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Literature / The Farside Trilogy

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A trilogy of fantasy novels set in the years before and during World War II, written by John Dalmas.

The first story kicks off with the main character, Curtis Macurdy, giving the readers a first-person monologue about his life starting with the time his uncle Will married an elven witch named Varia. Twenty years later, Will Macurdy dies, and Varia reveals that as she watched Curtis grow up, she fell in love with him. The monologue ends with Varia being kidnapped by her own people. Then the story really starts, with Curtis chasing after them to get his wife back.

The three parts:

  • The Lion of Farside (1995) - Curtis chases after Varia, even travelling to her magical world and leading a revolution against a tyrant to do it. He ultimately fails, due to circumstances beyond his control, and after a brief marriage to someone else, goes home.
  • The Bavarian Gate (1997) - Curtis goes home, and finds out that the Sisterhood are trying to bring him back to Yuulith. He says his good byes to his parents and leaves, train jumping his way across the nation to Oregon, where he settles down until the Draft sends him into WW2. He has an impressive career in the infantry, and joins the OSS just in time to stop the Nazis from gaining a magical edge in the war.
  • The Lion Returns (1999) - After his third wife dies, Curtis goes back to Varia's world, hoping he can get her back after 17 years apart. While he's in Yuulith, the enemies he faced on the other side of the Ocean send an expedition to conquer the Ylver, and Curtis is drawn into one last war for the fate of his home.

The series includes both Historical Fantasy and regular High Fantasy settings, though it spends more time on the High than the History side.

Tropes involved in the setting:

