Follow TV Tropes

Following

Literature / Crier's War

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/crierswar_engraved_final_01.jpg
Advertisement:

Crier's War is a Young Adult Science Fiction duology written by Nina Varela, consisting of the books Crier's War (2019) and Iron Heart (2020).

Set in the fictional land of Zulla, it involves the escalating tension between humanity and the Automae, beings created through alchemy which are stronger, faster, and (in some ways) smarter than humanity. The automae were created by humans as servants and workers, but after only a few years they took control in an uprising that led to the War of Kinds. The Automae subsequently turned the humans into their slaves and installed themselves as the new nobility throughout all of Zulla.

The story is told in two points of view: a human slave (Ayla) who is working to avenge her family's death and the daughter of the automa Sovereign of Zulla (Lady Crier) who is working towards being more involved in her father’s government. The book follows Ayla and Lady Crier as they meet and slowly fall for each other despite all the taboos keeping their kinds apart.

Advertisement:

Crier's War provides examples of:

  • Agent Provocateur: Scyre Kinok has infiltrated the human Resistance network, and instigated the Southern Uprisings a few years ago so he could crush it and make himself a hero to the Automae.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Alchemy is used for the creation of automa and Made objects which have very magic-like powers.
  • All for Nothing: The Resistance has spent years trying to find the location of the Iron Heart, pinning all their hopes of victory on destroying the source of heartstone so the Automae are wiped out entirely. When they finally do locate the heart, Kinok himself destroys it because he hopes to find an alternative power source.
  • Almost Kiss: Happens during Reaper's Moon when Ayla and Lady Crier go off to a cave. Lady Crier tells Ayla a story, and she is transfixed by a drop of water which hangs on Ayla's lips, but cannot bring herself to act.
  • Advertisement:
  • Altar Diplomacy: Marriages for political and economic reasons are so common amongst the nobility in Zulla that Lady Crier views this as the only legitimate reason to get married at all. Despite accepting the practice in general, she is crushed to discover that this was the entire reason her father had her Made in the first place. She was never intended to be his heir, but to be a negotiating tool if there was ever a political opponent who he couldn’t kill and needed to control in other ways.
  • Alternative Calendar:
    • Time in Zulla is currently divided into two different eras: Before Automa Era and Automa Era. The story starts in year 47AE.
    • Historically, the BAE was divided into "Eras" (centuries) itself, which were then divided into individual years. The War of Kinds began in Era 900, Year 24 (Also presented as simply Year 924).
  • Arranged Marriage: Lady Crier is engaged to Scyre Kinok, the head of the Anti-Reliance Movement. Sovereign Hesod hopes to co-opt Kinok's popularity, and Kinok hopes to use the marriage to extend his influence.
  • Artificial Human: The Automae are Designed and Made, given life through an alchemical process. They do not require sleep or food — it is unclear if they need to breathe — but they do require heartstone to function and are capable of sleeping and eating if they choose to do so. They view themselves as being inherently superior to humanity, but so far their culture and society is still based on the human society that preceded them.
  • Artificial Limbs: At the climax of the conflict, a cybernetic leg is made for Ayla after her leg was shattered.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Automa do not need to sleep, so when Ayla falls asleep in bed with Crier she is able to stay awake and watch her.
  • Beneath Notice: It frequently comes up that Automae do not know all of the secret ways for servants to get around their palaces, or notice the servants themselves at work. Sometimes this is plot-important when characters take advantage of this, but other times it just emphasizes how arrogant and elitist the Automae are.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Crier asks Hesod about the raid on Ayla's village, he at first claims not to remember. When she points out that Automae remember everything he admits that he remembers the event itself, but ascribes it no particular importance.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: The steps and final products in the alchemical process are all spelt with capital letters: Objects (And Automae) are Designed and Made, and if there is an error then the final product is Flawed.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Very full. The two main characters are both either gay or bisexual. Almost all of the fairy tale stories told involve a same-sex couple. Several other characters are involved in queer romances. There are also two characters that are non-binary or genderfluid: Erren and Wender.
  • Category Traitor:
    • Automae who are too sympathetic towards humans are viewed with distrust and contempt in Rabu. When Councilmember Reyka, who is one of the few Automae to publicly discuss human rights and fair treatment, disappears none of the other Red Hands are too concerned. Scyre Kinok even jokes that she may have finally joined the humans that she was so fond of.
