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Dark Shores
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Dark Shores is young adult fantasy series written by Canadian author Danielle L. Jensen.

Teriana comes from the seafaring nation of the Maarin, who are the only ones able to cross the Endless Seas dividing the world of Reath into two parts, ignorant of one another. Marcus is the commander of the 37th Legion of the Celendrial Empire, famous for the fact that they never retreat. They should have nothing in common, yet they are brought together by a power-hungry politician who knows exactly how to threaten or blackmail them to do his bidding. And so Teriana agrees to lead Marcus and his legionnaires to the legendary Dark Shores to conquer the land for the Empire — while she is secretly plotting their downfall.

In the meantime, on the other side of the world, the dreaded nation of Derin, who worship the Seventh god, has invaded Mudamora. Young Killian Calorian, Marked by War God Tremon, believes it's all his fault and is ready to pay with his life for his mistakes—when suddenly he is given a chance for redemption by none other than the King's daughter, princess Malahi.And Lydia, Teriana's only friend in Celendor, is learning that the world is much more complicated than her beloved library and there is a price for everything.

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The series consists of:

  • Dark Shores (2019)
  • Dark Skies (2020)

The series gives examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl:
    • Teriana is physically very fit, climbs the rigging easily, can land a good punch if needed — and mentions off-handedly that she has killed some people.
    • All of Malahi's bodyguards are good fighters or at least brawlers and they do not shy from a fight.
  • Agony of the Feet: Upon arriving in Mudamora, Lydia is wearing only a bathing gown and has to walk quite a long distance upon rough land on bare feet. And then her foot falls through a sewer grate and she also hurts her ankle.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Lucius Cassius agrees to marry Senator Valerius's foster daughter in exchange for political favors. It is heavily hinted that most marriages among the patricians of Celendrial are like this.
  • Apron Matron: Lady Calorian. As a widowed wife of the previous High Lord Calorian she should not even enter the council chamber and yet she walks in, shoos her eldest son (the current High Lord) from his chair and then calmly proceeds to order all gathered aristocrats (including the Princess) around. When Killian dares to suggest she should evacuate, she just arches her eyebrows. She is also probably the only Reasonable Authority Figure around.
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  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Most of High Lords of Mudamora (with the notable exception of High Lady Dareena Falorn are cowardly and care nothing about the plight of common people—and at the first sight of trouble flee beleaguered Mudamora, basically content to let people starve and die. Special mention should go to Helene Torrington, who is proud that she was able to buy an expensive ring from a desperate girl for a few pieces of silver.
  • Ascended Extra: Teriana's friend Lydia, who appeared in the first few chapters of Dark Shores, becomes The Protagonist of Dark Skies.
  • Asshole Victim: King Serrick is a bad ruler, bad army leader and a despicable character overall, which means that nobody would mourn his death and yet Lydia and Killian save him.
  • The Atoner: Killian feels that he has failed the people of Mudaire when he let the Derin army cross the wall. That is why he goes down into sewers to feed the children living there.
    ...half of his motivation for being down in these sewers was selfish—he needed tangible proof that he was doing something. That he needed to atone for bringing this suffering down upon them.
  • Bathhouse Blitz: When senator Lucius Cassius invites his fiance Lydia to the bathhouse early in the morning, she thinks he only wants pre-maritial sex. But the bathhouse is eerily empty and it turns out that Cassius has arranged to have Lydia killed and her body dumped into the tunnel that drains the baths and leads somewhere underground. she survives but only due to a lot of luck and possibly a Divine Intervention.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Marcus and Teriana, with her being more belligerent.
  • Blackmail: A weapon Lucius Cassius is very capable of using.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dareena Falorn and her soldiers arriving at the last moment to save Killian and his troops at the ford.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Malahi who seems a nice, caring person but in reality manipulates everyone around to further her goals and when her first plan fails, is ready to even send Lydia to kill her father. It's open to debate whether she really believes it's necessary for the higher good or just wants personal power.