  • Action Girlfriend: Melody. She's a Spear Maiden, the daughter of a famous warrior in Oztown and a warrior in her own right. She pulls her own weight the entire time she's with Curtis's crew, and stands by him throughout his quest to find Varia. In the end, she's the one Curtis settles down with for a while, before she dies and he goes home to Earth.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well: Macurdy charges into another world. Becomes a slave for a year, fights all kinds of battles, leads a rebellion, and fights his way into an Elv-excuse me, Ylver-nation, all to get back his beloved wife Varia. And he finds out that another man and his dying wife pressured her into giving up any hope of returning to him, so she could replace the dying wife. What does Curtis do? He realizes it's over, and gets married to his second in command. And the third book ends with him rejoining Varia after all, even though he's world weary and she's just had to kill the very man who pressured her, to save him from torture. All's well indeed!
  • The Alliance: While Curtis is off fighting in WW2, Sarkia's busy capitalizing on the war he won in Yuulith to build one of these across the entire continent. It comes to handy effect when facing the Voitik invasion in the third book.
  • Alternate Universe: Yuulith is in an alternate Universe from Earth, that is only accessible by portals that open under the full moon. Unless you use magic to make them open for longer.
  • Aura Vision: It's usually the first sign that someone in this series has a gift. It can tell you the sort of person someone is, and can be fine tuned to learn their emotional state. It's also the key to seeing ghosts.
  • Berserk Button: Rape, for Curtis. When he finds out the subordindates of someone he just killed were responsible for raping some girls, he orders the perpetrators to take them home and forces the entire band of rebels to take a collection for the well being of the victims. When someone instigates rape after being ordered not to, Curtis forms a fireball at the tip of his sword and runs the man through before forcing his companions to run a mile in the dark of night without picking up their pants. And then he calls Elder Quaie the Rapist of Ferny Cove to goad him into a duel to the death. Of course, Curtis wins.
  • Book Ends: The first book begins and ends with several chapters of first-person narration, like a monologue or diary entry. Romantically the entire series has book ends. In the end, Curtis remarries Varia and the happy couple plan to live on the farm Varia's now inherited.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: The Voitusotar, great warlocks of the East. They get violently seasick when on ships, and it takes trade with The Nazis to find a way to overcome this.
  • The Chase: It's the central plot of the first book. Varia gets kidnapped, and everything Curtis does is in service to tracking her down at all costs. Even if he has to start a Revolution to do it.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Meditation. It gets a few lines in the first book, then is mostly ignored for the rest of the series. It might pop up here and there to help someone, but it's largely ignored. Then BAM in the third book. Curtis, sitting gagged and bound in the enemy's storage room, decides to meditate to pass the time. The enemies begin preparing their final attack, and in his meditative state Curtis follows the primal forces at play and strikes like "a lightning bolt hitting a transformer." The enemies are thwarted, and Yulith is safe once more.
  • Death from Above: The final attack planned by the Voitusotar invasion was a solar flare-powered Death Ray raining from a roiling black cloud. It never quite served its purpose.
  • Deuteragonist: In the first book, Varia. After she's kidnapped, we get several chapters throughout the book that follow her around. Before we even see Curtis's exploits in Yuulith, we see Varia's struggle to cope with her own people, and her daring escape. Interspersed with Curtis's adventures, we see how Varia ended up where she was by the end of the story.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Curtis has a dream in the third book about his enemy from the second one. Lo and behold, it's the same man engineering the Voitik invasion of Yuulith.
  • Dying Race: It's hinted at the end that the Voitu are going to become this. At the very least, they'll be overthrown.
  • Easing into the Adventure: The first 26 pages of the story show Curtis and Varia before their adventure, living on farms in Indiana before running off to Illinois to avoid the mundane problems associated with her not aging. Page 26 kicks off the adventure, though it's still fairly mundane until Part 2 of the book.
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: Averted. The Dwarves seem content to trade with everyone, and only send out trading envoys. Not only do they trade with the Ylver, they also treat the Sisterhood, an Ylven offshoot, with respect and allow them to lease land in order to rebuild after Quaie's incursion against the Sisterhood's old home.
  • The Empire: The Ylvin Empire in the first book. A relatively small fraction of their military force breaks across the Great Muddy River and takes down the Sisterhood's original cloister. It's stated that their main military is tens of times stronger, and Curtis only wins his war because the Emperor's pissed at General Quaie for how he fought the last one, and is more interested in mending fences and building trade than in teaching the southerners lessons in humility.
  • Eternal Love: Varia and Curtis are described as having something close to Agape, or pure love. While they probably won't be together in every lifetime, their souls would still feel that strong bond in the afterlife no matter what.
  • Exposition Beam: When Curtis hears that Cyncaid kidnapped Varia, he goes off into the woods and finds a skull. He blacks out after touching it, and relives the dead man's last moments as well as a few moments seen from his ghost's perspective.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Elder Quaie, general of the Western Ylvin Empire, hates the Sisterhood with such a passion that he leads an army to break down their walls and orders his human subordinates to rape any Sisterhood captives before throwing them to vicious wardogs as chew toys. He seems intent on doing this to the entire Sisterhood.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Whenever a human brings a gun into Yuulith, the portal that takes him or her there strips the powder from the bullets. Every time. This might be overcome, if any of the humans who went to Yuulith actually tried creating gun powder once they were already there. They never do on the page.
  • Fiery Redhead: Played straight with Idri, and Sarkia in one scene, but completely averted with the rest of the Sisterhood. Generations of selective breeding have left most of them docile and willing to accept the leadership of others.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Rakutur. They're half human and half Voitu, with varying levels of both parents inside them. Some even have a connection to the Voitik hive mind.
  • Hive Mind: A low level variant. The Voitusotar have one that works like the Internet. Someone sees something, and transmits it to the Hivemind, where anyone else can look for it if they wish. The Great Ravens of Yuulith also have this capability, and form a sort of radio network for Yuulith's defense forces.
  • Interspecies Romance: During his time in Hithmearc, studying under the Voitusotar, Curtis is put in the care of Crown Prince Kurquosz's half-human daughter. She has a lot of fun with her new toy.
  • I Will Find You: The point of The Quest that Curtis goes on throughout the first book. Varia's been kidnapped, and he's intent on getting her back. Or so he thinks . . .
  • Mage Species: Most non-human sentient species in the series. Humans can have powers, but they're relatively rare and even more rarely as powerful as the other races. The Voitusotar are masters of big, showy magic that takes time to prepare, while the Sisterhood, Tomttu, and Great Ravens have control over more mundane powers. The Ylver have powers, but centuries of interbreeding with humans has drained them of most of their old abilities.
  • Magic Versus Science: Subverted. Magic works in both worlds, and outside of guns, all modern tech brought to Yuulith seems to work too. In fact, scientific understanding seems to improve use of magic, as Curtis lacked the skill to use healing spells until he spent time working on them on Earth while studying medical textbooks. The only way the trope is upheld is in how Curtis's superiors react to him when he explains his powers.
  • Matriarchy: Of the sexy kind. In the Sisterhood men are used as soldiers and couriers, while women do most of the mental and craft work. Children know their mothers and carry their blood line names as last names, while the fathers are rarely known. The sexy part comes from everyone being being bred to be as attractive as possible, and said breeding being a common and enjoyable evening activity.
  • Older Than They Look: The Ylver and their redheaded cousins in the Sisterhood stop aging normally at 20 and don't begin again until they're 80, at which point they go into a decade of rapid aging called Decline. When he's in the Western Ylvin Empire on business Macurdy gets propositioned by an Ylvin woman. He can only tell that she's an old woman about to hit her decline because he can read her aura.
  • Opening Monologue: "To Waken the Lion", part 1 of The Lion of Farside, is a monologue where Curtis remembers Varia's relationship with his family. It covers everything from her meeting Will Macurdy at the fair to her kidnapping at the hands of her own people. Then Part 2 rolls around, and the story shifts into 3rd person perspective.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Ylver act like little more than magically endowed humans. Which makes sense, since after generations of interbreeding, the Ylver really are little more than magically endowed, pointy-eared humans.
  • People Farms: The Sisterhood practices selective breeding to improve magic powers or other traits. To the extent that a common punishment for bad deeds like running away is to be shacked up with a Tiger squad and raped nightly until the Sister in question is pregnant. The Voitusotar practice it on humans who show latent gifts.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The leader of the Sisterhood through most of the story, Sarkia, is the oldest Ylver or Sister alive, at over 200 years old. She's not even the oldest person alive, as it's said that Dwarves live longer. Just how much longer is never stated.
  • Redheads Are Ravishing: And how. Will/Curtis's wife Varia is a copper-haired witch herself, and the entire Sisterhood is composed of varying shades of red heads. Besides Varia, Curtis also has sex with another Sister, as well as another red haired witch from across the ocean. There's also Pavo Wollerda, a fellow revolutionary war leader who ends up settling down with Varia's twin sister, Liiset.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: The entire Sisterhood has green eyes and some shade of red hair, which separates them from the other Ylver. They have those colors because their distant ancestors were from a race of highly powerful wizards who took over the Ylvers' ancestral homelands a long time ago.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Varia spends most of the series being kittenish or Lady-like, but put her in a corner she'll not only survive, but risk her own death to make sure she takes care of those she loves. She plans and executes an escape from a barracks full of warriors who spent months raping her nightly, and two books later kills her third husband to spare him from a slow, lingering death at the hands of powerful enemies.
  • Super-Soldier: The Tigers. Cold, heartless, exceptional warriors who never back down. They were bred to face another group just like them.