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Literature / Gleams of Aeterna
aka: Reflections Of Eterna

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The Russian cover of Red on Red.
Left to right: Robert, Roque, Richard

Gleams of Aeterna (Отблески Этерны) is a series of Low Fantasy novels by the Russian writer Vera Kamsha (author of the Arcia Chronicles) set in the Constructed World of Quertiana. Thousands of years ago, Quertiana was brought into being by four creator deities, who have since disappeared, but their descendants founded the four Great Ducal Houses that ruled over the lands in their stead. At some point, the Rakan dynasty united all lands under their rule into the Golden Anaxia... but that time is long past, too. Time in the Golden Lands is measured in 400 year-long ages, each associated with one of the four elements. The last turn of the age saw a charismatic rebel named Francis Ollar overthrow the last Rakan emperor and found his own kingdom, Talig. Now, 400 years later, the end of the current age once again beckons a time of strife and political crises... and there are strong indications that the literal end of the world is just around the corner.

The series is epic in scope and switches between multiple POV characters often. The primary narrators from book one onwards are Richard Oakdell, the young heir to the House of the Rocks, which fell from grace when Richard's father led a failed uprising against the Ollar dynasty a few years ago; Robert Epine, the heir to the House of the Lightning, who was exiled from Talig for his part in the same uprising and has since cast his lot with Aldo, the last heir of the Rakan family; and Mathilda Rakan, Aldo's grandmother. The main Non P.O.V. Protagonist of the series is Roque Alva, current head of the House of the Wind and the First Marshal of Talig, who personally dueled and killed Richard's father, ending his rebellion. They are later joined by a number of narrators, such as the dashing schemer Marcel Valmont, the unlucky Old Soldier Carlo Capras from Guyifa, the upstanding Drixen mariner Rupert vok Felsenburg, and the Savignac twins — both marshals of Talig.

Fifteen books have been published, with the final volume getting repeatedly stuck in limbo, Divided for Publication, and published piecemeal since about 2010note . The author also has plans to release a collection of previously published and new novellas set in Aeterna and Quertiana in a single bound volume titled Flame of Aeterna. A full (spoiler-y) list of published volumes can be found on the recap page.

A live-action adaptation of the book series, titled simply Aeterna, premiered on 20 January 2022 (see also its official English-language website). Word of God is that audio books, a Comic-Book Adaptation, and even a Licensed Game based in the multiverse of Aeterna are also being produced.

This series contains examples of:

  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Guardians of Sunset are forbidden to use their powers before Normal People of the worlds they protect. However, one of them (strongly implied to be Rinaldi Rakan from Flame of Aeterna) finds a loophole in order to save Roque Alva from assassins: he cannot use his powers — but his swordfighting technique, honed to perfection over one and a half thousand years, is exempt. Roque is left with an impression that he was saved by the Left-Handed One (i.e. The Devil) himself.
  • All Myths Are True: The rule of thumb when evaluating the Quertianan lore is that the older a given legend is, the more objective truth it contains.
  • Animal Theme Naming: Three out of four incumbent Dukes are commonly referred by their respective heraldic animals' names: Roque "The Raven" Alva, Robert "The Palfrey" Epine, and Valentine "The Squid" Pridd. Interestingly, Richard Oakdell, who should theoretically be known as "The Boar", is never referred thus.
  • Anti-Role Model: Richard Oakdell, one of the central characters. Word of God says he was created to subvert the pattern of Designated Hero.
  • Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Stanzler plays up his apparent lack of political power to pull Richard into his schemes — and Richard is pretty much the only one in the series who buys this act.
  • Arc Number: Four. Four noble houses (each subdivided into four clans), four creator deities, 400 year-long ages... Heck, even the name of the world itself is "Quertiana" — derived from the Latin root "quartus", or "fourth" (cf. "quarter").
  • Aristocrat Team: There are no truly permanent character groupings, as allegiances and locations shift constantly, but given how the vast majority of the series' protagonists are noblemen descended from ancient bloodlines, nearly every transient team-up technically is an aristocrat team.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: in vice versa order, but almost literally. Word of God says that Richard Oakdell's inevitable moral decay, which drove him to attempt of Alva's murder and killing Queen Catherine was shown from the very beginning; this soon-to-be-traitor-and-murderer tried to kill the annoying rat in Laic Academy.
