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Literature / Ravirn

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Kelly McCullough's series of "science fantasy" novels follows Ravirn, an immortal demigod descended from one of the Fates, through his misadventures in a Greek Mythology-meets-magical-Internet multiverse. Along with his sarcastic webgoblin Melchior and his love interest Cerice, Ravirn is nearly constantly trying to escape some kind of death sentence that he brought about by cheesing off one or more members of the Greek pantheon.


Books in the series:

  • WebMage
  • Cybermancy
  • Codespell
  • MythOS
  • SpellCrash

Provides examples of:

  • Apple of Discord: Ravirn, at one point, wonders what happened to it; he suspects that Aphrodite dropped it in a closet somewhere, chasing after the next 'glittering thing'. It turns out Eris (aka "Discord") kept it; it's been modified to allow computer network access, and sports the label "For the specialist".
  • Big Bad: In the first book, Atropos. For the rest of the series, Nemesis.
  • Bothering by the Book: Cerberus has orders to kill Ravirn if he enters Hades. The Furies have orders to kill him, period. Neither Cerberus nor Tisiphone really want to kill him—so they foment an "accidental" fight between Cerberus and the Furies, allowing him to escape into Hades proper from the borderlands held by Zeus, then refuse to enter Hades due to jurisdictional issues.note 
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  • CamelCase: The book titles.
  • Canis Major: Played with by Fenris. When we first see him, he's in the guise of a normal dog on a leash. His true form is about the size of a draft horse.
  • Cassandra Truth: Atropos places a "Cassandra curse" on Ravirn so no one will believe him about her plans.
    • Ravirn eventually discovers that if he says things that are generally true, such as "Atropos would kill me." if she were brought to where he was, it would be heard "straight" with no overlay of sarcasm, whining, or any other curse effect. It helps that the 'generally true' things apply to both her plan and the fact that he's usually found where he isn't supposed to be at the time; therefore, no details being leaked.
  • Chaotic Neutral: In-universe, Eris. Being the goddess of chaos, her entire reason for existence is to spread chaos and strife throughout the multiverse. Despite that, she is one of the very few gods Ravirn counts among his friends.
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  • Cyberspace: Kind of. The series doesn't take place inside computers per se, but all of the infinite parallel universes in existence are organized as the "mweb", which is basically a big magical Internet. And they do sometimes pop in to it.
  • Deus Est Machina: Necessity.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Ravirn has a tendency towards this, as Melchior lampshades.
  • Dungeon Punk: Ravirn wears a black leather trenchcoat, creates spells in binary code, and usually causes trouble for himself by hacking into parts of the mweb where he doesn't belong.
  • Eat Me: How Ravirn and Laric defeat Eris's dragon.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Persephone's virus!Sharra bids fair to destroy the mweb which notes the worlds' locations relative to each other, basically dissolving the multiverse.
  • Entropy and Chaos Magic: The Multiverse is set in a 'sea' of chaos, and most magic uses it as a source of energy. How chaotic the result is depends on how well designed the spell is; also, it can be 'tamed' by passing through webgoblins and trolls, since they use "chaos taps" as an 'always on' power supply. But, if it's accessed without any controls (which Ravirn does once to get away from Hades), the result looks like a nuke went off.
    • Also, when Ravirn shapeshifts, he taps the chaos, then 'tells the universe', that - guess what? - he just happens to have a different shape now. If he doesn't focus, though, he's just as likely to be a small expanding cloud of vapor. Even then, he comes back. It's good to have friends....
  • Everybody Loves Zeus: He acts like a college frat boy, and occasionally needs help having viruses removed from his porn browser, but... Zeus IS the god that lead the Titanomachy, overthrew his father Kronos, is leader of the Greek Pantheon, and is willing to enforce his decrees (such as "No guns on Olympus"- they 'sound too much like thunder', which is his domain) with lightning bolts.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Atropos plans to eliminate free will.
  • Flaming Hair: Tisiphone. Yes, including her pubic hair. (At various points she gets labeled "Little Red Flaming Hood".)
