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Literature / Children of the Nameless

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Since the day she was born, Tacenda has been both blessed and cursed. When her protective spell fails in the night and her Kessig village is attacked, she seeks revenge against whom she believes responsible: the demon-consorting Lord of the Manor, Davriel Cane.

Children of the Nameless is a Magic: The Gathering novella set on Innistrad, written by Brandon Sanderson, and available for free download on the Magic website.


This book provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Davriel is almost completely selfish and thinks nothing of feeding pesky intruders to his demonic servants, but he isn't actively malicious and mostly just wants to be left alone.
    • This extends to his demonic minions; in a setting where demons are Always Chaotic Evil, Davriel's demons are given some sympathetic qualities. Brerig isn't actively malicious and is loyal to Davriel, and Miss Highwater appreciates that Davriel recognizes her for her skill in writing contracts rather than being Hot as Hell.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Did Tacenda Ignite a latent Planeswalker Spark? Did the Entity of the Bog give her Planeswalking abilities? Or did she simply Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence within Innistrad? It's left unclear, and Word of God is that this was intentional since he only had permission from Wot C to make one Planeswalker.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Davriel is clever enough to make multiple Deals With The Devil and come out the better for each one through blatant Loophole Abuse. He has no desire to use that cleverness for anything more than setting himself up in a comfy mansion with a bunch of demonic servants who can handle all worldly concerns for him while he faffs about and takes long naps all day.
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  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the book, Davriel uses a minor spell that lets him coat surfaces in ink. Every time his arsenal of stolen spells is enumerated thereafter, the inkspell is mentioned and dismissed as useless to the problem at hand. Until at the climax of the book, he remembers that Willia is terrified of the dark, and uses the spell to coat her eyes in ink, blinding her.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Tacenda threatens to spread the story of Davriel's supposed evil so that heroes will come and ensure he never gets a good nap ever again. And then she realizes that she doesn't even need to do that, as the stories are already spreading. Davriel grudgingly agrees to help as it seems like the least bad option.
  • The Corrupter:
    • The Entity within Davriel constantly tries to get Davriel to use its power to become a Multiversal Conqueror. He mostly ignores it. Willia, on the other hand...
    • At one point, Crunchgnar tries to convince Tacenda to usurp Davriel and become Lady of the Manor. He even promises not to even try and take her soul, so long as he gets Davriel's.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Bog is... strange. It raises the local villagers like cattle and takes their souls when they die, but the souls live on as part of it, which is as good an afterlife as they can hope for. The person who killed the town, Willia, was seemingly corrupted by the power of the Bog in her head, but the power of the Bog in Tacenda's head is calm and gives Tacenda everything she needs in the end. Davriel Cane and most of his demons as well, though they're not particularly altruistic either.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Good Lord, Davriel. The man can't go more than a sentence without insulting someone in some way or another, though it's implied he's at least partially a Stepford Snarker. Miss Highwater gets in on it too.
  • Deal with the Devil: Davriel has an entire mansion of demons who all have contracts for his soul. It goes to whichever one manages to fulfill their contracts stipends first (Brerig has to solve a riddle, Crunchgnar has to make sure Davriel lives to sixty-five without dying, ect.). Luckily for Davriel, he's very good at wording the contracts in such a way to make that impossible.
  • Dirty Coward: Davriel is, at his heart, a coward, and is always ready to use his ability to travel planes to escape. Most of the time it's easy for him to cover this up with laziness, overwhelming power, or pragmatic retreats, but in the end he would always rather run than fight.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Miss Highwater's True Name is "Voluptara." Davriel says it sounds like something a twelve year-old boy would come up with. She retorts that she was only a few days old when she came up with it.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Davriel isn't particularly compassionate, but he remains horrified of the carnage that resulted the last time he tried to have ambitions, and never wants to cause anything like it again.
  • Evil Overlord: Davriel apparently was one in the past. Most people assume he still is one, but he mostly just takes naps these days.
