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Literature / The Black Witch Chronicles

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The Black Witch Chronicles is a YA fantasy series by Laurie Forest. The first book was published in 2017.


Elloren Gardner is the spitting image of her late grandmother Carnissa Gardner, the Black Witch who defeated Gardneria's enemies in the Realm War. A prophecy dictates that there will be another Black Witch, and some people think that's Elloren, but she is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical power above all else.

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When Ren gets the chance to follow her brothers to Verpax University, the first time in her life she's been outside of Gardneria, she leaps at the opportunity to try and get out of the shadow of her grandmother's legacy. But university isn't all it's cracked up to be for the granddaughter of such an infamous woman. Not only that, but evil is looming, and Elloren discovers that her best hopes may lie with people who have every reason to hate her and her people.


Books in the series:

  • The Black Witch (2017)
  • The Iron Flower (2018)
  • Two prequel novellas, Wandfasted and Light Mage, first published as e-books and later collected in The Rebel Mages (2019)


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Tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Fallon Bane is obsessed with wandfasting to Lukas Grey, despite the fact that Lukas is not at all interested in her.
  • Achilles' Heel: Gardnerians can only work magic by way of wands. As a result, if a Gardnerian soldier's wand is stolen, broken or destroyed, the Gardnerian is helpless, unless they have some other form of weapon or martial arts skill. And a high-level Gardnerian Mage without a wand may as well have no magic at all, unless they can get their hands on one.
  • Aerith and Bob: There are names like Diana, Jarod, Iris, Gareth and Clover, and then there's names like Carnissa, Elloren, Yvan, Alcippe and Olilly.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Ordinarily, rune-sorcerers can only use the runes of their respective race, and no other. Mixed-race people like Na'bee (who is half-Smaragdalfar and half-Ishkart) can use both. Gardnerian Light Mages, however, can use all the runes of every race.
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  • Alpha Bitch: Fallon Bane. Her mother was also like this.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • The Urisk species have a multitude of skin colours, dividing them into different social classes.
    • The Amaz lands are like this because they accept women from all species.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Zig-zagged. Gwynn gives Sage the White Wand and tells her to keep it hidden, which Sage does. However, years pass with nothing happening, and both girls convince themselves that it was a game they took too seriously. When things start happening, both realise it was real after all.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Ariel makes one to Wynter before impersonating her so Wynter can escape.
  • Arranged Marriage: Young Gardnerian women are usually subjected to this for their wandfastings, sometimes as young as thirteen. However, they usually don't live and have sex with their fastmates until both parties are adults.
  • Berserk Button: Ariel's is threatening or doing anything to hurt her pet chickens.
  • Big Bad: Marcus Vogel, who leads Gardneria on a march to exterminate all non-allied races and take over the Western Realm, and is also the wielder of the Black Wand.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Naga shows up to rescue Yvan, Ariel and Elloren from the Icaral prison just as they're out of options.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Fallon Bane starts out almost friendly to Elloren, but quickly reveals herself to be utterly cruel.
    • Elloren's Aunt Vyvian, whose cruelty and bigotry becomes more obvious as her position of power becomes more threatened.
  • Blessed with Suck: Gareth is half-Selkie. He can hold his breath for up to an hour, doesn't need a compass or sextant to navigate, doesn't feel cold and can predict weather changes. He constantly longs for the ocean, but he has no gills or seal-skin — and since the Selkies live in undersea cities, he can't live with them.
  • Broken Bird: Ariel Haven grew up in a horrific sanitarium because she had the misfortune to be born an Icaral in Gardnerian society, and was addicted to a terrible drug. Wynter also has terrible self-esteem because of her Icaral status, making her hated in Alfsigr society despite her being a royal with brilliant artistic talents.
  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage:
    • After Vogel takes over, wandfasting is made mandatory for every Gardnerian above a certain age who isn't a priest, with anyone above the age limit who isn't fasted by the deadline being subject to this.
