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Literature / ILLUMINATED

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He's a destroyer with power over death. She's a creator made of starlight. They save the universe.

Where stories meet and intertwine, support each other and collide, that's where worlds are at their best.
Roscoe (narrating), "Fiat Lux"

A series of Scifantasy novellas written by Deborah Dixon. The overarching story revolves around two characters, Roscoe Williams and Blair Winters; the various exploits that result from their ill-advised meeting constantly threaten to turn the universe on its head. Roscoe and Blair encounter creatures ranging from pretenders to the omnipotent, while struggling with the true meaning behind what brought them together at all - and a power complex with the potential to destroy everything sacred to them.

The first installment, "Fiat Lux," saw its original release in October 2015; a total of seven novellas, as well as a number of related short stories, have been published. Series I includes the following stories:

  1. "Fiat Lux" (released 7 October 2015)
  2. "Bloodlines" (released 30 October 2015)
  3. "Triptych" (released 22 January 2016)
  4. "Primetime" (released 4 March 2016)
  5. "Paradox" (released 6 May 2016)
  6. "Heavens Fall" (released 3 June 2016)
  7. "Prodigal" (released 1 July 2016)

A Series II has been announced, but no release dates have been confirmed. Additionally, plans to group the novellas into a collection have been mentioned. Shalamar, the novellas' publisher, offers more information (as well as the books themselves) at their website.

Illuminated contains examples of:

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    Series I In General 
  • The Big Easy: Most of the action takes place in New Orleans. The series manages to avert every trope typically associated with it.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The epilogues all have Irish names, plus the extra epilogue named in Aramaic. They're all meaningful. Additionally, Gaelic in general is used by several characters, including in place of the undefined Fae language, and it is not always translated.
  • Celestial Body: Roscoe's natural form is a cluster of stars. The stars typically take on a vaguely humanoid shape, about six inches tall.
  • Evil Brit: Played with. Blair uses a very vague version of Received Pronunciation when he speaks, leading others to conclude that he is British. Despite this, he takes offense to being called British. This has largely to do with his history and the role Britain played in it; and it also becomes somewhat academic considering that Blair isn't from Earth at all. Additionally, his level of evilness is debatable.
  • The Fair Folk: The seemingly human Blair uses spells and glamours to conceal the fact that he's actually a Fae - and a very powerful one at that.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Series I alone features angels, fallen, demons, Fae, vampires, werewolves, elves, and genetically advanced humans.
  • Geasa: The series centers on the use of these, both to strengthen and to curse.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Blair claims to be the villain of the story. While much of what he does is self-serving and immoral, he does have moments of actual caring, bordering on altruism. They come and go.
  • Magick: This spelling is used to differentiate "natural" magic with the more mundane sort, both of which are present in the series, albeit to vastly different extents.
  • Meaningful Name: The last name "Winters" refers to the specific magick Blair uses. "Blair" comes from a Gaelic word meaning "battlefield." It's a self-given alias.
  • Monster of the Week: The novellas' B-plots follow this format to some extent, with a different villain for most of the stories. Blair serves as the antagonist for the overarching plot.
  • Noodle Incident: The series is full of them:
    • "Bloodlines" has Raphael comment on Blair having "power enough to fell invading armies," which Blair acknowledges is a "true story."
    • "Primetime" introduces the biggest incident of the series: Japan, which gets little more treatment than various comments on something terrible and traumatic having happened there.
    • In the same story, Blair mentions that William of Orange also made good use of his meditation tea.
    • As per "Paradox," the Irish sea deity Manannán owes Blair two heifers and a boatload of fish.
    • Blair's relationship with the Morrígan is treated this way, particularly given the unreliable nature of both participants.
  • Our Angels Are Different: In the series, the angels come off as arrogant at best, and downright vicious at worst. They are, but given that the series is narrated by two individuals who hate angels, there's probably exaggeration.
  • Precursors: The Primordials. Roscoe is the last of them.
  • Real-Place Background: A literary example. Many of the settings are actual locations in New Orleans, and are described down to the street names and the types of trees. Made illustrative when the author posted a walking tour of some of the settings from "Fiat Lux."
  • Really 700 Years Old: Due to the number of supernatural beings present, many of the characters are far older than they appear:
    • Crystalline Fosterman, an advanced human, seems to be in her twenties but will be turning 300 soon.
    • Reynardo Morales, a vampire, is at least 3500 years old, but is described as looking barely thirty.
    • Blair himself appears to be between thirty and forty. He gives his age as 3,175, but admits to having "skipped" less favorable years. On the other hand, Reynardo insists that Blair is older than him, and Michael later places his age at nearly five thousand years old.
  • Rule #1: Blair self-identifies as the story's antagonist. His version is only given straight in "Fiat Lux": "Rule number one of being the villain—always stay at least one step ahead of the heroes." The shortened phrase "rule number one" gets used throughout the rest of the series in this context, but not always accurately, serving as unintentional Arc Words.
  • Running Gag: A few:
    • "Three thousand one hundred seventy-five."
    • Blair does not like being bound. In various circumstances.
    • One character's work commute.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The epilogue of each book serves as a handoff between the two narrators, Roscoe and Blair, who tell the stories in the odd-numbered and even numbered novellas, respectively. The only exception is in "Triptych," which features a second epilogue given by a third character.
  • Time Abyss: The angels, Primordials, and a few other creatures were all created before time began. Roscoe has no idea how to measure her true age.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Both Roscoe and Blair, who each narrate every other book. Roscoe's unreliability comes from her naïvete and general recklessness, as well as being overemotional at times; her perception is so off that she spends the entirety of "Fiat Lux" giving the reader the impression that Blair is human. Blair's problem is simply that he is a compulsive liar, and his version of events is often contradicted by someone else later.

