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Literature / The Age of the Five

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The Age of the Five is a fantasy trilogy by Trudi Canavan. The books in the series are Priestess of the White, Last of the Wilds and Voice of the Gods.

The series takes place in a continent named Ithania. The Northern Ithania worships five gods collectively known as the Five, the only survivors of a war of the gods. The five gods of the Southern Ithania are claimed to be false and this leads to eventual conflict.

The Five have chosen five humans as their representatives in the world. These five people are called the White and granted extraordinary powers by the gods. Auraya, the main character, is the last of the Five to be chosen. She tries to get adjusted to her new position, starting as a diplomat. During the series she discovers her innate magic is stronger than it was thought to be and goes forth unearthing secrets that have been resting for a very long time.



  • The Alliance: As ordered by their gods, the White try to make whole North Ithania their allies.
  • Against My Religion: The reason why many people reject being treated my Dreamwavers is because the Circlian cult forbids it.
  • The Ageless: All of the Wildsnote . The most extreme example is The Gull - the oldest of the Wilds, who has the physical body of a prepubescent child.
  • Author Appeal: Like in the The Black Magican series, healing plays a huge factor. Many of the protagonists are skilled healers, the Dreamweavers are a group focused on healing founded by the greatest healer of all time and all the Wilds used healing to gain immortality.
  • Badass Preacher: All priests and god servants must have magical powers. Their leaders are praised as the strongest magicans alive and can annihilate whole armies without any troubles.
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  • Break the Cutie: Imi the princess of the Elai gets captured by scavagers and sold to a Rich Bastard just because she wanted to get a unique birthday present for her father. She gets saved by the Pendatrians who bring her back home after turning her into their ally. She ends up being more mature and wise due to the experience.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The author renames everything to the point of needing a glossary in the back of each book. She justifies this in an interview by saying that coming across the word 'sheep' during a fantasy novel can kinda spoil things.
  • Cessation of Existence: What everyone believes happens with the Dreamweavers when they die, since they do not worship gods. It is revealed that the gods have no power over the souls of the dead or knowledge of what (if anything) comes after. They claim that they do so that they would always have worshippers to serve them.
  • The Chessmaster: The gods. They run both sides, attempt to get rid of gamebreakers (the Wilds) and make sure both sides are equally strong. They are literally playing a game with their followers.
  • Chess Motifs: Circlians wear white and Pendatrians are black.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: Ordinary priests' and priestesses' circs (kind of cloaks) are rimmed with blue. High Priests and Priestesses have rims of gold. The White... well, white.
  • Color-Coded Armies: White Circlians vs black Pentradrians.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Auraya is torn between her duties as a White and her loyalty to the Siyee.
  • Cool Sword: Averted. The Oracle regulary made prophecies including magical swords, but it is mentioned that those can't exist because the only materials being able to hold magic are trees and corals.
  • Defector from Decadence: Chaia at the very end, in order to protect mortals from further influence by the gods.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Turns out all gods were first humans, then immortals. Their reason for hunting the Wilds is to prevent new gods appearing and messing up their game.
  • Divine Date: Auraya and Chaia
  • Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal: In old times several parents actually wanted their daughters to become lovers of a god despite it breaking their minds.
  • Elective Monarchy: Avven
  • Even Evil Has Standards: None of the other gods seem to like Huan all that much. It's one of the things that ultimately drives Chaia to turn against them, killing himself and take her (and the other gods) with him.
  • Evil Wears Black: The Pentadrians all wear black robes, in contrast to the Circlians. It turns out that they are not evil at all, as both sides just get used by the gods in ther game. The black and white colours most likely come from an in-universe version of chess.
  • First Guy Wins: Auraya ends up with Leiard.
  • Functional Magic: Spells are cast using background magic, which is depleted through usage, though it regenerates extremely slowly. As in, several-thousand-years slowly.
  • The Fundamentalist: Ellareen
  • Generation Xerox: Averted. The White are not allowed to have children and Emerahl mentions that none of her children were particulary strong.
  • Great Offscreen War: The war of the gods which ended the Age of Many to the Age of Five a hundred years ago. I
  • God Guise: The Pentadrian faith is thought to be the high priests taking advantage of people, since everybody knows there are only five true gods and these are the Five. It is revealed that any human with sufficient magical ability could become a god and they are not special or worthy of worship
  • God Is Flawed: Some of Huan's orders seem not very thought through. Granted since all gods used to be humans and deification did not erase their flaws.
    • It is further revealed that the Pentadrian gods are actually the Circlian gods in disguise, making this a double example.
      • Later in the story, it's revealed that there used to be other gods around once, during what was called the Age of the Many. From the perspectives of the immortals, a number of them seemed to be quite benevolent. Which probably made it easier for (implied to have been) Huan to carry out her plan with the Five to kill them all off, although one of the gods who initially helped them committed suicide out of guilt over her actions.
  • Half-Identical Twins: The Twins (though it is implied that they used to be the same gender until one of them changed him/herself magically as a disguise).
  • Heaven Seeker: All Gods believers.
  • The Heretic: Ellareen believes Auraya to be this.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Emerahl, whenever she becomes a prostitute.
  • I Am Who?: Leiard is Mirar, leader of the Dreamweavers, who is supposed to be long dead
  • I Have No Son!: According to tradition, the Siyee parents chose the first marriage partners for their children. If they marry without their approval, the law states that the parents are allowed to pull that off.
    • Drilli's father ignores her completley after she marries Tryss
  • Identity Amnesia: Mirar
