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Literature / The Draka

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"The Draka will conquer the world for two reasons; because we must and because we can. And yet of the two forces the second is the greater; we do this because we choose to do it."

"Gather 'round lads and lasses and we shall tell ye a story of a good republic and an evil empire where the bad guys are vanquished and truth, justice, and the American Way prevail."

Science Fiction author S. M. Stirling said "Screw that." Apparently tired of seeing the same cliches being used again, and again; he created the Domination of the Draka, an Evil Empire that doesn't intend to lose… ever.

The Draka timeline diverges from our own during The American Revolution, where American Crown Loyalists, due to the Dutch intervening in the war, are shipped to the new British Crown Colony of Drakia—named after Sir Francis Drake—on the southern coast of Africa. They are joined shortly by French Royalists, defeated Confederate troops, and generally the other losers of history. Burning with a desire for revenge, they founded the Domination of Draka: an Empire forged on conquest and slavery. Their goal is nothing less than world domination. Standing in their way is the United States of America and the Alliance for Democracy. And you just know this is going to be bloody.

The main trilogy consists of:

  • Marching Through Georgia (set in the opening hours of the Drakan entry into the Eurasian War, the alternate equivalent of our World War II)
  • Under the Yoke (covering Europe's incorporation into the Domination after the Eurasian War)
  • The Stone Dogs (covering the "Protracted Struggle" between the Domination of Draka and the remaining democratic nations, now joined into the "Alliance for Democracy")

There are also:

  • Drakon (a Draka from the 25th century is hurled back to 1990s Earth by a space-warp experiment)
  • Drakas! (a collection of short stories set in the Draka timeline, edited by S. M. Stirling but written by other authors)

The Domination is an abridged omnibus of the main trilogy, not a separate book.

The series contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: A lot of Draka characters, when you get past the slavery and the warmongering and the rampant amorality, are actually surprisingly pleasant people. However, it only really serves to make them even more unsettling.
  • Alien Space Bats: The only decent explanation why no one else stopped them before they became too powerful. Knowing the Draka, they have them as slaves.
    • It needs them to explain how and why a sparsely-populated colony of farmers of the late 1700s could industrialize quicker than all European nations put together and conquer a continent which no less than three Real Life superpowers (British, French and German Empires) could barely do, even with several other Great Powers' help.
  • The Alliance: The Alliance for Democracy, the timeline's analogue to the Allies of the Second World War. Led by the United States and established at the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro in 1943, the Alliance is a defensive and free-trade pact between the US, Australasia, SE Asia, Japan, South America, India, and Britain. It is made permanent at the Second Treaty of Rio in 1945, and made into The Federation after the 1975-76 Indian Incident.
  • Alternate History: And not the nice kind either!
  • Alternate History Wank: A textbook example thereof. A lot of this story rests on various world powers refusing to get involved with intervening against a growing fascist empire until it's way too late.
  • Alternate Universe: The Draka were experimenting with wormholes for FTL travel and instead opened a gateway to another Earth.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: While the Draka aren't, strictly speaking, Afrikaners (the Boers get assimilated early on, though their influence survives in some loanwords in Drakan English), their empire is centered in what is now South Africa.. . and they are very much amoral.
  • Ancient Grome: Not literally , but the Draka love for the ancient classics leads to a lot of Greek, Roman, and Indian themes in the names of their cities, architecture, and even military ranks.
  • Author Appeal: S.M. Stirling seems to like lesbian or bisexual female characters. Johanna, Rahksan, Yolande, Myfwanwy, Gwendolyn… you can't throw a rock in any of the books without hitting at least two. Mind you, he does try to handwave it a couple of ways—primary education is sex-segregated, and prior to the development of the drakenses the Race Purity Laws create a variation on Really Gets Around in that it's acceptable for male Draka to have sex with any serf woman they like, but for a female Draka to have sex with a male serf is a capital offense (diluting the Race, presumably) well until the 70's (Ironically, around the age of Civil Rights era in Real Life), with a side of Family Versus Career for female Draka, who are required by law to produce a minimum number of offspring (the actual pregnancy eventually being off-loaded to host mothers after the 60's)—but it still feels heavy-handed at times.
  • Badass Army: The Draka Citizen army.
    • The Janissaries aren't anything to mess with either.
  • Badass Creed: Service to the State. Glory to the Race.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: More correctly, the worst guys ever win.
  • Battle Cry: The Draka use "Bulala" as a battle cry, appropriating it from one the Bantu peoples who were their first conquests. It means kill in various Bantu languages in South Africa, like Zulu.
  • Berserk Button: Eric von Shrakenburg once had a child with one of his serfs, who died in childbirth. Some years later he covertly had the child smuggled away to the United States. Bringing the serf-woman up in a negative light around Eric is not a good idea.
    • How bad of an idea is it? In a flashback, Eric's father scolds him for crying over a dead serf, and sending the girl away—which caused a scandal for the family. When he goes to whip Eric, the latter snatches the switch out of his father's hand and calmly tells him that if he ever hits him again, he's a dead man.
  • Bio-Augmentation: The New Race and the servus
    • Homo drakensis is the human genome with several genes modified (allowing drakensis to produce powerful pheromones, have a hyperactive metabolism, or stopping aging) or introduced from foreign sources (feline genes are mentioned as being introduced to impart night vision, and canine genes for supersensitive smell).
    • Homo servus is almost identical to Homo sapiens, but psychologically mind-gelded to be incapable of resistance and to derive pleasure from service to their Race overlords.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Draka willingly admit to this.
  • Brutal Honesty: Marching Through Georgia has a scene where Karl von Shrakenberg (the father of the book's Draka protagonist, Eric) tells an American journalist that any partnership of between the Domination and the USA will be "a temporary alliance of convenience". He then adds that it's only to keep the United States out of the Domination's hair while they conquer and enslave Europe… in pretty much those exact words. All in a gentlemanly, conversational tone. The American is understandably shaken by how brazen Karl is, and outright terrified that his country is already being sized up for conquest.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": PCs are "perscomps", ubiquitous steam-driven cars are "steamers", to name a few.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The "chain-dog" serfs who serve as the muscle for the Security Directorate qualify. They are resented by the Citizens and utterly detested by their fellow serfs (particularly those who are highly-placed, or attached to powerful Citizen families).
  • Crapsack World: The raison d'etre of the series. Before the stories even begin, the Draka enslave the entire native population of Africa and much of Asia's. The Drakaverse version of World War 2, made worse by the radical nature of Drakan tactics, including arbitrary starvation of resisting cities, unflinchingly brutal punishment of partisan activity, and much more liberal use of atomic weapons, kills off approximately one-tenth of humanity, and ends in a majority of survivors going into slavery. Out of self-defense, the United States and her allies become massive armed camps. Eventually, a nuclear holocaust ensues in which The Bad Guy Wins, and most Americans who aren't killed or enslaved are treated as hunting game for the Draka. Then, of course, the Draka create two posthuman species, and the Serfs are engineered into a pliant, non-resistant slave race which happily serves the Draka masters. The Draka then develop interstellar and interdimensional travel, attempting to enslave sentient alien races and alternate timelines. So far their first attempt is stopped by a human cyborg. For now.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: India secedes from the Alliance for Democracy, figuring it is big and strong enough to stand up to the Draka alone. Their independence lasts one week before the Draka war of conquest is over.
