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Literature / The Country Of Three Lands

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The Country of Three Lands: The Heir of Merlin is a 2004 Russian children's fantasy novel by Alexey Vinokurov.

Vitya Mikhailov, an ordinary eleven-year-old boy, gets pulled into a Save the World plot as an extremely arrogant teenage witch turns up in his kitchen and tells him that he's a descendant of Merlin. The important thing is, Merlin had created a certain powerful artifact, the Stone of Mysteries, in a parallel realm, and this artifact is currently in the hands of the Big Bad, upsetting the balance between good and evil both in the fantasy universe and in Vitya's own world. He has no choice but to go and retrieve the Stone – as only a person with Merlin's blood in his veins can control it properly and turn it to the good of the multiverse again.

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The realm where the Stone of Mysteries is hidden is called the Country of Three Lands and consists of three lands: the Black Land of the evil guys, the White Land for the good guys, and the Grey Land in-between, both geographically and in the sense of morality. Or at least, that's what they like to think: in reality, the borders are rather blurred. During his first hour in the Grey Land, Vitya accidentally gets turned into an ugly beast and enslaved by mountain dwarfs, and from that moment it's up to him to Take a Level in Badass and save the Stone after all.

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The Country of Three Lands provides examples of:

  • Being Evil Sucks: Oblin isn't satisfied with his life as a goblin even before the invasion of the Grey Land, so he takes the first chance to turn his cloak and stay in the Balance City.
  • Blessed with Suck: Mycroft the Black Knight has a gift of defeating anyone who meets him in single combat. Only this gift is hereditary and his ancestor obtained it by striking a deal with demons and selling his own soul and the souls of his descendants. Therefore, every night Mycroft is tormented with the ghosts of people he had killed and with visions of his ancestors suffering in hellfire, and he knows that one day he'll join them too.
  • Came Back Wrong: All creatures killed and revived by Vivator become mindless zombies interested in nothing but food.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Lands. As it turns out, the Grey Land is the only one that really lives up to the name.
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  • Deliberately Cute Child: Mimi's way of fooling people like Uncle Groben and Aunt Morgua.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-Universe. Mom the Quizzer has stolen a number of valuable things useless to him to prove that he's the greatest thief of the Three Lands. Culminates in him stealing the Black Goblin's wife: he has no idea how to get rid of her afterwards.
  • Good Is Dumb: Pepin the Long, (elected) King of the White Land.
    Mimi: Just between us: he's thick as a brick. But very kind.
  • Fiery Redhead: Mimi. Vitya, although he is very red-haired and takes a level in badass by the end, remains more like a pacifist.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Except for the Black Goblin, everyone is pretty grey.
  • Heroic Lineage: Among Vitya's ancestors there are a celebrated Scottish knight and Merlin himself.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Black Goblin keeps Mimi's family hostage, so that she would participate in his plan.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Groben and Morgua, though Groben is currently on a diet for medical reasons.
  • King Incognito: Two independent examples.
    • It turns out Mimi's grandfather is the ruler of the Balance City.
    • Mom the Quizzer is revealed to be Seamus in disguise.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Vitya's father is an amateur illusionist, but some of his tricks are really inexplicable.
  • Meaningful Rename: When Alchimicus's only daughter is killed and he becomes maniacally obsessed with the idea of resurrection, killing beasts and people for his experiments, he is renamed Vivator.
  • Missing Mom: Vitya lives with his father and paternal grandmother. His mother is apparently "working abroad", but she has never visited or written a letter. By the end of the book the matter's still left unclear.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Groben ("grob" meaning "coffin" in Russian) and Morgua, a couple of cannibals.
  • Ship Tease: Vitya and Mimi. Due to them being preteens, it doesn't get too far.
    • Vitya and Amelia, mostly one-sided on the girl's part.
  • Thicker Than Water: Mimi's aunt and uncle are cannibals, but she's not frightened of them as they won't eat their relatives.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Downplayed. Orchideus and Amelia belong to the race of zwergs, ugly mountain dwarfs, but Amelia is mentioned to be relatively nice-looking compared to other zwergs.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Vitya's father tells him about a Scottish queen who had a crush on their ancestor Sir Malcolm.
    Vitya: And what did she want from him?
    Father: She wanted him to sing her a serenade.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: There is a number of raving mad wizards. Lampshaded by Mimi when Vitya asks her about it.
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