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Literature / Red Queen

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Rise, red as the dawn.
In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don't believe that.
The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.

Mare Barrow is a Red. This simple matter of blood color is what assigns her and millions of others to a life of poverty and hardship under the rule of Silvers. Unlike Reds, Silvers have silver blood, god-like superpowers, and authority over a Red's life. The only thing keeping Mare from surrendering to despair is her family and her close friend, Kilorn. There's also the hope of both of them becoming an apprentice, a Red's ticket into getting out of being drafted into the ongoing war. This small security changes for Kilorn in an instant when his master suddenly dies.

In an effort to keep him out of the war, Mare tries to get Kilorn smuggled out of her hometown. She meets a mysterious blonde woman named Farley, who offers to help them both in exchange for a lot of money that Mare doesn't have. Sneaking her way into a Silver city, she attempts to steal valuables from Silvers, but before she can even snatch a single trinket, an unscheduled broadcast airs. The footage shows a masked Farley claiming to be apart of an underground organization called the Scarlet Guard whose goal it is to overthrow their Silver rulers and usher in a new era of equality.


Chaos erupts in the city, leading Mare to go pick-pocketing at an inn outside of town. In her haste, she gets caught by a patron who identifies himself as Cal. Within minutes, Mare finds herself venting to Cal about her current situation. The next day, Mare is brought to the royal palace to work as a servant; it seems as though Cal took her words to heart, and pulled a few strings to get her the job there.

However, it isn't very long into her servitude that Mare finds out Cal isn't only a Silver, but the Prince and heir apparent himself. On top of this, an accident involving a electric shield reveals that she's got an ability of her own: the power to create and manipulate lightening.

In an effort to cover up the impossibility of a Red possessing any kind of superpower, the King forces Mare into the role of a lost Silver princess and has her become the fiancée to his youngest son, Maven. Additionally, her unique situation gives him the opportunity to use her as a mouthpiece for his own propaganda.


Later on, Mare meets up with Farley and agrees to play double agent for the Scarlet Guard. Between pretending to be something she inherently isn't and helping the rebellion, she also has to keep herself from falling for Cal, a well-meaning and kind boy who still wants to keep Reds under Silver rule, or Maven, a shy and helpful boy with dangerous secrets of his own.

And that's just the beginning: a war is brewing between the Reds and Silvers, with Mare situated within the eye of its storm.

Red Queen is a young adult dystopian series written by Victoria Aveyard.

The books included in this series are:

  • Red Queen (2015)
  • Glass Sword (2016)
    • Bright Shadow (2018): An additional scene from a new perspective that was included at the end of the Collector's Edition.
  • King's Cage (2017)
  • War Storm (2018)
  • Broken Throne (2019): A companion book that takes place at least two decades after War Storm.
    • Queen Song (2015)
    • Steel Scars (2016)
    • World Behind (2019)
    • Iron Heart (2019)
    • Fire Light (2019)
    • Fare Well (2019)

Queen Song and Steel Scars were also collected together in a novella called Cruel Crown (2016), which included an excerpt from Glass Sword.

In 2020, Victoria Aveyard and Soman Chainani (The School for Good and Evil) teamed up to create a two part graphic novel called Red School. The comic takes place after the events of the first novels for each series and is non-canon to both.

In 2021, a television series was confirmed to be in development. It is set to be streamed on Peacock, with Aveyard as showrunner and both her and Beth Schwartz co-writing the pilot.

Due to the way the series progresses, spoilers from the first book have been left completely unmarked. You have been warned!

