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The cover of the first and eponymous book
Bazil Broketail is a series of fantasy novels released in the 1990s by author Christopher Rowley. They center upon the titular character, a wingless soldier dragon and his squire (dragonboy) Relkin. Both of them serve in the Argonathi military fighting a long-standing war against the Masters of Padmasa, evil wizards who seek to conquer their entire world, Ryetelth, and the monsters they command. The benevolent witch Lessis of Valmes is a major supporting character, fighting the enemy on the magical side, as is her apprentice Lagdalen of the Tarcho. In a series which spans seven books, they all go on many hardships and adventures combating repeated invasions from Padmasa.

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    Books in the series 
  • Bazil Broketail (1992)
  • A Sword for a Dragon (1993)
  • Dragons of War (1994)
  • Battledragon (1996)
  • A Dragon At Worlds' End (1997)
  • Dragons of Argonath (1998)
  • Dragon Ultimate (1999)
    • The Wizard and the Floating City (1996), set in the same universe but only tangentially related to the series overall

Examples:

  • Action Girl: Quite a few. Each dragoness serving in the legions of Argonath counts as one, and they also have a women's brigade. When it comes to humans, Lessis of Valmes, Ribela of Defwode, Lagdalen Tarcho and Eilsa Ranardaughter are the most prominent examples, skilled fighters with mundane weapons or magic.
  • Aerith and Bob: Played with. Nearly all characters have entirely fictional names, but some of them were surely borrowed from the real world. Only Tomas and Manuel seem to play this trope one-hundred-percent straight, though. In other cases, Rowley tweaks the names a bit so they would appear a little otherworldly — therefore, we have characters with names such as Jak (for real-world Jack) or Endi (ditto for Andy).
  • Affectionate Nickname:
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    • Relkin usually calls Bazil "Baz" for short.
    • Kepabar's friends call him "Kep".
    • Nesessitas is called "Nessi" for short by her squadmates.
    • Chektor is called "Check" by his friends.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy:
    • When an expeditionary force consisting of Argonathi legions and their Czardhan and Kassim allies arrives at the besieged Og Bogon capital of Koubha, one of the Czardhan knights, Hervaze of Gensch, gets drunk and comes up with the bright idea to challenge Bazil to a Duel to the Death, intending to keep his head as a trophy. Never mind that Bazil is a soldier of an allied army, nor that he's currently unarmed. Hervaze gets knocked off his horse for his trouble, though not without seriously injuring the dragon.
    • After ingesting some liquid courage, a street thug in Marneri named Kuvsly thinks it is a good idea to call Bazil an "overgrown lizard" to his face. The first time he says it, Bazil just gives him a Death Glare. When he proves stupid enough to ignore the warning and is about to say that again, he doesn't get to finish the sentence.
      Kuvsly: Forget about it, you overgrown— [cue Tail Slap]
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  • All Crimes Are Equal: Most crimes in Padmasa are punishable by death. By the gates of its capitol, at least some corpses are always hanging from gibbets.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls are artificial creatures made by the Masters of Padmasa as heavy infantry, fighting the Argonathi dragon soldiers. Most of them are fairly unintelligent, though a few breeds are bright enough for using swords instead of axes. All stand around eight to nine feet tall, with an extreme resistance to magic, and have a mutual hatred with dragons. They have a vaguely humanoid frame, but with clearly inhuman features. They are also very resistant to magic, with spells cast on them not working at all or only weakly.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The monsters created by the Masters of Padmasa (imps and trolls being the most common) invariably are completely malicious, with no redeeming features (nor even much personality). It was by design, given their only purpose is to kill and repress the enemies of the Masters.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • The Argonath legions have a women's brigade. Also, the witches have many warriors who fight the Enemy with both magic and normal weapons.
    • Lessis leads around a hundred captive women used for bearing imps in a revolt against Tummuz Orgmeen.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Bazil hacks off Heruta's arm during the final showdown at the top of a volcano. He doesn't suffer pain from the wound too long, though, since he falls to his death soon thereafter.
    • Burthong hacks off an ogre's leg at knee's height during the battle at Sprian's Ridge.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • One of Argonathi dragons' traits is their great resistance to magic, allowing them to No-Sell powerful spells that easily subdue humans. It also has its drawbacks, though — after Bazil drinks a healing potion meant to regrow the tip of his tail, it does not work quite as intended, regenerating at a bent angle, earning him his "broketail" nickname.
    • Trolls are nearly as resistant to magic too.
  • Anyone Can Die: People do. A lot. Of the unit that Bazil and Relkin serve in, the 109th Dragon Squadron of Marneri (for your info, a dragon squadron consists of ten dragons, ten dragonboys and a commanding officer), Bazil and Chektor are the only surviving members of its original roster. The unit is then replenished multiple times in the series as with each and every book more soldiers — dragons and humans alike — keep dying and getting replaced with newcomers. While most casualties are Red Shirts, there are also characters who get some proper development before getting killed in action — hammering home that nobody is safe on war.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Ourdh is an ancient empire to the south of the Argonath. While they do have pseudo-Islamic stereotypes (extreme patriarchy, concealing female clothing that's mandated, religious fanatics), they're polytheist and have pagan Mesopotamian/Egyptian motifs as well (ziggurat temples feature heavily for instance).
  • Artificial Intelligence: The Dooms are basically a fantasy version. Essentially giant rocks containing a mind created by the Masters of Padmasa, evil sorcerers who want rulership over the world, they govern cities for their creators. They are malevolent as their creators too, loathing all biological beings.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Dragons are very clearly carnivorous predators by nature, but those serving in Argonathi legions are fed with rations that mainly consist of vegetarian dishes like oatmeal and noodles. They are also spiced with akh, but it's definitely not made of meat either. This means, by all logic and laws of nature, that dragons should be severely malnourished regardless of the amount of food they ate. This is because the digestive system of carnivores is — plainly and simply — not adapted to digest plant-based food. If they ate it, it would just go straight through their bodies without providing them with any nutrients (at best) or give them food poisoning (at worst). However, dragons of Argonath seem to have no trouble with this, aside from their constant complaints that there isn't enough akh in their meal.
    • During the voyage to Eigo in book four, we learn that dragons are immune to sea sickness, since their ears' labyrinth is different than humans'. They apparently retain balance thanks to movement of small cilias inside while lacking a fluid that our labyrinth holds and which is shaken by movement of a vessel, "disorienting the whole system". This is absolutely not how motion sickness works. In reality, its main cause is a dissonance between signals you receive from your labyrinth (which tells you that you are on the move) and your other sensory organs, mainly eyes (which tell you that you are not moving). Which is why the best course of action when you're seasick is to stay on the deck and watch the landscape (which you can see moving), while the worst thing you can do is to stay in your cabin (where nothing moves, thus aggravating the symptoms). So even if you replace liquid with some unspecified cilias, that does not change anything — dragons would still be seasick as hell. To dispel any further doubts — no, the fact that Argonathi dragons are naturally aquatic animals does not magically give them an immunity to sea sickness, just like the fact that we humans are naturally land animals does not make us immune to getting sick when we're, for example, trying to read in a car. That is because sea sickness does not stem from some malicious properties of the sea, but the fact that you travel it by a ship — something which moves independently from your own body and the sea itself, thus causing said dissonance.
    • Bazil and other dragons are actually sweating a few times in the series (for example, during Bazil's battle with Golgomba in book five), which is quite impossible, even if they are endothermic. That is because sweat is secreted via pores in the skin — something the dragons definitely do not have, since their skin is (in line with typical western portrayal of a dragon) covered with scales. Scales don't have pores — in fact, one of their basic functions is to isolate the skin from external environment and prevent the loss of water.
  • Badass Native:
    • Not when we first meet her, Lumbee's definitely not. Once she receives some training from Relkin, though, and aids him in liberating a few slaver camps...
    • Norwul is the top hunter in his tribe and after some guidance from Relkin, he also becomes their best warrior. He is so strong that he can pick up an adult man and break his spine on his knee Bane-on-Batman style with little effort.
  • Barbarian Tribe: There are two different groups like this west of Argonath. Sometimes they raid each other, and the Argonathi, to gain slaves which Padmasa buys.
    • The Teetol, a forest-dwelling people somewhat resembling Native Americans like the Iroquois.
    • The Baguti horse nomads, who wander the Gan grasslands, who seem like Mongols or similar cultures.
  • The Beastmaster: Lessis is the Mistress of Birds. Ribela is the Queen of Mice. Both have an ability to speak with these animals, whom they also gain strength from. Not only will they act as spies or messengers, but are even connected to them. For instance, Ribela is energized when her mice are fed, weakened otherwise. They also recognize them in their roles. Some mice look up at Ribela in awe on first seeing her.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Purple-Green has three — reminding him of his clipped wings and inability to fly, mocking his skill with a sword and questioning his worth overall. They are all quite understandable sore spots, given the existential crisis he has to constantly face after being rendered flightless and robbed of his previous life and all the trouble he has with adapting to the new one.
    • Alsebra has a couple.
      • She is infertile and bringing up this fact is a sore spot for her. Downplayed in that she has enough self-control not to go into a flying rage about it and she's wise enough to recognize when somebody is intentionally trying to provoke her (like Purple-Green does at one point).
      • Also, she absolutely hates openly asking her dragonboy for anything, or apologizing to him. She definitely prefers to just order him around.
      Jak: [after Alsebra asks him for a favor] Hey, you don't ask for help too often. Usually, I just hear "hey, you! Fix that!".
      Alsebra: [snarls furiously]
    • Don't you dare threaten soldiers under Eads' command. Especially when you are a religious fanatic, trying to enforce your worldview on others.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Trolls like to have sex with farm animals, we hear early on. Relkin and Lagdalen find it disgusting, naturally.
  • Big Bad: Heruta. As ruler of Padmasa, the main antagonistic faction, he plays this role until the end of the fourth book when he gets replaced once Waakzaam, basically the Satanic Archetype of the universe, returns (with them reduced to his minions). In the first book, the Blunt Doom of Tummuz Orgmeen serves as this, who's Padmasan overlord there.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Go on, try to hurt Relkin in front of Bazil or vice versa. Or any dragonboy in the presence of his dragon, for that matter. You will most likely regret it.
    • Gryff's a rather pathological example among dragons. He is not just attached to his dragonboy Rakama, but all too happy and ready to cheer him on when he beats up others. This is evidenced with his behaviour after Rakama has a brawl with Swane and they both seriously injure each other before Relkin breaks them up. He is dissatisfied with Relkin's intervention as he's convinced Rakama would've won and comes to Vlok right thereafter just to rub it in his face. He also laughs off his comment that the fight went too far and left both dragonboys unnecessarily injured.