  • Artifact Title: Possibly the entire series. "Aeterna" was apparently an interdimensional fortress that served as the base of operations for the Guardians of Sunset until its destruction long before Red on Red. The Guardians of Sunset are guarding the inhabited worlds from unimaginable monstrosities from beyond but began steadily losing after Aeterna fell. All of this is mentioned on four pages in an early book, tangentially referenced in the prequel novella Flame of Aeterna... and never brought up again in any of the nine novels published thus far.
  • The Atoner: Most of Robert's actions as Proemperador of Ollaria in the later books are motivated by his realization of just how much his and Aldo's (mainly the latter, but Aldo had conveniently left the world of the living before the consequences caught up with him) ambitions screwed things up in the city and the desire to make up for it.
  • Author Appeal: Kamsha loves cats. Like in her previous series, anyone who is liked by cats in Aeterna is inevitably heroic and well-intended (and the more upstanding the character, the greater the feline adoration), while everyone they shun is either a traitor or infected by the Hate Plague.
  • Bargain with Heaven: The Guardians of Sunset are an order of supernatural warriors defending the known multiverse against the continuous onslaught of otherworldly evil. Before their main citadel, the eponymous fortress of Aeterna, fell, they bolstered their ranks by scouting out the toughest badasses of the multiverse and offering them a deal: becoming a Physical God that's The Ageless, in return for an (eternal) life of service to the multiverse. The main caveat is that by agreeing, the future Guardian must give up all memories of their mortal life, so he can devote himself entirely to his new duties. Rinaldi Rakan, a.k.a. the Left-Handed One, is implied to have been one of the last Guardians recruited before the fall of Aeterna.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Kamsha loves detailed battle descriptions told from multiple (and sometimes even opposing!) points of view, so there is generally at least one chapter-spanning battle sequence per volume. The Battle of Gelbe River really stands out, taking up just over a half of the fourth volume of Sunrise — itself a novel-sized book.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Esteban Colignar. He might have grown into a Big Bad, but suddenly met Alva. Oops!
    • Stanzler. He showed all the soon-to-be Big Bad signs in first two books, but suddenly it came out that he is just a petty blackmailer, who was blackmailed too.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Richard Oakdell happened to have duel with seven enemies at once, Alva arrived just in time to take six of them and equal the chances. Although he could have taken all seven, he just didn't want to deprive Oakdell from all the glory.
  • Break the Cutie: Mellith was effectively raped by Aldo.
  • Central Theme: Throughout the series, Kamsha explores all her favorite topics, occasionally reinforcing them with fantastic means. Said topics include:
    • Honor: Characters who keep their word, stay loyal to their friends and superiors, and take care of their subordinates generally live longer and healthier lives despite having to occasionally suffer for it. On the other hand, those who behave detestably and keep backstabbing others for short-term profit often meet very messy ends (though almost never before causing a lot of harm).
    • Duty: Those who know their duties and carry them out to the end, regardless of personal cost, tend to survive hardships that kill the less determined.
    • Humility: Knowing their limitations keeps characters from harm and bad decisions, while believing in one's infallibility causes a lot of grief.
    • Political realism: It is repeatedly hammered in that governing other people is not a permission to arbitrarily reshape society according to one's own whims but a heavy duty to facilitate social order. Those who fail to understand that usually cause a lot of harm to everyone (including themselves).
    • Secular humanism: In the matters of faith, both outright moral corruption and extreme dogmatism are shown as equally harmful. A middle way, focused on believing in people while accepting their flaws, is advocated.
    • Rational skepticism: Blind faith in certain ideas or individuals repeatedly causes chaos and pain, as it is easily exploited by unscrupulous schemers. Critical thinking (in conjunction with other virtues listed above) usually helps avoid manipulation.
