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Princess Dennaleia of Havemont is sent off to Maynaria, as has been planned for her since she was just a girl, in an arranged marriage. There she will marry Prince Thandilimon, bringing their respective countries closer. However, when she arrives, Dennaleia finds herself drawn to his sister, Amaranthine (known as "Mare") a rebellious tomboy.
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The two become closer while Mare, a keen equestrian, is teaching Dennaleia how to ride. Dennaleia is not only soon troubled due to her attraction toward Mare, but her secret magic (which Maynaria forbids). Meanwhile, a violent plot to bring down the Maynarian government emerges that endangers them both.

Written by Audrey Coulthurst, Of Fire and Stars was her debut, published in 2016. A sequel entitled Of Ice and Shadow, followed in 2019 which continued Dennaleia and Mare's story. She's said a third novel which wraps the two's story up will follow someday.

Her book Inkmistress is set in the same universe, but unconnected with the plot of these novels.

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Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Mare mentally recalls that her father would hit her after she'd cry at night when her mother died, as she kept him awake.
  • Action Girl:
    • Tomboy Mare is a skilled equestrian and archer, including having enough ability to fire while riding.
    • Dennaleia slowly grows into one over the course of the story too as she gets better at her magic while getting more proactive, including rescuing Mare from her kidnappers.
  • Aerith and Bob: The books have largely invented names, with a few real ones like Tristan mixed in.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Dennaleia thinks of her sister Alisendi as Ali.
    • Thandilimon is called Thandi by his family, and he encourages Dennaleia to do the same.
    • Casmiel, Mare and Thandi's paternal uncle, is nicknamed Cas.
    • When they become closer, Mare nicknames Dennaleia Denna, which she likes.
  • Amicable Exes: Mare was best friends with Nils before they became lovers. They remain that close after as well.
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  • Animal Eye Spy: Tamers can see through the eyes of their animal familiars.
  • Animate Dead: Tristan's gift of shadow magic enables this, raising recently deceased soldiers for temporary cannon fodder.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: Most people in Mynaria believe that Magic is Evil, and forbid it. The fundamentalists especially are vehement about this.
  • Arranged Marriage: Princess Dennaleia from Havemont has been betrothed to Prince Thandilimon of Mynaria, with the plot beginning as she goes there. She's dutiful, having known it's expected from her since childhood, but it becomes increasingly clear Dennaleia's a lesbian, becoming attracted to his tomboy sister Mare instead. In fact, the marriage had been arranged when she was just six.
  • Background Magic Field: Everywhere has ambient magic, which is concentracted by certain buildings specifically constructed to do this. It's stated that if magic isn't used enough in a given area, mages there will often find their spells going out of control, with dire results.
  • Ban on Magic: Mynarians mostly believe Magic is Evil, considered treason, so it's outlawed there. The Recusants, who think otherwise and are mostly magic users, have been rebelling against this law increasingly which has caused violent outbreaks.
  • Bar Brawl: One breaks out in a tavern where Mare and Nils are, with fundamentalists vs Recusants over Mynaria's Ban on Magic.
  • The Beastmaster: Tamers are able to turn nearby animals on intruders in their land and make them familiars.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Thandilimon catches Dennaleia, who's engaged to him, in bed with his sister on the morning after they'd finally slept together.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Mare creates something similar, a ladder made of ropes and old horse halters, which lets her climb into Dennaleia's bedchamber.
  • Berserk Button: Mare is extremely fond of her horse Flicker. After her brother Thandilimon sells him without asking her, she calls off her wedding with Lord Kriantz, as he went along with it, throws a glass of wine at her brother and chews him out.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: After their mutual Love Confession, which follows their development throughout the first book, Dennaleia and Mare finally kiss passionately.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lord Kriantz seems like a good and reasonable man at first. It turns out he's the first book's villain who was responsible for the plot and its results the entire time as well.
  • Blood Magic: Queen Invasya used a blood ritual to gain her magic, rather than having made a bond with a god. This set a precedent-her people started doing it widely, and not worshiping the gods at all.
  • Blow You Away: Air is a common elemental Affinity. It can be used for moving things, hitting people and even kill them through sucking the air from their lungs.
  • Braids of Action: Tomboy Action Girl Mare often puts her hair in a single braid.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Mare's father the king and his advisors refuse to believe it when she uncovers facts indicating Zumorda isn't responsible for the attacks, barely listening at all, which infuriates her.
