Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Deverry

Go To
A series of Fantasy novels, notable for its extensive use of Reincarnation and the resulting highly anachronic order, written by Katharine Kerr.

Near the end of the first century AD, one Celtic tribe fled their homeland in Gaul to escape Roman rule. Traveling by magical means, they were transported to another universe, where they founded their own kingdom, which they called Deverry.

The main narrative thread starts ten centuries later. Through the use of frequent and extended Flashbacks, the main story is intertwined with the stories of the character's previous incarnations, revealing how present circumstances stem from events occurring in a previous lifetime. This illustrates the concept of Wyrd, or karma. As the series progresses, the flashbacks become longer, with some of the later books being more than half flashback.

Originally intended by the author to be a short story, the work took on a life of its own, growing longer and longer. The series finally reached its conclusion with the publication of the fifteenth book in 2009. The author likens the series to a play, dividing it into four "acts," each containing three or four books.

The novels use a richly detailed system of magic, called dweomer, which is based upon real-world magical traditions, such as Kaballah, Rosicrucianism and the Golden Dawn Although dweomer is nominally a path to spiritual enlightenment, it produces quite spectacular displays, and can be powerful enough to steer the destiny of nations. Dweomer requires both an inherent gift as well as long study to use, and is a combination of Theurgy and Force Magic.

Note: Spoilers follow.

Act One: Deverry

  • Daggerspell
  • Darkspell
  • The Bristling Wood: published in the UK as Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood
  • The Dragon Revenant: published in the UK as Dragonspell: The Southern Sea

Centuries earlier a young prince has found out that the Dweomer is his true calling in life. In his haste to begin learning magic, he makes mistakes and is disowned by his father, receiving the name No One (written as Nevyn for the reader's convenience). A bit later, this causes the tragic death of his former lover, her brother, as well as another nobleman. Having learned about reincarnation, he swears never to rest until he had put his errors right, and the Powers That Be accept his oath, granting him immortality.

Time and again, the principals in that ancient tragedy are reborn, and repeat the same destructive patterns — as seen in the many flashbacks. As the series begins, they are reborn once more, this time as Jill, daughter of the notorious mercenary Cullyn, and Rhodry, a young nobleman. The characters struggle to find their destiny in life, while the followers of the dark dweomer attempt to plunge the kingdom into war.

The first two books were later reissued in a revised edition. Changes to Daggerspell are minimal, but Darkspell contains a number of significant changes, mostly to the character of Sarcyn, who was brought more in line with how Kerr originally envisioned him before her editor overruled her. As a result, the old version is considered to be non-canon.

Act Two: The Westlands

  • A Time of Exile
  • A Time of Omens
  • Days of Blood and Fire published in the UK as A Time of War
  • Days of Air and Darkness published in the UK as A Time of Justice

Several decades later Nevyn is dead, Jill is a powerful dweomer master, and Rhodry has a problem; he isn't visibly aging. As a half-elf, he can expect to live for another century, but he has no right to the noble title he holds. Revealing this would mean a disastrous war, so instead Rhodry fakes his own death and rides off into the sunset, straight into another threat arising from his previous lives.

This time, the main threat comes from the Guardians. Evandar, leader of the Bright Court, has been manipulating the affairs of men, elves, and dwarves for millennia, in pursuit of his grand schemes. Unfortunately, his wife has plans of her own. Posing as a Goddess, she raises an army to conquer Deverry which, unknown to her, would also provide karmic retribution for the acts of the Deverrians' ancestors, when Evandar brought them out of Gaul.

Act Three: The Dragon Mage

  • The Red Wyvern
  • The Black Raven
  • The Fire Dragon

The fake goddess who inspired them is dead, but the invading hordes remain. Now, the former priestess of the hordes must resettle into her old life, while her deeds in a past life begin to catch up with her. In the end, a despairing Rhodry agrees to be transformed into a dragon.

Act Four: The Silver Wyrm

  • The Gold Falcon
  • The Spirit Stone
  • The Shadow Isle
  • The Silver Mage

A few decades later, Jill and Nevyn have both reincarnated, and taken up the problems left from their previous lives, including Rhodry, whose transformation was never meant to be.

(NB: The Black Raven was originally intended to contain the material in The Fire Dragon as well; likewise The Silver Wyrm was split into The Spirit Stone and The Shadow Isle.)

