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Literature / Azure Rain

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Azure Rain is a series of books written by Avalon A. Roselin. It has been announced that there will be four main series books, a prequel, and spin-off that will not feature the main four characters, and a guidebook complete with language dictionary. Currently only the first volume is available for purchase online through, Amazon, and Nook in paperback and ebook format. Whether or not there will be more books in the series, such as a collection of short stories, is yet to be determined.

The first volume of the series and series namer, Azure Rain’s plot centers on clearing Azzie’s name after he is wrongly set up to be his caretaker’s murderer by bringing the true killer to justice. That quickly becomes the least of ex-murder investigators Eureka and Baltan’s priorities when they get caught up in the plot of a maniacal cult leader. Along the way they meet Lleuwellyn, rounding out the main cast. Though Baltan and Eureka are more or less the main characters of the first book, all four of them are the main characters of the series, with varying degrees of minor characters supporting them.

The book is notable for balancing themes of murder mystery, slice of life, and occult horror, taking time where it needs to set up character relationships while the situation around them grows steadily more dire as the intended date of the murders gets closer. The series is set in a fantasy world that has received extensive world building, which serves to be one of the highlights for many readers.

The next book in the series is Crimson Lightning. Its plot centers more on Kwoltan Gera, and the book kicks off with Keida and Naesa returning home to a destroyed village and setting out to find where the missing members were taken to, along with the main cast of Azure Rain. As such it features a lot more of what tribal Azure life is like than Azure Rain, and also introduces a lot more characters since the previously minor Kwoltan Gera characters—though still fairly minor—are developed a little more, and the readers are introduced to the mountain tribe.

Like Azure Rain, Crimson Lightning also balances out the murder mystery/serious plot with lighter moments of family bonding and even a few romantic subplots. It focuses a bit more on Eureka and Keida’s pasts and relationships with each other and the rest of the tribe. It has been slated for release in late 2014/early 2015, so its tropes only cover what has been released so far.

The entire series shares a character page, so be extra careful of spoilers that might come from later installments.

This series contains examples of:

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     General Tropes 

  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: The Kwoltan Gera Azures, including Eureka. The fact that Azzie’s nails are cut alludes to him having had them.
  • Action Girl / Action Mom: Plenty among the female members of the tribes
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Though all Azures are varying shades of blue, boy do they vary.
    • On average, Illdresil Gera Azures are pale blue with dark blue hair and eyes and Kwoltan Gera Azures vary between medium shades for skin, hair, and eyes.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Due to the fact that there are no calendar dates and the technology available clashes: computers exist, but the commercialized Internet does not, there are movie theaters but not televisions, there are cordless phones but not cell phones, radio programs are very popular, etc.
  • Cat Boy / Cat Girl: Some Azures express animal features. In Kwoltan Gera, this trait is cat ears.
    • Horse-deer-thing Boy for Lleuwellyn, who has the tail of a fictional equine animal
  • Child Soldiers: Apprentices in the Azure tribes, but they’re very well cared for and not exploited like real-life child soldiers.
  • Common Tongue: The language most widely spoken is a creole combining very dumbed down versions of Azure and Eastern language, and is appropriately named “common language”
  • Crapsack World: Rampant racism and classism, slavery is totally legal in half of the continent and no one does anything about it, living conditions in major cities are substandard for all but the wealthiest, hospitals lock people in the basement and get away with it because there is no government in half of the continent and the government in the other half is entirely corrupt, crimes are only punished if a big enough bounty is put on the head of the perpetrator (making investigators more or less bounty hunters with some slightly more extensive training in detective work), orphanages don’t exist, nor do competent therapists, most people don’t go to school, it’s implied that whatever agency acts as a pseudo government has total access to all your personal information from the time you were born to the time you die and can edit it at will, and there is an Eldritch Abomination that can, at any moment, manipulate anyone with enough psychic ability to perceive it into killing off all the children they can get their hands on to feed it and create a vessel, even against their will. GOOD LUCK.
  • Death Is Cheap: Azures can resurrect themselves from death—albeit worse for the wear—through their healing powers. Some of them do get Killed Off for Real though, since there are some injuries even their powers can't bring them back from.
  • Fantastic Racism: The general social structure is Easterners on top, ‘normal’ humans in the middle, and Azures way, way, way, WAY down at the bottom.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble
    • Sanguine: Azzie
    • Choleric: Baltan
    • Melancholic: Lleuwellyn
    • Phlegmatic: Eureka
  • Human Subspecies: Might be inverted since Azures are implied to have been around longer than humans, but modern views paint them as this.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Silver affects Azures in really negative ways. Specifically they lose strength and energy around it, start feeling nauseous, etc. In Crimson Lightning, enemies armed with silver weapons are able to capture Kwoltan Gera. Kwoltan Gera is made up of nothing but highly trained badass warriors.
  • Mama Bear / Papa Wolf: Every Azure with a child. Azures are genetically encoded to be protective of at least their own children, and whether children are protected by every adult or only their own parents varies from village to village. Standout examples will be listed in the books they appear in.
  • Meaningful Rename: Serves as a rite of passage into adulthood.
    • Becomes even more meaningful when it’s taken into account that most suffixes are given to exemplify a certain trait that’s been evident throughout the apprentice’s life or is otherwise significant to them.
  • People of Hair Color: Azures have blue pigmentation in their skin, hair and eyes. This is not what the race is named for; it was originally believed that they got their blue pigmentation from their blue blood, so they were named for their native word for blood, ‘azur’.
  • Stars Are Souls: The Azure tribes worship the stars as the spirits of their ancestors.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Azures. They have super strength, super speed, can regenerate to the point of coming back to life after dying, and can pretty much only be killed by a Boom, Headshot! (though this only works if the area of the brain that controls heartbeat/breathing is destroyed, otherwise they will reanimate with impairments representative to where they were shot) or total destruction of the brain/body like immolation, being sent through a meat grinder, etc. They are 100% sentient, intelligent, and have total control of motor functions; ‘zombie’ is actually a severe slur toward them not unlike the n word.

