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Literature / Griffin's Daughter

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Griffin’s Daughter is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Leslie Ann Moore. The central character is Jelena, a half-elf, niece to a human baron (by way of his sister, who died in childbirth). After Jelena’s uncle agrees to hand her over to another noble as a concubine (an arrangement closer to slavery than an arranged marriage), she runs off to find her father’s people in Alasiri, the elven lands. Accompanying her is her cousin, Magnes; the only member of her mother’s family - and the only human, other than her foster mother, Claudia - who treated her like a person (and who is running from his own personal turmoil).

Once into Alasiri she meets Ashinji, son of the local elf lord. Together, they seek to find out the truth of Jelena’s elf heritage, along with the secret of the strange power growing within her. In the meantime, they must also deal with the possible re-emergence of the elves’ ancient enemy, The Nameless One, and a looming war with the expansionist human kingdom of Soldara.

The second novel, Griffin’s Shadow, deals with revelations about the nature of the power Jelena possesses (but can’t yet control), her true heritage and her and Ashinji’s growing attraction. Along with dealing with both the malevolent presence the Nameless One and the malevolent attentions of Ashinji’s sadistic older brother, Sadaiyo.

The third and final novel, Griffin’s Destiny, is more about Ashinji, as he fights to return to his homeland after the events of ‘’Shadow’’, in time to help with both the imminent war with the humans and the final plan to deal with the Nameless One - a plan Jelena may not survive.