    • In Wandfasted, the Gardnerians after Carnissa Gardner's victory were subjected to this, with the unfasted being told that they had a day to find someone to fast to — and if they couldn't find anyone, someone would be found for them.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Dryad Fae can't lie to each other. Gardnerians are descended from Dryads, so those with particularly strong Dryad ancestry have trouble being dishonest with each other.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In The Iron Flower, the dresses with Ironflower thread that Vyvian sends Elloren so she'll attract Lukas. Ren and Tierney use the thread to make up a poison undetectable to magic that will take out the Gardnerians long enough for the Resistance to evacuate the area.
  • Cold Iron: Fae have this traditional weakness.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Elloren bitterly remarks late in The Iron Flower that if she'd actually been told about her powers and taught to use them, a great deal of the cast's problems could have been overcome much more easily, if not outright nullified. For one, Ariel likely wouldn't have been captured and sent to the asylum, and for another, Elloren could have prevented her uncle from dying.
  • Deadly Euphemism: After Elloren becomes distressed at seeing a Selkie in a cage, Vyvian reassures her that she's against the Selkie trade and believes that there are better ways to deal with them than by keeping them in cages. Later in the book, Elloren finds out that her aunt wants all Selkies killed on sight.
  • Does Not Like Men: The Amaz turn this trope Up to Eleven. They view all men as vile abusers, won't allow men within their nation, even refugees, and leave any male babies in the Lupine forests without caring what happens to them (they're usually taken in by the Lupines).
  • Domestic Abuse: One of the main reasons Sage Gaffney ran away from the man she was wandfasted to. Both her and his parents denying it happened and blaming it on her was the other reason.
  • Doomed by Canon: Tessla and Vale Gardner, the protagonists of Wandfasted, are dead before The Black Witch.
  • Door Stopper: The Iron Flower is over a thousand pages long.
  • Draconic Humanoid: Icarals have wings and fire powers because they're descended from wyvern-shifters.
  • Dragon Ancestry: The wyvern-shifters interbred with all other sentient species, resulting in the Icarals.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • The prologue outright tells readers that Elloren does have immense magical power, and it's heavily implied throughout the book. Until late in The Iron Flower, however, Ren believes either that she's outright powerless or that she's incapable of accessing her latent power.
    • Commander Kam Vin and Vice Chancellor Lucretia Quillen's first scene reveals that they are good guys involved in some kind of conspiracy, and that they plan on making things hard for Ren as a Secret Test of Character to see what kind of person she is. Ren doesn't learn Quillen's true allegiance until the last chapter of The Black Witch, and Commander Vin's allegiance until early in The Iron Flower.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sage seriously contemplated throwing herself off a bridge after her fastmate beat her and tried to rape her, and their families blamed her for it. She was stopped at the last minute, though.
  • Ear Ache: "Cropping", cutting the points of an Urisk's long ears off and shaving their head. During the riots in The Iron Flower, Olilly becomes a victim of this. Later, Diana takes revenge on the Gardnerian military apprentices responsible by ripping their ears off during the evacuation.
  • Egopolis: Elloren's ancestor Styvius Gardner, Founder of the Kingdom, named both the country he founded and his species after himself.
  • Elemental Powers: Gardnerian magic comes in five types — fire, water, earth, air and light. Everyone has at least one elemental affinity, sometimes multiple.
  • Emerald Power: All Gardnerians have skin that glows green. Courtesy of their Dryad ancestry.
  • Emotion Suppression: The primary effect of the Alfsigr Zalyn'or pendants.
  • Empathic Weapon: The White Wand is perfectly capable of ensuring it goes to its chosen wielders.
  • Exact Words: Valasca initially tells Elloren that she's merely a humble goat-herder. This is true. What she leaves out is that she's also the commander of the Queen's Guard and one of the Amaz's best rune-sorceresses.
  • Fantastic Racism: All over the place. Every single species or faction has either pulled this on another group, or had it pulled on them — the multiple wars the Western Realm has suffered through are the cause of most of them. The only places where members of all races are accepted are the Amaz lands (no men allowed, however) and the Noi lands in the east.
    • Icarals, in particular, get this from multiple factions, including the Alfsigr Elves and the Gardnerians. They and their wings are living proof that none of the species of the Western Realms are as "pure" as some of them like to claim they are, as their wings are a throwback to their wyvern-shifter ancestors.
    • Upper River Gardnerians despise Lower River Gardnerians due to their living close to Kelts, not that said closeness saved them when the Kelts decided to murder all the Gardnerians.
  • Fantasy Contraception: Sanjire root, which is illegal in Gardneria. It's also weak to light magic, which is why Light Mage Sage ends up pregnant with Fyn'ir despite taking the root beforehand.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Kam Vin and Lucretia Quillen's first scene, they agree that Kam can send out elite assassins after Ren if she tries to contact the Amazakaran. Guess where Sage Gaffney and her Living MacGuffin baby are hiding?
    • Yvan's secret:
      • He hates Ren, who looks exactly like her infamous grandmother, on sight.
      • There are hints from early on that Yvan has superhuman abilities, like when he rescues Olilly from Damion Bane and displays Super Speed. This leads Ren to initially conclude that he's a Fire Fae.
      • When Professor Kristian gives Ren a more accurate recounting of the history of the Western Realms, he tells her that the infamous Icaral that Carnissa fought in the Realm War was simply a Keltanian healer who fought to defend a people who were prejudiced against him. Later, Yvan mentions that his father was killed by Carnissa, was a physician, and was an important figure in the Keltanian Resistance. Yes, they're the same person.
      • During the dragon rescue, Naga tells Wynter something about Yvan that makes her absolutely stunned.
      • Yvan also avoids taking off his shirt.
    • Late in The Black Witch, Aislinn mentions that her father, ambassador to the northern Lupines, has mentioned a weapon the Gardnerians are planning to use on the shapeshifters. This weapon, or something like it, is used to wipe out almost all of them partway through The Iron Flower, leaving only Diana, Jarod, and escapees Brendan and young Konnor.
  • Gendercide: The Gardnerians inflicted one on the Urisks so their males wouldn't threaten them. Male Urisks are now a rarity.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability:
    • Urisk males are powerful geomancers, while females are powerless. So the Gardnerians killed as many Urisk males as they could.
    • Vu Trin men have no magic, while the women are universally rune sorceresses.
  • Glamour:
    • Several Fae were hidden from the massacre of their kind by these, such as Tierney Calix. Yvan, being part Lasair Fae, can take his on and off as he wants.
    • Ra'Ven owns a set of glamour-chains, original intended for his father, which he used to disguise himself as the Kelt Ciaran. Sage later uses them to disguise Fyn'ir when she goes back to Halfix to rescue her sisters.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Gardnerians — they're descended from Dryad Fae, and they all have black hair, green eyes and skin that glows green in the dark.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Gareth is revealed to be half-Selkie.
    • Sage's son, Fyn'ir, is half-Gardnerian, half-Snake Elf, and an Icaral.
  • Hate at First Sight:
    • Yvan Guriel seems to hate Ren from the moment he sees her, and it isn't until he catches her trying to steal a replacement chicken for Ariel that he starts to warm up to her. Given exactly who his father was, that's not surprising.
    • Alcippe utterly loathes Elloren at first sight, and does not warm up to her even after finding that Elloren is nothing like her grandmother and freed an abused Selkie.
  • Heel Realization: Elloren is horrified when she realizes the true history of her people and the atrocities they've committed against other races.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Elloren has one after the Amaz rescue the Selkies, who were being used as sex slaves. Seeing how broken they were, some barely in their teens, absolutely devastates her.
    • Alcippe had one in her backstory after she killed her father and brought his head to her mother, hoping the sight would break her out of her timidity, and instead, her mother was horrified and wept for her dead husband, even though he'd beaten and abused her for years.
    • Rivyr has one after a cave full of Smaragdalfar refugees run screaming at the sight of him, when all he wanted to do was greet them and offer the children sweets.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Two in The Iron Flower:
    • When the Gardnerians at the University and army base are given a sleeping poison so most of the Resistance and their allies can escape, Kitchen Mistress Fernyllia volunteers to stay behind as the poisoner, on the grounds that she's an old woman and won't be able to keep up. She gets executed.