  • The Chessmaster: Cardinal Dorak, his enemy August Stanzler, kazar Adgemar the White Fox. And all of them ended up by outwitting themselves to the point of fatal mistake.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: In Sunrise, the Ollarian royal court reassembles itself around the boy king Karl Ollar, the late Ferdinand and Catherine's oldest surviving son.
  • Church Militant: The Order of Glory is one of the seven constituent branches of the Esperatian Church and the only one explicitly concerned with military matters and the spiritual needs of soldiers. Historically, Glory has once had to endure an outright siege laid to its fortress residence by all other six Orders — and actually won, making their leader the next Esperador, and there are increasingly transparent indications that they operate a clandestine division of Warrior Monks like the Guyifan Brother Orest, who carry out special ops in the name of the Lord. Glory furthermore appears to be the least corrupt of the Esperatian Orders, with most Good Shepherds found in the series coming from their ranks.
  • Colon Cancer: The number of subtitles needed for the subvolumes of the subvolumes of the final volume is staggering (e.g. the final tome is technically fully styled Gleams of Aeterna V: Heart of the Beast Vol. 3: Blue Gaze of Death Pt. 3: Sunrise Book 5).
  • Combat Clairvoyance: In Sunrise, Reinsteiner discovers, after extensive testing, that certain individuals (specifically, the incumbent Elemental Lords and their Vassals) intuitively know each other's next move in a duel. This is presumably one of the magical failsafes to prevent the Lords from accidentally killing each other before the next Age can start.
  • Conflict Killer:
    • In Face of Victory, Robert Epine, who was desperately trying to lead his rebel army to a not-too-bloody failure suddenly faces the fact that commander of government forces general Luras has decided to switch sides and embrace Aldo Rakan as his king.
    • In the next two volumes Robert with the same desperation tries to rescue Alva for I Owe You My Life reasons and drag Aldo Rakan along with Aldo's Grandma out of this "royal" shady enterprise. No way: Alva is to be resqued by Valentine Pridd (first time) and Marcel Valmes (second time) and Aldo - killed by Moro.
  • Corrupt Church:
    • Esperathists. They are so corrupt, it took a destruction of all the Agaris City along with them to save the world from their filth.
    • Judging by the massacre on Octavian Night, Ollarian Church is hardly better.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The series features a lot of elements of this, especially when the Myth Arc regarding the impending End of the World as We Know It is brought up and paranormal weirdness starts happening.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Roque Alva is the Duke of Kenalloa (Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Spain), who is also an infamous duelist, The Casanova, and a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alva, especially towards Richard, such as this gem during a fencing training:
    "What's with your wrist, young man? Firm and Unshakable?"note 
  • Death Amnesia: When Alva comes back from the dead in Sunrise, Marcel quickly discovers that he has no memory of his death in Nador — in fact, the last thing Alva remembers is a feast held 8 days before his presumed death (and 120 days before his resurrection).
  • Death of the Old Gods: Creators of Aeterna and of Quertiana are both long gone and, presumably, dead.
  • Eager Rookie: Lampshaded, deconstructed, and reconstructed again in a short succession in book one. A young officer under First Marshall Roque Alva's command is eager to take on the enemy and eventually defies his orders to give battle. The attack goes bad, so Alva brings his troops to flank and rout the enemy, saving the young officer, only to have him court-marshaled for insubordination later. When other officers point out that Alva used him as a bait intentionally, he just shrugs and tells him that had the rookie obeyed his orders, he would still be alive — but if he disobeyed them and WON, he'd be made a Marshall someday.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Aldo Rakan starts off a relatively likable individual but soon reveals himself as a utterly repulsive and power-hungry bastard who single-handedly brings about more evil and harm than any other villain in the series. Only his Best Friend Robert and his grandmother Mathilda, both fundamentally decent and honorable people, seem to harbor any sort of good will towards him at that point, despite realizing how morally bankrupt the guy has become.