Deverry: Three Tales is a short story collection containing:

  • "Bargain": A Deverrian peddler meets a Guardian.
  • "The Lass from Far Away": What ever became of Sarcyn's beloved sibling Evy?
  • "The Honor of the Thing": Centuries after The Silver Mage, an unnamed dweomer master, a collector of those in need, hires the silver dagger Benoic.

Katharine Kerr's author website can be found here.

These books provide examples of:

  • Age Without Youth: Nevyn and Aderyn, for different reasons.
  • All Beer Is Ale: At least some of the beer brewed in Deverry is small beer. After the siege of Cengarn, Rhodry remarks that once the beer runs out, they'll be forced to drink vinegar-sanitized water.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Despite out-of-wedlock pregnancy frequently being shown as a major problem, not only do male characters never seem to hesitate at trying to seduce women, but they usually have no trouble succeeding either, even with women who seem otherwise intelligent and prudent.
  • Anachronic Order: Flashbacks to previous incarnations and to the youth of long lived characters. Doubly so in that later there is one flashback to what used to be the "current" timeline. The chronologically earliest flashback is in the very last book.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: Rori's realization of his suggestion to save only Berwynna and Mic when they first meet. Berwynna and Mic are traveling with a caravan that's about to be under attack by a Horsekin raiding party -again. But dragons in the Deverry cycle are only shown carrying two people at most, and there's too many people for Rori to ferry them off to safety in time. Rori realizes that Berwynna is right to reject his suggestion he get just her and Mic to safety, and takes a third option.
  • An Aesop Every once in a while, a lesson in Wyrd (karma).
    • Prince Mael of Aberwyn is locked up in a tower for twenty years, ultimately deciding he doesn't want to leave and that this limited environment will be his home for the rest of his life. The moment he makes this decision, he is set free, having "learned" the wisdom of accepting that which is and not striving against it.
    • Loddlaen was gifted in magic, but the narrative stresses that he should never have been taught any, since he was mentally/emotionally unstable due to something his mother had done while pregnant with him. It's repeatedly stressed Deverry dweomer places incredible strain on the mind, and opening the door a little inevitably results in the door opening as fully as possible for that person. If the person's mind is not very strong, you get what happened to Loddlaen -a slow descent into madness.
    • The series is fairly big on not just walking away from problems without resolving loose ends. This is shown most dramatically with Ebany; his decision in deciding to just drop dweomer, instead of doing necessary sealings and rituals to attempt to close off the power (which ceremonies would require a long journey back to his teacher), drives him mad. Even forty years later, although Ebany's sanity is fully restored, overuse of his power still threatens to drive him back.
  • Are You Sure You Want to Do That?: Dweomer masters are sworn to confirm the existence of reincarnation to anyone who asks, on the assumption that the only person who'll suspect that's how it works is someone who is fated for the dweomer. It is also assumed that it's best if everyone not fated for the dweomer doesn't inquire too far into the subject. At one point, Rhodry has gotten some hints he shouldn't have and is starting to ask Nevyn some questions that are getting a little too close to the mark, and Nevyn ominously tells him to be very sure that he wants to know. Rhodry decides that he probably doesn't.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Rhodry notices this about his blue lady, but is too entranced to care.
  • The Baroness: Raena is a subversion. She'd like to be a sexy badass, and does things like take a minion to her bed as a reward and attack Rhodry while still naked after having shapeshifted. However, Rhodry despises her too much to be the least bit distracted, and the minion was secretly repulsed by her and only slept with her because he was afraid of what she'd do to him if he didn't.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Rhys' first wife is cast off for barrenness, remarries to a widower who needs a wife to help raise the children of his previous marriage, and gives birth to a healthy boy a year later. It seems she wasn't the infertile one in her previous marriage...
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Played with. It's mentioned that some sorcerers do swear an oath to never lie, and such oaths are pleasing to the gods, but none of the major character magicians ever do, because the option of being able to lie when necessary is just too useful.