    • Curb Stomp Cushion: The Draka victory in the Final War does conquer Earth, but at heavy cost - they don't simply roll over the Alliance, but when the prize is final conquest of the entire planet that doesn't count for much. Due to a combination of (clean) nuclear bombs and biological weapons, the Alliance loses 400 million people; the Draka lose 300 million - 22% of their serf population, and 15% of their Citizen population. These are staggering Citizen losses, as there weren't that many of them to begin with. The Alliance's counter-part to the Stone Dogs virus, a computer virus meant to trigger the self-destruct systems in Draka vehicles, actually worked very well - just not enough. The Alliance nuclear strike on Archona fails, but they do manage to destroy Cape Town - the mother city of the Draka (though this is largely a symbolic act). The Alliance also has a better space fleet, so they actually win control over trans-Lunar space (despite the loss of their Ceres base). Vast ecological damage has also been done to Earth with a mini-nuclear winter, meaning the Draka need the infrastructure of the space colonies to rebuild, so they have to offer a truce with the Alliance survivors. Given their infrastructure damage and the extreme difficulty of establishing a permanent occupation force over half the planet at a stroke, the Draka themselves estimate they won't fully secure the planet for fifty to a hundred years - giving time for the Alliance colony ship heading to Alpha Centauri time to set up their own planet.
  • Cyborg: Alliance heavily invests in cybernetics as opposed to Drakan Bio-Augmentation. The fruit is an extremely skilled and resourceful operative, Kenneth Lafarge, descendant of Chantal, the serf girl saved from Draka yoke who travels to the alternate universe where Gwendolyn Ingolfsson, Chantal's rapist's descendant has gone to subvert the world and build a quantum gate for the Drakan invasion. At that point, Alliance operatives can craft items and clothings from scratch that push the limits of laws of physics, from bulletproof suits to antimatter minigrenades and plasma rifles, and play as a foil to Drakan technology which take the form of genetic re-sequencing, biological bulletproof implants in the form of a painful symbiotic virus and biological weapons.
  • Distant Finale: Upon closer reading, it can be ascertained that the Draka Empire is in severe danger in Drakon. Humanity has finally lead a Roaring Rampage of Revenge by teleporting a Fleet above Earth, being stopped by a hair's length. Since Lefarge blew up the gate to Alternate Earth, it is possible that humanity may win this struggle.
  • Dread Zeppelin: Airships are one of the Draka's signature forms of transportation.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Project Fenris in the third book: a secret Draka project concerning enough explosives to dislodge the Moon from its orbit and smash into the Earth in event of a Draka defeat.
  • Easy Logistics: One of the complaints that gets brought up is that the Draka are seemingly completely unaffected early on by the logistics of waging war in what was historically, for Europeans, a medical nightmare, on a continent that, for anyone, lacked the necessary fundamental infrastructure to create or maintain a continent-spanning empire.
  • The Empire: The Domination of the Draka.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Technically you are at liberty to inflict whatever you like on a slave that you own. However, if you insist on persistently torturing someone just because they killed someone you loved in a war, your family will get around to having a word in your ear until you see the error of your ways. Even if you would kill the serf with no repercussions, the Security Directorate may investigate the reason to find dirt on the citizen, as no one in their right mind would kill a serf for no reason.
    • Using slaves for sex is fine, but if you've an ounce of humanity in you then at least you will make sure that the slave will find it a physically enjoyable experience.
    • Raping nuns during a war is technically OK too, but if the nun resourcefully finds a way to kill you then your commanding officer may just figure that you were asking for it—pureblood Draka or no—and that you should have been smart enough to see it coming.
    • Serfs can complain about extremely abusive overseers if enough support amongst the abused can be amassed. After the Final Society, serf tribunals exist to solve issues from abuse and misappropriation of resources thanks to Shrakenberg's efforts.
    • The Draka have legal standards for maintaining serfs properly; serfs must be adequately fed and cared for or they can be seized by the State. Can't have malcontent serfs starting an uprising, after all...
    • The homo servus species are designed to feel joy, comfort and happiness when living next to Draka. Granted, it is evil, yet the servus' sexual freedom, genetic improvement, incredible living standards and the lack of oppression after "Final Society", they live happily, and produce immense research projects.
