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Literature / Deathstalker

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It's a bad old time for Humanity in general. The human Empire is presided over by Empress Lionstone, aka the Iron Bitch, a ruler who makes Josef Stalin look like Gandhi. Everywhere in the Empire, rebellions are popping up and popping heads as fast as one can blink, and are slaughtered with utmost efficiency. Espers, clones, degenerates, and slaves are ubiquitous, treated as third-class citizens when they're not being tortured, experimented on, or simply shot. And, for once in the Empire's history, nobody is truly safe — be it noble, commoner, or servant.

That's not the worst of it, though. From the borders of the Empire, a number of threats have arisen: a group of formerly subservient AIs which broke free of their programming and formed the planet Shub, driven to exterminate their old masters; the Sleepers, a group of aliens genetically engineered as weapons, intended to destroy all in their path... and other horrors from beyond the Darkvoid, a multiple-light-year-wide sphere of death which the Empire created hundreds of years ago. Oh, and that's still nothing compared to the court intrigues, only kept at bay by the terror the Empress bestows upon her subjects.


The eight-book Deathstalker series, written by Simon R. Green, drops the reader right into the midst of this, beginning with the outlawing of one Owen Deathstalker, an aristocratic historian who just wanted to relax in comfort on his idyllic, pastoral homeworld. That changes fast, and he's forced to take up arms with the smuggler Hazel D'Ark, the bounty hunter Ruby Journey, the hero of the rebellion Jack Random, and the former Hadenman Tobias Moon... as well as a host of other unsavory characters, all of whom are out for themselves as much as anything.

In short, the Deathstalker series is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink Space Opera, soft as warm butter on the Mohs scale, and is sliced up into hundred- or two-hundred-page sections which could generally stand as stories on their own right. The recipe is simple: one part Star Wars, two parts French Revolution, and a dash of Affectionate Parody, satire, and Lovecraftian horror, liberally sprinkled with Funny Moments. One can expect quite a lot of Shocking Moments when explaining any given segment, particularly as one reads further on. Finally, outside of the series itself, there are a handful of other stories written by Simon R. Green in the same universe, including the compilation Twilight of the Empire.


  • Twilight of the Empire (1998) (also known as Deathstalker Prelude)
    • Mistworld
    • Ghostworld
    • Hellworld
  • Deathstalker (1995)
  • Deathstalker Rebellion (1996)
  • Deathstalker War (1997)
  • Deathstalker Honour (1998)
  • Deathstalker Destiny (1999)
  • Deathstalker Legacy (2002)
  • Deathstalker Return (2004)
  • Deathstalker Coda (2005)

The series basically exits in three parts: Twilight of the Empire gives some important but ultimately optional backstory to important locales like Mistworld and Unseeli, and important characters like Silence and Carrion. The next five novels revolve around Owen Deathstalker, the rebellion against Lionstone, and the efforts to reforge the Empire into something better. The last three books take place 200 years later, show what the efforts of our heroes ultimately wrought, and conclude the series on pretty much a happy note.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Brett considers Rose to be one, not without good cause.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Monofilament swords.
    • All the swords, actually. While most everything in the Empire is described as being made of steel, the swords seem to have no problem cutting through whatever opponents are in their way. Unless those opponents are Grendels, who are just about immune to everything.
    • Personal force shields have these, which are used to great effect in some of the books.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Golgotha's sewer system is essentially most of the interior of the planet.
    • Averted on Brahmin II, where the sewer Hazel leads Owen through is described in relatively realistic dimensions for the amount of outflow it would be expected to handle.
  • Action Girl: Simon R. Green seems to love this. Examples are Hazel, Ruby, Investigator Frost; Jesamine; Rose; Investigator Topaz; and... pretty much every woman of any note in the books. Even Girly Girl Evangeline Shreck Took a Level in Badass very quickly, only stopped from being a true Action Girl by the fact that she's usually standing next to way more impressive fighters. Or she only comes across as a Girly Girl because she's surrounded by Maze-adjusted professional adventurers and highly-trained living weapon Investigators.
  • A God Am I: Owen and Hazel, eventually.
  • Agri World: Virimonde, the home planet of Owen Deathstalker (the name roughly means "green world" in French) is described as one.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: In the later books it is stated that dealing in Alien Porn is extremely lucrative and a statutory death sentence.
    • Emma Steel, Paragon from Mistworld recently reassigned to Logres, believes this. Lewis tries to explain to her that she'll get burned out if she doesn't focus on the big terrorist groups, but she doesn't listen. In her first hour on Logres, she arrests some scammers at the starport, then three muggers, seven pickpockets, and one flasher.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Shub. Also, Haceldama, though in that case its almost double-invoked, as Shub wanted all the A.I.s they made on Haceldama to be murderous, but some actually turned good.
  • Alien Geometries / Mobile Maze: The Madness Maze.
    • The alien city outside the Vault of the Sleepers on Grendel is also said to be fundamentally disturbing to humans, killing a large chunk of the company before they even get to the Vault. Also, the Hadenmen ship interiors are said to have angles that humans can't comfortably perceive. Heck, just about anything not built specifically by humans falls under Alien Geometries to some extent.
  • Almighty Idiot: An infant with the power to annihilate stars with a thought.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Carrion uses a weapon banned throughout the Empire: a power lance, banned because it makes an esper wielding one all but invincible by enhancing their abilities.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Once Finn Durandal makes himself King, then Emperor, he supports a few "night of the long knives" to eliminate threats to his power. Description near the end of Deathstalker Return show he's basically become a much more Genre Savvy Adolf Hitler.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Valentine Wolfe. He gets better, though.
  • Anti-Hero: Nearly every character.
  • Arc Words: "A whole greater than the sum of its parts."
    • "Deathstalker luck. Always bad."
  • Artifact Title: Not so much with the series itself (there is still a Deathstalker in the last three books, though an indirect descendant whose family took the name out of respect.) But while the Imperial capital world of Golgotha is renamed Logres for the last three books, its major city is still called The Parade of the Endless, so-named because of the endless meatgrinder of its main feature, the Arena. In the last three books, the Arena still exists, but the sport is less about blood and death than it is about skill (and regeneration machines keep death at bay, at least for the sapient combatants.)