  • Exponential Plot Delay: The core timeline of the series covers about 3.2 years so far. Almost three quarters of this time span occur over the course of the first five books, i.e. prior to Heart of the Beast, which covers the remaning quarter of the timeline (just over 13 monthsnote ) — and the combined size of all of its already-published subvolumes is one and a half times larger than all of the previous books together. Within Heart itself, the first two volumes cover almost four months but account for just one sixth of its volume, with the remaining 5/6 contained in Blue Gaze of Death. Within Gaze, in turn, the first two sub-volumes use up a third of its current volume to cover another four months. The final 5+ months of the series are covered in Sunrise, which, at five sub-sub-volumes, accounts for a good third of the series' entire page count already and is just one book shy of topping all pre-Heart books combined in terms of sheer volume. In short, each new book tends to get bigger and bigger while covering less and less in-universe time.
  • Faction Motto: The ducal houses all have their family mottoes: the Alvas (House of the Wind) have "Against the Wind"; the Epines (House of the Lightning), "Heralds Victory"; the Pridds (House of the Waves), "From the Depths"; and the Oakdells (House of the Rocks), "Firm and Unshakable".
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Golden Anaxia was The Roman Empire, Nador is England, Epine is France, Kenalloa is Spain, and Pridda is Southern Germany and Austria, with the Big, Screwed-Up Family of the Pridds as dead-ringers for the Habsburgs. Drixen and Gaunau are amalgamations of Prussia, Northern Germany, and Netherlands, with a touch of Scandinavia. Guyifa is the Byzantine Empire, while Urgot, Felp, and Bordon are Italian city-states, Agaris is The Papal States, Alat is Hungary, and morisc shads are the Moorish caliphs (cf. Moriscos). Finally, the Gogans are the Jewish diaspora.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion: The Esperathian Church of Anticipation is based heavily on Catholicism, down to its own self-governed Holy City and The Pope. Their dogma is based on anticipating the second coming of The Maker and the subsequent final judgement. There is also the Ollarian splinter church, which is based on Anglicanism and is headed by the king of Talig (instead of the Pope), who also appoints its bishops.
  • Fantasy World Map: Available on the author's website, both in the plain and stylized format.
  • Fisher King: The kings of Golden Anaxia, as well as the four Dukes, wielded very direct power over their lands. This connection extends even to their modern descendants, as seen in the destruction of Nador, directly caused by Richard's betrayal of Alva at the latter's Kangaroo Court.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Numerous examples, most notable are "Sundered Serpent!" instead of "damn!" and "Left-Handed" instead of "devil". More humorous are Matilda's "...your cavalry!" (with an obvious implied expletive omitted at the beginning) and Valmon's "Nightingale your toad!"
  • Hate Plague: In Midnight, the entire city of Ollaria (save a few thousand who are somehow immune) succumbs to an uncontrolled desire to Rape, Pillage, and Burn everything in sight.
  • Headache of Doom: Roque Alva becomes plagued with debilitating migraines when Ollaria falls to Aldo Rakan and his co-conspirators. This foreshadows, among other things, supernatural disasters destroying the home fiefdom of one of said conspirators, and Ollaria itself succumbing to a Hate Plague.
  • The Heretic: King Francis I, a.k.a. the Maragonian Bastard, who established the Ollarian Church and was branded for heresy by the original Esperatian Church as a result.
  • Heroic Bastard: Francis Ollar was a bastard of the Maragonian duke, who usurped the Taligoian throne and caused a major Church schism. Yet, according to just about anyone outside the die-hard anti-Ollarian nobles, he was also a surprisingly honorable individual who became an energetic and forward-thinking ruler, reformed the stagnating state institutes, and left Talig in a much better position than when he took it. He may have also postponed the End of the World as We Know It by four centuries.
  • Heroic Bystander: Not quite a bystander, but in Midnight, while Ollaria succumbs to the Hate Plague and Robert tries to lead the uninfected out of the city, one of said group, an innkeeper, approaches Robert to tell him that they are passing by his inn. Robert at first assumes that the man would demand from him to save his stuff, but the innkeeper instead simply gives him and his men permission to plunder his store for food — something they're very short on — to feed the others, before disappearing. This provides an important clue to Hate Plague immunity: only those with a strong sense of duty (like Robert and his loyal guards) and/or a readiness to make sacrifices for others (like the innkeeper) seem to resist it.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: At the end of Sunrise, Lionel Savignac successfully uses his awakening powers to hijack the Beast of the Rakans, which prevented General Sahl's army from entering the Ring of Ernani, to not only let said army in but to actively push them along.
