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Literature / Malediction Trilogy

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Malediction Trilogy is young adult fantasy series written by Canadian author Danielle L. Jensen.

Cecile de Troyes is a daughter of a famous opera singer and a rich farmer. She grows up with her siblings, father and grandmother in a village of Goshawk Hollow. Since she has a great talent for music herself, at the age of 17 she is supposed to move to the capital Trianon, to live with her mother and become an opera star. However, on her 17th birthday she is kidnapped and taken to Trollus, a troll city under the mountain. There she is to marry troll prince Tristan, because according to a prophecy such union would break an ancient curse. As it turns out, 500 years earlier a witch cursed all trolls to become imprisoned under the Forsaken Mountain.Trollus is beautiful, rich and highly dangerous. And Cecile must learn really fast and lose her child-like innocence if she is to survive.

The series consists of three novels and two prequels:

  • Stolen Songbird (2014)
    • The Songbird's Overture (2014)
  • Hidden Huntress (2015)
  • Warrior Witch (2016)
  • The Broken Ones (2017)

The series gives examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Duke d'Angouleme qualifies. He is a Manipulative Bastard and a Sadist, and his only goal in life is to gain power and finally win the millenia-long conflict of his family with Montignys (current rulers of Trollus), preferably by killing them all. To this goal he would use every tool at hand - and he treats his daughters as such tools. He's not above threatening them with death - and it's not an empty threat.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Troll twins Vincent and Victoria love puns and alliteration and Cecile plays along with them.
    Cecile: The perfectly pretty porcupine perfumed the palace with the putrescence of a porky pig.
  • Alliterative Title: Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress, Warrior Witch.
  • Adipose Rex: King Thibault is morbidly obese. However, this does not seem to influence him very much, as his magical powers are great and he can use a heavy iron spear proficiently. At one point his son Tristan calls him upon it, accusing him of feasting while his subjects are starving.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls live under the mountain but only because of the curse. They don't mind the sun and they are beautiful, although also often disfigured. They are also very powerful, cure all injuries easily, apart from those caused by iron, and they lust for gold.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Duke d'Angouleme and his mother, the Dowager Duchess, certainly qualify, as well as some of their supporters.
  • Badass Bookworm: Martin the librarian. As a full-blooded troll, he has magical powers by definition, he is very courageus (up to going against a much stronger troll to pursue Revenge) - and his knowledge is essential to - in chronological order - Cecile developing her skills as a witch, defeating Angouleme and finally sending trolls back to Arcadia.
  • Bastard Bastard: Lessa, Tristan's older half-sister, daughter of king Thibault and a mixed-blood servant. Even though there is little human blood in her veins (she looks like a troll and is very powerful), legally she is still mixed-blood, which means a life of servitude in Angouleme's household. No wonder she hates her father and would stop at nothing to gain what she perceives as her rightful position.
  • Battle Couple: Tristan and Cecile become one by the end of Hidden Huntress. One of the most powerful trolls alive (not to mention his other skills) and one of the most powerful witches alive - bonded by troll magic, completely devoted to one another and feeling what the other one feels at all times.
  • Blemished Beauty: Tristan is a troll prince and as such, he is inhumanly beautiful. At one point, however, he gets whipped with an iron-tipped whip, which results in a network of scars on his back and torso - as well as other scars on his wrists from iron manacles. He is very self-conscious, but his human wife thinks he is still incredibly handsome.
  • Blood Magic: Witches can use blood to cast the most powerful, dark and dangerous spells. In addition, it's the only type of magic that works on trolls - provided troll blood is used to power the spell.
  • Body Horror: After 500 years of extensive inbreeding and iron poisoning, many pure-blooded trolls are horribly disfigured. King Thibault is mordbidly obese, Comte Marc has a face that looks as if it was split in half, there are also trolls with two heads, trolls with shrunken limbs, conjoined twins, etc.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • Cecile, when first presented to Tristan in Stolen Songbird, is magically bound and gagged, because she tried to run away. Tristan immediately tells his parents to ungag her. Then in Hidden Huntress she is drugged, bound and gagged (this time by mundane means) and thrown into a basement by her own brother Fred, on the orders of his commanding officer, lord Aiden, who wants to use her as a bargaining chip to manipulate Tristan. And then, in Warrior Witch, she gets magically bound and gagged again, this time by her arch-enemy half-blood Lessa. After all, as a witch she can cast spells and it is generally believed that to do it she has to be able to speak.
