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Literature / The Corsay Books

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The Corsay Books are an as-yet uncompleted book series by Chris Braak. The first two novels, The Translated Man and Mr. Stitch, are set in the city of Trowth - an Alternate Universe version of Victorian London. They follow the adventures of Elijah Beckett, Elizabeth Skinner, and Valentine Vie-Gorgon. These three are members of the Coroners, a law enforcement group dedicated to fighting the dangerous and exotic sciences known as Heresies.


The overall aesthetic of the series can be described as Lovecraftian Steampunk, prominently featuring Body Horror, Eldritch Abomination, and fantastical technology made of brass. The world is closely realized, with intriguing details of Trowthi history and culture woven into the page-turner narrative.

A third novel, In Corsay, is planned.

These books provides examples of:

  • Alien Geometries: How the Excelsior was supposed to work. Also the cause of the titular translated man.
  • Alternate Universe
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Coroners' attitude of zero tolerance and summary execution is clearly oppressive, but may be justified given the dangerous nature of the Heretical Sciences.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: Skinner
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Valentine is quite eccentric by the standards of Trowthi society... and by the standards of his colleagues in the Coroners.
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  • Determinator: Elijah Beckett, and - to a lesser extent - Elizabeth Skinner
  • Disability Superpower: The Knockers are blinded (by having a metal blindfold stuck onto their faces, and not in any more squicky way) to focus their abilities of auditory clairvoyance.
  • Fantastic Racism
  • Hallucinations: Induced by overdoses of the powerful narcotic Veneine, also known as Fang. Creepily, everyone who overdoses experiences the same kinds of hallucinations, raising the possibility that it's more like unintended astral projection.
  • Hand Cannon: Elijah's massive Feathersmith revolver, as useful as a blunt instrument as it is as a firearm.
  • Handicapped Badass: Skinner
  • Hostile Weather: The city of Trowth has this in spades, ranging from Second Winter (which is cold enough to kill an exposed person in moments) to Psychestorms, which drive anyone not sheltered by copper-plating insane. This often proves an inconvenience. Only during the few weeks of True Spring is Trowth actually a pleasant place to live.
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  • Layered Metropolis: An architecturally improbable example rather like a Lovecraftian Steampunk channeling-suicidal-amounts-of-Perdido Street Station version of Coruscant, spurred on by an architectural war. Yes, really, it all Makes Sense In Context. It started when one noble family built a tall, spindly tower with a view of the river, which offended another noble family who made a squat ugly tower in front of the tall spindly tower as an insult. It escalated into war, until a new front opened up when one architect built bridges over a major thoroughfare that went through his property. Soon, people started building on top of the bridges, to the point that it became a massive, towering, constantly constructed city.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The Coroners' job description.
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning: Skinner and Karine are only employed by the Coroners because most of the young men are away at war. When the war ends and the men come home, the Government thanks the ladies for their service, boots them out of their jobs and in some cases homes, and establishes a committee to make sure none of them get any dangerously independent ideas.
  • Last-Name Basis: Fitting given the quasi-Edwardian setting. Beckett and Skinner are almost always referred to by their last names. Curiously, however, Valentine goes by his first - possibly because there are so many Vie-Gorgons around that it might cause confusion, or possibly just because it bucks convention.
  • Mad Scientist - the primary targets of the Coroners. Beckett's been hunting them for so long that he can even predict the content of their Evil Gloating.
  • Master Swordsman: Valentine, Skinner, and many members of the Trowthi aristocracy.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Valentine Vie-Gorgon
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Beckett's enormous Feathersmith revolver, and Valentine's two pearl-handled revolvers.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: It's implied that Valentine is this when he commits regicide. Beckett has had gone on a long investigation of the Emperor, very well-thought out, where he realizes that the Emperor is essentially a mechanical puppet... meanwhile, Valentine just heads in and shoots the Emperor. It should be noted that Valentine's family had been exiled and their main business of printing had been outlawed. Upon Beckett asking, Valentine just says "I just sort of... figured it out," the implication being that he wanted revenge for his family's ruination.
  • Shout-Out: Elijah Beckett has the same first name and last initial as Elijah Bailey, of The Caves Of Steel. He habitually wears a red scarf over the lower part of his face, a possible visual nod to The Shadow.
  • Silly Reason for War: An architectural war at that, started because one noble family was insulted by a tower from another family that blocked their view.
  • Sword Cane: Skinner has one.
  • Victorian London: Trowth is something of an Alternate Universe version, albeit with much more malevolent weather.


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