    • Hacken Calorian. He does feed the starving civillians in Mudamora but he does it to further his political agenda, he can be very charming if he wants to, but anyone who comes in closer contact with him realizes he's a Jerkass.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Without her glasses, everything Lydia sees is blurry and she squints a lot.
  • Blood Magic: To communicate with Magnius, Marcus needs to spill his blood into Magnius's mouth.
  • Born Under the Sail: The Maarin people. While their homeland is an archipelago, most of them spend most of their lives on their ships, which are also their homes. And they are the best sailors of the world.
  • Braids of Action: Young women who form princess Malahi's guard usually wear their hair long and braided, although some cut it short and the giantess Bercola shaves her head.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Malahi, decides to blackmail Lydia to murder King Serrick via the same manner of the Corrupted has. While in the same room as Lydia, who is untied.
  • Burial at Sea: The Maarin practice giving the bodies of their dead back to the sea.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Corrupted that comes to the Wall before Rufina's forces claims to wish to help defend. Killian doesn't believe her until after her death.
  • Child Soldiers: Each family in Celendor Empire has to send their second son to the legions at the age of seven. At the age of twelve they leave the training camp on their first campaign.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Small ornaments that Teriana wears in her braids turn out to be very important after she's kidnapped.
    • High Lord Torrington is the only one who drinks wine during the council meeting although he quickly puts his goblet away and makes a face. A few chapters later he turns out to be infected with blight.
    • Lydia's ring High Lord Hacken Calorian's reveal that Killian had returned it to Lydia kicks Malahi's jealously into overdrive and utterly overturns Lydia and Killian's plans to return Lydia to Celendor.
    • Single handcuff in the shape of the Calorian horse that Killian absent-mindedly leaves in his brother's house (the other one he gave to a little girl in the sewers) becomes quite damning in Hacken's hands.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Inflicted on the captured Maarin by Lucius Cassius and his questioner.
  • The Corrupter: The Seventh god, also known as the Corruptor.
  • Corrupt Politician: Lucius Cassius is an epitome of this, he uses blackmail, favors and fortune (acquired through shady means) to rise to the position of consul.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Marcus spent the last 12 years in Celendor's legions and is haunted by the things he has done and seen (including the infamous Chersome campaign).
  • Dark Secret: What Lucius Cassius uses to make Marcus follow his orders (and, as Marcus muses at one point, not only him).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Teriana's bodyguard Quintus.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Teriana's aunt Yedda. She really likes making legionnaires on her ship uncomfortable by looking at their exercises and whistling at them.
  • Disappointed in You: Killian's father, when he hears about his son's failure to hold the wall.
    High Lord Calorian: You were meant to be my greatest achievement. Instead, you've been my greatest disappointment.
  • Disease by Any Other Name: The fits that plague Marcus are clearly asthma attacks, triggered either by something in the environment (which is why Servius cleans Marcus's horse so thoroughly before riding into Celendor) or emotions.
  • Disney Death: As of Dark Skies, Lydia is not as dead as Marcus believes.
  • Divine Conflict: At one point the sea goddess Madoria and the air god Gespurn get into fight over Teriana's ship. But that's nothing compared to the conflict between the Six gods of the West and the Seventh, the Corruptor.
  • Divine Intervention: Even though gods in theory mostly work through their Marked, there are a few, some more and some less obvious:
    • Madoria and Gespurn fighting over the Maarin ships that carry legions through the xenthier.
    • Hegeria marking Lydia to save Killian's life.
    • Possibly Madoria tearing Lydia out of Marcus's grip.
  • Dramatic Irony: Teriana is convinced that Lydia betrayed her and all the Maarin. Lydia spends essentially the entirety of her book from the moment she realizes that the worship of the Six has reached the wrong ears trying to warn/rescue Teriana and is quite willing to sacrifice herself to do so. It's only the reveal that Teriana no longer is in Celendor that stops Lydia's attempts to return home.
