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Literature / Cassandra Palmer

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My attitude could be summed up pretty simply: I was alive, they were not, go me. Surviving at Tony's taught you to be practical about these things.
Cassandra Palmer is an urban fantasy novel series by Karen Chance, starring Cassandra "Cassie" Palmer, an orphaned clairvoyant raised by a vampire mob boss. Cassie ran away from him three years ago after she discovered he killed her parents when she was a child. But at the start of Touch the Dark, Tony has found her and Cassie finds herself forced to accept the help of the Vampire Senate, which does not come free. Cassie is to be the next Pythia, the world's chief clairvoyant, time guardian and ultimate judge of the supernatural world, and Cassie is the first Pythia in centuries that has not been indoctrinated since birth by the mages' Silver Circle and is thus free of their control. And they do not like that, not at all. If the Pythia is not under their control, then they will make sure the power passes on to someone they can control. But there are other players in this game nobody knows about yet.

The series has a spin-off that stars Dorina Basarab, the dhampir (half-human, half-vampire) daughter of Cassie's love interest Mircea, and master vampire Louis-Cesare. Characters from both series interact and cross over, with most of that occurring later in both series.

The Cassandra Palmer series

  1. Touch the Dark
  2. Claimed by Shadow
  3. Embrace the Night
  4. Curse the Dawn
  5. Hunt the Moon
  6. Tempt the Stars
  7. Reap the Wind
  8. Ride the Storm
  9. Brave the Tempest
  10. Shatter the Earth
  11. Ignite the Fire: Incendiary
  12. Ignite the Fire: Inferno
  13. Hijack the Seas (announced, publication date TBD)

The Dorina Basarab series

  1. Midnight's Daughter
  2. Death's Mistress
  3. Fury's Kiss
  4. Shadow's Bane
  5. Queen’s Gambit
  6. Time’s Fool
  7. Fortune's Blade (announced, publication date TBD)

Short stories and novellas starring Dorina Basarab

  • Zombie's Bite
  • In Vino Veritas
  • Lover's Knot
  • Dragon's Claw

Short stories and novels starring John Pritkin

  • The House at Cobb End
  • Shitty Beer
  • Updating Pritkin
  • A Family Affair
  • Shadowlands
  • Siren's Song, a full-length novel, showing his perspective on the events of Dragon's Claw

Short stories and novels starring other characters

  • Masks, starring Mircea Basarab and set in medieval Venice
  • The Gauntlet and The Queen's Witch, starring Kit Marlowe and the witch Gillian Urswick

Short stories and novels starring the war mage Lia de Croissets

  • Rogue Elements
  • Vegas Odds
  • Skin Deep
  • Junk Magic, a full-length novel

This is a long-running series, so spoilers from earlier books may be unmarked.