    Fiat Lux 
  • Archangel Gabriel: Seems to be the archangel in charge of keeping Blair in check.
  • Archangel Raphael: Blair's primary enemy, particularly because they are too similar.
  • Born as an Adult: Zigzagged. Ruaridh is born in baby form, but ages quickly, due to being part Primordial; and goes from baby to twentysomething in a span of seconds when he has to defend himself.
  • Demonic Possession: The angelic variant.
  • Enemy Mine: Blair and Raphael pull one of these in an effort to protect Ruaridh.
  • Express Delivery: How Ruaridh is born. Primordials, being creators, have ridiculously short pregnancies.
  • Fighting from the Inside: How one character dies.
  • I Warned You: Blair makes the point several times that he is not a good man. Then everyone is surprised when he uses Roscoe and Ruaridh to confuse the universe and take control of it.
  • Killed Off for Real: Shannon. Raphael tears her apart so thoroughly that even Blair can't reverse it.
  • Master Computer: The center of the universe conforms to this thanks to Blair's imagination.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Roscoe notes that Shannon has appeared on time for once but does not think anything of it, to her detriment.
  • Portal Door: According to Roscoe, any door can lead anywhere if you're paying enough attention.
  • Worthy Opponent: Blair thinks this of Raphael and Gabriel.

  • Arc Words: "Don't dig a hole," and variations thereon.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Blair's extra-dimensional house (referred to in later books as the Mirror Dimension).
  • Death Is Cheap: Blair spends about two minutes being dead.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Blair implies this regarding Raphael while dealing with donovan.
  • I Know Your True Name: Blair pulls this on Donovan to direct and amplify his attack.
    • Also the reason why Blair does not give out his own birth name.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Raphael and Blair point out that their current environment includes an archangel, two Fae, a banshee, a Primordial... and a vampire. (Raphael invokes this almost word for word.)
  • Magic Pants: Played straight by Roscoe, who is a "perfect shapeshifter" and can form clothes around herself. Averted by Blair, who must specifically use a spell while shifting to ensure he's dressed once he's humanoid again.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Blair's eyes turn completely white when he calls on his more potent Fae powers.
  • Put on a Bus: Raphael. He gets kicked out of Blair's universe.
    • With a Foot on the Bus: Except that he almost immediately reappears in the epilogue as Joann, to visit the unsuspecting Roscoe.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: A less positive example. Invoked by Raphael to remind Blair of the last time Blair cried.
  • Ret-Gone: Blair uses magick to literally erase Donovan from history.
    Blair: I'm going to erase you from existence. You will never have been born. You will never have lived, breathed, eaten. Your family will not remember you. Your friends will not know you. All you will be is a rumor that you might have existed at some time but that you tried to kill the last Child of the Schism and he destroyed you. He ripped you from existence—all that was, is, and ever will be. Any last words?
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: During Mamaí's "maternal power trip," Blair points out that Roscoe is angry with him and has all but broken things off with him at that point.
  • Shipper on Deck: Raphael, for reasons that involve Blair's possible death.
  • Spare a Messenger: Blair leaves one survivor (a child) to relate the story to others.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Roscoe explains that she and Blair spent Sunday "mountain climbing." Joann instantly catches her meaning.
  • Villain Protagonist: This novella (and the other even-numbered ones) is told from Blair's point of view.