  • Dying Alone: Marcus is very grateful to Teriana, who comforted his dying men in the medics' tent. She thinks it was nothing but he explains to her that her very presence was important.
  • Dysfunctional Family:
    • The Domitius family is mostly filled with hatred. Gaius hates his brother Marcus for not dying (which would bury their Dark Secret forever), Marcus hates his brother and father for not even acknowledging his existence, and Marcus's sister Cordelia cares about him but hates her father and Gaius for forcing Marcus to join the legions.
    • King Serrick and his daugher Malahi. He hates her because of their Dark Secret and would love to see her dead, while she is plotting to have him deposed and take the crown.
  • Elemental Motifs: The Maarin are connected to water, or more precisely, the oceans. They are a sea-faring nation worshipping the sea goddess Madoria, they prefer to be buried at the sea and their eyes change colour within the range of sea colours.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: When the Derin cross the wall and invade Mudamora, most of aristocrats flee the capital Mudaire by ships, leaving the common people to suffer and starve. Made worse by the fact that at night Mudaire's skies are filled with deimos, a kind of demonic flying horses, which kill anyone who is out in the open and also make fleeing Mudaire on foot impossible.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: When riding through desolate countryside, Killian takes a shortcut through an abandoned farm and sees a doll propped against a post—and immediately starts thinking about its owner, whether the girl is safe somewhere in the south with her family or maybe starving and scared in Mudaire.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: As the author herself claims, Celendor is based on the Roman Empire, with its military expansion, legions, political system, inferior role of women and even names and clothing. There's one huge difference, though. While the Roman Empire was polytheist and would accept deities from various cultures, Celendor is militantly atheist.
  • Fate Worse than Death: While the Maarin people would not mind being tortured and dying for their secret, having their bodies buried underground is something that fills them with terror, as it would stop their souls from passing on.
  • Fictional Age of Majority: In Mudamora at least, the age of majority is 18, as princess's Malahi's 18th birthday is a very big deal. In Celendor it is implied to be much lower, as 18-year-old Lydia is said to be past the time to get married.
  • Food God: Yara, goddess of the earth and everything that grows from it. Particularly worshipped by the peaceful farmers of Katamarca.
  • Foreshadowing: A frequent occurrence, both within a single book and stretching across books.
    • Lydia points out when Teriana gives her the Treatise of the Seven that she'd be in great trouble if she was found with it. Lydia underestimated the trouble as the book being found leads to the Empire sending legions to conquer the West.
    • The Corrupted that arrived at the Wall to warn Killian claimed to have been "stolen" by the Seventh rather than having made a pact. That Lydia has only made a pact with Hegeria but can also drain the life from others, the signature power of the Corrupted, confirms the Corrupted's claim that being Corrupted is not nearly as simple as accepting a pact with the Seventh.
    • At one point Malahi asks Killian to stop arguing with Helene Torrington, as one day she will become the High Lady of the House Torrington and Malahi will need her support then. Which happens when her father drinks blight-infected wine and Helene, angry at Malahi's engagement to Killian, removes her House's support for the Princess.
    • Teriana and Marcus are told of missing/kidnapped children in Dark Shores. The audience finds out where at least some of the Marked children are going in Dark Shores - sold to Mudamora.
    • Malahi asks for confirmation of Lydia's description of the crown shelters. Malahi is very aware that Lydia is the healer that saved Killian and is jealous.
  • The Fundamentalist: Great Master Quindor of Hegeria's temple, so blinded by his belief that individuals marked by gods are born to serve that he sees no problem in basically buying Marked from other nations as slaves.
  • Gender Is No Object: Generally true in the Western part of Reath, where women work, fight and rule alongside men. Subverted in the East, where women are property of their men (fathers, brothers, husbands).