  • Big Eater: All dragons are this, of course, being able to ingest ridiculous amounts of food. Feeding them can be a major logistical issue as a result, although in a pinch even civilized ones will eat just about anything and forage if necessary (as Bazil does more than once). Civilized ones draw the line at human meat however.
  • Big Good:
    • Lessis is one of the few characters who knows of existing dangers and powers at work, and is thus the one directing other people in order to prevent bad things from happening.
    • Ribela shares this role with Lessis when she either replaces or accompanies her. She is a wise and knowledgeable leader who directs the good guys in their battle against forces of evil.
  • The Big Guy:
    • Swane is the strongest and most physically imposing of all dragonboys, at least until Rakama comes along.
    • Rakama shares this role with Swane in 109th the moment he appears, though rather than just big, he is far better trained in hand-do-hand combat, giving him an edge over physically stronger, but less skilled companion. Eventually, Swane does recognize Rakama as a superior combatant.
    • As a wild dragon, Purple-Green is bigger and stronger than his wingless peers, and despite receiving training in swordplay after joining the legions, he still relies more on his ferocity and brute strength rather than fighting technique.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The good guys are imperfect, with the usual human flaws, and some do things like assassinate troublesome rulers. However, they are fighting pure evil wizards whose goal is taking over the world with magic based on death and pain, creating monsters through forcibly impregnating women or cattle for this purpose.
  • Black Magic: The Enemy's magic is fueled with blood, death or pain. It's only used for creating monsters and inflicting harm on opponents.
  • Blood Magic: Most of the Enemy's magic, if it doesn't require killing a human or beast, involves drawing blood. The most horrific example occurs during campaining in the Ourdh Empire in book two. The Padmasan agents, aiding the Sephite rebels, sacrifice hundreds of slaves by hanging them upside down and slitting their throats, letting their blood soak the ground below, which is then used to create mud men — giant earth golems — in order to bolster the Sephite forces and provide them with a counter against dragons.
  • Book Dumb:
    • One of Relkin's greatest regrets — by his own admission — is that he lacks proper education, having finished only two classes in the local school. Nevertheless, throughout the series he still proves to be quite intelligent and insightful for a simple soldier. In book four, for example, he correctly identifies the weakness of a steel golem conjured by Gadjung the sorcerer and later also is not fooled in the least by Heruta's attempts at brainwashing him.
    • Bazil also qualifies. He doesn't seem to have received any formal education other than combat training, but he still repeatedly displays wisdom and knowledge beyond that. This is most prominent in book five, where he learns the language of Ardu (and actually does better job at it than Relkin), later takes leadership over them, organizes them into an army that he leads against slavers of Mirchaz and actually proves to be a brilliant tactician — all this despite having no education in strategy and the dragons' hat of being generally poor at planning.
    • Unlike Relkin, who finished two classes in local school at least, Mono received no formal education at all. He claims that wife of his houselord Goole taught him how to read and write (though he admits he was never good at the latter), as well as some basic mathematics, and that's it.
    • Count Trego is an utter ignoramus in every matter except warfare and details of Czardhan nobility affairs. Argonathi witch Endysia actually embarrasses him by revealing that she read the Ballads of Medon, an exquisite work of art written in his homeland — that Count Trego himself has never read, only picking the most popular parts. Still, his gradual development into a better man shows that he is quite intelligent and capable of learning things previously unthinkable to him if he wants to.
  • Born in the Saddle: The Baguti are horse-riding nomads who live in the Gan region to the west of Argonath. Most indeed learn how to ride before they can even walk. Realistically, they're all bow-legged as a result. Mostly, they live through raiding others, taking slaves they then sell to the Padmasans, herding their horses across the Gan grasslands. Given their culture, the Baguti fights as horse archers or with scimitars, and they are far less effective on foot (Lessis takes full advantage of it when planning an ambush for one band).
  • Brainwashed:
    • Thrembode controls Princess Besita of Marneri with a spell that makes her his willing slave while he takes her to Tummuz Orgmeen. Once there, the Doom starts to work its influence on her too, brainwashing Besita slowly. It's interrupted when she's rescued by Lessis and co, but later she still requires treatment to break this.
    • The Sephists are hypnotized by their god Sephis (really a demon) in book two, making them become fanatical worshipers who gladly fight and kill for him.
  • Breeding Slave: The main villains of the novels use this as their main means of producing soldiers. Human women are used to breed imps as their primary infantry unit and animals are used in a similar fashion to breed their heavy units like trolls and ogres.
  • The Bully: Helena of Roth is constantly trying to get Lagdalen into trouble while they're both Senior Novices at the Temple in Marneri, tattling about anything wrong she does no matter how minor. It's immensely satisfying to see an attempt blow up in her face.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Because of his stupidity, Vlok is a frequent object of jokes, particularly from Purple-Green.
    • Nothing seems to work right for Glaves. His decision to join the legions in order to bolster his political status backfires when King Sanker dies, making him lose connections he previously had and getting him sent to actual war. He insults the Teetol, which leads to him getting challenged and beaten up by one of them. He tries to sell out his soldiers in exchange for means of fleeing from besieged Ourdh capital, but it fails when Bazil and Relkin escape captivity and effectively bring down the whole cult that he bargained with. He manages to commandeer a ship along with a band of other deserters, but they soon run her aground due to their incompetence and are captured by Captain Kesepton's team while arguing. Desertion and treason gets him thrown into prison and standing trial. However, he deserves every single second of it.
  • Call That a Formation?: This trope is both played straight and averted in the series — interestingly, usually with a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome. One of the main reasons why Argonath legions are such a Badass Army is that they are well trained and disciplined, usually making good use of formations in battle. On the other hand, when members of the opposing force attack in a disorderly mass, it almost always leads to them getting curb-stomped.
  • Call to Agriculture: The final novel ends with the main character Relkin and his dragon Bazil retiring to a life of farming after their term of military service is up. Several of his buddies in his old unit are also approaching retirement age and thinking of starting up their own farms next to Relkin's, starting a new town in the process.
  • The Captain:
    • Hollein Kesepton holds a rank of Captain and he is a badass officer, ready to fight alongside his men in the first line if necessary.
    • Like Kesepton before him, Rorker Eads is the Captain in charge of a squad that includes the 109th Dragon Squadron and he is both a competent officer and valiant soldier in his own right. In fact, he perishes along with many of his soldiers while fighting bravely at Sprian's Ridge.
  • Character Title: The first book and series overall is named for its major dragon character.
  • Charm Person: Lessis commonly uses spells to make people trust and like her, starting with her very first scene when Besita is affected by it.
  • Child Soldiers: The dragonboys are almost exclusively young orphans who join the army as teenagers. Relkin himself is only fourteen years old at the beginning of the series.
  • Common Tongue: There is one in the region where Argonath lies which many diverse peoples know. Its range isn't clear.
  • Compelling Voice: Witches (at least powerful ones such as Lessis) can make people answer them truthfully or obey commands through the "witch voice".
  • Cool Sword: Bazil's sword Ecator, which was given to him in the second book (aptly titled A Sword for a Dragon) in place of lost Piocar. It is enchanted and imbued with a spirit of the same name, making it basically indestructible, capable of cutting through any material and draining the life force of enemies it hits.
  • Corporal Punishment: Marneri uses "drubbing" while in the stocks as a punishment for minor crimes. Relkin only narrowly escapes this with Lagdalen's help after he gets caught stealing orchids.
  • Creating Life Is Bad: The Masters of Padmasa create new lifeforms regularly, and this is portrayed as a terrible evil. It's less the act itself though than how they do it-forcibly impregnating both women and female animals-along with the result-monsters used to wage war. Still, only they ever do it, and they're the main bad guys for most of the series.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Thrembode recalls that a teacher in Padmasa once was devoured from the inside slowly for some unstated offense by a Thingweight. It took weeks, apparently.
  • The Dark Arts: The Masters of Padmasa along with their servants practice magic which involves drawing blood, inflicting pain or killing to work. It's used for creating horrific war monsters through forcibly impregnating women or cattle.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The witches, who are good (if sometimes ruthless) often wear dark clothing, black included.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Relkin occasionally does show a dry wit, though he is usually wise enough to keep his personal opinion to himself.
    Purple-Green: Don't worry. I have a plan.
    Relkin: Oh, that's wonderful. How do you plan to cook it? I heard plans are not very nutritious.
    • Bazil very much so. Case in point, his comment after learning of the villains' intent to thoroughly search Relkin's mind after the latter has been captured:
    Bazil: That won't take them much time.
    • Purple-Green. Is he ever.
    Vlok: Ah, Roquil intends to fertilize the eggs of ancestors.
    Purple-Green: We all know that Vlok would rather eat them.
    • Or this one:
      Gryff: Who's talking to you? Not me, that's certain.
      Purple-Green: Well, I'm talking to you and that's all too certain.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: When Bazil and the Purple-Green of Hook Mountain meet for the first time, they end up fighting over a wild dragoness. Bazil wins the bout quite easily (he is armed with sword, while Purple-Green fights only with his bare claws and fangs) and, taking pity on his opponent, patches up his wound with a bandage. When they meet again later in Tummuz Orgmeen arena, they refuse to fight each other and instead enter an Enemy Mine alliance, freeing other prisoners and rising against their captors. In second book, the Purple-Green agrees to join the Argonathi army, and he and Bazil soon become close friends.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen:
    • Ribela of Defwode, when she first appears, is harsh and strictly authoritarian, interested mainly in getting the job done and having a lot of trouble showing that she cares about other people's feelings — particularly men, whom she deems inferior. However, after she spends some time among people, she becomes more sociable and sheds her prejudices (or she becomes far less obnoxious about them, at least).
    • Eilsa Ranardaughter, Relkin's future love interest, is hostile and mistrustful towards him and his comrades when they first meet — especially compared to her friend Silva, who is much more amiable and understanding. In time, though, after getting to know each other better as they all travel and fight Padmasan forces on their way together, they become Fire-Forged Friends and, eventually, Eilsa and Relkin fall in love with each other.
    • Downplayed by Digal Turrent. It's not that he becomes openly nice to his subordinates nor turns into a bona fide Father to His Men — he remains a strict officer to the very end. Nevertheless, over time he becomes less picky when it comes to following rules and starts to praise his men for their efforts more often. Dragonboys are downright shocked when Turrent openly commends them during the battle of Sprian's Ridge.
