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Literature / The Immortals

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“If you look hard and long, you can find us. If you listen hard and long, you can hear any of us, call any of us that you wish.”

The Immortals is the second series set in the Tortall Universe. Veralidaine Sarrasri, more commonly called Daine, is a a thirteen-year-old girl on the run from her past. She has a "knack for animals" that borders on the supernatural, attracting the attention of Numair Salmalín, the archmage of Tortall. As he instructs her, they realize that her power may be greater than either of them can imagine.

Meanwhile, a centuries-old barrier has been broken in the world. Fierce and mythical creatures known as immortals start to invade the human lands, and while many are benign, many begin to attack and prey on humans. Joining Tortall's efforts to deal with the sudden menace, Daine finds herself caught up in a conflict that spirals far out of the mortal scale.

A character sheet can be found here. Beware of spoilers.


  • Wild Magic
  • Wolf-Speaker
  • Emperor Mage
  • The Realms of the Gods

Tropes present in this series include:

  • 90% of Your Brain: In Wolf-Speaker, Daine refers to the (now discredited) idea that humans use little of their brains when comparing them to Brokefang who, changed by her magic, had ideas in "each nook and cranny of his skull." She is horrified by her discovery.
  • Action Mom: Thayet, founder of the Queen's Riders. They're a cavalry group with many female members.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Controversially ends with the sixteen-year-old Daine finally winning over the thirty-year-old teacher she'd been crushing on since she was thirteen.
  • The Ageless: The immortals have this form of immortality. Eternal life, unless ended by accident or intended harm.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Part of the negotiations between the Carthaki Empire and the Tortallan delegation in Emperor Mage go sour because Emperor Ozorne tries to secure a marriage between his nephew Prince Kaddar and the Tortallan Princess Kalasin, who's only ten years old at the time, and for her to immediately come to Carthak. King Jonathan and Queen Thayet do expect her to marry for the benefit of Tortall, but are averse to arranging such a match before their daughter could be reasonably expected to have any marital preferences. Kaddar and Kalasin actually do get married eventually, but only after Ozorne is dead and Kaddar is running the country on his own terms.
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  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: "Duckmole" is not Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp"; it's one of the words that the English coined for the platypus when they first got to Australia.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Yolane and Belden of Dunlath.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: This happens to any animals that spend a lot of time around Daine. She's not happy about it because they're not used to the sudden influx of intelligence and it makes their lives very complicated, but it's not something she can control.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: In Wolf-Speaker, a mage cuts off her hand when she gets a drop of "bloodrain", a potent magic poison, on her skin. Had it reached her bloodstream, she would have rotted inside out. (And this is why you wear gloves in chemistry, kids.)
  • Anger Born of Worry: Midway through Wild Magic, a terrified Alanna and Numair positively shred Daine, giving her a What the Hell, Hero? speech of truly epic proportions. Why? She was trying to contact dolphins telepathically in meditation and decided her heart was too loud — so she accidentally stopped it. No wonder she scared them so badly!
  • Animal Eye Spy: Daine learns to do this in Wolf-Speaker, where it promptly becomes a plot point.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Wild magic, anyone? A number of them are also purposefully broken. Almost all the animals that appear in the books are portrayed positively, with Daine overturning humans' prejudice about many species traditionally seen as evil, such as wolves, hyenas, bats and crocodiles. Rats, however, are not so lucky (see You Dirty Rat!!).
  • Animal Talk: "The People" have one language which seems to be magical in nature. They usually don't think to do so except when they're influenced by Daine's human intelligence.
  • Animate Dead: The Graveyard Hag, patron goddess of Carthak, can do this. She gives Daine the power — temporarily — as part of her plan to get rid of Ozorne.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • An unusual defied example in the last book. The gods give Daine the choice between this or remaining human (and being bound to whichever realm she picked). She chooses to stay human.
    • Played straight with Sarra. Weiryn petitioned the other gods to let her become a minor goddess instead of going to the Black God. She's now known as the Green Lady and watches over mothers and childbirth in her old village.
  • Asleep for Days: This happens to Daine multiple times, from calling forth the Kraken, overusing shapeshifting abilities, and moving between the mortal and divine realms.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Pierce admits to finding older men sexy. After the outcry over the fourteen-year age gap between Daine and Numair (later retconned to twelve years), though, she said she'll try for smaller gaps in the future.
    • A less notorious example: Pierce loves animals.
  • Badass Bookworm: Tristan makes the very, very stupid mistake of thinking Numair is a complete Cloudcuckoolander. He won't be making that mistake again. Because now he's an apple tree.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness:
    • Subverted with Lord Imrah. Daine finds his looks forbidding and cruel until she actually gets to know him.
