The Gwendalavir Universe is a French Fantasy Literature series of books consisting of four trilogies (plus an aborted fifth one) written by the late Pierre Bottero. All of these books take place in the eponymous world of Gwendalavir.
La Quête d'Ewilan (Ewilan's Quest) : La Quête is the first trilogy in the Gwendalavir Universe. It tells the story of Camille, a young girl who accidentally discovers that she has the ability to travel to the Alternate Universe of Gwendalavir. Accompanied by her best friend Salim, she learns that she actually comes from this world, that her real name is Ewilan, and that she posses an ability known as "Drawing" that allows her to create things from her imagination. It turns out that the guardians of this world, known as "Sentinels", have been imprisoned by evil creatures known as the Ts'Liches, leading the Empire defenseless ; Ewilan will thus go on a quest to free the Sentinels and defeat the Ts'Liches, with the help of not only Salim, but also many other allies encountered along the way.
Les Mondes d'Ewilan (Ewilan's Worlds) : Les Mondes is the second trilogy in the Gwendalavir Universe, and is a direct sequel to the first one. Between the events of the first and second trilogy, Ewilan has been captured in our world by a Secret Government Warehouse that's actually under the orders of Elea Ril'Morienval, a traitor to the Empire of Gwendalavir, and it's up to Salim to rescue her. Afterwards, they will discover that the dimension that drawers get their powers from, known as the "Imagination", is under the control of a demon referred to as the "Medusa", preventing anyone from drawing. The team from the first trilogy thus reunites, and goes on a new quest to destroy the demon and save Gwendalavir.
L'Autre (The Other) : L'Autre is the third trilogy in the Gwendalavir Universe. It follows the adventure of Nathan, a boy who seems to inhumanely excel at every sport he plays, and Shaé, a girl who constantly has to battle with the "Thing", an entity living inside of her that thirsts for blood and forces her to turn into a killer hyena when the thirst takes over. When Nathan's parents are assassinated, he discovers that he is part of several of the Seven Families, seven lineages of individuals with exceptional superhuman abilitiesNote , as his father was a Cogist and his mother a Mnesic. Around the same time, Shaé discovers that she herself is a Metamorph. Together, they'll set off on a quest to destory The Other, an evil entity that was sealed away centuries ago.
Le Pacte des Marchombres (The Shadowalkers' Pact) : Le Pacte is the fourth trilogy in the Gwendalavir Universe, and is a Spin-Off of the first two trilogies. The first two books take place before the Ewilan trilogies, whereas the third one takes place after. It centers around the character of Ellana, and tells the story of her childhood, and how she joined the guild of the Marchombres ("Shadowalkers"). As the story goes on, we see Ellana undergoing the intesive training of a Marchombre, under the tutelage of her master Jilano, but also attempting to fight against a guild of former, corrupted Marchombres : the Mercenaries of Chaos.
Les Âmes Croisées (The Crossed Souls) : Les Âmes is the first book of the incomplete fifth and final trilogy in the Gwendalavir Universe. It tells the story of Nawel, a pretentious and arrogant 17 year old girl. As part of the highest social class, she is destined to join one of nine casts, named Robes, that will determine her future role : Mage, Ruler, Priest, Healer, Magistrate, Scribe, Engineer, Historian, or Geographer. However, after her arrogance causes the death of a low social class woman and her child, she starts questioning herself and her choices, and ends up deciding to join the mysterious tenth casts known as the Armours, whose duties involve protecting the people of the land against ancient dangers. Published posthumously, its ending seems to indicate that the rest of the trilogy would've tied every universe established in the previous trilogies together.
Tropes applying to the entire Gwendalavir Universe
- The Ace: Edwin is already considered a legend at the age of 40, referred to as the absolute warrior by everyone, having achieved more feats than anyone else. And that's before the story even starts. He is an extremely competent, unrivaled fighter, whose simple presence in battle means an almost guaranteed victory. On top of that, he's also a competent commander and a charismatic leader, with an unwavering loyalty for Gwendalavir.
- Alternate Universe: Gwendalavir itself.
- An Axe to Grind: Bjorn's choice of weapon.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Bjorn 'Wil Wayard, the fun-loving Big Guy of the party.
- Deadpan Snarker: Many characters get their snarky moments, but Ellana by far takes the cake; practically half of her lines consist of snark.Salvarode: You're an idiot.Ellana: Coming from an expert, I'm touched.