    • The same thing happens in Warrior Witch to Tristan's main enemy, Duke d'Angouleme, only he is surrounded by magic that makes him unable to see and hear as well.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Lessa in her quest to improve her position and gain power, would stop at nothing, including proposing a marriage to her half-brother Tristan and then, in her guise of Anais, becoming betrothed to his (and her) younger brother Roland.
  • Can Not Tell A Lie: All trolls are unable to lie. Which has made them into masters of obfuscating and hiding truth while not actually lying.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A small charm that is supposed to protect the wearer from magic that Chris buys from a supposed witch at the beginning of Hidden Huntress and which Cecile dismisses as rubbish. By the end, it turns out the charm worked - because it was made from witches' bane, rowan.
    • And in Warrior Witch, a bottle of magical Elixir de la Lune that Martin the librarian steals to bind himself with the girl he loves. Later on, it turns out to be highly important not only for couples in love.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Tristan's friends, troll twins Vincent and Victoria spend several months working in mines as a punishment for helping him. The skills they learn turn out to be very useful later on. Another such useful occupational skill is Cecile's knowledge of acoustics (as an opera singer).
  • The Chessmaster: Troll king Thibault. He manipulates everyone around him, even his own son Tristan, he easily sees through his son's plots - and he managed to keep power in the highly competitive troll society.
    Tristan: He’ll [Thibault] have predicted that this conversation would occur. He’ll know I’m down here by now, and he will be expecting us to take certain actions.
    Tips: Which actions?
    Tristan: I don’t know. But I do know he will have planned for all contingencies.
  • Cold Iron: Iron is the only thing that can cause lasting injuries to trolls and limit their magic - it has also caused them to lose their immortality in the first place. And other fey creatures are even more sensitive to iron than trolls.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Pure-blooded trolls always have black hair and pale skin. The more human blood a mixed-blood has, the darker their skin and the lighter their hair.
  • Control Freak: Prince Tristan. He is so single-mindedly devoted to his one cause (overthrowing his father and improving the life of his subjects) that he wants to control everything: those around him (and he has magical means to do it), his speech and facial expressions, even his feelings for his wife. He gets called upon it. Several times.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: Cecile is married to troll prince Tristan in order to fulfill a prophecy. He is a decent guy and does not want to force her, he even goes to sleep on the sofa - but his father demands that marriage be consumed and offspring produced. Since trolls themselves cannot lie, Tristan tells his wife to lie about what happened during the night. He also pretends to be totally disgusted by his wife so that she does not have to lie too often.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Cecile, while sometimes has to be saved by Tristan or her friends, is quite capable of looking after herself and getting out of trouble on her own - she's a powerful witch, but she is also intelligent, clever and her older brother taught her how to pick locks with a hairpin.
  • Death by Childbirth: Or rather death by miscarriage. Penelope, Anais's sister and Marc's wife, suffers from bleeding affliction (troll version of hemophilia). When she finds out she is pregnant, she panics - she knows she won't survive childbirth. As it turns out, she does not survive miscarriage, either.
  • Dysfunctional Family:
    • Cecile's parents split up. Her father came back to his village to look after the family farm, taking his three children with him, while her mother stayed in the capital Trianon to pursue a career on the opera stage. Her oldest brother, Frederic, is a soldier, a drunkard and a womanizer who cannot forgive their mother for leaving them - even though now he also lives in the capital.
    • Family d'Angouleme is even worse. Duke d'Angouleme is a Sadist and it is heavily hinted at that he killed his wife (he could do that, since they were not bonded). He also used both his daughters to achieve his political goals, with no regard for their feelings. His mother, the Dowager Duchess, isn't much better - after all it was she who brought him up.
  • Elemental Powers: Witches' magic is based on using the elements (earth, air, fire, water) to power their spells.
  • Evil Matriarch: Duchess d'Angouleme. After all, it was she who brought up her son, the current Duke and she takes part in all of his plots.
  • Evil Redhead: Anushka the witch, who cursed trolls to be forever imprisoned under the mountain. At least that's how trolls view her.
  • Face Your Fears: Tristan promises to meet half-blood leader Tips in any place of his choosing. Tips chooses the mines - and this is the only place in the whole Trollus that the prince is absolutely afraid of. Still, he desperately needs to convince Tips, so he goes down and while he is still afraid, at least he does not run out screaming.
  • The Fair Folk: Elves of Winter seem close to the traditional depiction of wicked faerie.
  • Fantastic Light Source: Trolls do not use any external light sources in their city. Each troll or even half-blood is capable of creating a small light that follows them at all times. This is a huge problem for Cecile, who does not have such ability.
