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Literature / The First Dwarf King

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Pictured: The Dawn of an Era. Not pictured: Pointy-ears.

The First Dwarf King (full title: The First Dwarf King: The Saga of the Heir of Aulis) is a trilogy of Science Fantasy stories written by troper Tempest Knight. It is the first Herezar text — it is intended to be the launch title for an entire series.

The three volumes (or "Acts") of the story are as follows:

  • Act I: Thunderous Souls (2015)
  • Act II: Journey to New Lands
  • Act III: Upheaval

After getting frustrated with the lack of progress he was making, the author decided not to pursue publication and instead began releasing it online via youtube.

531 years ago, an army of demons was defeated by the people of Herezar, and their leader was slain in combat with Aulis, the dwarves' most legendary hero. In the interim between that conflict and the present, evil has crept back into the world.

Now, after centuries of preparation, the enemies of Herezar are ready to strike. It is only a matter of time before their plans are carried out...


The First Dwarf King features examples of the following tropes:

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     Tropes A-G 
  • Badass Army: Pretty much every army in this story qualifies to an extent; it's less a case of whose army is good, and more a case of whose army is best.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Jani and Armo fight back-to-back during the Battle of Kordsgard.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Most Herezarians (with the exception of the elves), Redariam, and Tarsi are reasonable people, trying their best to do some good in the world. In no way does this keep them from being deliberately dangerous to anyone who would cause them harm.
    • The dwarves: Survived two centuries of enslavement at the elves' hands, then curbstomped the elves not once, but twice; their greatest Folk Hero defeated the Demon Lord in one-on-one combat; their homeland is attacked by an army of demons... and it's the dwarves who emerge triumphant (not to mention, once they're finished with that battle, they go eastward to join another one).
    • The humans: the most ethnically diverse race on the planet, dividing into four reasonably-well-ruled kingdoms. One of these has eked out an existence in a hostile desert; another thrives in a land of impenetrable jungle and rampaging beasts; another is a kingdom of Horny Vikings with all the awesomeness that entails; the fourth has become the most powerful kingdom on the entire continent. Also, all but one of them comes to aid the conflict at Derune, proving that each one has a Badass Army.
    • The orcs: Despite living in most hostile environment in Herezar, they've not only managed to survive, but thrive. They also have the most sizable army in the entire world, if only due to sheer numbers. Despite this, they train themselves to avoid Hollywood Tactics and provide a valuable ally to the dwarves during the battle at Kordsgard.
    • The Redariam: Weak, but Skilled. Think about that — despite getting all the bad cards physically, they got the best minds. While everyone else was still using horses for travel, the Redariam had such devices as jet-propelled aircraft, skyscrapers, and smartphones. Oh, and they have a Badass Army of their own — armed with such weapons as chainguns, missiles, and the like.
    • The Tarsi: Take the intelligent minds of the Redariam, combine it with an entire race of lightning bruisers, add in the Gift of Wisdom, and you get the perfection that is the Tarsi. Among other things, they have a Council of Chessmaster Sidekicks who answer to an even more powerful group — the Imperial Family. And their priests are members of a Church Militant, who double as Martial Pacifists, each of whom is not only a Master Swordsman in his own right, but can call upon the powers of the Almighty to smite even the most powerful of foes.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Two of them! One at Kordsgard, and one at Derune.
  • Big Good: Father Kiyoshi serves as a mentor to most of the cast (at least from Act II onward).
  • Bilingual Bonus: There are several Con Langs used throughout the novel, each of which can be translated.
