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Literature / Caliphate

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The War on Terror has been lost

2112 AD. Islamic terrorists have destroyed Los Angeles, Kansas City, Boston, and London with nuclear weapons, and several other cities avoided total destruction due to malfunctioning weapons. After being elected in a campaign whose entire focus is "we're gonna get them" ("them" proving to have a broad definition), a new president launches nuclear missiles at most of Islam's holy cities. The Islamic lands took a long time to recover under a new Caliphate. Meanwhile, the surviving Muslims, through heavy immigration and far greater reproduction rates, take over most of Western Europe save Britain and Switzerland. With a liberal Europe melting away to the Islamic threat, it submits and becomes the Caliphate of Europe and Western North Africa. A strict Sharia law is imposed, many of the boys being forcibly converted to Islam through the Janissary program, and the remaining Christians being made to pay the Jizya, a head tax on non-Muslims. In this background a German girl named Petra bint Minden is sold into slavery, her brother Hans taken to the Janissary corps for training. However browbeaten, she has always dreamed that someday she will be able to escape this living hell, finding inspiration in a diary passed down from her great-grandmother.


Meanwhile, the United States has mutated into an Empire, the Imperial States of America, and it encompasses most if not all of North America, some territories in South America, and the Philippines, where John Hamilton, a US Army officer, suffers a mental breakdown after his fellow Army officer and girlfriend, Laurie Hodge, is killed in a firefight between US and Filipino forces and Muslim rebels. He accepts a transfer to the CIA, now renamed the Office of Strategic Intelligence, where he is tasked with infiltrating the European Caliphate to capture or kill a group of renegade US scientists who are making a super-virus intended to kill millions to advance the Caliphate's cause. And so Petra and Hamilton's paths cross in an effort to save the world, and to ensure Petra's freedom.

Caliphate was written by Tom Kratman, also author of the Carrera's Legions series, the Countdown series and the short story "Okuyyuki", among other works. As such, it is charged with political intrigue and posits a dystopic and controversial future.


The novel is available for free from the Baen Free Library, without any DRM restrictions, here.

Caliphate provides the examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Besma's stepmother. Her father isn't, at least not generally, as he's for the most part really a very nice guy by Caliphate standards.
  • Action Girl: Laurie.
  • Action Survivor: Petra.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Pretty obvious with the depictions of Islam and Christianity, as the author takes no regard to pulling straws
  • Agent Peacock: Chung Hsiaonote  Lee Gen of the Celestial Kingdom's People's Liberation Army Air Force Intelligence Division. Graduate degrees in the plural, speaks multiple languages, ex-military attaché, qualified pilot, spook extraordinaire and deadly Combat Pragmatist. And making him this trope, quite the vamp, too.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Since this is a massive Crapsack World, South Africa resembles not so much the Boer era as the antebellum South—Or maybe the Draka. The Boer airship captain is a rather nasty piece of work and Straw Misogynist personally, who does not mind taking advantage of a pretty slave girl. Which, however, backfires spectacularly on him, since the girl is really Lee in disguise.
  • Asshole Victim: Fudail is killed offscreen by his sister for raping Petra and trying to rape her too. His own father doesn't mourn him, in fact, he knows he was a little monster who had it coming.
  • Balkanize Me: It is implied that the Indian subcontinent broke into many parts.
  • Bare Your Midriff: To be expected of the seraglio.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Petra is taken as a slave as a little girl and grows up to become very beautiful, even for Hamilton to fall in love with her. But not before becoming a Broken Bird through a series of tribulations.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Swiss Air Force, moments before the Caliphate airforce blasts the airship full of child slave escapees and the world infecting virus.
  • Battle Couple: Hamilton and Laurie, though sadly it doesn't last long.
  • Beta Couple: Hans and Ling.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When she is taken prisoner by the Moro rebels, Laurie gives the order to blow up the thermobaric bomb ensuring that she dies quicker rather than having a long, slow and painful death.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Chinese Intelligence know everything and have spies everywhere.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The main narrative ends on this note; Hamilton succeeds in his mission and rescues Petra from slavery, with the two proposing to marry each other. However, Petra's brother Hans dies in a Heroic Sacrifice, the Caliphate still stands and Besma is stuck on a abusive marriage. The story ends with the proposition to rescue Besma and liberate Europe from the Caliphate's claws.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Imperial States of America isn't exactly a shining "white hat", but as presented in the novel it's a better option than the Caliphates (particularly the one on which the novel is focused), who are very much of the "black hat" persuasion. The other nations that get any attention aren't much better than the ISA.