  • Friendly Enemies: The retired cathar Rom apparently spent a decade of his youth hunting Miss Highwater across Innistrad before giving up. They greet each other like old friends when Davriel and co. visit the priory, with Miss Highwater even comforting him over his how old he's become.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Apparently, if Davriel tries to steal a power from a genuinely good person, it is excruciatingly painful for the both of them, and the power fades much more quickly. Unfortunately for Davriel, the genuinely good head of a local monastery happens to have a ghost-binding spell that Davriel regularly needs to use.
  • Horny Devils: Played With. Miss Highwater is never explicitly called a succubus, but is one in all but name. Her contract with Davriel even stipulates that she gets his soul if she ever manages to seduce him. Hilariously, he summoned her because he'd heard of how good she was at using Exact Words in her contracts, and wanted someone that good to handle his paperwork for him.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Tacenda's parents can't be revived even if their souls are retrieved, since they've been dead too long.
    • According to Davriel, demons lack souls, so once they're dead, they're simply gone. Brerig and Crunchgnar suffer this fate.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • Before the start of the story, the angels whom most humans worshiped all went violently insane, dealing hefty damage to faith and religion. The Nameless Angel is the exception, and her religion is still gaining followers. But she wasn't actually an exception—her followers chained her up in the basement when she went insane, and eventually forced an old demon hunter to execute her. Part of what caused Willia's Start of Darkness was finding out that her religion had murdered her god. On the other hand, Tacenda seemingly speaks to the angel's soul (even though angels aren't supposed to have souls), which is calm and kind and gives her the advice she needs to save everyone.
    • Willia Verlassen is stronger during the day and even throws around "bolts of light", but she is the evil twin.
    • According to Brandon Sanderson's reddit, the main villains are Green-aligned as to show the more negative side of that colour for a long welcome change. This includes the aforementioned Willia, who is Green/White/Black, the Bog Entity (who strictly doesn't care about which of the sisters survives, only that it is fed) and the mindless, assimilatory geists (which are helpfully described as glowing with a green light in the text).
  • Loophole Abuse: All of Davriel's contracts work like this. Of course the demons expect this, but he's very good at it.
    • Brerig gets Davriel's soul if he answers a riddle: "What am I thinking of right now?" (the "right now" being the time the contract was signed). It's so blatantly unfair that all the other demons are pretty sure that Brerig just wants a master and doesn't actually care about taking souls. Turns out that the answer was a random rock Davriel had seen on the roadside.
    • Crunchgar gets Davriel's soul if Davriel lives to sixty-five without dying; a good contract for a bodyguard. The contract is full of very specific wording to define exactly how long a year is and exactly when Crunchgar will be able to claim him. The Exact Words were a Red Herring; Davriel died long before he ever met Crunchgar, so there was never any chance of him collecting.
    • Miss Highwater gets Davriel's soul if she manages to seduce him. We never hear any twists of the contract; Davriel just seems completely confident in his ability to ignore her wiles.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Davriel completely ignores all of Miss Highwater's attempts to seduce him. In fact, their contract is that she gets his soul if she can successfully seduce him, and he never makes a contract that has any chance of coming back to bite him.
  • Not Quite Dead: Davriel realises early on that the villagers aren't dead, they've just had their souls forcefully shunted out of their bodies to become the Whisperers, though it won't be long before their bodies start to decay and they become fully dead. Tacenda all but blackmails him into helping her fix it in time.
  • Power Parasite: Davriel's only innate power (without tapping the Entity, at least), is the ability to steal magical tricks from other people. It's not permanent: He can hold a power for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months without using it; if he does, it will be gone in a few days (or after a couple of uses).
  • Self-Made Orphan: Willia was responsible for the death of her and Tacenda's parents, though she claims it was accidental. Everyone after that, however, wasn't.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Tacenda and Willia each got half the Bog's power, giving them complementary gifts and curses: Willia is inhumanly strong and powerful while the sun is up, but becomes completely blind while it's down, while Tacenda can see clearly in the dark and perform Magic Music, but is blind while the sun is up.
  • Word of Saint Paul: Sanderson mentions on his website that it was his intention for holding the Entities to grant Planeswalking abilities, and that neither Davriel nor Tacenda were supposed to be natural Planeswalkers. However, this would involve more lore implications than Wizards was comfortable with canonizing, so he was deliberately ambiguous in the actual story.

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