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Literature / Son of the Black Sword

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Son of the Black Sword is an Epic Fantasy by Larry Correia. In the fantasy world of Lok, religion has been replaced by a brutally oppressive caste system, maintained by a widespread bureaucracy and upheld by the militant Protectors, most notably by Ashok Vadal, bearer of the ancestor blade Angruvadal.

Son of the Black Sword is the first in a projected trilogy. It was followed by House of Assassins February 2019. The third book, Destroyer of Worlds is scheduled for September of 2020, although the E-ARC is available as of June.


Tropes included in this series:

  • Aristocrats Are Evil : Harta, Bidaya, and so far most of the first caste we have run into. They range from mildly corrupt and money grubbing to openly genocidal sociopaths who see everyone else as so far beneath them, that their deaths would be justified to save the first caste from dirtying their shoes. The best of them, like Rada, have been taught to feel superior and sheltered, so they are unaware of how much damage their caste does to others. The aware and honorable ones, like Mindarin and Ratul, break the rules of their own caste to the point of treason.
  • Arc Words: "This was his/her most prized possession"; Ashok a water bucket as a child, and later Angruvadal. Jagdish it is the pocket watch. Rada it is her reading glasses, and later Asura's mirror.
  • Ax-Crazy: Nandan Somsak starts off as merely a vicious Proud Warrior Race Guy. Then he gets his tongue cut off in a Single-Stroke Battle, has a year to brood on the humiliation at the hands of a casteless—and then is offered the ability to gain his revenge, at a cost even greater than he believes.
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  • A God Am I: Apparently Omand's real reason for the casteless genocide and overthrow of the Capitol. Although so far he has only dropped hints at what his end game is all about.
  • Badass Boast: Not even the gods themselves will be allowed to sway Ashok from his purpose
  • Berserk Button: Insulting the Law for Ashok. For Devedas, it's threatening Rada.
    • In Destroyer of Worlds, Ashok's protectiveness towards Thera makes insulting her this for him.
  • Broken Pedestal: Mindarin and Ratul to the Protectors as a whole. They knew Ashok was casteless and concealed it in order to strengthen the Order. Ratul in particular abandoned the Law entirely when he realized that the casteless were the decendants of Ramrowan.
    • Ashok was an inspiration to all of the Protectors, and most warriors of House Vadal before they learned he was born Casteless. Although Jagdish, Karno and the Sons still see Ashok as an inspiration.
  • Black Swords Are Better: A lot better.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Ashok isn't at home with "tact."
    • Protector "Blunt" Karno is even blunt by Ashok's standards, although he clearly isn't stupid.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Omand's general line of thinking.
  • Bullet Catch: Ashok can slap arrows out of the air and catch thrown knives, the latter much to Thera's displeasure.
  • The Chosen One: Black steel swords choose their wielders, according to an entirely unknown code of merit.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Thera survives by being this, and proudly relates an incident where she pretended to be a screeching Damsel in Distress just long enough for a would-be rapist to drop his guard. Then she unmanned him.
  • Culture Police: The Inquisition. They terrify everyone, even the first caste, have zero checks on their power. As if they weren't bad enough as an all powerful secret police tasked with catching and punishing all heretics and criminals, now they are plotting to over throw the government, because they think the Houses still have too much power, and should be under their thumb even more.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ashok versus just about anyone. The Lost House wizards, despite the fact that he is tired and has been wounded multiple times, don't stand a chance.
    • Ashok versus Nandan Somsak, first round. Nandan begins by insulting Vadal, Ashok, and the Protectors, and the Law. Ashok smites off his tongue.
  • Doomed Hometown: In order to preserve operational secrecy, Ashok's mother, and the entire casteless quarter of House Vadal with her is slaughtered and burned.
  • Due to the Dead: Ashok personally buries a casteless who died in a demon attack, because he had stood up to defend his family from the demons while the professional soldiers turned and ran.
  • Deal with the Devil: Nandan Somsak makes one with the Lost House wizards in order to defeat Ashok.
    • Omand and Devedas come to terms at the very end of the book.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The demons come from the ocean without warning and annihilate all in their path. It's implied attacks usually only end when they run out of victims and return to the ocean, unless massive force of arms is employed first to kill them and prevent a return, but there are always others.
  • Exact Words: Thera explains her old head injury as "something fell on me." She doesn't mention that it was probably made of black steel.
  • The Faceless: Omand, and all of the Inquisitors in general wear a mask that has sharp horns, and sharp teeth in a leering mouth. Considering that torture is a big part of their duties, the off putting effect is probably helpful.