    • Later on, Thandilimon refuses to listen when Dennaleia reveals that Lord Kriantz murdered Nils, kidnapped Mare and is behind magical attacks on his family to get them into a war with Zumorda for his own gain. It doesn't help how her fire magic erupts at that very moment as a result of her high emotions, while it's banned in the country and not surprisingly he thinks that she's really behind those attacks.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Spells require part of the mages' energy, so the more they cast (or if these have greater power) it drains them progressively.
  • Challenging the Chief: In order to become monarch of Zumorda, a person must defeat three successive champions and then the current monarch herself.
  • The Charmer: Nils is apparently quite popular with the ladies. Mare teases him about his conquests, noting in amusment that he's surprised when Dennaleia pays no attention, as it's one of the times that a woman has not. He's a kind man who treats everyone like they matter equally, which is how he woos them (though his good looks of course help).
  • Closet Key: Dennaleia realizes over time due to falling for Mare that she's a lesbian, explicity stating she'd never known what attraction or love were earlier.
  • Coming of Age Story: Dennaleia and Mare are in their late teens when the story begins. Their arcs focus on growing into womanhood as both of them hone their individual abilities and fall for each other, becoming a couple against what their families wish.
  • Common Tongue: People in Havemort and Mynaria appear to speak the same language. However, Zumordans don't. Instead they communicate with them via a language named Tradespeech, presumably one used by traders that developed from international commerce.
  • Constantly Curious: In Zumorda Mare meets a thirteen year old girl named Fadeyka who's prone to following her around asking long streams of questions.
  • Cool Uncle: Casmiel, called Cas, is Thandi and Mare's paternal uncle, along with advising their father (his brother) who's the king. He's far more laidback and reasonable by far than their father. Mare in particular is much closer to him, as he tolerates her rebellious behaviors, as he realizes they can be useful (e.g. intelligence is brought back from her ventures into the city).
  • Damsel in Distress: Mare is kidnapped near the end of the first book, with Dennaleia rescuing her using her magic.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Shadow magic involves, among other things, being able to shadow walk and raise corpses which can serve as the mage's servants. However, this isn't portrayed as inherently evil, and the shadow mage in the books is definitely good.
  • Deceptive Legacy: It turns out the woman Dennaleia thought was her grandmother wasn't by blood. Her maternal grandmother actually was Zumordan, a handmaiden of her legal mother who bore her as she wasn't able to get pregnant. This was kept secret, as this would threaten the legitimacy of her own children later when she wed Dennaleia's father, the king. It's indicated that Dennaleia inherited magical ability from her Zumordan ancestors.
  • De-power:
    • Peaceroot is a plant that can be used to prevent mages from doing magic if they're drugged with it, but this has nasty side effects like horrible headaches and necrosis that starts at the digits before spreading over time the more it's taken.
    • Sigvar, a cult leader in a Zumordan village, also gets his ability to do magic permanently removed after nearly enslaving the country's queen into his Hive Mind cult through removing his horns when he's in his deer form.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Dennaleia starts manifesting this Affinity after she initially has only fire, doing things such as breaking cobblestones accidentally when her emotions are strong.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Dennaleia is so stunned by how beautiful Mare looks with her hair elegantly coiffed, wearing a lovely gown, that she's barely able to notice anything else.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Dennaleia telling Mare she has an Affinity is much like someone coming out as LGBT+ (it's made pretty ironic since they love each other, with the revelation about that soon following), and she's overjoyed at Mare's acceptance of her.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Mare does not like being called by her full name Amaranthine, and especially not “Princess” and "Your Highness".
  • Elective Monarchy: Lord Endalan Kriantz of Sonnenborne says he was elected as the ruler of the tribes under his banner.
  • Elemental Powers: Magic is divided into different Affinities, which includes those for air, earth, fire and water magic. It also adds less common elements of shadow and spirit.
  • Emotional Powers: At first Dennaleia's magic only works when she's feeling strong emotions, though also without control over them.
  • Energy Absorption: Spells cost part of the mages' energy, which they can restore quickly through draining some from the surrounding area or another person.
  • False Flag Operation: Lord Kriantz framed the Zumordans for attacks against the Mynorian government, so that they'd go to war with him against Zumorda, winning land he wants.
  • Familiar: Tamers bond to animals with their magic.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Mynarians mostly loathe and fear mages. They ban use of magic as a result.
