the War are still alive).
  • Fictionary: The universal language in Arcia and neighborhood is (obviously) Arcian, but there are also others, from the Elven and Orcish to Er-Atevian, Mirian, and Darnian after the Time Skip. Most of them get at least a few words spoken in the text of the novels.
  • Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't: Alexander Tagere has the best friends a man could wish for: a tightly-knit group of young nobles who view him as their leader and dub themselves the "Wolf Cubs", after his personal coat of arms. His family, on the other hand, is Big and Royally Screwed Up, starting with his mom, who hates him, through his middle brother, who fears and despises him, all the way to their distantly related rival clan of Lumen, who see him as the devil on earth.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Gridetara, a True Mage corrupting Tarra, was properly introduced in the final chapters of Wind's Harvest and dispatched just as quickly. He was foreshadowed since the second book, sure, but was still rather unexpected.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: A recurring motif from the second duology onward is that women in power are more dangerous than they are useful. Gerika's explanation is that men can be (though not always are) motivated by honor and abstract obligations, whereas women always live for themselves and the ones they love. Especially bad are those who only love power, which is what the Cialian Order is all about. This is particularly evident in the stories of Agnesa (Margaret of Anjou's expy) and Anastasia, though notably subverted by Marta Tagere (Margaret of York's expy), who is a far more capable monarch than her first husband.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Or rather, the Old Gods are dead and the Lightbringers abandoned Tarra because the Light needed them elsewhere.
  • Good Shepherd: Popes Philipp and Felix, Cardinals Maximilian (before his Face–Heel Turn) and Joachim, etc.
  • The Heretic: The Damned One a.k.a. St. Erasti Cerna.
  • Heroic BSoD: Erasti suffers one after discovering that his beloved Ciala betrayed him for fun and profit.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Too many examples to list. Perhaps the most touching example happens in Incomparable Right with the sacrifice of Faithful, Gerika's lynx, who willingly throws himself into magical fire to let her escape Tarra. Actually, for that particular sacrifice, nothing short of an Elven sacrifice would have worked (originally, Roman was to be sacrificed), but Faithful's sheer devotion and intelligence apparently sufficed. In fact, the very title of the second novel comes from a poem by Nikolay Gumilyov and refers to the "incomparable right to choose one's own death".
  • Horrorscope: Alexander Tagere's horoscope predicted that he would die within hours after his birth. He didn't, but it got worse from then on for him with lots of suffering which he faced stoically.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Appear in Tower of Fury, albeit without horses (yet?). In a twist, each of them is a reincarnation of a human who committed a terrible treachery in his life.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Of several historical figures of 16th Century Kamsha doesn't like. However, while they are upgraded in villainy, they are downgraded in competence.
  • The Ingenue: Quite a few examples, most of whom end up broken.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race:
    • Elves are exceptionally beautiful, which is justified by their species being many times older than humans, meaning that they represent the peak of humanoid evolution (frozen in time thanks to their immortality) while humans are still getting there. However, having a perfect physique and looks means that all elves (of the same gender) look the same to humans, since their physical differences (read: deviations from perfection) are so minimal that only fellow elves can spot them. Hair/eye color and clothes are the only way mortal races can tell elves they don't know personally apart.
    • Orcs, another race much older than humanity (though not as old or immortal as the Elves), have a kind feral beauty some humans admire (while others are intimidated by their appearance).
  • In the Blood: Only humans descended from Elves, Old Gods, or St. Erasti's family seem to have prominent magic talents.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Roman effectively manipulates Kriza (his love interest) and Urrik (his Worthy Opponent) into falling in love with each other.
  • Immortality:
  • Just Before the End: The later books emanate this feel. Also, the visions on the dead world that Roman and company visit.
  • Just Between You and Me: Upon their meeting, Greditara cannot help but give a speech explaining his evil plans to Roman, whom he believes he can kill at any moment. Justified somewhat by the fact that Roman is the first person he has spoken to in centuries.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you start reading the series from any book after The Dark Star, it is pretty much impossible to avoid The Reveal that the Dark Star!Gerika is not the same individual that the original Gerika was in the first book, despite having the same physical body, in other words, that Gerika's original soul departed into the afterlife after giving birth to Roigu, but another woman's soul (possibly even from another world) has been somehow transplanted into her body immediately thereafter.
