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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 thousands of others to a life of poverty and hardship under the rule of Silvers. Unlike Reds, Silvers have silver blood, god-like superpowers, and control over a Red's life. The only thing keeping Mare going is her family, her close friend, Kilorn, and the thought of each 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 safe, Mare tries to get Kilorn smuggled out of her hometown. In order to do this, though, she needs money. And Silvers have plenty of it.

In a daring scheme, Mare accompanies her seamstress sister into a Silver city in order to use her own excellent pick-pocketing skills to snag any valuable thing she can find. Her mission is interrupted abruptly due to a broadcast from a blonde woman. She claims to be part of the Scarlet Guard, a rebellious group of Reds who are taking steps to overthrow their Silver rulers. The announcement is enough to make every Silver in the surrounding area start attacking any nearby Reds out of paranoia.


Though she manages to flee the city with her life, her time to get the money is slowly running out. Mare goes to a nearby tavern and tries snatching anything valuable she can find from its patrons. In her haste, she gets caught by one of them who only identifies himself as Cal. Within moments, Mare finds herself venting at Cal about her current situation. Cal offers Mare a chance to get out of conscription, but it comes with a high risk: she'll have to work as a servant for the Silver Royals. Out of options and with no one else to turn to, Mare agrees.

However, it isn't very long into her servitude that Mare finds out Cal is not only a Silver, but the Prince and heir apparent himself. Not only that, but she's working on the same day of Queenstrial, a traditional competition among daughters of the various High Houses to see who will be wed to the current heir. During one of the trials, Mare ends up falling into the electric shield covering the arena... and survives.


To the shock and confusion of not just the Silver Royals but herself as well, Mare is a Red with a superpower of her own. In an effort to cover up this impossibility, the King forces Mare into the role of a lost Silver princess, a mouthpiece for his own propaganda, and arranges her hand in marriage to his other son, Maven. Later on, Mare meets up with the blonde woman 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 caught right in the middle.

Red Queen is a YA dystopian fantasy series written by Victoria Aveyard.

It consists of:

  • Red Queen (2015)
  • Glass Sword (2016)
    • Bright Shadow (2018): An additional scene from a new perspectivethat 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.

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:

  • Aerith and Bob: Characters named Tiberias and Cenra live alongside characters named Lucas and Iris.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Many characters often call their relatives 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).
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After getting injured in a training session, Mare is hurriedly rushed away 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.
  • Alliterative Name: Multiple characters have first and last names that start with the same letter: Sara Skonos, Julian Jacos, Bree Barrow, etc.
  • Alternate Calendar: The New Era calendar. It begins with the year of Norta's unification by Tiberias Calore I. Other polities have their own calendars.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: In-Universe, outsiders- especially Silvers- regard the Disputed Lands as an anarchic place to live, as they have no Silver masters to speak of and everyone is on their own. As World Behind relates, the land's Red population is annoyed by this; while the area has little security, they regard it as a land of freedom where they can live away from slavery. Rather than the Disputed Lands, the Reds call it the "Freelands".
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different:
    • Queen Song is narrated from Coriane's perspective, while Steel Scars is narrated from Farley's.
    • Several chapters in King's Cage are told from Cameron's and Evangeline's perspectives.
    • War Storm loses Cameron from the POV role, but keeps Evangeline and adds Iris, Cal, and Maven to the lineup.
    • Broken Throne keeps Mare, Evangeline, Cal, and Maven, and adds Julian, Elane, and two new characters named Ashe and Lyrisa.
  • Anyone Can Die: Several characters bite the dust due to conflicts between the Silver nobles and the Red rebellion. The first major characters to die are Shade and Elara.
  • Arc Words: Many, most of them overlapping into other books.
    • The series in general has "Rise, red as the dawn", the Scarlet Guard's creed.
    • Red Queen has "Anyone can betray anyone." and "Who has the advantage?"
    • Glass Sword has "Red and Silver, and stronger than both.'' and "I'm a man of my word."
    • King's Cage' has "Not a gods' chosen, but a gods' cursed."
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Mare is forcefully engaged to Maven after accidentally revealing her powers to the Silver court. Maven inherits Cal's engagement to Evangeline, then is arranged to marry Princess Iris of the Lakelanders during King's Cage. The marriage sticks for a few months until Iris betrays Maven to the Norta-Scarlet Guard-Montfort alliance.
