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Literature / Hexwood

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A novel by Diana Wynne Jones. A powerful magical artifact from the center of the galaxy, buried on Earth, becomes active and distorts reality in its neighborhood.

Tropes include:

  • Affably Evil: Reigner One.
  • Alternate Identity Amnesia: Pretty much every character.
  • Anachronic Order: The second mini-chapter takes place near what is chronologically the end of the book. And Vierran's introduction and visit to Earth actually takes place chronologically before the entire first half of the book. To be fair, there's an in-story reason for that.
    • To be precise, the chapters really occur in chronological order, but the Bannus is blanking out people's memories and rerunning the scenario repeatedly in order to get the outcome it desires.
      "This wood," Yam told him, "is like human memory. It does not need to take events in their correct order."
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  • The Baroness: Reigner Three.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Practically everyone is distantly related to Martellian Pender, the previous First Reigner. Ironically enough, the only two major characters who probably aren't — Reigners Three and Four — are sister and brother.
  • The Chessmaster: Yam/the Bannus
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Once the Bannus's plot kicks into action, the Reigners are too busy trying to wipe each other out to wonder what's really going on.
  • Decoy Protagonist
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Reigners. Reigner One is the only one to be named in the book (Orm Pender). May overlap with Nominal Importance as he's both the most powerful and the last to be killed.
  • Evil Old Folks: Reigner One.
  • Exact Words: Frequently used by the Bannus. For example, the creative way it circumvents the obligation laid on Vierran to "make a child" with Mordion.
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  • Fate Worse than Death: What happens to the mothers of the Reigners' Servants.
  • Gambit Roulette: Yam. He says it himself, pretty much:
    Yam: I wish you to know that every one of my six-hundred and ninety-seven plans of action was designed to end in your death.
  • Genre-Busting: Asides from how the various characters seem to start out on opposite genre strands (one end is an intergalactic sci-fi; the other end is the sort of Cozy Suburban Novel where a plucky girl solves a mystery, a la Nancy Drew), this is a novel that ends up seamlessly combining an intergalactic empire, a genetic engineering program, very advanced technology, King Arthur, magic, a five-brained reality-warping cyborg, a Lord of the Rings simulation gone horribly right, and people being turned into dragons by a bit more of that reality simulation gone horribly right. Also, in maybe the most genre-busting moment, the Bannus finds itself trapped at the very last minute by a mythical representation of the English Woods, and it turns out that the mixed-up chronology of the novel is due in parts to the Woods' interference. Diana Wynne Jones herself is on record as having trouble with writing the novel at first, since she was convinced it had to be two separate novels that needed to be untangled, but then she realized how everything fit and we got Hexwood as the result.
  • Mind Screw: When we say distorts reality, we mean it.
    • Well, what do you expect when you've got a very angry Reality Warper involved? Figurative warping of reality?
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Reigners when first introduced.
  • One-Winged Angel: Pretty much everyone turns into giant dragons for the final battle. Including the good guys.
  • People Farms: The Reigners specifically "breed" their Servants, ordering "chosen" girls to "breed" with their Servant, and then "farming" the offspring until they find out which ones they have to cull. Yes, it is freaky as all get out.
  • Psychic Link: Ann hears the voices of four other characters.
  • Reality Warper: The Bannus.
  • Shout-Out: Reigner One's real name, Orm Pender, references Orm, the first dragon, and the island of Pendor, in the Earthsea trilogy, which also makes it a Meaningful Name.
  • Smug Snake: Reigner Four.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: "Ann Stavely"/Vierran Guaranty
  • Training from Hell: Boy howdy.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The clerk who turns on the machine at the beginning.
  • When She Smiles: Mordion is a male example.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Flint, from Earth, is valuable elsewhere in the universe.