  • A Spot Of Tea: While the first series mostly revolves around I Need a Freaking Drink, this trope shows up a few times in the second series. Notably, after Lewis is bored to tears by his new job as Champion, and MP from Virimonde cuts off his planet-sponsored funding because Lewis won't use his influence on Virimonde's behalf, Jesamine takes Lewis to the best tea room on Logres to help get his mind off it.
    • As Imperial forces wait around Haden to decide what to do about Lewis and Co. in Deathstalker Return, the fanatical Admiral of the fleet is chaffing under her very strict orders. Her Captain asks if he should order them a cup of tea while they wait.
    • In Deathstalker Coda, as Owen travels back in time to the First Empire, he keeps cheekily asking if he and the various important people he meets can sit down, have a cup of tea, and talk about this. (No.)
  • As You (Should) Know: Hazel makes a habit of not attending Rebellion (and later, Empire) briefings, leaving Owen to explain to her (and the audience) where they're going, what they're doing, and why. Owen will frequently pause in his exposition to say that Hazel would know all this already if she attended the briefings, and Hazel responds that she knows how much Owen loves lecturing her and doesn't want to deny him the satisfaction.
  • Attacking Through Yourself: The Masked Gladiator aka Finlay Campbell is fighting a winged genetically-engineered creature in the Arena, which grabs him from behind and carries him into he air, intending to impale him on one of the Arena's flagpoles. The Masked Gladiator can't attack the creature behind him effectively, so stabs through his own gut to hit the creature solidly enough to make it and him fall to the ground, where the Gladiator beheads it. The Gladiator makes a show of the wound not slowing him down... until he gets back to his private quarters, where he needs to quickly hop into a regeneration machine before he passes out.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: A favorite tactic of the heroes.
  • Badass Bookworm: Owen Deathstalker. He never really enjoyed the warrior training his family required of him, but he did it because he had to. After spending a few years getting soft, it all comes back to him. But his real passion is to sit back and, in his own words, "write boring histories no one ever reads." His vast store of historical knowledge actually helps the Rebellion plan effective strategy. Having read about countless successful and failed rebellions, he knows what tactics work and what mistakes to avoid.
  • Badass Normal: Alexander Storm, and quite a few other members of the rebellion — including Finlay Campbell and Kit Summerisle.
  • Battle Couple: Jack and Ruby; Owen and Hazel; Lewis and Jesamine; Bret and Rose; Silence and Frost; Finlay and Evangeline; David Deathstalker and Kit Summerisle.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Diana Vertue and friends vs. the Mater Mundi, quite literally.
  • Big Bad: Empress Lionstone XIV.
    • In the final three books, Finn Durandal.
  • Big Damn Heroes: By chance, Hazel and Owen's first meeting.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: All the Families, bar none. Deathstalkers have mandatory beatings of their youths to bring out the "boost," and the genetic quirks that give them the ability kills most young Deathstalkers, so the Family is very small. The Wolfe's are renowned for their viciousness, with Valentine's younger brother and sister constantly plotting to kill him. Gregor Schrek is vicious, petty bull of a man, who loves his daughter rather more than a father should. The Campbells seem to be the most normal, noble, well-adjusted Family in the Empire, but even they're dealing with the Rogue A.I.s of Shub (and are wiped out almost to the man before the end of the first book).
  • Bloody Hilarious: In Deathstalker Coda, Brett and Rose are approached by loyalists among the turncoat Imperial ships of Lewis' fleet, and asked to join their cause. When Brett accepts, he's asked to kill a traitor to the traitors. Brett has Rose do it, and she tears the man's head off with her bare hands, kisses the severed head before the throwing it away, then rips the heart out of the body and starts eating it. The loyalists' sickened reactions and Brett's smarm make the whole thing this.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Deconstructed with Lionstone's maids. Young women taken from, well, wherever the hell she feels like, turned into cyborg monsters with implanted claws and bombs to defend Lionstone from anyone who might attack her. They're always clustered naked around her throne.
  • Body Horror: Shub does this to some folks. ... well, okay, everyone they find. Also, Half-A-Man.
    • Simon Green seems to really like this trope. Wormboy, a giant tub of goo which literally fills an auditorium, the Maids, young girls converted into mindless cybernetic monsters, marines in the Madness Maze, hell, even the Empress gets her moment of this.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: When Lewis' fleet of rogue Imperial ships arrives at Mistworld, they keep a very respectful distance, noting that Mistworld has always been able to withstand anything any Empire could throw at it. After finally getting through to Mistport control and arranging a meeting to discuss the rebellion, the captain of the lead ship insists he needs to change his trousers.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": When Lewis first meets Jesamine, he gushes over her, saying he has all her recordings, even the bootlegs. She hopes he doesn't have the "awful" bootleg of a play she performed in the nude, because she was shot from all the wrong angles and made to look "positively plump."
    Lewis: If I had seen such a thing, I am far too much of a gentleman to admit it.
    Lewis: And just for the record; you didn't look in the least plump.
  • Bury Your Gays / Hide Your Lesbians: Averted in one case, with the Stevie Blues; played straight as an arrow in another case, with David Deathstalker and Kit SummerIsle. The Stevie Blues are Esper Clones in a lesbian group marriage and are quite open about that fact. David Deathstalker and Kit SummerIsle relies a bit more on subtext, but David doesn't live long past the point that subtext starts becoming notable.
    • It should be noted that the relationship of the Stevie Blues (four esper clones who consider themselves married to each other) is considered Squick even by the Rebellion, who's fighting for the rights of all "nonpeople." We also have Toby Schreck's cameraman, Flynn, a gay transvestite who would be immediately executed if it ever came out. All in all, the Empire under Lionstone plays this painfully straight, though things seem to loosen up very quickly after her defeat.
  • Buxom Is Better: Largely averted with the main characters in the first five books, who aren't described as being particularly busty (and Hazel notably gets upset when she gets famous and is promptly given the Most Common Superpower in almost all adaptations.) But prevalent enough in minor characters in the first five books, and major characters in the last three, that one suspects some form of Author Appeal at work.