    • Also subverted with Yolane. She's described as being classically beautiful, but is involved in a plot to overthrow the rulers of Tortall.
  • Berserk Button:
    • See Numair. See Numair apparently get killed. See Daine crush the killer's palace WITH ZOMBIE DINOSAURS.
    • Numair isn't much better himself. Taking pot shots at Daine will get you turned into a tree.
  • The Big Guy: Sarge of the Queen's Riders, a man so huge Daine wonders if he has bear blood in him.
  • Big "NO!": Daine when Rikash is killed.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: This overlaps with Deliberate Values Dissonance, as Daine does not consider what is best for humans to be more important than what is best for animals. She does conclude at one point that some of the predatory animals which she loves reduce her to tears with their hunting tactics, but she loves them still and doesn't consider them evil for having such natures.
  • Blob Monster: The "skinners" from the final book — giant nightmare blobs made of Chaos itself that are immune to weapons and most magic. Daine and Numair are only saved from them when they're yanked into the Divine Realm. The darkings are a smaller, noncombatant, and rather friendlier version. Okay, they're Ozorne's spies, but they turn on him after they become sentient.
  • Can't Bathe Without a Weapon: In the last book, Daine is interrupted in a lake by a tauros. She improvises a sling with her Modesty Towel and decides she can't bathe unarmed again.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Daine initially isn't affected by this despite being able to talk to prey animals (though she stifles her magic when hunting in order to make it fair), but after she learns to shapeshift she has trouble with this, and no longer eats game. She still doesn't mind meat from farm animals.
  • Cats Are Superior: Queenclaw, the goddess of cats, is incredibly smug.
  • Central Theme: Just because someone's nature is different than your own does not mean it is wrong or that you should change it.
  • Character Overlap: Jon, Thayet, and Alanna are prominent secondary characters.
  • Continuity Drift:
    • Wild magic does not fit within the rules of magic as laid down in Song of the Lioness. Hand waved by being subtle enough in most practitioners to be commonly disregarded as folk tale fodder.
    • Also the Immortals themselves: in the earlier Song of the Lioness quartet, the only creatures around were mundane ones you'd find in the corresponding Earth habitats (although sometimes an animal could be uncommonly large, and they might be turned more dangerous by sorcery. And then there's Faithful, but he's a constellation, not exactly a real cat). If creatures like dragons are mentioned, it's with the implication that they are as mythical in the Tortall-verse as in our world. In The Immortals we find that these kinds of creatures do exist, but have spent centuries sealed into the Divine Realms — from where they are now gradually being released by the bad guys. Since there was no hint of their reality and imprisonment in the Song of the Lioness, we can assume it's a retcon, but it's actually done very well. The explanation for the creatures' appearance isn't a hand-wave, it's a major part of the series (which is why it's called The Immortals).
  • Cosmic Plaything: Daine gets some first-hand experience with Tortall's Jerkass Gods.
  • Deity of Human Origin: The Green Lady, a minor goddess of healing and childbirth. She's Sarra, Daine's mother.
  • Deus ex Machina: In Wild Magic, the "pirate" fleet gets destroyed by a Kraken who just happened to have been left behind 400 years ago. True, Daine found and called him up, but she didn't set out to find him nor could she have stopped him, whatever she thought was a good idea.
  • Divine Date: In the backstory. Sarra's unknown lover was Weiryn, which was why she never married a village man despite her neighbors' urging.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Numair, magically speaking, especially when compared to the Queenscoves in Protector of the Small, who require incredibly precise control in their healing. In a variation on the trope, Numair is perfectly aware of his strength and its limitations, he just can't control it because he's trained himself in big, power-consuming spells his whole life and doesn't have the precision needed for small things and is openly envious of "lesser" mages. Most mages can use magic to put out their candles; Numair has to get up and blow his out because if he used his magic he'd blow up the candle, as well as the table it was on and the wall behind it.
  • The Emperor: Daine has some trouble with Emperor Mage Ozorne, who wants to rule the world or something.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Certain powerful spells have an opposite effect. So when Numair turns Tristan into a tree, somewhere in the world a tree becomes a man.
  • Ethnic God: It's said that the Banjiku tribe were birthed by the goddess Lushagui and worship her along with her brother, Kidunka the World Snake.