  • Demihuman: The Enemy uses imps, who are somewhat human-like and born from captured women, as their main foot soldiers. Elves appear occasionally as well, along with dwarves, with stereotypical shapes. Trolls and ogres also have the same basic body plan, but are clearly inhuman.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Relkin and Bazil manage to inflict this on Waakzaam three friggin' times. Firstly, Relkin delivers a serious wound to Dominator via a crossbow bolt, forcing him to retreat from the battle. Secondly, Bazil engages Waakzaam in a sword duel and actually defeats him (he fails to deal the killing blow then however). Finally, in the climax of Dragon Ultimate, they both destroy him for good, freeing all worlds of his evil.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The Masters of Padmasa along with their top servants are very harsh to underlings. Once the Doom of Tummuz Orgmeen had a sorcerer mutilated and made into one of the Doom's sensor slaves just for sneezing while in its presence (since they all have a huge contempt for human weaknesses).
    • Evander was subjected to it by Gadjung. Twice. The first time, he casts a curse on Evander in retaliation for saving Port Tarquil's mayor he tried to kill. The second time, he tries to subject the prince to a slow and painful death — even though he just delivered his prized Thymnal to him — because, apparently, there is no compensation for stabbing Gadjung with a knife and handicapping him as a result.
    • Penbar is oh, so fond of this. In his town, basically every offense — no matter how minor or inconsequential — seems to be punishable either by stoning to death or flogging. Then take into consideration that what he considers a crime, any sane person would consider exercising your basic rights like freedom of speech. He sentences a nameless sailor to death simply because he said (correctly) that Dian is just his follower's version of deity known as the Great Mother and plans to subject Relkin to a similar fate simply because... he just happened to be there, talking to said sailor.
  • Divide and Conquer: Waakzaam's first attempted strategy at destroying the Argonath involves sowing dissent between its kingdoms and provinces, hoping the empire will be fragmented as a result. This ultimately fails. Although the Marneri province Aubinas does secede from the empire, the resulting uprising is quickly suppressed, and Waakzaam himself is attacked by Bazil and Relkin, forcing him to retreat through an interdimensional gate and thus preventing him from spreading his influence in Argonath any further.
  • Does Not Like Men: Ribela of Defwode, along with many other witches, dislikes and distrusts men (which makes her backhanded compliments toward them on occasion very notable). Defwode is the most misandrist region of the Cunfshon Isles. Thrembode the New, an enemy magician, thinks of the whole area as being a hellhole for men, saying a man who strikes a woman is castrated there, and rapists hanged (however, that's in the lens of his own misogyny).
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Deconstructed in book four. During a long voyage to the Eigo continent, a female sailor named Birjit has an unhealthy interest in Swane and attempts to rape him after luring him to her quarters. He manages to escape, but she keeps stalking him and they both soon become an object of jokes. Swane himself, however, does not find the whole situation humorous at all. It eventually nearly leads to a tragedy when Birjit tries to force Swane to have sex with her by threatening him with a knife and is mortally stabbed in the resulting struggle — only timely intervention by Relkin and Jak and patching up the wound saves her from certain death. To make things worse, the misconception that rape can only be inflicted by a man on a woman is what leads their commanding officer to disbelieve their story, accuse them of ganging up on Birjit in order to rape her and almost get them punished for a crime they did not commit.
  • Dragon Rider: Mostly averted in the series. The named character is a dragon, with no wings but bipedal (and can't breathe fire either), but he has (like all war-dragons of his culture) a squire (called a "dragonboy" here) named Relkin, who is depicted on the cover of the first book as riding him. Dragonboys are not however dedicated riders, but attend the dragons (used to counter the bad guy's trolls and ogres) by doing things like camp chores, cooking and keeping their dragon's weapons and armor in fighting trim, as well as occasional fighting by standing behind their dragons under the tail and engaging any infantry who try to flank the dragon to hamstring them.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Dragons of Argonath are widely feared by servants of Padmasa (and for good reasons, too), especially imps, who often panic at the mere sight of them.
    • Everyone who knows about Gog Zagozt seems to be terrified of him. Ribela herself acknowledges his being dispatched to Ourdh by the Masters in order to oversee their plans personally is very, very bad news. Even Ourdhi Emperor Banwi — who previously dismissed Gog Zagozt as a product of silly superstitions — nearly craps his pants when the sorcerer has the emperor brought before him and introduces himself.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: To infiltrate a fortress guarding outside Tummuz Orgmeen where Thrembode has Besita, Lessis and some of the soldiers dress as Baguti, with the rest appearing like Teetol slaves. It gets them in past the guards.
  • Dwindling Party: In the first book, Captain Kepteson's command of nearly a hundred steadily dwindles to around twenty as a result of battle casualties. Only a handful of survivors return, including him.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Thingweights are creatures like huge dark clouds that live in the Void, a huge ethereal plane from which a person can travel to anywhere else... assuming they avoid the Thingweights. If caught by them then people are slowly devoured. They have some kind of tentacles as well to grasp people.
  • The Empire: Padmasa is a brutal one whose goal is world domination, constantly trying to conquer everyone else, ruled by utterly ruthless ancient sorcerers breeding monsters for this purpose, with many spies throughout other lands furthering their plan.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Padmasa accepts greedy, power-hungry people who harbor a secret hatred for the rest of the world from every race and nation. In fact, there appears to be no Padmasan ethnicity - Padmasans are simply people from all over who have flocked to the Masters’ banner. Women are mostly desired as breeding slaves, but they have some along with men too if they're useful in other ways.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Wiliger first arrives to the 109th quarters by going there straight from a luxurious dinner — along with an entourage of his friends (including a few ladies) — drunk on wine and dressed in an outdated dragon commander's uniform with overgrown (and possibly made of gold), irregular "109" sign on his cap. Due to intoxication, he acts nice and cordially towards the dragonboys at first, but soon decides to go on a small impromptu inspection, loudly criticizing the squires that parts of their gear are not properly cleaned. When he meets a dragon for the first time — who, as if things couldn't be worse, happens to be Purple-Green — he instantly goes into dragon freeze and Relkin notes that he seems to suffer the worst from it (even worse than the ladies he brought). In a very short timespan, Wiliger managed to show everything that's wrong with him, and all the dragonboys know from day one serving under him is not going to be a walk in the park.
    • Glaves is first introduced when trying to rent a cabin on a civilian ship (by which Bazil and Relkin happen to be travelling) in order to get to Fort Dalhousie. When he's informed that all cabins are taken, he doesn't care, demands to get one anyway and ends up kicking out its original inhabitant. When the ship's captain tries to protest, he uses Dandrax to intimidate him. Later he even refuses to pay for the voyage, complaining about the living conditions.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: While not evil per se (aside from one who aids the Sephisti casting a spell against Emperor Banwi) Ourdh's eunuch court officials are all completely obstructive, hindering Ribela at every turn even though she's trying her best to save them, apparently just out of territorial jealousy and/or obedience toward the Emperor's petty whims.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: When an expeditionary force consisting of Argonath and its allies travels through the ancient jungle on Eigo on their way to the Kraheen empire, they come under frequent attacks from aggressive local fauna, which was quite obviously based on real-world dinosaurs and terror birds. In-universe, though, they are called "pujish" by Ardu and "kebbolds" by people of Mirchaz. Their similarity to dragons does not go without a lampshade, though dragons themselves — after initial fascination wears off — are usually offended by suggestion that they may share common ancestors with such wild and vile beasts.
    Bazil: [after being called "kebbold" one time too many] For the ancestors' fiery breath, I am not a kebbold more than you are a monkey!
  • Eviler than Thou: The Masters of Padmasa are the main villains for most of the series, being in charge of an evil empire which constantly threatens the homeland of our main heroes. However, when Dominator takes the scene in book six, they are instantly eclipsed by him on threat level scale. In the final book, they are basically reduced to his Unwitting Pawns.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous:
    • Heruta's magical path to power has heavily altered his body. His eyes are fiery yellow and his entire body is covered in a layer of green horn-like tissue.
    • Gog Zagozt's body was twisted by the very same dark magic that the Masters themselves use, although in his case, the transformation is not complete. The upper half of his face is that of a normal human, but the lower half — including mouth — has turned into a horny beak.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Lessis says this in the first book, warning officials of Marneri that the Enemy need only get one decisive victory to destroy them all, while they must stop every major attack.
  • Evil Overlord: The Masters of Padmasa are five immortal evil wizards living in their underground citadel who direct their forces to take over the world, as the books' main villains.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Masters of Padmasa, five ancient malevolent wizards, lead the Enemy. Many other lesser wizards also serve them with the same character, practicing magic based on blood, pain and death to create monsters which they can take over the world by using in their armies.
  • Evil Wears Black: Padmasa's human soldiers wear black uniforms, along with its sorcerers.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Waakzaam the Great looks like a tall and handsome elf. Beneath that facade, he is an utterly cruel and remorseless Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Familiar: Lessis and Ribela are both bonded to animals, using them as spies, messengers or a source of power. For Lessis it's birds, Ribela has mice.
  • Fantastic Drug: Bazil is drugged by Thrembode in the first book with the fumes of Vermillion Swinebane, a fictional fungus which causes dragons to lose their minds. He gets saved by a remedy.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Played with regarding the humans and dragons. The latter are integrated into civilized society and both races generally get along just fine. However, there are still humans who either dislike dragons or are even openly prejudiced towards them. Sometimes it's for understandable reasons (for example, the size of dragons makes them somewhat cumbersome in towns and prone to unintentionally causing accidents), sometimes it's just out of pure hatred. Also, although formally part of Argonathian society, dragons seem like second-class citizens, since none of them hold any important positions and for the most part, they are either soldiers (and even then, they cannot be promoted and hold no ranks) or physical workers or farmers.
    • Moreover, there are other nations than Argonath in Ryetelth, and their inhabitants tend to perceive dragons as mere animals and find it hard to believe (sometimes even in the face of obvious evidence) that they are actually sentient beings.
    • The dragons, on the other hand, hold a firm belief that they are a superior race and although they do not tend to rub it in humans' faces, they still like to mock the homo sapiens for their perceived inadequacies like lack of tails or preoccupation with sex (or "fertilizing the eggs", as dragons call it). This is partially a reason for their dismissive attitude towards their dragonboys (however, they sing to a different tune the moment their dragonboy is threatened).
    • The wild, winged dragons think poorly of their wingless Argonathi brethren, seeing them as weak, earth-bound worms and slaves to the humans.
    • The Golden Elves (those in Mirchaz, at least) take this trope up to eleven. They basically equate themselves to gods and view all races on Ryetelth as inferior. One of them, in conversation in Relkin, openly declares that he's as superior to him as Relkin is superior to an animal.
    • The inhuman rulers of Padmasa have a contempt for humans, especially their "weaknesses" like bodily urges and needs, harshly repressing them in their domain beyond what's absolutely necessary. All humans are for them nothing except minions or slaves.
