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Literature / Shadow of the Conqueror

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"I leave this letter so the world will know the truth. Dayless the Conqueror died hating himself and his whole life. As meaningless as these words are, I'm sorry."
—Daylen Namaran

The first installment in Chronicles of Everfall, a Dungeon Punk World in the Sky setting by Shad M. Brooks, also known as the host of Shadiversity.

Who better to fight back the darkness of the world than the one responsible for most of it?

Daylen, once known as the Great Bastard, the Scourge of Nations, Dayless the Conqueror, has lived in hiding since his presumed death. Burdened by age and tremendous guilt, he thinks his life is coming to an end. Unbeknownst to him he’s about to embark on a journey towards redemption where his ruthless abilities might save the world. Many battles await with friends to be made and a past filled with countless crimes to confront, all the while trying to keep his true identity a secret.

Indeed, it might be too much if not for the fabled power awaiting him.


Provides examples of:

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    Tropes #0-C 
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Three cases. First, during his battle with Lyrah, Daylen is desperately trying to think of some way to get an edge, and decides to do so by channeling Light to his intelligence, berating himself for not thinking to try that at any point earlier in the story. Later, he realizes he can channel Light into his skill with the sword, and then later into the sword itself, it being an item he sunforged using his own blood.
  • Absurd Cutting Power: Turning a sword into a sunucle magically increases its cutting power, resulting in swords that can cleave through any physical substance that isn't also a sunucle, made of darkstone, or part of a Shade's body.
  • Accidental Pervert: Cueseg, due to his confusion with Hamahran social cues, ends up saying and doing a lot of things that Hamahrans view as inappropriate at best and sexual harassment at worst. And of course, for his first assignment as an Archknight in Hamahra, his superiors have him work with Lyrah.
  • Ace Pilot: Daylen is one of the few people skilled enough to fly skyships and similar vehicles with all safeties disengaged. Everyone who has every flown with him at the helm thinks of these maneuvers as absolutely crazy, but Daylen makes them work. As the inventor of the annihilator, he's also brought more death from the sky than anyone else in the world.
  • Action Girl: Because of the need for everyone to be prepared to fight the Shade, female duelists are almost as common as male ones in Tellos.
  • Actually a Doombot: Dayless faked his death by leaving a body double on his flagship, fooling everyone into believing that he was on it as it exploded, while he made a Villain: Exit, Stage Left.
  • Aerith and Bob: Hamahran names include Tara, Lyrah, Daylen, and Ahrek.note 
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: After sending him on a pointless task to get rid of him for a few minutes, Lyrah does this to Cueseg to mock him. He assumes that it's the Hamahran way of asking for sex.
    Lyrah: "Light, Cueseg! Are all Tuerasians as perverted as you?"
  • Agony of the Feet:
  • Alien Sky: or horizon, rather. When Daylen sits on the edge and looks out, it mentions how, due to the vertical Wrap Around effect of the setting, he can see copies of the same distant clouds stacked on top of eachother.
    • Played straight be the fact that the same Wrap Around effect meaning that looking up gives you a view of the underside of the very Floating Continent you're standing on.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Queen Quallandra tried this on Dayless, but didn't exactly get the result she wanted: he seduced her, changed his mind about going through with the marriage, and revealed the affair to damage her standing among her people before conquering her country.
  • Alternative Calendar: Because days and nights last for several decades at the least, everyone measures time by "falls," the time it takes for a distant object called the Plummet to reach the bottom of the endless sky and be sent back to the top. These falls are subdivided into times based on the Plummet's position, such as "high," and "low." Word of God is that the amount of time a fall lasts is, coincidentally, 24 real-world hours.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Sunstones aren't just a Fantastic Light Source, but can also increase the power of Lightbringing and Lightbinding magic, while acting as a Kryptonite Factor for the Shade.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Played With. More like communist. The book actually features a group of people called Dawnists (named for the Dawn Empire, which they want to bring back) who are analogues to Neo-Nazis, their monstrous idol being Dayless the Conqueror himself. The main difference between these guys and real life Neo-Nazis is that there's actually no evidence of racism in either the Dawnists, Dayless, or Dayless's policies. The desire to Take Over the World and give a Historical Hero Upgrade to a despot and war criminal they're all too young to have actually experienced firsthand are still there, though.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Sunucles, including weapons, are magically linked to the person who's blood was used to forge them—but there's a small chance that the link can pass to their eldest child when they die. Daylen uses this as an excuse for why he's linked to Imperious. The existence of his bastard children, all of whom are older than he physically appears to be, is one of the clues that tip Ahrek off that Daylen isn't who he appears to be.
  • Angst Coma: After meeting Lyrah at the Fallton and agreeing to let her join the group, Daylen immediately goes to his room, sinking in and out of consciousness for the next several hours. When he finally wakes up and gets to his feet (with extreme difficulty), he speculates that the Light is providing Divine Intervention to make sure he's strong enough to face more emotional torture. This is an excellent example of how Daylen acts in his darker moods.
  • Animate Dead: Greater Shade can use lightblaring to control dead flesh, granting them this ability.
  • Animesque: Between the technicolor hair, crazy emoting, over-the-top action sequences and alien setting, Shadow of the Conqueror can read a lot like an anime novelization, especially compared to other western fantasy novels.
  • Appropriated Appellation: After Daylen slaughtered the aristocracy of Hamahra, the leaders of the other nations began calling him "Dayless" to defame him. Daylen responded by making it the most feared name in the history of Tellos.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Before Daylen, Hamahra was ruled by an aristocracy evil enough to murder Daylen's entire family after he started a revolution against them.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Daylen makes a joke about this after his identity is revealed.
    Daylen: "Yeah, tyrant of ages, oppressor of nations, enemy of all, especially family pets. Oh, and I purposefully redirect people's mail at every opportunity."
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: Daylen is formally charged with this at the end of the novel after saving Highdawn from destruction.
  • Asshole Victim: [unfurls list]
    • Daylen goes on a lynching spree at one point where he offs several rapists and murderers in vigilante justice.
    • Daylen later meets Blackheart, the most feared pirate captain on Tellos, and proceeds to give him the Vlad Țepeș treatment.
    • The entire crew of the Maraven, who are rapists and Human Traffickers to a man, end up on the receiving end of Daylen's wrath shortly after Blackheart.
    • Jena, the leader of the Dawnists, whom Daylen murders in cold blood soon after meeting.
    • Daylen himself gets half his major bones broken, courtesy of Lyrah. He comments almost immediately afterwards that it was nothing he didn't deserve.
    • The Dalavian Council of Dukes, who have to deal with Daylen's fabricated rumor that they have sex with goats, although we only have Daylen's personal testimony to go on as to how much they actually deserved it.
  • The Atoner: The primary character trait of the protagonist, Daylen Namaran. To say that he was comparable to Stalin back when he ruled Hamahra would not be an exaggeration in the slightest.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The biggest weakness of the Shade is that they're so crazed with bloodlust that they freely make suicidal attacks that humans would never consider and have virtually no strategy in battle, unless a Lord Shade is giving them orders. Exploiting this is the key to defeating their armies on the battlefield.
  • Aura Vision: Lightbringers and Lightbinders have the ability to sense Light, and its presence throughout almost all of the world gives them a second means of seeing, as well as the ability to trace magic and an imperfect means to Detect Evil.
  • Author Appeal: Shad famously likes swords and swordfighting. The mechanics of Tellos mean that the whole population carries swords and knows how to fight; and Daylen is a Master Swordsman even by the standards of Tellos.
  • Back from the Dead: Lightbringers can use their Last Miracle to bring someone else back in exchange for their own life. A Lifebinder's healing abilities can also work unconsciously, restarting the heart if a person dies but has access to enough Light to heal their body.
  • Bad Boss: Daylen got into the habit of disposing of any underling who failed or annoyed him when he was Emperor, and he still has traits of this. After killing Blackheart and pressing Sain into service, Daylen punishes any infraction with backhands, punches, and broken bones (taking advantage of Ahrek being nearby for the latter), while threatening to kill him if he leads them into an ambush. He seems to be moving away from this, though, as he repays Sain with interest after the mission by giving him Blackheart's ship and considerable fortune.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Daylen cites this as the reason why he should be allowed to Pay Evil unto Evil, saving the innocent from having to experience such extreme violence.
  • Bastard Bastard: Blackheart, who is both an illegitimate son and a viciously cruel pirate.
  • Be All My Sins Remembered: Daylen is the first person to say that he's the least worthy person to be acclaimed as a hero, receive Lightbinding, or even to live. Not that this stops him from struggling with his Pride.
  • Berserk Button:
    • After being a Grumpy Old Man for so long, Daylen absolutely hates it when people boss him around or refer to him as "son/kid," and is positively incandescent with rage when Lyrah calls him a "pubescent troublemaker."
    • Most of Lyrah's trauma buttons double as Berserk Buttons. She also initially thinks that her hostility towards Daylen is this, and even apologizes for judging him based on who his father is and how he looks. Then she finds out who he really is, and it turns out that the hostility she felt was more than justified.
  • The Berserker: Daylen channels his considerable rage into energy and focus, and brings the extreme violence to match.
  • Berserker Tears: Daylen and Lyrah both cry when they fight each other for the last time—him from remorse and her from sheer, undiluted rage.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Played for Laughs. Daylen intentionally invents a rumor at the start of the book that the leaders of a specific foreign country all have sex with goats. This goes on to be a Running Gag.
  • Beyond Redemption: The Daybreak Massacre is seen as Dayless the Conqueror proving himself irredeemable by most of the world. The city had rebelled against the Dawn Empire, disrupting the supply chain and causing a serious defeat. Dayless responded by flying to the city with his annihilators and reducing it to a smoking ruin, killing over a million innocent people in one stroke. This was the action that prompted the Archknights to finally set aside their political neutrality and enter the fray against the Dawn Empire.
  • Big Eater: Cueseg, much to Lyrah's constant annoyance.
  • Black Humor: Daylen might not be an Evil Overlord anymore, but he still has the tongue for it.
    Sain: "I thought you could read minds?"
    Daylen: "That's only when I split open their skulls and write words with their brain matter."
    Sain: "You're sick."
  • Bloodless Carnage: Downplayed given the nature of the medium making it such that the author normally wouldn't need to clarify the fact that wounds bleed, but there is one notable exception. Daylen at one point catches a man in the act of raping a little girl (revealed immediately after to be the man's own daughter), and so magically enhances his strength in order to perform a barehanded castration on the prick. Given the nature of the scene and the fact that erection in humans is achieved by inflating the penis with blood, one would expect a grisly and detailed description of High-Pressure Blood. In fact, no blood is mentioned at all.
  • Blood Magic: Sunforging an item requires a sample of blood, with the resulting sunucle being linked to the person who provided the blood.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Daylen's skyship maneuvers wreak havoc on the younger and less hardened people unfortunate enough to be on board.
