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Literature / Nightrunner

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A series of Heroic Fantasy novels by Lynn Flewelling that follows the adventures of two Loveable Rogues and their friends and allies.

A 16-year-old orphan named Alec is imprisoned and tortured for a crime he didn't commit. But just as he's starting to welcome the idea of his inevitable death, he is made to share his cell with the real criminal — a man named Seregil, who breaks them both out of their prison. Seregil, a spy/thief for hire, recognizes the innate thieving skills Alec possesses, and offers to take him on as his apprentice. Alec accepts, and is immediately drawn into deadly intrigues, an impending war, and a secret society of spies and wizards.


Seven books and a short stories anthology have been published so far. The second book is a sequel to the first, and the remaining are standalone. The seventh is supposedly the final book in the series.

  • Luck in the Shadows (1996)
  • Stalking Darkness (1997)
  • Traitor's Moon (1998)
  • Shadows Return (2008)
  • Glimpses (2010), short stories anthology
  • The White Road (2010)
  • Casket of Souls (2012)
  • Shards of Time (2014)

Flewelling has also written a spinoff, the Tamír Triad, set in the same universe during a different time period (roughly six hundred years earlier).

This series is not to be confused with the more recent Night Runner, which is about vampires.


This series provides examples of:

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Queen Gherilain the First was crowned at sixteen, and so was her descendant Queen Tamír the Great. In the series proper, Princess Elani takes the throne at sixteen as well, after her aunt Phoria is killed in battle.
  • A Lighter Shade of Gray: Both Skala and Plenimar have no qualms to use war to further their interests, can be/are ruled by overly ambitious or incompetent rulers, use gruesome punishments, and are plagued with intrigues. However, the Skalans are presented as being more chivalrous and humane towards war prisoners and civilians, whereas slavery is well and alive in Plenimar and the Plenimaran soldiers are universally cruel.
  • Above Good and Evil: The Four Gods, who patronise both good and bad things (e.g. Illior/Aura gives light and knowledge but is a patron of thieves and madness; Sakor guards the hearth and brings the sun but favours Blood Knights etc). Also how rulership in Skala is decided: the Immortals only cares that the ruler is a Queen from King Thelátimos' bloodline, not whether she's a good or bad leader. Even if a man usurps the throne for (ostensibly) good reasons, Bad Things will happen.
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  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewage system of Rhíminee, according to the design of Queen Tamír the Great. From Stalking Darkness: "Why did they build it so big?" "So that the poisonous humours that can collect do so overhead, and the air down here is good." (Paraphrased, natch.)
  • Action Girl: Beka, Princess Klia and many others. Being one is actually a requirement to be Queen of Skala, to the point where Queen Idrilain's second daughter (Princess Aralain) is not actually in the line of succession because she lacks military prowess.
  • Affably Evil: In Stalking Darkness, Alec reflects on how Duke Mardus keeps a soft and gentle tone as he tells him about the tortures and ritualistic murders he is planning on committing/ordering. Later in the series, Ulan í Sathil also falls under this trope.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Lerans, the Guardian.
  • Animorphism: Nysander in particular is fond of this kind of magic. His Intrinsic Nature spell changes a person into the animal that most reflects their personality. He also changes Alec and Seregil into owls at one point to save them from falling to their deaths.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. Alec in particular proves just how lethal a skilled archer can be. Also, the Plenimarans dip their arrowheads in feces, specifically with the intent of causing infected wounds. This is what leads to Queen Idrilain's death.
  • Babies Ever After: The seventh book ends with the birth of Tamír ä Klia, the daughter of Princess Klia and Thero.
  • Back from the Dead: Alec in the fourth book, courtesy of Sebrahn.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The comet from the second book, called a plague star.
  • Bastard Bastard: Duke Mardus is the bastard son of the old Plenimaran Overlord.