  • Everyone Is Bi: The genetically-engineered New Race—"Homo drakensis"—portrayed in Drakon, is all bisexual. But male bisexuals are almost never shown.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Draka can be seen as an evil counterpart of the United States of America. Both are world powers that started as colonies. Both expanded by taking over other colonies and native lands. Both originally had very slavery-dependent economies. But whereas the USA ultimately rejected slavery, the Domination embraced it.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: At the Virunga Biocontrol Institute, the Draka manage to crack the human genome with horrible experiments, allowing them to create a literal Master Race, a literal Servant Race, and other breeds of mutant creatures as soldiers or game. Drakon makes reference to centaurs, goblins, and other mythical/prehistoric creatures being created to populate Draka hunting preserves, as well as "a few hundred American test subjects, ranging from prepubescent to adults used up fast in a secret project." Virunga Biocontol is also responsible for weaponizing HIV for use against the Alliance in the Final War.
  • The Federation: The United States.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The New America Project, an antimatter-powered sleeper ship that takes the Alliance survivors of the Final War to Alpha Centauri, away from the Draka Yoke, to continue the war against the Domination.
  • Foreign Ruling Class: The Citizens, from a British, Icelandic and Dixie background, are ruling over Serfs from across the lands they conquered.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Draka as a whole. Their ancestors principally consist of American Loyalists, Hessians from the American Revolution, Icelanders who fled the volcanic eruptions of the 1780s, French aristocrats, white Haitians, and American Confederates. Once they've become powerful enough to declare independence from Britain, they seek the most horrifying revenge that they can. They started out as a British colony in what is now South Africa in the late 18th century. By World War II, they've all but taken over Africa and Eurasia, and the series ends with them having completely overrun the world.
  • Funetik Aksent: To the point a lot of readers feel it's overdone. The creole of the Draka slaves, in particular, is so weirdly spelled that at times it comes across as a genuinely foreign language.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The Draka gain a massive lead over the Alliance in genetics and biotechnology due to their willingness to experiment on live human (serf) subjects, sequencing the human genome by the 1970s. Alliance characters bemoan how public opinion prohibits the Alliance from conducting its own research in genetics. Using their expertise, the Draka produce human-wolf-baboon hybrid "ghouloons" to serve as super-strong shock troops, as well as the New Race. They also produce the Stone Dogs, the bioweapon that wins the Final War for them.
  • Grand Finale: Book 3, The Stone Dogs: A nuclear and biological "Final War" stretching from Earth to outer space occurs between The Alliance and The Domination, with the latter able to reduce North America back to the Stone Age after activating the titular Stone Dogs virus: a covertly-transmitted, weaponized strain of HIV that also induces violent psychosis. What's left of the US is invaded and enserfed before being turned into a continent-wide game and "feral" hunting preserve by the Draka, who've successfully conquered the Earth. In a "Ray of Hope" Ending for the Alliance, an antimatter-powered sleeper starship New America is launched toward Alpha Centauri, in search of a new planet. By Book 4, Drakon, descendants of Alliance colonists finally begin to turn the tables.
  • Gratuitous German: Especially the first (WW2-centered) book glories in misspelled and otherwise butchered German (as well as some bad Russian). For just one example, the SS division the Drakas fight is consistently identified as the "Liebstandarte"—Which, when spelled in this manner, translates into English as the "Regiment of Love"… (Stirling has since improved in this regard, presumably making this aspect of the Draka books something of an Old Shame.)
  • Happiness in Slavery: Quite a few of the Draka Serfs suffer from this. And after the Draka master human genetic engineering, they all suffer from it. Crosses over with Even Evil Has Standards since Tanya von Shrakenberg, a Draka, openly expresses to her new captive serf, Chantal, that she would prefer her serfs to be happy here.
    • By the Great War, most of Africa had been Draka land for decades and knew no other way of life. The Draka had a hundred years to "perfect" their dark art and everybody was genre savvy in regards to the consequences of a successful slave uprising. Even worse, at the turn of the 20th Century, they knew the outside world would not tolerate them beyond necessity. The Domination is a Super North Korea which has an exacting knowledge of keeping the masses in-line and a extreme amount of incentive to keep doing so. And, unlike North Korea, the Draka have the resources to back up their threats, and enough sense to let their serfs keep pets, personal gardens and up to a point, rudimentary luxuries and entertainment, often enticing them to join in.