    • When the Alfsigr assassins come for Wynter at the North Tower, Ariel poses as her despite everyone's protests, which gets her hauled back to the sanitarium where she was tortured, and she's fed an overdose of nilantyr berries before Yvan and Elloren can rescue her, dropping her into a coma from which she will die. Naga takes her off to the wyverns for burial.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: In Gardneria, being gay gets you thrown in jail. Which is why Trystan Gardner chooses to join the Resistance.
  • Hope Spot:
    • At one point in The Iron Flower, everyone's problems appear to be solved if they can just escape to the Lupine lands. The next chapter has the reveal that 99% of the Lupines have been murdered.
    • At a later point in the same book, Ariel is taken prisoner and thrown into a prison in Valgard, where she'll shortly be killed for being an Icaral. Yvan and Elloren manage to break her out and get her to safety, but they soon find that Ariel overdosed on nilantyr and will die as a result, and there's nothing anyone can do.
  • Hot-Blooded: Diana Ulrich, daughter of Lupine alpha Gunther Ulrich, is noted by several of her friends for her problems with tact.
  • Hypocrite: According to Diana, the Amaz regularly accuse the Lupines of stealing their male babies, despite the fact that the Amaz themselves left those babies to die in the woods.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Diana introduces herself like this, and doesn't stop at one generation. Jarod has to tell her that the other races don't do that.
  • An Ice Person: Fallon Bane and her father's power works mostly through ice.
  • Identical Granddaughter: Elloren looks exactly like her late grandmother Carnissa, which causes her multiple problems:
    • First off, there are a lot of people who believe that because she's inherited her grandmother's looks, she must also have inherited her power, and must be the next Black Witch of prophecy. Since she believes she has no magic, Ren is under immense pressure from other Gardnerians.
    • Then, of course, there are the non-Gardnerians who believe that she will be just as awful a person as her grandmother, invoking Sins of Our Fathers. Even those who accept that she (ostensibly) has no magic need to be convinced that she doesn't have the same attitude as her grandmother.
  • Important Haircut: In Light Mage, after realizing that Za'ya was right about what the Alfsigr are like, Rivyr goes outside and hacks his hair very short as a form of penance when he decides to officially join the rebellion.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Sage ran away from her abusive fastmate with a Kelt. Actually, her significant other is a Snake Elf disguised with a glamour.
    • Lupine twins Diana and Jarod both fall in love with Gardnerians.
    • Elloren (Gardnerian) falls in love with Yvan (Kelt, Icaral, and part Lasair Fae).
  • Irony: The Gardnerians preach that they are a pure-blooded race, and despise all the other races, especially Kelts and the Fae. It's revealed partway through The Black Witch that the original Gardnerians are the offspring of Kelts and Dryad Fae.
  • Klingon Promotion: It's implied that Vogel murdered the previous High Mage before his term was up in order to become High Mage earlier than he might have otherwise, having already marshalled up enough support to make his election a shoo-in.
  • Lady Land: The Amazakaran usually execute any men who trespass inside their borders.
  • Light The Way: Sage, as a Light Mage.
  • Living MacGuffin: Sage Gaffney's baby is being hunted by multiple factions because he's believed to be the Icaral of the prophecy. He's not. It's actually Yvan.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Elloren is initially interested in Lukas Grey, the mage her aunt wants her to fast to, but eventually also becomes attracted to Yvan Guriel, a Kelt, after he warms up to her from his initial dislike. By the end of The Iron Flower, Ren has chosen Yvan, but she's been forcibly wandfasted to Lukas before running away, with the magical binding that will punish her if she has sex with someone other than Lukas.
    • There's a running theme in the series that Gardnerians will be fasted to people who already have love interests. It happens with Sage (fasted to Tobias, who Draven was crushing on), Elloren (Lukas Grey, who Fallon Bane wants) and Vale (Tessla Harrow, who Jules Kristian was in love with).
  • Magic Wand:
    • Gardnerian Mages can only work magic through these. It's because they're descended from Dryads.