    • Zumordans, on the other hand, are almost universally mages. They view muggles as inferior people, viewing them with contempt.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: People in Havemont and Mynaria generally worship the Six Gods, who represent the classical elements (earth, fire, water, wind) but shadow and spirit as well. However, they have different opinions about some things, as the Havemontians hold the fire god is highest. Mynarians though think the wind god is supreme. Also, while magic is deemed a gift from the gods in Havemont, most people from Mynaria view it as evil, and it's banned there. Each god has different symbols and prayers. It later transpires there's a seventh god, whose nature has not been revealed yet.
  • Forced to Watch: Mare can only watch in anguish as her best friend Nils is killed before her eyes as she's held back, preventing her from coming to help him.
  • Frame-Up: Someone frames Zumorda by having an assassin attack the king of Mynaria with a dagger bearing their symbol. Dennaleia, however, recognizes it's fake since the dagger wasn't made in the way they use.
  • The Fundamentalist: Mynarian fundamentalists dogmatically loathe mages and fight the Recusants, who worship magic (with some having it) uncompromisingly.
  • Gender Is No Object:
    • Mynaria uses female guards, without indicating it's at all uncommon, among commoner women anyway. Noblewomen seem expected to stay in more feminine roles, with Mare (a princess) rebelling against this, to her family's despair.
    • Zumorda also has this, from soldiers right up to the queen and other government officials right under her being women.
  • The Gift: Affinities are generally inborn abilities certain people get to use specific Elemental Powers, which many consider a gift from the gods. Few get more than one Affinity; it's considered highly dangerous when someone does (like Dennaleia) becaues they're difficult to control together.
  • Good Parents: Dennaleia's mother believes and supports her when no one else but Mare will, trusting her when she breaks off her engagement to Thandilimon.
  • Grew a Spine: Dennaleia starts out as a very demure, obedient Proper Lady. Falling in love with tomboy Mare, along with embracing her illicit magic, inspires Dennaleia to stand up and defy those opposing both these things.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: In a reversal from the usual connotations, the two protagonists reflect this. Redhead Mare is rebellious, less friendly and bolder. Denneleia, a brunette, is kinder, more dutiful and isn't very confident starting out in the story.
  • Heir Club for Men: Mare's father, the king of Mynaria, believes the succession should pass from father to son, so he made her brother Thandilimon his heir instead of her. She's fine with this, having no wish to be queen with all the burdens being the monarch brings.
  • The Heretic: In Mynaria, the Recusants are a dissident sect who, unlike the majority, not only view magic as good but revere it (it's apparently made up mostly of magic users). Though the majority are told Recusants don't believe in the Six Gods, this turns out to be false-they believe magic is their gift. It leads to increasing violent conflict with the Mynarian fundamentalists.
  • Holding Hands: Dennaleia and Mare start doing this when both are beginning to move from friendship into romantic/sexual attraction for each other.
  • Horse Archer: Mare is skilled enough at both horse riding and archery that she's this. She trains other people to shoot from the saddle too.
  • Horsing Around: Mare's horses all have their quirks, including some that will bite people if they don't realize them. The very first scene sees her trying to rein her brother's horse in while she acts up, and Dennaleia gets knocked down. Dennaleia is later bitten by another horse as a result of her ignorance, with Mare tending to her.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Dennaleia, whom it's made increasingly clear is only attracted to women, has long been betrothed to Prince Thandilimon of Mynaria. To conform, she'd once pretended that one boy interested her when growing up with her sister. Once he started courting another boy, she got teased for her "loss" by her sister.
  • Interclass Friendship: Mare's best friend is Nils, a commonor liegeman who was formerly her lover as well, while she's a princess.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Denneleia is a Nice Girl who wants to help others and she's more innocent. Mare, a rebellious tomboy, isn't very friendly starting out and she's much worldlier.
  • Lipstick Lesbian:
    • Dennaleia is a demure and feminine girl who adheres to what's expected from women, usually wearing different beautiful dresses. She's attracted to Mare, the sister of her fiance, and shows no desire for men. Over time she gets tougher, though her style doesn't change.
    • Ellaeni, her lady-in-waiting, it turns out also was seeing another woman who'd been the chief cook on the ship which took her to Lyrra, with much the same feminine style as Dennaleia's.
  • Longing Look: Dennaleia finds herself staring at Mare longingly when she's in a beautiful gown with her hair done. Mare notices it and likes this.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Queen Invasya of Zumorda it turns out is related to Dennaleia (whose maternal grandmother had been Zumordan) through her son who had lived in Havemont, Dennaleia's home country. This probably makes her Dennaleia's great or great-great-grandmother. She learns the queen wants her to be her heir later.
