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Literature / Long Road North

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From the blurb:

A recently-retired dwarven ranger sets out on one last grand tour before settling down, following the great trans-continental Caravan across the land of Veropa and taking in the sights and cultures of a world not unlike our own.

Of course, this being a ''Thousand Book Challenge'' story, it's not quite that simple...

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Contains Examples Of:

  • Aerith and Bob: We've yet to meet two named characters from the same place, but Sven's name and accent don't exactly match. Justified since his father traveled quite extensively and eventually settled down quite a ways from home.
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  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted, and one of the author's Pet Peeve Tropes.
  • Anachronism Stew: A mild example, but the setting has technology broadly equivalent to the late 18th century coupled to the political and cultural values of the early 1960s.
  • An Axe to Grind: Subverted. Sven carries one that ends up in use as an Improvised Weapon on occasion, but its primary purpose is felling trees (or digging; see below), and he prefers to wield a sword.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Appear quite often as the setting's equivalent of machine guns.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The Ardalans ended up doing this to the dwarves whilst attempting to conquer the elven lands in the backstory. Subverted in that the dwarves had already been backing their neighbours up indirectly, and they didn't exactly Curb Stop the Empire either.
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  • Badass Army: The Dwarven Pioneer Companies are basically an army of Badass Crews.
  • Badass Grandpa / Cool Old Guy: Sven.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Ramelans are a loose coalition of federal democracies with no interest in aggressive expansion and a tiny standing army. They were also the first people to break the momentum of the Ardalan Imperial Army during one of their more ambitious land grabs.
  • Dungeon Punk: Insofar as a Low Fantasy version of this trope is possible, anyway.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Averted. They might not always see eye to eye, but their economies are too interdependent for it to get out of hand.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter begins with a quote from an in-universe source filling in some backstory.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The dwarven kingdoms have aspects of Scotireland, Norse By Northwest, Oop North and the Welsh. The Ardalans are loosely inspired by the Roman Empire, Napoleonic France and Germany under Kaiser Wilheim. And yes, that elven bartender ''is'' supposed to have a Liverpudlian accent.
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  • Fantastic Racism: Implied to exist, along with the mundane sort, but not significant to the plot.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. Gunpowder's quite costly thanks to Veropa depending heavily on imported sulphur for its manufacture, but firearms definitely exist.
  • Five Races: Subverted. Race is ultimately subordinate to nationality, and all five have more in common than not.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The Ardalan Empire, averaged over its entire history, amounts to True Neutral rather than evil.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Subverted. Word of God says there's no more difference between elves, dwarves and humans than between Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean and Asian people. This hasn't become a plot point yet, however.
  • Iconic Item: The combination hatchet and pickaxe, shortened to "pickchet", carried by all Dwarven Pioneers are an in-universe example.
  • Low Fantasy: Owes much of its inspiration to the later Discworld novels, and a good bit of thought has gone into the economics of the setting.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: Quasi-example: The Pioneer's Backsword is a machete first, personal defence weapon second.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played straight, but de-Flanderised and justified; the dwarves developed their skill at mining and masonry because there's not much else to build with in their territory, and most of the good iron ore on the continent is in their lands. Also, some of them actually shave.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Well, more down-to-earth and reasonable, anyway. And some of them are Scouse.
  • Renaissance European Fantasy
  • Schizo Tech: Within a narrow range from the twilight of the Roman Empire to just before the Industrial Revolution. For example, most nations aren't finished phasing out the matchlock, but in terms of civil engineering the dwarves in particular are almost level with the Victorians.
  • Silly Reason for War: Subverted. Mention is made of the elves objecting to excessive logging operations by their dwarven neighbours on religious grounds, but as a secondary concern to the fact that they're causing landslides.
  • Shout-Out: Chapter 3 should make it fairly obvious that the author is a massive Dwarf Fortress fan.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Somewhere near the middle, though Sven is a rare protagonist from the author who's not prone to lapsing into Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids! on a bad day.
  • The Empire: The Ardalans. Subverted a bit; the Deadly Decadent Court and its endemic Chronic Backstabbing Disorder doesn't have an especially high body-count, and the throne and senate have been occupied by individuals of any stripe from Complete Monster to Magnificent Bastard to Reasonable Authority Figure over the years.
  • The Federation: The Ramelans are explicitly one of these, and in practice the dwarven kingdoms function much like one as well.
  • Throw It In!: Word of God says that Mistelside would have ended up looking very different if the throwaway line about rain-shadows hadn't set the author to thinking about the striking parallel to the good burghers of Liverpool and their relationship with the Welsh, at which point the thought of Scouse elves caused him to giggle like a moonbat for several minutes.

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