  • Battle Couple: Seregil and Alec. Beka and Nyal. Some others among the minor characters, such as Mirn and Steb.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The prophecy of the Guardian, the Shaft, the Vanguard, and the Guide.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Seregil for Alec.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Twice. The first shortly before the climax of Stalking Darkness, resolving the long lingering UST, the second in Shadows Return just before Alec gets killed.
  • Big Bad: Duke Mardus, the Overlord of Plenimar, Ulan í Sathil, Atre, Rhazat...
  • Black Speech: The language of Plenimar is reminiscent of this.
  • Blood Knight: In Skala, they are considered to be "Sakor touched". Many characters have mild elements of this trope like Beka, Klia, Myrhini, and even Micum.
  • Blood Magic: Necromancy, practiced by the Plenimaran elite. Mild variations (e.g. tracking people using their blood) are practiced by Orëska wizards, though it's generally frowned upon. The Aurënfaie completely shun blood magic.
  • Cain and Abel: Historically, there's Queen Lera, who tried to have her half-sister Corruthesthera murdered (unsuccessfully) several times. During the course of the series, it's suspected more than once that Phoria might be this towards her far more popular half-sister Klia, but nothing is ever proved conclusively.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Seregil has this as a chronic condition.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Because of their long lifespans, convoluted customs, religious absolutism and Byzantine politics, the Aurënfaie can keep a debate going for longer than most humans can endure. They can also hold grudges that outlast entire generations of humans.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Akhendi charm bracelets in Traitor's Moon. Also from the same book, the dragon bite that Thero receives in his scrotum. It cures his sterility (that all wizards suffer from) and he gets Princess Klia pregnant four books later.
  • The Clan: The various Aurënfaie clans, complete with hats in the form of headscarves.
  • Closet Key: Seregil is this for Alec.
  • Colonel Badass: Princess Klia, of course. She loves battle and is *very* good at it.
  • Comforting Comforter: Seregil to Alec.
  • Cool Big Sis: Adzriel to Seregil. Beka takes this role for Alec too, and it's implied her little sister Illia looks up to her that way.
  • Cool Uncle: Seregil to Micum's children. Akaien í Solun is this for Seregil himself. Princess Klia is a Cool Aunt to Princess Elani.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Nightrunners (as well as Watchers) cannot afford honourable fights. Seregil manages to instill this fighting philosophy to those he teaches (Alec and Beka).
  • Creepy Child: Sebrahn. He lives off Alec's blood, can cure any illness or injury and even bring people back from death, and kills men just by singing.
  • Cultured Badass: Seregil to a tee. Can fight like a demon and is a well known patron of arts, is well versed in gourmet food, and speaks a multitude of languages. He trains Alec to be the same. Also, the Skalan nobles and royalty that are in the army. They have the education that befits their status and plenty of badass skills.
  • Cunning Linguist: Seregil speaks Aurënfaie, Skalan, Plenimaran and some more living languages, as well as two or three ancient ones.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Micum and Kari's youngest daughter Illia is named after Seregil's late mother.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It would be easier to list the ones that do not indulge in this. Even High Queen type Idrilain cannot help herself when two forgers declare their loyalty to her after they had been linked to the Lerans. Seregil and Thero engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat any time they are in proximity to each other. One person who never snarks is the eternally good natured Nysander.
  • Death by Childbirth: Seregil's mother Illia died giving birth to him, which is partially responsible for his father Korit's coldness towards him.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Tym the thief has a healthy dose of respect and a smidge of loyalty toward Seregil after being defeated by him.
  • Disguised in Drag: Seregil in his Lady Gwethelyn persona is very convincing. Captain Rhal is very taken, and Alec finds him appealing even though he knows that Seregil is a man.
  • The Dragon: Vargûl Ashnazai for Duke Mardus.
  • Double Entendre: At one point in the second novel Seregil is asked by Alec why he is heading to a brothel specializing in males for males, after having just spent time in one of a more traditional variety. He replies by saying that "Fowl never tastes as savory when you're hungry for venison." Given that Alec's animal form is a deer...
