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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.

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

The primary series consists of:

  1. The Long Way Down
  2. The White Gold Score (A novella side-story)
  3. Redemption Song
  4. The Living End
  5. A Plain-Dealing Villain
  6. The Killing Floor Blues
  7. The Castle Doctrine
  8. Double or Nothing
  9. The Neon Boneyard
  10. The Locust Job

The Long Way Down, Redemption Song and The Living End 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 six books currently available, consisting of:

  1. Harmony Black
  2. Red Knight Falling
  3. Glass Predator
  4. Cold Spectrum
  5. Right To Kill
  6. Black Tie Required

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.
    • Nadine, a noblewoman in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, to her daughter Nyx. Nadine makes a hobby of torturing people horrifically and is a great believer in You Have Failed Me, and Nyx has never won a single fight against a major character.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Most of the characters in the First Story have specific roles, but their actual disposition isn't always known. The Witch in particular, despite opposing The Enemy and the Network, is frequently noted to be a sadist and manipulates Marie into killing her husband.
  • 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: Daniel and Harmony, although they don't particularly hate each other, so much as they're just on opposite ends of the law. Daniel is often noted to be Harmony's "White whale". Played for laughs in Detonation Boulevard where Daniel invokes The Only One Allowed to Defeat You when they're fighting Nyx and they have a brief argument over whether they're technically nemeses.
  • 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. Even when his role is expanded in the Wisdom's Grave trilogy his political affiliation is never revealed.
    • 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 follow-up is "No, not that one. Not that one either."
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Enemy and the Network team up, despite their conflicting goals. Each of them are fully aware that the other will eventually stab them in the back and are simply resolved to be the one who does the backstabbing first.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: So many it will make your head spin: An unspecified number of demon princes, the Enemy, the Network and the Kings of Man, and Naavarasi are all working against each other, in open or in secret, to either conquer or destroy all of existence.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Daniel and his crew are criminals, sorcerers, and literal demons, but the monsters they go up against are even worse.
  • Break the Cutie: Savannah Cross, a scientist working for the Network, was originally an idealistic young woman who wanted to help the world, but a lifetime of compromise mixed with sexist bosses lead her to becoming the remorseless sociopath she is by the time she's introduced. Vanessa restores her original self at the end of the Wisdom's Grave trilogy.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Nadine is often noted to resemble Taylor Swift.
  • 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.
    • Savannah Cross tortures Marie in order to make her call out to Nessa, in the hopes of understanding the source of their power.
  • Cool Car: Daniel's Hemicuda, which is often noted to be his prize possession. When Harmony borrows it from the police impound lot to cheer up Jesse, he acts like it's the worst thing she'd ever done to him (as opposed to arresting him and throwing him in prison).
  • 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, an accomplished wizard who can kill a man with a simple spell and (especially) Caitlin, The Dragon to a demon prince who's also a weapons expert that earned her job by killing an angel and giving its wings to Prince Sitri. 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 in exchange for his help in getting elected President of the United States, 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.
  • Devil, but No God: Played With. While the forces of Hell are present and active, Satan himself is MIA (having abandoned his post after losing faith in the system). Heaven is confirmed to exist, but the first angel introduced in the story in an Omnicidal Maniac Knight Templar. God himself remains unseen until it's eventually revealed that he sealed himself in a pocket universe to hide from the Kings of Man, who would kill him and take his power if they ever found him.
  • The Dragon: All over the place.
    • Each of the demon princes have one called their Hound. Caitlin is Sitri's Hound.
    • Adam, the head honcho for the Network, is also the right-hand man for the Kings of Man.
    • Fleiss is the primary minion of The Enemy.
    • As revealed in The Locust Job, Daniel's brother, Teddie is this for Naavarasi.
  • 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 Caitlin to file Daniel as her official thrall, which means that Daniel's crimes are Caitlin's, and Naavarasi can demand Caitlin's servitude. When Daniel challenges her for ownership of himself and Caitlin 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 first 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.
    • The Kings of Man consider themselves gods.
  • God Is Flawed: It's eventually revealed that God created the multiverse in a series of failed attempts to replicate his own creation by his mother Sophia, but as he's not nearly on Sophia's level, he wasn't capable of getting it right and his attempts to mitigate his mistakes ended up causing worse problems, in particular, the Kings of Man and the Enemy.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The nine Kings of Man 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 dwell primarily in the Void Between the Worlds.
  • 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'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").
  • Informed Attribute: Harmony Black is supposedly a rigidly By-the-Book Cop, "so straight she wouldn't touch a bent nickle", but she makes several backroom deals with Daniel and lies on official reports in service to upholding The Masquerade. And that's before she joins Vigilant Lock, an off the books black ops agency, which directly acknowledges she's broken numerous laws and gotten away with it solely because her boss covers for her. Thankfully she's an Anti-Hero at worst.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Carolyn Saunders, the Scribe in the First Story, has written about Daniel's misadventures extensively (in the guise of schlocky High Fantasy rendering him as Donatello Faustus) after Daniel is transplanted into the role of The Thief.
  • 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.
  • The 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. They were originally the latest in a series of catspaws for the eastern United States demon courts to nettle the larger courts to the west, but Harmony and her team officially take control of it in Cold Spectrum and its cover identity becomes its real identity.
  • 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.
  • My Greatest Failure: Daniel had an apprentice at one time, but she was killed by some sort of magical construct and he's never forgiven himself for not saving her.
  • 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 Blue Eyes: Cultists of the King of Wolves often have glowing blue eyes.
  • 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 Angels Are Different: Angels are described in varying forms. Some are the classic Winged Humanoids, while others are giant flaming eye covered wheels.
  • 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.
  • Reincarnation Romance: The Witch and her Knight, characters from the First Story, are destined to fall in love and then get killed. Since every character in the play reincarnates, they do too. In the series, they are Vanessa Roth and Marie Reinhart respectively.
  • Riches to Rags: Calypso at the end of the Wisdom's Grave trilogy. He invested everything he had in getting Alton Roth into the White House, but ultimately calls off the contract due to Roth breaking its terms, effectively destroying his own reputation.
  • 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.
    • After making a Badass Boast to the New Commission about being the guy who's going to take out a traitor who sold out to the mob, Daniel picks up a new nickname among the occult community: The Guy, much to his continual dismay.
  • 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.
  • Situational Sword: Howard Canton's artifacts can only be wielded with their full power when they're being used to protect a life.
  • The Starscream: Nadine is completely openly plotting to replace Royce as Prince Malphas' Hound, and ultimately Prince Malphas as well.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Savannah Cross, one of the Network's agents insists that magic and science are the same, and that she's completely figured them both out. Jury's still out on the first, but Vanessa rather comprehensively disabuses her of the second in Sworn to the Night.
  • 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 the First Story, a 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.