  • Arc Words: "When you love me, Blair, you love me so well."
  • The Cameo: Crystalline, the protagonist of Ephemera and "Good Morning Antemyst," plays a major role in the story. It turns out that she and Roscoe go way back.
    Blair: I had no idea you knew Crystalline Fosterman. Esteemed Leader of Antemyst, proficient scientist, and the only person on Earth who is shorter than you.
  • Country Matters: Blair becomes upset enough with the Whipcracks to use this term to describe them - on record.
  • Double Standard: Whenever someone calls Roscoe a "bitch," that individual suffers an "appropriate reaction." However, Blair (who instituted the curse in "Bloodlines") has no problem referring to other women in such terms - and worse - himself.
    • The bouncer demon also gets away with calling Roscoe a "bitch," but his use of it seems less meant to offend and more along the lines of "general female."
  • Endless Winter: Actually not one of Blair's goals, but an effect of his power over the season. Hence why it's tied into his self-given Meaningful Name.
  • Fighting Down Memory Lane: After being placed in a fugue state, Roscoe finds herself reliving painful memories - multiple times, in very different ways.
    Crys: Which technically makes it not a fugue state.
  • Genre Savvy: Eveny describes the Redshirt Army nature of a demon's life to Roscoe, with no small amount of bitterness.
    • Reality Ensues: Eveny's complaint about having to serve "commoners" just to make ends meet.
  • The Gloves Come Off: Literal and in a psychological sense. Blair draws his gloves off finger by finger while slowly delivering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to a car salesman who's ticked him off.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Roscoe describes Blair as "sometimes hitting stone, but sometimes landing perfect shots" as he fires off arrows while in motion.
    • No "Arc" in "Archery": However, before this, Blair is specifically described as aiming over his target's head "to accomodate the arc."
  • Noble Fugitive: Blair explains why he is not the sort of "royalty" Roscoe frequently describes him as being.
    Blair: This 'royal brat' spent three hundred years being treated as a second-class citizen because of his heritage. This 'royal brat' spent five hundred years on the run and lost his siblings to murder because of that same heritage. I am not a prince and I forgot how to be one millennia ago. You do not get to tag any of my behaviors as 'royal.' You do not have that right.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: According to Blair, angels - particularly the archangels - are regularly given this, because sometimes the tasks they're given are that horrifying.
  • The Omnipresent: Unreliable Narrator takes a chapter off thanks to the narrator of Epilogue II, who gives the details of what happened on Luna in a factual, almost clinical manner.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The major conflict of the story centers around demons, who are hired by a warlock to help him raze Earth and take over Blair's universe.
  • Prehensile Hair: Roscoe's demon form makes use of this.
  • Rasputinian Death: While all of Blair's loved ones meet horrifying ends in his dream state, Roscoe specifically suffers a threefold death.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Combines with both Supernatural Gold Eyes and Glowing Eyes of Doom. Fittingly enough, as Blair becomes far more dangerous when he activates his "Lucifer" persona.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Telemeron's fate is discussed by Blair and Gabriel.