  • Fantastic Racism: Trolls perceive humans (or basically anyone with human blood in their vein) as lesser beings. They tolerate commerce with chosen human traders only because they would not survive without it.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Isle de la Lumiere, where the story is set, seems to be an equivalent of 17th century France, as shown by the names of characters, fashion, entertainment and weapons. Funny enough, the only character with an English name, one monsieur Johnson, is a foreigner and comes from the continent. The witch's name, Anushka, sounds vaguely Russian.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Initially, what Cecile thinks about her marriage to prince Tristan. As it turns out, he is a decent guy who does not force her to fulfil the maritial duty.
  • Fictional Board Game: Trolls play the game of Guerre, which looks quite like chess but it's played on four boards and the pieces are different; there are kings and queens but also princes and princesses, warriors, tricksters and assassins. In Hidden Huntress, the game is used by Tristan and his aunt to exchange important information even though they are being spied upon.
  • Fiery Redhead: Cecile's hair is red (as the prophecy demanded), and she is strong-willed, sometimes even obstinate - and will not let anyone tell her what to do.
  • Gender Is No Object: Troll society works this way. What matters is a troll's level of magical power and the family they come from, gender is irrelevant. Female trolls become warriors and mixed-blood work in mines alongside males.
  • Gold Fever: Trolls are obsessed with gold - and so are humans who have business dealings with them. It is also believed that troll gold brings bad luck to those that take it.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Tristan. The troll prince really wants to help his subjects, particularly the lowliest ones - mixed-blood slaves. He cares about Cecile and will do anything to protect her. He is also willing to sacrifice personal freedom to protect the whole humankind from the evil that he believes trolls are. For the same reason, he considers killing his own father and younger brother.
  • Grand Theft Me: Anushka has stayed alive for five hundred years by transfering her soul to the body of a female descendant. Overlaps with Familial Body Snatcher.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Half-bloods are always slaves in the troll society, even the ones that have so little human blood in them that they could pass for trolls.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Trolls and humans can easily breed and produce offspring. Such mixed-blood children inherit some of their troll parent's magical ability but it is greatly reduced. In troll society, they are always slaves, used for different purposes, depending on their level of magical power.
  • Healing Factor: Trolls do not get ill (unless they suffer from the bleeding affliction, which is inherited and the result of iron poisoning) and they can rapidly cure all injuries, unless caused by said iron. On the down side this means that powerful trolls can punish their servants in any way they wish without causing lasting damage and executions can take several days.
  • Healing Hands: Witches know powerful healing spells but they are complicated and require a long list of components.
  • Hidden Depths: Tristan's friend Anais. At the first glance she seems to be just a court girl, obsessed with her looks - and the prince - and nasty to everyone around her. However, she is a capable warrior and a true friend of Tristan.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: King Thibault sends his half-blood daughter Lessa to Angouleme's household as a spy, only to have her turn against him, foiling his plans in the process.
  • I Know Your True Name: Anyone who knows a troll's (or mixed-blood's) true name can force them to do anything. That's why giving somebody one's true name is a sign of utter trust.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Throughout Warrior Witch, Cecile is pregnant with Tristan's child (although for most of the time she is unaware of that) and she has survive many dangers, including facing the faerie queen and surviving in a city surrounded by evil trolls.
  • Incapable of Disobeying: Trolls and mixed-bloods are incapable of disobeying an order if one delivering the order used their true name.
  • Love Potion: In her Back Story Catherine the witch is forced to prepare a love potion for her mysterious and highy dangerous employer. She has no choice but to fulfil the wish and while the potion works perfectly well, it all backfires horribly, leading to her being banned from the court and forced to live in Pigalle, the poorest slums of the city.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: A promise made by or to a troll is always magically binding and unbreakable. Unless you find a loophole or a person to whom the promise is made, dies.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Marriages between trolls and humans are strictly forbidden because of "watering down" of troll blood. The marriage between Tristan and Cecile was possible only because of the prophecy and most pure-blood trolls do not accept Cecile.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Tristan and Cecile. They were married because of a prophecy and had no chance to get to know each other before the wedding ceremony.
  • Mindlink Mates: Troll wedding ceremony includes powerful magic that makes the couple feel what the other partner feels, at all times.
  • Odd Name, Normal Nickname: Trolls have real names that are very long and complicated—and magically binding. Therefore, every troll uses a shortened version of their name on a daily basis; for example, Tristan is really called Trisanthysium and Anais is Anaistromeria.
  • Oh, My Gods!: "Stones and sky!" is the most popular exclamation. Or "Bloody stones and sky!" for greater emphasis.