  • Fridge Logic: At one point, Ravirn gets offered a list of things that Melchior's done wrong, as an email attachment. [See Funny.Ravirn for the conversation] Except... Melchior handles all (or at least most) email between the two of them. So, what good would an email do?
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Furies. As living embodiments of Vengeance, they don't care much for human values like modesty. (And it's implied they don't even need clothes for protection against weather.)
  • Greek Mythology: Most of the main character either are the 'original characters' featured (e.g. Zeus, Atlas, Persiphone), or are related to them in some way
  • Hellish Pupils: Descendants of the Fates like Ravirn and Cerice have slitted, cat-like pupils. Eris, Goddess of Discord, has eyes filled with swirling Primal Chaos.
  • Helping Hands: Laginn.
  • Immune to Fate: Ravirn, after Eris's dragon erases his Thread.
  • Implacable Man: The Furies. Even worse is their older sister, the goddess Nemesis.
  • Impaled Palm: Occasionally, accessing a computer requires being there 'in spirit'; part of the process involves sticking an athame into the person's palm, with the other end linked to the computer with (effectively) an USB cable.
  • Insistent Terminology: Ravirn receives a Meaningful Rename to "(the) Raven"; due to bad feelings against the one that gave him the name, Ravirn prefers to act as if it didn't happen. Eventually, others do have to point out that, since it was one of the FATES that gave him the name, he might as well come to terms with it.
  • Love Triangle: Ravirn has two love interests throughout the series, Cerice and Tisiphone.
  • Norse Mythology: In MythOS.
  • Magically Binding Contract: Any oath made in Necessity's name is magically binding.
  • Magitek: All advanced electronics used by wizards can use some level of magic, and often transform into some sort of magical being (pixies, goblins, trolls so far).note 
  • Mistaken for Servant: Noted to often happen to Athena, though Ravirn is smart enough to recognize her right away.
  • Morality Pet: In a way, Ravirn to Persephone. It is stated that if not for her trust of Ravirn, she would act arbitrarily destructively in order to prevent Hades from gaining control of her again, even if it requires destroying the multiverse. To aid Ravirn, she sends him the source to several viruses designed to completely destroy the computer systems of the four poles and Necessity, and it's implied that releasing these is the least she would do.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Makes an appearance in CodeSpell
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Zeus acts like a horny frat boy, but Ravirn eventually realizes he can't be as stupid as he looks or he wouldn't have been able to remain head of Olympus as long as he has.
  • Oh My Gods!: "Chaos and discord!" is used as an invective, as are "Sweet Necessity" and "Powers and Incarnations".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Once a main character realizes that webgoblins and webtrolls are independent creatures with souls, they tend to stop requiring the use of "Boss" or "Master" (depending on family history), and phrase orders with "Please" instead of "Execute", but the goblin (or troll) will still say "Boss"/"Master" to be contrary. If the person doesn't complain... They have some serious business on their mind.
  • Oracular Head: Mimir, in MythOS.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: They're web servers.
  • Physical God: The Greek pantheon.
  • Playful Hacker: Ravirn fits this to a tee.
  • Pointy Ears: As the first book says, in his natural form, Ravirn has "slightly pointed ears".
  • Portal Network: One of several methods to travel between dimensions is the fairy ring network. Not to mention the "Fury Gates" used by the, well, Furies.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Standard fantasy fare, but brought up to speed in the 21st Century. The Greek gods all use computers, magic is similar to programming code, and goblins and pixies can turn into various electronic devices.
  • Powers as Programs: The spells used are literally coded. When one needs to use the spell, they have their familiar activate it by saying the program name. The spells can also be activated by the casters themselves by humming (or whistling) a tune, but this is usually more difficult and time-consuming.
  • Scorpion People: But with the "human half" replacing the scorpion's tail....
  • Servile Snarker: Primarily Melchior to Ravirn, but it applies to any relationship where a person lets a webgoblin or webtroll talk back.note  At several points it's used as an alert that someone has something on their mind, if they don't argue about the use of the otherwise common term "Boss".