  • Badass Boast: Blair has already pulled off a few of these, but in this case all he has to do is remind Ciarmeil of the legend of Aeriomhar (a tale of one of Blair's exploits) for the elf to completely surrender.
    Katya: In the casino, when you referenced that story, you made an elf who had kicked our asses and Roscoe's completely reevaluate his life decisions. What was that?
  • Badass Family: Three generations of Winters work together to bring down the casino job's real culprit. Roscoe is amused.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Several cases of it, because only the last one sticks.
    • Gabriel and Raphael, in disguise as "Gabrielle" and "Joanna," manage to buy Roscoe enough time to flee the dark elves, after Raphael failed to save Blair from the same;
    • Roscoe later reappears in the casino to rescue Blair, but is overpowered by Ciarmeil and needs rescuing herself;
    • Christian, who stalls Ciarmeil long enough for Blair to deal a finishing blow;
    • Blair himself, who takes a level in badass in breaking the love geis to completely destroy his foe.
  • The Caper: The primary story arc involves a team of specialists, which includes Blair, being forced to rob a casino's main vault.
  • Caper Crew: A four-man team is all that's needed, for good reason.
    • Jocelyn Reese happens to be a Safecracker, and is used as such.
    • Albert "Penfish" Pecking is the Hacker, for what it's worth.
    • Terrence "Jaguar" Black is the Muscle.
    • Blair is utilized as... the Distraction. This turns out to be a poor assignment of resources.
      Blair: As a final lesson. When you plan to rob a casino, and you manage to abduct the most powerful man in the universe, don't make him the distraction.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Raphael is very clearly not heeding Blair's order to stay out of the Alpha Universe. Blair is less than amused.
  • Disability Superpower: Blair was born about five weeks too early, giving him power over winter rather than spring and making him a curse to the highly superstitious and naturalistic Fae.
    • Glamour Failure: Unfortunately, that birth also came with a number of physical defects, including pale skin, irises that fade to white, temperature insensitivity, and extremely brittle bones. Even his various "humanizing" spells can't make up for all of it.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Christian's introduction.
  • Fauxreigner: Blair uses an Irish lilt for most of the job. Subverted in that he is technically Irish, but has been away for centuries.
  • Heroic BSoD: Blair undergoes one of these as Ciarmeil kills Roscoe. Katya screams at him for it, and he eventually comes out of it. Does he ever come out of it.
  • I Have Your Wife: Played straight with the significant others of Reese, Penfish, and Black. Subverted with Roscoe.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Played with. Hastings' aversion is discussed in Blair's narration.
    Blair (narrating): While running, he turned around and shot back, apparently having taken a gun off a casino guard. Given that he was running, and looking over his shoulder, and firing one-handed, and that this is not Hollywood, I don't think I need to tell you how unsuccessful the shot was.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Blair uses the standard variant at the beginning of "Dreamcatcher."
  • Identical Grandson: In a long line of descendants that bore a much stronger resemblance to Keely, Christian is extremely similar in appearance to Blair. Possibly explained by his Primordial and Fae genes being active when they had previously fallen dormant in his ancestry.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Finally averted with Christian (and Ruaridh), as Blair is clearly not impressed with the previous generations of offspring produced by him and his ex-wife Keely. Christian agrees.
    Christian (to Roscoe): No, thank you. You restored my one respectable relative to me. With forty-five generations to choose from, what does that say about our family?
    Blair: That you marry poorly.
  • Interspecies Romance / Random Species Offspring: Subverted. Blair points out that Roscoe really should have figured out that he was not actually human shortly after they met, due to the fact that they were able to conceive: Blair is genetically almost the same species as Roscoe. This makes Ruaridh almost fully Primordial.
  • Last-Name Basis: Especially significant as Blair and Hastings switch to First-Name Basis at the start of the story, only for Blair to switch them back near the climax.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Eileen Grier's introduction in the epilogue starts as this, but then subverts it hard.
    Eileen: I'm Eileen Grier, and you just became the most important woman in Creation.
  • Only in It for the Money: Hasting's explanation to Katya is almost literally this.
  • Our Elves Are Different: A group of displaced dark elves led by a powerful mage serve as the baddies this time around.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Ruaridh uses one with a touch of "The Reason You Suck" Speech right before the Winters men unload on Hastings.
    Ruaridh: It was a valiant effort, but your opponent is data. You would be wise to destroy all your technology in such a case.
  • Really Was Born Yesterday / Rapid Aging: Christian points out that his half-brother appears to be twenty years old, despite his parents (a Primordial and a half-Primordial) meeting only two months prior. Blair replies that Ruaridh is not twenty but much closer to a hundred years old at this point.
  • Sherlock Scan: How Blair figures out where he is and what the situation is before saying a word.
  • Shout-Out: There are several references to Person of Interest, some more blatant than others:
    • the phrase "victim or perpetrator";
    • the chapter title "The Crossing";
    • the safecracker's name (Jocelyn Reese).
  • Tranquil Fury: Blair's post-BSOD catatonia is characterized by this. A blow to the head knocks him out of the catatonia, but that doesn't help Ciarmeil's case; this is Blair we're talking about.
    Blair (narrating): In any other lover, this would have put a stop to the mindless rampage. However, I have a capacity for cruelty that is easily and eagerly entertained by my imagination.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Invoked by Blair while dealing with Ciarmeil.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Blair mentions this as a habit of Roscoe's.