- Eldritch Abomination:
- From Les Mondes: The Medusa is an ever-growing tentacled entity inhabiting the Imagination, preventing anyone from drawing and devouring anyone who entered the Imagination for too long. It was eventually revealed to be an ancient evil god known as "Ahmour".
- Otolep's Eye is a benign Abomnation that connects the worlds of Imagination and Gwendalavir but is also sentient and wants Ahmour destroyed.
- From L'Autre: The Other is an ancient entity bent on taking over the world, divided three parts : Jalaab (the Strength) serves as a brute force to eliminate threats, Onjü (The Heart) wrecks chaos by causing natural catastrophes and playing with people hearts, and Eqkter (the Soul) enslaves humanity by starting wars and turning men into cowards.
- Fluffy the Terrible: The god Ahmour's name translates to "love". It's an Eldritch Abomination and anything but friendly.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The entire plot of the entire Gwendalavir series is caused because Altan 'Gil Sayan cheats on Élicia with Éléa, then abandons Éléa when she becomes pregnant. He refuses to see her even when she is dying in childbirth. The death of her child along with being abandoned results in Éléa giving up on the world entirely and desiring its destruction via any means necessary.
- Non-Action Guy: Artis Valpierre, a pacifist and Healer. Master Duom is also less action-oriented, but this is Justified and Lampshaded in-universe as he is an old man. Starting in Book 3 Matthieu is another non-action guy.
- Pig Men: The Rais. They are sometimes even refered to as "pig people".
- Reality Warper: Characters with the ability to draw (Artists), such as Ewilan or Eryn, are this. However, drawings come with their own sets of rules that cannot easily be broken, such as drawings disappearing after a certain period of time unless they are specifically designed to remain (in which case they will retain their current form forever, circumventing decay itself)
- Word of God is that Artists are descendants of the Builders from L'Autre, implying that Shae and Elio also have this ability.
- Teleport Spam: Matthieu's only real power is to teleport.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Salim starts off as kind of immature and mostly useless, especially next to the powerful Reality-Warping Ewilan. However, after discovering his ability to turn into a wolf and undergoing training with Ellana, he becomes much more of a badass, to the point where he's the one saving Ewilan in the first volume of Les Mondes. By the end of Le Pacte, he's a fully accomplished Marchombre.
- Bjorn starts as a Small Name, Big Ego. Come the end of the series he earns his right to make Badass Boasts, fighting an entire battalion of Rais, helping take down the last of the Ts'Liches, and taking on four giants completely alone.
Tropes applying to La Quête
- The Big Guy: Both Bjorn and Maniel fit the trope.
- Break the Haughty: Happened to Chiam after he lost a bet to Ellana and had to become her servant.
- Butt-Monkey: Artis gets a lot of heat in-universe for being a pacifist and somewhat of an Accidental Pervert.
- Our Elves Are Better: Faels are Ambiguously Brown arrogant archers who live away from human settlements.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chiam begins as a haughty jerkass, but has his heart in the right place and softens towards the party as time progresses.
- Parental Neglect: Camille's adoptive parents hardly care about her as long as she doesn't cause any trouble.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Bjorn 'Wil Wayard is a spoiled noble introduced bragging about killing a Ts'lich. Lessens as time passes and he trains under Edwin, becoming a true seasoned fighter in his own right.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Camille starts out unable to control her vast Reality Warper powers, which attracts enemies to her location and makes it difficult for her to fully achieve what she wants.
Tropes applying to Les Mondes
- Bad Powers, Good People: Illian, a young teen with the power to force others to obey his commands. He has no evil intent, still being a child.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Ahmour's servants have a degree of Mind Control over Illian which is amplified the closer he gets to them.
- Compelling Voice: Illian's powers force others to do what he says.
- Darker and Edgier: These books begin with Ewilan being abducted by the government and tortured both physically and mentally, and eventually escalate into saving the world from an Eldritch Abomination.
- FaceHeel Turn: Siam nearly joins the Valingites, but changes her mind when her friends are sent to compete in a sacrificial arena to Ahmour.
- Government Conspiracy: The French government is working with Elea 'Ril Morienval and skinheads to investigate Psychic Powers in children.
- Heroic BSoD: Whatever happened to Ewilan in the government facility traumatized her to the point where she barely did anything other than sleeping, wasn't showing any kind of emotion, and even completely stopped talking. Yikes.
- Power Incontinence: Illian has no training and acts instinctively, resulting in him accidentally forcing others into dangerous positions, such as making Ewilan unable to talk or breathe because he wanted her to stay still so he could give her a hug.