  • Break the Cutie: Petra, massively.
  • Cain and Abel: Besma and her half-brother Fudail. She attacks and nearly castrates him after he rapes her friend Petra. Later on, she kills him in self-defense after he tries to rape her too.
  • Camp Gay: Lee, Ling's Chinese control officer.
  • Colonel Badass: Not the main lead, unlike most other Kratman stories, as Hamilton is a mere captain (OF-2). Bongo is arguably one, however, as is Lee.
  • Commie Nazis: Russia is described as having turned into a "socialist Tsardom".
  • Cool Big Sis: Petra gains two.
    • The first one is Besma, the daughter of her new master who treats her like a sister, teaches her how to read and write. Besma goes completely ballistic when Petra is raped by her half-brother that she attacks him in front of their parents. They still exchange letters to each other even after she is sent away.
    • Ling takes her place after being sent to the brothel by helping her adapt to her new condition. Their relationship is more adult than the former, since they use each other as sexual outlets, but Ling still cares for her enough to plan to smuggle her out to China so she can get away from this abuse.
  • Crapsack World: Much of Continental Europe is decaying under Caliphate rule. The Middle East is a crapsack state as well, as noted by character Besma. Occasional postapocalyptic Muslim raiding parties strike out into Russian controlled territories. Russia has a socialist Tzar who holds his Muslim majority under an iron fist. South Africa has a darker Apartheid (this time with genuine black slavery) after embittered European Refugees filled it. China is a strange posthuman empire which breeds genetically engineered women to infiltrate the Caliphate. Fuel is strictly rationed and most cars run on methane engines, and stink to hell. Mass transit is the only way to move around, and the Caliphate's infrastructure is reduced to horse-drawn carts for Christian dhimmi and methane-stinking cars for rich Muslims. The United States? A new Roman Empire whose soldiers commit horrid atrocities because the enemy would do much, MUCH worse. The first combat scene we read has a group of Muslim Philipinos (Moros) raping and torturing captives to death, only to be caught, shot, their DNA analysed and everyone back in their village with matching DNA killed Einsatzgruppen-style. Some of the American soldiers actually laugh, sing and celebrate the executions, and they are "genuinely" the only stable guys in the story (even from a neutral point of view). That should give you a general idea of the setting.The rest of the world isn't much better, with everyone pretty much in a state of hostility to one another that's effectively low-level war punctuated by periods of actual armed combat. Even Switzerland is a gigantic armed camp surrounded by the Caliphate.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Lee, who, being an effeminate homosexual, is only too happy to temporarily assume the body of an attractive young woman. He makes sure to make the most of it while it lasts—Also seriously creeping various people out in the process.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Islamic justice system, at least as practiced in the Caliphate, is practically made of this. Petra is only one of its victims.
  • Culture Clash: Hamilton doesn't much like Neo-Boer culture, and he hates Caliphate culture. So much that he'll risk the mission to save a few innocents from it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Hijacking the lightly guarded zeppelin isn't too difficult for a crew of trained intelligence agents. For another example, in the backstory, the Imperial States also made short work of the first Caliphate, once it became arrogant enough to push their enmity to the point of war. The European Caliphate is not—quite—stupid enough to ask for a repeat performance.
  • Daddy's Girl: Besma is clearly Abdul's favorite child and inherited his better qualities.
  • Darker and Edgier: Caliphate is probably the darkest of Kratman's books so far, what with the massively dystopian setting, the gratuitous abuse, the easy mind control and various other horror technologies, and so on. And the man doesn't exactly write sunshine and happiness for his usual oeuvre.
  • Defector from Decadence: Retief becomes one by the end of the story. There's also Ling, who was released from the Chinese and allowed to retire in the West.
  • Defiled Forever: Petra is raped and is sold off as an prostitute to an brothel, enduring even more abuse than before. By contrast, her rapists get relatively easy (they receive 30 lashes in the feet). Hamilton falls in love with her and buys her freedom, but she can't even consider a relationship with him because she considers herself "defiled". At the end of the book, he proposes to her.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: In one hand, democracy gave rise to the Caliphate when the Muslims' superior numbers voted in its favor effectively hijacking free society. On the other hand, characters such as Hamilton lament the fact that democracy is gone and all states in the world are pretty much fascist regimes themselves to prevent the creation of another Caliphate.
