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Literature / The Bridge Kingdom Archives

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The Bridge Kingdom Archives is a fantasy series written by Canadian author Danielle L Jensen.

Maridrinian princess Lara was raised in seclusion and trained to become a perfect spy and assassin. Now she is going to marry Aren, king of Ithicana - ostensibly to fulfil the provisions of the peace treaty between the two nations. In reality, however, her job is to infiltrate Ithicana and find the way into the bridge, an imposing structure that allows trade between two continents divided by stormy Tempest Seas.

However, when she arrives in Ithicana, Lara begins to realize that not everything she has been taught is true and she has to make a difficult choice between Maridrina and Ithicana.


The series gives examples of the following tropes:

  • Altar Diplomacy: Ostensibly, the aim of Lara and Aren's marriage is to end the conflict between their nations.
  • Abusive Parents: King Silas Veliant of Maridrina. His daughters were taken from their mothers at the tender age of five, brought to an isolated compound and subjected to literally deadly training - while he planned all the time that only one of them will get out of the compound alive.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Aren and his twin sister Ahnna used to fight together, protecting Ithicana from raiders.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A letter to king Silas that Aren begins to write soon after his marriage to Lara (and never finishes) turns out to be very important near the end.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Basically, everything Lara learnt during her training in the compound comes in handy sooner or later.
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  • The Chessmaster: King Silas of Maridrina. His plans take over 15 years to come to fruition.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Lara is certainly able to take care of herself.
  • Dysfunctional Family: If what king Silas has can even be called a family. He has a harem of wives and uses his daughers as bargaining chips in his dealings with nobles and outside powers, with no regard for them as people.
  • Face Your Fears: Lara, who was brought up in a desert, cannot swim, gets very seasick, and most of all, is desperately scared of the sea. So she decides to spend some time every day in a canoe on the water, just to get used to it.
  • Fantastic Light Source: Jars with glowing algae.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Maridrina is loosely based on Arabic caliphates, with their harems, general disregard for women and treating them as property of their fathers and later husbands. Also, it is not proper for a woman to be alone with a man who is not a member of her family. Geographically, most of the land is barren desert, which can only be crossed by caravans with camels and the kingdom is constantly fighting with its neighbour Valcotta over a thin strip of fertile land on the coast.
  • Foreshadowing: In a conversation with king Aren, Magpie mentions that if Aren does not like Lara, Maridrina could send him another wife, more to his liking, of a more pleasant character and blonde. And then it turns out that Marylyn felt she had been cheated by Lara and, bent on Revenge, went to her father and Magpie, who later sent her to kill Lara and Aren.
  • Gender Is No Object: In Ithicana, virtually everyone needs to fight to protect the bridge, so women train and fight alongside men. Women also make up a large proportion of Watch Commanders. Since in Maridrina women stay at home and raise children, Lara finds it amusing that roughly half of warriors that her father's army fought in the past were female.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Turned Up to Eleven, since there were twelve sisters raised and trained in the compound (initially even more) and only one could become the queen of Ithicana. What most of them did not know was the fact that only one of them was planned to get out of the compound alive.
  • Hidden Depths: Lara. At first everyone in Ithicana thinks she's a typical Maridrinian woman, meek, not very intelligent and good only for bedding and raising children.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Aren's grandmother Nana once tells Lara that as a young woman she was a spy and was taken into Lara's grandfather's harem. Lara is astonished, since only the most beautiful women make it into the harem, to which Nana answers that she didn't always look like "the last prune left in a bowl".
  • The Lad-ette: Aren's twin sister princess Ahnna, Commander of the Southwatch. Always dressed to fight (although once she tries on Lara's gown, out of curiosity, as she explains), likes to drink, uses foul language and is a very capable warrior. By the end of book one, she also sports a big scar on her face. The same goes for Lia, Aren's former lover and a member of his personal guard.
  • Lost Technology: The bridge itself, which seems to be made out of concrete. On seeing it, Lara muses that no human could create it and locals have tales that it just rose out of the ground.
  • Low Fantasy: There is no magic in the world, no races other than humans and no magical or mystical creatures. And the main conflict is over the bridge and trade, powered by greed.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Not everyone in Ithicana thinks it was a good idea for Aren to marry the princess of Maridrina, especially as the older generation remembers vividly the cruelty of Maridrinian raiders before the treaty. And some even suggest he should arrange an "accident" for Lara to get rid of her.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Aren and Lara. They were married because it was a part of the peace treaty between their nations and had no chance to get to know each other before the wedding ceremony.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Lara's main motivation, even when she realises her father lied to her and manipulated her.
  • Neck Snap: How Lara finishes her fight with her sister Marylyn.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Nana, king Aren's grandmother (from the non-royal side of the family). A healer of some renown, she is also ruthless, shrewd and extremely foul-mouthed. Oh, and she keeps venomous snakes to produce remedies. Even Aren is afraid to disobey her summons and his honour guard gets sent to do various tasks around Nana's house.
  • Offing the Offspring: What king Silas has planned for all his daughters raised and trained in the compound - with the exception of the one chosen to marry the king of Ithicana.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Aren and Lara gradually seem to become this, following a long period of distrust after their politically-motivated marriage.
  • Really Gets Around: Aren, before his marriage to Lara, had a lot of lovers, including his friend and personal guard Lia. However, Ithicanian marriage vows demand faithfulness from both sides and Aren intends to keep them. In general, Ithicanians seem to perceive sex without marriage as something normal.
  • Revenge: Marylyn feels she had been cheated by Lara, decides to take her rightful place in their father's plan and kill Lara and Aren.
  • Royal Harem: King Silas of Maridrina has a lot of wives, all chosen because of their looks. As a result, he also has a lot of children, including daughters that he uses as bargaining chips.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Royal family in Ithicana. Royal twins Aren and Ahnna both fight to protect their homeland from raiders and often get wounded in the process.
  • Scars Are Forever: Lara bears many scars from her training - as well as from lashing she received from her teachers. Aren does not react very well to seeing the latter. And Ithicanian warrior Taryn has scars on her ribs from being bitten by a shark.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Lara is seriously considering it at one point.
  • Sibling Murder: What Lara seems to be doing at the very beginning and what Marylyn attempts to do at the end.
  • The Spymaster: Serin, also called "Magpie", orchestrates all plots for the king of Maridrina. He's shrewd and ruthless, a master of secret codes, but his manner is so irritating that Lara can't stand being near him.
  • They Do: Aren and Lara, after he shows her that all she was taught was a lie and then saves her life.
  • Training from Hell: All princesses in the compound undergo this, they learn how to withstand pain and torture and also have to fight for their life. Twelve survive to the end but it is mentioned that there were more.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Aren mentions at one point that the Empress of Amarid, one of Ithicana's enemies, is crazy.

Example of: