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Literature / The Exiles

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The Exiles is the unfinished trilogy by Melanie Rawn. Set on the planet of Lenfell, what has been written follows the trials of the three Ambrai sisters, Glenin, Sarra and Cailet as they proceed to bring about great social and political change in their society, with a lot of death and destruction in their wake. So far only The Ruins of Ambrai (1994) and The Mageborn Traitor (1997) have been published, with The Captal's Tower as yet unwritten. It seems very unlikely that The Captal's Tower would ever be finished, as Rawn has publicly stated she's forgotten some of the plot points and backstory. On July 23, 2014, she announced that as soon as she was finished with writing the fifth Glass Thorns book, she would begin work on The Captal's Tower, citing her struggle with clinical depression as the cause. Unfortunately, Rawn went on to break her wrist, further delaying the project, and has spoken about being concerned about "not liking the mental state" she was in during the writing of the first two books, and her concern about falling into that same state again if/when she were to start work on the third.

The stories contain the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Gorynel's sword is one of the Fifty, forged with fire and magic. It can cut through magical protection as easily as it cuts through flesh.
  • After the End: The Waste War turned lush farmland into The Waste, ended civilization as it was known, and introduced an extremely high rate of mutations into the population. It was also probably responsible for Wraiths, and led directly to the Wraithenbeast Incursions. The story picks up some thousand years later, with society rebuilt as a matriarchy designed around the idea of isolating and denying reproductive rights to anyone with physical deformities.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Many characters, including Gorynel Desse.
  • Anyone Can Die: Oh lord, how anyone can die.
  • Big Bad: Annaiyas in the first book, with Glenin and Auvry for Dragons. Glenin in the second, with her son Jored as her Dragon.
  • Broken Bird: Cailet after Glenin is through mindraping her and mutilating her body.
  • Bury Your Gays: Alin and Val both bite it.
  • Corrupt Politician: A few, happy to take Malerris money for their services.
  • Doorstopper: In paperback form - the first book has 839 pages, and the second book has 776 (both including appendices).
  • Empathic Weapon: The Fifty, which act on the wielder's strongest desire- If they truly want someone dead, for example, the sword will do all in its power to make that happen.
  • Everyone Is Related: Everyone, due to the huge mess of family trees and strict culling laws.
  • Fantastic Light Source: Mage Globes are useful light sources, among their many and varied uses.
  • Freudian Trio: Glenin is the superego, Sarra is the ego and Cailet is the id.
  • Genre Shift: High Fantasy, but there are significant hints that this series is far more Science Fiction than it lets on - for example, the first line on the back of the book reads "A thousand years ago, Mageborns fled prejudice and persecution to colonize the planet Lenfell - pristine, untouched, a perfect refuge for those whose powers were perceived as a threat by those not gifted with magic."
  • Lady Land: Women hold political power, run businesses, and lead their families, while men are generally expected to keep a home, raise children, and look pretty. A few men hold some small power, and a handful are politically prominent, but only at the sufferance of wives or sisters. Only one man manages to operate under his own personal authority, and he had to have every female relative up to and including distant cousins assassinated for that to be so - and Scraller Peleris is still only an odious lickspittle for Annaiyas.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Cailet, I Am Your Sister, both by Sarra and Glenin.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Gorynel Desse. He's had a hand in pretty much everyone's lives, and a lot of it comes to bite him in the ass.
  • May–December Romance: Of a sort. Gorynel Desse is in his early 60s when he dies, and Cailet is in her late teens/early twenties. She figures out he loves her (romantically) when he (for lack of a better term) downloads his brain/memories into hers to make her the new Captal.She herself expresses desire towards him, but only when he shows himself in his younger form.
  • Mind Rape: A favored tactic of Glenin.
  • Mystical Waif: Cailet, until Gorynel turns her into the new Captal.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Collan Rosvenir is a very reluctant member of the Rising, at least until Sarra works her magic on him.
  • One-Steve Limit: An interesting subversion, everyone on Lenfell is named after the same 300 plus saints (with variants), and yet with a cast of thousands they're never repeated.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The whole person less their body. The evil ones are generally confined to the Dead White Forest. Until the wraith of Anniyas eats all the others in a post-mortal bid for revenge.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Auvry takes the brunt of Glenin's killing strike at Cailet.
    • Gorynel's death has shades of this. It's never outright stated, but heavily implied, that he is responsible for this entire mess.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Collan and Sarra in a nutshell, at least for the first book.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Said almost word for word by Collan before he's killed, though it's more of a Thanatos Gambit.
  • Tangled Family Tree: All of them, with incest galore. It really doesn't help with the whole hatred of mutations thing.