  • Den of Iniquity: Even though fundamentalist states like Taliban punish prostitution with death (sex trafficking is another matter), prostitution is tolerated within the Caliphate where Christians slaves are turned into houris for their masters and costumers. This is justified through the Loophole Abuse expedient of temporary (sham) marriages between prostitute and buyer, loosely inspired by a real-life tradition in Iran.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Hans. Because he died saving her escape.
  • Dirty Business: Hamilton despises having to take on the role of a child slave trader, but goes through with it anyway in spite of his detestation of the institution, due to the seriousness of the situation that caused the mission in the first place.
  • Dirty Coward: O'Meara, the utterly repulsive, sex-fiend Mad Scientist villain. Defied and averted with Lee, stereotypes notwithstanding. Bongo masquerades as one, but soon makes clear he really isn't.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Mixed with some deliberate instances. Played straight with Ling, and Petra in one case. Also invoked, inverted and subverted all at once by Lee.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Mahmoud, in the secondary storyline.
  • Double Consciousness: Mandatory for undercover agents, but even more so with fantastic sci-fi technology assisting.
  • Downer Ending: The secondary storyline, which tells the backstory of the setting through Petra's ancestors. Given what the main story is like, this is sort of a foregone conclusion in itself, but there are twists that manage to make it worse. Gabi tries to flee Germany after it has been strong armed into applying sharia law and her daughter is raped and disfigured by a couple of boys, who are allowed to talk free by the court. However, upon reaching the American consulate in Switzerland, she is turned away by the consular who denies any European entrance because they are reaping what they've sown.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: On the first days of his mission when he was visiting South Africa, Hamilton wishes that he could get totally trashed over his cover job of a child slave trader, but can't afford the resultant loss of control in what's effectively "enemy territory".
  • Dystopian Edict: In the secondary story arc/backstory, the ruling of the German Supreme Court to accept Sharia law as binding in Germany.
  • Evil Debt Collector: Rashid, the jizya tax gatherer, is introduced killing Christians for sport.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil:
    • Despite displaying several Nazi-like attitudes, the ISA is still willing to accept people from foreign countries like Latin America, Japan, Vietnam and others so long as they aren't Islamic. Its somewhat unclear if freedom of religion is abolished or not since while the Constitution guaranteeing secularism is abolished, an very scathing document written in-universe about their rise to power do notes that they are willing to tolerate Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and even Christian-Animists.
    • Likewise, the Neo-Boers had sided the Zulu natives to overthrow the black majority rule in South Africa and in exchange granted them a free Zulu kingdom. The Zulu are also employed to oppress the Muslim minority in their country too.
  • The Empire: The Imperial States of America, being the dominant world superpower, and rather tyrannical about it. The Chinese want to replace them eventually, but they still have a long way to go.
  • Enemy Mine: In spite of a continuing state of low-level conflict between them, the ISA and the Celestial Kingdom of the Han (China) work together to eliminate the threat posed by the Caliphate's bioweapon.
  • Epic Fail: The Islamic terrorists launching nuclear attacks on an America which is both bigger and much more militaristic than in real life. Didn't Think This Through, much? The retaliation annihilated much of the Middle East.
  • Eurabia: This book takes place in a world where Muslims have taken over Europe.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Retief, who transports slaves, but treats them as decently as possible while they remain in his care, and very much regrets the abuses they suffer from others.
    • If there is one thing everyone in this setting can agree on is the Caliphate's abhorrent treatment of women.
    • Sands doesn't share his co-worker Meara's taste for rape nor does he delight in watching his victims dying slowly.
  • Expanded States of America: The US expanded into North America and the Philippines. They even had Scotland as an Imperial Province!
  • The Fatalist:
    • Pretty much all Muslims, even those like Mahmoud al Beshay who left their homeland to get away from Islamic culture, believe that something will or won't happen depending on Allah's will. Up to and including surviving an incredibly nasty bioweapon the Caliphate is having created to wipe out their enemies.