     Azure Rain 

  • Affably Evil: Selkess, at least where Lleuwellyn is concerned. He tries, anyway.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Possibly subverted, since Selkess was waiting for Eureka and Baltan to show up.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Eureka and Baltan
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Lleuwellyn after he is drugged
  • Bittersweet Ending: Eureka and Baltan manage to successfully save the apprentices, Azzie, and Lleuwellyn, stop the ritual, and all around save the day—but Baltan is now blind and the cult that they stopped from summoning a world-ending Eldritch Abomination is still around and so is said monster.
  • City Noir: Marina Delta is somewhat implied to be this but the characters make the best of it.
  • Combat Medic: Lleuwellyn has exceptionally strong kicks due to his race and can throw knives; Selkess surprisingly doesn’t qualify—he is better at setting up violence than actually committing it and his aim with a gun isn’t all that great
  • Cooldown Hug: Weaponized by Lleuwellyn; it allows him to immobilize Selkess just long enough to prevent him from firing the gun and completing the ritual and gives Eureka time to reach the platform.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mr. Turnap
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: One of the first things Eureka and Baltan notice is that Ms. Evans’ cause of death is not consistent with the state that Azzie is found in, and even without him any investigator worth their salary would have been able to point this out by the sheer amount of Azure blood found on the scene. The investigative department is still heavily racist (despite Eureka formerly working there and being located in a city evenly populated with Azures) and would rather chock it up to a disgruntled Azure and close the case than actually investigate.
  • Country Cousin: Naesa to Azzie
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Eureka beats the shit out of Selkess pretty easily.
    • Also the Kwoltan Gera Azures against the guards once they’re unarmed or reloading
  • The Cynic: Baltan and Lleuwellyn. Though they get a little more idealistic as it goes on, they’re always more cynical than their counterparts.
  • Daddy's Girl: Naesa
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Azzie’s existence was kept a secret from Eureka.
    • Selkess to Lleuwellyn. In Lleuwellyn’s dream/flashback, Selkess seems at least lucid enough to comprehend that he’s going to murder his son and he really doesn’t want to. His earlier mentioned disappearances can be interpreted as trying to avoid it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Outright stated or at least implied for a majority of the characters
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Implied to be one of the forms of abuse Azzie suffered while living with Ms. Evans
  • Didn't See That Coming: Lleuwellyn telling Selkess that he still loves him causes him to stall just long enough for the heroes to get the upper hand, because he is genuinely surprised and there’s just enough of Selkess’s old self left in him to react. It’s only a split second distraction but that was all they needed.
  • Disappeared Dad: Azzie and Lleuwellyn, basically making them both orphans even though Eureka is most likely Azzie’s father, so he isn't an orphan anymore
  • Disney Villain Death: It SEEMS like this at first when Selkess is kicked through the glass on the platform and falls, since if the fall didn’t kill him the damage caused by the kicks would, but then he gets back up for one last murder attempt before being permanently killed.
  • Doting Parent: Eureka, to everyone
    • Somehow Selkess to Lleuwellyn, though the latter really wishes otherwise
  • Eagle-Eye Detection: Eureka notices almost immediately that Azzie’s cuts form patterns that are familiar.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Selkess actually seems to love Lleuwellyn in his own twisted way.
  • Evil Genius: Selkess
  • Evil Plan: Selkess has a pretty damn evil one: mass-sacrificing children in order to reawaken the Eastern god Kreor and essentially cause the apocalypse. He combines this into getting revenge on Eureka and Baltan for imprisoning him years ago by involving Azzie, who is Eureka’s biological son, although he didn’t get to tell them that directly.
  • Eye Scream: Selkess burned the ritual symbol over Lleuwellyn’s eye with some kind of acid so it would be a permanent scar. Lleuwellyn bounces back from the pain quickly, but it still must have hurt pretty bad.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Selkess
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Averted. Though there is a little interest in Azzie’s miscolored ears, which marks him as having Eastern ancestry in addition to Azure, no one treats him badly for it.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Azzie
  • Hidden Elf Village: Illdresil Gera definitely invokes this
  • I Am Not My Father: Lleuwellyn, even while denying that Selkess IS his father