  • Sexual Karma: Ravirn ends up with several Goddesses or Powers that have either dated him, or otherwise care about him. To quote Zeus, in SpellCrash: "I don't know how you do it, boy. Two Furies, Discord, and even Persephone. Not quick wit, that's for sure. Maybe it's that whole endangered-puppy thing you've got going on." Also, two web-goblins flirt in various ways, and even outright do their best to help him out, or keep him informed; the stated primary/only reason they don't try harder for a relationship is the size difference.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Played with (In-Universe)- in CodeSpell Ravirn gets sidetracked from his mission by Zeus, and ends up listening to a story told by Thalia.
    '[She] went back to telling a shaggy-dog story involving actual shaggy dogs, including Cerberus, Ares's "mutts of war", Sirius, and a tail without a cat, which for reasons unclear was trying to find its lost smile.'
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Melchior definitely qualifies.
    • As of MythOS, Ravirn gains two new ones: Laginn, Tyr's hand, and Fenris.
  • Status Quo Is God: Subverted. It's very much the case in some of the myths that form the source material; some of Ravirn's adventures involve breaking the status quo, as in freeing Persephone from Hades and removing the sword from Fenris's jaw. (And even that keeps a Status Quo, of sorts: Persephone herself is free to walk around all year, but Shara has to take her place within Necessity; and the effect is she disappears within the file system for the 3 months of Persephone's 'Hades' term. Part of the plot then becomes finding out if Shara will pop out again automatically.) It's even lampshaded in a threat from Ravirn to Lachesis: that the Raven has already wreaked several major and lasting changes to the Greek multiverse, and he is quite possibly capable of taking down Fate forever.
  • Take That!: In Webmage, it is revealed that Eris, the Goddess of Discord uses a Mac, while the houses of Fate all apparently use Windows. Though later, she seems to use some kind of virtual machine program to allow Ravirn to code Orion, the spell meant to ruin Puppeteer using an interface more familiar to him.
    Ravirn: "I can see the commercials now: 'The Goddess of Discord uses a Mac. Why don't you?'"
  • Top God: Necessity is as far above the other gods as they are above mortals. Ravirn temporarily becomes the new Necessity near the end of SpellCrash.
  • Trickster Archetype: When Ravirn has the name Raven bestowed upon him, all of his trickster traits come to the foreground. After all, Raven is a minor chaos power. It even affects his behavior and judgement, making him less cautious.
  • The Tunguska Event: Apparently this was caused by Tisiphone being careless with one of her Fury travel gates. As in, not closing it- it's basically two 'tears' in reality, and takes a lot of energy to keep open, especially since both endpoints are "moving" relative to each other. When the energy requirement become too much and the portal snaps shut... This gets brought up when Ravirn is told that he (unintentionally) left one open.
  • The Unintelligible: The Left Hand of Necessity, which only speaks in asterisks.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Sexual Euphemism-type: Sharra: "While you and Cerice were playing slot-in-the-RAM..."
  • Summon Bigger Fish: While being chased Ravirn uses the "Jurassic Gas" spell which reverts gasoline into its past living form- in this case, dinosaurs.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Webgoblin AIs, though treated as mere machinery, actually possess free will.
    • As to why: Eris reveals in WebMage that she helped include a random factor into their core software, but it was up to the Webgoblins (and others of their type) to actually do something with it.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Persephone. She releases the virus!Sharra in an attempt to break Hades's hold on her; it instead starts destroying the mweb. She admits regret over this, but is clear that even the dissolution of the multiverse and destruction of most of the worlds would be worth it if she can become free of Hades. Later on, when Hades is one of the few candidates to replace Necessity, she says that if not for her trust of Ravirn, she might "act without restraint", leaving the strong impression that she would destroy the multiverse again if it would prevent Hades from gaining Necessity's power and re-enslaving her.


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