  • Latin Lover: Raphael Cerna, a toreador and Alexander Tagere's Best Friend, is the most popular guy among Arcian noblewomen and Really Gets Around (without forming any emotional attachments so far).
  • Light Is Not Good: The Lightbringers and, by projection, Elves are portrayed as invaders from Another Dimension who attacked Tarra without warning, ruthlessly eradicated any opposition, then left it to sink or swim in the name of the "Light".
  • Literary Allusion Title:
    • Incomparable Right, as mentioned above, is a reference to Nikolay Gumilev's poem.
    • Argument of Kings is a play on Louis XIV's "Ultima Ratio Regum" ("the last argument of kings", meaning the declaration of war).
    • Tower of Fury comes from a 1956 poem by Nikoyal Zabolotsky, which is quoted in the epigraph to Black Poppies.
  • Living Statue: The Riders of Gorda are two giant mounted statues of unknown origins towering over the Gorda mountain pass separating Tayana and Frontera. While local superstitions abound concerning them (such as that catching a glimpse of either of their faces is a Portent of Doom), they do actually come alive when Gerika intuitively calls out to them at the end of The Dark Star, revealing that they are actually two of the few remaining servants of the Old Gods, tasked millennia ago to prevent Roigu from ever escaping Takhena. Even though the Old Gods are long dead, the Riders found a way to petrify themselves until they are needed again, at which point they attack Roigu's totem pursuing Gerika and Roman, allowing them to escape. Gerika never meets them again, however, as Roigu finally gets the better of them off-screen during Incomparable Right.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Nearly each book comes with a five to ten pages names list appendix.
  • Macabre Moth Motif: The moths are an attribute of evil (not dark, but dirty gray) magic, such as the one of the Cialian Order.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Happens near the end of the first duology, when Shander Gardani proposes to Princess Ilana. They don't love each other, but he, having recently been elected king by the people, needs to start a dynasty, while she is on the verge of becoming a nun, having lost pretty much everything. Ultimately, their purely pragmatic marriage results in a genuine love and becomes surprisingly happy for both parties.
  • Mary Tzu: In-Universe, Alexander Tagere's tactical skills are acknowledged as supernatural (by actual supernaturals, no less).
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Roman and Kriza. Bonus points for him being an Elf and her, an Orc. Also, Alexander and Gerika: this time, with the roles the other way around.
  • Multicolored Hair: Because of her mixed human-elven-Old God ancestry, Gerika's hair comes in several interweaving shades of blonde, from silvery to reddish.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: The books are written predominantly in third person but, starting from book two, switch to first-person whenever Gerika becomes the POV character.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Inverted with Raphael who actively encourages Alexander and Dariolo's extramarital affair despite their doubts about his reaction. However, he also (violently) rejects Dariolo when she is later manipulated into marrying Arthur Barrot by the Cialians.
  • Naval Blockade: The Church blockades Orgonda from the sea after it refuses to acknowledge Pierre Lumen (whom the clergy endorsed) as king. The blockade is eventually lifted by the Eland Mariners.
  • Nobility Marries Money: Everyone thinks that this is the reason why Alexander (the king's youngest brother) marries Jacqueline re Flo (daughter and sole heir of the wealthy late King Maker). However, in reality, he does it mainly to protect his Childhood Friend from other, less scrupulous suitors.
  • Noble Wolf: Not only is the wolf a symbol of Agnes, God (Lightbringer) of War, but it is also on the personal coats of arms of both René and Alexander. Considering how Agnes is the only Lightbringer who still cares about Tarra, and both Rene and Alexander are among its most heroic inhabitants, wolves are definitely a symbol of benevolent power in this setting.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: René's Jan-Florentine (a toad who doubles as a living Philosopher's Stone) and Gib. Gerika's "pet" lynx Faithful, who was passed down to her after his original master Stefan, Crown-Prince of Tayana and her love interest, died.