  • Love Confession: Dennaleia confesses that she loves Mare near the end of the first book, who says this back and kisses her.
  • Love Epiphany: Dennaleia finally realizes she loves Mare near the end of the first book. Mare also does after this. A mutual Love Confession soon follows, along with The Big Damn Kiss.
  • Magical Weapon:
    • Cas is killed with a white arrow which unneringly struck him from a very long distance and difficult spot due to an enchantment on it.
    • Zumordan weapons also have enchantments that a person with an Affinity can sense simply by touching them, and show others by a specific Magical Gesture.
  • Magic is Evil: Mynarians believe this generally, except for Recusants, as they worship it.
  • The Magic Goes Away: In the region the story's set at least, progressively fewer mages have been born over time, with suspicion of magic increasing as muggles have less experience of this to dispel false negative perceptions. By the present, some countries like Mynaria have banned it entirely due to prejudice, forcing the remaining mages underground.
  • Magic Knight: Zumordan soldiers commonly fight with both magic and ordinary weapons.
  • Magic Mirror: Farspeaking can be done using a mirror or other reflective surface like liquid to show a person across long distances.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Princesses Dennaleia, a very feminine lesbian, and Mare, a firm tomboy who's bisexual, become a couple.
  • Master Archer: Mare is a crack shot with her bow, easily hitting every bullseye (while shooting from her horse as well).
  • Master of Illusion: Illusions that are so realistic they can't easily be distinguished from reality can be created with magic, specifically the Affinity for shadow.
  • Meaningful Name: Mare, a horse trainer and keen equestrian, is very much aware of what her nickname means, having chosen it to describe herself.
  • Muggles: In some countries, like Mynaria, magic is rare, feared and banned. Zumorda, though, has magic be ubiquitous and people without it, called vakos, viewed as inferiors whom they treat with contempt.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance: Mare has no magic, while Dennaleia struggles with her emerging ability. When she tells Mare (whose country bans magic), she accepts Dennaleia and keeps it their secret. However, even as the pair's relationship grows, Dennaleia's struggles to control her magic drive them apart for some time.
  • Mundane Utility: In Zumorda, magic is ubiquitous enough that people even use it for minor things such as making animated brooms sweep all on their own. They also frequently wander around in different assumed animal forms.
  • Nay-Theist: Zumordans almost universally stopped worshiping the gods after they found a different means of doing magic than bonding with them, resulting in ancient temples being abandoned. They don't deny that the gods exist, but just think they're useless, being somewhat disdainful toward people that do worship them.
  • Nice Girl: Dennaleia is a kind, sweet girl who just wants to help others. She does harm people in a couple cases, but it always is either while protecting herself, Mare or due to being manipulated. Dennaleia's always shocked at herself over doing so too.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: Same-sex attraction is highly open in Havemont, Mynaria, and Zumorda because no bats an eye when it's mentioned (unless they're with someone else), couples marrying as well if they wish. The only exception appears to be for royal arranged marriages with the aim of getting heirs.
  • Oh, My Gods!: The Sixth Hell is often invoked (apparently the worst one, while presumably linked with one of the Six Gods worshiped in the story).
  • One Head Taller: Dennaleia says that Thandilimon, her fiance, and his sister Mare (whom she's in love with) tower over her.
  • Opposites Attract: Girly Girl Dennaleia and Tomboy Mare become attracted to each other.
  • Outdoorsy Gal: Mare is a tomboy who loves horses and archery, frequently practicing both while training others as well outside.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mare lost her mother as a young girl, and it's made clear she misses her deeply. She mentions the only thing besides caring for horses she's good at was singing. As a child, she'd sing with her mother, but hasn't ever since she died. Later, her father is also assassinated.
  • Parents as People: Dennaleia realizes near the end of the first book that her mother is just a flawed person doing the best she can with what's been given to her, having never truly seen her that way before. She proves herself a good mother by standing with Dennaleia, giving her the support and love that's needed.
  • Place of Power: Many sanctuaries and temples had been built possessing specifications which amplify magic's strength. At the High Adytum in Zumorda, legendary enchantments have been cast.
  • Playing with Fire: Dennaleia has been able to manipulate fire since she was small, which her mother ascribed to a gift from the fire god. She must keep it secret however in Mynaria, where people mostly believe Magic is Evil, with it being banned there.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Mare and Dennaleia, both princesses (of opposite kinds), become heavily involved with Mynaria's politics, then those in Zumorda later, to stop threats against them.