  • Cast From Hit Points: As the ELFs gain more power, they're able to use their own psychic powers through their thralls, though the esper abilities burn out the thralls very quickly.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Investigators. Trained basically from birth to be the Empire's most feared and effective killing machines, specialized in dealing with aliens. Much is made about how utterly deadly they are, and very few people who aren't Maze-adjusted stand a hope in hell against them. But they're still ordinary humans, no additional tech or special abilities.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Madness Maze after it was supposedly destroyed by Captain Silence.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Multiple occasions, at least one appears between the books, Deathstalker: Return and Deathstalker: Coda. In Return, Lewis Deathstalker discusses parties of jaded big game hunters going to Shandra-kor to hunt the monsters there. After ten hunts, the only thing that came back was a note saying, "Send more hunters." In Coda, said monsters agree to aid Lewis in his rebellion and are riding in a cargo bay of Lewis's star cruiser during a "Pure Humanity" loyalist mutiny. The loyalists go to the cargo bay to cleanse the "abominations," the monsters tear the loyalists apart and eat them. One monster sends up a com-request to the bridge to "Send more loyalists." This could be a Brick Joke if you didn't find the idea of big game hunters being eaten funny.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Alicia VomAcht Deathstalker, Joy. Alicia is mentioned earlier in the second book to have gone through the Madness Maze with the people who eventually created the Hadenmen, but instead became a super-esper. She eventually became a Literal Split Personality, turning into the Mater Mundi and the uber-espers. Diana Vertue's attempt to destroy the uber-espers results in recombining her into a single entity. Joy is an Ecstatic (a person who's undergone surgical modification to exist in a state of perpetual orgasm) who seems to know things no one else should know, and is secreted away to New Hope in the first book. His bizarre mind is the perfect place to trap Alicia when she tries to possess him.
  • The Chick: Evangeline Shreck, though she gets her badass Action Girl moment.
    • Given the issues she's dealing with, it's amazing she's as well-adjusted as she is. see "Cloning Blues," below.)
  • Church Militant: The Church of Christ the Warrior, with its Jesuit commandos.
    • In the later books this is played straight up with the... "Church Militant."
  • Cloning Blues: They're perfectly identical copies of the original, but without any memories or experience, and can be shot on sight.
    • Evangeline Shreck, full-stop. Cloned from the original after the original committed suicide to escape her incestuous father, she originally believed the original had died in a car accident. Daddy still "loves" her, but threatens to kill her several times if she lets it slip she's a clone, or refuses his advances. In fact, at least once he strongly implies that he can kill and clone her as long as it takes until one of them loves him back. Torn between duty to her Family name, her abusive father, keeping her clone nature a secret, and her love for Finlay Campbell (Campbells and Shrecks being mortal enemies and all)... well, the girl's got issues.
    • In Deathstalker Return, James Campbell. Finn had him made to wrest power away from Douglas, and James is basically written as a child in the hands of a very abusive father, who only wants to make Finn happy, and doesn't understand why Finn keeps hitting him even when he's doing things right. (Just because he can.)
  • Comedic Sociopath: Ruby Journey, Finlay Campbell, Kit SummmerIsle, Rose Constantine, Saturday. Hazel D'Ark, to a lesser extent. Owen sometimes frets about turning into one, when he's not slaughtering Imperial soldiers by the starcruiser-full. His indirect descendant, Lewis, and other Paragons are often seen as this by people at large. Also, Empress Lionstone XIV, often described as having a mercurial, wicked, and deadly sense of humor. Not an Informed Attribute, either.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Disruptor cannons can fire through most armor — once, every two minutes. Beyond that, swords come into play. The only reason projectile weapons aren't still around is because they were systematically banned.
    • Disruptor weapons get a little better in the last three books. It just takes 30 sec. to recharge. Just long enough to get run though if you miss, or fighting more than one enemy and have only one gun. which lead to Badass Bandolier.
      • This is also interesting because it seems that disruptor weapons were systematically nerfed when projectile weapons were banned because Owen discovers that in the past (i.e. in the "fallen" first empire), energy weapons could fire without pause.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jack Random. Thanks to the Madness Maze, he gets younger as the books go on. But he stays cool.
  • Corrupt Church: Cardinal Beckett, and a few others.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Families tend to be run like corporations, with all that entails.
  • Creepy Children: The espers of the Abraxus Information Center.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle. Especially notable as the first series progresses, the characters find themselves in increasingly dire straits, with much dazzling description of their combat prowess vastly exceeding those of mere mortals in speed and strength, but still hopelessly outmatched by their opponents, then their Maze powers flare up...
    • In Deathstalker Return, Finn sends six starcruisers crewed with Church Militant/Pure Humanity fanatics to pursue Lewis and Company on a restored Unseeli, and to bring the restored Ashrai to heel and begin mining the planet's metallic trees again. The Imperials think they'll be on the giving end of one of these, what with all their starcruiser firepower and troops and war machines. With Maze-enhanced Carrion leading the restored (and very pissed off) Ashrai, it doesn't proceed exactly as the Empire hoped.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: After Saturday reveals she's a mole, and mortally wound Jesamine, Shub informs Lewis they have a regeneration tank nearby. Lewis rushes Jes to it, and she's just fine, but Lewis thinks Shub could have told him a little bit sooner:
    Lewis: But if you ever wait that long again to tell me something I need to know, I'll dismantle you with a blunt spoon.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Lionstone's. Between her wicked and dangerous sense of humor, the assorted intrigues and punishments for same, some days attending court is like playing Russian Roulette when you don't know how many bullets are in the gun. You can choose to not attend in person, and come via hologram, but holograms aren't allowed to participate, and the Empress might decide to take it as an insult...
  • Deadly Force Field: Force shields, round energy barriers worn on the arm to defend against disruptor and sword attacks, have Absurd Cutting Power at their edge. This is used a handful of times throughout the series.
  • Death Glare: Lewis has one he's spent quite a lot of time perfecting.
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Averted with Oz
  • Deus Est Machina: The Hadenmen set themselves up as the gods of the Genetic Church, which is to say that they convert people into cyborgs at gunpoint.
  • Deus ex Machina: Frequent and unashamed.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: The entire Deathstalker clan chooses to die fighting against Finn's lackeys rather than let him choose their fates. While they are all killed, it completely ruins off the message Finn had planned.
  • Doomed Hometown: Virimonde is razed by a vindictive ruler just to hurt a character. Twice.