  • God of Evil: The Seventh god, the Corruptor, who is actively trying to undermine faith in the other Six gods and Take Over the World.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Gods on Reath need their faithful to have any powers. And since Celendor is atheist and has laws punishing "paganism" with death, gods have disappeared from the East.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Seventh god, the Corruptor. Gods of Reath usually do not interfere directly and only act through their chosen. And while Derin's queen Rufina is marked by the Seventh, Lucius Cassius might be acting independently. Or not.
  • Green Around the Gills: Some legionnaires on board of Teriana's ship (that is, until she goes to help them).
  • Green Thumb: Tenders, that is individuals marked by Yara, goddess of earth and everything that grows from it, can make plants grow rapidly and protect them from pests.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Teriana is constantly reminded that neither she is totally good and moral nor Marcus totally evil. And even Cassius's son Titus, while he certainly has his own agenda, seems to be quite reasonable and has some redeeming qualities.
  • Guile Hero: Lydia. She is not very strong, wears glasses and is certainly not trained in fighting but she often solves problems by quick thinking like blinding a deimos with table cloth and liquor and then setting it on fire.
  • Healer God: Hegeria, goddess of the body and souls, who gives her marked the ability to heal diseases and injuries.
  • Healing Factor: Healers marked by Hegeria heal faster than other people—that is, unless they spend too much of themselves healing others. And the corrupted are these Up to Eleven, as the life they have stolen from others allows them to heal even deadly injuries.
  • Healing Hands: People marked by Hegeria (goddess of the body) gain the ability to see what is wrong with another person's body and heal diseases and injuries. However, the price of healing can be steep — Arinoquian healer Caradoc ages rapidly after being forced to heal Marcus.
  • Hegemonic Empire: The Celendrial Empire. First and foremost, it's very efficient in everything — laws, taxes, logistics, military. And it does not oppress anybody, as long as they obey the laws, pay the taxes, send their second sons to the legions and give up religion. However, under Cassius's leadership as consul, it might as well become The Empire.
  • Heroic Ambidexterity: When Killian is shot in the right shoulder, he simply switches sword hands, and he is often seen fighting with two blades.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: One of things that Killian gets thanks to his mark. He does not need to aim, he releases an arrow and knows it will hit the target and he does it at distances that would be impossible for other archers.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Marcus constantly thinks (and says at one point) that Teriana deserves someone better than him.
  • Jerkass: High Lord Hacken Calorian, Killian's oldest brother. Very handsome, rich and powerful, he is also greedy, full of contempt, does not care a whit about common people and often makes life miserable for Killian. Also, at one point he simply steps on the body of a girl who died while protecting his life (well, his and Malahi's) because he cannot be bothered to go around (or maybe he just does not care).
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Maarin people have one mandate: "East must not meet West", which means keeping the two halves of the world ignorant of each other. And that may mean withstanding Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Lady and Knight: Princess Malahi and Killian Calorian as her sworn sword.
  • Lady of War: High Lady Dareena Falorn, marked by War God Tremon, an accomplished warrior, military leader and politician.
  • Lord of the Ocean: Or in this case, Lady — the goddess Madoria that the Maarin worship.
  • Manly Gay: Teriana's bodyguards Quintus and Miki, who are tough legionnaires — and Quintus is also a trained and accomplished assassin. This does not stop Teriana from calling them "lovebirds".
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Marcus and Teriana. Also, non-romantically, Teriana towards some of legionnaires, like her bodyguards Quintus and Miki.
  • Mood Ring Eyes: The Maarin have eyes that ripple like the sea and change color (within the range of possible sea colors) along with their mood. Teriana closes her eyes at one point so that Marcus would not see how she feels.
  • Murder, Arson, and Jaywalking: Grand Master Quindor at one point accuses Killian of "loitering about drinking, gambling, and... eating cake!"
  • The Needs of the Many: How Malahi tries to persuade Lydia to go and kill king Serrick.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Malahi - repeatedly.
