The Keeper of the Swords (Хранитель мечей) cycle is a High Fantasy novel series by the Russian author Nick Perumov. It is a part of the Chronicles of the Rift series, which began with a (mostly) standalone novel Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword and later continued with the Enchanted Forest trilogy. The title of the cycle refers to Fess, a freelance spy who accidentally becomes the guardian of the eponymous artifacts from DSWS at the end of that novel and ends up taking them into an entirely different corner of The Multiverse.
The cycle consists of following novels:
- Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword (1998)
- The Mage's Birth (1999)
- The Mage's Travels (2000)
- The Mage's Solitude (2001)
- The Mage's War: Opening (2003)
- The Mage's War: Middlegame (2004)
- The Mage's War: Endgame (2006)
- The Mage's War: Game Over (2006)
The novels contain examples of following tropes:
- The Archmage: The wise Archmage Ignacius Cooper. Subverted in the end when instead of a wise patron he is shown to be spiteful, manipulative and just evil.
- BFS: Sylvia gets to wield a Flammberg (see below) which, however, has a magic that in Sylvia's (and other "rightful" hands) gives it a properties of a Laser Blade, including near-zero wielding weight (but not for the ones hit).
- Child Soldiers: Teenage sorceress Sylvia of Arc was "considered a veteran at the age of ten." She fills both variants (i.e. is both Precociously Talented AND Tragic) of this trope, though, as she is IMMENSELY talented and could take most adult opponents with ease... until she started to run into demigods, that is.
- Combat Medic: Dintra is a respected healer who is actually a very powerful mage and a former student of Hedin.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: There is an evil Crystal Dragon Jesus called "The Saviour", who resembles actual Jesus very much. Creepy.
- Death of a Child: Sylvia, being in a city overrun with monsters, hears a plea for help, coming from a 6-year old girl. She rushes in, but cannot save the girl anymore. This sets Sylvia in a deep rage. Sylvia invites all monsters in a city to feast on her, and when they really come proceeds to hack them all in pieces with her sword. She single-handedly defeats a monster army capable of overrunning dozens of local wizards.
- First Contact: a High Fantasy version. The world of Evial was "closed" and thus barred from contact with other worlds of the Multiverse; however, some of the local wizards have long theoretized about the existence of other worlds and their sentient inhabitants. Those wizards are looked down onto by their colleagues and thought of as eccentric and possibly delusional. They are vindicated when a party of unambiguously "alien" planeswalkers sets foot on Evial, and a major subplot starts, involving the local wizards and priests learning the ways of the newly arrived strangers (and vice versa).
- Harmful to Minors: It is revealed that Sylvia had to fight in the wars (as a sorceress) from early on, so that by ten(!), she was "already considered a battle-hardened veteran". She also suggests that she witnessed another sorceress, Seges, being a "pervert", though it's not clear whether she herself was abused. In the story itself, she has a Near-Death Experience AT LEAST once a book. She gets speared, buried under rubble of a tower, her head smashed with a candelabra, hit by magical lightning... Way to have a childhood.
- MacGuffin Title: Though it sounds like a word salad at first, but later you learn that the eponymous Swords from Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword are the MacGuffin. Another sword, Sylvia's, is also part of the set, and in the end, all three are assembled in one place and used to defeat the big bad.
- Magic Knight:
- There is an order of Battle Mages, who are strong magically, but also can fight with regular weapons, or with magically augmented weapons. One member of it, Klara Huemmel, "Preferred to rely on steel rather than magic. And she outlived many who had different preferences."
- Also young Sylvia, who is not very strong, but quite skilled with weapons. She also gets a big magic sword for most of series.
- Necromancy: The eventual main character in the series and the keeper of the swords, Fess,, becomes a necromancer in The Mage's Birth. The art of Necromancy plays an important role throughout the whole series.
- Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: Evengar of Sallador believes in this. As he puts it:"By thousands of unseen threads the law binds you. If you tear one, you're a criminal, if you tear several - you're marked for death, but if you tear all of them, you are a god."
- Squishy Wizard: The world of Evial features a "Rule of one Gift", meaning that you simply CANNOT be both a good wizard and a good fighter. In another world Mel'in, the physical weakness of most wizards allowed the young Emperor to successfully wage war against wizards. Nevertheless the same series there are Battle Mages, who are both super strong wizards and good fighters. They do not hail from Evial, so they are not subject to the rule. When Fess remembers his past and ceases to identify himself as Evialian, he also stops being subject to the Rule of One Gift.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: Of the Essence of Otherbeing by Evengar of Sallador.
- Unholy Ground: The entire world of Evial is like this, due to the presence of the entity known as the Western Darkness. Any graveyard can go bad, sooner or later, necessitating the presence of clerics and necromancers to deal with the undead. And necromancers are the safer, saner option: the sacrifices they need to stop the undead are just cats, while the priests will torture or burn some human sinners.
- Upsetting the Balance: New Gods Hedin and Rakot regularly lament not being able to act and fight directly. If they do, the Law of Balance will manifest a comparable but opposite reaction somewhere in the universe.
- Wise Old Folk Fašade: Ignacius Cooper, a pretty evil and power-hungry Archmage, likes to pretend to be a wise, grandfatherly Gandalf-like wizard.