  • Door Stopper: The books clock in at a decent 500 pages apiece, in general — which doesn't seem horribly long until you remember that there are (at last count) nine of them.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After eight books full of all kinds of horrible things, including Owen dying, Owen Deathstalker and Hazel d'Ark are finally together, forever.
  • Eat the Evidence: Discussed early in the first book when the ship Hazel is on is caught by an Imperial starcruiser with a hold full of illegal merchandise. Since the merchandise in question is human organs for cloning and transplant, Hazel isn't keen on the idea.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Recreated, The Terror
    • To a much lesser extent, the Grendels. The city their Vaults are located in is described in tones reminiscent of HP Lovecraft, and the creatures themselves are something like the antagonist from Alien, only much more vicious and difficult to kill.
  • Emotion Eater: The ELFs of the sequel trilogy psychically feed on the emotions of their victims. True to trope, positive emotions don't nourish them, so they psychically compel people to do horrible things to each other and themselves to feed.
  • Everybody Dies: by the end of the fifth book, Giles Deathstalker, Jack Random, Ruby Journey, and even Owen Deathstalker are dead, Tobias Moon is out of the picture, and Hazel has vanished, leaving the supporting characters the job of cleaning up the mess and establishing a new, freer Empire.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Shandrakor. To be fair, though, everything is also trying to kill everything else.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Not exactly "evil," but the talking dog Owen meets earlier in human history can tell there's something seriously off about him. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Finn's on-again-off-again alliance with the ELFs winds up backfiring on him rather spectacularly.
  • Evil Is Petty: Finn Durandal is the patron saint of this trope. After being a well-respected Paragon and best friend to Douglas Campbell and Lewis Deathstalker for years, he decides to tear the whole Empire down, in the middle of a Golden Age, just because Douglas didn't make him King's Champion, picking Lewis instead.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Giles, Tobias Moon, Alexander Storm.
    • In the last three books, Finn Durandal and Anne Barclay, with most of the Empire following suit.
  • Fan Disservice: Lionstone's maids. Naked and clustered around her throne as bodyguards, but with obvious and disturbing cybernetic implants to make them more effective, complete mindwipes and reconditioning to make them utterly loyal to Lionstone, and a tendency to eat people who try and harm their Empress.
  • Fantastic Drug: Valentine Wolfe tends towards these... well, actually, his body is probably 50% Fantastic Drugs by weight.
    • To illustrate, the gentleman's ''blood'' is effectively toxic beyond belief, his entire body has mutated time and time again to give him the ability to handle these drugs, and his whole life now revolves around getting a yet better high.
      • Valentine even has caches of drugs implanted in his body for use when he has to defend himself. Including drugs to heighten and sharpen his senses, grant increased speed and strength, and even a drug that makes his flesh rubbery and almost impossible to pierce (the last is stated to originally have been designed to enhance sexual pleasure, but Valentine saw another use for it, essentially inverting Power Perversion Potential.)
    • A drug dealer/chemist in the later books is exposed to the Madness Maze, he starts producing drugs that cause specific effects, like killing off the left, or right, side of the body leaving the user as a half-dead junkie, and thats not even the limit of Doctor Happy...
    • On the slightly more mundane side, the Imperial marines are stated to make prolific use of "battle drugs," though their exact effects are never explained.
    • And then, in the last three books, there's the Fantastic Anti-Drug "Purge," which sobers you up in 60 seconds, and makes you regret 59 of them. Basically, it forces the drugs out through all available means.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In the first two chapters of the first book, we have gravity sleds, assassin concubines, psychics, Turing-class A.I.s, massive starships, clothes with built-in climate control, hyperspace-compatible yachts, regeneration machines, organ smugglers, and a corrupt empire. It gets more convoluted from there.
  • Fate Worse than Death: All over the place.
    • In Deathstalker, Silo 9, or Wormboy Hell. Rebel espers kept in cells so small they can't stand or lay fully, completely naked, with no toilets. Just this would be bad enough, but they have "worms" implanted in their brains that connect them to the genetically-engineered esper monster Wormboy, who torments them with all manner of hellish psychic visions. Jenny Psycho, an esper who survived Wormboy Hell, has a voice described as raw, crackling, and very unsettling to listen to, because she screamed so much in Silo 9 she destroyed her vocal cords.
    • In Deathstalker War, Valentine Wolfe lops off the head of the scientist, Professor Wax, who designed the war machines Valentine's tech allows him to control to destroy Virimonde. The Professor's head is kept alive in a jar, forced to watch as his machines obliterate basically the entire population of the planet.
    • In Deathstalker Honor, Gregor Shreck puts Evangeline's "childhood" friend Penny's head in a jar, next to Professor Wax. He threatens to do the same to Evangeline, after beating, torturing, and (more than likely) raping her senseless, then growing another clone to fulfill Evangeline's "daughterly duties." He even says he might piss in the jar from time to time, just because he can.
  • Five-Man Band
    • The Leader: Owen Deathstalker/Jack Random
    • The Lancer: Hazel D'Ark/Finlay Campbell
    • The Big Guy: Ruby Journey/Tobias Moon
    • The Smart Guy: Giles Deathstalker/Owen Deathstalker
    • The Chick: Evangeline Shreck
    • In the final three books:
      • Lewis Deathstalker (Leader)
      • Rose Constantine/Brett Random (The Lancer, alternately)
      • Rose Constantine/Saturday (The Big Guy, alternately)
      • Brett Random (The Smart Guy)
      • Jesamine Flowers/Brett Random (The Chick, alternately)
  • Flanderization: In-universe example with "the Deathstalker movie," made about Owen's life after Lionstone has been defeated. The Owen in the film is a painfully straight Lawful Good archetype, always shouting battle cries about fighting for justice and freedom, and played by a top heartthrob actor. Hazel is reduced to a barely-functional sociopath, constantly restrained from massive killing sprees by "Owen," and played by a former porn star with the Most Common Superpower. Owen found it so hysterical he was asked to leave by the ushers, Hazel had to be restrained from hunting down and murdering everyone involved in the production.
  • Flunky Boss/Marathon Boss: Lionstone XIV.
  • Genius Loci: the Red Brain: a giant, sentient forest, that may or may not be an entire planet. There is also another, literal living planet, and then at least one other world that was effectively a Genius Locus after a Big Gray Goo scenario. The A Is of Shub may also count, being three sentient computers the size of a planet.
    • The Madness Maze may or may not be one.
  • Ghost Planet: Grendel. Unseeli untill Legacy
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • In Deathstalker Rebellion, a Prologue catches us up to the start of the book, explaining not only the general galactic situation but the events of the first book, leading up to the opening action scene.
      Prologue: Owen Deathstalker, that reluctant hero, headed for Golgotha in the company of Hazel d'Ark, on a strange golden ship run by augmented men once known as the Enemies of Humanity; and though posterity has no access to his thoughts, they were probably "Why me?"
      Chapter One: Golgotha, Opening Gambit
      Narration: Why me? thought Owen Deathstalker as he headed to the toilet yet again.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: And how. They don't call her the Iron Bitch for nothing. While no one ever says it to her face, no indication is given that Lionstone objects to the moniker.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Happens to Donal Corcoran, the only survivor of the Terror's first attack. He only saw it at a distance, through his ship's sensors, but is still so utterly insane he's actually contagious. Also a case of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Hammerspace: First Empire tech lets people store weapons, equipment, and even whole other bodies in "subspace pockets."
  • Healing Factor: One of the alternate Hazels.
    • Regeneration machines are this. Step in one, and if you're not already dead, you'll be fine.
    • Grendel aliens have one they can weaponize. Owen loses his hand in the first book when he shoots a Grendel in the stomach with his disrupter, making a tidy little hole that slows the alien down not at all. So Owen shoves a grenade in the hole, but the wound heals around his hand, trapping it inside the Grendel. So Owen lops off his own hand to get away before the Grendel explodes.
    • Up to twelve with Valentine Wolfe after Shub decides to give him rapid-healing nanomachines.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: John Silence, a survivor of the Madness Maze (though not as powerful as Owen and Hazel) kills himself rather than let Alicia VomAcht Deathstalker take over his body in Deathstalker Coda.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Kit SummerIsle. He's a killer, he goes where the killing is.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Captain Silence, Tobias Moon, most of the Empire.
  • He Who Fights Monsters/Jumping Off the Slippery Slope/Well-Intentioned Extremist: Jack Random in the fifth book.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Giles Deathstalker's rationale for using the Darkvoid Device.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Douglas lets Jesamine go at the end of Deathstalker Coda, knowing that she and Lewis make each other happy, and refusing to deny his best friend and the woman he loves that chance at happiness.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Owen never wanted this! He's a historian, not a warrior!
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Valentine Wolfe, after he goes into exile on Virimonde, has a sumptuous feast prepared for his supporters using the bodies of the planet's dead populace. The supporters aren't pleased when they find out.
  • Implacable Man: The Investigators, as well as the Hadenmen.
    • Carrion is called this by name in Deathstalker Return.
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • Giles sees Owen as this, lamenting that "the blood's gotten thin" when he finds out his descendant is a historian, not a warrior. Not that Owen is any slouch as a warrior, mind. Owen's father also wanted a very different life for Owen than Owen wanted for himself.
    • Centuries later, Lewis views himself as inadequate compared to his distant relative Owen, worrying a great deal about whether he's "Deathstalker enough".
  • Incest Is Relative: Clarissa, formerly one of Lionstone's handmaidens, is Toby Shreck's cousin. And stepsister. "It's that kind of Family" he says. They plan to be married soon in the fifth book.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hadenmen don't just have ships. They have golden ships.
  • Ironic Echo: Finn began his takedown of Douglas' Empire by recruiting thieves, thugs, hackers, and agent provacateurs from the Rookery. Douglas is forced to flee there after Finn successfully wrests power away from him, and starts his rebellion by recruiting everyone from the Rookery.
  • It Can Think: Lewis Deathstalker has this thought upon observing the behavior of Shandrakor's native life. He's right.
  • It's What I Do: After Owen is revived, he communicates with the Admiral of the orbiting Imperial fleet, a handpicked Pure Humanity fanatic. After Owen insults and antagonizes her, Lewis ends the call, and, realizing their last slim chance of talking their way out from under the guns of the largest Imperial fleet assembled since the Rebellion has evaporated, asks Owen what the point was of antagonizing the Admiral. "It's what I do best."
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Once she gets her hands on them, Hazel finds that she likes projectile weapons. A lot.
    • In fact, it's stated in the books that projectile weapons were banned because they were so effective. Sure, the Empire has force screens that stop bullets cold, but those same force screens deflect disruptor beams, so about equally effective. But a disruptor takes two minutes to recharge, while a projectile weapon can fire as long as you have ammunition. Projectile weapons are cheaper and easier to maintain, so the Empire banned them specifically to keep effective, deadly, point-and-shoot weapons out of the hands of people who might not appreciate a bunch of aristocrats telling them what to do. Energy guns are expensive to build and maintain, leaving them typically a toy of the Families and Imperial military. Several times, the early phase of a battle swings in the rebels' favor as they open up with their (few) disruptors, the Imperial forces open up with theirs, and both sides deflect the majority of the shots with their force shields. Then the Imperials shut down their shields to save the energy crystals, the rebels pop back up with machine guns and mow them down.
  • Legacy Character: Deconstructed to hell and back. Even in the first five books, the ELFs start modeling their fashion sense after Stevie Blue, in honor of their sacrifice during the Rebellion. The last three books feature Lewis Deathstalker, a descendant of some distant cousins of the original Deathstalker line, who has some serious worries that he's not "Deathstalker enough." There's also Brett Random, one of a group of legacy characters known as Random's Bastards, who all claim to be descended from legendary Jack Random's equally-legendary frequent dalliances. Brett actually claims he's descended from both Jack Random and Ruby Journey, though it's frequently pointed out that the only person who believes this is Brett. Douglas Campbell is obviously descended from Robert Campbell, Finlay's cousin, and Paragon Emma Steel is descended from a fairly important character on Mistworld in the original books. And her reporter friend on Logres is revealed to be a great grand-niece of Flynn, Toby Shreck's Camp Gay cameraman.
  • Limit Break: The boost, the genetic inheritance of the Deathstalker Clan. It makes them superhumanly strong and fast for a time, but as Owen is fond of saying, the candle that burns twice as brightly lasts half as long. Coming out of the boost nearly kills Owen a few times in the first book from fatigue (later, it's implied his Maze-adjusted body is better at withstanding it), and withdrawal nearly kills him at one point. It's also addictive and can lead to a kind of berserker rage, as Hazel finds out when the Maze grants her the boost, too. Owen uses it a lot in the series, because things are just that desperate even with his Maze enhancements.
