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Literature / Rigante

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The Rigante novels are a Heroic Fantasy series by David Gemmell.

  1. Sword in the Storm (1998)
  2. Midnight Falcon (1999)
  3. Ravenheart (2001)
  4. Stormrider (2002)

The first and second novels have a setting similar to Dark Age Europe, and concern the struggle of the Rigante (similar to the Celtic tribes of Scotland) against the invading Empire of Stone (similar to the Romans). The third and fourth novels return to the Rigante centuries later, in a setting similar to the 17th century.

These novels provide examples of:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Vars mostly come off as murderous assholes bent on conquest with precious little depth to them.
  • Badass Family: The series is set in two different time periods, roughly corresponding to the Roman invasion of Britain and the English Civil War. The main character of the former is a common ancestor of much of the main cast of the latter.
  • Big Eater: Kaelin Ring (who eats steaks, plural, for breakfast) and most Rigante when they get the chance.
  • Boomerang Bigot: In Ravenheart, the Moidart, who spends most of the novel oppressing the Rigante every which way you can think of, has Rigante blood himself. He despises the Rigante for the fact that, despite being ferocious warriors, they never bothered to create an empire of their own.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The first chapter of Ravenheart features Jaim Grymauch being lightly mocked for carrying around a huge two-handed claymore, when the armour it was designed to counter (plate) became obsolete centuries ago. It's not seen used again, and the reader has nearly forgotten that he owns it, until the final act — where he urgently needs to kill four members of a conservative knightly Order who are wearing full ceremonial plate armour...
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Moidart; despite being a major character in half the Rigante series we never learn his name. The same goes for another minor character, the Moidart's rival, The Pinance.
  • Exact Words: "You will find fame, Valanus. You wil find fame." General Custer-style fame, but still fame.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Rigante are essentially very Scottish Celts (and later, simply Scottish). The series also features counterparts of Romans and Vikings as well as, in the chronologically later parts, Native Americans, Cavaliers and Roundheads.
  • Heroic Bastard: Bane the Bastard.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The series features a rather nasty version of this in which the hero's rather feisty love interest is imprisoned and repeatedly raped. By the time the hero finally manages to rescue her, she's suicidally depressed, is furious at the hero for not rescuing her earlier and at herself for needing to be rescued at all, and swears herself to a life of grim celibacy to overcome her shame. She seems to improve — a bit — as the series continues, with indications that although she'll never fully recover, she might at least be able put it behind her and get on with her life.
  • The Magic Goes Away: A pervasive theme throughout the series — mystical beings weaken and die as human evils wash away magic from the Earth.
  • Mook Horror Show: Featuring Kaelin Ring.
  • Perspective Flip: After a fashion in the first two Rigante novels. Sword in the Storm focuses on Connavar and how he became a king, while Midnight Falcon follows the exploits of Connavar's estranged illegitimate son Bane; the differences in Connavar's portrayal are... rather stark.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Rigante.
  • Religion of Evil: Winterbourne's cult in Stormrider.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Praxas in Sword in the Storm; less so by the time Midnight Falcon rolls around.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Taybard Jaekel in the later Rigante novels. Also, Oranus in Midnight Falcon.
  • Sinister Scythe: Huntsekker has one as his signature weapon. It's a European-style scytheblade, but with a shortened hilt so it's wielded like a kama and worn like a sword.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Connavar has blacked out and killed everything in sight when put under severe stress.
  • You Can Barely Stand: Fiallach continues to kick ass literally until the moment of death, and certainly some time after the moment of mere fatal wounding.

Alternative Title(s): Ravenheart, Sword In The Storm, Stormrider, Midnight Falcon