- Precision F-Strike: A particularly hilarious example, especially since swearing is usually very rare in the Gwendalavir books.Salim: [...] Mind telling me why we're working ourselves to death hiking through this fucking piece of shit country even though you could get us to our destination in a blink of the eye?Ewilan: Hiking through what?Salim: Through this arid land where the inhospitable rocks assault my feet and exhaust my patience, isn't that what I said?
- Secret Government Warehouse: Where Ewilan is being held captive at the beginning of the first book.
- Took a Level in Badass: About everyone, but in this trilogy Master Duom and Matthieu/Akiro get the one they lacked in the previous books.
- Traumatic Haircut: Ewilan is given one as a result of being abducted. Her hair slowly grows back over the course of the rest of the series.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Illian's Establishing Character Moment has him kill two government guards trying to shoot Ewilan. This is part of why Ewilan keeps him so close to her, to teach him not to not use his powers for evil purposes.
- The Worf Effect: Ts'liches are given the short end of the stick in this series, serving as cannon fodder to show how much stronger the protagonists have become.
- Would Hurt a Child: Éléa holds several children and tortures them For Science!.
Tropes applying to L'Autre
- All Your Powers Combined: Elio descends from six of the seven Families, and with Rafi's sacrifice has the power of all of them.
- Bed Trick: A particularly depressing one through More Than Mind Control happens to Shae. She sleeps with Onju, tainting her with his power.
- Darker and Edgier: Even edgier and more depressing than Mondes, intended for a slightly older audience.
- Enemy Within: The Thing.
- Friendly Sniper: Nathan's uncle was secretely following Elio around the world in the third book, concealing his presence but gunning threats down form afar whenever necessary.
- HeelFace Turn: Bartélémy, Nathan's Uncle, pulls one off in the second book when he realizes that his close family have gone Drunk with Power, and joins the heroes' side.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Nathan and Bartélémy's weapons of choice. They are obviously ridiculously overpowered.
- Instant Expert: Scholiasts learn anything they spend sufficient time seeing done in front of them.
- Played with: Nathan was good enough at anything they taught him in school to be top of his class if he didn't disguise it. However, he trains with an old Martial Arts master later in the book. Despite paying extreme attention while the master teaches his normal students, and then receiving a private fencing session during which he demonstrates that he's far above the others, he openly admits to Shae that he's nowhere near the master's level, and doubts that he could ever approach it through a lifetime of training.
- Man-Eating Plant: The Pratum Vorax, a seemingly never-ending stretch of grass devouring everything and everyone setting foot on it. Only things permanently created through Imagination are unable to be eaten by it.
- More Than Mind Control: Both Onju and Ekqter have the power to influence humans, preying on their weaknesses. Onju's power works better on individuals, while Ekqter influences groups.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Shae has one twice over. One in the form of the Thing a manifestation of Shae's Metamorph powers and another after being raped by Onju that gives her Super Strength with the risk of being consumed by Onju's power.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Happens to Nathan in the second book, several times ; he himself notices it from time to time, and realizes that it's part of Onjü's plans - forcing people to forego ethics and morality for the sake of their own survival.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Shae's story arc in the first volume.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Pratum Vorax is weak to water and won't attack things drenched in it.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Onju, otherwise known as Emilio pretends to be blind to befriend the heroes and lure Shae into a trap.
Tropes applying to Le Pacte
- Action Mom: Ellana is still a badass Action Girl after the birth of her son, and does not hesitate for one second to fight alone against the entire order of the Mercenaries of Chaos to save him.
- Isaya, Ellana's mother was similarly a Marchombre before she died.
- Antichrist: Destan. Subverted, as this is actually a Prophecy Twist.
- Catchphrase: "There are two answers to your question, as with every question : the poet's and the scholar's. Which one do you want to hear first ?"
- Canon Welding: This series bridges Les Mondes and L'Autre, featuring the Pratnum Vorax and the Kharx and giving a rough timeline that both series take place in comparatively to each other. The Chaos Mercenaries worship The Other, though they are unaware of its true form or purpose.
- FaceHeel Turn: Nillem joining the Mercenaries of Chaos.