    • Cal gets re-engaged to Evangeline at the very end of King's Cage, which is something that neither of them want and that Evangeline spends the whole of War Storm trying to get out of. Eventually, they are able to end it.
    • The plot of World Behind is started when Lyrisa, a princess of Piedmont, refuses her betrothal to Orrian, a member of the Lakelander royal family, and decides to migrate to Montfort by sailing through the Great River.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Whenever Mare and Cal team up.
  • Barrier Warrior: Newblood Dane Davidson possesses the ability to project forcefields.
  • The Beastmaster: The Animos ability allows the user to control animals.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Mare and Kilorn are well known for constantly bickering and roughhousing.
  • Big Bad: Maven Calore and, to a certain extent, Elara Merandus.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Mare is constantly surrounded by cameras while in Silver cities.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • Mare and Maven, at least, that’s what he wants her to think.
    • Mare and Kilorn are a straighter example; it's the reason why their friendship turns out the way they do.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Applies well to the first four books of the series.
    • Red Queen ends with Mare and Cal barely escaping Maven with the thought that they are now hotly-pursued fugitives and the fact that the former has betrayed many people to achieve a wrong end. However, the whole world is now aware that select Reds (later called newbloods) are able to use superpowers as well, sparking hope for the Scarlet Guard's cause. Additionally, Kilorn and Farley present Mare with a surprise: an alive Shade.
    • Glass Sword ends with Mare and company managing to recruit newbloods as part of the Scarlet Guard in the upcoming rebellion against Norta. Mare is also kills Elara and saves Julian and Sara. However, Shade is killed in the process, while many of Mare's close friends, including Farley and Cal, are repulsed by her increasingly erratic behavior. Plus, she is captured by Maven at the last minute, though it's done to atone for her mistakes and save her friends.
    • King's Cage ends with Maven less stronger than he was before and Norta is now led by a king who promises equality between Reds, Silvers, and Newbloods. But a civil war has split Norta in two, there's a potential war with the Lakelands looming in the horizon, and Mare, who disapproves of Cal taking Norta's throne and marrying Evangeline, angrily leaves him heartbroken. She has mended her relationship with her old friends, though, and the Premier of Montfort promises her that he and the Scarlet Guard won't keep quiet with the new "peace".
    • War Storm ends with Maven being killed and the civil war finally ending, but the kingdoms of Norta and the Rift are ripped apart in the process, and while the Lakeland army has retreated, there is no promise that they won't return. However, Cal and Mare both survive and promise to reunite in the near future, while Evangeline finally gets to be with Elane.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The Silvers vs the Scarlet Guard. The latter gets the moral higher ground because they are less sadistic and decadent than the former.
  • Blow You Away: Windweavers have power over wind.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Everyone outside of Montfort sees its citizens as this. The Silvers, in particular, are completely befuddled by the fact that the Silvers of Montfort willingly and happily restrain their power to become equals of the Reds, even serving under one of them (while he has a power of his own, that doesn't change the fact that they are okay to serve a race other than their own), such is democracy.
  • Body to Jewel: The blood of Arvens is mixed with concrete to produce Silent Stone.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Cars are “transports,” submarines are “mersives,” etc. Averted with boats, which are just boats.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: Some sort of a world-shattering catastrophe happened about 1800 years before the series started, possibly global warming since the map reveals that much of the lowlands are inundated (Long Island for example has broken down into a series of islands). Everything after that is known as the Reformation Era.
  • The Chessmaster: Due to his ability of super extended foresight, Jon gives just enough information to Farley and Mare to help their cause. He likes 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. And because Cully died, Kilorn no longer had a job and would have been sent to become a soldier if Mare hadn't eventually made a deal with Cal. To say that Jon had large role in the fall of Norta would be a not inaccurate statement.
  • Chick Magnet: Cal is the object of affection for just about every noble daughter in the country.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Many characters double-cross others, including those they are allied with. The phrase "anyone can betray anyone" is heavily repeated for a reason.
  • Cliffhanger: Mare has been taken prisoner by Maven, and then forced to kneel before him before her execution, uncertain whether she can escape and worrying about her friends' fates. The End.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Evangeline does whatever she has to keep being Cal's- and later, Maven's- 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 the user to see into the immediate future.
  • Conscription: In Norta, any Red who does not have an apprenticeship must join the army at the age of eighteen. Because of the attack of the Hall of the Sun, it gets downgraded to fifteen. 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 incorrect; unless you count the Silver raiders who attack the capital every so often, Montfort really is an utopia.
  • Crapsack World:
    • If you have the unfortunate luck to be born with red blood, then prepare for an exciting adventure of having to live in subpar settlements and scramble for work because if you don't, you'll have to take up conscription and be thrown to violent war zones. Oh, and you can't do anything, because your masters can use superpowers that only they possess. If you happen to be a newblood like Mare, however, you'll probably end up getting shot right away once your masquerade breaks.
    • Are you born with silver blood? Well, your experience isn't going to be much better, either, since court demands that you be proper, or you're going to be excluded by society. Additionaly, bloody infighting, coups, civil wars, and so on and so on, even in the middle of a celebration, will haunt you forever.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Maven towards Mare.
  • Dance of Romance: Between Cal and Mare, when he offers to teach her how to dance before the Parting Ball.
  • Dawn of an Era: The fall of Norta is this. Although only 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 Ardents 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 the 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 Ardent population.
  • Dead Guy Junior:
    • Farley and Shade's daughter, Clara is named after the former's deceased mother. Before the sex is known, Farley tells Mare that if the child is male, she will name it after Shade.
    • The epilogue of Broken Throne reveals that Mare and Cal have two children carrying the names of their dead loved ones. The first is a son named Shade, and the second a daughter named Coriane.
  • Defecting for Love:
    • Mare tries to convince Cal to join the Scarlet Guard’s cause by using his love for her as motivation. It doesn't work.
    • Cal tries to convince Mare to leave the Scarlet Guard and become his queen at the end of King's Cage. Also doesn't work.
    • Played straight with Evangeline in War Storm. She leaves a war-scarred Norta, hand-in-hand with Elane, Ptolemus, and Wren, but mostly with Elane, to Montfort, where they can live however they want.
  • Defector from Decadence: Montfort is a nation built from a group of these; fed-up Reds and Ardents 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.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Lakelander War killed at least 500 thousand Silvers and 50 million Reds, with twice that number of the wounded. Mare can't quite wrap her head around it.
  • Depower Zone: Anything 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. Mare and Maven's last fight ends up taking place in a room completely made of it.
  • Distant Finale: Broken Throne is framed from the perspective of a historian who lives more than 20 years after the fall of Norta.
  • 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 Guards as a bomb-throwing anarchist who doesn't care about their fellow Reds and wants to execute Newbloods, when truth says otherwise. Meanwhile, Premier Davidson has secretly planned with the Scarlet Guard to topple the Silvers using the same way, as revealed in King's Cage.
  • Divided States of America: North America has been divided between kingdoms, republics, and principalities. The map provided in the third book divides it as follows:
    • Norta rules the Northeastern United States, including the cities of Harbor Bay (Boston), Rocasta (Rochester), Delphie (Philadelphia), Pitarus (Pittsburgh), Albanus (Albany), Haven (New Haven), and Siracas (Syracuse), as well as islands including Tuck (Nantucket), and the Nearcey ruins (NYC). The area of the Rift, which includes Pitarus, splits off from Norta at the end of King's Cage, as House Samos forms the Kingdom of the Rift.
    • Lakelands rules Ontario, Quebec, and the eastern half of the Midwest, with the Great River (Mississippi River) acting as its western border. Cities include Detraon (Detroit), Trial (Montreal), Ronto (Toronto), Adela (Ottawa), and Terra (Terre Haute).
    • Piedmont rules a part of the Southern US, with the Great River again acting as its western border. It includes Monument (Richmond), Rallis (Charlotte), Citadel (Charleston), Savannus (Savannah), Tallasin (Tallahassee), and the Floridian Islands (Florida).
    • Prairie holds the Prairies (duh) of US and Canada, including Horizon (Omaha), Mizoura (Kansas City), and Damon (Des Moines)
    • Tiraxes rules over the Southern US west of the Mississippi, including Cuatracastela (Dallas), Taurine (Austin), and Lasmaderas (Houston).