Griffin’s Daughter contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abdicate the Throne: Magnes never wanted to be his father's heir. His sister actually wanted the job and was better suited for it. His father stood firmly by tradition, despite this. When he returns to face the music for his father's "murder", he freely gives up all claim to the throne in favor of Thesselina, who stood in as regent in his absence.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: King Keizo Onjara tells Jelena a story of how a young elf man and young human woman met and fell in love. By the end of the story, Keizo drops the pretense of third person as he slips the White Griffin ring onto Jelena’s finger, proving she is his daughter.
  • Arranged Marriage: Magnes agrees to help Jelena escape, partly to escape one of these.
  • Babies Ever After: The epilogue of Destiny sees Jelena giving birth to her and Ashinji's second child, a son.
  • Barrier Maiden: It turns out Jelena’s “blue light” is “The Key”, mystical energy the Nameless One needs to control the demons he plans to unleash.
  • Cain and Abel: Sadaiyo sees Ashinji as having usurped his place as Lord Sen’s favored son just by existing.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Lady Amara mentions the dissappeared former head of their inner mage circle in passing. Guess who Ashinji encounters during the second book?
  • Crash-Into Hello: The first time Ashinji and Jelena meet, he accidentally runs over her with his horse, while on patrol in the forrest.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Livie’s husband is killed off during the final battle vs. the Soldarans, freeing her to marry Magnes
  • Despair Event Horizon
    • Magnes finding out that his father, the Baron, had his secret lover, Livie, married off and shipped off while Magnes was gone with Jelena.
    • Sadaiyo after finding out that Ashinji survived his betrayal and had returned. His response - try and murder Ashinji on the spot. Somewhat justified in that once anyone else saw Ashinji, everyone would know Sadaiyo lied about his death and even his status as Lord Sen's heir wouldn't save him.
  • Deuteragonist: The series is as much about Ashinji as it is about Jelena.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Ashinji sees Jelena’s face in his dreams, long before he meets her in the flesh.
  • Eldritch Abomination: What the Nameless One has become.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone can see Jelena and Ashinji are crazy about each other. Each has a fairly solid reason to deny it.
  • Father to His Men: Ashinji to his regiment, the Peregrines.
  • Fantastic Racism: While half-elves are treated far better in Alasiri (elf territory) than in Soldara (human territory), they are treated roughly the same as blacks in the US, pre Civil Rights Movement.
  • First-Episode Twist: We know Jelena’s father is a member of the elven royal family from the prologue of ‘’Daughter’’, though his exact identity isn’t revealed until the end of that book. This becomes a Late-Arrival Spoiler for the rest of the series.
  • Go into the Light: Jelena is called away from the light by the voice of her daughter.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Jelena and those like her are called hikui in the elf language.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: The Nameless One’s true identity was stricken from elf history, to keep others from trying to use his True Name to bind him to their power.
  • Hell on Earth: The Nameless One’s ultimate plan. He wants to open a portal to the demon world and use a magical artifact to turn the demons into his personal army.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Really the only reason Ashinji didn’t beat the snot out of Sadaiyo.
    • Also Jelena choosing to risk death by running to the elf lands, rather than stay and enter the comfortable arrangement her uncle had set up (though one that would basically leave her a pampered slave).
  • I Did What I Had to Do: At the climax of Shadow, Ashinji sleeps with a female gladiator to get her off his trail as he makes his escape attempt. He admits this to Gran as explanation as to why he held up their departure.
  • I Know Your True Name: How the Kirians planned to reseal The Nameless One. When Ashinji tries it, after Sonoe’s betrayal, he proves too strong for Ashinji to trap.
  • It's All About Me: Sadaiyo’s view of the world.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Ashinji won’t cop to his love for Jelena out of fear that Sadaiyo will do something horrible to her, just to spite him. Sadaiyo tries anyway.
  • Karma Houdini: Sadaiyo gets away with all manner of casually cruel and spiteful acts - up to and including attempting to rape Jelena, because he’s Lord Sen’s heir.
  • Lost Technology: The transport discs. Elves no longer have the knowledge or magical power to recreate them.
  • Love at First Sight: Ashinji and Jelena.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Magnes went back to Soldara, despite the probable consequences, because he wanted to reunite with his lover, Livie, not knowing that his father had her married off while he was gone, to keep her out of the way of his arranged marriage.
  • Make a Wish: Jelena is granted a boon from Lord Sen, in exchange for saving his life during a hunt. Her request? To be allowed to marry Ashinji.
  • Mixed Ancestry is Attractive: Jelena's elf/human biology is said to give her exotic features equally attractive to both races.
  • The Mole: Sonoe, the Royal Consort is The Nameless Ones agent among the Royal Court.
  • Moral Myopia: Sadaiyo blames Ashinji for the lack of emotional bond between himself and Lord Sen and complains that everyone loves Ashinji instead of him. All the while, completely ignoring that all of that was more due to his repellent, selfish personality.
  • My Greatest Failure: Gran tried to replicate a spell of the great ancient elf mages. The result blew up her home, killed her husband and son and nearly killed her. She exiled herself to the human lands as penance.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gran
  • Pet the Dog: Thesselina, choosing to give Ashinji over to slavers - and give him a at least a chance to live - rather than hand him over to the Empress’ men or execute him outright.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lord Sen and King Keizo.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Gran willingly gives her life to revive Jelena.
  • Rescue Romance: How Jelena's parents met: Her human mother discovered her elf father injured, then hid him and tended to his injuries.
  • The Starscream: Sonoe planned to betray The Nameless One during The Sundering. Unfortunately, for her, The Nameless One knew about her plans the whole time and was ready for her.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Nameless One.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Lord Sen and Lady Amara turned a blind eye to Sadaiyo’s petty cruelties, partly because he’s the heir to Sen’s title and partly because they hoped Sadaiyo would grow the hell up on his own. Amara says as much to Ashinji in apology.
  • Sequel Hook: ‘’Destiny’’ ends with Ashinji having a prophetic dream of his daughter, as an adult, begging him to save "them."
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Ashinji is humble, kind and beloved by all. Sadaiyo is vain, petty, sadistic and the people of their lands dread the day he takes the reigns as Lord.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • Ashinji is tasked with striking the blow that will kill Jelena and release The Key during the ritual to reseal The Nameless One.
    • Rather than let him linger in his sick bed in the face of what was to come Sonoe smothers Keizo with a pillow, before proceeding with her planned betrayal.
  • Sickbed Slaying/Vorpal Pillow: Sonoe smothering King Keizo in his sick bed prior to the third book's climax.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Magnes and Livie only made love once before he ran off. Guess what Magnes finds out when he seeks her out a couple of years later?
  • Succession Crisis: Averted: With Keizo ill and his brother and nephews (the next in line) about to go to war, the elf nobility is faced with the possibility of half-human Jelena ending up on the throne, something many of the elf nobles feared would spark a civil war. Keizo dies, but the brother and his younger son survive.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The mage that doctored Sadaiyo’s memories, then kept a copy of the real ones? Never mentioned again.
  • What Have I Done: Sadaiyo invokes this by name after the false memories he had put in to hide his betrayal of Ashinji from their mother, a master-level mage wear off.