  • Career Versus Man: Jill has to face this choice once Rhodry becomes Gwerbret, as there was no way the life of a high-ranking noble's wife would leave her with enough free time to study magic. She ultimately decides to choose the dweomer over her lover and leaves him.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Rhodry at Dun Hiraedd, when Alastyr attacks him in his dreams. Berwynna right at the beginning of The Silver Mage.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Glyn the First. An incident as a young boy makes him realize his father sees subjects as objects to do with as he will; Glyn vows to never let his desires take precedence over his subjects' welfare. He also wishes sometimes he was a common soldier, specifically citing Ricyn, who puts his fate in the hands of the Goddess and sleeps easily at night.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Here are tons of references that only make sense later. One example: Rhodry's silver dagger is modified by Otho in book 2, which makes it reappear to him in book 5 after being stolen from him at the end of book 3, it seemingly disappears in book 11, and turns out to be the cause of his unhealing wound in book 15.
  • Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Cullyn inadvertently ended up in one of these in his youth over Jill's mother, and only avoided getting hung for murder because witnesses stepped forward to prove that the other guy started it. He did end up exiled and forced to become a Silver Dagger because of it, and Seryan followed him and ended up a barmaid in a nothing village in the middle of nowhere. Cullyn later swore to never again kill over a woman after this, which would enable him to break free of the four-hundred year old chain of wyrd tying him to Rhodry.
  • Covers Always Lie: The US editions of the books mostly feature accurate depictions of scenes from the books. However, the cover of The Red Wyvern, which features a warrior on horseback confronting a huge red dragon, does not. There is no red dragon in the story; rather, the red wyvern is the sigil of one of the feuding clans during the civil war.
  • Culture Clash: Between the Gel da'thae and the alliance besieging Zakh Gral. What the Deverrians see as generous surrender terms the Gel da'thael see as weakness, and in a couple spots as insulting.
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • Nevyn's endless life makes it possible for him to become a peerless master of magic, but after a few cycles of seeing others reincarnate, he begins to wonder whether he'll ever find the relief of death.
    • Similarly, Rhodry's transformation into a dragon makes him practically invulnerable, but drives him mad. Especially since that darn wound won't heal.
  • Decadent Court: The Cantrae faction during the Time of Troubles, ostentatiously showing off wealth and plenty. It becomes an Informed Trope as the war grinds on and eats at the wealth of every country involved.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance Being in a pseudo-medieval setting based on Celtic culture, this shows up in many things. One of the most jarring, though, is in the 843-850 storyline, where Prince Maryn is considered the perfect virtuous prince while at the same time being a faithless husband to Belyrra and an aggressive, emotionally manipulative partner to his mistress Lillorigga. Maryn never sees what he is doing wrong, even when his appaling conduct drives his wife to suicide. Towards the end Nevyn belatedly realizes that while spending a decade raising Maryn to be the perfect warrior prince to end a three-way Succession Crisis that had been tearing the country apart for a century, he has neglected Maryn's education in matters not directly related to war and statecraft, and after Bella's suicide he leaves Maryn's court in disgust.
  • Dragon Rider: Rhodry, eventually, but no psychic bond.
  • The Fair Folk: The Guardians, but not the Elves.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Quotes from genuine 9th century Welsh poetry and the fictional The Secret Book of Cadwallon the Druid.
  • Evil Is Hammy: At one point Nevyn reads a few lines from a book of Black Magic and scoffs at how bombastic and theatrical it is. Also, dark dweomer practitioners use extremely elaborate astral forms made to look like stereotypical Evil Sorcerers, while heroic magic-users just wear simple, featureless human shapes.
  • Exact Words: In "The Lass From Far Away", Nevyn protects Evy from the spirits she had been offered to by pointing out that they had only been offered her, not her unborn child. They return to claim their due shortly after the child's birth.
  • Expy: Only for the 835-843 timeline, but: Nevyn is Merlin, Maryn is King Arthur, Maddyn is Lancelot, Merodda is Morgan le Fay and many others. The whole plot arc plays out as a retelling of the King Arthur legend.
  • Fictional Document: The Secret Book of Cadwallon the Druid and the Pseudo-Iamblicus Scroll are the most prominent.
  • Feuding Families: The cause of many a minor war in Deverry. During the Time of Troubles, many clans chose one side purely because a rival clan chose the other, and backing the opposing claim would grant them free license to attack their personal enemies without political repurcussions.
  • Flashback: Major parts of most books deal with the past, going beyond any normal use. The characters' current lives often echo their previous ones, though usually with significant differences.
  • Foreshadowing: A lot, with probably the most significant one being "Rhodry's Wyrd is Eldidd's Wyrd".