    • One of the reasons the Caliphate relies on the Janissaries for their military forces is that the Janissaries will practice and perform regular maintenance on their equipment so that it remains functional, as not being raised from birth in Islam means "as Allah wills it" isn't a core behavioral tennet.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Played with. Most superpowers are fascist regimes, but the European Caliphate is singled out as the most backwards and decayed of them all. The economy is completely reliant on the religious minorities being taxed, and only them, and they are running out of slaves fast to the point some slavers are worried. They are also culturally stagnant because of a Church Police that forbids even drawings from being made. Lee points out that the only thing the caliphate produces of note is fanaticism. By contrast, the ISA and China are considered much wealthier and technologically advanced even if repressive themselves for different reasons. It speaks something that they are reliant on the Free Boer State who provides them with technology that they themselves are unable to produce.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Being a houri (i.e. Sex Slave) in the Caliphate. Period. Petra endures so much abuse and degradation that she says that if she ever became pregnant, she wouldn't hesitate to strangle her baby rather than allow them to become slaves themselves. Even then, it becomes a lot worse; Initially, she protests having to put up with rough sex, until Ling shows what happens to houris that complain about it: they are turned into brainwashed sex-toys that will do anything their masters demand. She never complains about it again.
  • Femme Fatale: Ling. At one point, Petra tries to be one, but doesn't really succeed.
  • Fetish: In-Universe. Petra is instructed by Ling to wear a cross when servicing Muslim costumers because they "like the idea of fucking Christian women because it asserts their superiority".
  • Fictional Document: Hamilton reads one that details the Three Cities' disaster, Buckman's rise of power and the establishment of the Imperial States. The author of this document certainly has an negative opinion of Buckman.
  • Final Solution: Its never outright stated how Israel handles the terrorist crisis, but Caruthers comments "they learned the lessons Himmler and Eichmann sought to teach, as well".
  • The Fundamentalist: Besides religious examples, of which the Caliphate has a number, there is Dr. Sands. He is fanatically devoted to one cause only: the destruction of the Imperial States of America, which he considers the ultimate evil in all existence. If destroying it requires killing children, or even 90+ per cent of humanity, he still considers it worth it.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Suited Heavy Infantry Trooper. Hamilton's pointing out the acronym was enough to earn him demerits in the Academy.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The Caliphate's VA5H virus is an engineered bug, intended for use as a Depopulation Bomb.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Petra is abused by many violent and evil men over the story, with the only sexual comfort she has is with Ling. When she finally has sex with Hamilton, not only is it consensual on her part, but she dreamily notes he is better than with any men she had lain with.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The nameless President of America and the European Caliph by the time of Hamilton's mission assignment. They are the supreme rulers of their respective domains and against each other, yet they are never appear in the story and act via proxies through our main characters and the renegade scientists.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Hans and Petra are described as having blonde hair, and they are fundamentally good people even if they have to endure a lot of horrors from childhood.
  • The Heavy: The three renegade scientists Sands, Meara and Johnston serve as the main narrative's antagonists, since they are developing the virus for the Caliph to wipe out the Americans and they are the most visible threat.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hamilton suffers through this when Laurie was killed in a battle in the Philippines.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hans, who dies helping his sister and the others escape the Caliphate.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: In spite of the ISA and the Caliphate being theocratic states, it's pointed out that faith is just an superficial tool to control others. Hamilton comments that America isn't "really Christian anymore" despite it being the state religion, and while the Caliphate enforces sharia law very seriously, several characters are noted to drink alcohol and partake in activities that are outlawed in fundamentalist states like prostitution.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Petra is just a scared little girl that has been forced into prostitution and whose plight moves Hamilton's heart. Her handler Ling arguably qualifies as well, since even though she puts Petra through the grinder, she does so reluctantly and privately monologues about planning to smuggle her out of China.
  • Hope Spot: When Petra is auctioned as an slave after being declared Defiled Forever, Ishmail is instructed by Besma to free her by handing some cash. It seems he might succeed when Abdul hands out some money in secret to help him free Petra. Alas, the brothel owner gives out a bigger deal and buys her.
  • Humans Are Bastards: True on the macro-scale, in this world. There's not a single "good" faction or country on the planet, or at least none are shown; the "good guys" are morally gray at best, being a moderately genocidal and moderately totalitarian empire, while the bad guys are not-at-all-moderately genocidal and utterly tyrannical slavers, rapists and religious fanatics. Averted, however, on the individual level: Hamilton keeps defying it with iron resolve, and the ambiguous and even several of the outright villainous characters are shown to have some good to them.