This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Huge Population: In King's Cage, Mare reads a journal mentioning the Lakelander War, which killed 500 thousand Silvers and 50 million Reds, with twice that number of wounded (in total more than 150 million people affected). The war involved Norta, which covers the Northeastern United States, and the Lakelands, which covers the East Central States and Canada east of Lake Superior. The total population of those regions is- as of 2016- less than 130 million. And this happened after another catastrophe struck the world, which presumably submerged New York and other areas and led to a dearth of space to live on.
  • Aerith and Bob: Characters named Kilorn and Cenra live alongside characters named Lucas and Iris.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Many characters often refer to their relatives with a loving nickname; Gisa is sometimes called "Gee", Cal sometimes calls Maven "Mavey" and Anabel "Nanabel", the Samos siblings sometimes refer to each other as "Eve" (Evangeline) and "Tolly" (Ptolemus), etc.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After getting injured in a training session, Mare is hurriedly rushed away to a skin healer in order to hide her red blood from the Silvers, and receive treatment in private.
  • After the End: The series takes place at least 2,000 years after nuclear war ravaged the world. Some areas are still uninhabitable due to leftover radiation. Norta itself is located in the Northeastern part of the United States.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: King Tiberias is no friend to Reds but even Mare can’t help but feel a little bit bad for him when he is betrayed and murdered by one of his sons.
  • Alliterative Name: Multiple characters have first and last names that start with the same letter: Sara Skonos, Julian Jacos, Bree Barrow, Cameron Cole, etc.
  • Alternate Calendar: The New Era calendar began after Norta's unification by Tiberias Calore I, and is the main calendar used throughout the series. Other polities have their own calendars.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: The Disputed Lands is often regarded by Silver outsiders as a horrible, chaotic place to live since the population there doesn't have any Silver masters to speak of. This is a misconception: while the area does have little security, the Reds who live there regard it as a land of freedom, many even calling it the "Freelands" precisely because there aren't any Silvers breathing down their necks.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Starting with King's Cage, more characters are given the PoV treatment, such as Cameron, Evangeline, Iris, Cal, and Maven, just to name a few.
  • Anyone Can Die: Due to the nature of the Red vs Silver war, several named and pivotal characters end up getting killed before the end of the series; of the first casaulties are one of Mare's siblings and a prominent Silver royal.
  • Arc Words: There are several phrases that are repeated, both throughout the series and within each individual book. In general, there's "Rise, red as the dawn" (the Scarlet Guard's creed), "Anyone can betray anyone", "Who has the advantage?", "Red and Silver, and stronger than both", "I'm a man of my word", and so forth.
  • Arranged Marriage: While Reds and common Silvers can marry whomsoever they wish (so long as they have the same type of blood), parents within the Silver elite usually arrange marriages for their children. Evangeline was already planned to be Cal's queen, even before Queenstrial. Once Mare's role as a lost Silver princess is established, she becomes Maven's fiance.
  • Barrier Warrior: Newblood Dane Davidson possesses the ability to project force-fields. He often uses it for defense, but on occasion he can use it to fight against his opponents.
  • The Beastmaster: The animos ability allows its users to control and communicate with animals. Larentia, Evangeline's mother, in particular uses her ability to use them jewelry.
  • Big Bad: After his betrayal towards the end of the first book, Maven- and to a lesser extent Elara- become the true antagonists of the series. While the overarching conflict is overturning centuries of Silver rule, the more immediate concern is stopping Maven and Elara from killing Cal, one of the few Silver royals within Norta who are sympathetic to Reds.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Elara has set up a plethora of cameras to watch both citizens and nobles alike. Practically every room within Whitefire palace has a camera installed somewhere, and Silver neighborhoods tend to be littered with them in general. Red neighborhoods don't have nearly as many due to poor infastructure.
  • Birds of a Feather: Mare and Kilorn are both stubborn, sarcastic misfits with argumentative personalities. It's why they've gotten along so well for as long as they have.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first four books tend to have bittersweet endings, each for different reasons. Red Queen ends with Mare and Cal barely escaping Maven with the thought that they are now hotly-pursued fugitives and the fact that Maven has betrayed many people to achieve a wrong end. However, the whole world is now aware that Reds can have superpowers too, sparking hope for the Scarlet Guard's cause. Not only that, but Shade, Mare's presumed dead brother, is actually alive and has been helping the Scarlet Guard along with Farley.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While the Scarlet Guard commits acts of terrorism and murder, they're far easier to root for since their enemy actively engages in subjecting entire swathes of the populace to poverty, war, and slavery.
