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Literature / Daniel Faust

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Daniel Faust is the anti-villain main character of a series by Craig Schaefer, author of the Revanche Cycle. A con artist, thief and former gangster living in the shadows of Las Vegas, Faust uses black magic and bullets to get what he wants. He navigates a noirish world of Black and Gray Morality with the help of his crew of grifters and rogues and his lover Caitlin, the ruthless enforcer for a prince of Hell.

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The Daniel Faust series is rather large, consisting of several different series intertwining into and out of eachother, including the Revanche Cycle.

The primary series consists of:

  1. The Long Way Down
  2. Redemption Song
  3. The Living End
  4. A Plain-Dealing Villain
  5. The Killing Floor Blues
  6. The Castle Doctrine
  7. Double or Nothing
  8. The Neon Boneyard
  9. The Locust Job

The first three books form a rough trilogy as Daniel stumbles on a "The End of the World as We Know It" plot and tries to take down the bad guys. After that the Myth Arc kicks in, with The Revanche Cycle starting to cross over in Castle Doctrine.

A spinoff series following the adventures of FBI Agent and Hero of Another Story Harmony Black has also been released, with five books currently available, consisting of:

  1. Harmony Black
  2. Red Knight Falling
  3. Glass Predator
  4. Cold Spectrum
  5. Right To Kill
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A spinoff of that spinoff, the Wisdom's Grave trilogy following NYPD Detective Marie Reinhart, has also been released, consisting of:

  1. Sworn to the Night
  2. Detonation Boulevard
  3. Bring the Fire


The Daniel Faust series contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Daniel's father was both an abusive alcoholic and an unmedicated schizophrenic who flew into a paranoid rage at the slightest provocation. Daniel occasionally wonders/worries how much of his father's madness is in his own blood. Which explains why seeing children get hurt is Daniel's rage trigger. At the beginning of The Long Way Down, it's mentioned that a previous target of his, a pedophile, is permanently institutionalized and the doctors can't figure out why he shrieks in endless terror if he's not kept under heavy sedation. Likewise, when he's too late to save Amber Vance from being sacrificed, he tracks down her father and murders him in cold blood, kicking him off the edge of a skyscraper.
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  • Anti-Villain: Our 'heroes'. Daniel Faust is a con-artist and a thief, and he doesn't hesitate to use blackmail, violence, or even murder to achieve his goals. Bentley and Corman are (semi-)retired grifters, Jennifer is a drug dealer, Mama Margaux's family had ties to the Duvalier regime in Haiti, and Caitlin...well, Caitlin serves the powers of Hell. They're nice people, though. Usually.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Far, far too many BDSM allusions to be a coincidence. That and the fact that Caitlin and Emma are both sexually dominant, plus Naavarasi trying to put a slave collar around Daniel's throat...
    • Schaefer's characters like to talk over food, most often over gourmet cuisine, and any meal will be lovingly described.
  • Author Tract:
    • Subverted, in the character of the hopelessly corrupt Senator Alton Roth. At no point do we ever learn his political party, his views or his liberal/conservative slant, and when Pixie tries to discuss it, she's cut off before she can share any details.
    • Doubled down on in The Living End, when Caitlin reveals two former U.S. presidents were placed in office after selling their souls. Her quick followup is "No, not that one. Not that one either."
  • Badass Gay: Corman and Bentley, the guys who took Daniel in after he escaped from a cult and who taught him everything he knows about magic.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Daniel and his crew are criminals, sorcerers, and literal demons, but the monsters they go up against are even worse.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Nicky Agnelli's preferred means of dealing with traitors. Justine and Juliette, his designated torture technicians, delightedly refer to the act as "our favorite game: attitude adjustment!"
    • Caitlin grants Carl Holt a swift death, because he's mortally wounded, in shock, and torturing him "wouldn't have been any fun." His partner Alvin, on the other hand, isn't so lucky. And in the epilogue of The Long Way Down, it turns out his troubles are just getting started...
    • According to Nicky, this is what Caitlin did to the angel she captured.
    • When Daniel meets Naavarasi, she's amusing herself by torturing a food critic who gave her restaurant a one-star review. It reads like she's acting more out of petty spite than genuine sadism, though.
  • Crapsack World:
    • God is missing or dead, angels are genocidal, and the only reason the world isn't in Hell's hands is because the various demonic courts are too busy feuding with each other to really focus on us. Humanity is a guppy in a very big ocean filled with very hungry sharks.
    • Weirdly, when Daniel is explaining the facts of life to Pixie, he turns this into a pep talk. And in The Living End, Caitlin does the same thing to him.
  • Dark Action Girl: Jennifer and (especially) Caitlin. Black and Gray Morality being in effect, they're the good guys.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Demons of the Venerable Order of Bargainers turn this into an art form, and are basically Hell's rock stars ("except for the actual rock stars"). Senator Alton Roth sold his soul to the bargainer Calypso for political power, and Daniel runs a short con involving a copy of his contract.
    • Prince Sitri and Calypso both poke fun at Daniel's surname, pointing out that they wouldn't make a bargain for his soul even if he wanted to. He's spoiled goods.
  • Evil Mentor: Naavarasi really, really wants to be this to Daniel. By the end of Redemption Song, it looks like Prince Sitri is headed that way too.
  • Gambit Roulette: Naavarasi's plan in Double Down involved a multi-layer Xanatos Gambit to manipulate a Physical God and two arch-manipulators (Princes Malphas and Sitri). She sends Daniel to steal a Cutting Knife from the Enemy - knowing full well that he won't give it up once he finds out it's actually alive - allowing her to use the laws of Hell to demand it. This in turn provoked Caitlyn to file Daniel as her official thrall, which means that Daniel's crimes are Caitlyn's, and Naavarasi can demand Caitlyn's servitude. When Daniel challenges her for ownership of himself and Caitlyn she accepts, and when she loses is forced to give up both them and the knife. It's only at the end of the book that we discover her entire goal in the fist place was to get the knife in Daniel's possession while making sure that the Princes were aware that Daniel has it.
  • A God Am I: At the end of The Living End, Lauren proclaims herself such, and renames herself Eve.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The "kings in the outer dark", of which there are at least nine, are behind The Network, an occult criminal organization that's got its fingers in more pies than you can shake a stick at. They're not demons, but are something from beyond the heaven/hell/Earth bits.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Cambion are children born from a union (usually via rape) of a demon and a human. Nicky Agnelli is a Cambion, as are his sisters, Justine and Juliette.
  • Hero Antagonist: Harmony Black, an FBI agent that's got her eye out for Daniel for his past working for Nicky as well as his involvement in the death of Lauren Carmichael and her posse. To be fair, he kinda does deserve it.
  • Hero of Another Story: Harmony Black is basically a classic urban fantasy heroine, veteran of many past adventures, squaring off against some evil bastards. As mentioned, she's the star of her own spinoff series.
  • Horny Devils: Caitlin is a member of the "Choir of Lust", although she serves as The Heavy for Daniel's crew and her Prince's court.
    • It is also noted that Cait and Sitri are highly atypical of their choir. Most succubae/incubae really are mindless bimbos. They also "don't interact well" with members of the Choir of Sloth.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Anyone who wants to do business with Naavarasi has to dine with her first. Given that she's a rakshasi hunger-spirit who gleefully devours humans, the meat she serves probably didn't come from the local deli, but Naavarasi is also big on mind games, so she teases Daniel with the possibility that he might have eaten people, but she'll never tell.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Caitlin has casually warned Daniel, twice, not to take meat from the red Tupperware in her refrigerator (because "he wouldn't like it").
  • The Masquerade: Big time. The magicians of the world — who tend, more often than not, to be career criminals — have a collective agreement to keep things quiet. Breaching that agreement is a good way to get a curb-stomping or a bullet in your head.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Daniel and Caitlin. There's no indication of how long Caitlin's been around, but it's implied she's at least a few hundred years old. At least. Of course, their relative lifespans may not matter: Daniel's damned to hell anyway. One way or another, they're going to be together as long as she wants him...
  • Meaningful Name: Daniel Faust. Both Prince Sitri and Calypso find this highly amusing.