  • Illegal Religion: In the aftermath of Buck's election, he instituted the "Redefinition of Religious Act of 2018" classifying Islam as an "hostile and political movement and only incidentally and dishonestly a religion" deemed outside of First Amendment's protection which passed with unanimous Supreme Court approval and ordered all Muslims to be placed in internment camps.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Hamilton having to give the order to bomb the position where an already-wounded Laurie Hodge (his girlfriend) was surrounded by Filipino Muslim rebels and about to be raped is enough to push him to leave the military.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Rustam, one of the instructors of the janissary group that included young Hans, says he hates the Greeks and Serbs, thanks to many of his fellow soldiers having been staked, castrated, and getting their eyes gouged out when fighting in the Balkans.
  • Info Dump: Several places throughout the book, but the Excursus in Chapter 9, an excerpt from a fictitious nonfiction work about how the USA became the ISA, outlines how President Buckman came into power after three US cities (Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Boston) were destroyed by nuclear weapons deployed by terrorists, and four more cities (Houston, Washington DC, Chicago, and New York) escaped a nuclear holocaust due to being targeted with defective devices.
  • Invading Refugees: The Muslim refugees from the Middle-East who soon overtake and turn Europe into a caliphate. Likewise, the Christian refugees from Europe who flee from it relocate to South Africa.
  • Inspirational Martyr: As one of the original and greatest, Christ functions as one for several characters. A lesser but more contemporary example is a Catholic priest who suffers a comparable fate for his faith, and makes a deep impression on Hans.
  • Interservice Rivalry:
    • In the Imperial States, the Army and the Marine Corps present a reasonably friendly example: The Army thinks the Marines are primitive and retrograde, the Corps that the Army is over-teched and over-staffed, and consequently weaker where it counts.
    • In the Caliphate, the Janissaries versus everyone else. They're the pragmatic arm who just want things to work, whereas most of the other services are either fanatics, or else just lazy and corrupt. Or at least, that's the way the Janissaries see it; to the others, they're the bad ones, being serious try-hards, and/or too lukewarm on politics and religion.
    • Seemingly averted with the Celestial Kingdom, where the Ministry of State Security play nice with Air Force Intelligence, and even allow them to borrow one of their deep-cover agents in the Caliphate for an important mission.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Houris" are the so-called virgins that wait martyrs in heaven when they die. Here, they are the name given to non-Muslim prostitutes who are anything but virgin.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Europe has morphed into the European Caliphate in the 2100s. As a result, many places' names were corrupted if not outright changed. Like Baya for Bavaria, Grolanhei for Grosslangheim, Affrankon for Franconia, Slo for Oslo, among others.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Having your own eyes slashed out just before being stabbed is not an nice way to go. Fudail had it coming though, after raping Petra and trying to rape his own sister who killed him this way.
    • As Petra can attest, being sent to a brothel and turned into a prostitute could qualify as A Fate Worse Than Death on its own. Having said that, nobody can feel bad about it happening to Al Khalifa when she approved Petra's rape.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: John Hamilton, who tries hard, and sometimes even succeeds at, being a good guy in a setting that heavily penalizes this. Besma's father, a semi-decent Caliphate character, also tries, though not as successfully.
  • Lack of Empathy: Doctor Sands. Unlike O'Meara, he derives no pleasure from seeing little children die slowly in their medical experiments: He just simply does not care, one way or the other, except for the valuable scientific results.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: The Empire is a Christian state and pretty repressive for different reasons than the Caliphate (the Constitution is repealed, freedom of speech and right to bear arms are dead and foreign influences are supressed), but Hamilton points out to Petra that at least women are respected in it and enjoy greater freedoms such as the right to serve in the military.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: Subverted. There is a scene with Lee-as-Ling putting on his make-up before going to work vamping the Boer guards. Agent Matheson is seriously bothered, because he is so obviously enjoying himself playing the part of the wicked seductress.
  • Loophole Abuse: Drinking alcohol is forbidden in the Caliphate. When Latif offers some vodka to Abdul Rahman, he points out the Koran forbids it but Latif points out only fermented grain or grape are, but vodka is made from potatoes and "Allah will be none than wiser". Also apparently, the caliph himself enjoys some scotch too.
  • Make an Example of Them: The Caliphate believes in this, publicly crucifying dissidents and subversives. It backfires on them in at least one notable instance.
  • Medal of Dishonor: The Martinez Award, given by West Point to the cadet with the most demerits without having been kicked out. Hamilton himself doesn't consider it something to be proud of, but the Sergeant that he reports to after leaving schooling treats it as a genuine badge of honor, figuring that nobody who doesn't have what it takes could piss off so many people without having been kicked out of the Academy.