  • Broken Ace: Daylen, due to having both the experience of age and the vigor of youth, excels at a number of things: swordsmanship, mathematics, engineering, sunforging, Lightbinding, flying, and military tactics. He's also a former Evil Overlord whose empire collapsed when the entire world declared war against it, and who is currently ravaged by the soul-crushing guilt at the epicenter of the story's Dysfunction Junction.
  • Broken Bird: Lyrah became an Archknight, swearing to fight evil forever and vigorously training herself to be as strong and in-control as possible, as a way of escaping the feelings of weakness and helplessness she carried after being kidnapped and raped when she was fourteen—and by the protagonist, no less.
  • Broken Pedestal: Daylen tries to invoke this trope by revealing his identity to one of the Dawnists and forcing her to believe it by channeling Light into his voice. She defies it, because as soon as she resists the effects of his voice, she declares that he isn't the Conqueror, that the true Conqueror would never turn away from his cause, and affirms her loyalty to the Dawn Empire even to her dying breath.
  • Bungled Suicide: Daylen at the beginning, due to having committed Stalin-tier crimes against humanity throughout his life and then seen the error of his ways in his old age. Living on a World in the Sky, he elects to jump off the edge. But since this occurs in chapter three, you probably don't need us to tell you that he doesn't get the result he expected.
  • The Caligula: Dayless became a complete sociopath after gaining power, and filled the rest of his reign with a Long List of atrocities: raping hundreds of young girls, genocide, blackmail, betraying his allies, destroying entire cities, seizing and redistributing all wealth, beheading children, executing people for annoying him, and countless other depraved acts. It's no surprise that by the end of his reign, most of the nations in the world were fighting to destroy him and the Dawn Empire by any means necessary.
  • Captain Colorbeard: Inverted. The most infamous and feared pirate captain on Tellos goes by the name "Blackheart."
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: This is the reason why Daylen wasn't executed by the Senate: he's too powerful and useful to not make use of him.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Daylen hates having his flaws pointed out, which he admits is a problem in a conversation with Ahrek.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Dayless had an alliance with the nation of Lourane when he was waging his wars, and the two were on course to split Tellos between them. However, Dayless wanted to conquer all the world, and so eventually betrayed Lourane in this manner. This backfired on him, as it led to Lourane forming an alliance with their longtime enemies in order to defeat Dayless and destroy the Dawn Empire.
  • Celibate Hero: Daylen avoids any sexual encounters after his youth returns, despite ample opportunities, largely because of the memories that it brings up for him. He comments at one point that the memory of his past self is like a bulwark against any similar misbehavior.
  • Cerebus Callback:
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The book has a ton of light-hearted humor and all of the main characters can be distinctly juvenile at times, as Daylen himself admits. It's also an unrelentingly dark World of Ham that addresses topics like genocide, rape, trauma, regret, and self-hatred.
  • Cessation of Existence: Daylen hopes that this will be his fate when he dies, as an alternative to an endless, infinite hell for all of his sins.
  • Charm Person: Lightbinders can channel Light into their voice to achieve this effect, which only stubborn or iron-willed individuals can resist.
  • The Chosen One: After surviving his Bungled Suicide and getting his powers, Daylen decides that the Light must want him for this purpose, and (briefly) feels a new sense of optimism as he begins his Redemption Quest. By the end of the book, Ahrek and Lyrah both agree that this is the case—though obviously with a great dual of incredulity on Lyrah's part.
  • Clark Kenting: In a world where miracles to raise the dead and restore youth are a known fact, Daylen has the same name as the Conqueror, looks like the Conqueror, sounds like the Conqueror, talks like the Conqueror, smells like the Conqueror, acts like the Conqueror, wears the Conqueror's jacket, wields the sword magically linked to the Conqueror, and has all the skills of the Conqueror ... but he is most definitely not Dayless the Conqueror.
    Daylen: "Piss off, and stop trying to cause a riot with your stupid conspiracies."
  • Cluster F-Bomb: When Ahrek tries to get Daylen to soften his language, Daylen hits him with a barrage of real-world and setting-specific curse words.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Daylen is endlessly frustrated by the attentions of the girls he saves from slavery, especially Sharra, as a bunch of vulnerable teenaged girls throwing themselves at him is practically his ultimate temptation.
  • The Comically Serious: Daylen, Ahrek, Lyrah, and Cueseg all consider themselves to have the best sense of humor, but they play this role to each other, as their senses of humor are so incompatible. Whenever one is joking, the others suddenly have No Sense of Humor. In the few occasions when they aren't giving each other the Lame Pun Reaction or saying Dude, Not Funny!, it becomes Snark-to-Snark Combat, instead.
  • Commie Land: The Dawn Empire was essentially a fantasy version of this. During his reign, Dayless enacted a number of USSR-style policies, which include, among other things, confiscating all private property and food available, so as to make everyone in his empire "equal". He also relentlessly persecuted and killed anyone who could threaten his rule within the Empire.
  • Cool Sword: Imperious is Daylen's masterpiece sunucle, the most perfect and powerful sword ever created in Tellos: blue and gold, longer than ordinary one-handed swords, capable of Absurd Cutting Power, with a hilt stylized to resemble a flaring sun and enough of Daylen's dark secrets cooked into it to render it impervious to the darkstone that normally shatters sunucles. The sunforger's guild used to constantly petition him to just let them examine it, which he absolutely refused. One of his last regrets before jumping off the edge of the world is that he isn't strong enough to carry Imperious with him so that they can leave the world together, and his first objective after becoming young again is to get back home to reunite with his beloved sword.
  • Crapsack World: Where to begin? The world is periodically wracked with apocalpytic, extinction-level Nights that see the Shade and mass famines wipe out most of the world's population; every man, woman, and child needs to vigorously train with weapons in preparation for when humanity is inevitably on its last legs again; Hamahra is under the toe of a brutal industrial elite with slums everywhere, the poor barely making enough money to sustain themselves as they're endlessly worked in the factories; the preceding governmental systems were an evil aristocracy and a communist empire; warfare has grown so deadly and widespread that tens of millions were slaughtered over the course of the Dawn Empire; Sky Pirates and Human Traffickers make themselves rich off the suffering of people they rob, pillage, enslave, or blackmail; the only concerted effort to improve the world and end the Shade forever resulted in the creation of the aforementioned empire and countless deaths; the Archknights are locked in a Forever War with the Shade and can barely find time to help the people who desperately need them, and when they actually do, there's so much rape and murder in the major cities that they can never hope to help all of the people who are being attacked and brutalized at that very minute. Tellos is an immutable Crapsack World that offers no escape from endless brutality and conflict, and the closest thing to The Chosen One is a reformed Evil Overlord who spends his time viciously slaughtering the lesser monsters of the world.
  • Crippling Castration: At one point Daylen catches a man red-handed in the process of raping his daughter. Magically enhancing his strength, Daylen rips the man's presumably-still-erect dick off with his bare hands!
  • Cruel Mercy: Daylen thinks the Light letting him live with his guilt is A Fate Worse Than Death. His trial at the end is also this, as Daylen hoped that they'd execute him.
  • Culture Clash: Lyrah and Cueseg, constantly. Most of the conflict comes from him being so lewd that even other Tuerasians think he's perverse, and her being exceptionally puritanical even for a Hamahran. After some uncomfortable conversations, things settle down to a Crazy Cultural Comparison between the two.

    Tropes D-F 
  • Dark Is Evil: The de facto religion of Hamahra, Lightseeking, seems to be based on this and Light Is Good. Also an important element of the setting.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Tuerasians as a whole, who combine black skin with bright blond hair.
  • Death by Despair: When Daylen first bonds Light to his memory, he remembers his entire life, and the pain of all his crimes causes his mind to break and him to die. His Healing Factor brings him Back from the Dead shortly after, with the unbearable memories safely tucked back away.
  • Death Glare: Lyrah gives Cueseg and Daylen a ton of these, including an exceptionally vicious one when she confronts Daylen after finding out that he's really Dayless the Conqueror.
  • Death Seeker: Daylen wants nothing more than to die and finally be released from his guilt, but can't bring himself to end his life until the last few falls before old age does him in, because he believes it would be cowardly opting out of the Light's chosen punishment for him.
  • Decapitation Required: One of the only sure ways to kill a Lifebinder, as their Healing Factor can regenerate even lost limbs as long as they have access to enough Light.
  • Defiled Forever: The Tuerasians brand the foreheads of those guilty of fornication or adultery so everyone will know their social shame. Hamahra fulfills the trope in a different way by viewing rape victims as damaged goods, a cultural element which the Tuerasians condemn as backwards and barbaric. Sharra in particular worries that her family will throw her out after her brief time as a Sex Slave, which prompts a particularly visceral response from Daylen.
    Daylen: "That's a load of drack!"
    Sharra: "But who'll marry me now? My ... my parents won't want me anymore.
    Daylen: "If your parents love you, that isn't true."
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: When Daylen finds out that the Archknights are vulnerable to darkstone, he thinks about how he'd have created shotspikes to weaponize this against them, if he'd known when he was still ruling the Dawn Empire. The Dawnists later do create such weapons, to disastrous effect, later on.
  • Detect Evil: Measuring the "inner Light" of an individual can provide clues to their morality, because repeated wrongdoing weakens that inner Light, and living by a moral code strengthens it. It's far from perfect, though, as a Knight Templar will still have a bright inner Light due to their firm moral conviction, and low Light can result from very minor moral failings. The Shade are particularly easy to detect, as they're the only ones who have no inner Light at all.
  • Dialogue Reversal: Whenever Ahrek questions Daylen about his past beyond the basics of his story, Daylen immediately tells him "None of your business." Later, when Daylen asks Ahrek what items he keeps hidden with his Lightbringing powers, Ahrek tosses the line right back at him, to Daylen's amusement.
  • Diamonds in the Buff: Some Tuerasian women drop the clothes altogether, aside from elaborate costumes composed entirely of jewelry that leave the important bits uncovered. Unfortunately for the young women of the Dawn Empire, this little bit of Foreign Fanservice gave Dayless some dark ideas.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Daylen is an Unknown Known, as after his true identity is revealed, no one expected him to save Highdawn from the Dawnist plot. Lyrah in particularly is utterly floored that Dayless the Conqueror of all people just saved millions of people. With good reason mind you, since Daylen was a tyrant comparable to Joseph Stalin when he was in power.
