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Literature / Books of Pellinor

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This is a series of epic fantasy novels by Australian author/critic Alison Croggon concerning the adventures of Maerad, The Chosen One in a typical fantasy land, Edil-Amarandh. Maerad, a slave, is found by Cadvan, who ends up as her mentor. She learns that she's a Bard and can change nature with the Speech, a language that anyone can understand. Throughout her adventures with Cadvan, Maerad learns how to use her strengthening power properly. Danger lurks everywhere, as the Foretold One of Edil-Amarandh, Maerad's life starts to get more and more dangerous.

There is also a prequel centred around Cadvan.

Chronologically, the series is as follows:

  • The Bone Queen: A Book of Pellinor
  • The Gift: The First Book of Pellinor (US: The Naming)
  • The Riddle: The Second Book of Pellinor
  • The Crow: The Third Book of Pellinor
  • The Singing: The Fourth Book of Pellinor

This series provides examples of:

  • Animorphism: Maerad and Ardina turn into wolves in the second book,
  • Automaton Horses: Depending on how you look at how Maerad and Cadvan treat Darsor and Imi.
  • Badass Normal: Hekibel, who manages to keep up with Hem, Saliman, Cadvan and Maerad in their adventures in spite of having no Bardic powers whatsoever.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Maerad has a powerful sisterly instinct towards Hem, even before finding out who he is.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Maerad, partly; she loses her elemental powers from the Elidhu after she and Hem play the Treesong.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: It's impossible to lie in the Speech (if you are a Bard—people who learn the tongue the usual way have no trouble with it).
  • Cursed with Awesome: Maerad never really understands her Elemental powers and is only able to call on a few of them reliably by the end of the series, but they help her fight much more experienced enemies and thwart those expecting only Bard magic.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Cadvan; the more unpleasant Bards often cast it up to him. As a young man, he once called up a Revenant, an evil spirit, just to show off in front of his rival Dernhil and his lover Ceredin. He lost control; Ceredin was killed and Dernhil injured.
  • Death Glare: Maerad is often described "glowering" at someone. Before she comes into her powers, her glares have the literal effect of, if not death, illness or accidents.
  • Does Not Like Men: Maerad at first, due to her background as a slave; she got lots of practice at fending off would-be rapists. She gets over it gradually after meeting Cadvan and other decent men.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Maerad destroys the Landrost single-handedly.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The books are supposedly translations of The Riddle of Treesong, a fantasy epic from the nonexistent Earth land Edil-Amarandh.
  • Fantasy World Map: There's one of Edil-Amarandh.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The books don't talk explicitly about feminism, but they have their fair share of strong female characters.
  • Food Porn: Justified, as Maerad and Hem have spent most of their lives half starved.
  • Framing Device: Each book is introduced as though they were translated from manuscripts found buried in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, with the intention of making the story seem set in our world in the distant past.
  • Gaia's Lament: The Glandugir Hills and Den Raven, so polluted that sensing the misery of the earth makes Hem feel nauseous.
  • Genius Loci: The Elidhu are the embodiments of the places they inhabit; for instance, the Landrost and his mountain or Nyanar and the Glandugir Hills.
  • Heroic BSoD: after she thinks Cadvan, Desor and Imi are killed in an avalanche which she feels was partly her own fault. It has the plus side of maturing her.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Part of Hem's backstory. The Hulls tried to "initiate" him into their ranks by forcing him to kill a friend of his from the orphanage. He refused.
  • I Know Your True Name: As Maerad's Truename is in the prophecies, anyone who reads them right can tell what it is and have power over her through that. Arkan uses this.
    • Ardina tells Maerad that due to her elemental nature, she would have a third name which would negate the power of knowing her Bard name, it's never brought up if she succeeds in finding it.
  • Immortality Immorality: Sharma, who cast off his Truename to become immortal.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Cadvan and Indik, Maerad's swordmaster, at the Battle of Innail. Both survive.