  • Blood for Mortar: The blood of Arvens is used to make Silver/Newblood gift-repelling Silent Stone.
  • Blow You Away: Windweavers can manipulate and control air and air currents.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Silvers outside of Monfort view the Monfort Silvers with confusion; many of them just don't understand why the Silvers of Montfort willingly restrain their powers to become equal to Reds, even serving under one of them.
  • Body to Jewel: The blood of Arvens is mixed with concrete to produce Silent Stone. During Mare's imprisonment, she's forced to wear large wristlets that have rounded spheres of Silent Stone embedded in them. This keeps her unable to use her power at all times.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Cars are known as "transports", submarines are called "mersives", etc.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: Over 2,000 years before the beginning of the story, a series of cataclysmic disasters nearly wiped out humanity. Climate change and nuclear war either submerged much of the land or made it inhabitable.
  • The Chessmaster: Due to his ability of super extended foresight, Jon gives just enough information to Farley and Mare to aid in their cause. He prefers to stay on the sidelines, and only moves or offers help in order to further events along. While he doesn't outright say so, Jon does heavily imply that Cully's death was because of him. Because Cully died, Kilorn no longer had a job and he would have been sent to become a soldier if Mare hadn't eventually made a deal with Cal. This would cause a chain of events that would eventually lead to the fall of Norta. It wouldn't be inaccurate to say that Jon had a significant role in Norta's downfall.
  • Chick Magnet: Cal is the object of affection for just about every noble daughter in the country. His good looks and easy going charm tend to draw in most of his peers. Even Mare begins to fall for him despite her hatred of his position.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Many characters double-cross each other, including those they are allied with. The phrase "anyone can betray anyone" is heavily repeated for a reason.
  • Cliffhanger: King's Cage ends with Mare having been taken prisoner by Maven. She's forced to kneel in front of him before her execution, uncertain whether she can escape and worrying about her friends' fates.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Evangeline does whatever she can to keep being one of the princes' betrothed. Semi-justified when it's explained that Evangeline has been prepared since childhood to take the crown.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The interrogation tactic of choice against the Scarlet Guard.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: The eye ability allows its users to see into the immediate future. This allows them to easily counter their opponents moves.
  • Conscription: In Norta, any Red who doesn't have an apprenticeship must join the army soon after their eighteenth birthday. Because of the attack of the Hall of the Sun, it gets downgraded to fifteen in an effort to get Reds to hate and distrust the Scarlet Guard. Maven eventually scraps the new rule as of King's Cage.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Mare expects Montfort to be this at first, believing that there is no way a race who holds a greater power than another is willing to share power for the sake of peace, meaning that there must be an imperfection in their society somehow. But she is proved incorrect; unless you count the Silver raiders who attack the capital every so often, Montfort really is a utopia.
  • Crapsack World: Almost everyone is dealt a rough hand; those with red blood live in constant terror of their Silver overlords and of potentially being drafted into the ongoing war. Many live hand-to-mouth and those that work under Silvers are often treated terribly. Newbloods are generally killed as soon as they're found out, so the Silvers can keep up the charade that only they are powerful. Speaking of, those born with silverblood are brought up to favor strength and power over everything else, which means many Silvers with weak abilities are ignored or mistreated. Noble children are often used as political pawns, and infighting within those houses can turn bloody fast. Misery loves company indeed.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Maven becomes increasingly desperate to keep Mare close to him, though his efforts just further push her away. Murdering newbloods and keeping her caged certainly don't help.
  • Dance of Romance: Cal and Mare share a fairly tender moment when he offers to teach her how to dance before the Parting Ball. While they were falling for on another before, it comes to head here when they almost share a kiss.