  • The Hedonist: Drakan society is very focused on pleasure, with sexual promiscuity a fact of life.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: A Turkish Janissary soldier in Finland is explicitly described in the likeness of Bülent Ecevit, and his name is Ecevit. Sadly said soldier is a child-raping psychopath, whereas Bülent Ecevit was a social liberal politician that kept OTL Turkey from barreling to chaos with his policies.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: By the 20th century, the timeline has changed so much that almost no real-world historical figures show up. Guess who is one of the few exceptions.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Played *extremely* straight. The unflinching loyalty and the extent of the rapine the Janissaries inflict on the civilized world; or their casual laughter and enjoyment when 13 year old Finnish kids get impaled. Slavery or not, there is no excuse, abuse or not, virtually every ethnic group and social caste in and out of the Domination is full of it.
    • Hitler tacitly allowed Italy to be partitioned, letting his own race be taken as slaves.
    • The United States Government is completely unwilling to enter the war, preferring to roll in its riches and clearly ignore the atrocities the Draka inflicts until it became apparent Europe was going under. The threat of Draka support to the Japanese sounds unrealistic: a Japan at the brink of defeat, even when filled with Draka materiel, would not be a match for nuclear missiles the U.S had already started to bombard the Japanese fleets with.
    • The Jewish community of the United States may have single handedly let the Alliance lose. The financial clout the American Jews prevented an alliance of U.S, U.K and the Third Reich to ally against the Draka, and a constant series of attempts at blocking any cooperation. They simply let their brethren in Levant and Eastern Europe "Under the Yoke" due to petty hatred of Germany.
    • The Japanese go wild, implied to be even worse than OTL Imperial Japan concerning non-Japanese Asians. Even after a dozen nukes, their unending stubbornness and ego makes Draka overrun entire Asia whereas they could have surrendered to the U.S and stopped the Draka rush to the east.
    • The Finnish partisans openly declare that they make no difference between killing enemy Janissaries and their comfort women or noncombatant serfs in a patrol, and are heavily implied to be cannibals. Given their enemies have absolutely no mercy, it is understandable, but jarring nevertheless.
    • Security Directorate serfs (a.k.a Chaindogs) abuse and torture shiploads of captured Indian and other Alliance personnel and force them to thank for torturing a random captive to death to break them in early. The serf doing this is a heavily tattoed, bald-shaven woman who clearly enjoys the abuse she dishes on the captives, detailing they'll be sold separately to new owners.
    • Scientist Draka collaborators post WW2 are often quite morally bankrupt, or plain manbabies like Ekstein, a stereotypical nerd who simply defected to the Domination and sold his sapphire solar cell technology to get laid with scantily-clad Serf women.
    • The Shrakenbergs' newcomer serfs from warzones set out to bully and abuse their inferiors at the first opportunity. Such as Chinese Deng, who was saved barely from an execution, only to abuse, hit and deny cigarette breaks to his assistant after some experience. He doesn't get any better, only more tyrannical over the years.
    • A janissary under the Shrakenberg household abuses newly bought serfs who are in a transport, telling his stories of rape and plunder of their cities, until a still trauma-ridden French male snaps, only to be beaten to death. The Janissary is the father of one of the female serfs, and is widely respected in the household.
    • A Frenchman who is a plumber who lost his legs during the Drakan occupation of Europe is bought to improve the household's water system. He quickly marries a serf woman and sets out to slap and rain abuse on inferior serf workers who aren't well versed in his particular method of plumbing. The books clearly intend to show there are no differences in the morality of the oppressor and the oppressed.
    • American tourists to the Domination, implied to spend dollars for "pleasures not found in the Alliance territories." It's up to the reader to determine.
      • Considering how uptight and sexually repressed Catholic-dominated spartan Alliance is, pleasures we would find very mundane, such as strip club or casual swinging sex amongst the household serfs and Drana joining in, are likely to be a shocking draw for American tourists.