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Ylinestra puts Alec (a sixteen-year-old boy) under a spell and has sex with him while he is under the influence. And yet everyone seems to treat it lightly. Seregil even debates whether he should tease Alec about it. Nysander is annoyed that Ylinestra would use magic on an unwilling subject. Alec is a bit upset, but gets over it in no time.
    • Ylinestra insisted that the sex was consensual and the unwilling magic was something she was doing afterwards, which Nysander stopped her from. Alec was more confused than upset. Nysander and Magyana both say that if she used magic to coerce him, that's wrong and should be punished, but they're not sure what really happened. Seregil's reaction is the odd one out, since Alec even admits he was bespelled and Seregil keeps chuckling over it. Alec himself notes that he felt dirtied by the experience and has no further desire to interact with Ylinestra afterward.
  • Driven to Suicide: In Stalking Darkness, when Alec is separated from Seregil and kidnapped by Mardus, he tries to kill himself and is suicidal for most of the "trip". He gets better, thankfully.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Seregil. Frequently. Generally focused on Alec.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Well, almost everyone. Skalans and the Aurënfaie don't even blink at same-sex relationships and nobody seems to question it if somebody has lovers of either gender. Seregil and Alec are both bisexual and people speculate that they are lovers long before they actually are, even though both have publicly been with women.
  • The Exile: Seregil. He was exiled from Aurënen after committing a crime that compromise his clan atui. In Traitor's Moon, when he temporarily goes back was a diplomatic envoy for Skala, everyone MUST call him The Exile instead of using his clan name.
  • Fantastic Racism: Many Aurënfaie consider themselves superior to Tírfaie (humans), in some parts of Aurënen half-breeds are treated with disdain, though this is not true of all clans. Conversely, the Plenimarans prize the Aurënfaie as slaves (and sacrifices for necromantic rites) and conduct slaving raids into Aurënen, as well as breeding 'faie slaves much as they would horses. Also, the Leran plots are based on the fact that the Skalan royal line has Aurënfaie blood. The Hâzadriëlfaie, though, take the cake on racism, although it is revealed that this is because they have more dragon blood than any other Aurënfaie clan, and can be used for some seriously messed up magic, hence why they strictly avoid the vast majority of other people, including other Aurënfaie.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The Four: Astellus the Traveler, Dalna the Maker, Illior the Lightbearer and Sakor of the Flame are the primary deities worshiped by the peoples of the Three Lands. However, many Plenimarans have taken to following a foreign god, Seriamaius, the Eater of Death and patron of Necromancers, in the hopes that he will bring their nation victory over Skala and Mycena. There are also minor gods, such as Bilairy, who guards the gate to the afterlife. The Aurënfaie are either henotheistic or monotheistic, worshiping only Aura (Illior) and none of the other gods.
  • Fingore: Princess Klia loses two fingers after being poisoned during the third book.
  • Foreshadowing: In Casket of Souls, Thero's thoughts after watching a play:
    Thero found himself seated between the dark-haired beauty, Merina, and the pretty young woman named Tanni, who'd played the wizard’s daughter - another inconsistency, that, since Orëska wizards were always barren.
    • In the following book, guess which wizard ends up fathering a daughter of his own?
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Seregil and Thero in Luck in the Shadows.
  • Friend to All Children: Alec, all over the place. Micum also has a very soft spot for children, thanks to being a father of five.
  • Functional Magic: Multiple varieties. Inherent Gift magic is standard with the Aurënfaie. The human Third Orëska wizards combine this with Rule Magic. Theurgy is employed by the Drysians and the Rhui'auros. Necromantic Arts are popular in Plenimar. Alchemy is studied by some wizards, and there are also dedicated specialists to this magical discipline. Magic Music is practiced by centaurs and the human Retha'noi mountain people.
  • Gayngst: Happens to Seregil when he falls in love with Micum, and, decades later, Alec.