  • Bishōnen / Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Three of them, in fact, giving us a downplayed version of Cast Full of Pretty Boys.
    • Eustathios is probably the most obvious example.note 
    • Leofric is not as overt an example as Eustathios, but according to Word of God still fits.
    • Cophthera-gn acts as a subversion. His appearance plunges him deep into Uncanny Valley...
  • Body Horror: Many of the demons enhance their bodies magically... producing some very unnatural features.
    • Phryne did something to Aristomache — something so horrible that Aristomache veiled her entire head in shame.
  • Break the Cutie: Just what did Phryne do to Aristomache?? She spends the rest of the book with a veil covering her head!
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Pathruushkè would just love to splatter Trang Barok's guts upon the ground...
  • Celibate Hero: Jani plays with this trope, but leans more toward playing it straight. He and Iris are most definitely an item, but they function as a Chastity Couple (a reflection of the author's Real Life religious beliefs). It remains unknown if they will tie the knot.
  • The Chessmaster: Trang Barok, natch.
  • Citadel City: Derune.
  • Cloning Blues: Reversed. The Osthan are this for everyone else. Just one of these guys is bad enough — the fact that there are three of them makes it even worse!
  • Conlang: The Demonic Language. Each race also has its own language as well, but they rarely get a chance to use it, thanks to the Universal Language.
  • Cool Airship: Tarsian airships.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Several.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the Redariam could count as this, along with some dwarves and Tarsi. Notably, however, they only get sarcastic in the presence of elves.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: The Diaboro. Note that the actual Demon Lord character is more akin to Satan.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Trang Barok routinely mocks Pathruushkè.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Aulis decapitates the Demon Lord, a thing with three heads, with a single blow.
  • Door Stopper: Averted, though it would have been played straight if the author had had his way. Originally he intended for it to be published as one gigantic tome, but cues during the publishing process convinced him to split it into three books.
    • For what it's worth, the book's (or books', depending on your interpretation) total word count is more than 360,000.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Trang Barok's goals seem to be markedly different from those of Pathruushkè.
  • The Dreaded: Many of the villains become this over the course of the narrative — and with good reason.
    • Father Kiyoshi is this to the Osthan — again, with good reason.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Played for all its worth. The elves and dwarves of Herezar really don't like each other.
  • The Epic: Oh, YEAH. If the word Saga in the title didn't tip you off, let's just say that this is a really, really, REALLY BIG story.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Osthan have one when they kill Trang Barok's prisoners.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Trang Barok knows it's better to be feared than hated.
  • Evil Is Bigger: The smallest demons stand 250 cm (about 8' 2"); they only get bigger from there.
    • This actually works in the book's favour; if your enemy already seems gigantic when you're an elf or a human, how much bigger will he seem when you're a dwarf?
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Demon Lord and the Osthan speak in a Badass Baritone.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: All the other demons speak in high-pitched, scratchy voices.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: the old chestnut of "The Big Good deity is ineffectual whereas the demons can do as they please so the mortal characters aren't rendered superfluous".
  • The Greys: The Redariam, although they can have other skin tones as well.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Averted. Dwarven women most certainly do not have facial hair.