  • Forever War: Nevyn notes that the civil wars are turning into this.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Most often half-elves, but there are hybrids of all the non-human races. Interestingly, Word of God is that elves and dwarves cannot have children with each other, although their half-human hybrid offspring can. So you can have a 1/4 dwarf, 1/4 elf, 1/2 human character such as Berwynna, but not a 1/2 elf, 1/2 dwarf.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Laz Moj manages this after he has a Heel Realization of evil done in previous lives as Alastyr and Tren.
  • Heir Club for Men: The death of a king who had no sons and three daughters — each of whom had married a powerful noble and given him a son: resulted in the century long Succession Crisis referred to in the series as the Time of Troubles. Trouble brews in Eldidd in the first arc when Gwerbret Rhys turns out to be sterile and unable to produce an heir.
  • Hostage Situation: Prince Mael of Aberwyn spent about twenty years of his life in one. He was captured during his first campaign as a soldier during the Time of Troubles, and not ransomed back for decades because the King of Cerrmor felt that the secure border he gained by having a royal hostage was far more valuable than the gold he'd get by returning him. The young prince, with nothing to do all that time but read in his tower cell, ended up becoming a philosopher, who would be come known as Mael the Seer, or Mael y Gwaedd (later contracted to Maelwaedd).
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: The Elves. Played straight, though it does come up in a discussion between Dallandra and Calonderiel.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Elves age normally through childhood and adolescence into adulthood, then stop aging until a year or so before they're about to die of old age. Opinions are divided as to whether or not the prolonged youth is worth the pain that comes when one day you see a grey hair on a loved one and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will soon wither and die over the course of a year.
  • Important Haircut:
    • Jill, after leaving her home village with her father; he says he doesn't have time to care for that much hair. That and her costume change leaves her feeling not quite like herself anymore.
    • Lilli, twice, first when running away from her mother as part of a disguise, and later when mourning for Branoic.
  • Karma: Bad actions will have consequences in your next life, if not earlier. The elven priests also tried to invoke it to justify their excesses.
  • Legacy Character: Nevyn's common explanation for having the same name and skills as an old advisor or sorcerer mentioned in historical accounts. Either the name Nevyn is a title passed on from teacher to student, or he is a descendant of the Nevyn they're thinking of.
  • Lie to the Beholder: The illusion Evandar placed on Dalla. Worked on all humans but not elves.
  • Loss of Identity:
    • Rhodry in The Dragon Revenant. Done deliberately at the dark dweomermaster's orders to keep Rhodry alive but unable to ask the archons of Bardek for help; he's told he was sold to pay off gambling debts to keep him from questioning his slavery. All but outright stated to be done by torture and rape. Nevyn helped him get his memory back. The rest of his mental health took longer.
    • Laz Moj for a short while in the beginning of The Silver Mage. The impact of the magical black and white pyramids touching was so great it not only literally knocked him between worlds, it badly injured him and temporarily knocked his memory for a loop. He got better.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Bellyra, but she's a good enough person not to be in actual Yandere territory, even being polite to her rival Lilli. She eventually commits suicide instead.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Laz Moj. Nevyn feels like he might be one when ending the civil war.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Sevinna and Dwaen, in Days of Air and Darkness. In order to save Sevinna's life, Jill put her in a situation that winds up being very dishonorable for a noblewoman of the age, which situation default betroths Sevinna to Dwaen. While Sevinna is at first unhappy with this situation, she learns Dwaen is the kind of man she finds worth marrying.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Aderyn and Dallandra, with the former being bitterly aware of it.
  • Meaningful Name: Nevyn and Yraen, though you need to check the spelling guide.
  • Meaningful Rename:
    • Galrion to Nevyn - from prince to no one at all.
    • Dun Hiraedd was not the original name of that city, but the soldiers who were transferred there dubbed it Fort Homesick, and the name stuck.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Though not in the actual battles, the civil war is this on the national scale.
  • Must Make Amends:
    • Nevyn spends several hundred years trying to get the chance to teach magic to various incarnations of his lover Brangwen after he had caused her death.
      "Brangwen, my love, forgive me! If we ever meet again, I swear I'll put this right. I swear to you—I'll never rest until I set this right."