  • Dirty Old Man: Even up to the end of his reign, old age did nothing to curb Dayless's lust for pretty young girls. It took a fall from power and total impotence to finally end his escapades.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: A very common problem when interacting with native-raised Tuerasians, as they're borderline nudists by everyone else's standards.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Shortly after Daylen gets his powers, he gives "a good thump" to a local villager who accosts him, and ends up shattering most of his ribs. Thankfully, Ahrek is at hand to both heal the man before he dies and to give Daylen a well-deserved tongue-lashing. After this, Daylen admits how reckless he was and is a lot more careful about using his strength against people who don't have his kind of powers.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Averted. Daylen catches a woman molesting a young girl early on, and proceeds to give her the same hard justice that he dealt out to the two male rapists he'd just killed. Or at least similarly hard justice: it isn't clarified whether it was quick and painless, or just as brutal as for the men.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Played with. Due to Cuesaig's poor understanding of Hamahran social cues and conversational moores, he and Lyrah keep misinterpreting what the other does as this trope, with each coming across to the other as a bigger pervert than they actually are.
  • The Dreaded: The seas of blood that Dayless the Conqueror waded through over the course of three decades have made him the most feared man to ever live. Even twenty years after his supposed death, everyone old enough remembers him as the embodiment of terror and oppression.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Sharra does this to nonverbally offer Daylen some Rescue Sex. He immediately tells her to put it back on.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Despite his incredible power and success, Dayless was profoundly unhappy as an emperor due to him separating himself from his passions and morality. Large quantities of fine wine were the first, but definitely not the last, thing he used to stave off his sorrow.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Lyrah and Cueseg regard each other's humor as offensive, especially when food, culture, or religion is involved. Him accidentally hitting her Trauma Button doesn't help things.
  • Dungeon Punk: The world is awash with Magitek, has a lot of elements from the sixteenth through mid-twentieth century, and is gritty enough to qualify as a Crapsack World.
  • Dynamic Entry: In keeping with his Super Hero motif, Daylen plows right through a roof before castrating an incestuous rapist. For bonus points, he then throws said rapist straight through a brick wall and out into empty air to plummet to the street below.
  • Dysfunction Junction: All of the main characters have enough trauma in their pasts to break several people, and the rest of the people in the world aren't far behind: even the ones too young to have experienced the Fourth Night and the First World War of Tellos tend to have been enslaved, raped, blackmailed, or orphaned.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: During a discussion about magic, Daylen makes himself weigh over seven metric tons, and Lyrah hefts him into the air with ease. This stuns both of them, as she's amazed that he has four Light bonds, and he had no idea that it was possible for a Lifebinder to specialize their Super Strength.
  • Ephebophile: Dayless had a strong sexual preference for girls still in their teens, some of them as young as fourteen. This was the legal age of marriage and consent during the Dawn Empire, but is considered pedophilia by the standards of modern Hamahra. Daylen still struggles with this in the present, experiencing personal problems when around young, beautiful girls.
  • The Emperor: Dayless's official title when he ruled the Dawn Empire. Notably, he actually met the legal definition (a male monarch in charge of more than one country).
  • The Empire: The Dawn Empire, which was formed from Dayless's native Hamahra with more and more countries annexed to it. Modern Hamahra still has elements of this, as it incorporates territories that weren't part of Hamahra before Dayless conquered them and purged their nobility, but has since transitioned into a republic ruled by a democratically elected Senate.
  • Emotional Bruiser: Exaggerated by Daylen, who is a crazy, Hot-Blooded Berserker who slaughters his enemies in the most brutal ways he can think of, and is also an extreme Mood-Swinger who's Prone to Tears of Remorse and has so much emotional turmoil that it can knock him unconscious and even kill him. He stands out even in a World of Ham like Tellos!
  • Emotions Versus Stoicism: Shadow of the Conqueror is far on the emotional side of the spectrum. Almost everyone is incredibly Hot-Blooded, and by contrast, many of Dayless's most evil actions were committed when he sealed away his humanity and barely felt anything at all.
  • Enemy Mine: The presence of the Shade forces a temporary truce between Lyrah and Daylen, even though she wants nothing more than to kill him at that point. Any teeth-clenching is purely on her part, however, as he never thinks of her as an enemy and is eager to help.
  • The Engineer: Daylen eagerly took to his father's work at an early age, becoming an engineer as well. In Tellos, that would have meant finding new uses for sunstone and darkstone in peacetime ... but when Daylen later founded the Dawn Empire, he turned his skills to designing engines of war instead, eventually becoming an Emperor Scientist.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dayless may have been a Serial Rapist, but he considered sex with girls under fourteen (the legal age of consent during the Dawn Empire) to be unethical, and made sure that every girl he took was at least that age. He also absolutely refused to use sunucles linked to anyone other than himself.
  • Evil Overlord: Dayless the Conqueror, after defeating the aristocracy. He has since realized the error of his ways, has to live with crippling guilt, and is desperately trying to make up for it.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Everything Dayless did with the Dawn Empire was ultimately to prepare for the Shade. The Shade themselves seem to view him as the oblivion.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Daylen ends up on the receiving end of this from Lyrah, shortly after she finds out that he's Dayless: ripping off his arms, crushing his rib cage, knocking him into the air with enough force to break several bones and create a crater, and finally shattering his back, arm, and ribs again. Even Daylen's extreme Healing Factor and pain tolerance are pushed to the limit, until he figures out an 11th-Hour Superpower and proceeds to turn the Curbstomp Battle upside down on her.
  • Fallen Hero: Daylen Namaran started out as the Hero of the fourth night and the overthrower of The Aristocracy, but after said aristocracy murdered his entire family, he over time became a far, FAR, worse leader than they ever were.
  • False Rape Accusation: Queen Quallandra of Frey attempted to secure an alliance with the Dawn Empire, trying to get Dayless to enter a marriage alliance with her, and had a consensual affair with him as part of that persuasion. After he betrayed her and conquered Frey, she put out the story that he'd raped her, which everyone was more than prepared to believe.
  • Famed in Story: Because News Travels Fast, Daylen quickly acquires a reputation as a hero, which he tries to avoid because of his past. Ahrek also briefly wonders if Lyrah has some sort of special reputation, after seeing Daylen recognize her on sight, but she denies it, saying that she isn't more famous than any other individual Archknight.
  • Fantastic Light Source: Sunstones, which replace electric lightning as per Tellos's extensive use of Magitek.
  • Fantastic Nuke:
    • While he never managed to invent literal nukes, Dayless equipped his annihilator skyships with enough firepower to level entire cities with ease.
    • Daylen spent some of his years in exile experimenting with sunforging, and did something most sunsmiths consider impossible: sunforging darkstone. By experimenting with the tiniest pieces of darkstone, he deduced that sunforging a large amount would create an explosion massive enough to shatter entire islands and continents. It's no surprise, then, that Daylen says The World Is Not Ready for this kind of dark secret.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted, as the Magitek of the setting can be used to produce shotspikes, the local equivalent of firearms. There is, however, literal Fantasy Gun Control, as Dayless forbade the common people from using such powerful weapons.
  • Farmboy: Defied. Gaidan seems to realize that Daylen is the protagonist of a fantasy novel and tries to join his party. Daylen chews him out for trying to abandon his parents without even a word of leave, trashes him with ease in a duel, and sends him home.
    Daylen: "Kids."
  • Fatal Flaw:
  • Final Solution: Dayless dealt with the aristocracy who killed his family by purging every last royal or noble in Hamahra and the surrounding countries, racking up a death toll in the thousands. The Daybreak Massacre—the destruction of a city of a million people—is also referred to as a genocide.
  • Flipping the Bird: After Daylen warns Sain that he'll know if Sain sets a foot out of line, Sain flips him off when his back is turned. Daylen, of course, immediately forgives him.
  • Floating Continent: Double Subverted. It's a World in the Sky setting, but the only major continent mentioned so far is Tellos (when Daylen at one point sits on the edge and gazes off into the distance, it mentions how, due to the setting being vertically looped, he can see copies of the same distant clouds stacked on top of one another, but no distant continents are mentioned), but there are several subcontinents floating above Tellos, so relative to Tellos, those fit this trope.
  • Foreign Fanservice: Many Hamahrans find the Tuerasians particularly appealing, especially given their customs.
  • Foreign Queasine: Cueseg has a low opinion of all Hamahran food. His hunger is stronger than his disgust, however, and he still ends up eating a ton of it. Ahrek later reveals to him that the source of the problem is him buying from the infamously low-quality Hamahran street vendors, rather than going to a restaurant.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: The Dawnists still view Dayless the Conqueror like this, complete with the over-the-top imagery and hero-worship.
  • Fountain of Youth: Jumping over the edge of Tellos and passing the bottom edge of the universe normally loops you back to the top like a game of asteroids, but if you're physically touching either a piece of darkstone or sunstone when you reach that point, you instead just die. Daylen, in an attempt to commit suicide, does this while holding one of each, which turned out to have quite a different effect, namely granting him a form of Lightbinding magic, as well as reversing his physical age to about 17. This is the only time anyone has ever been de-aged in the process of obtaining Light-Binding magic, and the only explanation for this offered so far comes from Daylen himself, who basically just shrugs and says "I dunno, Divine Intervention?"
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Dayless is such a known guilty party that most of the crimes committed by other people during his reign are shifted unto him, including things that were actually a matter of dispute between knife and sword making guilds.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Hamahra exchanged rulership by an evil aristocracy for rulership by a magnitudes-worse evil Emperor in the form of Dayless the Conqueror.
  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: Every Shade was once a human exposed to darkness for too long, and they resemble a monstrous version of their former self for a time after they turn. Greater and Lord Shade are fully intelligent, but are completely devoted to destroying humanity, functioning as the leaders of the Shade.
  • Functional Magic: There are three varieties of magic in the setting:
    • Lightbringing magic is good-aligned, and obtained by being a sufficiently-good person. It grants abilities that basically make you a D&D cleric. Note however that if you commit any immoral act, even so much as lying, you lose your powers.
    • Lightbinding magic is neutrally-aligned, and obtained by a mysterious ritual called "The Vigil," which Daylen may or may not have accidentally reverse-engineered. It's first variant, Lifebinding, grants you the ability to temporarily enhance physical attributes, such as vision, strength, mass, stamina, etc. The second type, Worldbinding, gives external powers like gravity manipulation or lightning blasts.
    • Lightblaring magic is evil-aligned, and seems to be restricted to the Shade. It grants the abilities that they use in their endless attempts to wipe out humanity, such as darkness fields, flight, Telekinesis, controlling dead flesh, and killing plants in the area.
    • There is also sunforging, the process of crafting magical objects called sunucles. How it fits into the above scheme is unclear, as it seems to function as a skill that anyone can learn, like masonry or playing music.
  • Fury-Fueled Foolishness: Daylen frequently regrets the things he says or does in the midst of his rages, as his reason returns as soon as he calms down.

    Tropes G-I 
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The biggest advantages of the Dawn Empire were the technological advances that Dayless could bring to his forces by inventing new engines of war. Even in the present day, he remains the most skilled sunforger who ever lived, creating things that other engineers regard as impossible wonders.