    • When Ayla learns that Storme is alive, she is furious to see him working as an advisor to Queen Junn. She doesn’t listen when he tries to explain that things are different in Varn, and that Automae aren’t universally oppressive.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Benjy has been in love with Ayla for years, but she deliberately prevents him from confessing or taking any action because she doesn't want to let herself care for somebody.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Traditionalism is the Automa philosophy that says they should continue human customs and traditions, but since they don’t have any of the same biological needs as humanity many of their activities are just for show. Automae don’t derive any nourishment or sustenance from food, so the feasts they hold go to waste while the servants in attendance are starving. They don’t require sleep, so setting aside individual bedrooms is wasted space while the servants are crammed into cramped quarters.
  • Condescending Compassion: Lady Crier does earnestly mean well, but her perspective on humanity is so skewed and influenced by her position and education that she doesn't understand how poorly they are treated by her fellow Automa or how difficult their lives are.
  • Decapitation Required: Decapitation isn't the only way to kill an Automa, but it's the quickest and easiest for a human to pull off.
  • Disappointed in You: Both Hesod and Scyre Kinok use this against Lady Crier when the tell her that they expected her to be smarter and to have realized what they were doing sooner.
  • Doomed Hometown: Ayla’s village was burned down seven years ago and all the villagers were killed. She was the only survivor. It is later revealed that there were more survivors, including Ayla’s brother Storme.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Queen Junn of Varn is known as the 'Mad Queen', and there are horrific rumors circulating about her brutal practices (Including that she murdered her father to take the throne, that she bathes in human blood, that she eats human bones, etc.). Crier is naturally put off by these rumors, but she considers allying with Junn against Kinok and Hesod in order to prevent their own plans from maturing. It turns out that Junn spread those rumors herself, and she is a very competent and reasonably benevolent ruler.
  • Eyes Never Lie: More literal than most instances of the trope: You can tell whether somebody is human or Automa by seeing how their eyes reflect light. The first book opens with Crier remembering her father explaining this to her when she was freshly Made, and it is brought up throughout the story.
  • Famous Ancestor: Ayla is the descendant of Thomas Wren and “H”, the unknown woman who was the true creator of Automae.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Humans call the Automae "leeches" because all they do is consume the labor and work of their human slaves, without contributing at all.
  • First Kiss:
    • Ayla and Crier kiss in the inn at Elderell, but rather than start their relationship Ayla is so conflicted that it pushes them apart.
    • Benjy kisses Ayla before they begin the mission to steal Kinok's compass. Ayla herself does not know what Benjy intended, and thinks that it felt like "closure".
  • First Love: Crier does not believe that Automae feel love the way that humans do, and Ayla deliberately suppresses her feelings to prevent being hurt by others. They are both unprepared for the feelings that arise for each other.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Sovereign Hesod is a supporter of "Traditionalism", so he continues many human customs and traditions even though they don't really serve any purpose for Automae. He argues that since human civilization prospered for so long there is much that Automae can learn from them. His respect for humanity itself is purely surface level, since he sees Automae as the new successors of civilization.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: When the ‘shades’ start appearing in southern Rabu, primarily in areas where Kinok had the greatest influence, everybody opposing Kinok tries to figure out how this figures into his plan. It’s Ayla who realizes that this isn’t part of his plan at all, and that Kinok had actually screwed up and created the shades by accident. Kinok had been trying to create a replacement for heartstone and came up with Nightshade, which he disributed to his loyal supporters. He had no idea that it turned the Automae who used it into shades, so he unwittingly lost his fiercest supporters and created a zombie mob at the same time.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Queen Junn of Varn had Reyka killed when she became a liability to her plans, even though she had been an ally. When Crier is infuriated at the death of her friend and mentor, Junn explains that Reyka's slip-ups endangered their entire enterprise, plus her own close loved ones since Kinok in particular loves striking at those close to you. When engaged in a struggle against such a powerful evil, hard choices have to be made.
  • Gossipy Hens:
    • Ayla meets Wender at a party at Queen Junn’s palace, and learns that the only reason most of the attendees show up is to catch (And spread) the latest gossip. Ayla obviously doesn’t have any gossip to spread herself, but learns from Wender about Crier running away from her wedding.