    • Dook apparently perceives dragons as little more than animals, since he sees nothing wrong in capturing them and selling as slaves to Ourdh, knowing they will most likely be killed and eaten as a tasty delicacy. Given the fact that dragons in this universe are fully sentient and intelligent beings, the idea of eating them basically equals to cannibalism.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • The Teetol are a tribal people who seem similar to Native Americans with their names, specifically like the Iroquois since men have their heads shaved except for top knots while having a strong honor-bound warrior culture, plus they live in lodges (however Iroquois women had much greater status).
    • Baguti are horse-riding nomads who resemble the Mongols somewhat, also being proud warriors.
    • Ourdh is an ancient empire which has strong Middle Eastern influences in customs and clothing. High male officials wear turbans, with women wearing concealing veils and head coverings. Many ziggurats are there too. Gingo-La, an Ourdhi goddess, is also described like Kali from Hinduism with her death aspect.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Veronath, the empire which preceded Argonath, worshiped many gods. Argonathi have largely abandoned this for worship of the Goddess, though the old gods' statues are still found in isolated places. The three which the books mention are Caymo (their god of chance and wine), Asgah (god of war) and Gongo, ruler of the dead and hell.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Hollein Kesepton truly cares about soldiers under his command, and growing casualties among them nearly causes him to rebel against Lessis' leadership more than once. He also seems to have no trouble developing a camaraderie and even close friendship with common, low-ranking soldiers, such as Relkin.
    • Rorker Eads' genuine concern for his men is best evidenced when Jak — a lowly dragonboy — is arrested by Kohon city officials for supposed blasphemy against their deity. Eads personally intervenes when sentence is about to be carried out, taking a lot of his soldiers and dragons with him in order to intimidate the local judges and their supporters into submission.
    • Wiliger eventually develops into this. After the battle of Tog Utbek, he drops the Jerkass attitude entirely, tries to give medical aid to dragons who lost their squires (he proves to be incompetent at it, but points for trying — and taking their rejection in stride) and comforts those dragonboys who suffered a similar fate. When it is discovered that some of his men survived and were brought to enemy headquarters, he instantly volunteers to join a small squad to infiltrate said headquarters and save the prisoners. After the expeditionary force returns to Argonath, he willingly resigns from command of 109th, ashamed of his actions and painfully aware that it was a bad idea from the start.
    • Cuzo is described as a plodder at first and has a hard time earning genuine respect from dragons and squires under his command. However, they finally accept him after the incident with poisoned fish pie. When dragonboys perform an improvised gastric lavage on their dragons in order to save them, Cuzo readily joins them and later helps them clean up the resulting mess, getting sweaty and dirty just like his subordinates.
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • The Padmasan rulers take this trope and run with it. Although they are Obviously Evil — engaging in war crimes, widely practising slavery and treating common people (especially women) like dirt — they will act polite, pretend to be your friends and offer you riches and power if only they think you can be useful. They don't mean any of it, though, and see you only as a pawn. When Bazil is imprisoned in Tummuz Orgmeen, the Doom ruling the city has him brought before it, then claims he is its friend, offers him wealth and honors and promises to make him a general in its army. Naturally, Bazil tells it to shove off. In book four, when Relkin is captured and interrogated by Heruta himself, the latter tries to sway him to his side by acting friendly towards him and offering to make him king of Marneri. Relkin sees through his lies right away, but decides to pretend he swallowed them.
    • There are very good reasons why Waakzaam is known (among other things) as the Deceiver. When he thinks that using brute force in conquest of a new world is not a feasible option, he will come to its inhabitants with a wide smile and smooth talk, offering them his friendship and pretending to have the best intentions (usually by promising to make their world great and glorious again). In reality, he sows dissent between them, setting them against each other until they basically destroy themselves. Once they are too weak to defend themselves, he drops the act completely and slaughters the remaining opposition. He already managed to conquer many worlds that way (like the Eleem home world of Orthond, which is visited in The Wizard and the Floating City side story), but when he tries it against Ryetelth and Argonath empire, it fortunately fails.
  • The Federation: The Empire of the Rose is an alliance among the city-states in Argonath along with the Cunfshon Isles nearby against the threat posed by Padmasa to the north. Each city-state has much autonomy, with the Emperor having limited power over them, and cooperate mostly in the face of a Padmasan invasion. Otherwise, they squabble and bicker constantly. The Cunfshon witches manipulate them behind the scenes to fight the threat better, including even assassinating troublesome rulers in Argonath, while Padmasan agents seek to keep them more divided.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • When Swane and Relkin meet for the first time in book two, they start out as bitter rivals, mostly due to Swane's resentment over the fact that Relkin is already a famous and decorated soldier due to his and Bazil's actions in previous novel. This makes Swane assume that Relkin is a case of Small Name, Big Ego. During campaign in Ourdh Empire, they grow fond of each other and eventually, Swane openly admits that he misjudged Relkin, shaking his hand and officially ending their rivalry.
    • Rakama and Swane start as rivals who frequently get into fights with each other, but eventually mellow out and become the closest friends to each other within the squadron.
    • Purple-Green has this multiple times.
      • He and Bazil start off on the wrong foot when they meet in the wild. However, after Purple-Green joins the 109th and struggles to adapt to his new life with Bazil's help, they soon become very close friends.
      • Vlok is initially disdainful towards Purple-Green and mocks his fighting technique. However, when his bullying causes a fight, forcing Bazil to intervene and put Vlok in his place, he mellows out, buries the hatchet and develops a camaraderie with his comrades.
    • Unlike many of his kin, he is grateful to Relkin for rescuing them from slavers, trusts him basically from day one and they both grow very close to each other during their campaign against slavers. When Relkin is abducted by said slavers himself and Bazil intends to wage war against Mirchaz in order to liberate his dragonboy, Norwul readily supports him.
  • Friendly Rival:
    • Despite befriending Relkin in the end, Swane still occasionally acts this way towards him, invariably eager to prove that he is no worse as a man and a soldier.
    • Burthong towards Bazil. They duel in the tournament and Bazil ends up only barely winning the fight, to Burthong's disappointment. Afterwards though, they both compliment each other's skills and part on good terms. When they meet again later, they recall their previous battle and it seems both are looking forward for a rematch.
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • Lessis is a wise and powerful witch, but she can handle herself all right in direct fight. In fact, she scores more kills in melee combat than due to her spells.
    • Alsebra is a battle dragoness who happens to be both deadly and graceful with her sword, as well as highly intelligent.
  • Genius Loci: Every gate of Marneri is protected by a spirit against outside invaders, aided by spells cast annually which protect the walls.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Unlike many other characters outside Argonath, Evander seems to be aware that he's living in a fantasy world where magic and supernatural phenomena do exist. Thus, when he visits another world and discovers impending danger at the hands of Waakzaam the Great, he knows that the best reasonable course of action is to deliver the news to Argonath, since only there he is going to find people ready to hear him out and believe him.
    • Like Evander, Serena is fully aware that what they both discovered in the Orthond world means their own world Ryetelth is in danger and the only place where their warning will be taken seriously is Argonath.
  • Gladiator Games: These are very popular in Tummuz Orgmeen, with its ruler "loving the games", as does the city populace under its influence. Captive soldiers from Argonath are forced to fight there commonly for entertainment.
  • Gladiator Revolt: At the end of the first book, the characters are being held as prisoners in Tummuz Orgmeen where they're made to fight enemy soldiers. When their side wins (not without losses) against all odds, the city authorities give them the chance to join their side. After they refuse, they're ordered killed and attacked, but manage to fight out of the arena, sparking a slave revolt and eventually winning.
  • God: The Great Mother is described as having the attributes usually given to God, i.e. being creator of everything, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omnipresent etc. Her followers don't necessarily deny that other gods exist, but insist they're lesser beings created by her. Also no images are made of her, aligning with Abrahamic prohibitions.
  • Golem: Bad guys make multiple fighting golems in the series, from material such as mud or steel.
  • Gorn: Rowley tends to describe battles in great detail, from a viewpoint of an ordinary soldier (usually Bazil or Relkin) and is not squeamish in the least when it comes to the bloodshed and dismemberment that inevitably ensues. This trope is taken up to eleven, though, in the battle of Salpalangum in book two. Basically, a numerically superior but undisciplined horde of religious fanatics openly attacks the well-trained and organized legions of Argonath (who have dragons in their ranks, you know), employing Hollywood Tactics and Call That a Formation? tropes — which leads to a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome as they are all hacked into mincemeat.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Sinni, the children of Fate, are mentioned throughout the series as those who oversee the entire conflict on Ryetelth (which is just a small part of a greater struggle in the multiverse known as the Sphereboard of Destiny), though they do not interfere into it directly. They make an appearance in person in the final book of the series and by then, it is also revealed that Relkin actually used to be one of them, but was reborn as a human and made into a living weapon against the Dominator.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper:
    • Purple-Green is prone to bouts of anger and gets particularly livid when somebody pushes one of his Berserk Buttons.
    • Eads is apparently known among the cadre for his hot temperament. In particular, he is absolutely livid when he finds out that Penbar, the local judge in Kohon, tried to have one of his men condemned without his consent and for no good reason. He seems close to drawing his sword and personally killing Penbar, openly calls him a fanatic and a murderer, and even threatens to put him in a military court before real judges.
  • Hated by All:
    • Porteous Glaves is a pompous jerkass hated by all of his subordinates immediately as he makes them wear outdated leather collars that are very uncomfortable. He only makes himself more unpopular, and turns out to be a cowardly traitor as well.
    • Nobody among his subordinates likes Digal Turrent — neither humans, nor dragons, as he's a tyrant who enjoys punishing subordinates. Their feelings are apparently reciprocated. Fortunately, they all get better eventually.
    • Humans and dragons under Delwild Wiliger's command dislike him even more than Turrent (who, at the very least, knew what he was doing) at first, as he's a Mood-Swinger jerkass.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Glaves has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, he's just an utterly selfish, cowardly asshole.
    • In the short time we get to know Dook prior to his death, there is nothing remotely likable about him. He's just a greedy man catching dragons to sell, who he knows are likely to get eaten.
    • Penbar is a crazy fanatic who executes people for having any ideas of their own or willingness to have some joy and fun in their lives. That's all that can be said about him.
  • Healing Potion: Bazil loses the tip of his tail to a sore loser during a bout in the first book. Its regrown with a magical potion Lessis has made up, but juts out slightly, resulting in his "broketail" nickname.
  • He-Man Woman Hater:
    • The Talionese people are the most resistant to witches' interference with their land or its monarchy, even when that's definitely for the best. It's not just because they're outsiders, but least in the soldiers' case dislike of women in power, within their country or out.