  • Genius Bruiser: Regaining his youth gives Daylen both his peak mental capacity and his peak physical fitness. As he was both a Master Swordsman and an Emperor Scientist back in the day, that's saying a lot.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a Dungeon Punk and a High Fantasy story set in a world of solar Magitek, with Renaissance swords everywhere, the eve of an Industrial Revolution dawning, early twentieth-century political conflicts on the world stage, and some Anime and Superhero Tropes thrown in for spice. Some reviewers have even declared it the Trope Maker of an entirely new genre, dubbed "Sunpunk."
  • The Glomp: Almost immediately after being rescued, Sharra dives straight into Daylen's arms and hugs him, ignoring his protests.
  • God: Cuesaig at one point briefly reveals that his people follow a monotheistic religion, even referring to their Deity as "God," and Lyrah briefly makes fun of the word. The fact that this religion was relegated to one of the background cultures is rather surprising considering that the author is a particularly devout Mormon, who instead opted to assign the Western-analogue culture of the protagonists a fictional religion based around Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Dayless eventually forbade the girls he kept to wear any clothes at all, instead covering them with jewelry meant to emphasize and call attention to their private parts, even making them wear these outfits no matter who was present at the time. The same situation is later seen from the point of view of one of his victims, describing how unbelievably degrading and humiliating it was.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: Daylen leaves a suicide note revealing his identity as Dayless before he leaps off the edge of the world at the start of the book. He intends to return home and destroy the note after he regains his youth, but is too late to stop a local farmer from sending it to the papers, forcing him to concoct a story about being Dayless the Conqueror's son for when word gets out of Dayless being alive, leaving everyone to think that Dayless's Bungled Suicide actually succeeded.
  • Good Feels Good: Daylen reflects on this after giving Blackheart's skyship and money to Sain, describing the act of redeeming another life from evil as the most noble thing he's done in decades, and the first genuine joy he'd felt in just as long.
  • Good Parents: Even in his old age, Daylen fondly remembers his loving parents, crediting his upbringing with how he became such a talented engineer. One of his most traumatic memories from the Fourth Night was them becoming Shade, after which he was forced to kill them. Daylen himself became this for his first two children with similarly tragic results, as the aristocracy targeted and murdered them.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Daylen can regenerate from just about anything shy of decapitation, and Lyrah is very aware of this. Daylen later invokes this trope on Ahrek to subdue him.
  • Good with Numbers: Daylen was educated in math from an early age, and always had a knack for it. His mathematical reasoning is part of the reason why he's a master engineer and sunsmith, and he also excels at gambling (specifically races) because of his ability to read statistics.
  • Gravity Master: Some Worldbinders can manipulate gravity, with a specialized user of the ability (like Kennet) being referred to as a Graviten.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Dayless was an extreme example, and would order executions for the smallest annoyances. Daylen still has this, though not to anywhere near the same extent. Throughout the story, he increasingly makes the effort to control his rages and not overreact, but an explosive temper remains his Fatal Flaw.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Daylen notes how messy fighting with Imperious can be, as it's more than capable of cleaving through multiple limbs and bodies in one swing. Lyrah, due to her specialized Super Strength, can achieve the same effect with a steel warsword.
  • Hammered into the Ground:
    • After Lyrah smashes Daylen's face in and tries to arrest him, Ahrek sweeps her feet out from under her with his telekinetic powers and then slams her into the ground hard enough to create a crater. She crawls right out, but it provides enough time for Daylen to escape.
    • Daylen later ends up on the receiving end of this when Lyrah hits him hard enough to plow him into the ground, leaving him to frantically pull himself out of it before the beatdown can resume.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat:
    • Daylen and Ahrek occasionally get into this. Ahrek is usually calm, but he's capable of matching Daylen shout for shout. The image on the trope page is not a bad indication of how they interact, especially as Ahrek is giving Daylen lessons in controlling his rage.
    • After Ahrek helps Daylen escape the custody of the Archknights, Ahrek and Lyrah positively pommel each other, with Lyrah even giving him the in-universe equivalent of the Precision F-Strike. They agree to have Lyrah join the group to keep track of Daylen shortly afterwards, but nobody is happy about it, especially not Daylen.
    • Daylen and Lyrah are both such Hot-Blooded Determinators that their first few conversations are practically endurance matches until their related psychological issues force them to retreat to their rooms to recover.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: After his Naked First Impression gets a chilly reception from Lyrah, Cueseg covers himself with his hands.
  • Healing Hands: An ability common to all Lightbringers, which they can also use on themselves in a pinch.
  • Hero Antagonist: Ahrek and Lyrah are both genuinely heroic and have a ton of excellent reasons to want Daylen dead, but don't realize that he's the only one who can save Highdawn. Daylen recognizes this, which is one reason why he absolutely refuses to kill them.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: As does everyone else in the setting, it seems.
  • Heroic Bastard: Daylen poses as this: the son of Dayless the Conqueror, trying to do good and get out from under his father's shadow. He later finds out that many of his children are this trope for real, some even becoming Archknights.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lyrah, briefly, when Ahrek tells her that Daylen is actually Dayless. This causes a panic attack, immobilizing her for a couple of minutes as every one of her interactions with him is given a Cerebus Callback. With some help from Ahrek and Cueseg, she recovers quickly enough to join Ahrek in going for some Revenge.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Zigzagged. The Dawnists, being analogues to Neo-Nazis minus the racism, give one to Dayless the Conqueror. Unlike Hitler, Daylen actually had done several quite heroic deeds before he came to power, which one of their leaders points out. The rest are seemingly content to cherry-pick and exaggerate the good aspects of Daylen's reign. Daylen did in fact make enough significant improvements in the state of affairs while he was in power (many of which are even still in place by the time of the book) that had these been the only notable aspects of his reign he'd probably be remembered as the hero and reformer the Dawnists see him as, but the simple fact of the matter is that his sins as head of state were just so bad as to completely eclipse what good he did.
  • Hive Mind: All the Shade are connected mentally, which allows Greater and Lord Shade to speak through the mouths of the mindless lesser Shade.
  • Horny Devils: Daylen mentions that one type of Greater Shade is called a Lust, which can bend weak-willed men to its control with its magic.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Daylen, with his newfound Lightbinding magic: He's able to rapidly figure out the basics within two chapters of even getting the ability, but it's a slow trickle from there on out, due to him not being able to get a mentor until late in the book. Even then, there's a lot of information about Lightbinding magic that won't be revealed until future installments.
  • Hypocrite: Daylen, as a running theme:
    • As emperor, he eventually used tactics and policies that contradicted every ideal he claimed to be fighting for, such as giving special privileges to his soldiers to keep them loyal to him—effectively creating a new aristocracy. He declared that no one would own property in the Dawn Empire, not even him, but as the absolute monarch of a totalitarian government, that effectively meant that the entire empire was his own personal property. He also outlawed sex slaves and instituted the death penalty for rapists ... and then proceeded to kidnap and rape hundreds of girls who were still in their teens.
    • After his transformation, Daylen constantly complains how petty, immature, overly sensitive, and self-righteous everyone around him is. As Ahrek points out, the person who best exemplifies all of those traits is ... Daylen himself. Daylen responds with a Hypocrisy Nod.
    • Daylen immediately starts executing rapists and murderers in the most brutal fashion possible, taking every opportunity to say how despicable those kinds of people are. Daylen also won't tolerate anyone judging him, who has hundreds of rapes and tens of millions of murders under his belt.
    • After pissing Lyrah off by mashing one of her trauma buttons, Daylen is "stunned" at what a Mood-Swinger she is. He then immediately proceeds to froth at the mouth in rage over her calling him "a pubescent troublemaker" and "kid." He makes another Hypocrisy Nod over this, marveling at how absurd it is for him to be angry with her of all people for such a small thing as being bossy, but Daylen's unstable emotional register doesn't always keep up with his reasoning.
    • After administering some corporal punishment on Sain for not standing in the correct position, Daylen refuses to accept that Sain just forgot about Daylen's orders. Later in the book, after ranting at Lyrah and feeling guilty over it, Daylen tells himself that he only did it because he "forgot" who she was. Really, Daylen?
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Lyrah, emphasizing her cold and no-nonsense personality as an Archknight and the book's Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist. Daylen remembers them as Innocent Blue Eyes back when she was fourteen, showing her vulnerability. This is a particularly painful detail for him, as the fear in her eyes was the detail that later made him realize that he'd become a Serial Rapist.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Tellos has a region called the Shadowlands, so named simply due to being shrouded in Tellos's actual shadow due to the universe's Wrap Around effect. It's not stated to actually harbor anything dangerous, though.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Daylen does this to Ahrek twice, defeating him but doing everything possible to keep him alive. After enduring some Extreme Mêlée Revenge, he does the same to Lyrah.
    Daylen: "I'd never kill you, Lyrah, but stop now before I injure you so much that it'll take a fall for you to heal with your single bond.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Tuerasians have very lax modesty standards, so having the self control needed to pull this trope off is an important virtue among them.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • This was a favorite tactic of Dayless the Conqueror, who routinely threatened the family and loved ones of his enemies to keep them in line, and was more than willing to follow through if they rebelled against him.
    • Blackheart is a master blackmailer as well, creating sunucles that he can use to kill the people they're linked to at any time. He holds Sain captive this way by threatening his mother.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Taigo and Luciana go about their "cleansing ordinance" with wild abandon, which Daylen picks up from several kilometers away with his Super Hearing.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Blackheart, ala Vlad the Impaler. Shortly after, Daylen does the same to another ship's captain for smuggling sex slaves.
    • Daylen himself later gets skewered all the way through by four swords at once, courtesy of Ahrek.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
    • One obtains Lightbringing magic by being a sufficiently good person, but if one commits any immoral act, even telling a single lie, then one loses those powers.
    • Lightbinding is thought to have a similar requirement, with those who die during the Vigil being assumed to not be pure in their commitment, but it can actually be obtained by anyone and for any reason.
  • I Never Told You My Name: When Daylen recognizes Lyrah, he's so emotionally shocked that he blurts out her name, which makes both her and Ahrek suspicious. Ahrek wonders if Lyrah is Famed in Story, and Daylen later makes up a feeble explanation about his father talking about and describing her. Luckily for him, Lyrah is so disturbed by the idea of Dayless talking about her that she decides to Change the Uncomfortable Subject.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: When Lyrah breaks his bones, Daylen compliments her on her no-fuss strength at one point, and later calls it "an intimate lesson in pain." He also stops to admire her when she starts slaughtering Dawnists by picking them up and throwing them, remarking how "incredible" it is, and fantasizes about making amends to her by becoming her slave and letting her "do to him whatever she wished."
