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Literature / Heralds of Rhimn

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Heralds of Rhimn is a queer Dark Fantasy series authored and designed by J.L. Heeren, also known as Gaily Novelry. The first book in the series is Shadow Herald, released May 20th, 2021. It was followed by Frostbitten Prophet in 2022, and Ember Warrior in 2023, and two other books planned for release. The series can be found through, with sidestories and other content put out on the author’s site.

In the magical world of Rhimn, where few gods remain and each has an agenda of their own, a Herald is a god’s highest servant — bound to carry out their god’s will until the day of their death.

But not every Herald is happy with their role.

The series follows Navaeli the Shadow Herald as she struggles against the yoke of her demanding goddess, Silamir. She finds romance in a handsome hooligan girl, Crislie Crimsworth, and kinship with a young feyrie thief named Meparik. But this newly-knit family of misfits also finds strife as the feyrie folk of Rhimn prepare to fight the cruel sun god and his regime of iron-clad knights.

Navaeli, Crislie, and Meparik must navigate the perils of politics and revolution together, or become just another casualty in the newest spat between the gods.

The series contains the following tropes:

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    Full-Series Tropes 
  • After Action Patch Up: Navaeli and Crislie end up patching each other up a few times. Not that they mind.
  • Blind Seer: Ainzel and their god, Thah.
  • Cast from Stamina: A Herald’s magic works like this up until a certain point, where it becomes Cast from Hit Points instead.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Crislie and Navaeli are sapphic, Inky is gay, and pretty much every fey in the series is queer in some way.
    • Meparik is asexual, but it’s not given much focus, given that he starts off as an eleven-year-old living through a war.
  • The Chosen One: A Herald is essentially a divinely-appointed Chosen One to a specific god, destined to carry out that god's will. Whether or not they enjoy being a vessel for the divine is another matter entirely.
  • Cold Iron: Fey are burned by Gardhe’s sacred element.
  • Divine Conflict: Between Gardhe and the other gods.
  • Divine Intervention: Occasionally bestowed by gods to their Heralds, or to other worshippers under the right circumstances. Intervention often comes with caveats or at the behest of an agenda.
  • Expressive Ears: The fey. Meparik admits that he has trouble reading human emotions since their ears are “useless.”
  • Fantastic Racism: The fey have it rough.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: A significantly smaller one than there used to be, due to The Immortal Reckoning. Consists of the sun god, a star goddess, twin gods of the earth, and a goddess of reincarnation who came back from the dead.
    • In later books, it’s revealed that other gods like Lykari managed to weather the Reckoning.
  • Genius Loci: A god’s holy ground functions this way.
  • Glamour: Played With mercilessly. The Irongardhe claim that fey have the straight version of the trope, which makes them dangerous and means that knights have to carefully steel their empathy when dealing with them. This is pure propaganda. What Gadhian fey call “glamour” is actually a philosophy of misdirection that they use to keep themselves alive.
  • Henotheistic Society: The characters who don’t abstain from worship entirely tend to favor one god for worship over the others, with the small exception of characters who worship the Romne as one entity.
  • Hand Signals: Gesture, a Sign Language that Meparik uses to communicate, and which is used in feyrie courts to keep out of the Irongardhe’s earshot.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Brightfate, a sunlit executioner’s sword bloodforged by Gardhe himself. It glows, burns, and steals the souls of its victims to help fuel its enchantments. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also a godkilling weapon; killing a Herald with it will also kill the god they’re bound to. Unfortunately for Navaeli, it belongs to Regent Ilaina.
  • Jerkass Gods: At least half of the Fantasy Pantheon could qualify. Silamir’s jerkassery is of a more personal nature, given that she considers her Herald to be just a body waiting for her to inhabit, and prioritizes her revenge above all else. Meanwhile, Gardhe attempted to kill the rest of his pantheon in a bid to become Rhimn’s sole god and ordered the fey hunted down because he dislikes the idea of the dead gods reincarnating.
    • Depending on how you feel about the ethical implications of The Romne taking on a child as their Herald and manipulating people to ensure that their prophecies play out correctly, they could be considered this too.
    • Lykari also doesn’t ask before turning Crislie into a wyfwolf, but in her case, she at least has the excuse of having poor communication skills post-shattering.
    • It’s also implied that Alluari made the gender inequality in Rhimn, a heavily matriarchal world, even worse.
  • Knight Templar: Most of the Irongardhe knights could fall under this trope, but Knight Jeidhe and Regent Ilaina are especially prominent examples.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Some fey, like Charlan, have animal characteristics derived from whichever god they reincarnated from.
  • Magical Sensory Effect: Mortals experience phantom sensations when interacting with gods, often in the realm of taste and smell. For instance, Silamir’s voice smells “of ash and crushed bones” to Navaeli, and Meparik tastes bitter acorn tannins every time Fraihz contacts him.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: No fuss is made over Inky’s preference for men, Gildhe’s pronouns, or Crislie and Navaeli’s attraction to each other. Ma Crimsworth refers to Crislie’s potential future partner as a “spouse,” and Navaeli even outright states that fey decide their gender identities for themselves.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: They’re spontaneously born from the souls of dead gods, tend to explode if they attempt human ritual magic, form tight-knit courts that resemble families or clans, and their main form of glamour is a philosophy rather than a magical ability. The iron allergy is pretty standard though.
  • Power at a Price: A Herald can wield immense magical power, but that requires their god’s blessing and co-operation. Even if they have that, a Herald can only do so much spellwork before burning out because Holy Is Not Safe… and you’re straight out of luck if your god is too weak to help you.
  • Religion is Magic: While ritual magic exists and can be done without a god’s aid, the most magically potent people on Rhimn are Heralds.
  • Soul-Powered Engine: Bloodforged enchantments, unfortunately for the fey.
  • The Theocracy: Gadhi is ruled by the Irongardhe, who elevate Gardhe ruthlessly above the other gods. Ullua is also largely ruled by Alluari worshippers.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Since Meparik is prone to travel sickness, he gets a couple of these. Boats, mounted travel, shadow-travel — the kid can’t catch a break.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: In the Ainzel Tales short story, Lonnie and her Ainzel (not to be confused with Ainzel the Summer Herald) meet each other from adjacent cells in the Enchanter’s Guild.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Talimour’s feyrie-inhabited Upper Reaches.