  • The Mole: Ling, a Chinese agent sent into a brothel where Petra was working. She also becomes a big sister figure for Petra and aids her cope with living.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Moros roasting captive Americans alive, Americans killing said Moros and their DNA-tracked families, then razing every city that send Moros arms. Boer slave farms where black kids are separated from their mothers, and crucifixion scene of every Dhimmi that commits a crime. The book bulges with every war crime imaginable, and openly states that the American side laments the destruction of liberties associated with the war.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: Subverted. Russia reverts back to an Communist autocracy, but is practically neutral towards everyone else.
  • Madness Mantra: When she is raped by Fudail, Petra can only think "It isn't me. It isn't me. It isn't me."
  • Middle Eastern Coalition: While the core Middle Eastern lands do become a Caliphate, it does not take part of the story. And with good reason.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The houris serve this purpose in-universe: Ling is noted to be very busty by Hamilton and it's justified that as an Artificial Human, she was designed by her creators to be sexually appealing as possible; meanwhile Petra is repeteadly said to be very beautiful, specially as an young woman.
  • Never Learned to Read: Inverted; Petra did learn to read, despite this being very uncommon among women in the Caliphate, and especially lower-caste ones. This is one of the few things about herself that she feels she can be proud of... Which makes for a sad scene when she realizes that this is nothing special at all in the Imperial States.
  • Nice Guy: Relatively. John Hamilton is arguably the nicest, sweetest protagonist to feature so far in Kratman's original works. Which still makes him a cynic by most other standards, admittedly.
  • No Sympathy: The consulate at the end of the secondary storyline refuses to grant asylum to fleeing Europeans because America (who at this point, has turned into The Empire) believes they have brought their misery on themselves by accepting the "Moslem laws", as Gabi and her daughter find out.
  • No Woman's Land: In the Caliphate, a woman's testimony counts as half to those of an men and as such, when Petra is raped by Fudail and his friends, its her word against them and she gets over-ruled. Furthermore, the judge presiding the case states "If I came across a rape crime, I would discipline the man and order that the woman be jailed for life... because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it." In one hand, Besma is treated like her father's actual heiress in spite of having a younger son is the one exception, since she notes other Muslim girls are forbidden from reading. However when she grows up, she is married to an abusive man who mistreats her and their children.
  • Nuclear Option: The US President reluctantly was pressured by the Secretary of State and Defense to use nuclear weapons on Castle Honsvang in Germany, where the hideout of three rogue US scientists are hiding to make a powerful virus in case Hamilton fails.
  • The Pardon: President Buckman, in the backstory, uses the power of presidential pardon as a weapon against Americans he politically opposes, pardoning all but one person who murdered his opponents (the exception was due to the murderer having been determined to have killed purely as revenge for an affair between the victim and the killer's wife, and nothing to do with politics).
  • Our Presidents Are Different: President Buckman, from the backstory, is President Insane and a President Evil who eventually became The Emperor (in name if not formal title) as the United States of America turned into the Imperial States of America.
  • Outscare the Enemy: One of the reasons the European Caliphate has to rely on a biological weapon to destroy all their enemies other than being technologically behind everyone else, its because their enemies had terrorized it keep it back in its place.
    • The entire American continent from Canada to Argentina evicted its Muslim population, alongside Japan, China, UK, Switzerland and Australia.
    • The ISA nuked their ancestors to the stone age, its Navy protects any invading ships and their soldiers won't hesitate to burn down any village whose members shared DNA with Islamic insurgents.
    • Russia and South Africa are the only non-Islamic states to allow Muslim residents, but they are treated like second-class citizens. In Russia, they are said to be illiterate serfs, while in South Africa they are treated even worse than African inhabitants. Bongo says that years ago the Boers and Zulus put down a jihad so hard the Muslims never rose up again and by Hamilton's time, their number has been decreasing and more turn to Christianity.
  • People Puppet: There are chips that can be implanted in a person's head that allow the person so equipped to be operated remotely, as is done with Bernie Matheson and Zheng Ling. It used to be required that ISA agents get one implanted until the Chinese demonstrated how they could be hacked, much to the worse for the ISA. Chip security was improved, but there still remains a strong aversion to "chipping", as the implantation procedure is called, among ISA agents.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Boer Free State that controls virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa is an apartheid regime controlled exclusively by a white conservative elite that practices slavery.