    • Heruta displays this attitude when explaining his beliefs to Relkin and Lessis. He believes that conquest is a fundamental masculine urge and that men cannot be free without being the masters of women.
  • Heroic BSoD: Bazil enters an extended one in book five after Relkin goes missing in the ancient jungle and is believed dead (in reality, he was captured by slavers). He blames himself for leaving his dragonboy without protection and stops taking care of himself whatsoever, refusing to talk or eat.
  • Hero Killer: Puxdool the troll, champion of Tummuz Orgmeen's arena, manages to kill Nesessitas by crippling her via a lucky shot to the knee, stabbing her in the chest when she is eventually sapped of strength due to pain and blood loss and beheading her. Poor Nessi. Luckily, her death is soon avenged by Bazil.
  • Hero of Another Story: Evander is the main protagonist of The Wizard and the Floating City side story, unrelated to the main Bazil Broketail series apart from the fact that it's taking place in the same setting. ​Serena is the deuteragonist of the sotry.
  • High Priest: A number of minor characters are high priests or priestesses, along with a couple bishops, abbesses etc. Lessis herself is high-ranking in the clergy of the Great Mother, though she isn't described this way. The others head up the clergy of a particular god, religious order and or location though, fitting this trope.
  • Hive Mind: An interesting variation. Each Padmasan city is governed by a Doom — a malevolent and sentient entity, created by dark magic and sealed within an inanimate object (the one in charge of Tummuz Orgmeen, depicted in the first book, inhabited a featureless sphere made of stone and used three possessed humans as its senses). They do not control the actions of their citizens directly, but they still influence them all subtly, driving them to evil and instilling absolute loyalty in them. Tellingly, when the Doom of Tummuz Orgmeen is destroyed by Bazil, all citizens suddenly lose all allegiance to Padmasa they had, pack up their stuff and quickly leave the city en masse.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Thrembode the New, a magician who serves the Masters of Padmasa, no longer believes any gods exist, as he reasons they wouldn't have let pure evil wizards like them gain such power.
  • Horse Archer: The Baguti, a horse-riding, nomadic people, are deadly using short bows from horseback, plus scimitars. Lessis therefore sets things up so they have to dismount and attack the Argonathi on foot to nullify this.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Just like his dragon Gryff, Rakama is aggressive and prone to violence. Fancy that.
    • Gryff is very aggressive, acting like a bully towards other dragons and picking fights with Purple-Green, despite the fact that the wild dragon is much bigger and stronger than him.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Masters of Padmasa were once men, but no longer have human features, instead looking very monstrous.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Enemy's magic frequently makes use of human sacrifices. For instance, Thrembode the New kills a woman and mutilates her to disrupt a protective spell cast annually upon the city of Marneri.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Magic users in the setting who are powerful enough can conjure a Black Mirror — an interdimensional gateway that leads to ethereal void, through which they can travel to any place, in any world. While staying there is not lethal per se, it's still inhabited by scary Eldritch Abominations that are very dangerous to the travellers and will attack on sight.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: While imprisoned in Tummuz Orgmeen, Bazil and Nesessitas are fed some sort of unidentified meat. When Bazil furiously demands that their captors reveal what it is, he is told that it is from humans killed in the arena. He does not take it well.
  • I Call It "Vera": The series seems to take the military training route; humans don't name any of their weapons, but nearly every dragon soldier seems to have named their personal blade, whether or not it's enchanted.
    • Bazil's original dragon sword was named Piocar. After losing it in the first novel's finale, he was given another, more powerful sword called Ecator.
    • Kepabar wielded a dragon sword called Gingle.
    • Nesessitas' dragon sword was named Mercuri.
    • Vlok wields a sword named Katzbalger.
    • Burthong's dragon sword is named Herak.
    • Alsebra's sword is called Undaunt. It is described as quite small for a dragon sword, but beautifully crafted.
    • Chektor and Purple-Green are some of the few named dragons to avert this trope, using unnamed, standard-issue blades instead of unique swords made for them.
  • Immortal Ruler: The Masters of Padmasa are five evil wizards who have lived for centuries already. Collectively they rule over Padmasa as its totalitarian overlords.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
    • Relkin shows a surprisingly great resistance to brainwashing — be it by magic or indoctrination — no-selling attempts made by Heruta and even Waakzaam. It is eventually revealed that it's because he is actually a reincarnated Sinni, who was remade anew as a living weapon against Dominator.
    • Bazil, and dragons in general, are also this. Unlike humans — who are often motivated by greed and thus easily swayed to the side of evil with promises of hefty reward — dragons have a simplistic worldview and feel absolutely no need to accumulate wealth and power for themselves. They also hate Padmasa with a passion for previous atrocities against their race, making them loyal allies of Argonath, easily conforming to its ideals of freedom and equality. To put the cherry on top, their resistance to magic makes them immune to spells like mind control that would easily corrupt any ordinary human. In the final book, the Sinni outright call dragons a role model for humans in a world full of Waakzaam's betrayal.
  • Informed Attribute: All over the place. While main protagonists do get proper development, Rowley tends to take shortcuts when it comes to defining other characters, talking about them rather than showing their actual actions. Sometimes this is understandable, like when we he's trying to give some sort of a characterization to a Red Shirt who perishes in battle, but can be quite jarring when a recurring character gets enough screentime to be properly developed, but they either remain flat or what we're told about them contradicts their behaviour. Two examples which arguably stand out the most are Kepabar and Nesessitas:
    • Informed Ability: The former is described as a good friend of Bazil and a squad prankster known for his jokes and funny monologues, but he shares exactly one scene with the eponymous hero prior to his death and what he has to say it not really humorous (unless someone finds him complaining about food hilarious).
    • Informed Flaw: The latter is stated to be inclined to dragonish dourness, but her later actions (saving Relkin and comforting him when he breaks out crying in despair) paint her as one of the most kind-hearted of dragons depicted in the series.
  • Inter-Service Rivalry:
    • Within the Argonathi legions, the cavalry and the dragon corps share a mutual dislike and find it very hard to cooperate. The former hate the latter because their horses are instinctively afraid of dragons — making them all the harder to control in battle and requiring a special training — while dragonboys are smug rather than helpful in that regard. The latter hate the former because cavalrymen are usually people from good families (including aristocracy) and thus consider themselves superior to lowly dragonboys, who are recruited almost exclusively among orphans.
    • The Marneri infantry and Talionese cavalry get along quite poorly in many cases, mainly due to Culture Clash, as the Talionese have a brash attitude while disliking the witches. Marneri folks on the other hand are more humble, down to earth and follow the witches more.
    • When an expedition consisting of Argonathi legions and contingents from the allied nations of Czardha and Kassim is sent to Eigo, it inevitably leads to rivalry between the three separate armies, stemming both from eagerness to prove their worth over others and cultural differences. The Argonathi dragon corps gets arguably the most flak, given the fact that it consists of reptilian beasts that foreign people consider mere animals and their combat capability is frequently questioned. It reaches a boiling point when a drunk Czardhan knight, Hervaze of Gensch, attacks Bazil with full intent to kill him, as if he was a mindless beast from Saint George-esque stories that can be murdered with impunity, rather than a soldier in service of an allied army.
  • Jerkass:
    • Vlok acts like one at first. He grows out of it quickly, though.
    • Porteous Glaves is a rich, pompous asshole whom everyone hates.
    • After joining the 109th Dragon Squadron, Gryff is initially a bully who picks on others for little to no reason. He grows out of it, though.
    • Turrent is a tyrannical officer who seems to take pleasure in punishing his subordinates for trivial reasons and exert the power he has over them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: King Sanker of Marneri might be a stubborn, spiteful old man but he's entirely logical to doubt that Besita is his child, as her mother had many affairs. It isn't clear how succession works in Marneri, though for actually medieval monarchies like this resembles that would preclude her becoming queen. Oddly though no barrier except his disapproval exists to her succession though.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Bazil is this towards Relkin. He tends to belittle him and underappreciate his services, but he still treats him as his little brother and is always there for him. It's actually a really common tendency among dragons and their dragonboys. The former may act outwardly dismissive or downright nasty towards the latter, but they are in fact very protective of them and threatening or harming the dragon's (or dragoness') boy in any way is the shortest route to pushing their Berserk Button.
    • Ribela of Defwode spent many years travelling in the ethereal void with no contact with any other human being, working against the Enemy from the shadows. As a result, when she is called back to the real world, she quickly turns out to have the social skills of Attila the Hun. She is abrasive, hardly appreciates other people's efforts, tends to make backhanded compliments when she does try to show appreciation and holds prejudices towards men. Still, she is generally well-meaning and firmly on the side of good. Also, she does gain some humility and warm up throughout the series.
    • Swane is blunt and reckless, often acting nastily towards other dragonboys and endangering himself or others. However, he is still a loyal companion who does care about his teammates.
    • Despite his aggressive demeanor, Rakama is still a loyal companion who eventually befriends his biggest rival in 109th and truly cares about his colleagues, as evidenced when he beats up a young Upper-Class Twit in retaliation for assaulting their fellow dragonboy Curf.
    • Alsebra, the dragoness who joins the 109th Dragon Squadron in book three, is rough around the edges, likes to show off her superior intelligence to other dragons, hates being nice and can be whimsical at times, but is otherwise also quite personable and truly cares about her squadmates — dragons and humans alike.
    • In spite of his all his flaws — arrogance and prejudices in particular —Count Trego repeatedly proves that he is a decent man at heart. Though he considers himself superior to General Baxander (who, despite his rank, is a commoner with no title), he does not rub it in his face and cooperates with him just fine. Also despite his biases towards women, he still treats them with respect. Moreover, he eventually sheds his prejudices entirely and develops a genuine bond of companionship with his Argonathi allies — including Lessis.
  • Keystone Army: Once the Blunt Doom of Tummuz Orgmeen is destroyed, everyone under it loses the will to fight and flees the city, in despair at its loss.
  • The Lancer:
    • Swane acts as a frequent foil to Relkin. He's hot-headed and prone to anger when somebody steps on his ego, while Relkin is reasonable and calm. Swane is very eager to prove his worth, Relkin just wants to do his job right and survive. Swane is the main troublemaker among the dragonboys, often disregarding official regulations and inciting others to do the same, while Relkin is — along with Manuel — the most responsible one, usually supporting the most rational choice of action.
    • Purple-Green is a wild dragon who was suddenly forced to live a civilized life and adhere to many rules that come with it. It is thus only natural that he is the one to openly question those rules and provoke other dragons — Bazil in particular — to bend or break them.