  • Power Incontinence: Dennaleia doesn't fully control her magic, so when Mare (whom Dennaleia's attracted to) is wounded by an assassin, this results in her inadvertently burning him from the inside out as it's unleashed.
  • The Power of Love: Dennaleia, whose magic still operates via emotions then, utilizes her love for Mare to focus it so she can rescue her.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: Dennaleia, a Princess Classic Girly Girl at first, becomes increasingly a dangerous combatent given her magic, which becomes more powerful the more she learns how to use it effectively.
  • Princess Classic: Dennaleia is a Nice Girl who's beautiful, with long hair, wears the beautiful dresses you'd expect, is demure, though she also wants to be politically involved (not just sit around court) to help others, and in a twist she's also a Lipstick Lesbian who's soon drawn to bisexual Tomboy Princess Mare, who's her fiance's sister.
  • Princess Protagonist: The protagonists Dennaleia and Mare are both princesses of different countries, with contrasting styles.
  • Proper Lady: Mare thinks of Dennaleia as this, and it fits her. Dennaleia is a demure, genteel Nice Girl who's 16, a Princess Classic strongly motivated to help others who is always well groomed in beautiful dresses, with dark hair and fair skin.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: Mare and Dennaleia's develops into this as they become closer, with them holding hands or lying affectionately on each other's bodies. In their case it's explicitly while the pair are also becoming attracted to each other.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Demigods and people bonded with magical creatures like dragons live much longer than others, two centuries or more, with slowed aging.
  • Rebellious Princess: Mare stoutly rejects the expectation that as a princess she'll marry to further the family, along with female gender norms overall in how she dresses and acts most times. She also has no desire to ever be a mother at all, which they expect of her. Frequently she goes off into the city to get intelligence with her friend and former lover Nils, which they would absolutely forbid for her safety if they knew.
  • Religion is Magic: Six Gods are worshiped, with six Affinities for magic which are linked to each one as Elemental Powers. Dennaleia also finds that her magic is stronger when she's using it in their Sanctuaries (i.e. temples). Later it turns out that magic is usually explicitly a result of someone having a bond with a god (mostly one, though in rare cases multiple ones).
  • Ring of Power: Lord Kriantz owns a gold ring which can make purple flames engulf things when turned in a specific way.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Dennaleia and Mare are both the protagonists, with every chapter moving alternately from each one to the other.
  • Second-Act Breakup: In the sequel Dennaleia and Mare break up over a misunderstandings that results from Dennaleia's uncontrollable magic.
  • Secret-Keeper: Mare keeps the fact Dennaleia has an Affinity secret after she tells her, at Dennaleia's plea, given Mynaria's Ban on Magic.
  • Semi-Divine: Demigods were once common in Zumorda. They live much longer than normal humans, though they're unable to have children of their own (so most adopt orphans). Most have Affinities that relate to whatever divine parent they have, though it varies just like mortals'. It turns out that Zhari is one, and Tristan's a quarter.
  • Shadow Walker: In the sequel Tristan, a Zumordan trainee guardian, can shadow walk. This involves traversing the shadowlands, a pitch black place. Because it's easier to move near where the dead lie, shadow walking usually occurs near them, so while inside a traveler can hear their voices, saying how they died and what their souls leaving the body felt like. Dennaleia of course finds it very unsettling going with him as a result.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Dennaleia and others are in awe of how good Mare looks in a beautiful gown with her hair elegantly coiffed. She's already good-looking, though usually doesn't spruce herself up, as a tomboy who isn't concerned with that. It's the very first time Mare did it too.
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT: Dennaleia and Mare, two young princesses, live in a world with powerful magic based on the elements. However, in Mare's country of Mynaria, magic is banned. Dennaleia has magic, and falls for Mare while she's struggling to control it. Their relationship too is forbidden-not as a result of both being girls (they come from societies wholly accepting of same-sex relationships), but since Dennaleia's engaged to Thandilimon, Mare's brother. Dennaleia pursuing both her magic and their relationship despite this are major arcs.
  • Spell Book: Dennaleia finds one the Mynarian library holds that was overlooked (as magic is banned there) from which she gets instruction to manage hers.
  • The Starscream: Zhari, grand vizier of Zumorda, tries to overthrow the queen and take over while allied to a group of the Sonnenbornes and Tamers. The queen is herself a ruthless and manipulative woman.