  • Kissing Cousins: Subversion: Maerad and Dharin were in love—or, at least, there was some strong subtext in that direction. Maerad knew he was her cousin, but Dharin didn't.
  • Large Ham: Karim, the leader of the acting troupe Hekibel belongs to. He's also The Mole.
  • Magic Music: Maerad was able to calm down a stormdog by singing.
    • She made the facade of Arkan's "ice palace" fade faster by playing her lyre.
    • The Treesong itself.
  • May–December Romance: (Of the May-September or 'lighter' variety) Maerad and Dernhil, and Maerad and Cadvan at the end. Maerad is sixteen or seventeen, while Cadvan and Dernhil are about a third of the way through their lives.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Any human (Bard or not) with an Elidhu, or a non-Bard with a Bard.
    • Maerad and Arkan. Maerad is about seventeen at the end of The Singing, while Arkan is an Elidhu and so several thousand years old.
    • Saliman and Hekibel- Saliman is Cadvan's age and Hekibel is a fairly young normal woman, but Hekibel still dies about two hundred years before Saliman, because Saliman is a Bard and she isn't.
    • Arkan and Nelsor too, apparently, according to the appendix in The Riddle. Arkan would still have been pretty old in Nelsor's time, and Nelsor wouldn't have been more than a couple of hundred at the very most.
    • Ardina and Ardhor.
  • Meaningful Name: Well, the word '"Sharmat" is a old colloquial word meaning "demon", "dirtbag", "wicked person". The Big Bad is named Sharma. Two plus two does not equal five.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: To a certain degree.
    • The Dung Ages: There are the Bards, the humanistic and benevolent rulers who govern a free and peaceful society...but there are also plague, corruption, famine, Jerkass mayors, sacked villages and general ignorance. And probably dung.
  • Mirror Character: Maerad and Sharma, pointed out on separate occasions by Arkan, Cadvan, Ardina and Sharma himself. Both have power beyond human imagination. Both are on near-equal terms with the Elidhu. Both can be terrifying when provoked. However, Maerad's friends are quick to reassure her that her love for her friends, her joy in simple pleasures and her concern about holding on to her humanity are what makes her different.
  • The Plot Reaper: Subverted in The Riddle: Maerad thinks Cadvan's dead, but he managed to survive.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Enkir, a male chauvinist who refuses to let women study at Norloch. In a world of supposed equality, why did nobody stop him?
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In The Crow. Isn't it amazing what lengths Hem goes to to rescue Zelika? Isn't it clever how he tricks the Hulls so he can search for her without being discovered? Isn't it sweet how he decides he wants to marry her when he grows up? Well, too bad she was dead the whole time. Meant, of course, to deliver an Aesop about the cruelty of war—and, damn, did it work.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Maerad for Arkan, sort of. She does fall in love with him, but has the good sense to realize how destructive such a relationship would be (not to mention the fact that her cousin died on his orders) and escapes. Arkan throws a stowstorm at her, but by the time of The Singing, he's resigned himself and proves to be quite helpful.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Maerad and Hem are deeply interested in anything involving their parents' pasts.
  • There Is Only One Bed: This happens to Maerad and Cadvan in an inn just outside Innail, as they had to disguise themselves as husband and wife. Cadvan takes the couch.
  • The Unfettered: Maerad, increasingly, towards the end of The Singing. It frightens everyone, including her.
  • We Are as Mayflies (regular humans as compared to Bards)
  • We Can Rule Together: Sharma to Maerad. She almost accepts, believing that her power could turn the world into paradise, but the memory of Cadvan, Hem and all her other friends snaps her rapidly back to her senses. Awesomeness ensues.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Maerad gets this from Cadvan to agonizing levels in "The Riddle" after losing control of her powers and killing a Bard for accusing them of being Hulls.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Ardina, whose immortality prevents her from ever seeing her deceased human lover again. Sharma and the Hulls are a darker example, as the spells they use to prevent death cause them constant pain.
  • Wizarding School: Young Bards are trained in the Bard Schools scattered across Edil-Amarandh.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Bards live for at least three hundred years or so.
  • Working with the Ex: Cadvan and Nerili, though they're very mature about it and both agree they're Better as Friends.