  • Fake Kill Scare: Played with in Emperor Mage, when the titular emperor has a certain someone killed. This angers everyone's favorite Wild Mage, and she proceeds to call up some ZOMBIE DINOSAUR SKELETONS and every other living animal in the area, destroy a palace and most of the city, and do quite a bit more damage. When that certain someone shows up, proving to her that it was a magical clone of himself that had been killed, she cools off, answering "What happened?" with "I thought you were dead. I lost my temper."
  • False Flag Operation: Carthak disguises its warships as pirates in their attempt to kill Thayet and the royal children so that Tortall can't declare war. When Tortall sends a peace delegation, Ozorne kidnaps Daine so he can frame her and declare war on Tortall.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: With the last book being called The Realms of the Gods, you can expect them to step into center stage. This series establishes that there are major and minor gods, and that mortals, like Daine's late mother, can sometimes become divine.
  • Fossil Revival: Daine does this during her trip to Carthak, courtesy of a gift from the Graveyard Hag.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Deconstructed with Ozorne, who is popular enough with his animals, particularly his birds, but is otherwise a very, very nasty man. On the other hand, Daine is nature's friend through and through.
  • Genius Ditz: To those who don't know what he is, Numair comes off as one, as said by Kitten: "someone silly". That is, until he goes into teacher-mode and gets smart or mage-mode and gets dangerous.
  • A God Am I: Emperor Ozorne all but bans worship of the gods, declaring that "if the people need to worship someone, they can worship him." Carthak's patron deity is exactly as fond of this idea as you might expect.
  • Gone Horribly Right: At the end of Emperor Mage, Daine and Rikash force Ozorne to turn into a Stormwing. In the next book, he has taken leadership of several Stormwing clans, used his immortal powers to create a network of spies and very nasty magic killers, and makes a deal with the ruler of Chaos that comes close to destroying the divine and human realms.
  • Green Aesop: In Wolf-Speaker, Tristan and Yolane think nothing of exploiting the land to get at the black opals, leading to more then a few animals to become very angry over the loss of their homes. Daine tries to talk them out of it by "thinking selfishly" and pointing out that in a few generations, the land will be so ruined that they'll be beggared trying to support themselves. (They don't listen.)
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Daine can talk to animals. She proves on many occasions that speaking to animals gives her huge advantages in war and intrigue. For instance, she can prevent an army from marching as they have no edible food, no water, no horses, and hardly a strap of leather or piece of rope that hasn't been chewed through; a logistics nightmare.
  • Heroic Bastard: Daine is illegitimate, as indicated by her matronymic "Sarrasri" from her mother Sarra, and this affects her and how other see her throughout The Immortals. However, in The Realms of the Gods we find out that her father is really Weiryn, a minor god of the hunt, and her mother has gone up to join him to become the Green Lady, a minor goddess. Daine very briefly considers changing her patronymic to Weirynsra before deciding to keep her old one after having been through so much with it.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Daine's reaction to hearing that Numair was (apparently) executed in Emperor Mage.
  • Horsing Around: Daine's pony, Cloud, is a motherly voice of reason to her mistress.
  • Hot for Student: Daine and Numair. Daine had reached the age where she would be considered an adult before she even realized Numair liked her, and Numair himself seemed initially reluctant when Daine brought it up.
  • Humans Are Special: Rather, mortals are special in that their nature is half-Chaos.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Stormwings were created by a human mage in the hopes that their depredations would discourage war. Rikash points out that humans would just stop waging war, there would be no war dead to desecrate and they'd go away. It's not the Stormwings' fault that they'll never be unemployed. (Well, not the fault of the Stormwings who actually follow the rules on these things.)
  • Human Mom, Non-Human Dad: Daine's dad is a minor hunt god.
  • Jerkass Gods: This series firmly establishes that the gods are not nice beings. Mithros in particular is a dick. "Sorry Daine, never mind that you just singlehandedly saved us all from being devoured by the queen of Nightmare Fuel herself, but because you cause a mild ruckus wherever you go, you'll never be allowed to see your parents again in their realm unless they beg us nicely."
  • Interspecies Romance: Daine's mother, Sarra, and Weiryn, the God of the Hunt — although Sarra was elevated to a minor goddess after her death.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting/Karmic Transformation: Emperor Ozorne is turned into a Stormwing at the end of Emperor Mage. Immortals are incapable of holding mortal office, meaning Ozorne immediately loses his throne, and they also can't use the mortal Gift, leaving him more or less powerless for some time until he figures out Stormwing magic.
  • Just Friends: Before their Relationship Upgrade, the situation between Daine and Numair was slightly... complicated, although it didn't show as much on the surface.
  • Lizard Folk: Basilisks are sapient, bipedal lizards with a gift for languages and the power to turn things into rock. Tkaa, the only one to have a role so far, identifies their species' Hat as "travel and gossip"; he ends up teaching the pages' class on immortals in the next quartet.
  • Magical Defibrillator: A literal example, as Alanna uses magical electricity to jump start Daine's heart after Daine inadvertently stopped her own heart with wild magic.
  • Master of Your Domain: Daine can control her heartrate with wild magic and meditation. However, accidents can occur, like when in Wild Magic, she was trying to contact dolphins telepathically in meditation and decided her heart was too loud — so she accidentally stopped it.
  • Modest Royalty: Daine is shocked when she first meets Jonathan and Thayet since they don't look like her mental image of royalty.
  • Mundane Utility: Daine uses her powers to manage farm animals and get a job herding ponies. At the time, she has no idea just how much potential she really has.
  • Naked First Impression: The first time Daine is properly introduced to Numair, he's naked, having just shifted back into human form from hawk form. Not to be confused with Naked on Arrival, though, since upon arrival Numair was a hawk, and a hawk can't be considered naked.
  • Nature Hero: Daine, who was raised in (relative) isolation and who is Friend to All Living Things. Except rats (see You Dirty Rat!!).
  • The Nicknamer: Daine's not creative about it.
    Daine: This is Skysong, but mostly we call her Kit, or Kitten.
    • She later nicknames another dragon Big Blue.
  • Noble Demon: The Stormwings appear first as enemies, because nobody is inclined to like beings who live on fear and desecrate those dead in war. Rikash, however, points out that they can't help the way they were designed, and says that humans could prevent their depredations simply by not having wars.
  • Not Good with People: Daine at first.
  • Not So Extinct: All the immortal species returning from the Divine Realms.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Numair in Wolf-Speaker refers to depending on Tristan remembering him as having been a "book-bound idiot" back in Carthak.
  • Odd Friendship: Daine and Rikash the Stormwing. She even names one of her kids after him after he dies.
  • Of the People: Animals, all of them, refer to themselves collectively as the People, while humans are "two-leggers". They also extend this to people with wild magic.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They give birth to live young, and change color depending on their mood, although each has a unique neutral coloration. The fourth book reveals that they're extremely political and can take decades to come to any sort of consensus, and are semi-divine. An adult dragon feels comfortable backhandedly defying Tortall's Jerkass Gods.
  • Pet Gets the Keys: When Daine is imprisoned by Ozorne, she's rescued by Zek the marmoset, who brings her the key to the cell (having learned about cages and keys during a visit to Ozorne's menagerie with Daine earlier in the novel).
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Stormwings are a race of birdlike beings who live to desecrate the dead (in a largely futile effort to make people reluctant to wage war) and they're made of sharp metal that can cut up birds, so Daine doesn't like them. Then she meets Rikash, the one who befriended the lonely Maura and reveals that they are fond of children.
    • Lord Imrah of Legann is described as bald, with a large belly, hawk nose and pockmarked face, giving him a cruel appearance. Daine noticed him feeding one of the darkings, and when confronted, joked that it was a shadow of its former self.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: After Daine shapeshifts back into a human after saving Numair from a Chaos-dweller in The Realms of the Gods, she walks up to him — only to remember that she's naked except for her badger claw necklace. Awkwardness Ensues.
    Daine: Oh, for- !
  • The Prophecy: It's a bad prophecy! Uuosae, Queen of Chaos, will eventually defeat her divine siblings and turn all realms to Chaos; in other words destroying everything. Most of The Realms of the Gods is about preventing this from happening.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Jonathan retains this role, as well as his wife Thayet jian Wilima, who will leave court functions to join the Queen's Riders.
    • Ozorne and Kaddar of Carthak are quite active too, although Kaddar thinks his uncle should pay more attention to their people's welfare.
  • Razor Wings: Stormwings are covered in steel/metal feathers which are extremely sharp.
  • Raised by Wolves: Daine wasn't actually raised by them, but the pack near her home did take her in after her mother's death.
  • Raising the Steaks: In Emperor Mage, Daine uses the resurrection powers temporarily granted to her by the Graveyard Hag to resurrect the dinosaur skeletons at the Imperial Palace and trash the place while pursuing Ozorne.
  • Reality Changing Miniature: The shield over Dunlath valley in Wolf-Speaker is created by a tiny map of the valley with magical opals embedded in it. The shield drops when Daine smashes the opals.
  • Refusing Paradise: The choice Daine makes at the end of the fourth book. Although she had promised Sarra she would stay early in the book, Daine changes her mind after everything that happens — she feels more at home in the mortal realm.