    Book One: Shadow Herald 
  • The Big Damn Kiss: At the end of the book, Navaeli is high on the realization that she has a few Silamir-free months ahead of her, and decides to take a risk and ask Crislie if they could be girlfriends. The two then share a long kiss. The gravitas of the moment is disrupted by Mepark pretending to gag, as he thinks that kissing is gross.
  • Casting a Shadow: One of the blessings of Silamir’s domain. Navaeli discovers this when she allows Silamir to help her out of a tight spot; the goddess turns Knight Jeidhe’s own shadow against him.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: Downplayed. Navaeli and Crislie are coincidentally placed in a cell with Meparik, the same pickpocket that stole Crislie’s wallet a week back.
  • Death of Personality: This would be Navaeli’s fate, should she allow Silamir to steal her body for good.
  • Dramatic Slip: Once by Navaeli and once by Meparik.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Navaeli, Crislie, and Meparik by the end of the book.
  • Forced Sleep: When they reach Silamir’s temple, the goddess uses her influence to put Navaeli to sleep for a private conversation, since dreams are the only place where gods and mortals can properly meet face-to-face.
  • Frigid Water Is Harmless: Subverted and argued about when the main trio’s seafaring escape from Talimour doesn’t turn out so well. Since it’s autumn and Meparik’s wintry Heraldry has just surfaced, Crislie and Navaeli are put in genuine danger of freezing to death.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Silamir frequently refuses to help Navaeli out in the first book, citing Navaeli’s expendability and her need to preserve her power for more important matters. Fraihz is too sickly to give Meparik much help, usually.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: What happens when you put Knight Jeidhe and Silamir in the same room. Silamir wins.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: Crislie brushes and braids Navaeli’s feathers during a quiet moment in the plot.
  • Loss of Identity: Navaeli doesn’t remember much about her life before her Heraldry; only what Silamir has told her, and a lullaby her mother used to sing.
  • Not Quite Dead: After Navaeli seemingly kills Knight Jeidhe with Silamir’s magic in Stonehold, he comes back with some cauterized wounds and a hankering for revenge once the trio are on their way to the World’s Wound. He isn’t so lucky after Silamir collapses her temple on him.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Meparik and Crislie’s first meeting, unbeknownst to Crislie until a few chapters later; it then becomes one of the reasons for her initial hostility toward him when she recognizes him in Stonehold.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Implied to be more complicated than this. Nonetheless, Ainzel’s prediction for Navaeli comes to pass just as she said, and the glimpses of the future that Meparik gets are pretty accurate too.
  • Sea Serpents: Navaeli and company lose their boat to one while escaping Talimour, but not before Crislie gets a few hits in with her new ax.
  • Sleep Cute: Crislie and Navaeli wind up sleeping beside each other after they escape Talimour, under the justification that they need to share body heat. Meparik watches, unable to join them.
  • Talk to the Fist: Crislie’s response to a guard who harasses Navaeli is to clock him straight in the face while he's still talking. This does take the guard out of the picture, but it also sets multiple knights on their tails and gets them thrown in jail.
  • Use Your Head: How Navaeli gets the upper hand in an impromptu self-defense training session with Crislie. Navaeli is horrified when she realizes that she accidentally broke Crislie’s nose with the maneuver, but Crislie is proud of her for finally fighting back.
  • Villainous Medical Care: Knight Jeidhe does genuinely intend to get Navaeli medical care while she’s being held in Stonehold... if only because the Irongardhe don’t want to have her look “battered and ugly” before her execution.
  • Walls of Tyranny: The walls surrounding cities like Talimour are ostensibly meant to keep dangerous wildlife and fey out, but they also serve to keep fey like Meparik trapped inside, where the knights can arrest them and ship them off to the Enchanter’s Guild for profit.
  • Welcome to the Big City: Downplayed. Crislie gets singled out by an Irongardhe priest for some preaching and pickpocketed almost immediately after entering Talimour, but doesn’t notice the latter until she’s out shopping with Inkantik — at which point she’s annoyed that Navaeli was right for warning her about pickpockets.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Played straight with Commander Atevia, but very much subverted with her coworker, Knight Jeidhe.
  • You Must Be Cold: Crislie lends Navaeli her doublet after Navaeli dives into freezing water to save Meparik.
  • Villainous BSoD: Commander Atevia after being unable to carry out her duty because it would require her to kill a child.

