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Literature / Dark Shores

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Dark Shores

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.

The series consists so far of one novel:

  • Dark Shores (2019)


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.
  • 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.
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Marcus and Teriana. Also, non-romantically, Teriana towards some of legionnaires, like her bodyguards Quintus and Miki.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Marcus and Teriana, with her being more belligerent.
  • Blackmail: A weapon Lucius Cassius is very capable of using.
  • Blood Magic: To communicate with Magnius, Marcus needs to spill his blood into Magnius's mouth.
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  • 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.
  • Burial at Sea: The Maarin practice giving the bodies of their dead back to the sea.
  • 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.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Inflicted on the captured Maarin by Lucius Cassius and his questioner.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Green Around the Gills: Some legionnaires on board of Teriana's ship (that is, until she goes to help them).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Marcus constantly thinks (and says at one point) that Teriana deserves someone better than him.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Semi-Divine: Quincense's guardian Magnius is a scion of the sea goddess Madoria, which gives him several supernatural abilities.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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