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Literature / Tales of Kolmar

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Tales of Kolmar is a fantasy trilogy by Elizabeth Kerner.

Lanen Kaelar has always dreamed of dragons. She is told that they no longer exist, that they are just a myth. Then one day she gets the chance to set out on a voyage west. There she finds that the True Dragons (also called the Kantri) are real - and that they're more surprising than she would ever have expected.

So far, the books in the series are:

  1. Song in the Silence
  2. The Lesser Kindred
  3. Redeeming the Lost

In 2003 an abridged version of Song in the Silence was released for the YA audience. It has a different cover and toned-down language, and has removed some scenes that were deemed to not be appropriate.

This series provides examples of:

  • All Trolls Are Different: The Trelli, one of the four original races. When the four races were asked to choose between order and chaos, the Trelli chose not to choose and all died. Only their name lives on, in places like the Trollingwood.
  • Alternate Animal Affection: Neck-twining, touching their faceplates together, wrapping their wings around each other. The soulgems set into their foreheads are particularly intimate, with touching them or the faceplating around them being a very rare gesture. Touching one living soulgem to another is seen as a gesture reserved for parent and child, but nonetheless it happens in other instances too.
  • And I Must Scream: Speculated to have happened to the Lost, five thousand years before the trilogy. Normally the soulgems of Kantri are dim; when they're called on in Kin-Summoning rituals they glow with steady inner light and the deceased can speak through a summoner. The soulgems of the Lost flicker with an unsettled gleam, and the Kantri they belonged to cannot be contacted. In Redeeming the Lost, we find as they are restored that most of them were largely unaware of the passage of time, others had passed in and out of trapped consciousness and had managed to keep hope, while about twenty immediately cried out and killed themselves.
  • Awesome Music: Used repeatedly in-universe. The Song in the Silence which the title of the first book is taken from refers to "The Song of the Winged Ones", a song about watching dragons which includes a significant pause in which Lanen thinks she hears strange, wild music. The Kantri do a lot of singing themselves. Along with connecting through Truespeech it's a big part of being mated.
  • Body Language: Dragon faces are immobile, so they express things with whole-body poses called "Attitudes" - posing in the Attitude of Protecting A Youngling, for instance. Akhor observes that humans take Attitudes sometimes, of anger for example.
  • Breath Weapon: Dragons can breathe fire, naturally. They also do this while expressing strong emotion, and this is immediately likened to human tears.
  • Brown Note: Apparently hearing the name of a demon causes people who are not practiced in working with demons to vomit. In Redeeming the Lost, the Demonlord's laughter causes vomiting.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Lanen and Akhor. When Lanen helps a Kantri mother give birth and has to reach in to turn the baby, she's horribly burned by the contact. However, this is solved when Akhor becomes human.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Brought up. Long before the books the Demonlord killed many humans and one Kantri; that Kantri's beloved immediately killed some humans nearby who only wanted to help her. The Demonlord then turned many of the Kantri into Lesser Kindred before being taken down, and because there was one human who did terrible things to them, most of the Kantri then and five thousand years later are anywhere from leery of humans to actively wanting to kill them all.
  • Double Standard: Aral's Anguished Declaration of Love to Vilkas is treated as a betrayal most foul, though he already knew. Will's to Aral is clearly meant to be seen as heartwarmingly sweet. Before the confession, Aral's seen as being foolish for pining after someone she can't have, and no one ever calls Will that.
  • Daddy DNA Test: Demons are able to confirm whether Marik is Lanen's father or not.
  • Dragon Rider: It's actually not very possible for humans to ride dragons, as they'd just fall off. They get carried instead.
  • Dying Race: The Kantri, fewer than two hundred of them on an island, are on the brink of becoming extinct. There are just enough that if they bred normally they could conceivably rebuild their numbers, but few of them are pairing off and even fewer are giving birth; a birth in Song in the Silence is the first in five hundred years. It's the Demonlord's fault. At the end of the series they're on better footing.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Berys/Malior is one of these, a powerful demon master.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Kantri - some more than others - are fairly disdainful of humans.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Berys at times. Most notably, late in Redeeming the Lost. Various characters also notice that when he laughs, it's an unsettlingly normal laugh, not an evil one.
    "Here is your soul mate. I hope you like him."