  • Powered Armor: Not in the traditional sense, in that the suit itself is more of an armored exoskeleton, but the ones worn by the Suited Heavy Infantry can have armor added to them to increase their protection, or reduced to enhance speed and endurance. It's explicitly pointed out when they're introduced that they do not make the wearer invulnerable, just that the user requires more effort to kill.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • The Imperial States are rather restrictive with their mind-control implants, not because they object to the technology in principle, but because, back when they were more common, the Chinese hacked them, and they don't want that to happen again.
    • The Caliphate has a solid foothold over Western Europe, and horribly oppress its non-Muslim minorities. Unlike the Imperials, they merely tolerate them rather than try to force conversions because they are reliant on them for economy and cheap slave labor. One slaver even chides Rashid for raising the jizya further because the Christians are the only ones who pay it and keep the economy sustainable, and only their sons are suitable for jannissary corps.
  • Prone to Tears: Petra is very emotionally vulnerable and cries at the drop of a hat specially as a child. Considering her situation, she has very valid reasons.
  • Property of Love: Upon seeing Petra, Hamilton privately monologues that he can almost understand the appeal of Islam if it enables a man to claim such beauty. Subverted, since he quickly berates himself for having such thoughts about a poor young woman that has been mistreated all her life and at the end when he proposes to marry her, he promises to respect her and treat her as a person.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: From both sides. The Caliphate treat Christians like second-class citizens slaves, referring to them as Nazrani, whom they kill and rape as they saw fit. On the other hand, Americans treat Muslims like animals and do not hesitate to kill anyone that happens to share their DNA. South Africa also brought back apartheid and even African locals under apartheid are treated better than Muslims. On the flip side, the Zulus are granted a country of their own for them helping the Neo-Boers.
  • Raised Catholic: Even though her identity as a Christian is part of her character, Petra's faith never comes up despite the hardships she endures in a huge contrast to her brother Hans' character arc, who rediscovers his faith after being forcibly converted to Islam as part of his janissary training.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: An easy way to make a character stand out in vileness is have him commit rape. The Moro rebels, Fudail, the boys that rape Petra and Gabrielle's daughter. Meara is singled out as the most vile of the three scientists for having a proclivity for pedophilia.
  • Rape as Drama: Poor Petra is raped by Khalifa's son and his friends. She endures it again after becoming a houri.
  • Sadist: Al Khalifa. Also O'Meara, to an even more horrible extent.
  • Second Love: For Hamilton, Petra, after Laurie's death. It's hinted that Ling also gets one.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Hamilton is a mild example. He is obviously scarred by his traumatic war experiences, and for a while is a straight case, but manages rather successfully to move on, so that this is not his defining character trait by the time of the main story.
  • Shout-Out: One of the historical works quoted in the series is a ficticious nonfiction work published by Baen Historical Press.
  • Situational Sexuality: When off-duty from her job, Petra is instructed by Ling to make love with other houris in order to keep herself sane.
  • Slave Liberation: The Americans instigate a minor one as part of their coup to destroy the Caliphate's biowar project.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The Caliphate and South Africa practice it openly; the first one by exploiting Christians and making them toil away, paying the jizya tax and taking their sons and daughters as Janissaries or houris respectively, while the latter sells slaves among their Africans and Muslims minorities. Hamilton is horrified when to pretend he is a slave trader from South Africa to infiltrate the Caliphate and is very reluctant to go along with this. His handler Caruthers convinces him, though he expresses disgust too since he is black himself, but the mission must be concluded.
  • Slave Mooks: The janissaries are young non-Muslim boys taken from their families and brought up in Islam to serve as the Caliphate's armed forces, much like the Real Life version that served the Ottoman Empire.
  • Slut-Shaming: When Petra is raped by Abdul's son and his friends, they say that she seduced them. The judge concludes that her testimony is only worth a third of a male's, and if it was indeed rape, that would be her own fault and she should be sold.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Petra grows up into such beautiful young woman but as an Christian slave with no rights, this causes her nothing but misery. She gets raped by her owner's son and his friends and when she is sentenced to a slave auction by order of an judge on grounds of being Defiled Forever, her friend Besma tries to have her freed because she knows Petra is too pretty and will likely be sold to a brothel, which is what happens.
