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Literature / Mass Effect: Revelation

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Mass Effect: Revelation is a novel within the Mass Effect universe, written by then-lead writer Drew Karpyshyn.

It serves as a prequel to the first game, telling the story of how Capt. Anderson tried and failed to become a Spectre.

Mass Effect: Revelation provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain / Villain Protagonist: Saren.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The asari councilor asks one of Goyle, when she asks her whether humanity has ever put the interests of the galaxy above its own interests as a species.
  • Badass Normal: In a universe with dinosaur-like aliens with extremely fast regenerative capabilities and people who can manipulate gravity with their minds, Anderson manages to nearly kill Skarr, a member of said aliens AND able to manipulate gravity with his mind, with little more than a pistol. By himself, twice. Although he does need some help to finish him off.
  • Batman Gambit: The Citadel Council threatens harsh sanctions on humanity in response to the illegal AI research at the Sidon base, but Ambassador Goyle realizes that they're simply looking for an excuse to stymie humanity's dangerously rapid growth, and so refuses the sanctions to force the Council to offer a better deal. It turns out that the Council had intended all along for Goyle to come to this vain assumption, allowing the ambassador to throw her weight around and then haggle down the less-severe sanctions the Council had actually wanted for humanity. The Council gets the Alliance to respect their authority, and the Alliance gets a political win they can celebrate back home. When Goyle realizes what just happened, she's left unnerved by how easily her biases were manipulated.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Qian is heavily implied to have become this, through exposure to Sovereign. In the epilogue, Saren deduces that Edan Ha'dah was also brainwashed, though not to the same extent as Qian.
  • Bullying a Dragon: One young and particularly nervous human Blue Sun makes the mistake of pointing a gun at Skarr, a krogan Battle Master and biotic. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Call-Forward:
    • The retired Admiral Grissom (not fond of visitors) goes to answer his door and wonders who it might be. "If it was a reporter, he'd punch him — or her — right in the mouth."
    • Edan tries pleading with Saren that he might need his resources, with Saren retorting that he can get money another way. As Mass Effect shows, he was eventually able to become a major stockholder in Binary Helix.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Edan Had'dah tries to convince Saren of this, arguing that without his wealth and resources, it will take Saren up to ten years to exploit the potential of Sovereign. Saren merely retorts that he doesn't mind being patient, then promptly kill Edan.
    • Saren also implies he has this view of Anderson. Doesn't stop him from threatening Anderson's life when a disagreement turns into a scuffle.
      "...If I kill you the Alliance will be crying out for my head, and the Council might just give it to them. At the very least they'd revoke my Spectre status."
  • Category Traitor: Saren's opinion of a turian he finds helping to sell weapons to humans.
  • The Cavalry: The frigate Iwo Jima for the squad sent to extract Kahlee. Proves to not be successful when Skarr downs it with a BFG.
  • The Chessmaster: Saren deliberately leaks information about Kahlee's extraction in order to ensure that Skarr captures her. He does this so that Skarr would lead him right to the masterminds of the attack on Sidon. He later destroys the refinery where the bad guys are holed up to deliberately discredit Anderson's Spectre candidacy, and by extension, the Alliance and humanity.
  • Cold Sniper: Saren is introducing sniping two goons, taking out the only guards for a facility he then immediately raids.
  • Damsel in Distress: Kahlee at the climax. Probably deliberately set up this way by Saren to induce The Dulcinea Effect in Anderson to throw him off his game operationally.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Groto Ib-ba, a batarian Blue Suns mercenary, walks into a high-class brothel and asks for a human consort, intending to torture the girl for his own amusement. As Saren explains before torturing him, his request immediately tipped off the staff that he was up to no good, and if Saren hadn't convinced the staff to let him deal with it, then the second Groto tried anything, a bunch of krogan bouncers would've come bursting through the door.
  • The Dreaded: Saren has a reputation for his ruthlessness in the Attican Traverse. Even Skarr, a biotic Krogan Warlord, is driven off by a bullet in the chest (a minor wound to a Krogan) when he sees that Saren was the shooter and expresses fear towards him.