  • Dawn of an Era: The fall of Norta is this. Although this is the second time a kingdom bows to the people's demands, it's the first time it happened to a great power and therefore sends shocks throughout the continent. Reds and newbloods are openly rebelling against their Silver rulers in the Lakelands and Piedmont, even without the agitation of the Scarlet Guard, a prelude to the War of Red Thunder two decades later that also brings them down and ushers democratic and equal countries in their wake. Even Tiraxes, Prairie, and Ciron, who are not destroyed, can't impede the growing social revolution around them and are riding the winds of change, giving civil rights to their Red and newblood populations.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Farley and Shade's daughter, Clara is named after the Farley's late mother. Mare and Cal's children are named after a relative that they deeply miss.
  • Defecting for Love: During the last battle in War Storm, Evangeline leaves a war-scarred Norta with Elane, Ptolemus, and Wren. They all travel to Montfort, where Evangeline can live and love Elane freely.
  • Defector from Decadence: Montfort is a nation built from a group of these; fed-up Reds and newbloods and dissatisfied Silvers banded together to topple the various Silver-ruled kingdoms that presided over the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast to create a place where everyone- regardless of their blood color- is given equal rights to live and rule.
  • Depower Zone: Anyplace made out of Silent Stone becomes this. Maven creates a throne of Silent Stone to keep whispers and other powers from touching him whenever he sits on it, and the cells within Corros Prison are lined with it, keeps all the Silvers held within powerless.
  • Distant Finale: Broken Throne is framed from the perspective of a historian who lives more than 20 years after the events of War Storm.
  • Divide and Conquer: A favorite pastime of the military, with Evangeline counting that it's a cornerstone of Nortan policy towards the Reds. Specifically, they paint the Scarlet Guard as bomb-throwing anarchists who don't care about their fellow Reds and want to execute newbloods, when truth says otherwise.
  • Divided States of America: North America has been divided between kingdoms, republics, and principalities. The main ones featured within the series are Norta, the Lakelands, and Montfort.
  • Doorstopper: Both King's Cage and War Storm are over 500 pages long.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mare eventually marries Cal and has two children with him. Even after twenty years, the two are still working as a Battle Couple, contributing to a significant victory in a war that transforms the continent politically and socially.
  • Elemental Powers: Several types of Silver abilities involve controlling one of the elements, including fire, wind, and water. Newbloods add electricity and gravity into the mix.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: It's established during the Silver training sessions that certain abilities have an advantage over others, such as water over fire. One of the lessons learned during training is how to spot these advantages and manipulate a specific abilities weaknesses.
  • Endangering News Broadcast: The Scarlet Guard's broadcast of their existence and intentions puts every Red in danger. Many Red servants are the first to be affected, their Silver masters either maiming or killing them within seconds of the broadcast ending.
  • Enemy Mine: By the end of the first book, just about the only thing that Mare and Cal have in common is their desire for revenge against Maven.
  • Engagement Challenge: The Queenstrial is the method of choice to choose a future queen in Norta, which involves the eligible noble daughters competing to best show off their superhuman abilities.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • The Cygnets are brutal when it comes to achieving their cause, but they have a deep bond with each other. Unlike other Silver families, who are frequently dysfunctional, the affection is genuine and there is no backstabbing involved.
    • Zigzagged with Queen Elara and Prince Maven. They are shown to have a deep bond as mother and son, but later on it becomes questionable just how much of this was willing on Maven's part.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: Magnetrons can manipulate metal.
  • Faceless Goons: The Sentinels serve as the masked armed guard in Norta.
  • Fake Aristocrat: For a period of time, Mare is forced to pretend to be the long-lost daughter of a deceased nobleman and war hero.
  • Faking the Dead: Shade was pretending to be dead in order to keep the Nortan army from coming after him for desertion.
  • Fantastic Racism: When Silvers first came on the scene, they were persecuted against for having superpowers. Since then, they've become the dominant force and subject powerless Reds to the oppression they originally went through. The one place where this isn't the norm is Montfort.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The Lakelanders worship a set of gods that have been long since been forgotten by other people, including Nortans. They're implied to be the same one that the writings exploring the Silvers and Newbloods mention.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Two Arvens that were captured by House Samos are quite literally bled dry so that their blood can be used to make Silent Stone, only to be healed then bled dry again, over and over.
