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Literature / Lyra

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Lyra is a fantasy series written by Patricia C. Wrede, set in a world inhabited by four intelligent races, and menaced by the ancient evils known as the Shadow-born. The series consists of five books:

  • Shadow Magic
  • Daughter of Witches
  • The Harp of Imach Thyssel
  • Caught in Crystal
  • The Raven Ring

The books are largely disconnected from each other; they all have different characters, different settings, and in some cases different time periods.


This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Eleret in The Raven Ring. Most Cilhar women are this.
  • Action Mom: Kayl of Caught in Crystal, once she comes out of retirement.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: The Aurelico family's "Four Professions" in The Raven Ring: Thieves, spies, forgers, and heroes.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The end of Shadow Magic.
  • Betty and Veronica: Daner (honorable nobleman) and Karvonen (roguish cutpurse from a famous criminal family) for Eleret. However, Daner's noble upbringing and city ideas of honor tend to get in the way both figuratively and literally (a minor Running Gag is that he keeps accidentally blocking Eleret's throwing lines during fights), while Karvonen is more understanding and less prone to assuming they'll do things his way.
  • Burn the Witch!: Official policy in the Empire of Chaldreth, though High Priest Gadrath in Daughter of Witches has quietly started spiriting the witches away to serve him instead, burning non-witches in their place if necessary.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The events of Shadow Magic are briefly mentioned in Daughter of Witches.
    • The prologue of Caught in Crystal is a historical document being presented to Alethia of Shadow Magic by a character implied to be the son of Emereck of The Harp of Imach Thyssel.
    • In Caught in Crystal, Kayl is shown a number of magical visions; one of them is a scene from Shadow Magic.
    • In The Raven Ring, the titular ring was created by Dara of Caught in Crystal.
  • Culture Clash: A significant part of The Raven Ring is Eleret's bafflement with Ciaronese society, and vice versa.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Karvonen is professionally offended that the shapeshifter after Eleret's ring is trying to make himself an all-powerful wizard, pointing out that if the shapeshifter actually learned to act (Eleret and friends keep catching him because he sucks at it), he could be raking it in as a spy.
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  • Evil Is Not a Toy: In The Raven Ring, the villain thinks the ring will enable him to control one of the Shadow-born. Thankfully, he never gets to try it.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Twisted Tower in Caught in Crystal.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Shee, Wyrds, and Neira are suffering increasing hostility from humans in Caught in Crystal; by the time of Shadow Magic they have withdrawn from human society entirely.
  • Finders Rulers: Alethia in Shadow Magic.
  • Fish People: The Neira.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: How Alethia and Har's parents met in Shadow Magic, though their mother makes clear that it was more drawn-out than that.
    Alethia: You took care of him and then married him? It sounds like one of Tamsin's songs!
    Isme: That is probably the way the minstrels will sing of it in a hundred years, but it was not so simple then.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Alethia and Har of Shadow Magic are half-Shee; they're not aware of this until they're adults.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: In The Raven Ring, Eleret insists this about Daner. By the end of the book, it turns out that, no, he isn't.
  • I Know Your True Name: The Sisterhood of Stars works magic through their secret names.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Shadow-born are this in Shadow Magic and The Harp of Imach Thyssel
  • Maybe Ever After: Eleret Salven and Karvonen Aurelico in The Raven Ring.
  • Medieval Stasis: Based on various dates given, Shadow Magic, Daughter of Witches, and The Harp of Imach Thyssel take place about 1800 years after Caught in Crystal and 800 years after The Raven Ring. Despite this, all the books exist at around the same technological level.
  • Nice Job Breaking It Heroes: Quite literally in Caught in Crystal; the destructive black creature was safely trapped until Kayl and her companions broke a chip off its imprisoning cube.
  • Non-Action Guy: Karvonen of The Raven Ring is in favor of running and hiding as a way to deal with danger. Justified: he's a career cutpurse, and so doesn't want to get caught.
  • Noodle Incident: In Caught in Crystal, Glyndon smiles in a way that Kayl last saw "just before the incident with the Bridden army officer, the mug of ale, and the dead mouse." She hastily interrupts before anything can happen.
  • Parental Abandonment: Multiple characters, but most notably Ranira in Daughter of Witches, who was orphaned when her parents were burned as witches.
  • Retired Badass: Kayl in Caught in Crystal. Subverted in that she did gain weight as a sedate innkeeper, doesn't fit into her old gear, and has to get back in shape before she can kick ass again.
  • Seers:
    • Ranira in Daughter of Witches is beginning to develop into this.
    • Glyndon of Caught in Crystal; because his powers aren't natural, he has very little control over them, and the visions he sees are mostly possibilities rather than certainties.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • The Shadow-born were sealed in the very early history of the setting, in a conflict known as the Wars of Binding. Unfortunately the stupid and the ambitious keep trying to draw on their power...
    • The "black creature" at the heart of the conflict in Caught in Crystal was locked in a magic crystal cube for hundreds of years.
  • Second Love: Glyndon to Kayl in Caught in Crystal.
  • Speak of the Devil: The Shadow-born are properly called the Kaldar-maaren, but it's best not to say that name aloud lest they take notice.
  • Tarot Troubles: The Lyran version of tarot is used in The Raven Ring, and is what alerts Eleret to the involvement of a Shadow-born in her situation.
  • Thanatos Gambit: A minor example with Eleret's mother Tamm, who deactivated the Raven Ring's magic-suppressing ability to ensure that it would be taken out of the reach of Mobrellan the shapeshifter.
  • The Theocracy: The Empire of Chaldreth in Daughter of Witches.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: In Daughter of Witches, healer Mist takes this very seriously; she feels enormous shame over having had to do it once before, despite knowing perfectly well the man was a dangerous monster.
  • Trust Password: Subverted in The Raven Ring; the villain anticipates one of these and tortures Karvonen into teaching it to him, which he uses to pose as Karvonen and get to Eleret and the ring. There was no such password. Karvonen instead teaches him the Cilhar for "I'm the shapeshifter."
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: In Daughter of Witches, the death of her parents has left Ranira so terrified of using magic that when she tries, she gives herself psychosomatic burns.

Alternative Title(s): Shadow Magic, Daughter Of Witches, The Harp Of Imach Thyssel, Caught In Crystal, The Raven Ring


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