  • Historical In-Joke: Aldo Rakan's name turns out to be this, when he is killed by Alva's stallion named Moro: the Italian Prime Minister who was kidnapped and killed by terrorists was named Aldo Moro...
  • Hunting "Accident": This is what officially happened to Valentin's older brother Justin.
  • I Am Spartacus: In Red on Red, several unars "confess" to being Suza Muza when Captain Aramona finds (planted) evidence against Richard. Since some of them are from privileged families, Aramona has no choice but to let them off lightly and simply lock all of them plus Richard up for a night. It turns out, however, that none of them was the real Suza Muza, who continues to prank Aramona during their incarceration.
  • I Know Your True Name: Names seem to play some role in Quertianan magic, for instance, when the Piebald Mare comes after Aramona's son, Alva raises him into the Kenalloan nobility, effectively giving him a new surname (Calperado) — which apparently saves his life, as the Mare doesn't bother him anymore.
  • In the Blood: Only males descended from Four Gods have magical powers. Even though they have no idea how how to use it anymore.
  • Just Before the End: The end of the world is more or less set in stone in this series. Too bad nobody but a few madmen realizes that.
  • Non P.O.V. Protagonist: Alva is the essential character of the cycle, yet his actions are the only ever observed through the eyes of others — at least, until the final volumes, where Robert Epine starts having visions, which turn out to be fragments of Roque's memories, so we finally get a glimpse of inside his head. Another Duke, Valentine Pridd, likewise never gets any attention but he is also less of a world-shaker.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: A crowd is one of the scariest monsters found in this series — and it gets worse every time it reappears (especially since there seems to be some supernatural nasty that feeds on people going mad). In From War Till War, the Ollarian riot against Bishop Honore is stopped by the timely arrival of Alva's troops, but already in Winter Break, a stampede at Dora leaves hundreds dead and wounded. And then, in Midnight, it all culminates in the riots over trivialities across the Golden Lands' capitals, starting from Ollaria again, which are described in chilling detail.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Everything is done for the Talig's sake, is good. What's done against Talig (and it's First Marshall) is BAD. That's why Alva can drown babies and Aldo is not allowed to take hostages.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: A careful reading of The Face of Victory appendices makes it extremely obvious that Roque, not Aldo is a direct patrilinear descendant of the Rakan dynasty and thus the true inheritor of the Rakans' power. It is well-known, even in-universe, that the Alvas are descended from Albine Borrasca, conceived shortly before the Fall of Galtara from the alleged rape of Duchess Beatrice Borrasca by Rinaldi Rakan, middle brother of the then-Anax Eridani, who died shortly thereafter without an heir, leaving the throne to their youngest brother Ernani. Even ignoring the Flame of Aeterna revelation that it was actually Eridani who had an affair with Beatrice, Rinaldi's descendants have complete primogeniture before Ernani's line, which later ruled Taligoia, — at least as far as ancestral magic is concerned, since it ignores such things as bastardy and legitimacy.
  • Re-Cut: The 2022 re-release of the Flame of Aeterna novella, bundled with the second run of From War Till War is considerably longer than the original 2004 release. Word of God is that this is because the editors of the fantasy anthology it had originally appeared in demanded that Kamsha cuts it down to size, as well as removes all references to future events of the (then-unpublished) series in order to make it a self-contained story. The re-release is therefore the original, uncut version.
  • The Reliable One: Eugen Reinsteiner, the theorized actual Elemental Lord of the Waves, has the reputation of most reliable officer in the entire army of Talig, thanks to his incredible memory, capacity for observation, and sense of time. He has also (along with Lionel Savignac and possibly Alva) come closest to cracking the grand overarching mystery of the Elemental Lords' ancestral Blood Magic, the revenants, and the impending End of an Age.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Alva is strongly implied to be the real heir to the Golden Anaxia but has so far dodged all attempts to put Talig's crown onto his head.