  • Relationship Upgrade: The Realms of the Gods has Daine and Numair realizing that they were meant for each other. There was some minor foreshadowing to this point, but the fact that Daine was in her early teens and Numair in his late twenties, and her teacher, made Numair reluctant to bring it up.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Daine. Once before the beginning of Wild Magic and later after fining out that Numair was killed. Sadly, the person her revenge was supposed to be directed at turned into a Stormwing and his innocent nephew had to pay the damages.
  • Semi-Divine: Daine's father is a minor god and her mother Sarra was a mortal village healer. Sarra herself became a local goddess after her death.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Daine wears a formal dress at the start of Emperor Mage because of the high class functions.
  • Shown Their Work: The animal behavior in these books is very well-researched, and Daine's healing abilities require her to learn their anatomy so she doesn't botch the job.
    • Particularly evident in Wolf-Speaker, when Daine is reunited with the wolf pack she knew at home. Just as you might be thinking how unrealistic it is for wolves to be able to strategise like this, Daine thinks the same thing, and concludes that they must have leveled up when they licked her wounds after she was injured.
  • Slave Collar: Worn by Carthaki slaves.
  • Stalking Is Love: Numair stealing a lock of Daine's hair as she sleeps tends to be called out as creepy even by people who don't mind the age gap.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Daine's answer to an inconvenient Carthaki fleet in Wild Magic? A kraken. That girl don't muck about.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: Defied by Daine and Numair. After falling off a cliff, Daine strips her ruined clothes off for Numair to heal her, only for him to protest that she should stay clothed while in his presence.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the beginning of the series, Daine is a grieving fourteen-year-old exile who has a knack with animals. By the third book, she can command a herd of dinosaur skeletons and turn herself into a bear.
  • Transflormation: Numair turns Tristan Staghorn into an apple tree. This is considered such a feat in-universe that when Neal mentions it to Kel in the next series, she doesn't believe him.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: Numair shows Daine a spell that reveals the magical aura of everything that exists (living, dead, inanimate) in the first book of The Immortals. With all the various colors of bright magical light, it just begs to be Fan Art.
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • Please don't piss Daine off. Otherwise you'll be dealing with skeleton zombie dinosaurs crushing your palace. Numair will turn you into a tree.
    • Perhaps less dramatically, if she is in the form of a giant bird, don't follow close behind her. Just... don't.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • So many people asked about what happened to the tree that became a man that Pierce wrote a short story about it, "Elder Brother", for an anthology.
    • It was never specified what happened to Varice Kingsford at the end of Emperor Mage. We can't even be sure if she knows her ex-lover is alive, seeing that we never saw them speak to each other after Daine told her to flee and hide.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Jonathan and Thayet are very casual for holding royal power. Daine lampshades how downright uncommon (and, to her, baffling) this is.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Wild magic is treated like this in-universe. In fact, one of Daine's greatest advantages over her opponents (the human ones, at least) is that they either don't believe that wild magic exists or that it functions like the regular Gift that most human mages have. As a consequence, her enemies repeatedly attempt to hamper or disrupt her with methods that would work on the normal human Gift, but end up having zero effect on her wild magic. The biggest example is when Emperor Ozorne kidnaps her and places her in a special room meant to completely neutralize human magic, but Daine's wild magic isn't even the slightest bit inconvenienced by this and she proceeds to escape without much trouble (once she calms down).
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • Emperor Ozorne is cornered and injured by Daine and the hyenas, who The Prophecy had stated would bring about Ozorne's downfall. His choices are apparentely two-fold - either he accepts Kaddar's offer to abdicate and be spared, Daine and the hyenas get him. He tries to Take A Third option by cashing in a favour from Rikash, who offered him one of their feathers which can supposedly allow him to escape from any danger, "as if on wings of steel". Of course, Rikash had anticipated this and never exactly said how it would allow him to escape - he's transformed into a Stormwing, and thereby stripped of his mortal throne, mortal magic, and placed under the jurisdiction of three vengeful Stormwings. He escapes, barely, and remains the Big Bad.
  • The X of Y: Book 4, The Realms of the Gods.
  • You Dirty Rat!: To a degree, rats get the standard trope treatment even in these animal-advocate stories — they are vicious, dirty, and generally unpleasant. But those aren't their only traits. They're also very independent-minded, demanding that Daine offer them something in return for their help, whereas most animals are happy to help her if she just asks. This fits their place as animals closely associated with the Graveyard Hag, who is among other things a goddess of chance and bargains (as well as death) and rather enjoys messing with people.
    • A indirect example in The Realm of the Gods, Malady of the Three Sorrows takes the form of a rat.


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