  • Gentleman Thief: Seregil.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The ancient dyrmagnos Rhazat appears as a beautiful woman by literally wearing the necromantically transferred skin that she flayed off Nhandi the Wise, the last Hierophant.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Seregil and Alec at the end of book seven. And BOY do they have reason to be glad.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Amusingly, Seregil and Thero have this dynamic. Seregil is good-looking and sociable whereas Thero is serious and bookish. They compete for Nysander's attention and always try to one-up each other.
  • God of Evil: Seriamaius. Worshipped with torture and human sacrifice. His eventual goal is to strip the bones of the world.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Phoria seems to be a mild version of one. She loves war, hates the sister by a different father who rivals her in popularity and thus can aim for the throne, bullies her weaker siblings, does not listen to perfectly sound advice if it goes against her perceptions. Also seems unable to see the bigger picture and long term consequences.
    • A more classic example is the historical Queen Lera (who the Lerans take their name from), who according to Seregil had more people executed during her 18-year reign than any other queen in the history of Skala.
  • Going Native: Seregil, an Aurënfaie, can blend in almost anywhere in human territory, and is particularly knowledgeable about Rhíminee life. He's also completely adapted to the human way of thinking and action, to the point that other 'faie in Aurënen find him strange.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Seregil and Micum (good) have many on their bodies from their long adventuring careers and show them to Alec. Duke Mardus (evil) also has one on his otherwise handsome face.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Seriamaius. Other than appearing in prophetic dreams he is more of a driving force for the various Big Bads than an actual character.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Slightly subverted. Seregil already has an eye on Alec at that point and is very aware of it, but too concerned about exploiting Alec to act on his attraction. Still, him being jealous when a male prostitute gets touchy-feely with Alec is new (but then again, it takes a good while for Seregil to admit that he is in love and not just in lust). However, during this same scene, Alec likewise finds himself jealous of the men around Seregil and starts to question his own feelings.
  • Groin Attack: Thero is bitten on the scrotum by a dragon in the third book. This becomes relevant for the plot four books later.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Alec, half 'faie on his mother's side. The wizard Magyana is also mentioned in passing as having had an Aurënfaie father.
  • Happily Married: Micum and Kari, Seregil and Alec (or, well, happily talímenios-bonded), Beka and Nyal and, by the end, Thero and Klia.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Subverted with Alec's master Yhakobin in Shadows Return who expects Alec to be calm and cheerful at the prospect of a life as a test subject for his alchemic endeavours. And then there's his pet slave Khenir aka Ilar í Sontir who will be freed soon and is happy at the prospect... but it still ends up a solid case B. Most 'faie slaves are either a type B or C and, in general, let's just say Mrs. Flewelling gets the point across that slavery is shit no matter how kind a slave owner deems themselves to be.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: The Functional Magic levels in this world are fairly high and magic can be readily used to, for example, transform people into animals or even inanimate objects. But healing is rarely a quick fix affair. In particular, it is not always effective at curing diseases or poisoning. Hence the incredible value of a successfully created rhekaro.
  • Helping Hands: The hands of the dyrmagnos Tikárie Megraesh.
  • Heroic BSoD: Happens to Alec when he thinks Seregil is dead in Stalking Darkness. Also happens to Seregil after Nysander's death in the same book.
  • High Priest: The ancient Hierophants were effectively priest kings/queens of the early Three Lands and leaders of the worship of the Four. In modern times, the individual gods have their own High Priests in each nation. Averted with the Aurënfaie, whose Rhui'auros are the most committed clergy of Aura (Illior), but are mystics that have little to do with regular society.
  • The High Queen: Historically, there's Gherilain the First and Tamír the Second/the Great, and Idrilain the Second during the series. Princess Klia also has shades of this.