  • Superhuman Trafficking: In the sequel it turns out Zumordan children are being kidnapped and then enslaved for use of their magic by Sonnenbornes, as their people greatly lack mages. They convince themselves having this can make their desert country bloom once again.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: The Mynarians get ahold of an artifact that can detect if someone has magic. Following multiple attacks with spells on high officials, they start testing people using it, which dismays Dennaleia, who has magic. Also, mages can detect others with practice if they have moderate strength in magic, along with magic which things possess generally.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: People mostly inherit an ability to do magic genetically. Dennaleia inherited her ability from her maternal Zumordan ancestors.
  • Super Senses:
    • There are people who have a "sea sense" letting them tell when storms or dangerous tides are approaching. Ellaeni tells Dennaleia her girlfriend Claera, the chief cook on a ship, has this.
    • "Farhearing" is also possible with magic, enhancing regular hearing.
    • People who have a "shadow sense" can tell if someone's killed.
    • Those with the earth Affinity can sense structures underground along with the people there.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Mare, a princess who likes to dress in a very masculine fashion, passes as a man when going into the city often and sneaking back into the palace at one point.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The story is told alternately from the viewpoint of Dennaleia and Mare. Each chapter alternates between them. This gives insight to their perspectives, with different opinions and sometimes misunderstandings the pair have.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Mare and Dennaleia become this. At the start Mare is skilled with the bow, then she gets trained in using the sword too. Dennaleia has magic, and is trained in using it as well (she also is later trained in swordfighting, but isn't as skilled).
  • Sympathetic Magic: Mare gets a Farspeaking connection to Dennaleia using a magic mirror by use of Dennaleia's stray hair so the Farspeaker can focus it.
  • Taking the Bullet: Alek protects Dennaleia to stop her being struck by lightning bolts which Zahri cast at her, dying by doing so.
  • Teeny Weenie: In the sequel a Zumordan woman is telling a joke whose punchline involves this-a man's penis gets compared with a mouse.
  • Telepathy: Queen Invasya communicates with Dennaleia when "advising" (manipulating) her in competition with other trainees this way. Dennaleia doesn't realize who's in her head at first.
  • Their First Time: Dennaleia and Mare first have sex near the end of the first book, after a long period of mutual attraction, when both have confessed they love the other before.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lipstick Lesbian Dennaleia and bisexual tomboy Mare make up the viewpoint characters. The former is a demure Proper Lady with long hair, the latter a horse-loving Action Girl Outdoorsy Gal. Both their styles are contrasted to each other.
  • Tomboy Princess: Mare is a firm tomboy, much preferring to wear shirts and breeches while training the horses rather than doing anything traditionally feminine. Her family despairs of her as a result. She will only put gowns on when it's absolutely demanded with formal occasions. As a result of this, Dennaleia (a much more feminine princess) initially mistakes her for just a servant, as she's introduced taking care of the horses and has to be corrected.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: In order to learn control over their gift, mages need training. Dennaleia, whose control has been dangerously nonexistent, enters training in the sequel for this.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Mare invites Dennaleia to bathe with her in the sequel, and feels sure that she'll accept (though the reader doesn't see for sure if she does). It's strongly implied this would include having sex together.
  • Upper-Class Equestrian: One of the two protagonists is Tomboy Princess Mare, who's a horse lover and has trained them for years. As you might expect her name is self-chosen and reflects this. She then begrudgingly teaches Dennaleia, who's also a princess, how to ride. Mare's won forty three cachets, bracelets she has for horse-riding feats.
  • Uptown Girl:
    • Mare (a princess) was formerly involved with Nils, a commoner, before they turned into best friends.
    • Ellaeni, who's a noblewomen, was seeing the chief cook on the ship which took her to Lyrra.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Karov, a Zumordan merchant and magic user, can turn himself into a bird. It later turns out it's common magic in Zumorda, with many Zumordans commonly becoming animals. Their particular animal form is called a person's "manifest", which they're magically bonded to.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: Mare is a deep disappointment to her family, being a rebellious tomboy princess who has no wish to marry a man and have children as they expect, only dressing feminine when it's insisted, but simply likes training the horses. Her brother says they've nearly given up on her being anything else. The king, their father, still insists that she marry a man, berating her for not yet having done so.
  • Wizard Duel: In Zumorda this is a common practice apparently (the people all do magic there).
  • Youthful Freckles: Mare is eighteen, with noticeable freckles over her face. She's also a redhead, as is usual for this.

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