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Literature / The Chaos Knight

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The Chaos Knight series is a fantasy trilogy by Erin Hoffman.

The three books are:

  • Sword of Fire and Sea (2011)
  • Lance of Earth and Sky (2012)
  • Shield of Sea and Space (2013)

The trilogy mostly follows Vidarian, a sea captain who gets dragged into religious politics when he's asked/compelled to assist a fire priestess, Ariadel (with whom he falls in love and has a sometimes bumpy relationship). He turns out to be something called the Tesseract, and ends up freeing a goddess of chaos — this naturally disrupts a great many things. It also brings him into conflict with the powerful Alorean Import Company, whose leader Justinian is pursuing various self-serving schemes involving both religion and imperial politics. As the trilogy progresses, Vidarian needs to figure out just what the goddesses of his world actually are, what the Company is planning to do with them and with the wars it seems to want, and how to stop them.


The books contain examples of:

  • Chaos Is Evil: The priestesses of the four established goddesses would tell you so. Vidarian frees the goddess of chaos anyway. She's not so much evil as strange.
  • City on the Water: Rivenwake, capital of the marine-based West Sea Kingdom, is a floating city.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Justinian, of of the Alorean Import Company.
  • Deus Est Machina: The four elemental goddesses that much of Andovar worship turn out to be particularly sophisticated Magitek artificial intelligences. They're connected to (and shaped by) all their followers. This revelation is naturally a shock to the heroes, some more than others.
    • The "fifth goddess", Starhunter, is not like the others, but the four wanted her to become so. They created the necessary crystal, but Starhunter didn't use it, and now the villain wants to do so in her place.
  • Elemental Powers: The basic of magic and religion for much of the world, with a goddess each for fire, air, earth, and water. The separation between them isn't quite as absolute as most people think, however, and as the series progresses, Vidarian finds he can do things that cross the boundaries between elements in a way that isn't supposed to happen.
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  • Escort Mission: The story starts with one. The main protagonist, Vidarian, has to honour an old agreement between his family and the fire priestesses by escorting one of their number to a distant temple. The two end up falling in love.
  • Face–Heel Turn / Not Herself: Ruby saves Vidarian's life in the first book, but is then killed and "revived" in a mechanical body provided by the Alorean Import Company. She thereafter serves them in their evil plot. She herself claims that her desire to survive at any cost is perfectly in keeping with her old self, and that Vidarian's surprise shows he simply didn't know her as well as he claimed. He, on the other hand, says that the transformation has changed her — the real Ruby wasn't afraid of anything, and wouldn't fight her friends out of fear of death.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Some of the bird-like seridi sealed away with Starhunter beyond the gate do not emerge from it sane.
  • Godhood Seeker: The culmination of the villain's plan is to become a god via Deus Est Machina.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Magic has been gradually getting less powerful. It turns out that there's a finite amount of magic in the world, and the more people there are to use it, the less power each can get. The villains want lots of deaths so as to keep the population down.
    • The Magic Comes Back: Opening the gate and releasing the goddess of chaos causes considerable disruption to magic. Some things fail, but other things which had been dormant for ages are released again.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: The first book starts out with Vidarian captaining a normal, sea-faring ship, but by the end, people are using flying ones.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: Iridan and his three siblings. Also, Ruby gets magically put into a mechanical body (built by destroying Iridan's brother).
  • Mega-Corp: The Alorean Import Company is big and rich enough to go head to head with empires. Its leader is the overall Big Bad of the series.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Gryphons feature heavily in the story. They come in different kinds, depending on what sort of bird their bird-like part resembles.
  • Population Control: Because magic is finite and gets spread more thinly the more people there are, the villains are quite happy to see large numbers of people killed off.
  • Rebellious Princess: Mey, daughter of the Emperor of Qui, stows away to follow the protagonists.
  • Sealed Good in a Can / Sealed Evil in a Can: Sealed... something, anyway. The goddess of chaos, Starhunter, was sealed on the other side of a magic gateway, but is released by Vidarian at the end of the first book. She certainly changes things, but given her nature, its often unpredictable whether or not you'll like it.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Both Vidarian and Ariadel acquire shapeshifting familiars fairly early on, and there are whole peoples of shapeshifters playing an important role closer to the end.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Justinian and the Alorean Import Company don't want to simply take over the world - they're trying to reduce the world's population in the process, since that would reverse the decline in the power of magic.