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Literature / The Godless World Trilogy

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The Godless World is a fantasy trilogy written by Scottish author Brian Ruckley. It consists of: Winterbirth, Bloodheir and Fall of Thanes.

The titular world was abandoned by its gods long ago, after the Huanin (humans) and Kyrinin (elves, but notably different) rose up to destroy the Whreinin (wolf people).

The books start over 1000 years after the departure of the gods, following a war between the True Bloods and the Bloods of the Black Road, a group of religious extremists who believe one god remained, and the believers of this creed will be granted an afterlife, but only when everyone alive in the world is a true believer. Cue slaughter.

The books mainly follow Orisian nan Lannis-Haig, the son of the Lannis Thane's brother, although it commonly switches viewpoints to several others, including Orisian's sister Anyara, the Horin-Gyre Bloodheir Kanin, and Aeglyss, the Half-Human Hybrid who takes a spotlight in the second and third books.


This series provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Theor, Goedellin and Nyve were thoroughly likable from the start, and Kanin and Cannek become sympathetic in the second two books.
  • Big Bad: Aeglyss, whose need for acceptance and psychological damage more or less destroy the world.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Kanin and Wain in Winterbirth. He's the Horin-Gyre Bloodheir and has all the nominal authority; she's the stronger personality and has the actual authority.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Kanin and Wain, who start out the series as apparently formidable antagonists, but are eventually displaced by Aeglyss and the Battle Inkallim.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Big Bad is defeated, but so many of the protagonists, including Orisian himself die to bring it about. Also, the Haig lands are thrown into turmoil, and signs point to the Dornach Kingship invading soon.
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  • Bodyguard Crush: It's subtle, but Coinach appears to be developing one on Anyara.
  • Body Horror: Aeglyss rots alive as his power grows.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Kylane shows some tendencies of this, including a love of "drink and dice". He doesn't last long though.
  • Break the Cutie: Mordyn's death, for what it did to Tara, who'd been suffering since his return. The series as a whole serves as one for the already miserable Orisian.
  • Church Militant: The Inkallim. Divided into the Battle, the Hunt, and the Lore.
  • The Corrupter: Aeglyss becomes this, turning people into raw Chaotic Evil berserkers after his power up.
  • The Corruption: Aeglyss releases this into The Shared, injecting it will all of his own pain, suffering, and rage. It's repeatedly described as "venom", "poison" and a "taint".
  • Crapsack World: The people are monsters, the gods have left, rejection and sufferring are everywhwere, most of the populace is poor, and every named character is a psychological wreck.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Coinach killing Kale, to the surprise of everyone involved.
  • Dark Action Girl: Wain, Shraeve, Eska (although she's quite sympathetic), and any female Inkallim.
  • Dark Messiah: Aeglyss in the second and third books. Many of the Inkallim are convinced he is their savior, and he does nothing to dissuade them of that notion.
  • Death Seeker: By Fall of Thanes Aeglyss wants to die, but he's become too powerful to actually do it.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Orisian. Poor, poor Orisian. In the first book, Wain rejects Aeglyss, but he has his way in a rather disturbing manner in later books.
  • The Dragon: Igris to Kanin, Mordyn Jerain and Kale to Gryvan oc Haig, Fiallic to Nyve, Shraeve to Aeglyss.
  • Dual Wielding: Shraeve again.
  • Dysfunction Junction: No one in this series is particularly functional.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Anain are inscrutable, formless beings who live within The Shared and use plant life to form bodies when they need them.
  • Empty Shell: Orisian's father, K'rina. Orisian himself by the end.
  • Enemy Mine: Fall of Thanes sees Kanin and the local Lannis men performing one against the Battle Inkallim.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Aeglyss does, which is exploited by the Anain.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kanin cares about his sister Wain and vice-versa, and they both care about their ailing father. Wain's death ends up triggering Kanin's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Evil Cripple: Aeglyss is left crippled by the Breaking Stone and his magic. Kanin loses his hands in Fall of Thanes, though he's hardly evil by that point.
  • Faith–Heel Turn: Inverted. Kanin's shift from Big Bad to Anti-Villain comes when he loses his faith in The Black Road, and starts thinking for himself.
  • Fantastic Racism: Pretty much everybody expresses this towards the na'kyrim.
  • A Father to His Men: Taim Narran
  • Final Battle: Subverted; after all the epic battles in the trilogy, Aeglyss is finally defeated by the Anain using K'Rina as a cage for Aeglyss's soul. Kanin's fight against Aeglyss's forces in the third book almost qualifies. That said, though it is small scale, Taim (and temporarily Varryn) fighting against Shraeve near the end of the third book was pretty epic.