    • The Disputed Lands/Freelands cover all along the stretch of the Great and Ohius (Ohio) Rivers, including the cities of Geminas (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Sanctum (St. Louis), and Memphia (Memphis).
    • Montfort rules the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest, including Ascendant (Denver), Vale (Colorado Springs), Paradise Valley (Yellowstone), Crownwater (Salt Lake City), Bronco (Boise), Cascade (Seattle), the Painted Gates (Albuquerque), and Grand Guardian (Grand Canyon).
    • Ciron rules California, Nevada, and some parts of Oregon, including the Grand Desert (Great Basin Desert), Amancut (Medford), and Solest (a coastal city across the Cascade Range from Amancut). California' Central Valley has been completely flooded, creating a gulf called the Lagamara, a peninsula from what used to be the Pacific Coast Ranges, and an island from the remnant of the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • Dystopia: The main premise is that a group of regular humans are under the rule of an oppressive dictatorship by superhuman beings.
  • 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.
    • Evangeline is finally able to love and be with Elane without reproach.
  • 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 book, just about the only thing that Mare and Cal have in common is their desire for revenge against Maven. They eventually grow out of this.
  • 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:
    • Evangeline and Ptolemus Samos are ruthless and cunning whenever they use their powers. They also unequivocally support and love each other. The evil part gets dropped after they join the rebillion.
    • 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.
  • Faceless Goons: The Sentinels serve as the masked armed guard in Norta.
  • Fake Aristocrat: While living among Silvers, Mare is forced to pretend to be the long-lost daughter of a deceased nobleman and war hero.
  • Faking the Dead: Shade was doing this.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Silvers are prejudiced against the Reds based on the color of their blood.
    • King's Cage implies the Reds were originally prejudiced against the first Silvers who came to this world via mutation and fanatically staged Witch Hunt to eradicate them.
    • The Republic of Montfort claims that its Red and Silver population live side by side, but Mare notes that the Premier does not employ Silvers as part of his army. This turns out to be a Red Herring, however; Montfort's Silvers are accepted in their society just fine. In fact, Davidson's husband is a Silver. They may be prejudiced, but it's directed against the Silvers outside the country, and it's more patronizing than anything.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The Lakelanders worship a set of gods that have been long since forgotten by other people, including the Nortans. They're implied to be the same one that the writings exploring the Silvers and Newbloods mention.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Two Arvens captured by House Samos are quite literally bled dry so that their blood can be used to make Silent Stone, only to be healed and 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. And 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. This is meant to remind Reds how powerless they are.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: It is hypothesized that this is the reason why newbloods started to appear; in order for Reds to continue living with superpowered beings, they began 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. After Elara's demise, Anabel Lerolan and Larentia Viper step up and show off how ruthless they can be as well.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    • Mare is more than willing to sacrifice lives and manipulate others if it means accomplishing her goals.
    • The Scarlet Guard as well. They're good, but that doesn't mean that they'll play nice, especially against the screwed up race that is the 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 Calamities, which started 2000 years ago, was the destruction of the old world order. It corresponds with 2022 AD.
    • The Lakelander War in 200 NE, which started the entire conflict between Norta and the Lakelands.
    • The War of the Red Thunder, a total uprising of the Reds in the Lakelands and Piedmont that happens twenty years after the fall of Norta. Both states fall apart and are replaced by the democratic Union of the Lakes and the Piedmont Federation, respectively.
  • Green Thumb: Greenwardens have the ability to control plant life.
  • Harmful to Minors: Towards the end of the 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.
  • Healing Factor: Blood Healers are able to heal themselves.
  • Healing Hands: Skin Healers can heal other people. However, they are unable to heal themselves.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Shade jumps in front of Mare to shield her from Ptolemus' sharp metal. He dies instantly.
    • Then Mare offers to surrender herself to Maven in exchange for Cal, Kilorn, her brothers, and others' safety.
  • Hufflepuff House: Prairie and Tiraxes among the countries now ruling North America. As of King's Cage, they have zero impact on the politics of the continent, ironic since their domains are rather massive (much larger than Norta according to the world map). 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: Skin Changers.