  • In the Blood: Lleuwellyn inherited his ability to speak with Lleu Gera through his parents, particularly his father. The rest of the tribe tends to think he got something else from him, too, and go out of their way to avoid him.
  • Karma Houdini: The people who conspired with Selkess offered testimony incriminating him for Ms. Evans’ murder and other crimes as a plea bargain, so they faced no jail time. At the same time it seems that none of the Azures were persecuted for the cultists they killed, so the system works in this case.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: The members of Illdresil Gera treat Lleuwellyn poorly because of what his father did. It doesn’t help that they’re both medics, which already shows that he takes after him.
  • Magic Countdown: Invoked and averted: it seems like Selkess is going to go into a time-wasting rant, but Baltan and Eureka shut him down before he can; when he starts scolding them for being rude, Yuita shouts at them to get to the control panel because she’s only a few minutes from the meat grinder. They shut it down just in time to prevent her from falling in.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Played With. Baltan and Eureka have Azzie, who is walking evidence, and then meet Lleuwellyn, who like them has firsthand knowledge of the killer and his methods. However, Naesa, a minor character, managed to track Selkess to his main area of operation before Baltan figured out where it was.
  • Mama Bear: Pretty much any of the Kwoltan Gera women whose children were kidnapped kick this up a notch, even for Azure standards. The standout is Aylie-Viriar, who had to be explicitly told she couldn’t go on a patrol because she was pregnant at the time.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Averted. Though several of the warriors who join the rescue patrols are mentors to the missing apprentices, the three who die in the process (Sitr, Wietar, and Lifilie) are not mentors.
  • Moment Killer: It seems that Selkess is going to reveal some very important information about how he set everything up and got his information… until Baltan and Eureka say they aren’t interested, resulting in an unexpected funny moment before getting serious again.
    • Under normal circumstances they probably would have listened to him but were facing too many odds to give him the time it would take for him to explain everything. As seen with The Unreveal below, they do regret this a bit.
  • Mood Whiplash: The book itself is part grisly murder mystery and part saccharine family slice of life, so this happens quite a bit. One of the biggest offenders is chapter four, which starts out as a nice family shopping trip and ends with Eureka getting shot; see also Moment Killer above.
  • Never One Murder: Only children need to be killed to complete the ritual; however, Selkess isn’t incredibly picky about victims and has occasionally killed adults as well, one of them just in order to give a book to Lleuwellyn so he’ll know where to go next. Maybe.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Eureka finally faces off against Selkess, he shreds him, to the point of Selkess having to use all his strength just to keep Eureka from tearing his throat out
  • Oh, Crap!: Baltan and Eureka’s reaction to realizing who the killer is
    • Baltan has a near breakdown over it. Granted that Baltan was already nervous and not in the best mental state, it really shows how much the two are afraid of what Selkess can do.
  • Offstage Villainy: Selkess murders Mr. Turnap offstage… maybe.
    • Also the Delta Omega massacre; it seems that the Illdresil Gera massacre will be this until Lleuwellyn’s flashback/dream
  • Older Than They Look: When Azzie is first found Baltan mentally notes that he doesn’t look any older than 10 or 11 at most; he’s actually 14, but puberty hasn’t taken effect yet and abuse has stunted his growth.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Shaeda and Eureka seem to have a grudge against each other.
  • Papa Wolf: Keida fights some of the battle in the slaughterhouse with a knife literally in his back.
  • Parental Abandonment: Azzie, Keida, Eureka, and Lleuwellyn
  • Parental Substitute: Eureka to both Azzie and Lleuwellyn, and Baltan to Azzie as well.
    • It’s mentioned that Eureka and Keida had parental substitutes in the tribe since their parents weren’t very close to them either
  • Parents Know Their Children: Completely subverted. Eureka had no idea Azzie was his biological son, even though both Baltan and Lleuwellyn immediately notice similarities (they have the same rare eye color), and is entirely shocked when it becomes a possibility.
  • The Power of Love: Played straight plenty of times but interestingly enough it gets weaponized in the climax when Lleuwellyn uses it to create a split-second distraction for Selkess, which allows him to get close enough to pin him with a hug. The resulting second or two that he’s immobile gives Eureka just enough time to reach the platform they’re on and tear Selkess to shreds. Apparently in Lleuwellyn-speak, “I love you, father” means “Fuck your sorry ass”.