  • Final Solution: The backstory saw the Huanin and Kyrinin exterminate the Whreninin to the last wolf.
  • For Want of a Nail: The story is essentially kicked off because the High Thane of the Bloods decided to 'depopulate' the northern Bloods of warriors (By using them as cannon fodder during a drawn out siege that could normally be ended through less violent means), as punishment for their refusal to be bootlicking sycophants (and feared no reprecussions because the High Thane was secretly negotiating with the High Thane of the Black Road Bloods to ensure that there would never be another war between the two). The fact that there are nowhere near enough warriors left in the north present to hold back the Black Road (Which had been the sole purpose for the existence of these northern Bloods since the exile of the Black Road) is what emboldens the Black Road to attack.
  • The Fundamentalist: Every damn member of the Inkallim, and many other members of the Black Road as well (particularly Wain).
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: It's The Empire vs Church Militant, with decent people on both sides caught in the middle. May evolve into Black-and-Grey Morality once the Dark Messiah starts running the Church Militant.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: The na'kyrim have it rough, of that there is no doubt.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The na'kyrim, half-Huanin, half-Kyrinin; ostracized by both races as outcasts, and feared for their access to the magic known as the Shared
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Orisian dies to stop Aeglyss. It isn't spectacular, it isn't impressive...he just lets go and finally fades out. Sniff...
  • It's All About Me: Aeglyss has a lot of trouble understanding how other people think, expecting to be praised for the things he does for them, yet is always shocked when punished or rejected after he does something negative. Best exemplified in his conversation with Kanin after killing Wain; he cannot grasp at all why Kanin remains angry with him, or why Kanin's loss should matter more than his.
  • Lack of Empathy: Aeglyss tries, but he really cannot sympathise with others, which is what causes so many of his problems.
  • Mind Rape: Done by Aeglyss to Wain, prior to actual rape.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Characters from both sides of the conflict fall all along the scale of morality, with Anyara at one end, and Aeglyss at the other.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Kyrinin are somewhat similar in appearance to Tolkienesque elves, but during the events of the story, live tribal lives, and can be quite savage. Nevertheless, they are described as graceful, and beautiful, though the tattoos they wear and their primitive dress can take away from that.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Wherinin in the backstory certainly sound like werewolves.
  • Praetorian Guard: A Thane's Shield serve in this role.
  • Religious Bruiser: Any member of The Black Road who isn't an Inkallim is probably this.
  • Rousing Speech: Kanin gives one at Glasbridge in order to get the Lannis men in the area onto his side, declaring "I am not your worst enemy and you are not mine."
  • Sanity Slippage: Aeglyss wasn't all that stable to start with, and he only gets worse as the series progresses. By the end he's essentially having a schizophrenic break with reality, and cannot even tell what memories happened to him.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Croesan (and everyone else in Anduran) in the first book. Many more examples in the second and third books, with Ammen Sharp standing out.
  • Sibling Team: Kanin and Wain. Orisian and Anyara start out as one, but go their separate ways as the series progresses.
  • Smug Snake: For an Emotionless Girl and Dark Action Girl, Shraeve really pushes it. She's arrogant, condescending, and convinced that her faith is so much purer than that of the other Inkallim. A most unlikeable bitch.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: During the Haig army's stay in Kolkyre, the soldiers treat the citizenry poorly enough that a mob forms to kill two of them. Aeglyss's influence starts turning everyone into this, freeing the worst of their impulses, and polluting them with his pain and their own.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Orisian, Anyara, Aeglyss. Kanin was already a badass, but discovers just how fierce he can become after Wain's death.
  • Villain Protagonist: Kanin's a viewpoint character from the first book.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Dear god, Aeglyss. He's so damaged that his very presence is contaminating the planet, and poisoning the Shared. By the end, he's ready to die, and tries to take the world that's rejected him along for the ride. It's not even deliberate: he just doesn't care enough about the world to try and stop the destruction he's begun.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Wain kills an infant during the attack on Anduran.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: In the Back Story. The original Inkallim did this, using a force of 100 to delay the pursuing Kilkry army. Hence their being referred to as "The Children of the Hundred".