  • An Ice Person: Shivers have the power to freeze.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Maven orders Mare’s execution when it’s clear she won’t choose him.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Broken Throne confirms the theory that the Silvers are descendants of humans subjected to extensive nuclear radiation, which manifests as their superpowers. Reds are simply people who aren't affected and thus don't develop such powers, at least until the Silvers' growing threat caused them to naturally evolve powers on their own, creating the Newbloods/Ardents.
  • 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. However, the bulk of each story is usually told within the span of several months.
  • 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 died from insanity, leaving Julian as the last member of his family.
  • Interquel: The events of World Behind happen during King's Cage.
  • Invisibility: Shadows can bend light in order to become 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. She does.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Maven, who is manipulating Mare’s feelings to further his own goals.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The World Behind novella 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 sepreate from the main storyline.
  • Mad Oracle: Jon (who can see a lot further than Eyes) shows signs of this along with his powers.
  • Magical Eye: Singers are Silvers who have the ability to control other people's minds when they are in direct eye contact.
  • Magnetism Manipulation: Magnetrons like Evangeline can manipulate metal.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Banshees are Silvers with powerful, deafening screams.
  • Making a Splash: Nymphs can control water, but cannot generate it themselves.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Queen Elara orchestrates events behind the scenes in order to place her son Maven on the throne.
    • Both Anabel Lerolan and Julian Jacos intend to be this for Cal.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Mare is the fourth of five children.
  • Mauve Shirt: Some of the newbloods are definitely this. 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 once again, as they both realize that they need to recover from the ordeals they've experienced the previous year. 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. Samson in particular loves to put any subject of his interigations 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 acutal 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?: After the assassinations of the Parting Ball include small children, Mare has this reaction and begins to second guess her involvement with the Scarlet Guard.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Wreckers, who take the Stoneskins' Super Toughness into Made of Diamond territory.
  • 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 and betraying Cal, resulting in the murder of his father and the loss of his succession.
  • Not So Different: 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.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Mare is surprised when she learns that Princess Iris of Lakelands worships gods and is disappointed that there's no shrine in Archeon. Apparently, all Nortans, including the rural commoners, are atheists.
  • The Outside World: Throughout the series, Mare goes from a village girl living in an small oppressed village of a kingdom, 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 to a spark in order to use their ability, whereas newblood burners can create flames out of thin air.
  • Port Town: Harbor Bay. It's located in present-day Boston.
  • 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 with her variant.
    • Silent Stone is a stronger version, able to turn off anyone's powers within the vicinity of it.
  • Prequel: The events of Queen Song and 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: Even after Norta has been brought down, many Silvers 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 the children openly go against them. Truth in Television, racism is something that is very hard to root out, especially if you're accustomed to it.
  • Rags to Royalty: In the span of a day, Mare goes from a Red servant to a Silver princess-to-be.
  • Religious Bruiser: Lakelanders are one of the only two countries in the continent who still have a religion, up to and including its feared royal family, the Cygnets.
  • The Republic: Montfort. It is the only country in North America that elects its leader, with elections occurring every three years. By the end of War Storm, Norta is about to become a republic as well.
  • La Résistance:
    • The Scarlet Guard, an organization that fights to win fellow Reds freedom 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.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: It's revealed that the Calamities started with climate change, followed by refugee crises in the Middle East that eventually spread around the world, igniting conflict and eventually open warfare.
  • 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 (he can become a living fireplace; long story) and she thoroughly enjoys it.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Nearcey contains relics of abandoned buildings from the past age, because the Nortan government claims that the place is still infused with radiation and thus unsafe for new settlers. Or so they claim, as the Reds have been inhabiting the place for a while. According to Word of God, the buildings are part of what used to be called New York City (Nearcey itself is an evolved form of NYC).
  • Scars Are Forever: Averted with Silvers, since they can get fixed up by a Skin Healer if they are 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 Houses pull this, chief among them House Samos.
  • Self-Duplication: Cloners can make 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 shoutouts to National Geographic, Time and Batman (or, in his words, a "crime-fighting, angst-ridden bat person").
  • Sibling Triangle: Both Maven and Cal develop romantic feelings for Mare.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Cully, Kilorn's mentor, is only mentioned by Kilorn and Mare, but it's his death that kicks off Mare's search for help, leading her to run into Cal. Jon knew the impact Kilorn being masterless would have, leading him to kill Cully.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Type 1. 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 the fastest of the Silvers.