  • Foil: Mare views the Silver Raiders of Prairie as basically a darker version of the Scarlet Guard, being a bunch of insurgents who want to topple and remake a country to their liking. Unlike the latter, however, they are reactionary rather than revolutionary, as they want to restore the status quo that the Silvers once enjoyed: rule the country as oligarchs and oppress the Reds again.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The outcome of Queen Song: we already know in Red Queen that Coriane was killed by Elara. We simply didn't know the details.
  • Foreshadowing: The first clue about Mare’s electric ability is dropped during the Feast of First Friday, where she has a physical reaction to the electricity turning on in the arena. Several more hints pop up until The Reveal at Queenstrial.
  • Gaslighting: Coriane was Driven to Suicide just as much because of Elara's whispers as Elara feigning ignorance about her role in her recurrent nightmares, causing Coriane to believe that she was slowly losing her sanity.
  • Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!: Many members of the Scarlet Guard are more than willing to die for their cause. Many of them do, most notably Walsh and Nanny who do so by their own hand.
  • Gladiator Games: Every month on the Feats of First Friday, Red citizens are forced to watch Silver warriors fight in exhibition matches.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: It is hypothesized that the reason why newbloods started to appear was so Reds could to continue to live with superpowered beings; they had to develop powers of their own in order to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Silvers.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Elara is the most ruthless of the royal family of Norta. She doesn't hesitate to use her powers on anyone she sees fit, even her own son.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Scarlet Guard are definitely well intentioned, but that doesn't mean that they play nice, especially against the screwed up Silvers. Bombings, ransoms, and hostages are orders of the day.
  • Gravity Master: Gravitrons are newbloods who can manipulate gravity, enabling them to basically fly.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Lakelander War which started the entire conflict between Norta and the Lakelands. We hear a lot about it and its affects on the Red populace, but none of the actual fighting is ever shown.
  • Green Thumb: Greenwardens have the ability to control plant life.
  • Harmful to Minors: Towards the end of the first book, the age of the draft is lowered to 15.
  • Having a Blast: Oblivions can explode just about anything they touch. Bombers don't even have to touch the object, they can simply look at it and make it explode.
  • Healing Factor: Blood healers are Silvers who can heal other people, as well as themselves. Some of them use this power to keep themselves looking permemantly youthful, no matter their age.
  • Healing Hands: Skin healers can heal other people, but are unable to heal themselves.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mare surrenders her freedom to Maven in exchange for the safety of her loved one's and colleague's lives.
  • Hufflepuff House: Prairie and Tiraxes have zero impact on the politics of the continent, ironic since their domains are rather massive. In Queen Song, Coriane recalls one of Julian's hobbies as exploring the wilderness of Prairie, suggesting that it may have laxer laws compared to other kingdoms, then it receives several mentions in War Storm as a haven for Silver raiders. Tiraxes is mentioned once in passing, but never elaborated upon in the main series. It's only in Broken Throne that we finally learn what they are.
  • Humanshifting: Shifters are newbloods who can change their physical apperence into whoever they so choose.
  • An Ice Person: Shivers have the power to manipulate the tempature of their intended target. In their case, they can freeze blood and create frost.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Maven orders Mare's execution when it's clear she won't choose him.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Silvers are descendants of humans subjected to extensive nuclear radiation, which manifested as superpowers. Reds are simply people who weren't affected and thus didn't develop such powers, at least until the Silvers' growing threat caused them to naturally evolve powers on their own, giving rise to newbloods.
  • Immediate Sequel: The first four books in the series are directly connected to each other, with the last pages of the previous one leading to the first pages of the next.
  • Impoverished Patrician: By 296 NE, House Jacos' sole right to reside in Archeon was because they were one of the High Houses of Norta. Otherwise, they were as poor- or even poorer- than the common Silvers in the city, their wealth having been squandered through generations of decadent luxury. Their members had also dwindled to just four: Coriane, her brother Julian, their father Harrus, and their elderly cousin, Jessamine. Within a span of five years, Harrus died from excessive drinking, Jessamine died of old age, and Coriane was driven to suicide, leaving Julian as the last member of his family.