  • Ridiculously Long-lived Family Name: The four Ducal houses (Alva, Oakdell, Epine, Pridd) and most of their vassal clans essentially trace their family names all the way back to the creation of the world by the four creator deities whose mortal representatives they are supposed to be. This is justified in-universe by a magical law dictating that no Duke can die unless there exists a male heir to pass on their title and powers to. According to the same law, when the Dukes start dying without heirs, it spells the impending End of the World as We Know It.
  • Royal Favorite: Roque Alva, Duke of Kenalloa, is in a strange position of being both the top general of Talig and rumored to sleep with Queen Catherine — with her husband, the extremely weak King Ferdinand Ollar, either turning a blind eye or even actively encouraging their trysts, depending on who you ask, while also delegating large chunks of sovereign power to Alva. In reality, though, while Roque and Catherine do love each other, neither acts on their feelings — not least because the well-being of Talig magically depends on Catherine's children being legitimate descendants of Francis Ollar. Also, Alva's military credentials are entirely based on merit, while Ferdinand's trust is backed by Alva's Blood Oath of loyalty (though neither of the two fully understands the significance of this ancient magic).
  • Shoot the Dog: Because of Blood Oath given by Alva to king Ferdinand, Alva cannot leave him captured and must willingly surrender to Aldo Rakan after successful runaway. And there is no way to rescue the king along with Alva. But Marcel Valmes somehow figured out that if the king dies, Alva is free from his Blood Oath. Well... poor Ferdinand.
  • A Sinister Clue: The Devil is believed to be left-handed (in fact, "the Left-Handed One" is his common moniker) in the setting, so any left-handed person is automatically viewed with suspicion. Lionel Savignac (who is secretly ambidextrous) invokes this trope when he starts doing everything with his left hand on purpose for sheer psychological effect.
  • The Stoic: Multiple examples:
    • Roque Alva maintains the inscrutable (if caustic) facade at all times, even when wrecked by horrific migraines in the middle of a Kangaroo Court set on sentencing him to death.
    • Valentine is very good at hiding his emotions by the virtue of having grown up as an heir to the Big, Screwed-Up Family of the Pridds.
    • Eugen Reinsteiner is virtually imperturbable, bordering on Germanic Depressives.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Lots of them here.
    • Robert sacrificed himself to White Fox for the sake of his Birissian friends Garizha and Milzha - only to find pretty soon that these friends are already beheaded. Good thing Alva was there to spare his life.
    • When Alva's assassination and Born's uprising failed, Egmont Oakdell knew for sure that any attempt of riot is doomed while Alva is in command of the military. It didn't prevent him from uprising, though. Results were predictable: he was defeated and killed by Alva.
    • His son Richard didn't went much futher. He knew for sure that his inept efforts to kill Alva, regardless of success or failure, will lead to his own death. He would either be killed by Alva or executed for murder. But he tried. Because he completely missed the point. Good thing Alva spared him too. And then Richard tried killing him again.
  • Stupid Surrender: Alva had arrived to the king Ferdinand's scaffold (because king was to be executed by Aldo Rakan's orders), laid the path of Blood and Glory through enemy lines, slashed treacherous general Luras in two halves and... surrendered to Robert Epine with no attempt to save the king at all! Made even more senseless by the fact that poor Ferdinand was later murdered in prison, anyway.
  • Tarot Motifs: Each big chapter of the cycle is associated with a particular tarot card: from the minor arcana of the early chapters, ramping up towards the major ones in the final books.
  • Time Skip: While the series' timeline is otherwise rather continuous, it fast-forwards 2.5 months between Poison of the Past and Lies of Mirrors, Truth of Steel, immediately after the destruction of Nador.
  • Too Stupid To Live:
    • Kazarone Tuhhup from the first book. Known basically by his Badass Boast to trample Alva's army into horse crap. Guess who was trampled instead?
    • Catherine Arigot. Richard Oakdell might have deserved some ass-kicking, but to scold one when he is on a verge of insanity and has dagger in his hand is the very bad idea.
  • The Tower: The mysterious wandering Sunset Tower that Richard encounters in the Varastian steppe in Red on Red. It is said to be an exact copy of the tower still standing in Galtara, one of four such towers built in the time of the Golden Anaxia and the only one to have survived. Witnessing the Sunset Tower appear is considered an ill omen by the majority but Alva seems to think otherwise.