Cassandra Palmer and Dorina Bhasarab provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Both Cassie and Dory, with Dory being much more of a literal example, since she works as a mercenary.
  • Ambiguously Human: Both Dory and John Pritkin generally read as human and magical human, respectively, although they are both actually half-human...or at least part human. Both of them use this seeming humanness to their advantage so they are underestimated by those of their opponents who don't know better. Cassie is also only half human since her mother was a goddess.
  • Another Dimension: There are many dimensions which exist. Earth is the highest hell and Faerie is the lowest heaven. While most action takes place on Earth, brief incursions into Faerie, the Shadowlands, and Kazallu (the realm of the incubi) occur as well over the course of the series.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Pretty much how the vampire senate works. Master vampires constantly challenge each other to duels for seats on the Senate, and for fun.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Louis-Cesare and Dorina.
  • Badass Family: The Bhasarabs (Mircea, with his mental, healing, and manipulative abilites, Louis-Cesare with his combat abilities, Dorina with her vampire-killing berserker fighting, and Radu, who's a 2nd level master vampire. Oh, and Vlad, of course).
  • Battle Couple: Louis-Cesare and Dorina. And Mircea and Cassie (when she grows into her power). Later Cassie and Prikin.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Cassie and Mircea, even after they consummate their relationship. This also applies to Cassie and Pritkin as well as Louis-Cesare and Dory.
  • Berserk Button: Cassie's wellbeing, for Mircea. Later Cassie's wellbeing for Pritkin as well.
  • The Berserker: Dorina, when she blacks out, and her vampire half—who's a lot more powerful, takes over and kills everything in sight, which is because Mircea manipulated her mind so that her vampire and human halves would be separate and not kill each other while growing into their power.
  • Big Bad: Jonathan, to a greater or lesser degree. Also the gods: Apollo, Ares, and later Zeus.
  • Blessed with Suck: Dory has to be careful, because dhampirs are prone to rage attacks and usually don't live long. She has managed to reach five hundred by directing her energy to vampires and demons that deserved to be killed.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Pritkin tried to kill his father after he more or less manipulated him into killing his wife on their wedding night. Pritkin was sentenced to death for attempting to kill a member of the Demon Council, but his father wanted him to keep alive, albeit not out of love. The compromise was that he was banished from the hells and sent to Earth, but that he could never have sex with a human or demon while on Earth. If he did, he'd be forced to stay in the demon realms and become his father's slave for all eternity. This was seen as a fitting punishment since Pritkin is half-incubus, and so is a demon who feeds and gains power via sex.
    • The only exceptions to this are for him to heal himself, such as when he goes down on Cassie to heal himself in Hunt the Moon, although he's reluctant to do so for fear of draining her of energy and killing her, and she offers because she wants to save his life.
  • The Cassandra: Cassie is both a literal one and sometimes a figurative one, as her warnings are not always taken seriously.
  • Casual Kink: Mircea has something of a foot fetish, highlighted in a memorable scene with Cassie in Hunt the Moon.
    • Caedmon seems to really like pain.
  • Chick Magnet: Mircea.
  • The Chosen One: Cassie for the office of Pythia.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Cassie
  • Combat Pragmatist: Pritkin and Mircea. Most of the mages and vampires, in fact.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Cassie
  • Cool House: Mircea's dwellings. They all are equally luxurious. Even his customized personal plane.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Basically how Cassie survives.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: All of the main characters, really.
    • Cassie's parents were killed by Tony, a low-ranked mobster vampire who wanted a seer of his own. When Cassie's father refused, he killed them and took Cassie. She discovered the truth when a vision hit her on her fourteenth birthday. She eventually managed to ran away from him. Until he found her again at the start of the series.
    • Pritkin is the offspring of a mother with fey blood and a demon who wanted to have a living child, after many attempts that left both the child and mother dead. Pritkin's mother died in childbirth and he was raised by an ordinary human couple who didn't treat him all that well because he was part fey and magically-gifted. Some time later, his father dragged him to hell, but got kicked out/escaped decades later.
    • Mircea
    • Dorina
  • Destructive Saviour: Cassie. Pritkin, too.
  • Deus Sex Machina/Sex Magic: In Ride the Storm, Cassie and Pritkin generate the necessary magical energy needed to kill a pair of gods by having sex with each other. This is possible because Pritkin is half-incubus (a demon who can feed off of sexual energy) and Cassie is a demigod, and certain kinds of demonic sex can generate magical energy.
    • In Ignite the Fire: Incendiary, Cassie has a threesome with Pritkin and Mircea, initiated by Pritkin's incubus, to save her own life after being attacked by Zeus, as she absorbed some of his godly energy and he then tried to use it to kill her. This enables the three of them to generate enough energy to fight off Zeus.
  • Dhampir: Dorina is one who, unlike most, has been able to maintain her sanity through the centuries.
  • Divine Parentage: Turns out Cassie's mother is Artemis herself, which would explain why the power of the Pythia passed onto her, who had no training whatsoever, instead of the other candidates.
    • Caedmon and Nimue are also demigods. John Pritkin is one-sixteenth god as he is Nimue's great-grandson.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Pritkin's fate at the end of Curse the Dawn after he feeds Cassie energy to save her life, thereby breaking the terms of his 'parole' on Earth, whose terms banned him from all forms of human and demon sex save what was absolutely necessary to save his own life.