  • Interquel: World Behind focuses on characters that aren't involved with the main plot of King's Cage.
  • Invisibility: Shadows can bend light, allowing them to basically make themselves invisible.
  • King Incognito: Cal is fond of slipping away from the castle to walk among his people.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Before he is about to execute her, Maven forces Mare to kneel before him so he could humiliate her just as she did to his mother.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Maven is set up as a potential love interest to Mare. After his betrayal, it's revealed that he's been manipulating Mare’s feelings to further his own goals.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: World Behind focuses on a new set of characters in an incidental part of the series' universe. Events from the main plot are occasionally referenced, but the events of the novella are separate from the main storyline.
  • Magical Eye: Singers are Silvers who have the ability to control other people's minds when they are in direct eye contact.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Banshees are Silvers with powerful, deafening screams.
  • Making a Splash: Nymphs can control and manipulate water.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Queen Elara orchestrates events behind the scenes in order to place her son Maven on the throne.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Mare is the fourth of five children.
  • Mauve Shirt: Some of the newbloods introduced throughout the series get a bit of characterization before being killed off by the end. Nix, Ketha, and Darmian just to name a few; they're introduced and killed within the same book.
  • Maybe Ever After: War Storm doesn't end with Mare and Cal becoming a couple, as they both realize that they need to recover from the ordeals they've experienced first. Nevertheless, Mare promises that she will go back to Cal once she is ready.
  • Mind over Matter: Telkies have telekinetic abilities.
  • Mind Rape: One of the ways in which whispers can use their ability is to force their target to relive painful memories over and over and over again. Samson in particular loves to put any subject of his interrogations through the wringer; he doesn't call his himself a butcher for no reason.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The Collector's Editions for the first two books have simplistic covers for both the book jacket and the actual binding.
  • The Mole: Maven infiltrated the Scarlet Guard in order to steal intelligence for the Silvers and sabotage the revolution.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Part of Mare's Silver persona includes a backstory in which she was raised by Red parents.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: Queen Song is the only part of the series whose narration is written in third person limited, whereas everything else in the series is written in first person.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When the assassinations of the Parting Ball include small children, Mare is horrified and begins to second guess her involvement with the Scarlet Guard.
  • Named After First Installment: The title of both the first book and the series as whole is Red Queen. The name comes from one or more characters remarking upon the absurdity of Mare, a Red, potentially becoming a queen.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Wreckers are newbloods who are basically Made of Diamond.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Wanting to save Mare from conscription, Cal pulls some strings to get her a job at the royal palace. This leads to Mare becoming close with his brother Maven who betrays both Cal and Mare, resulting in the murder of his father and the loss of his succession.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Cameron points out that Mare's methods of recruiting newbloods to the Scarlet Guard's cause may end up repeating the same problems of division based on blood and superpowers, only with newbloods on top.
  • The Outside World: Throughout the series, Mare goes from a village girl to visiting a summer retreat for the royalty, the capital, and the rest of her country, before finding out that there's a republic out there where Reds and Silvers live side by side and where newbloods like her are granted protection.
  • Playing with Fire: Burners can control fire. Silver burners like Cal and Maven need a spark in order to use their ability, whereas newblood burners can create flames out of thin air.
  • Port Town: Harbor Bay is located in the eastern region of Norta. One of the Calore residences is situated there.
  • Power Nullifier: Silvers with the silence ability can turn-off other people's powers. Cameron goes even further, as she can turn off senses and even bodily functions. Silent Stone is a stronger variant, able to turn off the powers of anyone who happens to step within its range.
  • Prequel: The events of Queen Song and most of Steel Scars take place before the beginning of Red Queen.