  • First-Person Perspective: Throughout the books. The first one starts with Lanen as an old woman reminiscing about her past, and when the POV changes it's made to seem like others are also telling tales of what happened. Even characters who die by the end of the book are used thus - but spells are cast on some of the human characters to have their thoughts recorded as they think them into books, either to keep track of them or to have records of their accomplishments. Kantri characters, well, after they die it's possible for their soulgems to be used to communicate with the dead and get their stories then.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Built into the rules of healing, just about. If the unborn is particularly deformed a Healer can help a woman's body to abort, but this won't work if the embryo is healthy. When Lanen's half-dragon twins are threatening to get her killed they are not themselves sick enough for this to work, and she's furious at the suggestion that it should.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Humans worship the Lady Shia, who is the Mother in the ground below, the Old One in the moon, and the Laughing Girl of the Waters. They're all distinct, but they're also all the same entity.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Rella says this word-for-word - she asks Lanen to give her a black eye so that it looks like she was trying to stop Lanen from escaping, and therefore she wouldn't get in trouble. It mostly works, but Marik decides to black her other eye.
  • Humanity Ensues: Akhor becomes human at the end of Song in the Silence. He remains human through the next book and most of the third, at which point he becomes capable of shape shifting.
  • I Know Your True Name: Each Kantri has a true name that only their mate, possibly best friend, and closest family members may know. They use a diminutive of their true name most of the time; for example, Hadretikantishikrar is widely known as Shikrar. Friends call him Hadreshikrar, Teacher-Shikrar, because he does teach.
  • Kill All Humans: Some Kantri have this attitude, especially those descended from Kantri that were turned into Lesser Dragons.
  • Kill It with Fire: How the Kantri treat things. Their fire is especially effective against demons.
  • Lighter and Softer: The "young adult" version. For example, in the original, Berys and Marik sacrifice an unknown baby during the Farseer-creating ritual, and this is omitted in the young adult version. In both versions Walther proposes to Lanen in order to try and get her land through marriage, even though he's all but engaged to Alisonde; however, it plays out a little differently. In the original, Lanen snaps that she knows he'll have Alisonde as a mistress, and punches him after he comments that she doesn't seem to need men like a normal woman, while in the young adult version she complains about a law that will allow him to keep the lands if he divorces her after three years of marriage, and she punches him after he confirms this and says he wants both the farm and Alisonde.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Jamie reveals to Lanen that he could be her real father. Turns out he's not.
  • Manly Tears: At the end of the first book, Lanen comments on how Jamie is the toughest man she's ever known, and yet he's crying because Varien's song to Lanen was just that beautiful.
  • Meaningful Name: Meaningful in the Kantri's language, admittedly. But their names reflect them in ways that would be suspiciously apropos if it wasn't shown by he who became Varien that they change their truenames and usenames to be more appropriate when they feel significantly changed. Idai, whose usename means "she who knows without knowing", is wise. Shikrar's lengthened usename and truename both contain the word for "Teacher", and he taught young Kantri when there were enough about for him to do so. Akhor or Akor is proven to mean "Lord" or "King", and his truename contains "desh", which means "strange".
  • The Medic: Some humans are born with the ability to magically heal others. When this power is particularly strong, these humans are counted as Mages who can also do other things, though this is strongly frowned upon.
  • Mind Rape: How Marik is defeated in the first book. The Kantri get into his mind and break it.
  • Mommy Had A Good Reason For Abandoning You: Maran Vena believed that the Farseer attracted demons, and so she abandoned Lanen with her husband and ex-lover after her baby was hurt by one in an attack. Of course, she never told anyone involved why she did it.
  • Nice Guy: Will in both senses of the word. He's nice... and he's hanging around being a friend to Aral, never saying anything about his crush on her, waiting hungrily for her to get rejected by Vilkas so he can then pounce and "be there for her" and she'll love him. This is treated as hopelessly sweet.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: The idea comes up in passing. Lanen is consistently described by herself and others as plain, broad-shouldered, and tall, if less muscular than her mother the blacksmith, who she otherwise closely resembles. She doesn't think she's attractive to men except when meeting Marik, who seems very interested in her, but shrugs it off. Of course, her mother had three known serious callers, two of whom seem to have taken instant likings to her, and Lanen herself ends up with the shapeshifted Akhor.
  • No Pregger Sex: Thoroughly averted, and only seen as unwise when the woman is actively feeling unwell.