  • Race Against the Clock: In the second half, regarding the sacrifice that will occur on the winter solstice
  • Realism-Induced Horror: Loaded with it due to the fact that the villain is a serial child killer.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: Has elements of this; Eureka and Baltan (and by extension, the reader) figure out who did it fairly quickly, how for the most part, and are pretty quickly able to piece together why, as this is a killer they have faced before. The issue comes out of how they’re going to foil his plans and, if possible, capture him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: As many warriors as can possibly be spared from Kwoltan Gera, plus Baltan and Eureka, show up to help rescue the kidnapped apprentices and do not hesitate to kill the guards that try to stop them.
  • Running Gag: Eureka gets teased about his fashion sense a lot.
    • Baltan is in an ongoing prank war against Azzie and Lleuwellyn.
  • Sequel Hook: Invoked and then subverted. Eureka reveals in the last chapter that Baltan didn’t kill Selkess, someone else did. This seems like a Sequel Hook right enough, but then the two decide that they don’t care as long as he’s dead.
    • Also in a meta example of subversion, the writer had already revealed that there will be four main series books and a few spinoffs in the series.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: Played with. Selkess IS a serial killer, but he sets up Ms. Evans’s murder so Eureka (and therefore Baltan) will get involved in trying to help Azzie and play directly into his revenge plot.
    • Also, his intended target is actually Lleuwellyn. But rather than just kidnap Lleuwellyn, Selkess pulls strings, kills people, and deliberately drops clues so Eureka and Baltan will bring him to where Selkess wants him to be pretty much just for fun and to show that he can
  • Sherlock Scan: Both Baltan and Eureka are able to notice quite a few holes in the newspaper article’s coverage of Ms. Evans’s murder immediately
  • Sins of Our Fathers: It’s implied that Selkess’s main reason for targeting Azzie is that Eureka is most likely his father
  • Storming the Castle: Eureka, Baltan, and a whole lot of pissed off warriors engage in an all-out raid on the slaughterhouse where the children are being kept. It’s admittedly not the best plan, but was the best that they could come up with under the circumstances
  • There Are No Coincidences: Selkess has literally planned out every major obstacle the protagonists face, some of them years in advance
  • The Unreveal: The fact that Selkess is Lleuwellyn’s father was hinted at quite a bit, including Baltan pretty much figuring it out very early on, so it wasn’t that surprising when it was confirmed.
    • The fact that Eureka is very likely Azzie’s biological father was very casually revealed in the denoument. This comes after one or two other characters guessed at it based on certain similarities. Maybe Eureka and Baltan should have let Selkess gloat a little longer after all.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: At the end when Eureka visits Baltan in the hospital, he comments that the trajectory of the bullet Baltan fired isn’t consistent with the entry/exit wounds on Selkess, meaning that Baltan missed and someone else killed Selkess. Baltan decides to just dismiss it as he’s not up to taking on another case and is still recovering from a Heroic BSoD.
  • Villainous Breakdown: If Baltan and Eureka’s reactions are anything to go by, Selkess has been having this and Sanity Slippage for almost the entire book and is a lot more unhinged than when they first encountered him, which makes him even more dangerous in a different way. Selkess in the past played games too, but when it came to the actual killings he was efficient and made them quick and painless. This time he intends to drop fully-conscious children into a meat grinder feet-first, which affords the heroes more time to save them but if they fail the deaths will be a LOT more gruesome.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: For a good portion of the book Selkess is just stringing Baltan and Eureka along, having enough foresight to accurately predict their reactions and plan accordingly. Even they acknowledge that they aren’t smarter than Selkess is and admit that any plans they make are probably going to end up playing right into his scheme. Their ultimate plan is basically just to fuck shit up because—despite knowing it’s ridiculously dangerous and incredibly likely to get them and everyone else involved killed—it’s the only thing they can think to do. Surprisingly it works, largely due to the help they get from an entire village of pissed-off, highly-trained warriors
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: The rest of the main casts’ reaction to Baltan’s Heroic BSoD