  • Land of One City: Argonath includes nine city states in a federation. Marneri is the one the stories mostly focus on, since this is where the main heroes come from.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Relkin has shades of this in the first few volumes, though not for expected reasons. He doesn't throw himself into mortal danger out of mere recklessness, but desperation — usually when Bazil is in danger. He picks a fight with a troll (and ends up disemboweling it) when it gains advantage over his dragon in a sword duel and runs head-first against a demon from another dimension when it's pummeling his comrades.
    • Swane is a bit too eager to prove himself in battle and as a consequence he tends to act first and think later (or never at all).
    • Jumble separated from his squadron in a reckless, lone pursuit after fleeing enemies. If he hadn't done that, he would've still been alive.
    • Wiliger tends to suffer from this when he's not currently paralyzed with fear. During the battle of Koubha, he bravely leads the charge of his squadron at the enemy... despite the fact that he puts himself at danger of getting beheaded by his own dragons' swords that way. This forces the dragons to speed up in order to overtake him and he nearly gets trampled as a result.
  • Light Is Not Good: Lessis works a Padmasan spell that uses sacrificing a rat and the residue of a Thingweight to create a huge flash of light which blinds the Baguti nomads helping Thrembode take Besita to the Blunt Doom. She is one of the good guys however, using it against evil and only in desperation, so it's a bit zigzagged.
  • Lizard Folk: Dragons of Argonath definitely have shades of this trope, being essentially bipedal, sentient and tool-using lizards who live within a civilized society. Just don't even think of calling them "lizards" to their faces. That won't end well. Also, they're good guys, unlike most examples.
  • Logical Weakness: Witch spells are spoken usually, so some people counter this by using earplugs, keeping them from being affected.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: The cruel despot Mach Ingbok built a huge statue of himself in his city Duggoth, sneering down over his subjects. Now his city is in ruins, with only his statute left of him, though some of his dark incluence affects people in the area still.
  • Love at First Sight: Evander falls in love with Serena the moment he sees her. His feelings towards her are quickly reciprocated.
  • Made a Slave: In the Kenor region Argonath is colonizing, they're frequently raided for slaves by the Teetol living near them (usually women). In turn, Teetol also sell their own women, and some are taken as slaves by Baguti horse nomads. Ourdh commonly sells women as well. Ardue are also frequently enslaved by slave traders from Merchaz. In every case the buyer is Padmasa, using them as breeding slaves, with the fact only harming them too in the end as the Padmasans will then use them to create monsters and conquer everyone with these in the long run if they can.
  • Magical Incantation: Witches' magic involves lengthy incantations usually, which must be memorized and recited perfectly to make the spell work.
  • Magical Society:
    • Argonath and Cunfshon witches have an overall organization, with individual orders within it they belong to.
    • Padmasan sorcerers are also members of a group, with ranks up to the Masters, while below them are Mesomasters.
  • Magic Knight: Magic users tend to be skilled fighters too, since spells require lengthy incantantians and rituals (at least those useful for battle) and they must often protect themselves by mundane means.
  • Magocracy: The Masters of Padmasa, five evil wizards, rule their empire and seek to conquer the entire world. Argonath nominally has muggle rulers, but the Cunfshon witches exert strong (often unofficial) influence (such as by assassinating monarchs and heirs who prove to be troublesome). They rule the Cunfshon Isles openly and officially too.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The Cunfshon witches have assassinated many rulers in Argonath over the centuries whom they deemed as dangerous in some way, while making it appear accidental.
  • Maker of Monsters: The Masters of Padmasa along with their servants create many monsters to fight for them.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: King Sanker of Marneri doesn't believe Besita is his daughter, since her mother had numerous affairs (which he had her executed for). He hates Besita as a result, and kept her from ever marrying because her children might become pretenders.
  • Manchild: Emperor Banwi of Ourdh is a pampered, spoiled man used to drinking or sleeping with his harem whenever he'd like. He throws petulant fits when forced to make himself a true ruler by Rybela, with many childish complaints over it now that he can't simply have his bureaucrats handle everything.
  • Master Swordsman: ​Bazil is easily the best sword fighter in the whole series, widely known for his many victories over mighty foes like the Doom of Tummuz Orgmeen, Malacostracan Gammadion and even the Dominator. Some other named battle dragons like Alsebra or Burthong are particularly skilled with a sword as well.
  • Matriarchy: The Cunfshon Isles are clearly dominated by women (specifically witches), though the degree varies. Some regions like Defwode are quite known as misandrist. Women from other regions though don't show this misandry, respecting men (such as Lessis of Valmes).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Lessis dresses solely and only in grey and she is known as the Grey Lady. Her second nickname — Mistress of Birds — also qualifies, since she seems magically connected to those animals, can communicate with them and even make them obey her commands, which allows Lessis to use them for scouting, spying or delivering messages.
    • Just like Lessis — known as the Mistress of Birds — seems magically connected to birds, Ribela — know as the Queen of Mice — seems to have magical connection with those little rodents. They not only follow her commands, but are used by her in magical rituals in order to boost her powers.
    • Literally, Ajoth Gol Dib's name means "the one who must" in Kraht.
  • Medieval Stasis: If a random date appearing in the first novel is to be believed, then Ryetelth (or at least Argonath) is currently in its twenty-second century (of whatever calendar), yet barring some advancements in certain areas like medicine, the technology used there is still on early medieval level. Interestingly, in book four we learn that this trope is actually enforced. It turns out Lessis and other witches are fully aware what scientific discoveries may lie ahead of them, but actively discourage technological advancement since they are afraid of the dangers it poses. According to Lessis, there are already seven dead worlds in the universe where the locals took that path and eventually destroyed themselves (presumably in nuclear war).
  • Mildly Military:
    • Wiliger seems to know little about official regulations or just deliberately ignores them — best evidenced in that he keeps wearing irregular uniforms that are either entirely outdated or composed of clothes he personally selected on his own whim. He also plasters an overgrown "109" sign to his cap to proclaim left and right that he's serving in a famous unit (until his subordinates point out that it's against the regimen).
    • At least compared to his predecessors, who actually were needlessly harsh when it came to enforcing the regimen. While by no means negligent, Cuzo has a rather lax style of commanding. He doesn't even seem to care that much when some of his subordinates abandon their posts.
  • Military Brat:
    • Manuel comes from a family known for its long military tradition and his many ancestors served in elite and respectable units... which is why his father did not take it well when he decided to become a lowly dragonboy.
    • It is implied that Hollein comes from a family with long military tradition — at least we know his grandfather is a respected and decorated general for sure. Hollein isn't happy about that, though, since it means he has a lot to live up to. Also, there are many detractors within the legions (even his own unit) who claim that he got his current position due to his grandfather's backing.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Thrembode enchanting Relkin and drugging Bazil to prevent them interfering with his plot to assassinate the king reveals it later to Lessis when she investigates after treating them.
  • The Mole: The Doom realizes after Thrembode relates a spell which Lessis cast that an agent of the witches is within the Padmasan hierarchy feeding them information on their magic, worrying it deeply.
  • Monster Knight: This is the staple of the series. The eponymous hero and his kin there are essentially wingless, bipedal dragons, integrated into human society in the Argonathi empire and serving in its legions as heavy shock troops. In battle, they wield huge longswords and are clad in plate armor. Although technically they are not knights (there are no nobles among the dragons of Argonath), each one of them does have his (or her) own squire — a dragonboy, paired with them at a young age, who cares for their dragon's weaponry and equipment, as well as the dragon himself.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: The Enemy uses monsters they create like imps, trolls and ogres which loosely resemble humans though they clearly aren't, with often beastial features.
  • Mother Goddess: Most people in Argonath and the Cunfshon Isles worship the Great Mother, a benevolent, all-powerful goddess. Lagdalen begins as a novice studying to enter her clergy, but is kicked out early on.
  • The Multiverse: The books' universe has many different worlds and planes of existence over which the battle between good vs evil is waged.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Lady Tschinn, one of the Golden Elves living in Mirchaz, is openly disgusted with how low her people have fallen and offers her aid to Relkin when he is about to fulfill his destiny, destroying the Great Game and Mirchaz along with it.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Mach Ingbok, a cruel despot, was known as the Demon Lord.
    • Waakzaam, the series' Satanic Archetype, is called the Dominator of Twelve Worlds and Lord of Evil.
  • The Neidermeyer:
    • Porteous Glaves, the newly appointed commander of the 8th Regiment in book two, is an Upper-Class Twit who bought his current position with money (a practice thoroughly despised by professional soldiers, but allowed by authorities of Argonath as a source of income) solely and only to further his political career. He spends most of the time throwing his weight around, acting as if his position of commander allows him to do whatever he wants and being generally obnoxious and arrogant to everyone around him. When the 8th Regiment is sent on campaign to Ourdh, he quickly proves to be an abysmal and incompetent leader, abusing his troops for little to no reason, showing no commanding skills whatsoever and acting queasy and cowardly when in real battle.
    • Turrent is a relatively mild example. He knows the rules and regulations inside and out, is overly strict when it comes to following them and makes sure the dragonboys under his command do everything by the book, no matter how trivial it is. When they fail to appease him — even by doing something as inconsequential as not cleaning a part of equipment nearly good enough — he will gleefully punish them. Especially Relkin. On the other hand, he used to be a dragon squire himself, so he surely knows what he's doing (unlike his successor Wiliger) and eventually warms up a bit.
    • Delwild Wiliger, a new commanding officer of the 109th Dragon Squadron in book four, starts out as this. He comes from an aristocratic family and was transferred to Bazil's unit from an elite regiment at his own insistence, despite having absolutely no previous experience with dragons. As a leader, he suffers from terrible mood swings, switching between being needlessly harsh and overbearing towards his subordinates and outwardly nice and friendly. He also has a very delicate ego, and likes to vent his frustration over any slight (real or imagined) — no matter how petty it is — on his troops. However, he is still an experienced soldier in his own right, shows considerable personal bravery in combat and after watching his soldiers getting killed in a horrible manner during the battle at Tog Utbek, he undergoes a change into a genuine Father to His Men.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Though he can be sarcastic and teases Bazil at times, Relkin is fundamentally a good, kind young man. In his very first scene, he helps out Lagdalen with her duty and convinces Bazil too as well, despite it having nothing to do with him.
    • Barring situations where he acts like an a jerk towards Relkin, Bazil is very personable and polite — if not always well-mannered — to all the people he meets. Even his jerkiness to Relkin's mostly in jest.
    • Lessis is a highly compassionate and kind woman at heart.
    • Lagdalen is driven to help others and a very pleasant young woman most of the time.
    • Evander is a down-to-earth and compassionate person, eager to help those in need.