    • The White Wand and its Evil Counterpart the Shadow Wand, two powerful objects that can dictate the fate of the world.
    • When Ren is wandtested shortly after arriving at the University, Commander Vin gives her a wand that's been rune-blocked so it can't be used to cast spells, concealing the true strength of Ren's power from the Gardnerians watching.
    • The rune-sorcerers of various races use styluses to draw the runes of their magic.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Zeymir Nyvor was banished from Ishkartan for marrying Za'ya, a Smaragdalfar. So they moved to Verpacia.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Sage names her newborn son "Fyn'ir", which means "freedom". Her son is not only thought to be the Icaral destined to fight the next Black Witch, he's also one of the last remaining Smaragdalfar royals, his father being the other.
    • Alcippe names the Gardnerian Icaral girl she adopts "Pyrgomanche", meaning "fiery warrior".
  • Mind Rape: The Alfsigr do this to their entire race. At the age of twelve, every child is given a necklace that's enchanted to make them placid, serene and free of rebellious thoughts. Anyone who refuses to wear it is either banished or thrown into prison.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Tessla initially thinks that Fain and Vale are lovers. Not only are they not lovers, Vale isn't gay.
  • Multicolored Hair: Gareth's is black with silver tips. In Gardneria, this is both radical and anomalous — Gardnerians all have black hair, so any Gardnerian with hair that isn't entirely black is suspected of having mixed blood. In Gareth's case, they're right: he's half-Selkie.
  • Mutual Kill: At the end of the Realm War, Carnissa Gardner and the Icaral who headed the opposition against Gardneria died like this.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Lukas Grey admits that a lot of the things Gardneria supports and intends to carry out are horrible, and that Vogel is a power-hungry madman, but has no interest in leaving the army or trying to help the oppressed.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ariel burns Elloren's quilt, one of the few remnants she had of her dead mother. Ren asks Lukas to retaliate — though she doesn't specify how — and he does so by killing Ariel's pet chicken horribly. Ren is aghast at the results, which leave Ariel emotionally devastated.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: The selkie Ray's real name is described as meaning "the shimmer when sunlight sparkles on the water on a hot, bright day. The way it looks from under the water, looking up. What the light does to the blue."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: During The Iron Flower, Naga destroys Ariel's stash of nilantyr, forcing her to detox. Later in the book, after she's sobered up and stayed clean, Ariel is captured and sent to a prison where she and the other Icarals are given nilantyr. She relapses, but takes an amount she can't handle, which puts her in a coma she'll eventually die from. Had she not been forced to detox, it's possible that consuming the nilantyr wouldn't have hurt her, and she could have been rescued in a somewhat healthy state.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Tessla Harrow steals a wand and uses it to save dozens of captive Gardnerians, including the elderly and children, from certain death. After they're all rescued, rumours are started and spread about her — some by some of the people she rescued — that she slept with a Kelt and that when she stole the wand, she only used it to protect herself and the Kelt, and interfered with the Mages who saved them.
  • No-Sell: The Lupines are immune to wand magic — spells cast on them have no effect, but they cannot use wand magic themselves, even the ones who used to be Gardnerian.
  • No Social Skills: Diana does not give a damn about anyone else's social norms, and also does not know when it would be a good idea to shut up. This leads to a few near-misses.
  • Not So Different: Tessla slowly realises over the course of Wandfasted that the Gardnerians are no different from the Kelts or anyone else — they'll inflict atrocities on anyone different from them just for existing.
  • Oh, Crap!: There's an interlude in The Iron Flower where Sage's old friend Gwynn is at a Gardnerian rally and, believing in the cause, starts off happy to be there. As the chapter goes on, however, Gwynn's joy turns to horror as she realizes that High Mage Vogel is wielding the Shadow Wand and is surrounded by demons, meaning that none of the stuff with the White Wand as a child was a game and that the world is in terrible danger. However, she doesn't make the leap to realizing that Vogel is perfectly aware of what wand he's wielding and that he's consorting with demons...