  • Drives Like Crazy: In Curse the Dawn, Marsden is a race freak and drives his flying car like one. Pritkin too, since he only learned from watching him. He drives a regular car relatively normally, however.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Everyone called the leader of the North American Senate 'The Consul' even though she is, in fact, Cleopatra.
  • Evil Counterpart: Myra, the former Pythia's last apprentice, to Cassie, for the first three books.
  • Fantastic Racism: Vampires and mages can't stand each other, though they may collaborate sometimes. Especially those attached to Cassie. The Fey tend to look down on everyone who is not Fey, including the Dark Fey, whom they view as lesser, as well as any half-breed Fey.
    • Dory and Pritkin are both hated and feared by most vampires and mages, for being a dhampir and a half-demon, respectively.
    • The Fey who know about Pritkin's heritage also dislike and distrust him, to the point where in the sixth century a Fey soldier at one point comments, albeit not to his face, that he is an abomination who should have been drowned at birth.
  • The Fashionista: Augustine
  • Fiery Redhead: Both Claire and Louis-Cesare have red hair and tempers, and sometimes they clash with each other.
  • Friendless Background: Cassie, on purpose.
  • Geas: The Geis is like a love spell, a magical claim that warns off any would-be suitors and compels the two people to be attracted to each other. Due to Cassie's meddling with time, she and Mircea find themselves saddled with one, until they manage to break it.
  • God of Light: Apollo is the God of Light and Electricity and is a terrifying Energy Being who desires to enslave humanity.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Dory, because she's a dhampir; Pritkin, because he's half-demon.
    • Pritkin is denied membership to the Silver Circle for his demon heritage, and Dory is not accepted by most vampires.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Cassie, Pritkin, Dory, and Claire all have one human parent and one nonhuman parent. The nonhuman parents are a goddess, an incubus, a vampire, and a dragon, respectively.
    • This half-breed status causes a certain amount of angst for each of them.
    • Pritkin and Claire are also part fey (Green Fey and Brownie, respectively) on their mothers' side.
  • Healing Factor: John Pritkin, due to his demonic blood.
  • Historical Domain Character: Dracula, Kit Marlowe, Cleopatra, Antony, arguably Mircea and Radu, as well as Merlin.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Incubi have an incredibly low birthrate. Rosier spent a massive amount of time trying to have a child and eventually succeeded, although before Morgaine, every other woman he impregnated died while pregnant as their half-incubus fetus killed them.
  • In Medias Res: How each book, short story, and novella in the series begins.
  • Interrupted Bath: In Hunt the Moon, Cassie's relaxing bath is interrupted by her ghost sidekick, Billy Joe and she hurriedly covers herself with a Modesty Towel. He mocks her Naked Freak-Out, telling her it's a useless gesture for a ghost who's Seen It All. He gets a sponge throw at him in response, which naturally just phases through him harmlessly.
  • Interspecies Romance: Cassie is the half-human Pythia, Mircea is a vampire and Pritkin is a half-demon. Also, Cassie's parents were a goddess and a human mage, specifically a necromancer.
  • It's All My Fault: Cassie has a tendency to blame herself when things go wrong.
  • The Lost Lenore: His wife/Dory's mother Elena, who died at the hands of his brother Vlad for Mircea. She escaped execution and fled into Faerie, but Mircea spent centuries believing that Vlad killed her.
    • Pritkin's wife Ruth, who died sometime during the Victorian Era.
  • Love Is a Weakness: That's what Cassie thought for a long time. Until she starts caring too much.
  • Love Triangle: As of Curse the Dawn, begins to develop between Cassie, Mircea and Pritkin. As of Brave the Tempest, Cassie breaks things off with Mircea and makes things official with Pritkin.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: As the Pythia is supposed to be neutral and is not supposed to have romantic relationships for fear of losing her objectivity, Cassie has to hide her relationship with Pritkin, to the point where they sneak around and tend to have sex in closets and empty hotel rooms.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Mircea, who found out Cassie was a candidate for the pythia, created a geis on her to keep her a virgin so the power would consider going to her, made the counterspell for the geis sex so that she would fully become Pythia afterwards, kept her in Tony's court, so the mages wouldn't find out about her being harbored by vampires too early, and kept tabs on her through her roommate Tomas—who she didn't know was a vampire, when she ran away from Tony.
    • He also blackmails Cassie with Prikin's true identity to get her help in saving his wife from death at the hands of his brother in the 1400s.
  • Master Swordsman: Louis-Cesare, who is the dueling champion of the European Senate, and who no vampire wants to be fighting (in fact, the vampire Rasputin creates a war and allies with the Dark Circle to time-travel and stop Louis-Cesare from ever becoming a vampire just so he wouldn't duel him).
  • Meaningful Name: Cassandra Palmer. The original Cassandra was the first Pythia and the one who betrayed Apollo—and Cassie ends up burning the spell that would let Apollo back onto Earth rather than giving it to him. This is lampshaded several times in-series.
  • Morality Pet: Cassie, for both the vampires and the mages.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Agnes hid the fact that she was pregnant with Rhea from Jonas Marsden as well as the magical community as a whole, gave birth in secret, and arranged for Rhea to be raised by the covens.
  • Seers: Cassie is one, as are Rhea and some of the girls who make up her court.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Cassie, trying to save Mircea from Myra, goes back in time and creates a double geis that causes Mircea to go insane in the future—the geis that Mircea put on Cassie in the first place.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Vampires can't get drunk on normal alcohol, although large amounts of fey wine or the blood of certain demi-gods will do it.