  • Living Toys: Haceldama.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Rare literary example, when Finlay Campbell loads up on weapons to take down Gregor Shreck.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Body shops. Want to be tall, beautiful, curvaceous, with boobs the size of beachballs? Body shops will do it for you. Want to be tall, handsome, and so bulging with muscles you have to walk through doors sideways? Body shops will do it for you. Want to turn yourself into a Big Red Devil? Body shops will do it for you. As with everything else, you get what you pay for, and description will frequently note if a given body shop job is top-notch, good, bad, or really bad.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: A specific kind of esper, known as a Siren, combines esp and voice into deadly songs that can do just about anything.
    • Being the Empire's foremost opera singer and diva, Jeasmine Flowers has the "mundane" version of this. At one point, Douglas lets her let rip with an ear-splitting note to silence an unproductive Parliament debate. The Madness Maze naturally grants her the super-powered version, which is Played for Drama (Jes is used to her singing bringing people joy, not Your Head Asplode).
  • Me's a Crowd: Hazel D'Ark eventually learns how to summon clones of herself. Unfortunately, when she gets experimented on, her captors start killing them, one by one.
  • The Mole: Loads of them. Oz, the Lord High Dram (as Hood), Alexander Storm, and Young Jack Random, to name some. The poor rebels.
    • In the later books Saturday for all the six lines of dialog or so he/she gets
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-universe. Once Lionstone scourges Virimonde, every other world rebels against her, as though she'd clearly lost it long ago, they never thought her attention would turn to them.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jesamine Flowers. Aside from being described as absolutely gorgeous and using her sexuality as a weapon, she's performed an entire play completely nude at least once, and done several "artistic studies". Rose Constantine may be this, or may be Ms. Fan Disservice, depending.
    • Averted on the whole, though. Most of the major female characters throughout the series are described as being not really beautiful, but more authentic, and thus more desirable, than the gorgeous women who buy their looks in body shops. Also, most major characters gauge their attractiveness to women based on how capable they are, not what they look like.
    • Played With after Lionstone's downfall, when dolls and action figures of the "Heroes of the Rebellion" (Owen and Co.) start being manufactured. Hazel in particular is not pleased that all her action figures and dolls have been granted the Most Common Superpower. What really sends her over the edge, though, is the furry doll.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "Mistworld", a mercenary is sent to kill Investigator Topaz. Unfortunately, she'd given her distinctive cloak to her husband a short while before, so the killer unwittingly shoots him in the back instead of Topaz; cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Musical Assassin: There's a type of esper called "Sirens", who can use their own voices as sonic weaponry.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Silence, Frost, Stelmach.
  • Named Weapons: The Masked Gladiator Finlay Campbell, named his sword Morgana, after the middle name of his true love, Evangeline Shreck.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Golgotha," the capital world of the Empire, is also the name of the place where Christ was crucified. Also "Haceldama" is where Judas hanged himself. There's also the ghost world of Unseeli, with its tremendously powerful aliens.
  • Odd Friendship: Lord Crawford Campbell and Lord Roderik SummerIsle. Rivals since forever, they found it was easier to like an enemy you admire than an ally of necessity.
  • One Steve Limit: Played With with Tobias Moon (Hadenman) and Tobias Shreck (reporter), though the latter is far more often referred to as Toby, and the two are never in the same place at the same time.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The first series as the Esper Liberation Front (ELF, ELFs, or elves for short), the militant wing of the Esper Underground. The second series as the Esper Liberation Force. The first elves are anti-heroes even among anti-heroes, the second elves are straight-up villains.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Wampyrs, who have all their blood pumped out and replaced with a "blood substitute" that makes them strong, fast, halts the aging process, and gives them a potent Healing Factor. The Blood itself is also highly addictive, and gives normal humans who drink even a few drops a measure of the Wampyrs' power. Wampyrs also, of course, must drink blood (or a synthetic derivative that "doesn't satisfy") to keep going.
    • Varnay, an esper also touched by the Mater Mundi, who hides in the basement of a House of Joy to conceal his presence, and feeds on the psychic emanations of all the lust and passion around him. Also a Shout-Out.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In the last three books, the ELFs can psychically control others from a distance, and use them to "feed" their psychic powers, growing stronger. The ELFs eventually get so strong they brainburn everyone they control, reducing them to mindless husks controlled only by the ELFs will. The result is something not at all dissimilar from a typical zombie apocalypse, except all the ELFs need to do to add new thralls is have an existing thrall make eye contact with someone they haven't controlled yet.
  • Outlaw Town: Mistworld, an entire planet populated by thieves and political fugitives, left more or less to kill and prey on each other in peace since the empire found an orbital blockade cheaper than the effort required to clean the place up or even nuke it from orbit.
    • Mistworld remains stubbornly independent in the final three books, which also add the Rookery, basically the thieves quarter of the Parade of the Endless.
  • Out with a Bang: During the decay of the First Empire, people will do anything and everything to forget about how things are spiraling out of control. One street in Hearthworld's capital city contains a massive, never-ending orgy; while individuals come and go, the orgy itself never ends. Owen's guide notes that sometimes, people just die there. He guesses it's not a bad way to go.
  • Parental Incest: Gregor and Evangeline Shreck.
  • Percussive Prevention: Captain John Silence insists he's going down with his ship, and there's nothing Investigator Frost can say to change his mind. She agrees, then knocks him out with one punch. Should have known better than to try arguing with an Investigator.
  • Playing with Fire: The Stevie Blues.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Giles' baby is the Darkvoid Device.
  • Prophecy Twist: In the first book Owen is warned that he will die alone and helpess, far from friend and ally. They'll even take his boots. The prophecy weighs on him until Destiny where he dies exactly as predicted. The twist is that he had already died at the time of the prophecy; in the last battle with the Recreated he had traveled back in time and ended up exhausted and vulnerable on Mistworld where he was killed by a pack of drug addicts.
  • Psychic Link: Owen, Hazel, Jack, Ruby, Moon, and Giles (at first); and Silence and Frost
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Julian Skye.