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Daylen finds Sharra's blue eyes to be particularly attractive, but the innocent quality of them convinces him not to accept her offer of Rescue Sex, as he sees it as effectively taking advantage of a child.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: The Tuerasians vary between this and Shameless Fanservice Girl/Guy when interacting with people of other cultures.
  • Insufferable Genius: Daylen is very aware of how knowledgeable and skilled he is compared to most of the people in the world, and not at all shy about reminding them of what a genius he is whenever a situation arises where his smarts are needed.
  • I Owe You My Life:
    • The girls that Daylen rescues from slavery aboard the Maraven are all intensely grateful to him, however he tries to hide it, with Sharra the most expressive about it.
    • Sain is initially a Defiant Captive, but his attitude towards Daylen improves by orders of magnitude after Daylen uses his sunforging abilities to undo the sunucles that Blackheart used to hold Sain and his mother captive.
    • During the climax, Daylen goes out of his way to save Lyrah from the ambush that the Dawnists prepare with their Depleted Phlebotinum Shells. While it certainly doesn't make her forgive him, it's a major factor in reducing the apocalyptic levels of well-deserved hate that she feels for him, to the point where she returns the favor and saves him when he falls off of the Bloodrunner.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: In the end, the reason why Ahrek not only spares Daylen's life, but also forgives him. Just before Ahrek delivers the killing blow, Daylen contemplates how similar their stories are, and how ultimately it was Daylen's hatred of the aristocracy that fueled the fury behind his atrocities as Dayless. Daylen channeled that hatred towards evil deeds, and Ahrek towards helping people, but the same hatred was there in both. To rid himself of that hatred, lest he be destroyed by it as Daylen was, Ahrek embraces his family's killer as a changed man and a friend.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Daylen, regarding his past crimes and the Dawn Empire in general, in contrast to how he used to be.
    • Lyrah, when she realizes that Hamenday Island is about to crash headlong into Highdawn and kill hundreds of thousands or millions of innocent people, all because she abandoned the others for the chance to kill Daylen. Daylen immediately tells her she's not to blame and would've likely died if things had been otherwise, but she isn't convinced.

    Tropes J-O 
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Daylen is self-admittedly a former murderer, rapist, tyrant, ephebophile, and current Psychopathic Manchild, but he earnestly wants to be a better man, defend the innocent, make amends to the world, and do good.
    Sain: "So, he's secretly a softie?"
    Ahrek: "Deep down, yes."
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: A lot of higher class women wear dresses specially made to hold swords and not impede their agility in a duel, and others carry their swords in sheaths that double as parasols.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Defied. After finding out that Daylen knows how anyone can become a Lightbinder without a Heroic Vow, Lyrah becomes determined to force him to join the Archknights or else execute him, so no one will learn the Archknights' secret. After Ahrek tears into her over this, she admits that killing or drafting him just for his knowledge isn't just, and settles for following him to make sure he doesn't let anything slip, instead.
  • Kindness Button: It surprises Lyrah to find Daylen expressing so much guilt for what his "father" did, and her regard for him improves enough that she tells him that he's nothing like Dayless. He goes on cloud nine over this, considering it the first real proof that he's acting like a better person, and briefly acts like a Nice Guy.
  • Knight Templar: Dayless the Conqueror, who believed unshakably in the rightness of his cause even as he slaughtered the aristocracy to the last child and annihilated entire cities. The Dawnists follow in his footsteps, and both Daylen and Lyrah note that these sorts of people are exceptionally dangerous because of their steadfast belief that they're fighting against an evil and corrupt system.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Blackheart and Ahrek both cite the pirate's exceptional skill with a sword as proof that he's one of Dayless's bastards. It turns out that Dayless fathered a number of them during his tenure as emperor, and when he gets to meet them, every single one of them turns out to be a highly skilled swordsman or swordswoman, just like him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: "Yeah, I'm just going to rape my daughter right now, no big dea— wait, who the heck is this bastard who just burst through the roof? YEEAAARRGH!!! BY THE LIGHT! THE BLACKENED SON OF A SHADE JUST RIPPED MY DICK OFF!!"
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Dayless swore never to have children again after his family was murdered, giving strict orders to his agents to make sure none of the girls he paid, seduced, or raped ended up pregnant. His "contraceptive measures," however, failed spectacularly, and he unwittingly sired hundreds of children. His attendants were too terrified of his wrath to tell him, and instead worked to hide all the children.
  • Light Is Good: The de facto religion of Hamahra, Lightseeking, seems based on this and Dark Is Evil. Also an important element of the setting.
  • Light Is Not Good: Daylen is a master sunforger, devoutly follows the Lightseeking religion, wields a sunblade with a golden hilt stylized to resemble a flaring sun, founded the Dawn Empire, fought against and helped end The Night That Never Ends in his youth, and is the archenemy of the Shade. Even so, his enemies referred to him as "Dayless," which says something about how light and dark are viewed in Tellos.
  • Lightning Glare: This being a book and not a visual medium doesn't stop Lyrah and Daylen from exchanging lightning bolts.
    "And you won't abuse them?" she asked.
    "No more than you," Daylen said, not flinching from the woman's gaze. She stared back at him as if their eyes were in a duel.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: The Dawnists idolize Dayless the Conqueror, but are the enemies of the vigilante and Lightbinder Daylen Namaran, who publicly denounced the Dawn Empire.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Old age has rendered Daylen impotent by the time the story begins. He's especially pleased with his new, youthful body for not having this problem ... only to quickly become frustrated by the opposite extreme, instead.
  • Lost Superweapon: Hidden among the Floating Isles is a colossal sunforge which can do things impossible with conventional sunforging, such as creating sunucles of seemingly unlimited size or sunforging darkstone. Only Daylen found the mastered the forge, and he speculates that the Floating Isles were created when someone created a Fantastic Nuke that shattered them.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Massive kite shields are a particular favorite of the author, so it's no surprise that they show up frequently.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Blackheart reveals this to Daylen right before being anally impaled to death on a giant piece of wood. Daylen doesn't believe him until he finds evidence for this claim later.
  • Luminescent Blush:
    • Played for Drama. Lyrah notices Daylen staring at her face when he realizes that she's a Broken Bird and questions him about it. Desperately fishing for a lie, Daylen tries to cover what he was really thinking about by saying that he was staring because she's beautiful, remembering belatedly that this is one of her trauma and berserk buttons. Cue Lyrah blushing with mingled embarrassment and rage, and Daylen mentally cursing himself with gusto.
      "It had been a profoundly stupid thing to say."
    • Sain has a much more humorous outbreak of blushing when Daylen guesses that Sharra seduced him, with jealousy turning him even more red when he finds out that she tried it on Daylen first.
  • Magic Knight: Lifebinding naturally lends itself to this, being a form of magic revolving around enhancing body parts and physical attributes. Lightbringers and Worldbinders who train in combat also end up as Magic Knights.
  • Magitek: All over the place, including things like guns, cars, skyscrapers, and airships, all powered by the two phlebotinums below.
  • Master of One Magic: Lightbinders can increase their ability in one power by specializing in it. Lyrah refuses to tell Daylen how this is achieved, wanting to give him as many incentives to join the Archknights as possible, but he later figures it out on his own when he channels light to his intelligence. While the details are saved as a Sequel Hook, it seems to involve using certain bonds only for the specialized attributes, as Lyrah always reserves two of her bonds for strength and refers to the third as her "free bond."
  • Master Swordsman: Daylen was always a passionate duelist, and attained the highest possible rank—Grand High Master of the Sword. His abilities atrophied a bit in old age with the weakening of his body, but his newfound youth brings them back to their peak. What startles him is that Ahrek also attained the same rank, with the golden mark to prove it.
  • Matriarchy: Countries that abide by the Matriology religion, like Frey, are an Original Matriarchy with elements of an In-Name Only Matriarchy. Women and men both abide by a strict Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast where Women Are Delicate and A Real Man Is a Killer, but women are the heads of every household and a singular queen is the ultimate ruler.
  • Mean Boss: When Cueseg tries to walk off in the middle of a mission to order to clean off his boots, Lyrahnote  threatens to make him eat the crap he just stepped in if he doesn't get back in line, and later tells him she'll kill him if he pulls any more Tuerasian nonsense on her. As a result, he considers her his well-meaning, effective, but nasty boss.
    Ahrek: "And now we're companions, so we'd best find a way to get along."
    Cueseg: "It can be hard to get along with this one. But she is good.
    Lyrah: "Oh, great way to show loyalty, Cueseg!"
  • Medieval Stasis: Averted. There's lots of Phlebotinum-powered Magitek in the setting, even guns and cars. Although most of it seems to have been developed only recently.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Characters who are meant to be in the right, such as Ahrek, treat killing a woman under a given set of circumstances as a much bigger deal than if she'd been a man. It might be worth mentioning that the author is Mormon.
  • Microts: Given the Endless Daytime nature of the setting, denizens instead measure time in "Falls," which is the ammount of time it takes a distant object called The Plummet to fall to the bottom of the world and loop back to the top. Subverted by Word of God, which states that a Fall lasts 24 real-world hours.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Has the Aversion of this trope as a general theme.
  • Misery Trigger: Lyrah, for Daylen, enough that it takes a lot of effort on his part before he can even look at her without collapsing in misery. During one of their early conversations, the sight of her causes his legs to give out and him to stumble, prompting her to ask him if he's injured. Daylen's extreme reactions to just seeing her puzzle Ahrek, who doesn't figure it out until Cueseg later gives him The Reveal.
  • Monster Lord: Greater and Lord Shade are significantly more powerful and intelligent versions of the mindless lesser Shade, with one of their unique abilities being able to use lesser Shade as vocal puppets through their Hive Mind.
  • Mood-Swinger: Daylen swings between hopeful optimism, smug superiority, explosive rage, juvenile playfulness, and paralyzing self-hatred practically every few chapters. He also considers Lyrah to be this, due to how intense their conversations get.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In-Universe. Once Daylen accidentally makes himself young again, about 4 in 5 women of the same physical age he meets become attracted to him.
  • Mugging the Monster: A beggar in an alleyway looking for someone to murder and rob certainly didn't expect to find himself fighting Dayless the Conqueror one-on-one.
  • Must Make Amends: As Daylen is partially responsible for what a mess the world is in, he considers it his duty to do everything he can to fix it, making restitution to as many of the millions of people he's wronged as possible.
  • Mutant Draft Board: The Archknights put out the story that only those who take a Heroic Vow with absolute dedication can become Lightbinders, fearing that the individual nations will form their own armies of Lightbinders if they know the secret to the Vigil. When Daylen gains those powers by accident, they immediately start hunting him down to force him to join their ranks.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Ten years before the book begins, Daylen finally comprehended the full extent of his crimes, which sent him headlong into depression. He strongly considered killing himself then and there, but decided to stay alive simply because he felt he deserved the punishment of his endless guilt. He has the reaction all over again whenever he's reminded of one of his worse crimes.