  • Only the Chosen May Ride: Gib the Water Horse is less of a horse and more of a sentient force of nature, so he is extremely picky about whom he allows to ride him. Specifically, the only human he has ever allowed close to him is Rene Arroy, who just happens to be an old seadog as well as an experienced horseman.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves never appear in the novels but are alluded to as the most skilled smiths in Tarra on many occasions. Word of mouth is, they hide in the mountains of Er-Atev.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Dark Is Not Evil and Proud Warrior Race Guy variety.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Orcs admittedly don't have souls though what exactly makes a "soul" is never explained. Apparently, souls can be used for reincarnation (as well as becoming a Horsemen of Apocalypse) and orcs only have one lifetime, unlike humans and Elves.
  • Pair the Spares: Invoked by Shander Gardani when he proposes to Ilana in the end of book two. They don't love each other, having both lost their respective beloved ones, but he needs a family to establish a dynasty, while she is on the verge of becoming a nun. However, their purely pragmatic marriage results in a genuine love and becomes surprisingly happy for both parties.
  • Pirates: The entire population of Eland are mostly Type II pirates. Er-Atev catches up with them in the second duology.
  • Philosopher's Stone: Actually, a Philosopher's Toad. Jan-Florentine is a toad-like spirit/creature who can transmute any material into any other on touch and has a penchant for philosophic Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
  • Physical God: Pretty much any "god" in the setting. Also, True Mages like Erasti Cerna gain god-like powers if properly trained.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: Rene Arroy went completely grey-haired after being shipwrecked beyond the Forbidden Line and spending weeks floating in the ocean.
  • The Prophecy: Quite a few, since the series has a Plot Device that allows to deliver new prophecies as the plot requires: namely, the Agva Zakta poison, which has no antidote but grants the poisoned perfect prophetic vision for the few seconds until they expire.
    • The prophecy of Saint Erasti, delivered in the form of a painting (Erasti was an artist before he became involved in politics) and depicting the arrival of Roigu the Deer and the Dark Star, drives the plot original duology. Notably, it wasn't delivered under the influence of Agva Zakta but came to Erasti in his dreams.
    • Probably the most important prophecy that drives the rest of the series (thanks to containing more Arc Words than the rest of the book combined) is the one delivered by old Eric Connac in the end of book two after taking Agva Zakta.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Daphne, the blankess (Cialian prioress) of Miria, is not so much a psycho as a Manipulative Bitch who likes young girls. Laying her eyes on Raphael's little sister Dariolo, however, was a very bad idea...
  • Rearing Horse: When René' and Gib kill the Roigian ambassador to Eland, after René returns Back from the Dead.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Actually, Gerika is 600+ after the Time Skip. But she looks about the same age as she was during the War of the Deer (late twenties?) thanks to her godlike powers. And since she hides her origins, men (most notably, Alexander) keep falling for her.
  • Reluctant Ruler: René is crowned Emperor of Arcia in the end of Incomparable Right but manages to walk out and get himself killed. Alexander becomes a King of Arcia after his brother's death, despite being perfectly fine with remaining a mere general.
  • Remarried to the Mistress: A gender-inverted example where Duchess Martha Tagere marries her long-time lover Cesar Malvani after her husband, the Duke of Orgonda, is murdered by the mob.
  • The Remnant:
    • Roigu is the last of the Old Gods by the (mis)fortune of having been imprisoned by his own kind long before the Lightbringers invaded Tarra. The Seven have never found him before the Great Exodus.
    • On a smaller scale, the Roigian cult still exists in Tarska even six hundred years after the Deer has been defeated in book two.
  • Sedgwick Speech: Lupe's drunkard husband is shot to death by a Tarskan lackey after reading a rousing poem against Tarskan occupation of Tayana in public. With his dying breath, he calls out to the onlookers to fight the occupiers — and actually manages to spark a massive uprising that eventually frees Tayana.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: The collective suicide of the Elven Clan of the Swan in Wind's Harvest borders Stupid Sacrifice, even, except that they couldn't have known that Gridetara would have been killed by Neo and his gang, anyway.