    • Gerraent's failure to marry properly and sire an heir to the Falcon clan resulted in the end of that family line. World of God is that part of Gerraent's redemption was to refound the Falcon clan in one of his incarnations.
      Kerr: By refusing to marry and provide heirs for the Falcon name, Gerraent has broken one of the primary rules of his social class. He’s allowed his clan to die. Thus it’s his wyrd to one day restore that clan, to make the right choices when it comes to marriage and provide the wife and the heirs that will allow the Falcon to be reborn.
  • My Grandson, Myself: Used by Nevyn multiple times over the centuries. Also accidentally happens to Rhodry in the third arc when some court officials note that a mercenary from Aberwyn bears a stunning resemblance to Gwerbret Cullyn of Aberwyn (Rhodry's son) and assumes that said mercenary must be an unacknowledged bastard of the Gwerbret, who was named after Cullyn's late father.
  • Name Amnesia: Prince Galrion is stripped of his rank, wealth and even his name by his father. His father issues a decree that ever after Galrion is to only be called "Nevyn". That's not a name. It's a word that quite literally means "no-one".
  • No Man of Woman Born:
    • The most obvious one is that Lord Corbyn "can never be slain in battle except by sword, but he'll never be slain by any man's hand." Nevyn knows an elven swordsman would work, but there's no time to get one, and he doesn't know about local skilled swordsman Rhodry's true ancestry yet. But there's Jill, trained by the best swordsman in Deverry...
    • A frequently used one is any reference to no one in visions and prophecies, the literal translation of Nevyn's name. Played with in that Nevyn invokes the use of the trope in-universe; he sets up many the visions that speak of him, and the prophecies are either set up by him or as a result of his actions.
  • Noodle Incident: Nevyn was said to have clashed with the dark wizard Tondalo numerous times over their multi-century lives, but despite all the flashbacks to previous generations, the only time they are shown going up against each other is their final confrontation in The Dragon Revenant.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Salamander, who prattles endlessly and travels as a common gerthddyn (roaming bard) to conceal the fact that he's a sorcerer.
    Jill: Do you have to babble on about everything?
    Salamander: Well, actually, I do, because it relieves my feelings and makes me sound like a fool, which is exactly what I want our enemies to think me.
  • Obliviously Evil: Perryn is under the impression that he's just good at seducing women. He's actually unconsciously enchanting them into sleeping with him, making him a serial rapist without being aware of it.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Back in ancient days, all elves were "high" elves of various carefully controlled and observed ranks, while enslaved humans did all the dirty work. Then the Horsekin happened.
    • Some elves fled by ships, reaching distant islands and preserving High Elf culture. They're briefly mentioned as still being hung up on rank and class. Those who don't like it are returning to the homelands by the end of the series.
    • Some fled to the plains, becoming the not-always-distant ancestors of the Westfolk, the best-known elves in the Deverry Cycle. They are the plains equivalent of the forest elves, living in relative harmony with nature, divided into several nomadic groups, and while they have swordmen (and women), their best known weapon is the longbow. Thanks to culture shift, advancement, and changes in the human kingdoms, their way of life is ending and merging with the returning high elves by the end of the series.
    • Small groups of survivors fled anyway and where they could, and founded tiny settlements well away from the Horsekin. They're only introduced near the end of the series, and the readers only meet one member. He describes them as living from the sea, but preserving the memories of old.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The dark dweomer never accepts women into its ranks. Considering the Deliberate Values Dissonance of the setting, this would not be noteworthy except for the fact that the pure dweomer does have female members.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The series would be a lot shorter and quite different if the Dweomer-masters of different races had better contacts between each other. This is mostly justified, though, in that this is only obvious to a (modern) reader who starts thinking about it.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Often vague, but they do come true. In some way.
  • Purpose-Driven Immortality: Nevyn, as a result of his Must Make Amends vow. He dies of natural causes shortly after completing the last task necessary to fulfill his vow.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Elves don't visibly age until a year or so before they're about to die of old age. Nevyn and Aderyn both look old, but are several hundred years older than most people would think.
  • Reincarnated as the Opposite Sex: Characters usually reincarnate as the same sex, but there are exceptions:
    • In the civil war storyline, the male Branoic turns out to be one of the incarnations of Brangwen/Jill, who is female in all other incarnations we meet in the series.