  • Honor Before Reason: Of all people Seregil, throughout almost all of Traitor's Moon. Granted, he acts this way to prove to the Aurënfaie that he does have honor, in spite of what they think of him, and hopes to get his exile lifted - but when it includes letting himself being beaten up by a hostile party without even defending himself or returning to face an almost certain death sentence after running away - to do the RIGHT thing and prevent a war - because his honor says so - we really side with Alec and Nyal and all the folks who call Seregil out on it. And they are many.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Alec's mother Ireya ä Shaar was murdered by her own brothers for breaking the law and becoming pregnant with a half-human child. Alec's father Amasa kills them in revenge shortly afterward.
  • Honorary Uncle: Seregil to Micum's children. Alec later becomes this to the younger ones (as he's quite close in age to Beka and Elsbet, they see him more as a brother figure of sorts).
  • Hufflepuff House: Mycena, the middle of the Three Lands, which is the main battleground between Skala and Plenimar. Despite the extensive development given to heroic Skala and evil Plenimar, as well as to Aurënen, very little is said about Mycena other than that they are mostly a Proud Merchant Race.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Ulan í Sathil is revealed to be suffering from this, and it motivates his involvement with the Plenimaran alchemist Yhakobin, who is working to create a rhekaro, a magical creature with extraordinary healing powers. The experiment is a success, but Ulan never manages to benefit from it.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Alec, to underline his innocence despite his aptitude to be a spy.
  • Infant Immortality: Both averted early on and later played straight in Stalking Darkness. And in Casket of Souls, there are dozens of children among Atre's numerous victims.
  • It's All My Fault: Seregil. Often.
  • It's Not You, It's Me / It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Seregil tries this on Alec at the end of the second novel. It doesn't fly.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Alec with Ylinestra, who is wearing an enchanted perfume that makes her more desirable to men.
  • Lady of War: Practically obligatory in the matriarchal monarchy of Skala. Even when not in armor or military uniform, the female Skalan royals (and many of the nobility) are not to be underestimated, as most have extensive combat training and experience. Teenage Princess Elani greatly enjoys working archery contests, hunting or sword practice into her courtly activities much more than lounging about gossiping.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Subverted. Interestingly, it does somewhat resemble Europe, but from a Greco-Roman perspective. The civilized nations are mostly concentrated on landmasses extending from the south of the continent with the Gathwayd Ocean stretching beyond and other (unnamed) nations on its far shores. Heading north, east or west, takes one into unsettled, barbarian or just flat-out mysterious territories.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Seregil and Alec. Most Aurënfaie, really.
  • Long-Lived/Wizards Live Longer: Aurënfaie and the Orëska wizards (who have Aurënfaie ancestry anyway) can live up to five hundred years or so. It is unclear if other magic users have extended lifespans as well, although necromancers may live on for centuries as undead creatures.
  • Love Potion: The enchantment spell Ylinestra uses on Alec in the second book. She also wears a magically alluring perfume at all times. It is enthralling to men and sickening to women.
  • Loveable Rogue: The whole idea behind the series.
  • Lover and Beloved: The relationship between Seregil and Alec. It causes Seregil a good amount of angst.
  • MacGuffin: The various items that make up the Helm.
  • Mad Oracle: The human Oracle of Illior and the Aurënfaie Rhui'auros, both of whom follow the same god of magic, knowledge and madness.
  • Magic Pants: Averted frequently, much to Alec's embarrassment.
  • Mangst: Seregil, oh gods, Seregil! It drives Alec, and pretty much everyone else, crazy at times.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ilar.
  • Master of Disguise: Seregil. The wizards also have a nifty spell that changes people's appearances.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Beka and Nyal, and later on Thero and Klia.
  • Mind Rape: Vargûl Ashnazai's preferred method of torture.
  • Modest Royalty: Up to Eleven, to the point where only one of the royals that gets screen time seems to wear finery. The rest have a strong preference for military uniform.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Alec.
  • Never My Fault: Ilar blames Seregil for him being enslaved because Seregil inadvertently killed someone instead of just causing an embarrassment for his clan as planned. Nevermind that Seregil was very young and naive and manipulated into the whole thing by Ilar himself and that the slavery was orchestrated by Ulan, the person behind the plot to cause scandal for Seregil's clan.