  • Signs of the End Times
  • Smug Snake: The great majority of villains. Initially, at least some of them were somewhat competent, if not nearly as much as they thought, but in the latter books all of the surviving ones are downright pathetic. Nearly all of the human-level bad guys past the first duology only remain dangerous because the good guys tend to suffer from Contractual Genre Blindness and fail to treat them as they deserve. Magical ones, well, have magic, which makes them more threatening, but their level of competence is the same.
  • The Soulless: Orcs believe that, unlike humans or elves, they do not have souls, so they only have one life to make an impact on the world with no chance of rebirth.
  • Solitary Sorceress: This becomes Gerika's modus operandi after she learns to control her powers. Before returning to Tarra, she lived on the outskirts of a kingdom in another world, counseling many generations of kings as the a Wise Witch. Afterwards, she uses the same guise to explain herself to Alexander (that she lived in a forest hut that his horse just happened to bring his wounded and unconscious body to), in order to avoid revealing that she was basically summoned to save his life by the self-sacrifice of one of his most loyal friends.
  • Spark of the Rebellion: The overthrow of the Tarskan occupation in Tayana is kicked off by the murder of Rodolph Gleo — an otherwise completely unremarkable drunkard poet — who reads a rousing poem in public, is shot by a Tarskan lackey, and, with his dying breath, calls upon the onlookers to liberate Tayana.
  • Speak of the Devil: The Damned One, the greatest heretic of all times, is only known by this nickname, when, in fact, he is the same person as St. Erasti Cerna, one of the most revered saints of The Church, Emperor Ankhel's most trusted henchman, Lunar King Laren's disciple, and the first True Mage of Tarra.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Gerika and René.
  • Straight for the Commander: During the Battle for Graza in book five, Alexander's army is betrayed, so he gathers the remaining loyal cavalry and orders a Self-Destructive Charge against the the enemy commander Pierre Tartue's position. He doesn't make it all the way there (though his Best Friend saves him from a certain death), but he gets close enough for Pierre to literally need a new pair of pants afterwards.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Gerika, to a certain degree.
  • Supernaturally Marked Grave: When the Elven lord Asten is killed, Gerika causes the earth to magically envelop it, then transmutes the earth into a giant amethyst.
  • Superior Species: Belief of some Elves in their superiority over other races causes a lot of evil, most notably, Roman's sister Eanke who murders her own father Asten, one of the strongest opponents of "Elven superiority". It is also subverted soon thereafter with Eanke's mother Nanniel, who shares much of her views but dies by sacrificing herself to save human victims of a Roigian cult. After that, the idea of Elven superiority slowly withers and dies, until an entire Elven clan sacrifices themselves to protect Tarra.
  • Tarot Motifs: The O card deck is the local variation of Tarot. The symbolism isn't helped any when Elven artist Clare takes real heroes of the War of the Deer (many of whom are still alive in one way or another) as models for card images on his deck... which becomes the most imitated version in Arcia.
  • The Time of Myths: Twice. First, there is the time when Tarra was ruled by Omm and other Old Gods, though only the Orcs remember it in modern times. Then, there were the seven millenia-long rule of the Lightbringers, of which the Elves have the best memories. Modern humans barely remember what the "Great Exodus" was, despite counting years from it.
  • Time Skip: Blood of Sunset takes place ca. 600 years after Incomparable Right. The second duology is prone to many-year skips, too.
  • Title Drop: The Dark Star contains numerous references to the Dark Star (though primarily as Arc Words of mystery), but also has a short Internal Monologue by Roman where he refers to her as the "Chosen One of Hell", which was the original working title of the book.
  • The Tragic Rose: In The Dark Star, the roses motif is strongly associated with Marita Veldovna, a Ghelanian beauty who falls in love with Roman but is raped and Driven to Suicide by Mihaly. Upon his return, Roman plants magically-empowered wild roses on her grave.