  • Psychic Powers: Espers, who may or may not be the next evolution of humanity.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Played with in the Stevie Blues. While they are certainly psycho, and lesbians, they really do care for each other, and are among the best fighters (or maybe weapons) the Clone and Esper Undergrounds have access to. Though even the Undergrounds consider their arrangement an "abomination," though whether that's because they're esper clones, lesbians, in a group marriage, or in a group marriage with each other remains nebulous.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: John Silence, Investigator Frost, Security Officer V. Stelmach. All three on the side of the Empire, and put into conflict the with the Rebellion (and major characters) fairly often. Silence, in particular, has no illusions about how bad the Empire is, but is firmly convinced all the alternatives are worse.
  • Ramming Always Works: When the ELFs manage to take over an entire Imperial starcruiser, the only chance another, very damage cruiser has to prevent them devastating the fleet is to ram it.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Jack Random, the galaxy's only professional rebel, who has spent most of his adult life leading one rebellion or another. After the rebellion he was leading actually wins, he turns around and rebels against the government he just helped create, reasoning that it's the only way to keep them honest.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Finlay Campbell, when he decides he's got nothing left to lose and goes to finish what Evangeline started with Gregor Shreck. See Crowning Moment Of Awesome, above.
    • Investigator Topaz goes on one in "Mistworld" to hunt down her husband's killer.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: All over the place, but especially in the AIs. Names like Odin, Heimdall, Ozymandias, and so on.
  • Retired Badass: Jack Random, when first encountered.
    • Investigator Razor. Hired by Clan Chojiro as an elite bodyguard/enforcer, he's eventually recalled to Imperial service when Lionstone decides that she doesn't like the idea of the Families having access to her most effective killing machines, even if they are past their prime.
  • Rule of Cool: Oh yeah. This series runs on it.
  • Running Gag: In the last three books, Brett wants to go home.
    • "Shut up, Brett."
  • Scenery Gorn: A quite literal example with the "monster city" on Shandrakor, built from the dead and decaying bodies of other Shandrakor beasts, because the trees are too tough to be worked and there's no stone the inhabitants can get at with their meager tools.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Thousands of habitable worlds within reach, each and every one of them either under The Empire or rebelling against it.
    • Almost annoyingly present in the later books and backstory when it comes to the Terror. The terror "ate" an entire galaxy traveling at slower than light speed. Fine... Problem is that those being eaten could move faster than light. Solution: Move your freaking population about... 1000 light years ahead of the terror, chill for 900 years, repeat. Terror starves to death chasing you. Next issue: Terror arrives in Empire, eats a star system, everyone else freaks out. Problem is that the empire is literally thousands of light years across and has ultra-FTL capabilities. It would be literally a thousand years before the Terror could even reach the inner systems which have more than marginal populations. Similar solution to that above in that you could just shift populations from system to system every... 40 or so years and the Terror would eventually starve, give up, or... well, go FTL out of desperation. Oh, on a more practical note, the Terror goes through three habitable star systems in something like two years or so. I think the travel time for one trip was like six months. At light speed, six months would not even get you out of the Ort cloud of our solar system, much less the 4 light years to the nearest star or the 20 or so to the THEORETICAL closest star that MIGHT have a planet that could support life. Of course, this may also be an example of Fridge Logic.
    • Actually stated that, travelling at just under the speed of light, the Terror would reach the next batch of inhabited planets in "weeks." No sense of scale indeed.
    • A minor example in the second and third books (Deathstalker Rebellion and Deathstalker War). The Golgotha Underground splits up the heroes to take on different tasks, ostensibly because all three hotspots need to be dealt with immediately, so they can't send all of them to one after the other. However, Toby Schreck and Flynn are present to provide news coverage for each event, witnessing all the heroes in action on three different planets. The books do indicate that the events aren't happening exactly concurrent with each other, but if Toby and Flynn can travel to Planet A, film all the important events, then go to planets B and C in turn and do the same thing, why couldn't all the heroes stick together, too?
  • Scrap Heap Hero: Jack Random in the first book.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Discussed as Diana Vertue and the Psycho Sluts are preparing for battle against the ELF thralls.
    Psycho Sluts: But what happens if the uber-espers do turn up in person?
    Diana: Run like fun for the nearest horizon. It won't do any good, but it should take your mind off the horror to come.
    Sluts: You're such a comfort, Diana.
    Diana: I know. Aren't you glad I'm here to tell you these things?
  • Serial Novel: The first five books generally devote one "chapter" of novella-length to each set of characters, telling a self-contained story, then hopping to a new set of characters and circumstances for the next chapter. This leads to interesting bit of jumping around in time, for instance learning of the successful battle against Shub forces in Deathstalker Destiny, before jumping back to before the battle was won for the royal wedding/coronation. The last three books follow a more "standard" narrative structure, jumping around between groups of characters in relatively real time.
  • Shoot the Dog: Owen puts a young plasma baby out of her misery on Mistworld. This single act haunts him for the rest of the series.
  • Shoot the Messenger: It takes quite some time for Finn to be informed not just of the fleet he sent to engage Lewis' fleet defecting, but the incipient invasion by the combined fleet, mostly because no one wanted to be the one actually tell him. They finally found a fanatic with "a strong sense of duty and no real sense of self-preservation." Once Finn is sure he's heard every detail, he beats the messenger to death with his bare hands.
  • Spare to the Throne: Douglas in the second series, who had been content with being a Paragon until his brother was killed by a drunk driver.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Our heroes find themselves asking that question after the rebellion. Ruby gets hit hardest by it.
    • Finn Durandal gets hit with this only halfway through his grand plot to destroy the Empire. He just starts getting bored with how easy it is, and that he's dealt to efficiently with his enemies there's no one left to challenge him (he thinks). He reflects that, while he's still going to tear the Empire down, he's not sure he can be bothered to raise it back up again.
  • Sword and Gun: Tends to be justified because the disruptors have a two minute recharge lag.
  • Snarky Non Human Side Kick: Ozymandias, the AI that's oftentimes by Owen's side.
  • Stable Time Loop: Owen Deathstalker returns from the dead and goes traveling back in time to find the Terror who is in fact Hazel d'Ark. On one of his stops, he has the Light People construct the Madness Maze which gave him the power to time travel in the first place. The implications of this give him serious thoughts... and a headache.
