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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...
  • Disappeared Dad: All four main protagonists have this to some degree. Connavar's father was killed in battle not long after his birth. Connavar himself deliberately avoiding being a part of his bastard son Bane's life as a way of punishing himself, Connavar's wife was murdered while Connavar was cheating on her with Bane's mother and Bane's very existence is a reminder of how he doubly failed her. Kaelin Ring's father was ambushed and killed by the Moidart the day Kaelin was born (and his mother was killed a few days after). Gaise Macon's father the Moidart was a part of his childhood, but the Moidart was a cold, strict and emotionally distant parent who Gaise has no fond memories of.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Downplayed for Kaelin Ring, who tracked down killed two men who very much did deserve their fates as they had raped and murdered a dear friend of his, however his subsequent savage mutilation of their corpses is looked back on by Kaelin with mild shame due to the pointless barbarity of it. Played straight with Connavar, after Connavar's wife was murdered he goes to the the village of the killers and proceeds to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, killing not only the murderers of his wife, but also literally anyone he could reach in the village, including women and children.
  • 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.
    • We do eventually learn the Moidart's Rigante soul-name, Hawk in the Willow.
    • While never confirmed outright, the Moidart's last name is likely the same as his son's last name: Macon.
  • Exact Words: "You will find fame, Valanus. You will find fame." General Custer-style fame, but still fame.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: Connavar and many of his descendants including Bane, Gaise Macon, Kaelin Ring's father Lanovar and the Moidart's grandmother have distinctive heterochromatic eyes, one green and one brown.
  • 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 Many Names: The Rigante have regular names like every other culture in the setting, but they also have Soul Names, names usually given to them based on unusual events witnessed on the day of their birth, the title of each book is the Soul Name of that book's main protagonist: Connavar - Sword in the Storm, Bane - Midnight Falcon, Kaelin Ring - Ravenheart, Gaise Macon - Stormrider.
  • 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.
  • Keeping the Handicap: The Moidart refuses to use more than the bare essential treatments for his burn wounds for over twenty years as a means of punishing himself for his many misdeeds, including murdering his own wife for her adultery, voluntarily damning himself to an agonising existence. Their son Gaise later forcibly heals his burns in order to make him find another method of atonement.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: A large part of why the Moidart is so cold towards his son Gaise Macon for much of his life. Gaise's mother had an affair with the Moidart's hated enemy Lanovar Ring, Gaise Macon was then born with the same distinctive heterochromatic eyes that Lanovar has and the only reason the Moidart isn't sure that Gaise is Lanovar's son is because his own grandmother had the exact same distinctive eyes, meaning that was a small chance that Gaise was the Moidart's son. Gaise himself later learns of all this with the aid of Magic, which also allows him to learn that he is in fact the Moidart's biological son.
  • 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.
  • Rivals Team Up: In ''Stormrider", the Rigante are forced to work with their primary oppressor the Moidart to defeat an invasion from the much worse Lord Winterbourne.
  • 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