  • Our Demons Are Different: One of the four original races, the others being humans and the now-extinct trolls. They chose Chaos, and since they and dragons could not live in one world without destroying it, they were given another, with which they were never satisfied.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The oldest of the four original races. They chose Order. There are two kinds of dragons; the first kind is about the size of a horse and is no more intelligent than any other beast. The second finds the word "dragon" an insult (because it compares them to the first type; they prefer to be called the Kindred or the Kantri), and are huge, able to breathe fire, and are capable of telepathy. Also, the ground turns to gold wherever they sleep. In The Lesser Kindred we see that there are actually three kinds; among the first there are "Heart-Speakers" which are intelligent and fire breathing, but small and not entirely able to understand or use speech.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: The Demonlord never really died. He's summoned into a body of molten rock created over several months around his removed heart, a body shaped like a dragon.
  • Overly Long Name: The Kantri's truenames tend towards this. When Akhor turns human and needs a new name he picks one that even he notes is lengthy.
  • Panacea: Lansip leaves are a cure for all ills, and the fruits - just called lan fruits - can heal just about anything. Either can reverse aging, the leaves by being concentrated into a liquor, the fruits just by sheer quantity.
  • Parental Incest: When Lanen meets the man who is possibly her father he really is for the first time, Marik is wearing a charm that causes her to crush very obviously on him. He knows who she is and encourages the crush by flirting. She manages to resist the charm later but is still very charmed by him and wishes she could take him to bed. Later she hears his real name, realizes who he is, and... is not disgusted at all, though any attraction then fades.
  • Rule of Three: Inherent to the 'verse. The human's goddess Shia has three aspects, and at the end of Song in the Silence Lanen believes she has to deny her love for Akhor three times to save him.
  • Self-Immolation: As fire-breathers Kantri have fire-starting apparatuses in their throats. They are able, if so inclined, to kill themselves with these. It's likened to dropping a match into a roomful of oil-soaked hay and closing the door.
  • Series Continuity Error: Did Ahkor learn to fly when he was twenty five or thirty? Was the last Kantri born before Song in the Silence born three hundred years ago or five hundred? Is Kédra's son called Sherók because Lanen cannot pronounce his actual usename, Hjerrók, or is it because his full name is Shekrialanentierók?
  • Sharing a Body: In Redeeming the Lost, Marik and the Demonlord. Portrayed very interestingly in the first-person narration.
  • Soul Jar: Dragons' souls remain in a gem in their foreheads. The Lesser Dragons' souls still reside trapped in their soulgems.
  • Southpaw Advantage: Lanen is left-handed, just like her mother. This comes in useful when people try to grab her right arm to restrain her.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Marik has tried this both with Maran and Lanen, and both times fails to realize he has grabbed the wrong arm, leaving her free to punch him with her good hand.
  • Suicide Attack: One in Song in the Silence. Rishkaan kills Calderan thusly. In Redeeming the Lost, the Demonlord is only vanquished thanks to many Kantri sacrificing themselves in such attacks.
  • Super-Toughness: Varien. Because he used to be a dragon, he retains a dragon's strength in his muscles and bones. In The Lesser Kindred, he is cut with a sword, but rather than getting his arm cut off as everyone else expected, he actually stops the sword with his arm and manages to still fight the guy.
  • Thieves' Cant: The mercenaries have their own cant; Jaime, being a former merc and assassin, can speak it.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: A couple times in Song in the Silence, just as any facade of friendliness crumples and the villain starts acting like it.
  • The Unpronounceable: Most of the Kantri, with names like Khordeshkhistriakhor - it's established that the written names are only a rough transcription.
  • We Are as Mayflies: When compared to the True Dragons, who live roughly two thousand years.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: This has fairly major significance in the backstory of Song in the Silence. The debate is not the heroine's, but her mother's — since one of her lovers promised his first-born child to demons in exchange for a very powerful magical artifact. The heroine decides not to go Gene Hunting, since she knows which of the men she thinks of as her father, and nothing else matters to her. Of course, the one who sold her soul is her biological father. Things just never work out well for fantasy heroes, do they?
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Lanen spent her early life longing to travel, and when she finally does get to leave home she alternates between being delighted with unfamiliar parts of the world and being dismayed with aspects of travel she never thought about, like lack of bathing facilities. Her account of landing on the Dragon's Isle is an especially vivid case of this.
    As I stood on the shore my heart beat fast and high, and I felt as though there were iron bands around my chest like the faithful servant in the old tale, though mine were to keep my heart from breaking for joy, not sorrow. I worked hard to draw breath, there on the edge of my dream.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: The ground turns to gold to at least three inches deep wherever the Kantri sleep. They find it pretty but not valuable, and when Lanen cries out in astonishment about how much gold there is in Akhor's chamber, he's stunned that this yellow metal is the "gold" that humans would kill each other over in the old days.