    Book Two: Winter Herald
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Subverted. When Gildhe throws a dagger at Fea, the hilt bounces off of her forehead instead of doing her any real harm.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Crislie’s first encounter with Regent Ilaina ends… poorly. Once the Regent is done playing, she’s barely scratched and excited to get to take on Navaeli next.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Daughi is so hostile toward Morekai that she had to be put into isolation for biting him. Guess who betrays Navaeli in the next book?
  • Eye Scream: When Crislie claims that her ax was a fair “prize of battle” from her fight with Knight Jeidhe, Regent Ilaina muses on whether or not she should cut out one of Crislie’s eyes as her own prize of battle. She does exactly as she promised once she wins.
  • For Your Own Good: The cause of a lot of bad blood between Meparik and his Courtfather. Instead of properly talking things out with Meparik to get him to move back in and stop isolating himself, Snow forced Meparik to pay rent in order to keep him visiting and make sure he was alive, and rationalizes it this way.
  • Gracefully Demoted: After letting Knight Jeidhe die and losing the Shadow Herald again, Atevia is demoted from Civility Commander and has her silver hairjeweling stripped away. She considers herself lucky that Regent Ilaina kept her as a knight, and didn’t give her a worse punishment.
  • Grounded Forever: Meparik’s siblings assume that this will be Courtfather Snow’s reaction to him turning up after vanishing again.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Despite being plenty snarky with Meparik herself, Crislie bristles and leaps to defend him whenever Gildhe starts laying into him.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Starting with this book, Navaeli has a newfound determination to stop capitulating to Silamir… but that requires her to remove her Heraldry. The idea brings her a lot of relief and a little guilt, since people look to her as a potential savior from Gardhe’s reign.
  • Layman's Terms: Meparik throws around words like “binding-unbinding taglock transfer,” and “Derengi’s theorem” while discussing the ritual to remove Navaeli’s Heraldry. In response, Crislie tells Meparik that she doesn’t speak “scholar.” He grumpily simplifies his revisions for her.
    Meparik: The old spell sucked because we had to summon Silamir’s presence in order for it to work, which gave her loads of time to realize what we were doing and counter it. This new spell could, in theory, cut the connection without catching Silamir’s attention.
  • Shadow Walker: Navaeli discovers a new way to wield Silamir’s domain. By slipping into shadows, she can travel between places using the void. She can carry other people with her too, but not many at a time, and between the lack of air and the chill, it’s not a comfortable experience for her passengers.
  • The Social Darwinist: Courtmother Rhiallon expresses distaste for Courtfather Snow taking in “weak” children, and insists that her stronger court would ruin his if they started an open feud.
  • Take Care of the Kids: Courtfather Snow’s request to Gildhe in his dying moments is for them to take care of the rest of the Frostbiter kids. Since Gildhe isn’t ready for that yet, the responsibility ends up falling on Charlan.
  • The Worf Effect: Observed by Meparik;
Meparik: If Crislie couldn’t even land a hit on Regent Ilaina, then I don’t know how anyone else is gonna kill her.