  • Propaganda Machine: How the Silvers keep the Reds in line and how Queen Elara keeps the other Silvers from finding out about Mare's secrets. Also how Maven turns Reds against the Scarlet Guard.
  • Racist Grandma: After Norta has been brought down, there are a lot of Silvers who are unable or unwilling to face a reality where they have to stand together with- instead of above- Reds. This hits the nobles hard, with Larentia Viper even disowning both of her children when they state their intentions to support the new status quo. Even twenty years later, there are still Silver nobles who want to restore their former glory by declaring a pretender Nortan Kingdom ruled by Mare and Cal's children even as said children openly go against them.
  • Rags to Royalty: In the span of a day, Mare goes from a Red servant to a Silver noble.
  • Religious Bruiser: Lakelanders are one of the only two countries on the continent who still have a religion, up to and including its feared royal family, the Cygnets.
  • The Republic: Montfort is the only country in North America that elects its leader, with elections occurring every three years.
  • La Résistance: The Scarlet Guard is an organization that fights to free Reds from Silver oppression. The Silver Raiders of the Prairies are this as well, even if their goal is a complete 180° from the Scarlet Guard: they want to reinstate the classicist states Montfort replaced. However, they are much less organized than the Scarlet Guard, not to mention operating without a clear set of objectives under a clear leader.
  • Revealing Injury: When Mare is injured while fighting for her life in the Bowl of Bones, her red blood reveals to the crowd that she’s not the silver-blooded noble she was pretending to be. Maven, knowing what this revelation could do, hastily orders the video feeds shut down.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: It's revealed that the Calamities started with climate change, followed by a refugee crises in the Middle East that eventually spread around the world. Both are topics that have made headlines during this series' run.
  • Romantic Rain: Mare and Cal are caught in a sudden thunderstorm while jogging. They don't really mind it and head to a secluded area off-road. Mare approaches Cal to share his warmth and she thoroughly enjoys it.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Nearcey contains relics of abandoned buildings from the past age. The Nortan government claims that the place is still infused with radiation and is thus unsafe for new settlers. Meanwhile, the Reds have been inhabiting the place for a while.
  • Scars are Forever: Averted with Silvers, since they can get fixed up by a skin healer if they're injured. Played straight after Mare escapes at the end of Red Queen; she revels in her new scars and doesn't want them wiped away.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Several Silver Houses pull this after the events of King's Cage, chief among them House Samos.
  • Self-Duplication: Cloners are Silvers who can make multiple copies of themselves.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Mare’s father is a war veteran. They briefly bond over how killing changes you.
  • Ship Tease: A minor bit of teasing between Mare and Tyton is present in War Storm, mainly as a way for Mare to get under Cal's skin.
  • Shock and Awe: Electricons are newbloods who can create and control lightning and lightning storms.
  • Shout-Out: Julian's research notes in Broken Thronecontain shout outs to National Geographic, Time and Batman.
  • Sibling Triangle: Both Maven and Cal develop romantic feelings for Mare. While Mare developed feelings for both, Maven's betrayal squandered any chance he might have had with her. Though she still has some residual feelings for him, they're for the boy she once knew than who he actually is.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Jon's appearances can be counted on hand, but he has as much (and arguably even more) importance to the plot as Mare does; Kilorn's master, Cully, didn't die in an accident, he was killed by Jon, because Jon saw the impact Kilorn being masterless would have. If Jon hadn't killed Cully, it's likely that the Red's situation wouldn't have changed.
  • The Speechless: Sara had her tongue cut out for claiming that Elara made the previous queen (Cal's mother) commit suicide. While Elara is still alive, all other skin healers are forbidden from reversing her condition, and Sara can't fix it herself due to her power's limitation. After Elara's death, Sara's condition is reversed, allowing her to speak again.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Silver children inherent their ability through their biological parents. It's more common for them to share abilities with their father, though children having the same powers as their mothers aren't unheard of.
  • Super Reflexes: Silks exhibit perfect balance and enhanced agility.
  • Super Speed: Swifts are Silvers who can move incredibly fast.
  • Super Strength: Strongarms have enhanced strength.
  • Super Toughness: Stoneskins can turn parts or all of their skin into impenetrable stone.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Starting with King's Cage, other character's get chapters from their point of view. One chapter might focus on Mare, the other on Cameron, and another on Evangeline before going back to Mare, etc.