    • As they are both (more or less) half-human with very high metabolisms, Dory and Pritkin can't get drunk off of ordinary quantities of garden-variety alcohol, but both can get drunk from huge quantities or very strong booze.
  • Oh, Crap!: And how! Example:
    • When Apollo plans to use Cassie's power to enter the mortal world to enslave everyone, and destroy her and everyone she cares about.
"It's fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants time, isn't it?"
"And that is a good thing?"
"No, but it's... sort of familiar."
Cassie to Mircea, Hunt the Moon
  • Older Than They Look/Really 700 Years Old: Vampires don't age and mages age very slowly. Mircea is over five hundred years old. His daughter Dorina is also over five hundred. Pritkin is even older, being a half-demon with fey blood who is, in fact, Merlin himself. Although he was born in the sixth century, he's lived several hundred years all told, given he spent a lot of time in the demon realms, where time moves differently.
    • Mircea looks around thirty, and Pritkin looks like he's in his mid-thirties.
    • Dory looks like she's in her twenties, as do Radu and Louis-Cesare.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Billy Joe is a ghost attached to Cassie's pendant. He spies/scouts for her in exchange for a regular draw of energy.
  • Our Gods Are Different: The gods are powerful energy beings from a distant dimension who hunt and consume demons for energy, and who created the vampires and the Fey to fight their wars for them.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different/Time Travel: Only the Pythia, her heir and mages from an evil organization called the Guild, can travel in time. Changing anything in the past is extremely dangerous, as Cassie herself learns.
  • Parental Abandonment: Cassie's parents were killed by Tony, a low-ranked mobster vampire who wanted a seer of his own. When Cassie's mother refused, he killed them and took Cassie.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: All first level master vampires (including Mircea and Louis-Cesare). Oh, and Apollo, the other gods, Artemis, and the demi-gods.
  • Power Tattoo, Animated Tattoo: Cassie has a pentagram tattoo on her back that's a ward that protects her against magical danger. The ward originally belonged to the Pythia Agnes, who lend it to Cassie's mother just before she eloped. Her mother passed it down to her when she was a child.
  • Professional Killer: Both John Pritkin and Dory, to a greater or lesser extent, with the former mostly killing demons and the latter mostly hunting revenant vampires.
  • Psychic Powers: Cassie is a clairvoyant, she can move through both time and space (enabling her to shift when in some pretty tight spots). Somes vampires have psychic abilities, too.
  • Saving the World: By preventing the return of the ancient gods who are hell-bent on laying waste to everything in their path so that they can feed without restrictions.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: In book 1 it is believed as the Pythian heir, Cassie must lose her virginity at a certain time before assuming the role. In reality, centuries previously a Pythian heir "had a vision" because she wanted to be able to have sexual relationships instead of remaining a virgin. All this time later and most people still think it was real.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The mages sealed the ancient gods (in fact, powerful beings from another dimension) away centuries ago. Unfortunately, Apollo finds a way back. So does Ares.
    • Vlad, who is liberated from a magical prison by a former lover of his, which Cassie accidentally gave him access to early in the series, although she never sees the full consequences of this action. The events of Midnight's Daughter revolve around Dory and Louis-Cesare's attempts to contain/kill Dracula. Ultimately, Mircea does his own brother in to prevent further bloodshed and to protect Dory, Radu, and Louis-Cesare.
  • Secret Identity: Pritkin is, in fact, Merlin. Cassie's mother is Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, which makes Cassie a demigod.
    • Cassie's parentage is eventually revealed to the public, while Pritkin's remains a secret...mostly.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: The fact that her mother eloped and threw away the position of heir to the Pythia, and to marry a presumptive former Black Circle mage as well, still taints Cassie in some people's eyes.
  • Starter Villain Stays: Jonathan is an Evil Sorcerer who is introduced in the first novel as wanting to kidnap the title character for the evil Black Circle. Despite at first seemingly being low on the totem pole of the Black Circle, Jonathan went on to be the archenemy of dhampyr Dorina Basabara and has returned from the dead multiple times over the series. Its eventually reveled that Jonathan is not in fact a lackey of the Black Circle but is instead one of their leaders and is one of the oldest and most powerful magic users in the world.
  • Sweet Tooth: Cassie and Fred
  • Time-Travel Romance: There are shades of this in Reap the Wind and Ride the Storm as Cassie travels back to the sixth century and meets John Pritkin/Myrddin as a young man. They quickly fall for each other there, complete with lots of sexual tension.
  • The Undead: The vampires. Zombies in Dante's Casino and later the zombies raised by Jonathan and by Jo.
  • Urban Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
  • Weakened by the Light: The more powerful a vampire is, the less sunlight affects them. Any vampire under first-level is burned by the sun, while first-level masters suffer a power drain but can survive direct sun exposure.
    • Sunlight doesn't bother Dory at all, since she is a dhampir.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Cassie and Pritkin. As of Brave the Tempest, they are in a committed relationship.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Time moves differently in the other worlds attached to Earth, such as the other hells and Faerie. Pritkin spent over a thousand years, between the sixth century and sometime in the late 1700s in Earth time in the demon realms, but it felt like a few decades to him.
    • At one point, two weeks on Earth are equivalent to six months on Kazallu, the world ruled by the incubi.
  • Wham Line: In Ignite the Fire: Incendiary: "Come on, let's get a drink. She'll take it from here."