  • Hope Spot: Archona gets targeted by 3 submarines' payloads-worth of nukes near the end of the war. All of them get intercepted.
  • Insistent Terminology: Serfs, not slaves.
  • In Spite of a Nail: One of the major criticisms of the timeline. Despite radical alterations to history starting in 1783, we still get a US Civil War over slavery in 1860, a Great War in 1914 (which the US joins on the exact same date in 1917), and both Hitler and FDR still rise to power in 1932. Word of God says that these are different people, but they aren't given different names. Of course, the Draka is more of a thought experiment than an attempt at a plausible Alternate History.
  • Invincible Villain: The Draka in a nutshell. They manage to industrialise faster than all of Europe, easily conquer Africa, and sweep aside European forces. Oh, and they're an empire of racist slave-traders so despicable that many readers unironically preferred the Nazis winning to them.
  • Karma Houdini: An entire nation of them. In the end, homo drakensis even stop aging, ensuring they can enjoy the fruits of slavery forever, all the while hunting the descendants of Alliance humans for sport during holidays, keeping the avatistic feeling of unjust vengeance for an eternity.
  • Master Race: The Draka consciously craft themselves into a master race by living The Spartan Way. The books contrast the Draka with the Nazis, who believed they were a master race because of an inherently superior genetic lineage. It is mentioned that the average Draka footsoldier could crush the skull of an SS trooper with his (or her) bare hands. Later, genetic tinkering accentuates this to the point that the Draka literally are a Superior Species.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Draka never call their slaves slaves, instead they refer to them as serfs. This is ostensibly to get around British anti-slavery laws; the author attempts to justify this by saying the Draka were virtually independent by the mid-19th century.
  • Nuke 'em: The inviolable law is that no serf is to raise a hand in anger to any of the Draka, on pain of death. The crowning example was when a serf rebellion in Barcelona managed to overwhelm the local garrison, which made the Draka decide to suppress the riot by nuking the entire city, mentioned in passing in The Stone Dogs. This was probably a better death than the fate that would have awaited the rebels if the Draka had used conventional methods. Rebels they capture alive get impaled.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Draka characters frequently swear by Norse deities. Subverted in that they don't seem to be actively worshiped (there's mention of a move to "revive the Old Faith", but it apparently failed), so this may more of an In-Universe pop-cultural quirk.
  • One-Man Army: Taken to extremes with the drakensis. Gwendolyn slaughters twenty street thugs with ease mere seconds after she arrives in the present, killing many with her bare hands. Later, she faces dozens of cops and soldiers, some armed with Samothracian weaponry, and kills thirteen of them before escaping unharmed.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Ghouloons, genetically engineered by the Draka as shock troops, are wolf/baboon hybrids that resemble horror-movie werewolves.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Played straight in that, while a Draka citizen is technically allowed to practice a religion, it is considered at the very least tacky and, in general, politically suspect. Averted in that the Draka have absolutely no qualms about using (modified) religions as a means of control over their serfs. It appears, however, that by the time of Drakon, 400 years into the Final Society, both the servus and drakensis are uniformly materialist atheists, and for some reason, many Alliance personnel are still devout Catholics.
  • The Plague: The Stone Dogs.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The first Drakan colonists are slaveholders from the American south. As the colony grows, the Draka go from simply viewing all non-whites as slaves to viewing anyone who isn't Drakan as slaves.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Archonal Guard Legion, nicknamed "Boss' Brass Knucks" by Draka regular troops for their unit insignia—a gauntlet-wearing hand crushing a globe.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Draka are horrified at the Holocaust… because it was a tremendous waste of slave labor.
    • After the Final War nearly destroys the ecosystem, the Draka respond by invoking strict environmental standards to ensure stability. Nature preserves are created from entire continents and the population levels are kept low.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Draka Race, having been fighting since they first landed in South Africa, are extremely proud of their military heritage and traditions.