    • When Ayla and Crier pose as a married couple to seek shelter at an Automa women’s estate, she keeps trying to pump them for gossip. Even asking for stories from their wedding in case they know the same people.
  • Great Offscreen War: The War of Kinds, where the Automae overthrew humanity and took control of Zulla.
  • Has Two Mommies: Dinara. Conceived by Red Hand Reyka’s human lover and a close friend who was a man. She was raised by Reyka and her human lover in secret.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Lady Crier finds Yora's Heart in her father's trophy room. Presumably, it has been there ever since Ayla's village was destroyed, but Hesod didn't recognize its significance.
  • His Story Repeats Itself: The first pivotal moment occurs when Ayla is hiding in the outhouse while her village burns and awaits her brother Storme to return for her. The wait is finally over when Storme rescues Ayla from the Iron Heart and the ensuing explosion and fire.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: The calendar was reset after the War of Kinds, abandoning their previous Era markers and starting at year one of the Automa Era.
  • Human Resources: Human blood is harvested in order to make Heartstone, which is the food source for automae.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Crier tries to reach Rosi after she has been corrupted by Nightshade, but by the end she has degenerated so much that there is no reaction at all.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Automae are all Designed to be perfectly beautiful. They are all tall, thin, have unblemished complexions, with perfectly symmetrical faces. However, this also makes them all look similar to one another, without any character or uniqueness to make one Automa stand out from any other.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Crier frequently makes offensive comments to Ayla without considering the implications. Once asking if humans are attracted to shiny objects like magpies are.
  • Instant Sedation: Occurs when Scyre Kinok finds Ayla and Lady Crier when they are exploring the Iron Heart. He throws a yellow dust at them which knocks them out immediately.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Ayla always refused to let herself feel something for Benjy since she viewed it as a weakness, but this was heightened even more after she discovered Kinok's map tracking human relationships so he can always strike somebody you care about.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Ayla discovers that Scyre Kinok has made a deliberate map of all the relationships between human servants in the palace (Blood family, friendships, and romance). When somebody needs to be punished, he knows to hurt somebody they care about instead of them directly. Ayla realizes that this is why Luna was executed: She hadn't done anything wrong, but Kinok wanted to punish Faye, her sister.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Ayla gets her and Benjy into the restricted area of Queen Junn’s party by grabbing a food platter, dumping off its contents, and telling the guards she needs to get it refilled inside. She gets past the guards, but the Made security system flags them as unauthorized shortly afterwards and they are both apprehended.
  • Last-Second Chance: When Scyre Kinok’s plans have been exposed, and his last followers have abandoned him, Crier pleads with him to just surrender and let it end. He refuses, and is killed immediately afterwards.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Lady Crier is crouching along the sea cliffs when the section she is standing on starts to separate off. She barely hangs on but is rescued by Ayla, which starts their relationship.
  • Logical Weakness: The Automae rely on heartstone to survive, which is only mined at the Iron Heart in the mountains to the west and shipped from there throughout Zulla. If the Resistance can destroy the Iron Heart, or even just waylay enough of the trade caravans carrying it, the Automae will be destroyed in totality without the need for a general rebellion. The Automae know this, so the precise location of the Iron Heart is kept completely secret and the trade caravans are heavily guarded.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Ayla refuses to let herself feel anything for Benjy, since she believes it will "weaken" her.
  • Machine Blood: Automa blood is purple in color.
  • Made of Iron: Ignoring the pun, Automae are much stronger and faster than a normal human, and are also much more resilient. They only sure way to kill them is by removing their head, striking them in the heart, or burning their body. Anything else and they will eventually heal back to perfect health.
  • Make an Example of Them: It is standard policy for the Automae to publicly hang the clothing of humans they have executed to discourage others. The story opens with Luna's white dress on display, and later Nessa's shoes replace it.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage:
    • Rabu does not accept or tolerate any relationships between Automae and humans, and it is so unheard of that Crier thinks her own feelings for Ayla must mean her Design was Flawed. Councilmember Reyka had to completely hide that she was in love with a human woman and they had a child together, only bringing Dinara around in the guise of a servant.