     Crimson Lightning 

  • Almost Dead Guy: Daelyn reanimates in time to tell Keida that the tribe was attacked and taken to the north, and is then Killed Off for Real.
  • Ascended Extra: Keida and Naesa are present throughout most of the book and even get some chapters from their perspectives, including the introduction
    • Some of the Kwoltan Gera warriors are shown to have very distinct personalities, which is a step up from their role as background characters with few or no lines in Azure Rain. Daelyn and Egrieak especially have gotten a lot more detail.
    • Also the main ancestor that talks to Lleuwellyn (his great grandmother), unnamed in Azure Rain but stated to be his namesake, has her name revealed (Lleunalane), and she once again gives him advice.
  • Catchphrase: Keida has a lot of people he needs to have a talk with.
  • Continuity Nod: The book starts with Keida taking Naesa home from the hospital after a Time Skip of just under a year.
    • Mytyln isn’t mentioned in Azure Rain by name, but mention is made of young warriors leaving the tribe. Mytyln is one of them and in another Continuity Nod when he asks about Klaide and Keldie, Keida tells him that Klaide is a warrior now, but decides not to tell him that his former mentor Sitr is dead.
    • In the worst way, there was a lot of mention in Azure Rain of hostilities over putting in a dam between Kwoltan Gera and Vinez. This is highlighted again and stated to be getting worse, right before Keida sees the ruins of what used to be the village.
  • Darker and Edgier: While Azure Rain started out rather dark in its own right, Crimson Lightning kicks off with a reminder that Naesa is permanently crippled, though she doesn’t let it affect her too badly and the destruction of the entire Village of Rivers that played a key role in saving the day in the last book as well as a Mercy Kill and some background characters getting Killed Off for Real. Though most of them either didn’t appear or only appeared briefly in Azure Rain, two of them are the king and the medic, which leaves the surviving Kwoltan Gera without any kind of leadership and is outright stated by Lleu Gera to put them at risk of being disbanded IF they are rescued, especially because they now have no territory, and Lleuwellyn is fairly convinced that there is no way they’ll be able to find a new home unless they steal it from someone else.
  • Doomed Hometown: Kwoltan Gera being destroyed puts the plot in motion.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Egrieak died off screen trying to defend Kwoltan Gera, along with some previously unnamed extras.
  • Hope Spot: Keida at first thinks that maybe there wasn’t a fire after all, since there’s very little damage to the area, and that it was just some smoke stacks lit to try to scare the warriors off their territory. And then he sees the village.
  • Lethal Chef: Opal sends Baltan from her house back with a plate of cookies; he and Lleuwellyn both comment that they don’t look edible, and are hard as rocks.
  • Mercy Kill: Daelyn is found crushed under a building and begs for death.
  • Posthumous Character: Since we aren’t treated to any time with them, the warriors who are dead at the beginning are given a paragraph or so to describe what they were like when alive. Though Egrieak was briefly seen in Azure Rain to be a huge Jerkass, his personality is further fleshed out by flashbacks and other characters talking about the kind of leader he was, as well as his own interactions with Lleuwellyn and Lleunalane in Lleu Gera.
  • Prophecy Twist: It’s finally revealed why Eureka was banished. The reason was a misinterpreted prophecy warning about destruction coming from twin winged horses, which Egrieak and Daelyn took to mean Eureka (Mare) and Keida (Feather), twins, being together. It was actually a warning about the two disasters that would strike from Vinez (the attempted mass-murder of the children and the village being burned down), whose patron is the winged horse.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Egrieak
  • Redemption Equals Death / Death Equals Redemption: Daelyn finally comes clean about why Eureka was banished, but only after asking Keida for a Mercy Kill, so both of these can apply equally.
  • The Worf Effect: How tough are the enemies the main crew are facing this time? They killed Egrieak and captured all of Kwoltan Gera, a village renowned for their fighting skills.
    • Though to be fair it’s hinted at in Azure Rain, if not outright stated, that Egrieak was getting old and either close to retiring or should have retired by then. The rest of the village, though…
    • The enemy was using silver weapons so they had a significant advantage.