  • Offing the Offspring: Troll king Thibault threatens his son Tristan and daughter-in-law Cecile with it - but it's mostly an empty threat, since he knows perfectly well his other son Roland wouldn't make a good monarch due to his madness. Also the way Anushka the witch has kept herself alive for more than 500 years without raising suspicion.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The faerie, who are shapeshifters, meaning they can appear perfectly beautiful or extremely horrifying, depending on their whim. They use powerful magic, are basically immortal and can travel through worlds and dimensions. They can be harmed only by iron and their only weakness is gold. And the pure faerie look at their tainted cousins (trolls trapped in human world) with contempt.
  • Our Witches Are Different: Witches are always human, always female magic users. They are born with the ability, which seems to run in the family, and can use Elemental Powers, as well as Blood Magic to power their spells.
  • Parasitic Immortality: Anoushka has managed to survive for several hundred years by taking over bodies of her female descendants, generation after generation. It is suggested that the young women's souls were forced out of their bodies in the process, meaning they effectively died.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Cecile is kidnapped and forced to marry troll prince Tristan. At first this seems Fate Worse than Death, but she gradually comes to love him - and vice versa. Justified, as troll marriage ceremony also includes powerful magic to bond the newly-wed couple.
  • Pet the Dog: King Thibault has a moment of this, when he is shown in Hidden Huntress to really love his wife Mathilde and care about her health and well-being. This does not extend to his son, though.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: The only reason why troll prince Tristan is allowed to marry a human is the prophecy that such union will finally break the curse, allowing trolls to leave the city under the mountain after 500 years. And since it is believed that the source of prophecies are the fey of Arcadia, lost homeworld of trolls, who see everything, they simply must be right.
  • Royal Bastard: Lessa is the daughter of king Thibault and a mixed-blood servant.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Tristan's family. His father, king Thibault, is a monster capable even of imprisoning his own son, torturing him and threatening him with death - all to make him a better troll ruler. His mother is mentally deranged - not to mention, conjoined with her sister. And his younger brother Roland is stark raving mad.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Royal family in Trollus. Their main duty is to maintain the magical "tree" - a structure that keeps the Forsaken Mountain from falling on their heads and crushing everything inside the city. And prince Tristan tries to actively improve the lives of his subjects.
  • Sadist: Duke d'Angouleme, one of the most powerful trolls in Trollus, main enemy of royal family - and father of Tristan's friend Anais. He uses pain and terror as a tool to gain power and intimidate his enemies - but he also gets a lot of pleasure from it.
  • Scars are Forever: Trolls can usually heal any injury without scars (that is, if they are powerful enough). Unless the injury was from Cold Iron. As a result, Tristan has a network of scars covering his back from the time he was flogged with iron-tipped whips. And Cecile, who is human, has a long and nasty scar along her ribs from the time she was beaten up by Roland.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: Taking into consideration that a troll marriage ceremony involves drinking a magical potion that bonds the newly-weds and makes them feel what the other partner feels, at all times, this should be true for all trolls.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Tristan has considered it for a long time but it is finally his brother Roland who does the deed, although not willingly.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point in Hidden Huntress Tristan quotes Oscar Wilde.
    • Monsieur Johnson, who composes music for and directs the masque in Hidden Huntress is a less direct shoutout to Ben Jonson, English playwright from the Elisabethan era, famous for his numerous masques.
  • Signature Roar: Sluag and their BAROOOM!
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Cecile gives birth to Tristan's son after he's gone. And the fact that she is expecting a baby is the only thing that keeps her from giving into despair.
  • Spell Book: Anushka's grimoire, a book containing powerful spells. Can be opened only by a drop of human blood on the cover made from human skin.
  • Survivor Guilt: Cecile, when a box containing her half-blood friend Elise's body is delivered to her house, mostly because Elise willingly put herself in enemy hands to allow Cecile to escape Trollus. Bonus points for the fact that the victim was put into an iron-bound box and left to suffocate - and she was known for her extreme fear of enclosed spaces. Tristan tries to comfort her by telling her that some people's lives are just more important. It does not go well.
  • Those Two Guys: troll twins Vincent and Victoria. They are unnaturally huge, constantly engage in different (and sometimes downright idiotic) contests to prove which of them should inherit the family title and love various pranks, puns, comic poetry and alliteration. In the first book they mostly provide comic relief - however, they get their part in the spotlight in the third book.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Tristan's younger brother Roland. He's very powerful, like all members of royal family, and stark raving mad. His favourite pastime - running into the city and murdering mixed-blood slaves and servants. The fact that he was raised by duke Angouleme does not help, either.