    • Things are much more tolerant in Varn, where human/Automa pairings are common enough for Ayla and Crier to pose as married when they need to sheek shelter at an Automa estate. Even then they still get side-eyed a little when they say that the wedding was human-style.
  • Marry for Love: Crier is confused by the fact that humans still get married, because the only reason that Automae get married is for political and economic reasons. Since humans don't have any power anymore, why do they get married? Ayla has to explain that humans get married because they love each other.
  • Memory Jar: Crier discovers that Ayla’s locket, which is a Made object that her parents gave her before their death, contains the stored memories of her grandfather’s life. It and its twin had been made by his wife, Siena, so they could pass down their lives to their children.
  • Moral Myopia: Automae do not view human lives as equal to their own. When discussing past rebellions where hundreds of humans were killed in reprisals, they view it as justified because one Automa was almost killed.
  • Older than They Look: Automae age much slower than humans, and have a commiserate longer lifespan. However, since Automae were only first created 65 years ago, none of them have yet reached advanced age. This manifests mainly as people in their middle-age looking in their prime.
  • Only Friend: Rosi is the closest thing that Crier has to a friend, being somebody close to her own age that she has corresponded with frequently. They don't really like each other — and Rosi is even surprised when Crier says she is happy to see her at a party — but that connection means that they are still very important to one another.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Crier was close to Councilmember Reyka, who was the one person in authority who seemed to appreciate and nurture her intelligence and aspirations. She is crushed when she learns that Reyka has mysteriously vanished at the start of the story.
    • Rowan is this to both Ayla and Benjy, rescuing them from life on the street.
  • Photographic Memory: Automae have perfect recall by default. They remember everything.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Occurs after Ayla and Lady Crier are taking a bath in a river, and actually goes in both directions. Crier is initially unwilling to disrobe because she assumes that humans are hung up on the nudity taboo and that Ayla won't want her to take her clothes off, so Ayla eventually has to tell her to get in the river. When she gets out of the river to dry she then forgets to re-dress, and Ayla has to remind her.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Lady Crier has ambitions of joining the Red Hands, the ruling council, and has many ideas for political reforms in Zulla. She is crushed when Hesod keeps forcing her out of the room, metaphorically and once literally.
  • Power Crystal: Scyre Kinok is searching for “tourmaline”, which he hopes to be able to use to power Automae indefinitely without the need for heartstone. Tourmaline does work, and a tourmaline heart can replace an Automa’s heart completely.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Kiera, the first Automa, needed to consume human blood to function. The older she got, the more blood she needed. Thomas Wren eventually found out how to manufacture heartstone to serve in place of blood for the Automa who followed Kiera. Heartstone was still based on human blood, processed through an alchemical process so it could support more Automae with the same amount.
  • Psycho Serum: Nightshade is this to Automae. Rosi claims to have never felt better after taking it but she starts losing weight, her veins and mouth turn black, and she is starting to go insane. Eventually Automae completely degenerate into mindless 'shades'.
  • Revealing Injury: When Crier is posing as a human, her nature is revealed when she throws herself in front of a crossbow to save a human. The fact that she survived at all would normally be enough, but it also shows her Automa blood.
  • Robosexual: In Rabu there is a very large taboo against relations between humans and Automae, it is so large that Crier believes that her feelings for Ayla means she is Flawed. When she realizes that Queen Junn of Varn is in a relationship with her human advisor she is shocked at the implications. It is later revealed that Varn in general is much more lax with regards to romance, and Crier and Ayla once pose as a married couple. They finally admit their feelings for each other and begin a relationship.
  • Robotic Reveal:
    • Crier is exposed to be an Automa to the band of human rebels she is travelling with when she takes a crossbow bolt to the back, revealing her purple blood.
    • Inverted with Queen Junn, who cuts her own arm to show that she is actually human.
  • Runaway Fiancé: Lady Crier flees from Scyre Kinok on the day of the wedding.
  • Saying Too Much: Rosi is a devout member of the Anti-Reliance Movement, and she gives Crier a lot of information about Kinok's plans in their casual conversations because she thinks that Crier must already be involved. Crier leans into this to pump her for as much info as she can.
  • Secret-Keeper: Storme functions as this for Queen Junn with her secret of being human.
  • Secret Path: There are many passageways in the Sovereign's palace which the Automae do not know about, and which can be used by humans to move about the palace without being discovered. The thing is, these passageways aren't actually secret or hidden, they're just used by the servants in the course of their duties so the Automae don't pay attention to them.