    "I make a point never to get involved in Spectre business...especially this one! Turian bastard."
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Anderson heads to Chora's Den to do this when his divorce becomes finalized.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Though Saren's torture of Groto was for information, Saren also stopped him from torturing a human prostitute and was disgusted by Groto's intentions. This trope is in play because Saren despises humans.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: At the end, Saren figures he'll use Sovereign to get revenge on mankind, and then all the other Citadel species, putting the turians on top. While aware of the dangers of indoctrination, after witnessing what happened to Dr. Qian and studying his writings, Saren figures that he'll be fine if he just limits his own exposure to the ship. Anyone familiar with Mass Effect can guess how that works out for him.
  • Eye Scream: Groto Ib-ba, a mercenary member of the batarians, a species whose members each have four eyes, gets one of them burst — not removed, burst — by his torturer during interrogation. This particular instance is also one of Pay Evil unto Evil, as the victim in question was also hateful of humans and had planned to "break" a human prostitute as a means of "stress relief".
  • Fantastic Racism: Abounds.
    • Edan despises all non-batarians, but especially humans, an attitude largely shared by other batarians. His low-level indoctrination by Sovereign manifests as a willingness to break character and work alongside humans to achieve his goals, something that confuses and irritates Edan himself.
    • Saren despises humanity for the First Contact War, and judging by his attitude at the end of the novel, he's not wild about any other species either.
    • Though nowhere near as extreme as they, or open, Anderson's still got some prejudices against aliens.
  • The Fettered: Anderson believes in operating this way, refusing to risk innocent lives. Serves as a counterpoint to Saren, who is very clearly The Unfettered.
  • First Contact: The prologue is set in the opening hours of the First Contact War between humanity and the turians, with the human fleets massing together to retake the occupied colony of Shanxi.
  • Flaw Exploitation: The Citadel Council exploits humanity's Small Name, Big Ego tendencies to run circles around Ambassador Goyle, letting her think that their overly-harsh Ban on A.I. sanctions is really a ploy to stymie humanity's supposedly rapid growth before they become a threat. Goyle rails against the injustice of it all and then haggles for a better deal, which turns out to be the level of sanctions the Council had planned from the start.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Ambassador Goyle suggests that there could already be an advanced AI out there somewhere in the galaxy (besides the geth).
    • In order to ward off Saren's suspicions, Kahlee claims that humans are researching ways to induce biotic ability in themselves.
    • People find an alien artifact and suddenly undergo personality changes, developing an obsession with it and ultimately suffering mental faculty decay from prolonged exposure.
  • Framing Device: Set up the Mass Effect universe, since the game was unreleased during its publication.
  • Freudian Excuse: Apparently Saren's hatred of humanity was caused by his brother's death during the First Contact War. Of course, that does nothing to defend Saren's brutal treatment of every other species that gets in his way.
  • Hate at First Sight: Anderson and Saren.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Goyle accuses the Council of adopting this approach with potentially hostile synthetic life, when they attempt to sanction the Alliance for carrying out "study them in order to neutralize them" research on AIs. The Council retorts by claiming that humans are arrogant, perceiving everything around them as a threat to be conquered. The asari and salarians then give Goyle a lecture about how mutual cooperation should be a default stance all species should take.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Early on, the book lampshades their commonness in the franchise. Anderson subscribes to the most common explanation, that there's a simple evolutionary advantage to the humanoid body structure.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: Ambassador Goyle suspects that the Council races are imposing crippling sanctions on the Alliance because they are scared of the implications of this and want to slow down that advance as much as possible. It turns out that the harsh sanctions they're laying out are actually an elaborate negotiation ploy by the Council, banking on Goyle's vain assumption of this trope to have her haggle down to the sanctions the Council actually intends for humanity.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique / Cold-Blooded Torture: Depending on whether you view Saren as an Anti-Hero or Villain Protagonist. Regardless, he spends several hours beating a confession out of Groto to learn about the Blue Suns. When he's done, he kills him (though that is partly out of pragmatism - he can't let Groto go, or he'll blab, and he can't arrest him or word might get out).