    • In the final book of the series, the male Loddlaen is reborn as the female Dari.
  • Reincarnation: Reincarnation is a fact of life in Deverry. Every character lives many lives, however, most people are unaware of this, with those who do know - mostly Dweomer-masters - being forbidden to tell anyone unless that person suspects and asks about it directly.
  • Reincarnation Romance: After an ancient tragedy, Brangwen and Blaen are drawn together romantically in every life afterwards in which they meet. The main point of the first four books is to snap their current incarnations Jill and Rhodry out of it.
  • Retcon: Daggerspell and Darkspell were later released in a revised edition. Changes to the former are minimal, but there are considerable changes to the latter, especially the character of Sarcyn, who was rewritten to be more in line with how Kerr originally envisioned him. His sibling Evy also got their original gender back.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Not as strong as in some other places, but a definite element of the Deverrian culture.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: During the Time of Troubles, the women of the near-extinct Wolf Clan take shelter in a nearby temple to escape the Boars. The Boar clan respects the sanctity of the temple, but leaves a guard detail just outside temple lands so that the women can't leave.
  • Silly Reason for War: The first war shown in the series is fought over pig food. Of course, the real reason was that the two noble families in question had hated each other for generations, the swine rights issue was just the excuse (They'd run out of good ones over the course of three generations of on and off feuding).
  • Skewed Priorities: Perryn is absolutely horrified when he finds out that he might have started a war — because wars in Deverry are fought mainly with cavalry, and so a war means that many innocent horses will die. It's pointed out to him that a lot of human beings will also die, but he barely seems to notice that part.
  • Spare to the Throne: Nevyn was once the third heir out of four. Rhodry was the youngest of four sons, and outlived all three of his brothers. Yraen was the younger son of a younger son.
  • Spurned into Suicide: The eventual result of Galrion leaving Brangwen.
  • Succession Crisis: The cause of both Deverrian civil wars. Also nearly occurred in The Dragon Revenant, with Rhys dead without issue and Rhodry missing.
  • Take a Third Option: Towards the end of The Dragon Revenant, Nevyn comments that he didn't see this possibility when he was young.
  • Trial by Combat: Part of the Deverrian justice code, but generally discouraged. Also, if one party is obviously a superior fighter than the other, the weaker party may seek a champion to fight on his behalf to prevent such trials from becoming judicially sanctioned murder.
  • A True Story in My Universe: The narrator of the books is an 18th century Deverrian woman, though this is only made explicit at the end of the final book.
  • Unexpected Successor:
    • Pertyc Maelwaedd, with a bit of Offered the Crown mixed in. As the descendant of a disinherited prince and his common-born wife, he has no claim to the Elddid throne despite technically being of the bloodline, especially after Deverry conquers Elddid. But when the rebellion starts and the only other claimant is caught by the king, the surviving rebels decide that they need either him or his son to keep the rebellion alive... Once the rebellion is over, his holding for the existing king and the death of the rebellious former gwerbret gets him unexpectedly promoted from lord of a minor border seaport to Gwerbret Aberwyn.
    • Maryn, for the Deverrian crown in the Time of Troubles (being from a fourth faction that didn't even exist when the wars began). His claim is through his mother.
  • Villainous Underdog: Most antagonists either start out as this or undergo rapid Villain Decay. Magic-users are especially affected, since the heroes include the greatest dweomer masters alive while the villains are at best inferior practitioners, at worst not even true dweomer masters at all but self-taught bumblers using a few limited tricks. Martially inclined villains fare a bit better, but they're still eventually worn down and defeated. Also, most villains are either insane or just very stupid and ignorant (indeed, sometimes their villainy springs entirely from their stupidity), whereas the heroes at least enjoy the benefits of common sense.
  • Wham Episode: The end of The Fire Dragon, which is also the source of most of the spoiler tags on this page.
  • Whip of Dominance: Played for Laughs. At one point Raena attacks Rhodry with a whip, for no apparent reason other than to continue her theme of trying and failing to be a stereotypical sexy villainess. Turns out, a whip isn't a particularly practical weapon, especially when you've no particular training with one, and Raena keeps getting it tangled up.
  • The Wise Prince: Rhodry, Glyn the First. Rhodry enjoys most of his reign, actually, but you only see him at the beginning and the end when he's not so happy with the job.
  • Wretched Hive: Slaith is a Not-So-Safe Harbor (type 1) and the Bilge is The City Narrows for Cerrmor.