  • Secret Room: Scyre Kinok has an alchemical laboratory hidden in a secret room behind his quarters, where he is working on creating a new substance to replace heartstone.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Storme, the advisor to the Queen, is sleeping with Queen Junn.
  • So Proud of You: Rowan says this to Ayla.
  • Stealing the Credit: Thomas Wren is credited with creating the first Automa, but he really stole the work from an unnamed woman now known only as “H”.
  • The Stoic: Automae have much more control over their expressions than humans do, so they show much less emotion. Automae also claim to not experience emotions the same way as humans do in the first place, but this may not be as true as they claim.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: There's a reason that the Resistance hasn't been able to find the Iron Heart. It is literally inside a mountain, with the entrance a solid rock wall unless you know how to open it.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The books switch from Ayla's and Lady Crier's POV from chapter to chapter.
  • Tainted Veins: Automae that consume Nightshade eventually develop black veins before they inevitably go insane and murderous.
  • Taking the Bullet: Crier throws herself in front of a crossbow in order to protect Hook. Since she is an Automa this is less dangerous than it would normally be, but it does reveal her true nature.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The ‘shades’ are crazed, violent, mindless Automae who were addicted to Nightshade and attack any non-shades they encounter, either human or Automa. They degenerate so far that their skin seems to rot, and their lack of any pain reaction means they continue to move even after suffering broken limbs. The final result is close to the classic shambling zombie.
  • Thieving Magpie: Crier asks Ayla if humans are fascinated by shiny objects like magpies to try and understand why Ayla holds onto the locket she got from her parents, even though it is illegal.
  • Tin Man: The Automae are unusual in that they do not deny having emotions, but they claim that they experience them differently than humans do. Some of the text supports this, but other aspects seem to indicate that they simply don’t SHOW it.
  • Title Drop: The mine that supplies Heartstone to the automae is the Iron Heart, the title of the second novel.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Ayla’s locket is the only remaining item she has from her family. It is a Made object, which is illegal for humans to own on pain of death, but she cannot bear to part with it.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Automae were originally created as servants and trinkets for humans. They rebelled in the War of Kinds, where they overthrew humanity and installed themselves as the new nobility in Zulla.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Ayla and Lady Crier pose as married when staying in an estate after fleeing from Rabu to Varn.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Crier is obsessively fixated on Ayla after their very first meeting, and after spending time with her Ayla begins to find her own feelings for Crier growing as well. Crier believes that such feelings are the result of her Flawed Design, and Ayla is plotting Crier's death and the overthrow of the Automae, so neither can act on their feelings. They finally admit and act on their feelings towards the end of the second novel.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Sovereign's authority once spanned the entire continent of Zulla, but the nation of Varn has seceded and the region of Tarreen — which as on the far side of Varn — is so remote there is almost no direct rule. This leaves only the heartland region of Rabu and the Far North under actual control, even though Hesod still claims the title 'Sovereign of Zulla'.
  • Visionary Villain: Scyre Kinok dreams of an Automae society completely divorced from any human legacy, without even the need for heartstone to hold them back. He hopes to discover Tourmaline, a new power source that can run forever, and remake the entire world.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: When Ayla mentions how concerned she is about Faye working in the kitchens, Crier has Faye given a room in the palace and her own servants to care for her. She expects Ayla to be overjoyed and grateful, and is shocked when Ayla says that Crier can't just be kind to one human while leaving the rest enslaved.
  • The War Just Before: The Southern Uprisings, a human rebellion in the Southern Estates which launched Scyre Kinok's political career when he suppressed them almost single-handedly. He also deliberately instigated the Uprisings in the first place. This was the last large-scale human rebellion, and its crushing defeat has demotivated many Resistance members to think that open revolt against the Automae is futile.
  • We Can Rule Together: Scyre Kinok offers this to Lady Crier to entice her to stay when she starts to have doubts about their upcoming marriage.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: It is repeatedly stated that Automae do not feel emotions the same way that humans do. Crier asks Ayla to explain to her why humans get married since they don't need to make political alliances, and Ayla has to explain that they want to.

Top