  • Kick the Dog: Saren interrogates a badly injured female batarian on life support (who was also kept in a medically induced coma because her injuries caused her terrible pain. Her doctor also gave Saren medicine to put her back under and save her life if necessary) by shutting off said life support and taking advantage of her pain to coerce her into telling him what he wants to know, refusing to put her back under until he got the information he needed. Then Saren waited for her to die before putting the medication in her IV and lied to the doctor, saying that the medicine didn't save her.
    • Arguably Skarr killing the Alliance soldiers rescuing Kahlee after they had surrendered and been disarmed.
  • Knowledge Broker: Anderson uses one to figure out that Kahlee is Jon Grissom's estranged daughter.
  • Married to the Job: This was what caused Anderson's marriage and Grissom's relationship with Kahlee's mother to end. Kahlee even rebuffs Anderson because she can see an actual relationship in jeopardy for this reason.
  • Mythology Gag / Self-Deprecation: There's a line somewhere about a lengthy elevator ride.
  • Once is Not Enough: Anderson puts a small clip's worth of gunfire into Skarr. He doesn't have enough experience with krogan to know that you should always to make sure they're dead before rummaging through their pockets, something Skarr informs him of when he gets up.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Edan Had'dah notes with some consternation how he, a bartarian who despises humans, is now working closely with one. In the epilogue, Saren deduces that Edan was being indoctrinated by Sovereign as well, but the effect on his personality was more subtle due to his limited exposure.
  • Prequel: Written as a tie-in to the first Mass Effect, and explores Anderson's history with Saren (only given a brief explanation in the game proper).
  • Ramming Always Works: The APC driver who is transporting Kahlee for extraction does this to pursue vehicles to buy them sometime. This results in an impact that not only destroys the other vehicle but cripples the APC and kills the driver.
  • Revealing Cover Up: How Anderson gets a lead on Sanders's parentage. Her files have any and all hints as to her father's identity erased, something entirely beyond Sanders or her mother's ability, but which could be done by someone high up in the Alliance.
  • Rule #1:
    "I have two rules I follow," Saren explained. "The first is: never kill someone without a reason."
    "And the second?" Anderson asked, suspicious.
    "You can always find a reason to kill someone."
  • The Scapegoat: Saren makes Anderson this, deliberately misleading him about how much time they had to complete the mission, then making sure to blame him for having to resort to "desperate measures to ensure success."
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Anderson's squad discover this when they finally reach the interior of the Sidon Research Facility, and see that the enemy mercs have rigged a chamber with enough high explosives to collapse the cave network.
  • Spanner in the Works: Dr. Qian's attempted cover-up at Sidon goes belly-up thanks to Kahlee noticing he'd gone nuts and fleeing the base without leave.
  • Spotting the Thread: Having been confronted by an Alliance officer, Kahlee allows him to handcuff her, until she notices his sidearm doesn't match Alliance regulation. She promptly beats him into a bloody mess while handcuffed and then escapes.
  • Start of Darkness: For Saren, though the story shows that he was a huge racist and Knight Templar even before he turned bad.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Between Anderson and Saren at first during the refinery mission. Subverted as the mission progresses when Saren blows the refinery up.
  • Token Romance: Anderson and Kahlee Sanders, though it does not actually go anywhere. Later subverted by Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC, or at least implied as such, as Kahlee leaves bags of her stuff at Anderson's apartment.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Subverted; Dah is 6' 3", stated to be stronger then most of the men in her squad and with an attitude that's kept her from advancing in her career. She gets ambushed and badly hurt, but ends up recovering to full health.
  • Villains Want Mercy: One of the Blue Suns mercs shot by Anderson begs for mercy, insisting he was just following Skarr's orders to kill the Alliance soldiers and didn't enjoy it. Anderson coldly retorts that the merc still obeyed those orders before putting a bullet in the guy's head.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When confronted by Saren, Had'dah says this of Dr. Qian, stating that Qian's obsession with the artefact he's studying (in truth, Qian had been indoctrinated by Sovereign) had made him a liability, after which Saren promptly puts a bullet in Qian's brain.