- Literalist Snarking: Ellana and Jilano have this exchange as a crook enter the inn they are staying at:Crook: Piss off!Ellana: Here's my counter offer. You shut up, leave this inn, and promise to never set foot in here again, and I won't break you into a thousand pieces.Jilano: (from a table afar) It's a fool's bargain!Ellana: (pretending to get mad) And why's that?Jilano: Because even hitting hard, you'll break twelve of his bones at best. Let's say twenty because it's you. That's a far cry from the thousand pieces you claim.Ellana: It's an expression. You shouldn't take it literally.Jilano: Surely, but this good man might feel cheated.Ellana: Fine. (turns back to the crook) Here's my new counter offer. You shut up, leave this inn, and promise to never set foot in here again, and I won't break you into twelve pieces. Maybe twenty because it's me.
- Prophecy Twist: The Chaos Mercenaries assume Destan is the key to their triumph over the forces of order, due to the prophecy stating that he held the key to the tide of the battle. However, his kidnapping is actually the catalyst for a vast variety of heroes and groups banding together despite their differences to defeat them.
- Training from Hell: Training exercises to become a Marchombre include, but are not limited to : swimming through raging waters during winter, staying balanced on a rope during a gale, escaping an island surrounded by a lake where a huge crocodile livesnote , traveling through hostile lands to reach a mountain that will attempt to drive you insane if it deems you impure, and climbing a mountain with your arms and legs tied up.
- Wild Child: Ellana grew up as one.
Tropes applying to Les Âmes
- All Just a Dream: Subverted. After being told that she's responsible for having had a woman whipped to death, Nawel wakes up terrorized in her bed, and struggles to regain her calm and breath until the servants come to reassure her. Then, she wakes up...
- Arranged Marriage: There's a secret arrangement between Nawel and Ergail's families. Nawel freaks out when she finds out about it because Ergail clearly loves Philia, her best friend.
- Clark's Third Law: Many in this world believe that the wonderful items crafted by the lost civilisation are magical, while the reader understands that they are hyper-advanced technology. Discussed during the book.
- Also played with : this world has magic, which only mages learn to wield. It is unclear whether they have no idea how Ancient technology works and so assume it is a more advanced form of magic, or if they understand a little ("Names" and "Threads" in their vocabulary might be compared to files, commands and routines), which they then pass off as magic. We'll never know.
- Defector from Decadence: Nawel abandons the Mage class she was being groomed to join and instead vests the Armour, a class that lives outside the caste system.
- Dirty Old Woman: Louha, one of the Armours.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Anthor Pern, Nawel's instructor and a Master-of-arms, is constantly being brash, rude and generally unpleasant to train with. Subverted as he's also A Father to His Men, and a shrewd diplomat and negociator.
- Elite Army: The Armours aren't very numerous (see Oddly Small Organization below), but each of them is extremely deadly and practically impossible to kill.
- Fantastic Caste System: The higher social class is known as the "Pearls", whereas the lower social class is known as the "Cinders". Within the Pearls there are nine castes which determine jobs and rank compared to other Pearls.
- Fantastic Racism: Takes place between the Jurilans and the Glauques.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Nawel seals off the portal into the Other's world from her side, trapping her there. Fortunately Elio, Eryn, and Destan all happen to be there at the same time, and Nawel goes off to find them.
- I'll Take That as a Compliment: An amused Nawel notes that when old warrior Louha told her, after months of training and exercise, that Nawel has "become fuckable at last", she genuinely meant it as a compliment.
- Important Haircut: Nawel cuts her hair after being humiliated in the combat ring due to it, realizing it is a symbol of her past upbringing she was trying to shed.
- Lost Technology: The armour the Armours wear comes from a lost civilization, implied to be created by Builders. Thus, they cannot be replaced, and Armours have to make do with gear that does not synthesize with them properly. To date, Nawel is the only Armour with complete compatibility with her armour, allowing it to form around her entire body and protect her from situations other Armours could not survive in.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Twice.
- Not So Different: Nawel realizes about two-thirds way through the book that the Glauques are just as human as she is.
- Oddly Small Organization: Deconstructed with the Armours. Louha reveals that there are only 54 actual Armours left in the empire, because there are only 54 functioning armour suits left.
- Really Gets Around: Louha, again. While romantic or sexual relationships between Armours appear nonexistent, Nawel mentions that Louha "constantly references the sex she used to have. And still has."
- Rich Bitch: Nawel starts off as an arrogant noblewoman who causes the death of a Cinder woman due to arrogance.
- The Quiet One: "Ruhil-the-Quiet".
- Wham Line: "The young Cinder woman you sentenced to whipping has died."
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Nawel believes in the caste system and the choice involved. In truth every placement is predetermined by familial connection. Having this viewpoint shattered causes Nawel to defect and become an Armour.