  • Invisible Parents: Averted. The parents of almost all the importat characters get at least a little screentime, not counting the immortals for obvious reasons.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Both played straight and subverted. Most of the White and the Wilds are grown-ups when they stop aging, but the Gull is only a child. (Also Emerahl's innate ability is to change her age.)
  • It Amused Me: Why the gods decided to set up the Circlians and Pentadrians.
  • Jerkass Gods: Both sets of gods in fact being as they are actually one and the same. They set up the entire war as a game to keep themselves amused.
    • Special mention should go to Huan. Not even the other gods like her very much, although they keep up a facade of cooperation when appearing to their followers.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Nekaun likes to humiliate imprisoned Auraya. He would have raped her if it wasn't for Chaia.
  • Loss of Identity: Over the first book Leiard develops a split personality ( Mirar) from that gets stronger over time. Turns out that is his real self which he forgot.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Reivan. She was smart even amongst the Thinkers. Then Nekaun came and her mind became so filled with him that nothing else mattered. Lampshaded by Mirar and Auraya who mention that she thinks about him 24/7.
  • Manipulative Bastard: All the gods.
  • Mascot: Mischief. While his intelligence is inferior to humans, he is actually useful.
  • Master of Disguise: Emerahl can change her age to anything from child to old lady. She also mentions that other physical traits can be changed using magic. Mirar pulled that of so well that not even Juran recognized him.
  • May–December Romance: Auraya with both Leiard and Chaia. Leiard's reveal as Mirar and Auraya's subsequent acquisition of immortality means that this will no longer be an issue.
  • Memory Gambit: Mirar deliberately forgot everything about his identity in order to survive.
  • Ms. Imagination: The Oracle
  • Never Grew Up: The Gull who is the oldest of the Wilds, but appears to be a child.
  • No Immortal Inertia: Averted. An ancient priest left a warning on a tomb stating that only mortals could enter. The tomb was only notable for containing a magical void. Emerahl suspects the priest thought cutting off an immortal's access to magic would lead to this. It is implied that the warning was not addressed at physical immortals, but at non-physical immortals, a.k.a. gods, to whom such a void is indeed lethal.
  • Older Than They Look: The White, who stop aging when chosen by the gods. Also the Wilds, who achieve immortality by themselves.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Siyee. Descended from humans after a goddess decided to experiment. Their wings are more similar to those of bats than birds.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The Elai. Descended from human ancestors after a goddess decided to try a eugenics experiment. They are hairless and human-shaped. Lampshaded when an Elai sees a statue of a mermaid and is annoyed with its appearance.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The other Voices to Nekaun, hitting him with enough fire and heat to leave him a scorch mark. This was for raping three young priestesses.
  • Psychic Link: What the dreamweavers do when they gather.
  • The Reveal: Several. The more noteworthy are the gods' true nature and Leiard's identity.
  • Running Both Sides: Auraya eventually discovers that the Circlian Gods and the Pentadrian Gods are the same five. After the war of the Gods they set up two religions in isolation from each other then spent the next century building each one up in strength in order to finally pit them against each other in war (just for fun).
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: I-Portak rides into battle with his men.
    • Averted with the kings of Toren and Genria who are explicitly forbidden from participating in the war.
    • The Elai king fullfills his guard duty like anyone else.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Leiard discovers Auraya has done that.
  • The Short War: The great war between the Circlians and Pentadrians in the first book lasts a day. The second war ends before it even starts.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Happens eventually to Leiard/Mirar
  • STD Immunity: Apparently powerful mages can use their gifts to protect themselves.
  • Straw Misogynist: Most of the Thinkers.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The reason why Emerahl first turned to prostitution was to escape her followers.
  • The Soul Saver: Auraya's justification for establishing the hospital. If the priests gain the abilities of the Dreamweavers, less people will become Dreamweavers whose souls are not taken in by the gods after death and perish. Averted since it turns out that the gods never took in any souls.
  • Taking You with Me: Chaia to the other gods.
  • Talking Animal: Mischief and the other veez, although their ability to talk is limited.
  • Talking to Themself: Leiard/Mirar
  • Telepathy: Standard ability of most priests, especially the White.
  • The Theocracy: Hania and Avven are both ruled by their respective churches. Another country in South Ithania is lead by a priest chosen by the Voices
  • Time Abyss: The Gull. It took him a thousand years to find the sea, and then he spent however many more thousands building his legend. He's pretty clearly the oldest of all the surviving immortals by a large margin.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Nekaun. While it is not clear if he was a jerk before becoming the First Voice, he gradually gets worse over the third book. THEN he notices his sadistic side and things get even worse.
  • Token Religious Teammate: While all the White are loyal to their gods, Rian stands out for being the most devoted, but surprisingly doesn't end up as The Fundamentalist. Ellareen takes that role after she succeeds Auraya.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Even the probably strongest magicans of the century aren't immune to being used.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Usually averted or even inverted - immortality is generally seen as a great thing, with one exception: Chaia. He explains to Auraya that he grew tired of an existence beyond mortality hundreds of years ago, and that frankly he'd rather not And I Must Scream spend another thousand years trapped with the Jerkass Huan. So he sucks in all the magic in the trap, killing himself and the other four gods with him.
  • Wizard Duel: Several between the Circlian and Pentadrian priests.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Despite winning the first war, the Criclians were stopped by their gods to invade the other countries which leads to both sides anxiously waiting for the next move of their enemy. The gods caused this on purpose since otherwise their fun game would end too soon.

Alternative Title(s): The Age Of Five


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