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Literature / Fortress Series

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The Fortress series by C. J. Cherryh is High Fantasy centered on the friendship between Tristen, a reborn ancient king and Cefwyn, the current ruler of his lands.

  • Fortress in the Eye of Time (1995)
  • Fortress of Eagles (1998)
  • Fortress of Owls (1999)
  • Fortress of Dragons (2000)
  • Fortress of Ice (2006)

This series contains examples of:

  • Amnesiac Dissonance: It's pretty clear that Tristen fell under Good Is Not Nice at best in his previous life.
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  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Tristen has to watch this, because his wishes have a lot of power.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Tristen just doesn't think like a human.
  • Came Back Wrong: Tristen. Mauryl wanted a badass, but got someone with the mind of a child. Even after he Took a Level in Badass, he's still a Friend to All Living Things Cloud Cuckoo Lander trying to figure out How Do I Shot Web? instead of a ruthless Magic Knight conquerer.
  • Corrupt Church: The state religion.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The state religion.
  • Eldritch Abomination: What Tristen was called back to fight. And probably Tristen himself is a Humanoid Abomination, although a very nice one.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Tristen, especially regarding horses and birds. Killing his birds is used to get to him more than once.
  • Grey Eyes: Tristen, and any human with enough Sihhe blood to be a potential wizard.
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  • Grim Up North: Tristen's ultimate origin... probably. Although Mauryl's thought as he prepares to shape Tristen that one man had reached the skill of shaping in the days of the Old Kingdoms, combined with Tristen's thought in Dragons about whoever had Shaped the Sihhe originally implies that the five Sihhe had an origin even further back.
  • I Know Your True Name : Invoked by the Wind against Tristen. Subverted in that Tristen himself does not remember that name, or accept it as his own. In fact, it is debatable if Tristen counts as his true name either.
  • King in the Mountain: There are legends of this; the rulers of the second major country are called Regents explicitly because of this.
  • Must Be Invited: Human dwellings are guarded by lines. Making sure that those lines aren't weakened either by carelessness or enemy action is a major concern.
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  • Obfuscating Stupidity: A lot of people accuse Tristen of this, and even his best friend gets paranoid about it on occassion. Subverted since Tristen just really has that little clue about the world he's found himself in, complicated by the fact that he perceives reality differently.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Tristen is a subversion: he's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who spends a lot of time needing help and advice from the older and wiser humans around him, as opposed to giving them advice, and while he does give advice, it's not condemnation of human culture and so on but practical stuff like 'Remember to close the windows.'
  • Physical God: Tristen, pretty much.
  • Power of Friendship: Invoked, as Cefwyn is told that the only option he has for dealing with a Physical God who was probably brought back in order to overthrow him is to get Tristen to like him too much to want to. It works.
  • Reality Warper: Tristen. He has to take very great care what and how he wishes, because wishing, even without deliberate magical intent, easily becomes making, especially because, as Mauryl says, a big part of magic is giving things an extra push to do what they want to do anyway.
  • Rescue Romance: Tristen and Ninevrise are sort of set up to have one of these. She marries Cefwyn instead.
  • Rightful King Returns: Tristen, who doesn't want any of it.
  • Ritual Magic: Complicated by the fact that a lot of ordinary actions have ritual magic significance and modern people don't know this. A Sealed Evil in a Can nearly escaped because the church had been remodeled and the priests started walking the wrong lines, messing up the Geometric Magic. It works for perfectly normal people, but better for Half-Human Hybrids and it's amazing how many descendants Tristen and his fellows have running around. Tristen eventually becomes savvy about this, leading to some Cassandra Truth and Cassandra Did It moments when people don't take the warnings seriously.
  • Rule of Three: Serious Business for Tristen, because the Ritual Magic of the setting means that repeating something three times puts magical power into making it true, and Tristen has a lot of power to throw around. Most people, on the other hand, don't get that it is that important.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The several times when Tristen tells people that they really do need to do something that seems utterly trivial or like an enormous headache and they think it can't be that important.
  • Truth in Television: A lot of attention is paid to how much baggage any given army needs—supplies, tents, carts to carry all of it, extra horses so the warhorses are fresh for the actual "war" part of things, support staff, and so on and so forth .
  • Wild Magic: Tristen and the real Big Bad are sort of avatars of it.


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