    • When Lyrah attempts to arrest him, a combination of self-defense instinct, anger at the injustice, and his own berserk tendencies makes Daylen prepare to fight her to the death. After escaping and calming down, Daylen is horrified that he almost tried to kill her, considering it Fury-Fueled Foolishness given who she is. The next time they cross swords, he does everything he can to avoid seriously injuring her, saying point-blank that he'd never kill her even in self-defense.
    • Daylen doesn't think much of killing Blackheart given what an Asshole Victim he is, until he finds out that Blackheart was telling the truth about being a royal bastard, and was Daylen's own son. This knowledge is incredibly painful for Daylen, as Offing the Offspring was one crime he never committed as Dayless, and the loss of his beloved first two children was the catalyst that turned him into Dayless in the first place.
    • Cueseg's response when he learns exactly why Lyrah has a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality, as he realizes just how much pain he's been causing her with his antics.
  • My Grandson, Myself: Played with. Daylen accidentally makes himself about six decades younger via magic, so constructs a false identity as Daylen Namaran Jr.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: A Lifebinder's enhanced scent can reveal emotions, which Daylen uses to get a feel for people's intentions. When he uses it on Jena, he finds out that she's massively aroused just looking at him because of his resemblance to Dayless.
  • Naked First Impression:
    • Ahrek joins Daylen because of a vision he had from the Light itself ... in which Daylen was completely naked, as he confesses with some embarrassment. Daylen isn't too perturbed by this, considering it to be standard Tuerasian weirdness, though he occasionally teases Ahrek about it.
    • Cueseg was completely naked when he first met Lyrah, which really got them off on the wrong foot.
  • Names To Run Away From Very Fast: Daylen Namaran ran by the title Dayless the Conqueror during his reign.
  • Neck Snap: A favorite move of Daylen's, as his Super Strength lets him pull it off with ease, and it's a way to kill his targets without getting blood all over the place. The crew of the Maraven almost all end up neck-snapped, though the captain gets something much worse.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Daylen adopts this as strict policy after gaining his powers, intending to kill himself if he ever goes back to his old ways.
  • Never My Fault: After being overthrown, Dayless—genocidal, tyrannical rapist that he was—still saw himself as the just and rightful ruler of Tellos, and had every intention of returning to power and taking revenge. It took ten years of exile before the Heel Realization fully kicked in.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The process of sunforging an item requires the application of a nonlethal sample of human blood (usually taken from the person actually doing the sunforging). When whoever the blood came from eventually dies, the sunforged item shatters.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: If you buy the paperback version, at least; If you buy the audiobook version then it's inverted into No Spelling Guide.
  • The Nose Knows: Lifebinders can increase their scent to the point where they can track people like bloodhounds. Lyrah is able to deduce that Daylen is both old and someone she met before just by his scent, though his cover story of living with his old father is enough that she doesn't find it unduly suspicious.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: While she doesn't manage to kill Daylen, Lyrah gets a lot of satisfaction out of confronting and Meleeing him, as it helps her get over her fear, her feelings of being weak, and her need for revenge.
  • Not Me This Time: Defied. Daylen knows that he's blamed for multitudes of crimes that he never committed, but isn't interested in clearing things up, as almost everyone considers Dayless the Conqueror Beyond Redemption, anyway. During his trial at the end, he even pleads guilty to all the crimes he never committed.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • After enduring his gibes, Lyrah gets a rise out of making some quips about food that Cueseg finds so horrifying that it cracks his Stoic demeanor.
    • Daylen at one point catches Lyrah using her augmented hearing to eavesdrop on the people they pass, and takes a (self-admittedly) juvenile pleasure out of teasing her about it, commenting to himself that she needs to lighten up. She gradually does, and the two begin exchanging some snark instead of the usual ham.
  • Offing the Annoyance: Annoying Dayless the Conqueror was a capital offense during the Dawn Empire, listed as treason and punishable by death.
  • Offing the Offspring: Blackheart reveals at the last second that he is but one of dozens of bastard children of Daylen, but unfortunately for him, Daylen doesn't believe him until he finds concrete evidence several falls after killing Blackheart.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • After Dayless conquered Hamahra and executed the queen, her young daughter swore to subject him to a Cruel and Unusual Death for his treason. Dayless responded by lopping her head off.
    • After destroying Daybreak, Dayless's Archknight advisor turned on him and attacked. Knowing that some Archknights possess a powerful Healing Factor, Dayless went for the head.
    • A beggar tries to rob and murder Daylen in an alleyway, which ends with said beggar's severed head pinned to a wall with a dagger.
    • When Daylen and Lyrah catch two men in the act of Attempted Rape, she cuts both their heads off with blinding speed. This might have been a mercy, as Daylen castrated the last man he caught in such a situation.
    • Daylen's use of Imperious and Lyrah's massive Super Strength means that any fight either of them is in is likely to involve a decapitation or two, alongside their targets being Half the Man He Used to Be.
  • Oh, Crap!:
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Ahrek notes how strange and bizarre Daylen's behavior (acting very uncomfortable, dropping matters when he'd usually argue, trailing off his sentences, abruptly ending conversations, going to his room and sinking into an Angst Coma) around Lyrah is, even by Daylen's standards, but doesn't figure out what's causing it until Cueseg puts things together and gives him The Reveal.
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: Lyrah hates the air that Dayless the Conqueror breathes and the ground he walks upon, but him saving Highdawn from total destruction still impresses her.
  • One World Order: Dayless tried to create one of these so as to gain the resources needed to wipe the Shade out once and for all. The problem was that he tried to do so via militaristic expansion, hence his title, "the Conqueror."
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Rayaten Leusa was obsessed with killing Dayless the Conqueror, and felt dissatisfied and empty when Dayless apparently died on his exploding flagship, wishing he could have gotten the final blow himself. When he finds out that Daylen is Dayless, he comes to believe that the Light itself is intervening to give him the opportunity to take his revenge, though he's more than happy to have Lyrah as his wingman.
  • Open Secret: The only one who doesn't seem to know about, or at least immediately accept, the existence of Daylen's horde of illegitimate children is Daylen himself.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: While "dragons" per se have not shown up in the setting yet, "drakes" have. They live in shrubs that grow on the underside of the floating continent that the setting takes place on. While their physical appearance has not yet been elaborated on, we do know that they're actually herbivores.
  • Our Humans Are Different: In that they have a completely different set of ethnicities and much broader range of hair and eye colors.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: Played With by Tuerasian culture. Wearing clothes at all is entirely optional, but this seems to still be "underclothed" even by their standards, as it is an important virtue among them to be Not Distracted by the Sexy.
  • Our Wights Are Different: Anyone trapped in complete darkness for several falls in a row ("fall" being this universe's word for a 24 hour period, measured by the ever-looping descent of a massive distant rock called the Plummet, as the day-night cycle is actually centuries long), becomes a murderous entity of pure evil known as a Shade. Whether or not animals can become shades has yet to be elaborated on.
  • Outlaw Town: The cities of the Floating Isles (Deadend, Freelife, and Raidaway) are the crime capitals of Tellos, serving as bases for numerous Sky Pirates and many other criminal types. Dayless made the effort to raze them entirely, but they always ended up rebuilt, so he eventually gave up trying.

    Tropes P-R 

  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: Lyrah. Even mentioning sex or nudity causes her anxiety, and actually dealing with it can send her into a panic attack. This becomes a problem when she's sent on a mission with Cueseg, a Tuerasian Walking Shirtless Scene with No Nudity Taboo.
  • Pardon My Klingon: We have things like "blackened," "son of a Shade," and then the word "Light" being used in all the same ways we use the word "God." ex: "Daylen Namaran, you blackened son of a Shade! Light, you're such a Light-blinding bastard!"
  • Personality Powers: Lyrah hates being weak and helpless more than anything, so of course her specialization is strength.
  • Person of Mass Destruction:
    • Archeron Peroven, a Worldbinder who specialized a Lightbinder's lightning storm ability to the highest level, using it to single-handedly destroy a fleet of Dayless's annihilators in battle.
    • Daylen himself reaches this level when he gets his hands on a large enough sunstone.
  • Pervert Revenge Mode: Cueseg's continuously misreading Lyrah and assuming that she wants to have sex with him eventually enrages her so much that she threatens to kill him. After that, he finally gets the message and apologizes, citing his inexperience with Hamahran society and culture.
  • Phlebotinum: Two, which together power all the setting's Magitek:
    • Sunstone, a brightly-glowing rock.
    • Darkstone, a pitch-black stone that, when in complete darkness, is immovably anchored in space (even if it's hovering mid air), such that no force or weight can move it (a large tectonic deposit of this mineral being what keeps the setting's continent, Tellos, from falling). If a non-uniform light of sufficient strength is shone on it, however, it will move away from the light, it's momentum depending on the size of the sample of darkstone and the brightness of the light. If however you get the light source to physically touch the sample of darkstone, then it follows all laws of gravity and Newtonian Motion for as long as the contact is maintained.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On:
  • Power Crystal: Many sunucles have a crystalline appearance, particularly sunblades, even if they were made of wood before the sunforging process.
  • Powered Armor: Sunforged armor is nearly indestructible, enhances the user's speed and strength, and has the added advantage of being instantly summoned if the wearer is a Lightbringer or Lightbinder. The downside being that each individual piece of the armor has to be independently sunforged.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: One way to minimize the weaknesses of sunforged weapons and armor is to use sunucles linked to other people, so the user won't be harmed if they're shattered by darkstone. This is considered so dirty and vile that even Dayless refused to do it, though Captain Blackheart is more than happy to use this tactic with wild abandon, linking his sword and shield to his hostages.
  • The Power of Hate: To say that Lyrah hates Dayless with the fiery passion of a thousand exploding stars is putting it mildly. Him proving his penitence, stopping the Dawnists from killing millions of people, refusing to kill her even in self-defense, and going out of his way to save her even after she nearly killed him is just enough to get her to stop trying to kill him, but she still has plenty of hate left.
  • Power Nullifier: Darkstone negates Lightbinding, making it the perfect weapon against Archknights.
  • Pride: Being an emperor for several decades left Daylen with a seriously inflated ego. Several times, he's able to swallow it and force himself to not treat other people as beneath him, but elements of his old personality still leak through. He notes that it's pure pride and his hatred of losing that enables him to fight back against Ahrek and Lyrah with every iota of his ability, because otherwise he'd be more than happy to just let them kill him. His sheer outrage at a beggar attacking him in particular shows this.
    Daylen: "You dayless son of a Shade! Try to slit my throat and rob me! Me! I've conquered nations, and you think a dagger from the likes of you will be my end?!
  • Promiscuity After Rape: Sharra, due to her belief that she has no prospects in life after being Defiled Forever, tries to secure her future by seducing rich and powerful men, instead. She nearly seduces Daylen, and after that fails, has more success with the newly affluent Sain.