  • No Biological Sex: Sebrahn and all other rhekaros. Also, the Four Gods, who are each said to be either or both genders.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Ashnazai is killed, the magical barriers he put in place are weakened.
  • No Sense of Direction: Though being an expert tracker in the wood, Alec tends to get lost in big cities. However, he will learn the way after enough time.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Iia'sidra. As a fairly large nation where a significant chunk of the population can use magic, Aurënen could easily be the dominant power in the region, eclipsing any or all of the Three Lands. But the many clan divisions and the contentious politics of the Iia'sidra tend to prevent the Aurënfaie from acting as a unified nation.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Seregil and Alec pretend to be cultured nobles who are nonetheless naive about politics as part of their cover.
  • Oh My Gods!:
    • "Illior's Finger!"
    • "Sakor's fist!"
    • "Bilairy's balls!"
    • "By the Maker!"
  • Old Retainer: Runcer, Seregil's butler, counts as this. Also, Lady Kassarie's servants from the first book.
  • Older Than They Look / Really 700 Years Old: The 'faie, and wizards. In Casket of Souls, we have Atre and his cousin Brader, who are several centuries old and keep themselves young by consuming people's souls.
  • One True Love: The novels aren't shy about letting the reader know that Seregil and Alec are essentially soulmates.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The young ones are as common as lizards in Aurënen, and roughly as intelligent. They do not become intelligent or develop magical powers until they reach a very large size and age, which only a few do.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Aurënfaie are typically very beautiful, live for several hundred years, and were the first beings to possess magic. However, Flewelling herself has expressed distaste for stereotypical elves. Thus, while the Aurënfaie are an entire race of Pretty Boys and Beautiful Girls, they do not possess such features as pointy ears and can pass for human with little effort. They also have a more diverse culture based on clans, many of which favor interests that in no way resemble "classic" elves, and even the clans appear to have some internal diversity. This surprises some characters.
    Seregil: You seemed to think we were all great mages or nectar-sipping fairy folk.
  • Our Gods Are Different: Lots of differences of opinion here. The Four: Astellus, Dalna, Illior and Sakor are the traditional deities of the Three Lands. However, Illior and Sakor are definitely favored in Skala, whereas people in Mycena and the northern regions prefer Astellus and Dalna. The ruling class of Plenimar, a nation in which most people worship the Four as well, instead favor the foreign god Seriamaius because of the power he promises. Meanwhile, the Aurënfaie exclusively worship Aura (Illior) and it appears to vary from person to person whether or not they even believe in the other gods. At the same time, the Retha'noi are quite adamant that their moon goddess (the Mother) is not the same deity as Aura/Illior.
  • Our Liches Are Different: The dyrmagnos are undead evil necromancers. They're almost impossible to kill, so the typical method of dealing with one is to cut it up into pieces and then scatter them far away from each other. Over centuries of time the (un)life will gradually fade from the pieces.
  • Outnumbered Sibling: Seregil has four older sisters. His father's desire for a son was the reason that led his mother to risk her life, having far more children than is the norm for Aurënfaie, eventually dying in childbirth.
  • Overly Long Name: In the south, a highborn person's name includes the given name, the names of same-sex parent, grandparent and great-grandparent, and place of birth, much to Alec's perplexity. The standard way of politely referring to someone would be e.g. "Seregil í Korit" or "Klia ä Idrilain". Alex has the abbreviated name of "Alec í Amasa Kerry" as he doesn't know all the names.
  • Parental Favoritism: Queen Idrilain clearly favored Klia over Phoria, a fact Phoria is very aware of.
  • Parental Abandonment: Seregil's father turned his back on him.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Queen Idrilain's second daughter Aralain is skipped over in the line of succession due to her non-martial nature.