  • Super Strength: Strongarms have enhanced strength.
  • Super Toughness: Stoneskins have almost impenetrable skin.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Starting with King's Cage, other character's get chapters from their point of view.
  • Take That!: Julian's research notes in Broken Throne contain one to climate change deniers, of all people. 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. They can also communicate telepathically. Most notably, there are no Newbloods with this ability, and the Lakelander equivalent were killed off long before the books began.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Arezzo, Shade, and Clara, Diana and Shade's daughter.
  • 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 (mirroring the Holy Roman Empire and its relationship with The Pope).
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: With the rest of the Scarlet Guard busy helping the Nortans fend off the Lakelanders and Cal unwilling to take his own brother's life, Mare has to face Maven one by one in the climax of War Storm.
  • Title Drop: There's at least one in eac of the main books.
    • Several characters quip about the far-fetched notion of Mare becoming a Red Queen.
    • In Glass Sword, Mare refers to herself as a "sword made of glass".
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe, Lady Blonos, a blood healer who uses her ability to remove signs of her age.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • Mare sees herself as this; she's not as talented as Gisa or as charming as Shade, and she knows her mother looks down on her theivery even though its proven useful on more than one occasion.
    • Maven views himself as this because he is the youngest son of King Tiberias VI, and therefore not as important.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Kilorn, for Mare.
  • Up to Eleven: Most Silvers need some sort of assistance in order to use their powers (e.g. burners need a spark) or they have a limition of some kind (e.g. oblivians have to have physical contact in order to make something explode). Newbloods with similar abilities don't have such constraints.
  • Urban Warfare: The Silver attack on Naercy.
  • Utopia: Montfort is probably the only place in North America where there is absolutely no enmity between Reds, Silvers, and Ardents. They vote, work, and rule together. And unlike other countries, their leader, despite being only elected in the position two years ago, is willing to throw everything (up to serving as a Frontline General) to protect his citizens. Justified, considering that they built the country to replace the petty kingdoms in their wake, which we could assume were of the same kind as as the others; any kind of racism or classicism would betray the foundation.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Evangeline becomes this to Mare by War Storm.
  • The Voiceless: Sara Skonos. Queen Elara had her tongue cut out for claiming that Elara made the previous queen, Corianne, commit suicide. After Elara dies, her condition is reversed by a fellow Skin Healer.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Considering that backstabbing is placed firmly in the hearts of all Nortans, it seems, the uses of this are multitudes. There are Cal to Mare, Mare to Maven, Lucas to Mare, and possibly more.
  • Weather Manipulation: Storms can control the weather to an extent.
  • We Can Rule Together:
    • Maven tries one last time to get Mare to join him before her execution at the Bowl of Bones.
    • A non-villianous exampele: Cal offers this to Mare. She refuses, seeing it as a betrayal of everything she and the Scarlet Guard has been fighting for. While hurt, Cal understands.
  • 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 Happened to the Mouse?: Luther Carver is introduced as a newblood with the ability to suck the life-force out of any biological being. He's never seen or referenced in any of the following books.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Cameron calls out Mare for favoring newbloods and acting no better than her Silver enemies.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The later half of Broken Throne can be seen as this. At least twenty years after the fall of Norta, Farley is now the General of the Scarlet Guard, Kilorn is the Premier of Montfort, while Cameron and Julian are both representatives in the Nortan States. Mare and Cal are married with two children and still working with the Scarlet Guard; they are instrumental during the War of Red Thunder, which destroys the Lakelands and Piedmont and ushers new democratic and less-dystopian states in their place, following Norta's footsteps.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Holy crap, Cal and Mare. All over the place in both Red Queen and Glass Sword, then They Do during the second half of King's Cage, only for the end of the book to torpedo that with the reinstatement of Cal's engagement to Evangeline. It takes the first half of War Storm and a lot of prodding from Evangeline to get them back together, with some back and forth during the second half, then the book ends only on the promise of them reuniting...eventually.
  • Woman Scorned: Evangeline, when Maven ends their engagement to marry Princess Iris of the Lakelanders.
  • 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.


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