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Literature / Shadow Grail

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A series of novels following the adventures of Spirit White and her friends as they attend Oakhurst Academy by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill.

The first book, Legacies, opens with the death of Spirit's parents and sister in a traffic accident. Spirit spends months recovering, where she is informed first that her house had burned down, and second that her parents had set up a trust fund for her and entrusted it to the Oakhurst Foundation. This means that Spirit will spend the time until she reaches the age of twenty-one at the Oakhurst Facility. Once her recovery is complete, she is transported to the Facility. Along the way, she meets Lachland Spears (or Loch as he prefers to go by), another orphan who has been entrusted to Oakhurst. The two discover that they were selected because they are "Legacies", children of former Oakhurst students.

Upon arriving at Oakhurst, Spirit and Loch discover that Oakhurst Academy is no ordinary orphanage/prep-school. It is, in fact, a Wizarding School, and a place to prepare the students for an upcoming wizard war. The two are tested for magical affinities. Loch finds minor gifts in the School of Air (Kenning and Shadewalking) and the School of Earth (Pathfinding). Spirit, however, appears to have no affinity, despite magical ability.

At Oakhurst, Spirit makes a group of friends, Burke Hallows, Muirin Shae, and Adelaide Lake (Addie), as well as maintaining her friendship with Loch.

However, Spirit begins to notice all is not well at Oakhurst. The school structure places an incredible pressure to compete on the students, to the point where friendship is all but openly discouraged. More disturbingly, students keep disappearing and never being heard from again...

In book two, Conspiracies, Spirit learns that the enemies which Oakhurst students must face may be closer than she has been told, and must convince her friends that the danger has not passed as they believe.

In book three, Sacrifices, Spirit and her friends know the enemy is at the school, and must do their best to avoid standing out and being detected. One of them goes undercover, but her acting skills might be fooling either side...

In book four, Victories, Spirit and her friends have escaped Oakhurst at great cost. But the Shadow Knights are still out there, and if they don't find a way to stop them within six weeks, the entire world is doomed.

This series contains examples of:

  • Boarding School of Horrors: In addition to an environment carefully designed to discourage friendships and teachers who have mastered the art of sucking all potential fun out of any activity, there is a frightening number of 'disappearances' and 'accidents' every year at Oakhurst. If one takes the average rate of disappearances, deaths, runaways, and students simply going insane against the size of the student body and the length of the average student's stay there, Spirit only has a 50/50 chance of surviving to graduate, even before you account for the added dangers caused by the Shadow Knights escalating things.
  • Deconstruction: This series is what you get if the Golden Trio of Hogwarts realized that there's something fundamentally wrong with a school that has life-threatening situations on a semi-regular basis, and decided to investigate in the hopes that figuring out what's going on will enable them to get out of the school alive.
  • Elemental Powers: The most obvious gift in each school
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: At the end of the third book Muirin is killed while helping the other four main characters escape. However, by the time of the fourth book, which picks up almost immediately after the third ends, her name is never even mentioned once. Even at the very end of the book when the surviving kids return to the place where they defeated the Wild Hunt together, the four survivors act and talk as if they had been the only ones there, seemingly having completely forgotten that they were a group of five for three-quarters of the series. There is no explanation given for this, and for some readers it ends the series on a rather bitter note, seeming as though even the author has forgotten about the character.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: The destruction of the final battle is covered up by claiming that a tornado hit the town.
  • Grail in the Garbage: Almost literally. Several artifacts from Arthurian myth (Including the grail) are disguised as junk the heroes find in a goodwill store.
  • The Magic Goes Away: After Mordred is defeated, the magical abilities of everyone on both sides of the battle are reduced considerably or vanish entirely.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Shadow Knights are taking out the families of magical children this way, to get them to Oakhurst
  • Master of Illusion: Muiren has the gift of Illusions, part of the School of Air
    • Loch's gift of Shadewalking is somewhere between this and Invisibility
  • Meaningful Name: Many of the main characters
    • Spirit White's magic is part of the school of spirit, not one of the four schools traditionally taught at Oakhurst. The name Guinevere translates to "White enchantress" or similar, adding another layer of meaning
    • Adelaide Lake is a water witch and the Lady of the Lake
    • Loch's last name is Spears. Another word for spear is lance, as in Lancelot
  • Reincarnation: Many major characters are reincarnations of people from Arthurian myth
  • Reincarnation Romance: Spirit and her boyfriend Burke are reincarnations of Guinevere and King Arthur.
  • Wizarding School: Oakhurst Academy. In addition to normal classes, Oakhurst educates all students in "Grammery", or magic.