    • Nesessitas is definitely one of the nicest and most kind-hearted of all dragons appearing in the series. It's best evidenced with her behaviour when Bazil goes missing. She basically takes care of Relkin in his absence, comes to his defence when he picks a fight with Jorse the cavalryman (who enraged Relkin by spouting lewd lies about Lagdalen) and nearly gets killed by him, even comforts him when he has trouble sleeping and starts sobbing out of worry about his own dragon. Later she keeps Bazil's spirit up when they're both imprisoned in Tummuz Orgmeen. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when she is killed.
  • Noble Demon: The officer in charge of Padmasan operations in the Kraheen empire on the Eigo continent, general Kreegsbrok, is pretty much the only Padmasan leader who isn't portrayed as a complete bastard. His methods are purely pragmatic, which means he doesn't engage in wanton war crimes when they don't serve any purpose and he doesn't advocate unnecessary cruelty towards slaves, since they are a valuable work force. Moreover, the Kraheen rulers were vicious bastards even before his takeover, so by overthrowing them he did their subjects a favor and actually improved their lives. Even Relkin calls Kreegsbrok a man of honor (though he also accuses him of losing said honor by serving such evil masters).
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • One of Lagdalen's first acts in the series was helping out Relkin by providing him and Bazil with a false documents so they would be able to join the New Legion. This is later discovered and results in her being expelled from the novitiate, ending her career in the clergy she worked for. Subverted when Lessis — impressed with her willingness to break rules in order to do what is right — approaches her right after and gives her an offer to serve as her personal assistant in the Office of Unusual Insight. Lagdalen naturally takes the opportunity.
    • Evander gets this twice.
      • He saves the Port Tarquil's mayor when Gadjung casts a curse in order to kill him. He is cursed himself by Gadjung in return.
      • He rescues princess Serena from would-be kidnappers. Although she does show gratitude, she later panics and gets him imprisoned when she discovers his inhuman, cursed skin. To her credit, she regrets her actions afterwards.
  • No Woman's Land:
    • Padmasa mostly has women used as breeding slaves, with the rest clearly holding inferior status to men.
    • The Teetol and Ourdhi are very patriarchal, with their women sold regularly to outsiders (Padmasa is a main buyer).
  • Off with His Head!:
    • Nesessitas' final fate, courtesy of Puxdool the troll.
    • Bazil kills Gog Zagozt by decapitating him.
  • Only Sane Woman: Haruma ba Shogemessar, the aunt of Ourdh emperor Banwi Shogemessar, is pretty much the only person in his court with brains. She appreciates the military aid from Argonath and always takes their advice seriously while others would rather dismiss it. She sees through Princess Zettila's agenda while Banwi trusts her blindly. She seeks aid from Ribela of Defwode the moment she suspects Banwi may be under control of an evil spell and later helps keep the emperor in line when he would rather flee from his besieged capital and leave the whole mess to others. Too bad Banwi is too much of an immature Manchild to heed her advice, and other court officials and military leaders are too jingoistic and convinced of their own superiority to even consider that the Argonathi and witches in its service may be on to something.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • The series contains flightless, wingless dragons with aquatic ancestry. They are integrated into human society and fight with swords and use tools. There are also wild winged dragons, but neither type breathes fire.
    • Properly only the winged dragons are called dragons in the series. The non-flying ones are referred to as Wyverns.
    • Another note is that the Purple Green, during one particularly strenuous battle after he later joins up with Bazil's unit wishes that he had the fiery breath of his ancestors. Whether that is fact or just a dragon legend is never elaborated on.
    • They are highly resistant to magic, which is useful for withstanding enemy spells but also has the downside that healing ones don't work as well on them.
  • Our Elves Are Different: There are a few sub-races of elves in the series. All of them share some common traits like the standard long hair, pointed ears, willowy bodies and lack of aging, but other than that, they're all quite different.
    • First, you've got the wood elves, who sometimes appear as allies to Argonath, but are generally rather aloof and emotionally distant towards the humans. Some live in cities with more mundane lives, though they're still largely in forests. Further, they also have features more like dryads in myths, being born from trees, with their blood smelling like apples. Also by reproducing with humans it would produce an imp, a kind of monster used by the bad guys here.
    • The High Elves are given a mention somewhere in the series, but they do not appear in person and are not depicted in any way, so we may only assume that they conform to the typical image of Eldar in popular culture.
    • There are also the Golden Elves (contrary to their name, it's only their eyes that are gold), who are the eldest people on Ryetelth and established probably the first civilization, based in the city of Gelderen. Currently, however, they are a Dying Race, scattered across the world. Some of them, like Althis and Sternwal, are still out there, trying to do some good, but a significant part of their population settled in an enclave of Mirchaz, where, in isolation from the world, they degenerated from the noble and righteous people they used to be into the rotten, amoral and needlessly cruel fantastic racists they are now.
    • Both Waakzaam and Sinni look basically like overgrown elves, indicating they are progenitors of the race.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The slaves revolting in Tummuz Orgmeen mercilessly slaughter all their overseers and every hman or imp fighting for the Doom, since all helped enslave them.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: Minanswa has sex with Relkin before the battle against the Sephists resumes, knowing they both may die.
  • Prehensile Tail: The dragons' tails are so dexterous that they can grab even small objects (by coiling around them), basically serving as a third prehensile limb. This allows them even to wield additional weapons in battle, in the form of tail maces or tail swords.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • This is one of two main reasons why dragons readily join the legions of Argonath (the second being their hatred of Padmasa). They enjoy fighting — both in real battle and friendly competition — and take pride in their martial prowess.
    • The Teetol, an uncivilized tribal people who live near Argonath are another example, and their men engage in frequent non-lethal duels with poles over sleights. Foreigners that insult them are challenged to the same, and they love fighting generally.
    • The Baguti horse nomads are much given to fighting others, and making raids for slaves, collecting scalps or heads of their dead enemies. While fighting they often harangue other Baguti for cowardice if they retreat.
  • Puppet King:
    • Thrembode attempted to make the prince of Marneri into this, since he's a brain-damaged and easily manipulated fool, so he can be a pawn of Padmasa after becoming king. However, this is thwarted by the witches, who arrange some "accident" for him.
    • The people of Kraheen worship Ajoth Gol Dib like a messiah, Kraheen armies fight in his name, and yet he holds no real power. He is just a religious figurehead, used by Padmasa to control the locals.
  • The Quiet One:
    • Mono gets very few lines despite being present in the series from the start till the end. At some point, in book four, he is openly described as taciturn by nature.
    • Chektor only talks to make occasional sarcastic remarks.
  • Really Gets Around: Besita is known for having young men as lovers quite frequently, and this makes it easy for Thrembode to seduce her as just the latest.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Powerful magic users live for centuries here. This includes the evil Masters of Padmasa, along with the good witches. Lessis and Ribela, the main witch characters, are both centuries old while looking middle aged at most.
  • Religion is Magic: Witches are also worshipers of the Great Mother, and they are a branch of clergy themselves with those like Lessis having high ranks in the Temple while called "Sisters" like nuns (although they aren't sworn to remain celibate), serving in the goddess's cause against evil.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
    • Inverted, for the most part. Of all non-human races in the setting, dragons are actually the one which is the closest to humans, being integrated into their society, living and fighting by their side and even being the most friendly on personal levels.
    • This trope is occasionally played straight In-Universe, though, with certain characters who still hold a dislike towards dragons for various reasons, ranging from their monstrous appearance (which makes people outside Argonath consider them mindless animals), to the trouble and cost of their upkeep (which makes them very unpopular among some noblemen, particularly grain mandates who would rather sell their wares on the market rather than contribute to feeding the dragon corps) to downright petty ones like their ostensibly bad smell (according to Porteous Glaves, at least). Then again, since such opinions either stem from ignorance or are shared by characters who are either jerkasses or openly evil, there is no doubt how much value they actually hold.
    • One situation where this trope is played completely straight is the dragon freeze, a natural reaction of a typical human to seeing an adult dragon (and looking him in the eyes in particular). Most people are just immobilized with fear as a consequence. Only those who meet dragons on a daily basis (like dragonboys or other soldiers in the Argonathi legions) are unaffected, though there are also some humans who seem to have an innate immunity to the dragon freeze (like king Choulaput, who looked at Bazil — the first dragon he ever saw in his entire life — and remained calm).
  • The Resenter:
    • This is most likely the main reason behind Turrent's attitude towards Relkin (and, to lesser extent, other dragonboys in the 109th). Despite his long line of service — and officer rank that comes with it — Turrent saw little real action and never got much recognition because of it. Relkin, on the other hand, is a decorated war hero with multiple victorious battles under his belt.
    • Unlike Turrent, who at least had well-established and somewhat understandable motives for resenting his subordinates, Wiliger keeps finding new, increasingly petty reasons for hating them. They range from throwing a tantrum over the fact that he cannot keep his beloved giant "109" sign plastered to his headgear or being knocked out at the beginning of a battle and the dragonboys doing the entire job without him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • When Thrembode is fending off Baguti who want to rape Besita and kill him for stopping this, his men start deserting as they don't want to die too.
    • When Glaves becomes convinced that the legions in Ourdh are doomed and will be defeated soon enough, he desperately tries to desert and escape back to Argonath.
  • Series Continuity Error: Lots of them. Generally, Rowley seems to have a lot of trouble keeping the lore of his setting in line.
    • According to the first book, Bazil's first sword Piocar was wielded by many generations of dragons hailing from Quosh. This is retconned in book four, which states that it was forged specifically for Bazil after the whole village gathered enough money to afford it. Also, Piocar's first origin story seems to ignore the fact that family bonds play little role among dragons, so it raises questions just why a precious sword would be passed from generation to generation.
    • It never seems clear just how much integrated the dragons are with Argonath society. The first novel indicates that it is a common thing for them to walk in the streets of towns and do some mundane things like visiting an inn in order to have a drink. Later books, however, imply that it is a rare sight.
    • It is also never clearly stated what dragons' Trademark Favourite Food — an extra hot spice called akh — is actually made of. Its ingredients are supposedly fully listed in the first book, but in later novels, narration refers to other stuff that were not previously mentioned like hot peppers.
    • During the battle at Red Oak Mountain in the first book, one of the dragonboys of the 109th Dragon Squadron named Rosen Jaib is very clearly described as killed in action (his dragon Vander is even kneeling over his bled-out body). It doesn't seem to stick, though. A few chapters later, when the 109th meets up with wood elves, Rosen Jaib has a speaking line in a dialogue. Even later, after battle at Ossur Galan, he is talking to his sleeping dragon. There is no explanation for this miraculous recovery.