  • Take That!:
    • Professor Montgomery Chamberlain, who justifies the Islamic terrorist attacks on America in the backstory and calls the victims "little Himmlers," is not painted as one of the more sympathetic characters, and gets brutally killed by one of the relatives of the victims he mocked, all while said relative gets off scot-free. He is presumably an expy of controversial real-life academic Ward Churchill, who justified the 9/11 attacks and called the people in the Twin Towers "little Eichmanns".
    • Bereaved ex-liberal Mark Moulas (whose family is murdered by the immigrants he has always championed) is presumably based on Markos Moulitsas, the man behind the left-wing web site Daily Kos.
    • The sharia judge that sentences Petra to slavery after she is raped on the basis that "she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched" is based on real-life Australian cleric Taj El-Din Hilaly who was infamous for a Victim Blaming incident where he compared uncovered women to "exposed meat" and "inviting the cat to attack it" if they were raped.
  • Team Switzerland: Britain is also hit by nuclear bombs and follows the same path as America by restoring absolutist rule and severing ties with Western Europe. Despite the significance given in the backstory, specially since they turn their back to Canada when it's annexed by the ISA, they don't play any role in the plot.
  • Turbulent Priest: A number of them are crucified in the Caliphate by janissaries for preaching as an act of defiance. Its one of them that helps Hans to rebel by telling him the legend of Skanderbeg, an Albanian janissary turned crusader.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Two alternate storylines are told in the book: the main one that takes place over 100 years in the future and the second one that shows the events that led to the state of the former unfolding.
  • United Europe: Subverted, it is Western Europe at least becomes mostly Islamic. The British Isles and Switzerland are not under Islamic control. Russia is implied to control Eastern Europe.
  • The Vamp: A rare male example, enabled by futuristic technology. Lee very much enjoys the opportunity to present himself in a smoking hot female body, and is particularly delighted with the way this improves his prospects with various handsome men who probably wouldn't ordinarily go for his type. He gleefully takes full advantage of his femininity and sexiness in the service of the mission.
  • Villainous Incest: Besma implies some fathers in the Caliphate abuse their daughters this way, but she never spells it out merely stating that what they do is an "abomination". According to her letter to Petra, her brother Fudail tried to pull the same thing on Besma that he did to Petra, with her having to kill him in self-defense.
  • The Virus: the three renegade US scientists led by Claude Meara made a particularly potent flu virus called H5NV. It was designed to die out after two generations, but for some reason it can't, and it turned out to be more dangerous than first thought. Fortunately, Hamilton and Bernie retrieved the sample in time to make a vaccine out for it.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Laurie, who is killed by the Moros early in her military career.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction:
    • The titular Caliphate has hired several American scientists to create a bioweapon to wipe out their enemies, without any concern for who else — including themselves — that would be harmed by an engineered virus that's 97% fatal — and possibly mutilating the remaining 3%.
    • In the backstory for the book, Islamic terrorists deployed nuclear weapons against the cities of several western countries, including the US and the UK. The three that detonated in the USnote  were sufficient cause for the election of President Buckman, who later nuked almost all Islamic holy cities in retaliation for the various attacks on the US over the years.
  • Western Terrorists: Ironically for a story that takes place in a fundamentalist Islamic state, the primary villains of the story are a trio of Western scientists that defected the Caliphate. They were not radicalized Muslims either, but rather had their own personal motivations (secular nationalism or just plain depravity) to switch sides.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Al Khalifa is a revolting bitch who's jealous that a girl (Besma) birthed by a slave was in line to inherit Abdul Mohsem's wealth over al Khalifa's own son. She agreed to allow her husband to purchase Petra because while al Khalifa couldn't harm Besma, as Abdul's cherished child, she could harm a slave without consequences. Eventually she is divorced and gets sold to a brothel. Laser Guided Karma indeed.
  • Yellow Peril: The Celestial Kingdom of Han, the successor to the People's Republic of China, are portrayed as amoral and strange post-human people with no reservation about performing weird experiments for their sinister purposes, and it's clear they want to replace America as the resident superpower. With that said, they are allied with the Americans against the titular Islamic empire because they represent the most immediate and dangerous threat.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Hamilton to Petra, who is not exactly proud of her life thus far.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Given the relative scarcity of oil but plentiful energy thanks to nuclear power, hybrid lifting body airships powered by pebble bed nuclear reactors are the most common mass transportation for both civilian and military purposes in many countries.


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