  • Prone to Tears: Daylen is a male example Played for Drama. It's mostly from remorse, but there's an element of immaturity to it as well, as he's also a Psychopathic Manchild. If he cried any more often, everyone would be sailing across an endless ocean instead of an endless sky. The chance of showers increases exponentially when Lyrah is nearby, or at least on his mind.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Daylen is a Type C, retaining his incredible intelligence and strategic mind, but regressing to a childlike state of immaturity as a result of being The Caligula for so long. (Note that this is Daylen's own self-assessment.) As a result, he's prone to tantrums, hypocrisy, sulks, and tears, while also being a Berserker with a Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Punched Across the Room:
  • Pungeon Master: Ahrek, which constantly prompts the Lame Pun Reaction from Daylen.
  • Questionable Consent: Dayless invoked this trope to justify (to himself) raping hundreds of girls: he never explicitly told his attendants to coerce them, never asked if they'd consented, and figured all that crying might just have been nervousness. (According to one of his victims, he was also a Sadist who enjoyed it when she cried, and Daylen admits to himself that he "took such pleasure" in abusing her.) Every time Daylen remembers this in the present, he either vomits or breaks down crying, calling himself the most despicable monster who ever lived.
  • Raging Stiffie: Becoming a teenager again means that Daylen has to put up with the raging hormones as well, especially around teenaged girls.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: At the Fallton, Daylen tries to swallow his fuming anger over Lyrah bossing him around and calling him "kid," but her insisting on him going to the constabulary immediately makes him boil over in rage and scream at her not to order him around. Her reaction makes him instantly regret this, and he apologizes by the next page.
  • Rape and Revenge: Lyrah tries her damnedest to invoke this trope on Daylen. He just barely avoids being completely pulverized into a bloody pulp, but that's not for lack of trying on her part.
  • Rape as Drama: There's enough rape to give Game of Thrones a run for its money, at least relative to length. Let's see, there's:
    • Four-hundred and twenty-seven incidents by Dayless himself. That's victims, not counts: the general pattern was once every "fall" (day) for about a month, bring in a new girl or two, and repeat.
    • Several different rapists he lynches during his stint as a vigilante. He finds some more later in the book, and Lyrah is more than happy to join in.
    • The sex slavers of the Maraven, who took the opportunity to "break in" all fifty of the girls before the planned sale.
    • Tuerasian law has a rather appropriate and agreeable punishment for male rapists: Public castration. How female rapists are punished has yet to be elaborated on.
  • Rape by Proxy: When Dayless grew bored with raping the girls brought to him, he forced them to perform depraved acts on each other.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Something that all of the main characters agree upon. Daylen in particular regards the rapes he committednote  as his worst crimes, causing him more regret than even the millions of people he killed.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: Many of the girls that Dayless raped and abused were reduced to empty shells, "their minds snapping like twigs." Dayless shrugged his shoulders, decided that they'd "killed themselves," and executed them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • When Gaidan tries to follow Daylen, the latter verbally hammers him for his Farmboy ambitions before sending him home to his parents.
    • Daylen delivers another to Blackheart before unleashing all of his power and butchering him.
    • When fighting Daylen, Ahrek and Lyrah both take the opportunity to tell him exactly why he deserves to die in the most violent manner possible, with copious amounts of You Monster!
  • Redemption Equals Death: Defied. Daylen lives with such constant, crippling guilt that death would be a release. Thus, "[His] punishment is to live."
  • Redemption Quest: Daylen sets out on this after getting his powers, with the setting's Sky Pirates and Sex Slavers being at the top of his list of targets.
  • The Republic: Modern Hamahra has transitioned away from monarchies, being ruled by a democratically elected Senate, instead.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Exploited. Lightbinding is loaded to the brim with these. Daylen notes many times how his powers seem to have built-in safeties that allow him to use them properly, such as his strength also increasing when he boosts his mass to allow him to carry it, and his mind being temporarily able to process the incredible amounts of information that come from increased perception.
  • Rescue Sex: Defied. Sharra tries to go for this trope with Daylen, but he turns her down, considering it to be Questionable Consent because of her circumstances.
  • The Reveal: Lyrah was one of the teenaged girls that Dayless the Conqueror raped and abused while he was emperor. Ahrek is Rayaten Leusa, the mysterious man who led the rebellion against the Dawn Empire and helped overthrow Dayless.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Daylen's plan to save Highdawn gets derailed by this, because Ahrek and Lyrah have just figured out that he's Dayless, and are both positively howling for his blood. It takes the presence of the Shade on the island before that changes.
  • Retired Monster: Daylen, at the start of the story.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • When Daylen rescues dozens of girls who'd been kidnapped to be sold into sexual slavery, Sain initially thinks that Daylen is one of the slavers, and calls him "rapist scum." This hits a little too close to home for Daylen, who backhands him.
    • Cueseg is initially puzzled by Lyrah's embarrassment, as he assumes a woman her age must have had plenty of sex in her youth. After Daylen meets her, he estimates that he raped her thirty times.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Dayless's Start of Darkness was one of these, overthrowing and slaughtering the aristocracy of his nation after they killed his family.
    • After she finds the bodies of several Archknights on Hamenday Island, Lyrah lets loose on the Dawnists and Shade.
  • Royal Rapier: Inverted. Rapiers are seen as dirty and dishonorable weapons because they're useless against the Shade, contradicting the whole purpose of why everyone wears swords to begin with. Anyone who uses a rapier signifies that they aren't interested in anything other than winning duels against other humans.

    Tropes S-Z 
  • Saying Too Much: Daylen frequently says and does things that don't make sense for someone so young or with his limited life experiences, which he constantly has to make up explanations to cover. These mistakes eventually lead to Ahrek figuring out that he's actually Dayless.
  • Say My Name: When Lyrah finally catches up to Daylen after chasing him for most of the book, she greets him in suitably bombastic fashion. He immediately responds with some Ham-to-Ham Combat, at least until he recognizes her.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: The agents of the Dawn Empire adopted the same tactics as their master, threatening to murder the entire families of hundreds of girls if they didn't sexually submit to Emperor Dayless.
  • Script Wank: Ahrek and Cueseg have an extremely Anvilicious conversation about the Defiled Forever trope, repeatedly saying how terrible it is without the slightest trace of subtlety.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Daylen had to kill his own parents during the fourth night after they became Shades.
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: Daylen smashes one of his own fingers to demonstrate to the authorities that he has genuine Lifebinding powers.
  • Serial Rapist: Dayless initially thought that rape was so evil that even he couldn't do it. By the end, he knew that wasn't true, and that he'd become a compulsive rapist of young women in every way.
  • Senior Creep: Lyrah views all old men this way, with the implication that they remind her of Dayless.
  • Sex–Face Turn: A tenet of Matriology, and the source of one of their largest disputes with the Lightseeking religion. Daylen takes the opportunity to make some quips about the Matrian "Cleansing Ordinance" when he's in Frey, among the Matrians.
  • Sex for Solace: This was how Dayless began indulging in sex after the death of his family, using it as a method of coping with the pain within. He went from prostitutes to willing young girls in a hurry, and eventually indulged in increasingly extreme forms of stimulation to keep himself from depression.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: The Tuerasians vary between this and Innocent Fanservice Girl/Guy when interacting with those of other cultures.
  • Shock and Awe: Blasts of lightning are one of the powers that Worldbinders can utilize. Cueseg has the basic version of this ability, and Archeron Peroven takes it to the next level.
  • Shooting Superman: A group of constables attempt to subdue Daylen by shooting him with shotspikes when he resists arrest, but with his extreme Healing Factor, he ignores them.
  • The Sky Is an Ocean: The presence of the Magitek skyships puts this trope into action, complete with Sky Pirates.
  • The Snark Knight: Daylen, who has a viciously barbed tongue, but doesn't spare himself from his own judgment, either.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Daylen and Ahrek, though neither of them get much enjoyment out of the other's humor, as their preferences are so different. Meanwhile, Lyrah and Cueseg are in much the same situation. After Daylen is cleared of the crimes he was accused of during his lynching spree, Lyrah lets her guard down a little and they start teasing each other as well.
  • The Sociopath: Daylen sealed away his emotions in order to exact his revenge on the aristocracy, allowing him to carry out his Final Solution on them, children included. When it was over, he found that he couldn't even feel remorse or empathy anymore, and quickly became an outright Evil Overlord.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: Ahrek's specialty.
    Daylen: Yeah, I've seen the world.
    Ahrek: I should think so, You're looking at it right now.
  • Start of Darkness: Daylen was actually a very morally upright person before The Aristocracy murdered his entire family, but after this he would go on to become one of the worst individuals Tellos would ever see.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Reconstructed and inverted by practitioners of the religion of Matriology. These folk have a matriarchal culture that holds that it is the nature of women to give life, whereas the nature of men is to take life, Both of which are acknowledged as necessary acts. Thus in, say, a farmer's house, the husband's duty is to pick the fruit and slaughter the cattle, while the wife's duty is to plant the seeds and prepare the food. Thus it isn't so much that women aren't allowed out of the kitchen so much as that men aren't allowed in it.
  • Stealth Pun: Blackheart, the most feared and ruthless pirate captain on Tellos, is the illegitimate child of emperor Dayless, making him a "royal bastard" in several ways.
  • The Strength of Ten Men: Lightbinding is multiplicative in all attributes, and Daylen can achieve sixteen times his normal strength with all of his bonds. Lyrah, due to her specialization, seems to have somewhere between 64 and 512 times her normal strengthnote ; whether she's using a level-six or a level-nine bond isn't clarified, but she can lift over seven metric tons with ease.
  • Stress Vomit: Daylen nearly gives in to his sexual hungers when Sharra comes on to him, but then realizes that he's essentially taking advantage of a sexually abused girl who thinks she has no other option ... just like before. He becomes so disgusted with himself that it makes him throw up everything he'd just eaten.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When Ahrek speculates that Dayless might have tried to eliminate his illegitimate offspring, Daylen furiously yells that his "father" never killed any infants. (Meaning that he never killed his own children, and wouldn't harm any infants now.) Ahrek instantly screams back that Dayless killed thousands of infants and children in the Daybreak Massacre alone.
  • Superhero: Daylen has superpowers like Super Strength and Super Speed, keeps a Secret Identity that he must conceal from the people closest to him, fights crime as a vigilante, wears a bright red dueling jacket that goes well with his blue hair and sword, picks up a wise-cracking sidekick early on, plans to join a team of people with the same powers, and even briefly covers his face with a mask to avoid being recognized.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The Shade are so murderous as to be willing to sacrifice even their own lives if it means being able to kill even a single non-corrupted person.