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Treachery is treated as one of the worst sins: it is a treachery that sets in motion events that culminate in The End of the World as We Know It, and the resident Horsemen of the Apocalypse are reincarnations of four kings who betrayed their loyal subjects and friends during their lifetimes.
  • Trilogy Creep: And Kudzu Plot. And Door Stopper. Not quite as bad as The Wheel of Time in this department, but by the middle of Wind's Harvest it became apparent that the plot is not going to be resolved any time soon.
  • True Companions: The "Wolf Cubs", Alexander's personal merry gang comprised of youngest children of aristocratic families loyal to Tagere, which eventually evolves into the most feared regiment of Arcia and is slaughtered almost completely in the beginning of the fifth book.
  • Trust Password: Throughout the first duology, the goblin Urrik signs his secret missives to Rene with emiko, the Elvish word for "friend". This works because Rene is pretty much the only human in Arcia who speaks Elvish, and Urrik only learned that word from Roman when the two of them briefly teamed up to save Shander Gardani from Godoy. Even though Rene has never met Urrik (instead assuming "emiko" to be Princess Ilana), he correctly infers that anyone using that penname must have had contact with his elf allies, and if they let him live, he must be trustworthy.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Rene Arroy was Born Lucky, so when things are left up to chance, they usually go his way. However, this also means that he casually subjects himself to incredible dangers that, even though he always manages to survive them (in some way), have long-lasting and grave consequences for him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When Eanke kills Asten, Gerika taps into The Dark Side and unleashes her innate magic for the first time. Let's just say that all that's left of both Eanke and her escort afterwards can be put into a small box. A very small box.
  • Updated Re-release: The first duology re-released in a single volume titled Tarra: Edge of the Storm in 2009, with many of the plot holes and continuity errors fixed.
  • Vestigial Empire: Ankhel's Arcia, briefly resurrected under René only to fall apart for good later.
  • What Would X Do?: During Pierre Tartue's coronation, one of the feline guardian spirits of Ankhel's Palace takes a dump on the throne just before the usurper is supposed to sit in it. A stickler for etiquette, Pierre panics, desperately trying to think of what would the famous monarchs of the past (whom he idolizes) do in such a situation: René would just laugh and sit down on the stairs leading up to the throne, Ankhel would crack a joke that would send the audience laughing, while Philipp Tagere would break ceremony altogether and jump into the crowd to make out with the first pretty girl he found. Pierre instead loses composure and breaks off the rest of the ceremony.
  • White Sheep: Basil Grizier (based on Anthony Woodville, who unexpectedly survives), the completely irrelevant member of the "poodles" who suddenly becomes one of Arcia's leading diplomats and courtiers — all while retaining the self-deprecating attitude to himself as a result of his family history.
  • Wild Card: Estel Oskora, the Dark Star, is prophesied to wield tremendous power, but the prophecy is vague on whether she will use it in service of or against the Roigians who created her. Gerika's evil father Mihaly grooms her to be devoid of any willpower, so she wouldn't even conceive of rebelling against him and his masters, but then another, much more determined woman's soul takes over Gerika's body, who eventually falls in love with Rene and allies herself with him against Mihaly and the Roigians.
  • William Fakespeare: One book features a character obviously based on Shakespeare, though it's not a very favorable portrayal: more like a Take That! for his work on Richard III, since Richard III's expy is one of the good guys in the story.
  • Written by the Winners: The Corrupt Church is particularly guilty of this. After the War of the Deer, they overwrite its history, e.g. making Mikhai the righteous king and René, the bad guy, who seduced Mikhai's innocent daughter Gerika to get his throne. They attempt to do it even more blatantly after Alexander's defeat, presenting him as a Card-Carrying Villain and Pierre Tartue, as the rightful heir. They even employ a playwright... a slight poke of William Shakespeare's Richard III.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Arthur Barrot stays back to hold off an entire enemy army on a narrow bridge while his True Companions are bringing the reinforcements. And he survives.


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