  • La Résistance: The Finns are the only nation presented as waging anything like a determined resistance in the face of Drakan occupation. Under the Yoke seems to suggest that the free Finns will eventually simply die from attrition or lack of supply, never posing a serious threat to Drakan strategic interests.
    • According to the chronology given for the series, Switzerland apparently is considered a hotbed of resistance into the 1970's. And the French Resistance at the beginning of Under The Yoke is featured, but only as a shadow of its former self, its members forced into cannibalism to survive and generally considered little more than an annoyance by not only the Draka but also the serf population.
    • The Finns are the only ones we actually get to see in action. In addition to Switzerland and France, Russia is also said to have pockets of holdouts, Barcelona was nuked to stop an uprising, and as late as the 1960s some serfs in former Italy are trying (unsuccessfully) to resist the Draka (seen at the beginning of The Stone Dogs). Most of the rest of Europe has been so battered by war that the Draka are mostly picking up the pieces and rebuilding—many civilians are so worn-out and beleaguered that they're actually lining up for their serf tattoos just to get food and medical care.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Common among the drakensis in Drakon, as they are immortal. Gwendolyn is one of the first generation of drakensis, so despite looking thirty-something she's actually around 460 years old, one of the oldest of her kind.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Humanity at the fourth book, Drakon, finally manages to settle Alpha Centauri, escaping the Draka yoke, and survive for 400 years and develop superior fleets to stymie Draka expansion, and even manage to open wormholes in Earth orbit to send a huge fleet that is "stopped barely".
  • Schizo Tech: Until the last few years of World War Two the Eurasian War, this happened a lot because of the Draka tendency to be one or two generations ahead of everybody else. Somehow. At the end of the 18th century, the Draka regularly used lever-operated multi-shot rifles, steam engine trucks with primitive machineguns on them and dirigibles.
    • This trope reaches its apex in The Stone Dogs. At the end of the novel, the Alliance for Democracy launches a sublight starship powered and propelled by matter-antimatter reactions to Alpha Centauri. The starship contains 100,000 cryogenically-frozen Alliance citizens, enough to start a colony and continue the fight against the Draka. In what year does this happen? 1997.
    • Stirling goes into some detail about this in the afterword to the story, at least in some editions. He envisioned a world where the constant warfare forced all sides into taking the "Manhattan Project" approach—throw lots of money and resources at the problem right now, build something usable on the battlefield right now, expenses be damned, risks be damned, refinement or subtlety or elegance be damned. It gets results quickly, if you don't mind the results being big and crude and clunky and maybe a bit unreliable. It produces crude atomic bombs that weigh many tons, to be delivered by Mach 2+ ramjet bombers that are more dangerous to their own crews than any enemy air defense. He observes that a "Manhattan Project" approach to polio would have been far more likely to produce a "magnificently advanced iron lung" than a vaccine to prevent the disease in the first place. In one of the novels there is an in-universe book excerpt in which a scientist complains that an experiment using superconductive materials is producing anomalous results that were not predicted either by quantum theory or by Relativity—but no one knows what it means because no one will fund any large-scale research on anything that doesn't have an immediate obvious utility for blowing people up.
  • Secret Police: The Draka version monitors the serfs for any hint of uprising, and the Draka civilians for any hint of sedition.
  • Shout-Out: Recurring references to Nineteen Eighty-Four, most notably when a Draka characterizes their economic system as "oligarchical collectivism" as a reference to Emmanuel Goldstein's treatise The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.
    • In The Stone Dogs, Doctor Harry Snappdove of the Strategic Planning Board is described as a balding man with a hooked nose and a brush of dark-brown beard, a description of Harry Turtledove, another well-known author of alternate-history fiction.
  • Single-Species Nations: The trope comes into effect in the final book, The Stone Dogs. The Draka started out as regular humans, but later genetically engineered themselves into a Human Subspecies called Homo drakensis. The rest of humanity, meanwhile, had long since banded together into a super-state called the Alliance for Democracy. By the time of the book's Distant Finale, the war between the two nations is also a war between two species, with the Alliance being regular humans and the Draka being Homo drakensis.