Tropes related to Magic:

  • Animorphism: Mortal practitioners can transform into a single animal, which is a reflection of their inner nature. Unlike many works, they retain mass in bird form.
    • Aderyn learns to transform himself into an owl. At least twice in the books, it's mentioned as reflective of his appearance.
    • Raena and Laz Moj show up in the form of ravens, birds frequently considered sinister in the books. Played straight for Raena, but Laz Moj shows himself a better person. Eventually.
    • Jill learns to take the form of a hawk -since this was both her and her father's sign, it's incredibly appropriate.
    • Dallandra is an odd one -instead of manifesting an existing Annwyn species, her bird form is the idealized form normally used for mental practice for shapeshifting. It has a body like a hawk's, but the head is more like a linnet. She's also one of the most powerful practitioners of dweomer in the books.
    • Ebany gets a magpie. When Nevyn laughs on hearing this, Ebany complains "everyone laughs". It does reflect his love for lovely (and shiny) things, the way he talks a lot, and his entertaining nature.
  • Astral Projection: Quite well detailed. The written form is consistent enough to almost qualify as Stock Footage.
  • Aura Vision: Viewing auras is the basic skill, with manipulating them being the advanced form.
  • Black Magic: The dark dweomer, which takes the enlightened practices of normal dweomer and turns them to twisted, selfish ends. Unusually, it seems to be in many ways weaker than regular magic, since it's fighting the natural order of things, but it does let you do things like extend your lifespan through blood sacrifice; its practitioners also have far fewer ethical limitations on how to use their abilities, often to their material benefit (very few practitioners of the light dweomer have much wealth or status, though they are philosophically much less interested in these things).
  • Charm Person: Often described as "spinning" the target's aura with a whip-shape portion of the dweomermaster's. Often used to confuse memory -rewriting memory is a bit harder and you'd better know what you're doing.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Rhodry's silver dagger. The other silver daggers work similarly for Otho, but aren't MacGuffins.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The auras on the Ethereal plane. Earth is, unsurprisingly, brown to brownish-black.
  • Forced Transformation: Discussed but never actually performed. Shapeshifting is a difficult enough process when doing it to one's self, so performing it on an unwilling subject would be even less likely to work without killing the subject (and there are easier ways to kill a man with magic). Besides, as discussed in-universe, none of the stories involving this trope mention anything about the resultant frog being big enough to ride.
  • Hermetic Magic: The magic system is quite detailed, being based on the Kabbalistic system and then expanded with other sources.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Since eyes are the windows of the soul, eye-contact is usually necessary for mind-based magic, at least to initiate the manipulation.
  • I Know Your True Name: Dragons and the Guardians. There's a restriction, though: it requires a certain kind of pronunciation of the name, usually acquired in magical or priestly training. This also means the name can still be used in casual conversation.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Nevyn makes Rhodry forget that Bocc is a thief.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Consistent to the degree that there's noticeable repetition in different books when the characters build Bodies of Light or create Seals. The limitations of magic are also clearly shown, affect the story and are commented upon by the dweomerworkers.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Jill (Hawk) once almost attacks Dallandra (Linnet.. sorta) when both are shifted.
  • Mind Manipulation: A important part of the Dweomer power set. Often done through the victim's aura.
  • Mind Rape: Alastyr and Sarcyn against Camdel, Baruma against Rhodry. Physical pain, humiliation and physical rape are used in conjuction with magic.
  • Mundane Utility: The elemental spirits of fire are used a lot to light candles and fires.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: some dweomer masters can shapeshift into birds. "My instincts are showing" is something they don't want to happen; it's usually a sign they've been shifting too often, staying in animal form too long, or both.
    • When Jill has been regularly patrolling in her falcon form, she starts to dive-attack Dallandra's linnet(ish) form before pulling herself back.
    • When Salamander spends too much time in magpie form, he starts thinking about stealing and hiding shiny objects. It's not helped by his magic being occasionally unstable due to a relatively recent recovery from insanity.
    • Laz Moj spends so much time in raven form, he starts using bird mannerisms in human form. Dallandra is extremely worried when Sidro tells her how often Laz Moj changes, and how he'll fly for days at a time.