  • False Flag Attack: Done multiple times to frame Ashok or other characters. Ashok in particular is forced by his conditioning to leave the prison, which is then destroyed to indicate that he escaped violently.
    • Omand specializes in using these, as by Destroyer of Worlds he has the Grand Judge assassinated by a castless with a Fortress rod (gun) to scare the Capital into carrying out the Extermination order.
  • Famed in Story: "Black Hearted Ashok, the finest killer that ever lived." Ashok is known wherever he goes, as he embodies multiple superlatives.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The culture of Lok is, with it's caste system, Indian style names and hints that at east some of the dead religions are based on Hinduism and Buddhism is very much Indian.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Played straight with the main culture of Lok but The Fortress at least has gun powder.
    • As of Destroyer of Worlds, it's revealed that "Fortress rods" are known but very rare and fairly primitive. For now.
  • Fantastic Racism: A brutally oppressive caste system which classifies the lowest not as people, but as tools.
  • Female Gaze: Devedas catches Rada's attention.
  • Foreshadowing: There are hints that the world has a sci-fi background. Example; Sikasso's explanation of shape changing using black steel shows it to be based on rearranging atomic structure. Also, there are plenty of hints that humans on this world originated on our earth. Earth religions are mentioned, such as house Vidal originally worshiping 'The god with an elephant head, and the blue lady with six arms' referring to Hindu faith. The "smiling fat man" is plainly meant to be Buddha.
  • Freak Out: Ashok flips the hell out and brings justice upon the people responsible when he realizes that his entire life is a lie and that he is in fact, casteless scum. Also that his mother was murdered.
    • Bidaya also has a Freak Out when Ashok defeats her warriors. It is, like her, short-lived.
  • Functional Magic: All magic is based on Black Iron, a mysterious and rare substance. The ancestral swords are made from it and magicians draw their power from it.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Omand realizes that he may have made a terrible mistake when he told Ashok to go protect the prophet, thinking that Ashok would scare the Houses into compliance with the Capitol, and could then be disposed of by allowing the Lost House wizards to kill him in order to take his sword. Omand assumed the Lost House wizards could kill Ashok at any time they wanted, completely failing to realize how dangerous Ashok really is. Also, Omand also underestimates the Casteless with Ashok in command.
    • Also, Devedas wants Blunt Karno to guard Rada because he knows Karno is probably the most capable Protector after Ashok and himself, and he wants Rada safe, but also because he is afraid Karno is smart enough to discover the conspiracy and realize Devedas is in on it. Devedas figures keeping the big man away from the Capitol should do it. Little does he realize he put both Rada and Karno right into the path of the caretaker of Asura's mirror, then to Jagdish
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The opposite of what happens when Bidaya is found unworthy of Angruvadal. See also Chunky Salsa Rule and Your Head Asplode.
  • Healing Factor: Becoming a full member of the Order involves a connection to "the Heart of the Mountain," which among other things gives members a strong healing (and pain reduction) factor.
  • Heroic Bystander: The casteless in the opening scene, who fights back against the demon even though doing so guarantees his death by its hands or those of Ashok and the soldiers.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A prophecy is made that predicts one of the heroes will have to do this. The actual victim of it is...unexpected.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The prophet of the Forgotten, predictably, is someone Beneath Notice. However, there is also a double layer of concealment in play, as it's actually Thera—who is masquerading as Keta's bodyguard. Some of the rebellion's supporters are said to be Capital nobles as well, meaning they too fit the trope.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jagdish feels he was dishonored by being maimed by Ashok, and the only way to redeem himself is to kill Ashok in a duel. The only way he can get better is by taking lessons....provided by Ashok in the jail yard. Ashok is made of this.
  • Hot Librarian: Rada. In a strictly Nerds Are Sexy fashion.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The demons seen so far. Nandan Somsak after he accepts the demon tongue.
  • Improvised Weapon: An antler broken off from a Horned Helmet.
  • In the Hood: Thera. Played with slightly in that the hood isn't to conceal her face, so much as to hide a large and identifiable scar.
  • Iron Lady: Bidaya, the head of House Vadal.
  • Kickthe Dog: Subverted AND played straight at the same time! Ashok refuses to kill innocent people, especially warriors who know they are outclassed, but still bravely stand their ground against him. However, in doing so he LITERALLY kicks a (huge, powerful) war-dog. Ashok waits for the animal to come at him, and punts it off a bridge. It isn't harmed.
  • Lawful Stupid: Subverted with Ashok. His devotion to the Law is an artifact of indoctrination magic by the House's wizard as a small child at the same time they repressed all his memories. He even internally recognizes this fact after he learns the truth. It still has a strong hold on him, and he personally still values the Law, but its hold on him is rapidly weakening.