  • Pretty Boy: Seregil is slender with long wavy hair and fine features, and he can pass as a beautiful woman with just a dress and some makeup. Also Alec, and most 'faie.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Seregil and Alec's relationship. Seregil even chooses to disbelieve a small portion of the Illorian Oracle's prophecy because he couldn't accept that he and Alec would end up together (despite being obviously attracted)
  • The Prophecy: A few. One is the very reason Skala is ruled by a line of warrior queens. Then there's the prophecy of Seriamaius's return that drives the plot of the first two books. And though they've never actually given a prophecy about him, it's clear the oracles at Sarikali have at least some knowledge of Seregil's future. There's also the prediction about Sebrahn that Alec misinterprets.
  • Prophetic Name: At the end of the last book, the only name that Thero and Klia manage to settle on for their daughter is Tamír. Which prompts Seregil to respond "the Third". Thero seems aware of it, since he has assigned several of the people he trusts the most to be his child's guardian after the jealous and bitchy Princess Aralain kicks up a fuss about the name, saying only ruling queens bore that name.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Well, almost everyone. Micum seems immune.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: Aurënfaie, Aurënen, Orëska, Rhui'auros, etc.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Alec is incensed when he discovers that the first house Seregil has him burgle is Seregil's own.
    • Seregil himself isn't too pleased that his beloved mentor Nysander is very cagey about the meaning of the symbol on the disc that nearly gets him and Alec killed, going as far as threatening to kill him if he tries to uncover the mystery. Later Seregil has an even nastier shock when it turns out that Nysander plans to get himself killed by Seregil's hand to permanently destroy the Helm.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Queen Idrilain, who executes traitors without mercy but would listen to advice and petition. Likewise, her eldest son Prince Korathan, despite being very loyal to his twin sister Phoria, does recognise and employ people who genuinely want to work for the good of Skala.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: The choice Seregil gives Alec at the very beginning.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Let's see now...
    • Book two: Seregil and Alec
    • Book four: Beka and Nyal
    • Book six: Klia and Thero
  • Religion Is Magic: The drysians that serve as clergy of Dalna have magic that is separate from the Orëska magic that humans received from crossbreeding with the Aurënfaie. The high priestess of Illior is shown as unleashing a magical attack at one point, and there are also oracles who receive prophetic insights. The Aurënfaie Rhui'auros are explicitly called "wizard-priests". Necromancy is supposedly the gift of the god Seriamaius, and most necromancers worship him. However, their rituals lean more towards Blood Magic, Summon Magic and manipulation of Life Energy than directly invoking their deity for magic.
  • Rescue Romance: Alec and Seregil. The rescuing is mutual.
  • Rich Bitch: Plenty of the female nobles, but especially Princess Aralain.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Lord Seregil and Sir Alec of Ivywell, the personas used for moving among nobles.
  • The Rival: Thero to Seregil, for Nysander's affection and recognition. They become friends later on.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The entire Skalan royal family. The Queen is also a general, as is the Princess Royal. In fact, each of her six children (bar one) is in the army, and half of them die on the field of battle.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Rhazat, the ancient dyrmagnos who brought the art of necromancy and the worship of Seriamaius to the Three Lands. The last Hierophant and her Aurënfaie wizard lover imprisoned her in a Pocket Dimension that mirrored the sacred isle of Kouros. The creation of the prison triggered a cataclysm that caused the island to be virtually abandoned for a long time. But then simple natural erosion broke the magical seal on the Kouros side of the barrier, allowing Rhazat to begin to exert influence on the island, which was once again inhabited and recently reclaimed by Skala, and prepare to make her escape.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Beka looks pretty in a dress.
    • Alec and Seregil use this trope to their advantage when playing different personas.
  • Shoot the Dog: Nysander's death.
  • Sole Survivor: Baby Luthas is the only (human) survivor of Mardus and Vargûl Ashnazai's attack on the Cockerel in the second book.
  • Spy Fiction: Mostly of the Stale Beer flavor.
  • The Spymaster: Nysander and later Magyana (for a short while) and Thero, who manages an intelligence network known as the "Watchers". It's a hereditary post passed from master to disciple, and the Watchers are active well beyond Skala borders. They work not only to uncover political plots but also to collect scholarly knowledge.