  • Men in Black: Vigilant Lock in Harmony Black's spin-off series is a black ops government agency that deals with magical threats under the table, though seemingly not very effectively before Harmony joined; they uphold The Masquerade but aren't part of it, and are horribly out of their league with anything beyond the odd serial killer with an occult fetish. They didn't even know about the existence of the demon courts before "Harmony Black".
  • Mind Rape: It's pretty hard to interpret what Lauren does to Daniel as anything but a magically-powered rape. Considering Daniel's reaction in the aftermath, he took it that way too.
  • Myth Arc: After The Living End Daniel gets caught up in the Enemy's attempts to break free from the the First Story and things go to pot from there.
  • Occult Detective: Daniel likes to style himself as "vengeance for hire" and is a former mob hitman, but he's basically an occult detective. Lampshaded in "The White Gold Score":
    Daniel: I sell vengeance for hire. I'm not some kind of...magic detective."
    Greenbriar: When you do jobs for people, do you use magic? And these jobs. Do they require investigation? Research? Perhaps looking for clues and assembling those clues in the correct order? You're a magic detective.
  • Our Demons Are Different:
    • Demons are divided by Choirs of Sin, which influence their personality and powers. Caitlin, Choir of Lust, addicts Carl Holt to her touch, while the Sloth demon in The Living End can leave a victim so lethargic that they'd rather starve to death instead of getting out of bed.
    • Doing evil for evil's sake is a pretty low priority for demonkind, at least the ones we've met so far. They're either out to satisfy their own ambitions (Nicky and Sullivan) or they're operatives in the endless cold war between Hell's feuding courts (Caitlin and Emma). They can be polite and even friendly — as long as they're getting what they want. Stand in their way, though, and the politeness vanishes in the blink of an eye.
  • Private Eye Monologue: The whole series, with a heaping helping of First-Person Smartass.
  • Psycho for Hire:
    • Justine and Juliette. When a hit-team takes their aliases from a pair of novels by the Marquis de Sade, you know they're bad news.
    • Meadow Brand, Lauren Carmichael's right-hand woman is a remorseless murderer, and absolutely revels in it, killing people for little to no reason. She's also not big on loyalty; she turns on Lauren in Living End and helps Daniel kill her.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: By the end of Redemption Song, Daniel helps to defeat Sullivan and "wins" Sitri's game but he's literally lost everything he owns except for his deck of cards, and he's homeless and broke.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The Ring of Solomon, a magical ring given to King Solomon by God in Jewish tradition.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Angus Caine. He has no personal opinion on Lauren's plans one way or the other — he and his men are in it for the money, nothing more and nothing less — and has no intention of going after the heroes until Daniel kills three of his soldiers at the New Life clinic.
  • Running Gag: Several.
    • If you go to a restaurant with Caitlin, she will insist on ordering for you, and usually do it before you even get to look at a menu. On the bright side, her choices are always perfect.
    • The Tiger's Garden is slightly displaced in time, and the waiter/cook/owner will promptly appear with your drink order...before you actually order it. Only Daniel thinks this is strange; the other regulars just accept it.
    • Juliette and Justine are incapable of going for ten seconds without insulting someone. If you have the gall to point this out, they'll pout about how mean you're being.
  • Secret Test of Character: In Redemption Song, that's Sitri's real game. He already knows who Pinfeather is, and the threat from the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers is as good as neutralized. He just wants to put Daniel in a difficult position and watch what he does, to determine if he's a good match for Caitlin or if he'll fold under pressure.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: As noted in Our Demons Are Different, demons are divided into seven different "Choirs" based on these. Caitlin and Prince Sitri are both Choir of Lust while Caitlin's friend Emma is Choir of Envy.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Caitlin and Daniel do this to Eugene Planck, and both Caitlin and Bob Payton do it to Daniel at different times.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: The Enemy is the bad guy in some sort of cosmic cautionary tale that's been repeating itself over and over for millions of years. His goal is to break free from the narrative, which always ends with his defeat, but most of his powers are locked away by the plot of the play itself, so he has to enact parts of it to unlock the seals.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Alvin's death at Caitlin's hands. Also, Sullivan's death at Caitlin's hands. Basically, anyone Caitlin kills.
  • The Trickster: Daniel, in spades. He relies on his skills as a con artist and slight-of-hand magician as much as his sorcerous power, if not moreso. He frequently goes up against enemies who could swat him like a bug, getting the upper hand with his wits and a well-timed rug pull.
    • Bentley and Corman taught Daniel everything he knows, and they don't mind coming out of retirement for the occasional grift.
    • Naavarasi is a trickster by nature, and it helps that she's a born mistress of illusion. Her one weakness is that she can't resist showing off.
    • Prince Sitri eats, sleeps and breathes this archetype. Anything he does is almost unquestionably part of a Xanatos Gambit five layers deep.
  • True Companions:
    • Daniel's crew.
    Daniel: She killed a friend of mine. He was family. Not by blood, by bond. Where I come from, if somebody hurts a member of your family, you put them in the ground. No mercy, no forgiveness, no second chances. Lauren signed her own death warrant.
    • Nicky Agnelli and the twins. Even when Nicky was deposed as the local The Don and went on the run he made sure to leave Juliette and Justine enough money to live on in a clean bank account.
  • Unreliable Narrator: We usually learn what Daniel's got up his sleeve at the same time his enemies do (such as the pouch switch in The Long Way Down, the scheme to expose Ben and steal the Ring of Solomon in Redemption Song, and arranging Meadow Brand's confession in The Living End). He's a magician. It's part of his schtick.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Lauren to the Smoke-faced Men.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Lauren Carmichael and her crew murdered the people they loved most in the world, seeking to open the Etruscan Box, believing it to be a demon that Lauren could control with the Ring of Solomon.
  • Verbal Tic: Nyx, one of the demons under the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, invariably refers to herself as "This one" rather than "I".
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sullivan, after his cult abandons him and switches sides thanks to Melanie's "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • The entire plot of Redemption Song. Once Sitri starts his game, there's literally no choice Daniel can make that doesn't further his plans, one way or another.
    • In the epilogue, the revelation that Father Alvarez was Pinfeather all along just drives this home. Sitri obviously knew his true identity the whole time. So even if Daniel did the most unlikely thing possible — obeying Sitri's order to kill the priest — he still would have helped Sitri out.
    • This is pretty much Sitri's raison d'être. He's behind half of the conspiracies to dethrone himself, which he organizes out of boredom.
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