    • For an extra bit of time loop madness, after Owen and Hazel reunite in the distant past, they transform into what appear to be Light People. It's possible that they are the origin of the race which created the Madness Maze which let them go back in time to create that race.
  • Superpower Lottery: All the Maze survivors. While they get a few things in common, each develops their own unique powers, and there are also some "combo powers" used by two or more Maze people together.
  • Take Up My Sword: In Deathstalker Return, Brett breaks his sword against one of Shandrakor's impossibly tough trees. Later, as the group is exploring the crashed original Deathstalker Standing, Brett finds a sword on a plaque, with only the name "Morgana" below it. Deciding he needs a new sword, and this one looks perfectly servicable, Brett takes it. This is, of course, the legendary sword of the equally-legendary Masked Gladiator, Finlay Campbell, not that anyone makes the connection.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • In Deathstalker Coda, Lewis realizing the entire population of the planet Virimonde is with him for justice against Finn, as well as seeing what Finn had done to the Deathstalker Standing.
  • Teleportation: Giles Deathstalker. Espers can do this, as well. The Empire was actually developing teleportation technology, but discovered Espers can do it cheaper and more easily, leading the tech to being abandonded. Shub picked it up and improved on it, as Shub does.
  • Theme Naming: The Empire dubs its starcruiser classes in alphabetical order, each class (presumably) based on some scientific breakthrough. The first series has D-class ships, with new E-Class ships being built around a new stardrive (reverse engineered from alien tech). All ships in a class have a name beginning with the first letter of the ship's class, thus the D-class starcruisers all have names beginning with D, the E-class ships all have names beginning with E (with the exception of Slience's new ship, the Dauntless, though it is the first E-class ship). By the last three novels, they're up to H-class, and the theme naming seems to apply to all ships, not just starcruisers (though the Jeremiah, insane ship of the equally insane Donal Corcoran, mutated by exposure to the Terror, bucks this trend, possibly as foreshadowing.
  • The Scottish Trope: In full force however far along in the future the novels are set.
    Jesamine: Darling, tell me you haven't got that awful bootleg of me in Verdi's MacB, when I played Lady M in the nude!
    • Averted (or possibly invoked) later on in Deathstalker Legacy, when Jesamine asks Lewis, shortly after they've first consummated their affair, if he's familiar with the plot of Macbeth. Lewis tells her not to even joke about that. Not long afterward, everything goes to hell, in both Lewis and Jesamine's life and the Empire as a whole.
  • The Worf Effect: Rose Constantine runs headlong into this trope hard in Deathstalker Return. Her whole role on Unseeli and Lachrymae Christi is just to show how powerful the Ashrai actually Carrion and the Red Brain are.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Silence and Frost's reasoning for not telling anyone about their abilities.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: While it's not entirely clear which one was "too spicy" and which one was "Yog Sothoth," when Donal Corcoran, the only survivor of the first attack by the Terror, contacts the esper oversoul to give them knowledge how to travel through hyperspace, the two pull away, leaving the oversoul with new things to think about "one massive collective headache."
  • To Serve Man: Inverted. After Finn Durandal's ascent to power, he amuses himself by having the various alien ambassadors cooked as meals. Even his Pure Humanity cohort is a bit put off when realizes what (or who) the main course was.
  • Touched by Vorlons: The people who went through the Madness Maze; and to a lesser extent (they already had powers), the espers touched by the Mater Mundi.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Empress Lionstone, faced with imminent defeat, accepts an offer from Shub to have her mind uploaded and made into an AI so she can take revenge. Of course Shub lied and just made an AI that pretended to be Lionstone.
  • Troperrific: Yeah, just a bit.
  • Trouser Space: Taken Up to Eleven (like just about everything else in the series) when Evangeline Shreck finally returns to give her father his much-needed and long-awaited comeuppance. Knowing she'd likely be thoroughly searched, but also knowing that her father wouldn't appreciate his guards "taking liberties" with his beloved daughter, she smuggled a small, deactivated monofilament blade in her, eh... the one place she could guarantee the guards wouldn't look.
  • True Companions: Much as Lewis, Jesamine, Brett, and Rose snipe at each other, in Deathstalker Coda when the Mistport council rather bluntly questions why they should waste time on this Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, everyone leaps to each other's defense, justifying why they've survived everything the series has thrown at them this far.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Silence and Frost, cut short by Frost's death. To be fair, Silence admitted that even if Frost lived, their relationship would always be in this state, since Frost is an investigator.
    • Owen and Hazel in spades. Owen's fallen in love with her pretty early on, but knows she's not the type for romantic stuff, and never does anything about it. After Owen dies, Hazel laments that she never got to tell Owen how she felt, and vanishes.
  • Up to Eleven: In general, the series reads like Star Wars meets the French Revolution on steroids and laughing gas.
    • Specifically, the Grendels. Living weapons locked in Vaults deep underneath a planet, they're so vicious and deadly the last time they got out the only solution was to scorch the entire planet, and set up a blockade so no one else messed with them. They're kind of like the antagonist in Alien, but more so.
  • Victory Is Boring: Jack Random finds that he can't stand being a "hero" with nothing to fight for, and so chooses to rebel against the government he just helped build.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Finn has a few of these as things keep going wrong.
  • Villainous Incest
  • Villain Override: Valentine Wolfe does this with the Imperial War Machines, thanks to tech from Shub. He mostly just looks at it as yet another high.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Darkvoid Device.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Various alien races, as well as espers, clones, and whatnot.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Madness Maze was designed to cause beings passing through to "evolve" into a reality warper. As per the name, most who enter are instead driven insane and fail to gain the full power-up but still gain terrifying power or knowledge.
  • World of Snark: Everyone has a deliciously dry sense of humor. Snark-to-Snark Combat is common, even in the middle of pitched life-or-death battles.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: One of the Empire's torture devices is a stasis field that does just this, or the opposite.
  • You Have Failed Me: Joseph Wallace, the man Finn gave "control" of the Church Militant too suffers this after his utterly failed attack on the Rookery. To be fair, he was warned not to come back if he failed.
  • Your Head A-Splode: One of the battle espers in the Vault of the Sleepers; some unfortunate Marines in the Madness Maze.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Shub, quite possibly.

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