  • Psychic Link: Weak, but Jill/Branna and Nevyn/Neb have one, and Perryn could tell what direction Jill was in.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Shapeshifters maintain conservation of mass between forms, so mages turning into birds (the most common alternate form) generally end up as unnaturally huge birds, which makes them easily recognized as shapeshifted mages by anyone who knows that such things exist.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: In The Silver Mage. Haen Marn was created by powerful dweomer masters over a thousand years ago; its structure means it's surrounded by a vast field of constantly-shifting magical tendrils, dangerous to anyone not in their natural, birth forms. Laz Moj, his heart breaking and in a foolhardy and somewhat desperate state of mind, tries to fly across the field in raven form anyway. It shatters the etheric form that gave them human structure, but their raven-shaped body of light survives, keeping them from dying by giving their physical form something to cling to. But without the human-based etheric form, they can't turn human again.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: The Guardians consider the humanoid form to be their "natural" one.
  • Shapeshifting: Much more natural to elven dweomermasters, but at least humans can learn it as well. The "Water" race, Dwrgi, also have a natural form of shapeshifting.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Used a lot; Dallandra is the most prominent but the Guardians, Nevyn, Nananna and Niffa are also proficient. Considering that Rhodry doesn't have any training in magic, he manages pretty well in this too.
  • Telepathy: Mind-to-mind speech, often through fire but sometimes water or some other element.
  • Think in Text: Italics are used to show Telepathy.
  • Tongue-Tied: Jahdo in Days of Blood and Fire thanks to Verrarc's clever use of ensorcellment.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: You have to be born to the dweomer to have any chance to master it, and it then takes decades of studying under a teacher before you are considered even competent. If you do not train or otherwise exercise your gift, it will eventually fade away.
  • Weather-Control Machine: Nevyn, Dallandra and Jill, the first two causing Weather Dissonance when a Personal Raincloud appears over only one of the armies present.
    • Jill calls up an almighty storm over Cerr Cawnen so she can teach Rhodry the proper pronunciation of Arzosah's full name without everyone and their cousin listening in.
    • The day before Cerrmor's forces are due to fight Cantrae's, Maddyn casually mentions to Nevyn that one of the biggest pains in battle is all the dust that gets kicked up and obscures the soldiers' sight. Nevyn figures he can do something about that, and freak out the Cantrae troops while he's at it. Overnight he summons a strong rainfall to soak just Cantrae's camp and side of the battlefield.
    • The dwarven herald Kov hears some of the dwarven engineers discussing how their mysterious weapon they've been hauling along would be very effective, but all the litter lining the Deverrian/Dwarven side of the field is a major fire hazard to using it. He very casually mentions to Dallandra, Salamander, and company that there's a way the dwarves could really help the attack on Zakh Gral, but it involves fire, and, well, there's all this mess about. In the middle of the night, he hears a heavy rainfall start -and when he goes out to look, it's only over the allies' camp, leaving Zakh Gral dry as a bone.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Played with. True mastery includes tremendous mental discipline, meaning that the most powerful dweomer masters are also extremely sane. What brings insanity is trying to learn magic without having enough strength of will, or learning a bit of it and then letting your studies lapse. In other words, With Moderate Power Comes Great Insanity. It even gets mentioned in the Secret Book of Cadwallon the Druid, which argues that practicing magic exposes and tests every flaw in the practitioner's minds. If some practitioners break on those flaws, is it the magic's fault?
    • Loddlaen has a weakened mind due to Dallandra's not knowing she was pregnant when she first visited the Guardians' plane. His father spoils him and teaches him dweomer in spite of this. The result? Two deaths at Loddlaen's hands, one the accidental death of his best friend, the other a straight out murder, and Alistair is able to use the madness to exploit Loddlaen and use him as a patsy.
    • Salamander falls in love, gets married, finds a career in line with his gerthddyn talents, and decides to just drop his dweomer studies -he's still at a journeyman level after all these years- and have a normal life. The result? Madness, the loss of his wife and family when his wife loses her love for him, his children lose all respect for him, and choose to stay behind when Salamander heads back to the Westlands for healing; only his youngest son accompanies him. Even once he's sane again, overuse of magic has the potential to damage his mind again.
    • The reason Nevyn has a complete conniption about Merodda and Brour using Lilli's powers for their own benefit, without really teaching her even, is because they could have driven the girl mad. Fortunately, she has a strong mind, partially due to her foster parents, and her escape leads her to Nevyn. But Lilli's scared and Nevyn's furious because the two dragged her so far along the dweomer path Lilli can't go back; it's learn dweomer or go mad anyway.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Perryn's abilities to Nevyn and Elaeno.