  • Troll: During his Kangaroo Court, Roque keeps referring Aldo "the gentleman in white pants" (referring to Aldo's wardrobe choices that supposedly mimic the ancient Galtara fashion), driving the vainglorious usurper nigh mouth-foamingly angry.
  • Twin Switch: The Savignac twins, Lionel and Emile, pull one off in Sunrise, when Lionel's presence is needed to lift morale in the North, while his tactical skills are required in the South to beat General Sahl. Lionel concocts a scheme where Emile pretends to be him as he leads the Talig armies into Drixen, while he disguises himself as a generic Kenallian bodyguard of Admiral Waldez who officially leads the southbound force. Later on, Lionel even pretends to be Emile in order to instill just enough fear in Sahl for him to retreat (because Emile is also a great general) in an orderly fashion (because unlike Lionel, Emile is not good enough to instantly cause a panicked rout).
  • Unfit for Greatness: Aldo is a charming young man, who is not above manipulation, but he does seem to worry about his family and the few individuals he considers close friends, like Robert. Robert and Mathilda then become more or less the only people who still care about his person (Richard admires him more as an idol) when the power goes utterly to his head, and he starts kicking puppies just to prove he is the greatest Anax who ever lived and dies ignobly by trying to mount another guy's horse.
  • Uncoffee: Shaddi is a popular warm drink in Quertiana exported by its Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Arabia (it's even named after the rulers of the Crimson Lands, the shads).
  • Verbal Backpedaling: Exactly what happened in Orb of Fates when Richard had eavesdropped the little chat between Catherine and Stanzler. Poor youth couldn't stand the fact that he was totally fooled by his Love Interest. And moreover, she despises him for that. However, he happened to have dagger. Bye-bye, sweet Cat!
  • Victory by First Blood: Subverted in Winter Break, when Richard Oakdell challenges Valentine Pridd over a perceived insult and Valentine chooses to duel until first blood, but their respective seconds don't manage to stop the duel before both have wounded each other.
  • Voluntary Vassal: Kenalloa has a long history of independence and special status: its dukes joined the old Taligoya voluntarily, formally bowing to the Rakans, but never fully submitting to them (e.g. rejecting the Esperatian state religion). When the Rakans were overthrown by the Ollars, Duke Alva of Kenalloa sided with the latter, and his son basically became co-monarch later, cementing Kenalloa's special status within the new kingdom of Talig. Meanwhile, Duke Neumar was the last Rakan loyalist who wasn't re-subjugated by the Ollars: instead, Neumarinen was brought into Talig via dynastic marriage. Both it and Kenalloa have the legal right to secede from Talig at any time.
  • William Fakespeare: Kamsha really loathes the Bard. In series, his expy is a churchman's illegitimate child Walther Diderich, who expresses his grudge in Tear Jerker plays.
  • Worldbuilding: The first couple of volumes were pretty light on exposition, rarely venturing beyond the main plot (except for a Cryptic Background Reference or ten), but Face of Victory included a massive appendix containing a truckload of data on Quertiana's mythology, history, religion, and politics. The same volume also started the trend of each new one being thicker than the last.
  • Written by the Winners: Is there anything about Quertiana's history that wasn't twisted at some point?
  • Zombie Apocalypse: An interesting take on this trope is found in Midnight: whatever supernatural nasty is affecting Ollaria, it brings out the worst in most people, exacerbating their petty vices to the point where the are little more than mindless clumps of hate and destruction. Only a few thousand citizens are not affected and their only salvation is to kill the infected to fight their way out. But the Hate Plague is also highly contagious, allowing it to spread beyond the city and continue to threaten the survivors. Interestingly, immunity to the infection is conferred by inner virtues (primarily honesty and readiness for self-sacrifice) — which also, however, tend to accelerate the infection in others, as Selene Aramona's case shows. Parallels may be found between the description of the Ollarian riots and historical Real Life riots seen from the law-enforcement's POV.

Alternative Title(s): Reflections Of Eterna