    • When we first meet Ecator, Lessis claims that he was created by her (or just imbued with magic) a long time ago; in the same issue, he gives his life back to her in order to heal and revitalize her and his spirit is later used to enchant the sword of the same name, given to Bazil. However, when Waakzaam meets Bazil in combat a few books later, he recognizes the spirit inhabiting the blade as his old enemy. Mind you, while Lessis is a few hundred years old, it's still little compared to Dominator who is basically as ancient as the universe itself. So there is no way he would recognize Ecator — a magical cat created by a witch who has lived for only a few centuries — as his old adversary.
    • In the penultimate novel, we suddenly learn that all dragonesses serving in legions are infertile — something which was never ever brought up or even implied in any previous book. While it thus doesn't directly contradict any specific lore, it's still strange that such important information appears only when the series is nearing to an end. In the first book, the only dragoness is mentioned to be a freemartin (infertile) but with no indication that it's universal to those in the legions.
  • Sex for Services: Relkin lies to Bazil that he got a potion which can regrow his tail stub through giving a witch orchids and sexual favors. Bazil sees through it immediately, aware of Relkin's boasts.
  • Sex Slave: Minanswa was kidnapped by men her evil aunt hired and forced into prostitution in a brothel to get rid of her so she can get Minanswa's inheritance. She is later rescued by Relkin, but it appears to be a sadly common practice in Ourdh.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: This is how sex scenes are dealt with in the books. Characters will be clearly about to have sex, and then a scene will end.
  • Shared Life Energy: Lessis is partially revived from near death in the first book by a group of rats sharing their life force with her, along with her friend Ecator sacrificing himself and a great spell from Lagdalen.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker:
    • Eilsa actively encourages Relkin to do it when Waakzaam takes her hostage and tries to force him and Bazil to surrender. It fails.
    • Dook ends up on the receiving end of this trope. When Bazil and Relkin board his ship, subdue his men and free the imprisoned dragons, Dook manages to take one of the hatchlings hostage and tries to escape with it, still determined to make money out of selling it. So Relkin, in desperation, just throws his dagger at Dook and kills him.
  • The Siege: Much of the second book revolves around the Argonathi soldiers defending Ourdh against the Sephisti fanatics besieging it.
  • Slave Liberation:
    • At the end of the first book, in Tummuz Orgmeen Lessis frees many female breeding slaves and leads them in a revolt, helping to defeat their masters.
    • After getting separated from their unit and lost in an ancient jungle in book five, Bazil and Relkin stumble upon the primitive people of Ardu, who are constantly raided by slavers from Mirchaz. They liberate them from slave camps, then help them establish an organized tribe and even offer them combat training in order to give them a fighting chance against slavers in the future. Later, when Relkin is abducted by slavers himself, Bazil leads the Ardu to war against Mirchaz, scoring many victories and liberating even more slaves.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • One of the things which makes it clear that the Enemy is evil stems from their widespread enslavement, especially for particularly nasty uses like birthing monsters.
    • It's also the worst aspect of the Ourdh Empire (a frequent slave seller to the Enemy), with it featuring widespread mutilation (castration of male slaves, plus tongue removal) and sex slavery.
  • Snake Talk: It's very rare, but dragons talk that way occasionally, usually when vocalizing their approval with "yesss".
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Lessis is capable of talking with birds in their own language. Other witches also have this ability, giving them instructions to deliver messages for instance.
  • The Squadette: Non-human example. Bazil and Relkin's unit included a single dragoness twice in the series. The first one was Nesessitas a.k.a. Nessi, who was killed in the arena of Tummuz Orgmeen. The second one was Alsebra, who is still alive and kicking at the series finale.
  • Squishy Wizard: Thoroughly averted. The magic spells are usually not as impressive nor destructive as in your typical modern fantasy setting and those that are powerful often require complex rituals to perform them, and thus are not very useful in actual battle. Thus, the wizards and sorcerers in this setting do not rely on their magical powers too much and are also trained in melee combat. A prime example is Lessis of Valmes herself, who looks deceptively frail, but is in fact surprisingly strong and skilled with knives and swords.
  • Tail Slap: Dragons of Argonath do perform this, though not too often, preferring to rely on their swords. In an unusual variation of this trope, their tails are dexterous enough to wield additional weapons — sword or mace.
  • Take Over the World:
    • This is the Masters of Padmasa's goal. In fact, they're just one part of an interdimensional struggle though, with wars occurring across many worlds and planes of existence.
    • Waakzaam already managed to achieve that goal twelve times already, albeit offpage. However, by trying to conquer Ryetelth and challenging the dragon armies of Argonath — especially Bazil and Relkin — he bit off more than he could chew.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • General Hektor is poisoned along with other officers by wine Ourdhi civilians give them. A couple die and he falls into a coma, leaving General Paxion in command with a difficult time.
    • A group of dragons and dragonboys are drugged with doped beer while in Ourdh. When they fall asleep, Relkin and Bazil are kidnapped to serve as sacrifices.
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: In the second book Relkin, Lagdalen and Bazil get kidnapped then scheduled to be sacrifices in Ourdh, as the followers of a goddess there believe that she'll protect them from the Sephites after they're offered to her. This does not work out, of course, since they soon break free.
  • Their First Time: Relkin has sex with Minanswa and loses his virginity by doing so in book two.
  • Third-Person Person: Dragons frequently switch between this and grammatically correct speech for no particular reason.
  • This Is My Human: Although outwardly dismissive of their human companions, dragons are actually very protective of them and see them as the closest persons they have to a family (and vice versa).
  • Tongue Trauma: In Ourdh it's common for slaves to have their tongues removed-"muted" as they call it.
  • Too Important to Walk: High officials in Ourdh wear platform shoes they can't walk in at all, instead getting carried everywhere on sedan chairs.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Lumbee goes from a Damsel in Distress dependent on Relkin's help to a mighty warrior taking part in many battles against slavers and soldiers from Mirchaz.
    • Norwul, though not to such an extent as Lumbee, since he is already a badass in his own right when we first meet him. Still, he starts out as one of the Ardu slaves who have to be liberated from a camp, but ultimately becomes one of the best fighters among his people and one of army leaders.
  • Trademark Favourite Food:
    • Dragons of Argonath absolutely love beer and will usually go into a cheerful song after the first round (mind you, due to their size, the first round typically means downing an entire barrel — per dragon). They like it so much that denying them beer can actually be a blow to their morale (like in Kohon, which was overtaken by religious fanatics at the time and which prohibited many things — alcoholic beverages included — rendering beer unavailable).
    • Dragons will generally eat whatever you will serve them, even oatmeal or noodles, but will only genuinely like it if you serve it with a considerable amount of akh — a chili sauce-esque extra hot spice which dragons find delicious and will eat with just about everything. Also, due to their predatory nature, they really enjoy good meat — especially horseflesh — but they are particularly fond of fish and other frutti di mare, since they are naturally aquatic predators.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: It's mentioned that some Argonathi soldiers are convicts who join the legions in lieu of serving long sentences.
  • Troll:
    • Relkin often acts this way towards Bazil, especially when he wants to teach him a lesson.
    • Judging from his behaviour when Alsebra outright asks him for a favor (something she never does, unless it's serious), Jak has a tendency for that too.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: The Ourdhi Emperor has so many titles that they are actually never listed in full.
  • Underground City:
    • Tummuz Orgmeen is largely inside of a hollowed out mountain.
    • Padmasa's capitol is also mostly subterranean, with the Master's chambers deep below ground.
  • Upper-Class Twit:
    • Porteous Glaves is a rich man who buys his commission and has no military experience. Imposing uncomfortable collars on the men causes instant loathing from them. After seeing battle, he's horrified and tries to desert immediately afterward.
    • Wiliger comes from an aristocratic family and uses the influence he has to take charge of a unit he is ill-prepared to lead. He is also an emotionally unstable Jerkass who likes to throw his weight around.
    • Count Trego starts out as this, seeing women and commoners as inferior to him. He mellows out over time.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Inverted with the two dragonesses who serve in the 109th Dragon Squadron. Nesessitas — quite feminine, kind and a caring Nice Girlis killed in the first book, while Alsebra — a slightly tomboyish and abrasive Jerk with a Heart of Goldsurvives till the end of the series.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Bazil and Relkin frequently engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat or otherwise bicker, but there is no doubt that they deeply care for each other and are pretty much like brothers.
    • After befriending Swane, Rakama and he still like to bicker and call each other names, though it is all in jest. In particular, they call each other "monkey" jokingly after Cuzo names them such when chewing them out (though both Swane and Rakama take it as an offence when anybody else calls them that way).
  • We Can Rule Together:
    • The Doom offers for Bazil to serve it as a general of its army. Bazil's reply to this offer may be summed up as "screw you".
    • Heruta promises Relkin that he'll make him the king of Marneri if he turns to his side. Relkin is fully aware, though, than Heruta has absolutely no intention of giving any sort of power over conquered lands to anyone but himself. However, instead of downright rejecting the offer, he instead decides to pretend that he takes it, which Heruta swallows hook, line and sinker.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Heruta tries to portray himself as one when confronted by Lessis, claiming that he and his comrades ultimately act for the betterment of mankind, in order to guarantee humans progress and lordship over the world. However, Lessis is quick to point out that Heruta wants all the power over the world for himself and himself only, not humans in general.
    • Waakzaam, Waakzaam, Waakzaam. His original motivation was to improve the worlds created by the Great Mother and then molded by seven divine beings (including him) she created specifically for that goal. However, the inhabitants of the worlds he visited proved uncooperative, so he quickly resorted to drastic measures such as culling the local population (and by "culling" we mean "driving it to near-extinction") in order to prevent overpopulation or violently quelling the rebellion that broke out because the locals were not happy with the rulers Waakzaam installed. In time, he dropped all subtlety and became a downright evil tyrant, "improving" twelve planets by turning them into utter Crapsack Worlds.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • After the soldiers left from Argonath manage to beat a force of armed imps in the arena of Tummuz Orgreen while having only wooden shields and swords, they're praised for it, then offered a chance to join the Doom's army. They flatly refuse this however, and are ordered killed in a later bout instead.
    • Burthong and Bazil acknowledge each other as such after their duel.
  • Xenofiction: The series frequently shows Bazil's perspective on things, along with other dragons at times. It even does this occasionally with normal animals, like a bear in the first book.
  • Zerg Rush: The Sephistis' main tactic is "overwhelm them with numbers". It works fine on the demoralized, very disorganized Ourdh Imperial Army. However, facing the disciplined, well-trained Argonath legions (with dragons in their ranks to boot) it fails utterly-they're slaughtered by the thousands.

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