  • Open Secret: The Amaz warrior Freyja keeps up an illicit relationship with her Kelt lover, Clive Soren, by telling the Amaz that she's "going hunting" every few months and disappearing for a few days. The Amaz all know where she's going, but Freyja can't tell them the truth because to do so would result in her exile.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They're called Lupines, they can smell attraction and emotions, and they can shift anytime they want. They can turn others into their kind by biting them in the neck enough to draw blood on the full moon.
  • Passing Notes in Class: Aislinn and Jarod start flirting by passing notes about literature in their Chemistrie class, to the point that Elloren and Diana make them sit in the aisle seats on their tables so they can take notes and not get distracted by having to pass the notes for them.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • Many Icarals, such as Ariel, have this power. Because they're part dragon.
    • Yvan is part Fire Fae. He's also an Icaral.
    • Elloren and her parents have strong fire affinities.
    • Carnissa, the original Black Witch, used fire en masse to wipe out her enemies.
    • Sage gains fire affinity lines after becoming pregnant with an Icaral.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Diana Ulrich is Hot-Blooded and frequently expresses wishes to outright kill various terrible people on the spot, while her brother Jarod is calmer and more tactful.
  • Power Crutch: Gardnerian Mages can't do magic without a properly made wand. Elloren is so powerful she can destroy a tree by setting it on fire with a candle-lighting spell cast via a branch she picked up off the ground.
  • The Prophecy: As spoken by seers of every race and faction, it states that a powerful male Icaral will appear, and the next Black Witch will rise to face him, and they will fight, and so determine the fate of the world. The fact that the subjects of said prophecy, Elloren and Yvan, are in love with each other, was definitely not expected. What's really going to happen is anyone's guess.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: Icarals who grow up being told they're foul and weak will end up with atrophied wings.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: Many Elven names, especially Smaragdalfar names (Za'ya, Ra'Ven Za'Nor, Na'bee, Fyn'ir, Rivyr'el).
  • Purple Is Powerful:
    • The colour is actually illegal in Gardneria due to a species of Fae that could turn into the colour in order to spy.
    • Sage Gaffney, as a Level 4 Light Mage, specializes in the purple end of the spectrum, turning her Gardnerian skin glow purple from the normal green.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Sage was never taught any magic. The first time she finally gets some spells, it takes a while for her to get them right because she doesn't know how to pronounce the words, which are in an ancient language that isn't used in conversation and isn't taught to anyone except practicing mages.
    • A lot of wandfastings take place between couples who don't know or don't like each other, and were arranged by their parents with little or no input from the couples themselves. This results in several occasions where a girl has to be forced into fasting (Tessla, Draven, Elloren).
    • Sage is fasted to Tobias at the age of thirteen, but because of their ages, they don't live together afterwards, they both live at home for years until they become adults, and aren't even allowed to write to each other. By the time they're due to actually live together, they've barely said two words to each other. In the intervening time, Tobias has become involved with another woman, and has no real interest in Sage — and things only go downhill from there.
    • Tessla is initially ecstatic at the Black Witch's triumph over the Kelts because it means that she and her family will be able to live in peace, without fear of being persecuted for existing. But as the book continues, she finds that the Gardnerians are just as xenophobic as the Kelts, and will happily commit atrocities to anyone of a race they don't like. By the end of the book, her idealised view of her country is all but gone.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Lukas kills Ariel's pet chicken because Ren asked him to step in, to make up for it, she steals Ariel another one.
  • La Résistance: The Verpacian Resistance. It's still active, and among its members are Vice Chancellor Quillen, Commander Kam Vin, Professor Kristian and Professor Hawkkyn.
  • Sadist: Styvius Gardner and Malkyn Bane.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • The Amaz will take in refugees of every race... but they have to be female. So any would-be refugee with male friends or family (the Amaz won't even allow male children) has to decide between living in safety while her loved ones are in danger, or refusing that safety to live with her loved ones.