  • Slave Race: Homo servus.
  • Sleeper Ship: The New America
  • Smart People Play Chess: The Draka play chess; unfortunately, the only moves quoted are complete nonsense ("Knight to King's Pawn Four" is syntactically invalid, never mind whether it would be a good move or not).
  • Space Opera: The series becomes more and more Space Opera-ish as it goes on. The Draka rulers in Drakon dream of The Race eventually conquering the entire galaxy. It is wisely pointed out that there may be powerful species in space that could destroy the Draka if they are not cautious.
  • Straw Nihilist: Just look at the page quote!
  • Taking You with Me: The book "Stone Dogs" has Project Fenris: Draka plan to destroy the world in the event of defeat. Drakon has Gwendolyn setting up a bio-bomb to destroy all the life in the world if she is suddenly killed.
    • Kenneth Lefarge does this to Gwendolyn Ingolfsson in Drakon
    • The Japanese also do this, on a much smaller scale, in the Final War, detonating fusion bombs on the Home Islands to prevent the Draka from enserfing them. Eric von Shrakenberg notes that the fallout will drift towards the Korean Peninsula and kill Citizens and serfs alike.
      The Japanese never liked the Koreans anyhow.
  • The Spartan Way: The Draka train their children in military boarding schools from the age of 5. This program is called the Agoge, which fits with the Drakan obsession with Classical society.
  • State Sec: The Draka Directorate of Security, or "headhunters", based out of Skull House, operate their own coastal defense forces, the serf-manned Order Police, and the Citizen-manned Intervention Squads to suppress serf revolts, and wield enough political clout to rival that of the War Directorate.
  • Superior Species: Homo drakensis
  • Super Soldier: Homo drakensis, for one, but even as far back as Marching Through Georgia, the Draka citizen-soldiers were effectively these compared to everyone else. 400 years later, the Draka Archon (leader) wears a nanosuit with firepower reported to be able to destroy entire cities.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: It's actually possible to feel sorry for those bastards when reading Marching Through Georgia.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Discussed, then Played Straight. When India is considering seceding from the Alliance for Democracy, OSS officer Frederick Lefarge remarks upon how stupid it is for the Indians to believe they can survive outside of the Alliance, and how some Pakistanis are even considering mounting a jihad against the Domination. His superior, OSS chief Stoddard, replies that "human beings don't have to be stupid to act stupidly, they just have to feel strongly about something" and that the Hindu nationalists behind the secession movement have genuine grievances. Then India does secede, and the Draka overrun it inside of a week.
  • Villain World: The Final Society, wherein humanity has either evolved to become superhuman (Homo drakensis) or been successfully domesticated (Homo servus). Earth has been largely depopulated and de-industrialized, with entire continents used as nature reserves and industry shifted into orbit.
  • The War to End All Wars: Occurs in The Stone Dogs.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Eventually, the remaining countries not under Drakan control have little choice other than to band together under the American-led Alliance for Democracy.
  • We Have Reserves: The entire point of the Janissaries. It's a measure of how much life as a Draka serf sucks that they still get millions of volunteers for human wave cannon fodder duty, as while Janissaries are still serfs they're at least allowed to work off some of their mad by oppressing other serfs and "ferals" (i.e., the inhabitants of countries invaded by the Draka).
    • Put to diabolically good use with Jewish concentration camp survivors. Note that Zionism seems to have been averted when the Draka took control of the Holy Land after their universe's equivalent of World War I.
      • Furthermore, as genetic sequencing becomes easier, the Draka breed Ghouloons, gene-spliced Baboons with human and wolf genes, to provide massive numbers of obedient, cheap, and expendable shock troopers that can handle levers, buttons, rifles and simple tools. And like to eat shrimp.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Draka gleefully burn mosques full of Afghan children when the Afghanis resist, with their least evil members like Karl Shrakenberg shrugging off as if it's a chore. To put it mildly, the scenes are horrifying.