    • Her decision to not include Dareena Falorn leads to her plans to be voted queen of Mudamora to be disrupted due to there being no spare votes, twice.
    • Her forgery of the King Serrick's message nearly gets Killian killed and Mudamoria taken by Rufina's army.
  • No Woman's Land: Celendor Empire, where women have no rights and are treated as property of their men (first fathers, later brothers or husbands). And since most marriages among the patricians are arranged, their feelings are usually not taken into consideration.
  • Offing the Offspring: Malahi believes her father Serrick wants to kill her to bury their Dark Secret.
  • Off with His Head!: Basically, the surest way to kill a corrupted is to cut its head, as the life they have stolen from others allows them to heal even fatal injuries, like being spiked with arrows. Slicing the spine or crashing the skull also works in some cases.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Between Teriana, Lydia and Marcus no one has the entire picture of what was going down in Celendrial. In particular Teriana and Lydia's final conversation before the Consul elections have very different tones depending on whose perspective it is.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Even though giants are traditional enemies of Mudamora, they decide to help them fight Derin.
    A giant: You are our favorite to cross swords with, and we would not care to see you fall to another foe when we have long wished for you to fall to us.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Killian's friend Bercola is a foot taller than most people, has white hair, white eyebrows and colorless eyes. She talks loudly and when she pushes Killian to get him moving, she almost topples him. From what we learn in Dark Skies, giants live on the Island of Eoten, worship Gespurn, god of elements, and like fighting.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: People infected by the blight surrounding Mudaire have gray skin and black veins. They do not speak, and feel no pain or emotions apart from rage and desire to attack anyone who is not similarly afflicted. On the one hand they are Technically Living Zombie but on the other Grand Master Quindor claims that there is no life left in them.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: How the people of Celendor Empire view "pagans" (those who believe in gods).
  • Pirate Girl: The Cel often call Teriana a pirate, although Quincense is a merchant vessel.
  • Politically Active Princess: King Serrick's daughter Malahi is taking an active (although at first mostly hidden) role in Mudamora's politics.
  • Rapid Aging: Those chosen by the Seventh god can steal others' lifespan, which first results in this and if not stopped, kills the victim. Also happens to healers when they try to save someone close to death.
  • Really Gets Around: Killian is said to be a great womanizer, although most of that is blown out of proportion or even malicious rumor.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Since very few supply ships come to Mudaire out of fear of the deimos, common people are reduced to eating rats (as long as rats last).
  • Religion of Evil: That is how the cult of the Seventh god is perceived by other people of Dark Shores.
  • Rewatch Bonus: As Dark Skies and Dark Shores are occurring concurrently with each other albeit with differing perspectives - details are made a fair bit clearer with both halves.
    • Senator Valerius is initially cold to Teriana's eyes when she greets him in his home. He had just negotiated Lydia's marriage to Lucius Cassius and told Lydia to try and make herself more marketable as a wife by acting the part of a female Patrician to the T. Something that Lydia's friendship with Teriana works against.
    • Marcus being healed by Caradoc despite the raised concerns of Hegeria not choosing to heal him makes more sense when one realizes that either Hegeria is aligned with Madoria as to no longer enforcing the East/West divide or owes Madoria a favor for bringing Lydia back to the West.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Teriana's mother is a Triumvir, which is the closest that the Maarin have to royalty, and she is a captain of a merchant vessel, constantly travelling around the world. The same goes for other nations of the West: daughter of Gamdeshi Sultan is the commander of her father's army and Empress Ereni of Arinoquia is a capable warrior and leader of her people.
  • Runaway Bride: Teriana's friend Lydia is really unhappy with her Arranged Marriage and would love to run away — and Teriana would love to help her but is forbidden by her mother.
  • Scars Are Forever: At one point a group of legionnaires and Teriana are sitting around a campfire, discussing their scars. And then along comes Marcus, who has a scar on his face, left by an arrow that almost killed him.
  • Sea Monster: Quincense's guardian, Magnius, is a huge sea serpent.
  • Secret Keeper: The Maarin, concerning the existence of East and West and paths that allow them to cross the Endless Seas.
  • Self-Made Orphan: When Malahi's plan to depose her father is foiled, she goes as far as sending an assassin after him.
  • Semi-Divine: Quincense's guardian Magnius is a scion of the sea goddess Madoria, which gives him several supernatural abilities.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Hacken and Killian Calorian, the oldest and the youngest brother respectively. Hacken is a consummate politician, destined to be the next High Lord, while Killian is the warrior, just like their father—and even though Hacken is the oldest, he still envies Killian their father's attention. And then he goes on to make Killian's life really miserable, while all the time claiming he is doing it for Mudamora.
  • Sickly Child Grew Up Strong: While Marcus in certain circumstances still has fits that plagued his childhood, he is also the commander of his own legion and an accomplished fighter.
  • Small Steps Hero: Malahi believes that Killian and Lydia are like that, looking after orphans in Mudaire's sewers, while they should be helping soldiers fight and protect Mudaire from Derin's army.
  • Storyboard Body: Each legionnaire has two tattoos — his legion's number on the breast and his personal identification number on the back, used to identify deserters and the fallen.
  • Street Urchin: Finn and the orphaned children who live with him in the sewers.
  • Telepathy: Magnius communicates with the Maarin (and other people) by speaking in their minds and sometimes showing visions of events.
  • Teleportation: Xenthier stems allow instant travel over large distances, but they are one-directional only.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: Lucius Cassius forces Marcus to kill his future wife — the planned marriage was arranged for political reasons anyway and he dislikes his bride's independent thinking.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: On all Maarin except Teriana, as they enter a kind of trance that allows them to completely tune out pain.
  • Torture Technician: A masked questioner Lucius Cassius employs to force the captured Maarin to speak. Marcus finally stops the man, hits him and orders him to leave.
  • Touch of Death: The Seventh god grants its chosen (or the corrupted, as most people call them) the ability to steal another person's life force through touch, which also makes them very hard to kill (as they manage to accumulate hundreds of years of life through this).
    • Lydia reveals that at least some of Hegeria's healers also have the ability.
  • Translation with an Agenda: On Dark Shores, Teriana sometimes redacts her translations for Marcus. However, as Marcus learns new languages very quickly, this soon leads to Bilingual Backfire.
  • Tsundere: Teriana towards Marcus, for most of the book. Other legionnaires, especially her bodyguards, bring out her nice side.
  • Uriah Gambit: Malahi sends Lydia into a tunnel to watch for the corrupted, which is basically a suicide mission. She later claims she knew Lydia was likely to survive it but Hacken seems to believe she was disappointed that Lydia wasn't killed.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: The main goal of the legions is to subdue a province as efficiently as possible, make the people see the benefits of joining the Empire and get them to pay taxes. Raping the populace would not be conductive to that. Fortunately for the legionnaires, consorting with prostitutes is allowed, as long as they are paid.
  • Urban Segregation: Celendor is divided into the harbor district, which is poor, smelly and full of cramped tenement houses, the Hill, inhabited by the rich (the best families have their houses on the top, facing the sea), and between them there is the Forum and other public buildings, which would qualify as "normal" part.
  • War God: Tremon, patron god of warriors and soldiers. Among his marked are Killian, High Lady Dareena Falorn and Gamdeshi sultan's daughter, who is general of his armies.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Urcon's people have been taking children from people who could not afford to pay taxes and killing them to gain power.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Servius, one of Marcus's officers and friends, would never ever allow a girl or a woman to get hurt in his presence, because he grew up in a family with six sisters.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Marcus is a hardened legion commander but instead of resorting to violence, he prefers creative solutions to his problems, because in reality he does not like hurting civilians, especially kids.

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