  • Swiss-Army Superpower: Lifebinding can be used to enhance any physical or mental trait of the user, or anything that's a part of their physical self. A Lifebinder can gain enhanced strength, speed, hearing, scent, other senses, reflexes, fortitude, Aura Vision, healing, memory, perceptive scans, grip, jumps, charisma, intellect, swordsmanship, sunforged swords, and only the Light knows what else.
  • Sword Beam: Daylen's third 11th-Hour Superpower is channeling Light into Imperious, enabling him to cut things at a distance. By using a huge sunstone to increase his power, he's able to slice Hamenday Island in half with this technique.
  • Sword over Head: Ahrek, after managing to beat Daylen in their Trial by Combat, struggles with their similarities and his years of empty hatred while Daylen urges him to do it. To Daylen's utter surprise, Ahrek instead chooses 0, and the sword doesn't fall.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: After being seen using his powers early on, Daylen pretends to be an Archknight to avoid suspicion and get the supplies and transport he needs. Lyrah and Cueseg find out about this incident and begin pursuing Daylen to investigate him.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: Slavery is a thing in this world, and at least as it is known in Hamahra, is not depicted as evil. One enters slavery via one of two methods: voluntarily (exactly why anyone would choose to become a slave is not elaborated on), or as a criminal sentence. Voluntary slaves get a copper metal collar, whereas criminals sentenced to slavery get a steel one with the duration of their sentence and the date of their conviction etched into it. Daylen receives this at the end of then novel as a life sentence after finally being tried for his warcrimes.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: When Blackheart dies, most people respond with some variation of "Take that, you bastard!" except for Daylen, who regrets killing him once he finds out that Blackheart was one of his bastard sons, wishing that he could have helped Blackheart begin his own Redemption Quest.
  • Tears of Blood: Blood constantly seeps from the eyes and mouth of lesser Shade, a sign of one that was only turned recently.
  • Tears of Remorse: Daylen cries out of guilt and remorse several times, especially when Lyrah tries to kill him and during his trial at the end.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The Shade apparently retain the need for food after they turn, judging by the fact Blackheart had to periodically throw dogs in the cage of the ones he was keeping.
  • Telekinesis: One of the possible powers of, curiously, both Lightbringing and Lightblaring magic.
  • Tempting Fate: In his journal, Daylen notes that he'd do everything differently if he had another chance, and "If the Light truly wanted to punish me, it would curse me to live." He later decides that his long quest is his own fault for wanting to make amends and be a hero again, because the Light seemed to accept his offer.
  • That Liar Lies: Ahrek, when he finds out that Daylen is Dayless, takes the opportunity to tell him and everyone else that he's a chronic liar who tells millions of lies.
  • That Man Is Dead: Dayless considered his younger, nobler self to have died the day his family did, and did his best to bury him forever. In the present day, Daylen is doing his best to dig that man back up and put Dayless in the ground, instead.
  • There Was a Door: During his vigilante spree, Daylen plows right through a wall before performing a Neck Snap on a woman torturing her husband.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Daylen, when he comes to terms with the idea of Lyrah following him around. She feels the same about the arrangement due to his appearance and voice.
  • Time of Myths: Averted. Shad sidesteps the need to write a Creation Myth by stating that all historical records from before the First Night have been lost. He might potentially explore this in a future installment, however.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: One of the women kidnapped and raped by Dayless later defends him, calling him "gentle in his own way," expressing gratitude for the Child by Rape she had as a result, and saying that she doesn't wish him dead even though she knows he did plenty of other things to deserve it. Given that Daylen insists that he never treated his victims gently and actually subjected them to extreme psychological and sexual torture, one has to wonder what kind of sex this woman would consider to be rough. She seems to be the anomaly, of course, as the rest of the women he ravaged are perfectly willing to call him a cruel, perverse, sadistic monster.
  • Too Much Information: When experimenting with channeling light to his ears, Daylen ends up overhearing an older couple having The Immodest Orgasm. He immediately wishes that he didn't have this image in his head.
  • Tranquil Fury: Lyrah speaks and acts with utter calm completely at odds with her expression when she finally confronts Daylen. It only lasts for a short time, however, before she starts hissing and screaming in rage.
  • Trauma Button: Sex, nudity, luxury, and old men are all on Lyrah's list of trauma buttons, roughly in that order. Daylen is an even bigger one, as he looks and sounds just like Dayless the Conqueror.
  • Trial by Combat: Knowing that he can't beat Daylen with his 11th-Hour Superpower, Ahrek instead challenges him to this: a Sword Fight under the judgment of the Light, with no magic involved. Daylen, being a Death Seeker who only stays alive because he believes it's the Light's will, is happy to accept.
  • Tsundere: Daylen is a male Tsundere towards Lyrah. (To everyone else, he's a Mood Swinging Jerk with a Heart of Gold.) He's initially very uncomfortable around her, getting angry and shouting at her over minor things. After many apologies (from him) and her pushing his Kindness Button, he acts “like the perfect gentleman,” opens doors for her, goes into his playful moods, and thinks about her in distinctly affectionate terms.
  • Turn Out Like His Father:
    • When they hear his cover story, Ahrek and Lyrah become intensely interested to find out how much Daylen resembles Dayless—so that they can stop him if he goes the same way.
    • Blackheart, who takes Dayless's traits and turns them to piracy instead of politics. After finding out who he was, Daylen becomes intensely worried that the rest of his children are also like him.
  • Undeathly Pallor: Lesser Shade, who resemble twisted and monstrous corpses with pale skin, constantly weeping Tears of Blood.
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • Daylen, when he finds out about a certain ship smuggling sex slaves. It doesn't end well for the captain.
    • After Ahrek helps Daylen escape arrest, Lyrah's sheer outrage is a thing to behold, her entire body twitching and her eyes shaking with fury.
    • Daylen tries his hardest to convince Ahrek and Lyrah to forget about trying to kill him and focus on stopping the Dawnists from destroying the city, but he might as well be trying to reason with the wave of an oncoming tsunami for all the results he gets.
    • Lyrah, when she fights the Shade on Hamenday Island. The death of a number of Archknights there also makes it into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Cueseg thinks distracting the women around him and offering them sex is just him helping them master their own lusts. To say that Lyrah doesn't want his help would be an understatement.
  • Unwanted Revival: Daylen wants to die, so the idea of a Lightbringer bringing him Back from the Dead is a horrifying idea to him. At the end of the book, Ahrek plans to do this to Daylen, but Daylen's Healing Factor saves him first. Daylen then orders Ahrek not to do this after his trial, but him being sentenced to slavery rather than death screws up his plans to die, once again.
  • Very Punchable Man: Fergen, a Jerkass whose only role in the story is to briefly show up and get his ass kicked by Daylen.
  • Vigilante Man: Daylen, shortly after he gets his powers, starts slaughtering criminals as his first act of fighting evil. While there is a law in place to clear people of killing rapists and murderers that they catch in the act, he eventually is forced to turn himself and be interrogated to determine if he was truly justified or just committing murder.
  • Villainous Lineage: Discussed. Lyrah initially believes a monstrous parent will create a monstrous child, insisting that the son of Dayless the Conqueror wouldn't even be capable of a Heroic Vow to fight evil, which is why she so intensely distrusts Daylen even with his cover story. Ahrek takes the opposite view, and frequently ends up defending Daylen when other characters attack Daylen based on his "parentage."
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Cueseg, much to the discomfort of the women around him.
  • Walking Wasteland: One of the few discussed abilities of Lightblaring magic.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Even in his most advanced age, Daylen retained his skill with a sword and is still able to beat men several decades younger, albeit at severe cost to his aged body from the strain and fatigue.
  • Weakened by the Light: The Shade require darkness to use most of their powers, leaving them vulnerable to both sunlight and Magitek lighting devices. The glowing sunstones also inflict terrible pain on contact.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Considering that sunforged items completely shatter if so much as touched by any old hunk of darkstone, it's a wonder anyone bothers crafting them at all.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dayless the Conqueror's idea was to use his military to wipe out the Shade once and for all, but he wouldn't have been able to do this unless he had personal authority over every last soldier in the world. Cue the First World War Of Tellos.
  • We Will Meet Again: Dayless was thinking this when he fled after being overthrown in the Battle of Highdawn, but the need for secrecy prevented him from expressing it anywhere besides his journal. Ahrek also shouts this out at Daylen after losing their first fight.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Daylen notes this about Sharra the first time he meets her. He might have a preference for blue eyes in particular, given that it's color he chose for his legendary sword and the fact that one of the girls he kept nearly thirty years also has blue eyes.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: After Sharra reminds Daylen of his worst memories with her antics, he goes into a murderously bad mood, and snaps Sain's arm like a chicken bone for literally setting a foot out of line.note  Daylen's explanation:
    Daylen: "I told him what would happen. So actually, he broke his own arm."
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Daylen stops several wife bashers, including a gender-inverted case where a woman tortures and nearly kills her husband.
  • World in the Sky: The setting of the series, known as Everfall. Named such because the "universe" in question is vertically looped like a game of Asteroids.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Daylen knows how to create plenty of technological wonders that would change the world, but refuses to share them for fear that they'd just lead to even more war and death. Besides, he's not about to let anyone else lay a hand on Imperious.
  • World of Badass: Due to the imminent threat of the Shade, almost everyone trains with some kind of weapon from an early age, usually swords.
  • World of Ham: Oh, Light, yes. Every main character is as Hot-Blooded as their creator, and not the least bit shy about letting the world know how they feel in the most bombastic manner possible.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: In the fantasy world of Everfall, the people have a wide variety of different hair colours, from blue, to green, and purple.
  • Wrap Around: The world of the setting is this, at least vertically. If you jump off the edge, you will land right back where you started 24 hours later. If you look up, you can actually see the underside of the very continent you're standing on.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Daylen's abilities with both sunforging and Lightbinding are well beyond anyone else's, allowing him to do things like sunforge darkstone or stack four bonds of light at once. His sunforging comes from him being just that good at it, but his Lightbinding powers seem to have to do with the way he obtained them, which might not be the same process as the Vigil of the Archknights.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb:
  • You're Insane!:
  • You Have Failed Me: Dayless had the tendency to do this to his subordinates, which is the main reason why nobody dared tell him about his illegitimate children.
  • You Killed My Father: Because of the sheer scale of his crimes, everyone who lived during the Dawn Empire has at least one family member they lost to Dayless the Conqueror. For Ahrek, it was his entire family, killed during the Daybreak Massacre.
  • Your Head Asplode: After finding out what the Dawnists are planning, Daylen hits Jena straight in the head with every ounce of his considerable Super Strength. The results are ... messy, to say the least.
  • Your Mom: After Daylen tells Ahrek that he Cannot Tell a Joke, Ahrek prompts him to make a joke of his own. Daylen responds with this:
    Daylen: How do you make someone ugly?
    Ahrek: How?
    Daylen: Ask your mother.