  • Tag Line: Each of the main books have a tag line: "Power is a dangerous game" (Red Queen), "Kneel or bleed" (Glass Sword), "All will burn" (King's Cage), and "Rise with the dawn" (War Storm).
  • Take That!: Julian's research notes in Broken Throne contain one to climate change deniers. The Earth was ruined by climate change, which was followed by a massive refugee crises, political chaos, and eventually nuclear war. The notes make a point to state that some individuals of our world denied that the environment was changing for the worse even as it was happening in front of their collective noses, something that spooks Julian.
  • Telepathy: Whispers like Queen Elara can read and control minds, as well as communicate with one another without having to speak.
  • Teleportation: Shade is a newblood with the ability to teleport.
  • The Theocracy: Ciron is ruled by a secular monarch and the Sun's Voice, the country's religious leader. The monarch must be crowned by the Voice, creating many succession crises throughout generations.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: War Storm comes to a climax when Mare has to face Maven one by one; the rest of the Scarlet Guard is busy helping the Nortans fend off the Lakelanders and Cal can't bring himself to take his own brother's life.
  • Title Drop: In each book, there's at least one reference to the title of the novel/novella, usually through dialogue.
  • Trilogy Creep: The original plan was for the series to be three books, but Aveyard eventually settled on a tetralogy. Then Broken Throne was released, turning it into a quintology. While it's billed as a companion book, Broken Throne builds off of the events of the previous books, including wrapping up some loose ends and explaining some of the events of that occurred after War Storm.
  • Uncanny Valley: invoked Lady Blonos is a blood healer who uses her ability to remove any signs of her true age. The dissonance between the appearance she keeps up and what she should look like creeps out Mare when she first meets her.
  • The Unfavorite: Mare knows that her parents look down on her thievery even though its proven useful on more than one occasion. Her mother in particular seems to wish that she was as talented and pretty as Gisa or as charming as Shade. Maven is often ignored by his father on account of being the youngest son. It's this shared trait that helps Mare's initial dislike of Maven ease a little.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Kilorn has had a crush on Mare for some time, but Mare has never felt the same way.
  • Urban Warfare: The Silver attack on Naercy takes place in an abandoned residential area.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: After her defection, Evangeline and Mare become friends in a fashion.
  • Weather Manipulation: Storms can control the weather.
  • We Can Rule Together: Maven tries one last time to get Mare to join him before her execution at the Bowl of Bones. Mare, of course, rejects his offer.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Reds called "techies" are forced to work in the factories of Gray Town to produce weapons and machinery.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Cameron calls out Mare for favoring newbloods and slipping into a familiar mindset as their enemies.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The later half of Broken Throne includes snapshots into each major character's new life. It then goes on to summarize the most important events that would eventually lead to the creation of new democratic and less-dystopian states.
  • Will They or Won't They?: For a majority of the series, Cal and Mare's relationship is constantly in flux. In Red Queen, it looks like they might become a couple until Cal makes it clear that he will always choose his responsibilities as a Silver prince, including keeping Reds as second class citizens. Naturally, this turns Mare against him. Their feelings for one another fluctuates throughout Glass Sword until they finally conclude that they do in fact love one another and officially hook up in the later half of King's Cage. This lasts for all of a few chapters when Cal's engagement to Evangeline is reinstated and Cal can't bring himself to fight it. It takes a lot of prodding from Evangeline before they get back together. However, by the end of War Storm, they both agree that they've been through too much and a relationship right now would do them more harm than good. The book ends with them promising that they'll reunite, but it's left up to the reader whether or not they will. Broken Throne reveals that they become a couple and even have two children within the next twenty-odd years.
  • Woman Scorned: When Maven ends their engagement to marry Princess Iris of the Lakelanders, Evangeline frees Mare out of spite, allowing Mare to be rescued.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Maven sentences quite a few Silvers to Corros Prison during Glass Sword. During King's Cage, Maven gradually starts dismissing older members of his court who supported his father and might possibly support his brother.