    Book Three: Ember Warrior
  • Aggressive Negotiations: How the miners of Ferheim choose to negotiate with their Irongardhe superiors. The nobleman in charge of the mines loses his head over it.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Ainzel explains to Meparik that the uneasy peace between Gadhi and Ullua was brokered this way; a previous Matrius married an Irongardhe noble, formally establishing a treaty between the two countries.
  • Crossing the Desert: Most of Meparik and Ainzel’s chapters, since they have to travel across Edah Fyr’s dry desertscape in order to request the Matrius for her aid.
  • Godiva Hair: Invoked and played for drama when Crislie reluctantly confronts her new lycanthropy.
    Curled up on the forest floor without her clothes, Crislie took some solace in using her knee-length hair for a covering. Some of the wyfwolves did the same thing with their flowing manes. When they did so, they seemed unearthly and striking. When Crislie did it, she felt embarrassed, and also unhappy about the dirt and twigs she was getting in her locks.
    Crislie, Ember Warrior Ch 22
  • Heel Realization: Atevia completes hers as she realizes that the fey that she’d helped to arrest never had glamour magic to begin with, and weren’t ever a danger to the general population. The final chapter begins with her quietly revising her personal code of honor, understanding that she and her colleagues are no longer on the same page.
  • Persona Non Grata: There were some consequences for Meparik’s unusual methods of diplomacy during his visit to the Matrius’ Consultation.
    Prince Alaezel: Also, Mother wished me to tell you that, while she lives, she is formally and permanently banning you from speaking in front of her Consultation ever again.
  • Quiet Cry for Help: When Navaeli is coerced into being sacrificed for Silamir, she sends Meparik a map with several cities underlined. While puzzling over this, Meparik realizes that the first letter of each city can be rearranged to spell out “HELP.”

Alternative Title(s): Shadow Herald