     Tropes H-R 
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Armo and Dagmar. They're even a couple! Leofric as well.
  • Healing Factor: No matter how many times Aulis or Fedlimid wound him, the Demon Lord keeps on fighting because he can instantly heal from any injury.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The voices emanating from Pathruushkè's staff.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Iris has scarlet hair, and she's Jani's girlfriend. Then there's Aristomache, ruby-headed wife of Cenric.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted with the Ironheads, who seem to have some idea of what they're doing. Played straight with the demons during the attack on Kordsgard.
  • The Horde: The demons that attack Kordsgard. The Ironhead army that attacks Derune counts as well, though they're far better-organized than the demons.
  • Lizard Folk: The Tarsi, although they don't like being called "lizards."
  • Manly Facial Hair: Every male dwarf has a beard worth writing home about. Several human men have impressive beards as well.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: More or less played straight in Act I... then shown to be just one of many cultures in the Constructed World.
  • Medieval Stasis: Played pretty straight in Act I. Subverted heavily in the second.
  • Million Mook March: Two of them in the first book alone. First, the Ironheads' march toward Derune; second, the demons' advance toward Kordsgard.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Phryne's carriage leaves the Tithrelden palace just seconds before the Osthan attack.
  • Mood Whiplash: The book's tone varies wildly; at times, it can be incredibly lighthearted, even comedic; other times it would not be out of place in a tragedy or horror story.
  • Mook Horror Show: Two villainous examples, both involving the Osthan. First, they mop the floor with the prisoners at Trang Barok's stronghold. Second, they massacre the elves at the Tithrelden palace.
  • Mounted Combat: The cavalry clash at Derune.
  • Mythopoeia: Many races and civilizations have legends about their predecessors.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Demon Lord. 'Nuff said.
    • Apollyon the Merciless. Bonus points for Apollyon being Greek for "Destroyer".
  • The Need for Mead: If Kordsgard's occupants get thirsty, Blazing Beers has them covered.
  • Off with His Head!: How Aulis slays the Demon Lord. Made more awesome by the fact that the latter has three heads, not one.
  • Our Monsters Are Different
    • Our Demons Are Different: They're just as evil as you'd expect; they are the tallest, brawniest race on the planet; they're organized into a hierarchy.
    • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played with. On one hand, their men have beards, they all have Super Strength, and they wield axes and warhammers. On the other hand, their women are clean-shaven (and cute but tough), they're a loosely-defined nation of farmers instead of warriors (except when they need to be), and their only underground city is Kordsgard — most people live on plantations above ground.
    • Our Orcs Are Different: They served the demons long ago, but after the demons were defeated, they began to form their own culture. Now, only those orcs under the control of Trang Barok serve the demons (admittedly, Trang Barok controls a lot of orcs). The rest are fleeing from Trang Barok's tyranny.
  • Posthumous Character: Apollyon the Merciless was killed long before the story's events.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Pathruushkè wears a purple robe.
  • Rated M for Manly: Swords. Axes. Guns. Explosions. Hot blood (and Blood Knights). Viking expies. Screaming Warriors. An entire World of Badass. Do the math.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Quite a few of them — very few authority figures in the work are not this trope.
  • Reconstruction: The First Dwarf King takes many tropes central to the fantasy genre and gives them a new spin.
    • Elves and dwarves are given a very good reason for hating each other — the elves enslaved the dwarves for two centuries, and the dwarves nearly caused an elven genocide.
    • Dwarves have a good reason for using axes and warhammers. They originally used swords, but the elves took away their weapons and forced them to do slave work. But axes and hammers are tools. Therefore, with a bit of ingenuity, the dwarves were able to turn the very tools the elves forced them to use into deadly weapons... which they then used on their captors.
    • The idea of The Chosen One being chosen by prophecy is thrown out; instead, the hero simply happens to be in the right place at the right time.note  Nor does the hero exist in a vacuum; his actions are made possible by everyone around him. However, it's still clear that the hero is making a significant impact in his own right, especially as the story progresses.
    • In most examples of heroes who are Conveniently an Orphan, the hero's parents might as well never have existed, since we never see them at all. Here, we get a chance to see the parents in the flesh (albeit briefly) and find out just how the parents actually died.
    • Most fantasy fiction runs more or less in this way: elves are beautiful, dwarves are strong, humans are all European, and orcs are innumerable. In addition, a lot of old science fiction has aliens whose technology far exceeds anything humans are capable of. The First Dwarf King accepts these tropes, and gives good reasons for why each race would have such a hat: namely, Deoth gave each race a Divine Gift to make them unique: dwarves received the Gift of Strength, elves received the Gift of Beauty, humans received the Gift of Diversity (there are plenty of white humans around, but also brown and black), orcs received the Gift of Fertility (a single husband/wife pair can easily have twenty kids in their lifetime; therefore it's easy for them to produce massive armies), Redariam have the Gift of Knowledge, and Tarsi received both the Gift of Wisdom and the Gift of Strength.
    • The Gifts above provide a justification for the presence of Medieval Stasis: only the Redariam have advanced enough to have mastered electrical technology.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons / Wrong Genre Savvy: Pulled twice, once in Act I, again in Act II.
    • In the first act, the humans and elves defeat the Ironhead army outside Derune. However, they don't consider that the Ironheads might have a backup plan...
    • In the second act, Kenta and Aimi believe that Cenric's group has come to their homeland with the intent of causing trouble. Trouble does come... but not from Cenric (although everyone is made to believe it's his fault)...
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Try to find a royal who doesnt do something.
  • Running Gag: Pathruushkè and Trang Barok argue pretty much every time they meet. As do Jani and Eustathios.
    • "Shut up, Steve."
      • For that matter, referring to Eustathios as "Steve" in general.

     Tropes S-Z