  • Squishy Wizard: Subverted. Nysander survives an all-out assault on the Orëska House to take part in the final battle of the second book, although he is badly weakened. Thero survives a deadly poison almost all by his own power. He even says it to the effect of "Why do you think wizards live so long? Because we're hard to destroy".
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Alec's parents, Ireya ä Shaar and Amasa of Kerry.
  • Stern Chase: The first half of Luck in the Shadows.
  • The Stoic: Rieser the Hâzad is a hardcore stoic.
  • Street Urchin: A whole network of them in Rhíminee.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Thryis and her family in Stalking Darkness.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Seregil.
  • Taking the Bullet: Or rather, the arrow, near the end of Shadows Return.
  • Tempting Fate: Every time Seregil declares himself bored some horrendous disaster happens soon after.
    • At the end of Shards of Time, Klia and Thero name their baby daughter Tamír, after Queen Tamír the Great. Seregil remarks "the Third" before Klia protests that little Tamír is far down the line of succession.
  • Thinking Up Portals: The most common use of the Translocation spell works this way, creating a portal through which people and objects can move. This is because it is based on an older spell that created a "window" between two distant locations for the purposes of remote viewing and communication.
  • Time Abyss: Applies to all of the dyrmagnos, necromancers turned into extremely long-lived, dried out, black husks. The prime example would be Rhazat, at an age of over 1000 years. She's the mother of necromancy, having brought the art to Plenimar in the first place.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: Most of the Aurënfaie and many humans with 'faie ancestors exhibit some Inherent Gift. It is usually very minor, unless they work to develop proficiency with it. The Third Orëska of Skala actively seeks children with magical potential and recruits them as apprentice wizards.
  • Twincest: Seregil has this suspicion regarding Phoria and Korathan. However, there's no other evidence that this might go beyond strong loyalty and affection. Phoria is known to have had Lord Barien the Viceregent as a lover, and was deeply affected by his suicide in the first book, while Korathan has had a fair share of young (and apparently exclusively male) lovers throughout the years. Phoria's apparent jealousy over Korathan and Seregil being lovers decades before might stem from simple disapproval of his influence on her brother.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Most of the prostitutes/courtesans from the Street of Lights fit this trope. They make rather a lot in terms of cash and gifts from their patrons, who are mostly nobles or rich merchants and are free to selectively pick and choose who they will take as clients. There are, however, regular prostitutes patronized by the lower classes who do not fit this trope.
  • The Vamp: Ylinestra, who is very into young Pretty Boys and powerful older wizards. Generally at the same time. Consent is optional in her opinion, as she readily uses her magic to aid in seduction and is also seeking to gather knowledge from some of her targets. In Alec's case this involves having sex with him while he's under her spell and then trying to use additional magic to question him.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: As a child, Seregil always tries to please his father who he thinks blames him for his mother's death in childbirth and thus is always cold and critical toward him. It proves to have disastrous consequences. Seregil retains a bit of this trait in his affection for Nysander.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Seregil, by Aurënfaie standards. The 'faie typically not only live longer but also mature more slowly than humans. At around 60 years old, Seregil would only be considered a young adult in Aurënen. However, Seregil's life in Skala, especially his spy career, has provided him with quite a lot of life experience. Likewise, Alec is advised not to mention his actual age when visiting Aurënen, since he would literally be regarded as a child, despite being almost an adult by Skalan standards.
  • Wizarding School: The Orëska House, of course.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Most if not all of the villains, but especially Atre from the sixth book, who keeps his youth by consuming the souls of numerous unfortunate people, a great many of which are children.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Book one, chapter one.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Duke Mardus leaves quite a lot of corpses in his wake, eliminating anyone and everyone who could possibly provide a clue as to his activities and plans. Even his own soldiers and necromancers are not exempt, whether he arranges their deaths himself or somebody else kills them.


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