    • Trystan is saddled with one: he's a Level Five Mage, the most powerful kind, and it's an important part of his identity. But he's also gay, which in Gardneria gets you imprisoned. He could join the Lupines, who have no problems with homosexuality, but Lupines can't use wands, so he'd either have to give up his magic or continue to live in peril, since he'll eventually have to fast to a woman. He takes a third option by escaping to the east.
  • Secret Keeper: Naga the dragon, and later Wynter through her, know that Yvan is an Icaral long before he's forced to reveal it to the Resistance.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Kam Vin knows from the moment of Elloren's (sabotaged) wandtesting that she has powerful magic, but doesn't tell even other members of the Resistance, let alone Ren herself.
  • Secret Test of Character: When Ren goes to university, Vyvian gives instructions for Ren to be housed in the dorm with the Icarals and placed in an uncomfortable work rota to try and pressure her into fasting Lukas. Vice Chancellor Quillen goes along with it because the Resistance wants to see what kind of person Ren is.
  • Sex Slave: Selkies are imprisoned and sold as this trope.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock:
    • The Gardnerian military uses geomancy to lock wyvern-shifters in their dragon forms before breaking them. This happened to Naga.
    • Selkies whose skins are stolen are also examples.
  • Sibling Murder: In The Iron Flower, Vyvian Damon has her already-sick brother Edwin Gardner beaten to the point of death to try and force Elloren to agree to fast to Lukas Grey. Edwin's death makes Vyvian Ren's guardian, so she can force the fasting to occur.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Carnissa Gardner's wartime atrocities against non-Gardnerians results in many members of the groups she victimized, including members of La Résistance, thinking that Ren is "obviously" going to be exactly the same, resulting in Ren having a hard time before people like Yvan and Fernyllia realize that she really isn't like her grandmother.
  • Soulless Shell:
    • The Gardnerian military's broken dragons.
    • Selkies whose sealskins have been destroyed.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Valasca and Ni Vin, primarily because neither of them wants to leave their culture permanently to be with the other.
    • Aislinn and Jarod are deeply in love, but she's the daughter of a Gardnerian diplomat who's promised to another man, while he's the son of Lupines who really dislike Aislinn's family.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Gardnerian culture holds that the men, who have the wand magic, are to be soldiers, while the women, who generally have little magic, are to give birth to more Gardnerian men to pass the power onto. What this means in effect is that the Gardnerian women with actual power, like Tessla and Sage, are effectively blocked from actually being taught to use their power, while Gardneria loses out on more soldiers because of its own cultural stupidity.
  • Super Empowering: Elloren can boost the magic levels of other Mages just by touching them.
  • Superpower Lottery: Sage is a Level Four Light Mage. Light Mages are the rarest of Gardnerian specialists — six years before Light Mage, the Gardnerian army had one Light Mage who was Level Four or higher. They're also incredibly powerful, being rune-sorcerers who can use every kind of rune.
  • Unbalanced by Rival's Kid: Jules Kristian becomes upset a couple of times when talking to Elloren, as she reminds him of her mother, who he was in love with.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Jules Kristian was in love with Tessla Harrow. She loved him back, but only like a brother.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Elloren and Yvan are both incredibly powerful, but have almost no training in those powers. At the end of The Iron Flower, they're sent off to get that training.
  • When Trees Attack: In The Iron Flower, Elloren can feel the forest's hatred of her and desire to kill her because of her power.
  • Winged Humanoid: The Icarals, leading to a belief that they're demons. It's actually because they're part-dragon.
  • Wings Do Nothing: Ariel and Wynter's wings are intact, but they cannot fly with them. Yvan's wings are also intact, and he can fly. According to him, Icarals who grow up being told how foul and weak they are become psychosomatically unable to fly.
  • Written by the Winners: All but one of the history classes at the University are taught by Gardnerian professors, who naturally teach a version of history that makes their people out to be saints. Ren eventually goes to Professor Kristian for answers because she realizes what she's learning in her history class doesn't match up with her experiences elsewhere.
  • You Killed My Father: Yvan tells Ren that her grandmother the Black Witch killed his father. His father was the legendary, dreaded Icaral. Elloren responds by saying that his people, the Kelts, killed both of her parents.


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