  • Leave No Survivors: Standard procedure for preserving operational security.
  • Medieval Stasis: Played with In the last century or two things like the printing press, "glass pens" (fountain pens maybe?) and pocket watches have shown up but by and large, except for the printing press their impact has been minor.
  • No, Mister Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Cleverly inverted when Omand—the High Inquisitor—shows up to Rada's family estate, uninvited, for dinner. (He says it was delicious and instructs an underling to steal their cook. Word of God indicates that he meant "steal" literally.)
  • The Mole: Rice merchant/Witch Hunter Javed
  • Oh, Crap!: Jagdish's reaction when Ashok discards his Protector's insignia.
    "This was a dangerous man, who had just discarded the one thing that could hold him back.
  • Old Master: Mindarin and Ratul (albeit that Ratul is disgraced) to Ashok.
  • Once per Episode: Ashok has died and been brought back to life in each book so far.
  • One-Man Army: Jagdish estimates that he'd need a hundred men, including archers, to kill Ashok in a straight-up fight. And he's being conservative—at least half of those men would die in the process. The end battle shows that he was underestimating by a long shot.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: The Ancestor blades, and nobody living knows what the selection criteria is. So houses that still have one pick the next bearer by having their men try to draw it one at a time until somebody manages to touch it without getting maimed. Ashok ends up getting chosen by accident - he was cleaning up the mess left behind from the last batch of unworthy would-be wielders, moved the sword to get to some blood that had fallen behind it, and was declared worthy for some reason.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Devedas by the third book. Where Ashok is disappointed in his old friend's seemingly caring less for the Protectors under his command then Ashok does
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: With a few exceptions religion has been done away with and the remnants of the old religions are viciously persecuted.
  • Reality Ensues: Ashok is a warrior, not a commander, and despite his status as general, has to rely heavily on his officers to actually lead the Sons.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Several types of good leaders, all of whom put the good of their group ahead of their own wishes. Jagdish is an excellent officer, who leads by example, and delegation with equal skill. He even takes on the task of seeing Thera to safety despite having no faith, because this is what his men need. Thera is turning into a capable, and even a diplomatic leader, and Keta is a great spiritual leader. Ashok is a skillful tactician. Harta Vadal, against all likelihood is a strong and capable leader, caring greatly for his House, although he is very Machiavellian.
  • The Resenter: Devedas. He's wise about its effect on him, and regrets the one time he acted on his resentment, but it's still blinding him to Ashok's extenuating circumstances.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ratul and Mindarin as leaders of the Protectors, Ratul being gruff and harsh, while Mindarin is eloquent, and philosophical.
    • Also the two Havildars of the Sons: Shekar of the Somsak who is very smart and crafty, but still a wild crazy thug, and Eklayeva of the Kharsawan, who is organized, calm and collected.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Jagdish to Pakpa, despite it being a deliberate insult to match a warrior with a worker-caste woman. And also despite the fact that she snores.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Somsak are mountain bandits so brave, even Ashok armed with Angruvadal chopping them up by the dozens will not scare them off. They tattoo each of their raids, duels, and battles on their body and face.
    • The Warrior Caste also qualifies as a whole, as they see their reason to live as fighting for their house.

  • Sadly Mythtaken: Large chunks of the world's history have been lost—or deliberately distorted and forgotten.
  • Sentient Weapon: Ancestor blades...somehow. Angruvadal is addressed as "old friend" by the ghost of Ramrowan, and speaks to Ashok before making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Rada, atypically, has no strong adverse reactions to casteless... because she's never seen one.
  • Shout-Out: According to Word of God, part of the inspiration for Ashok, particularly the party scene, came from the movie The Man from Nowhere. The legendary hero who first drove the demons into the sea is named Ramrowan, which was The Dragon's name in the film.
  • Stealth Expert: Thera can sneak up on even Ashok.
  • Smug Snake: Omand.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: Choosing to save the casteless children.

  • Title Drop: At the end of the book when Ashok names his impromptu rebel army.
  • Villainous BSoD: Bidaya of Vadal suffers a high-speed one when Ashok defeats her warriors and personal bodyguard, admitting to her crimes in an arrogant speech before grabbing an ancestor blade, which promptly demonstrates her unworthiness to wield it by decapitating her..
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Sikasso gives a splendid example of the Hiss Before Fleeing type.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Ormand's scheme to exterminate the casteless. It doesn't count as genocide, because legally, casteless are not people.

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