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Literature / Dwarves

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Dwarves is a series of fantasy novels by German author Markus Heitz. He strives to give us a new take on dwarf tropes, while at the same time managing to play them completely straight.

Tungdil is a blacksmith, working in the village surrounding the home of the magus Lot-Ionan. He is a foundling and knows nothing of the dwarves, apart from what he has gleaned from Lot-Ionan's books, and is dying to meet "real" dwarves. After a student's prank on Tungdil goes wrong, Lot-Ionan sends Tungdil on a journey to return some things to an old apprentice, while insinuating that he doesn't mind if it takes a while.


Meanwhile in the fifthling kingdom, northernmost of the dwarven kingdoms, the guardians of the pass to the Perished Land are overrun, by forces of darkness from without and treachery from within. The Perished Land moves south once again.

In the fourthling kingdom, things are not going well either. Gandogar, aided by his advisor Bislipur, seeks to take the throne of the fourthling kingdom from the aging king, and declare war on their old enemy, the elves.

In the second book The War of the Dwarves Girdlegard faces a new threat. Avatars of the evil god Tion have amassed their armies and prepare themselves for an invasion while the thirdlings have nefarious plans of their own.

By the time of the third book (around 5 years later) Tungdil has become an alcoholic, drinking his sorrows away. Evil still exists, however, and it strikes back in full force as if to make Girdlegard pay for the 5 years of peace it got. Terrible death machines bring doom to the dwarves' tunnels, magical monstrosities threaten the fate of the land and it all but looks like the thirdlings are about to play their final and deadliest gambit.


The events of the fourth book take place around 250 years later and focus on the return of Tungdil from out of the Black Abyss. Doubts arise on his true identity though, as to some dwarves he seems to have Come Back Wrong. Will they be able to save Girdlegard once more?

The first novel is being adapted into a video game. Go here to find out more.

There is also a Sequel Series by the same author named Path of the Alfar.


Contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Bavragor. He is more of the Boisterous Bruiser type, though. Except he isn't. He's drowning his sorrows after losing his sister to Boïndil's axes.
    • Also Tungdil in the third book. Due to falling of a bridge with his toddler son and not being able to save him.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Orcs, and alfar. Thirdlings as well with one VERY notable exception.
    • Already the second book shows that not all thirdlings hate the other dwarves.
    • Amazingly subverted by the undead raised by the Perished Land. Some of them are still firmly on the side of good, although they are rare — it takes monumental effort to fight off The Corruption once the Perished Land comes to claim your body and soul.
  • Animate Dead: The Perished Land can raise any corpses upon it (unless their heads are chopped off, that is), thanks to it being The Corruption to the very lands it taints. Interestingly, some of these undead are able to retain their personalities, although they're still consumed by bloodlust to varying degrees.
  • Ax-Crazy: Boïndil. One of his sons seems to have inherited it as well.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Well, in this case, it's an Ax, and it's Keenfire.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Boïndil and Böendal. All the time, as it's how they were trained to fight.
  • Bash Brothers: Boïndil and Böendal are twins.
  • The Berserker: Boïndil. He killed his wife, Bavragor's sister, during battle-rage, mistaking her for an orc
  • Big Bad: Nôd'onn. He was also Nudin, making him The Mole too.
    • Later books feature their own Big Bads, but it can be argued that the demon that controlled Nudin is the Big Bad of the series as a whole.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Always Chaotic Evil alfs, when exposed to sunlight. Otherwise they look exactly like elves.
  • Category Traitor: The entire Thirdling clan is essentially this to the dwarves as a whole. Completely justified, since they tried to annihilate their kin.
  • The Chosen One: Subverted by Tungdil. He is put forward as a candidate for the fourthling throne, not because he has any chance of convincing the council to vote for him (in fact no one can even prove he is a fourthling), but because he's being used by the fourthling king to gain time to talk Gandogar out of a war with the elves, since both candidates have to be present at the election. Later played straight, when he turns out to be the one destined to wield Keenfire.
  • Death Mountain: Blacksaddle. In more ways than one, in fact.
  • Death Seeker: Rather surprisingly, Bavragor.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Rather one-sided. The dwarves hate the elves for supposedly annihilating the fifthling kingdom years before the main storyline. There are even many who want to go to war with the elves, despite overwhelming evidence that the elves played no part in the genocide. The Fantastic Racism at hand is made even stupider with the realization that the elves are rapidly going extinct due to their Always Chaotic Evil cousins, the alfs, and that the elves are on the same side of the war against the Perished Land as the dwarves.
    • In the third volume, owing to manipulation and misunderstanding, a Dwarf hothead arises who declares himself High King and launches a genocidal war against the Elves. By the time it is over only thirty-seven Elves are left alive.
  • Everybody Dies: By the end of the second book, only a handful of the characters who began at the start or were introduced through it are still standing. Jarring, as most of them were introduced and built up as major protagonists.
  • Evil Chancellor: Bislipur. He's also The Mole.
  • Evil Counterpart: The alfar to the elves and the Thirdlings to other dwarves (although they didn't start out that way).
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Vraccas, god of the dwarves, and Pallandiel, god of humans, among others.
  • Final Solution: The stated goal of the Avatars, and the eoil who drives them, in the second volume. She (the eoil) succeeds in slaughtering every single Dark Elf and Orc in Girdlegard - even those who are only half-alfar/orc. The new and disputed high king of the Dwarfs doesn't help much, when he launches his genocide against the Elves in volume three.
  • The Film of the Book: Well, Game instead of Film, for the video game adaptation.
  • Glory Days: Bavragor. He created some of the finest stonework in the world, before his love of drink took over.
  • Good Is Not Nice: See above.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Tion, creator/god of the Perished Land. He/it is never encountered directly, but every villain in the series is connected to it in some way.
  • Grim Up North: Played straight with the Perished Land. However, the orcs also have a nation in the southeast.
  • Hellish Horse: The alfar ride corrupted unicorns. That feast on flesh.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The entirety of the Thirdlings do this in the forth book and by the fifth book the are firmly good guys, their King is even worshiped as a Hero and saviour by the elvish refugees.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's dwarf, not groundling.
  • Kill 'Em All: The eoil's solution to the problem of evil: mass genocide, no exceptions.
  • Large Ham: Rodario again.
  • Light Is Not Good: In book 2.
  • Master of Disguise: Rodario, the actor, sure is one. He fools orcs by disguising as Nod'Onn on more than one occasion.
  • Mithril: In a wide variety of flavours. Every God in the setting created a metal with no earthly counterpart. These metals are all rare and precious, and used almost solely for ornamentation.
  • Moral Myopia: The Avatars and the eoil.
  • One-Word Title: The series is called Dwarves.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Except the thirdlings, whose founder vowed to destroy all other clans because he felt shunned by their god.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: No, they're not. Tolkienian through and through.
  • Planet of Hats: Each dwarven kingdom has one of the traditionally dwarven arts as its hat: Stoneworking, metalworking, gem-cutting etc.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Tungdil, having been raised by scholar mages, finds himself occasionally doing this though he tries hard to tailor his language level appropriate for the circumstances. Rodario, on the other hand, deliberately turns this trope up several notches, because he's an actor and playwright and likes to sound smarter than everyone around him.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Tungdil suffer from this time to time as he outlived many of his close human friends for 300 years.


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