  • Anything That Moves: Both Blair and Roscoe were fairly indiscreet about who they slept with and how in their pasts. Blair grew out of it around the 1970s and Roscoe just prefers Blair now.
  • Beat: Invoked by Roscoe, the narrator, at one point.
    Roscoe (narrating): I'm going to pause the narrative here so you can imagine your significant other and your children suddenly gaining access to your past sex life. If you don't have an SO or kids, imagine you do for a moment. There. Now you understand my horror.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Eileen and Astaire and obvious to everyone but themselves. Blair and Christian specifically plot to resolve it.
  • Call-Back: Roscoe mentions not being a fan of four A.M. That was the hour Shannon died in "Fiat Lux."
  • The Cameo: Jael, protagonist of Sovereign, appears in the epilogue to deliver a message to the Messenger.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Roscoe worries about Ruaridh, Blair tells her that he is alive and well. She finds this condescending and storms off.
  • Continuity Cameo: This novella includes a flashback to 1961, when Blair met Sayeva "Blanche" Reardon. Their meeting is a major plot point in the series New Orleans Supernatural Weekly.
  • Defecting for Love: Blair claims to be doing this at the end of the story. Deconstructed: Blair's meeting and falling for Roscoe was carefully planned and orchestrated by one of Blair's opponents. Blair is aware of this and which opponent pulled it off, but plays into it anyway. To all appearances.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: When the Winters family swaps memories temporarily, Roscoe picks up on one that involves Blair engaged with a random woman, but both Blair and Ruaridh see Roscoe's memories, which are all based on her past promiscuity. Ruaridh instantly reaches for the Brain Bleach, but Blair simply comments that he found it all to be "very plain, considering."
    Blair: The East Asian one, that one's going down in history as "Vanilla In Manila."
    • This takes on a fairly disturbing connotation when it's revealed who exactly determined who would see which memories.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When Ruaridh tells Blair that the vortex spell is only three words long, Blair revises his list of suspects down to two, as that magick is so advanced and obscure that only two individuals could have wielded it. When Ruaridh tells Blair what the three words are, Blair realizes only one person could possibly be behind it.
    • Placebo Eureka Moment: After literally reeling from the realization for a bit, Blair figures out the reversal spell. He just can't use it yet.
  • Foreshadowing: Blair comments offhandedly that "something isn't quite right about" the jazz singer at the Regency Two. The next time Dianne Lefévre appears in the Deboracracy, she's at the center of a supernatural conspiracy.
  • I Have Many Names: Blair's past names and aliases include - but are apparently not limited to - Bréanainn, Regulus, Aeriomhar, Tristain, Rórdán, Blair Rearden, Blair Winters, Cantrell, John Black, John Rearden, the Lucifer, and Shane Riordan. We still don't know his birth name.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Discussed. Roscoe comments on how the universe only comes under attack once at a time, to which Blair replies that the universe is in fact always under attack, but most of the threats are forwarded to the vast angel army. He chooses to handle one at a time.
  • The Multiverse: The plot expands beyond just the Alpha Universe. The fact that it operates on a many-worlds theory is crucial to the plot.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted by John Black/John Rearden, two of Blair's aliases; and John, one of Blair's students.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The aggressor in this story uses a black hole crossed with a time vortex to threaten the destruction of the universe. The time vortex is visible in the sky from certain realms, but that's fully intentional.
  • Temporal Paradox: As suggested by the title, the story centers around a paradox. However, it isn't the paradox even the characters go in thinking it is.
  • Woman Scorned: Blair immediately locks Roscoe away in the Mirror Dimension when he learns that another former lover is coming for him, because this time, it's the Morrígan.

    Heavens Fall 

  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: This happened to Blair at the start of Roscoe's universe; the fallout partially triggered the chain of events that led to the Primordials' destruction.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: The archangels typically work side by side with the Primordials, but given their recent history, in this story the latter are angling to destroy the former.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: A number of characters, including Blair, may have crossed paths with the Metira during its last passage on Earth. However, no one remembers it.
  • Faking the Dead: Ruaridh. Blair was the one who facilitated it, and Roscoe finally learned the truth in "Heavens Fall," but everyone else is utterly flabbergasted by The Reveal.
  • Schrödinger's Cast: Blair manages to be both alive and dead at the same time, first by using the out-of-body trick Twelve taught him and then by switching to the new version of the Alpha Universe created by Twelve, Ruaridh, and Blair's "believers."
  • Starting a New Life: Blair's stated reason for his Heel–Face Turn. As it turns out, he wasn't lying, just not telling the whole truth.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Every single option the archangels face results in the Primordials coming back or their loss of the Alpha Universe, either of which would make Roscoe happy. And Blair's explicit intention in designing the code as he did was to ensure that Roscoe would be happy.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: The entire reason behind the way the universe was coded in its final iteration.


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