The series consists of:
- Hawkwood's Voyage (1995)
- The Heretic Kings (1996)
- The Iron Wars (1999)
- The Second Empire (2000)
- Ships from the West (2002, rereleased in 2010 with a revised ending)
The series is set on the continent of Normannia and on the mysterious continent in the west. Normannia is ruled by the Ramusian kingdoms. The most notable of them are Hebrion, Astarac, Perigraine, Almarc and Torunna. Between these kingdoms lies the Republic of Fimbria. East of the Ramusian Kingdoms the Merduk sultanates are located.The story sets in when Aekir, the religious capital of the Ramusian religion, is captured by the Merduks under the military command of Shahar Baraz.
The story follows the young Corfe Cear-Inaf, who is the last survivor of the Aekir garrison, in his fight against the Merduks.
Another story arc evolves around Abeleyn, the king of Hebrion, who has to fight the Prelate Himerius of the Ramusian church in order to save his kingdom and its inhabitants.
At the same time Richard Hawkwood sets out to find the mysterious western continent to colonize it.
While all this happens two monks, Alberic and Avila, discover evidence that the great religion of Ramusio is based on a lie.
Provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Ending: The book ends with Corfe sitting around a camp fire with Ramusio and Shahr Baraz. All three of them are dead at this point.
- Antagonist in Mourning: At the beginning of the first book Shahr Baraz is seen weeping in front of the crucified body of John Modgen.
- The Archmage: Aruan, who is the only human to master all branches of magic and even invents a new one.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Not so much the actual royalty, but the nobility are almost without exception greedy, vain, egotistical and more loyal to their own inflated sense of worth than their respective nations.
- Badass Army: The Cathedrallers. Every man of them is recruited from one of the Hill tribes.
- Blood Knight: Marsch and nearly all men from the Hill tribes do not seem to need a reason to fight.
- Big Bad: Aruan
- The Chessmaster: lots of people want to be this, but the only ones who are very good at it are Jemilla, Golophin and Aruan. Most people who go up against Corfe want to be chessmasters, but are defeated when Corfe devises yet another Indy Ploy.
- Cold Iron: to the Shifters - the iron need not be cold, but the trope is otherwise played straight.
- Corrupt Church: The Ramusian church becomes one under Sinister Minister Himerius
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: St Ramusio. It turns out that he's also Crystal Dragon Mohammed.
- Determinator: so many, but Richard Harkwood, Albrec and Corfe Cear-Inaf are the standouts.
- Elite Army: The Fimbrians. Later in the books the Army of Torunna also qualifies.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Shahr Baraz is very upset that the defenders of Aekir burned down their great library when they torched the town in order to not let it fall into the hands of the Merduks.
- FaceHeel Turn: Bardolin
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: the classic Medieval Europe and Arabia version, albeit with a more nuanced presentation of the latter than is common.
- Fantasy Gun Control: avoids this one, with primitive guns and swords coexisting seamlessly. The guns are based on the earliest rifles - they are only able to be fired twice a minute (three times if the soldier is particularly well trained) and have a limited range, so arrows of various sorts are still useful, and traditional cavalry and infantry are the bulk of forces - although some characters have forebodings that guns will change the nature of war forever.
- Good Shepherd: Pontiff Macrobius.
- The Heretic: the two wings of the Ramusian Church each declare the other heretical; and Albrec's unrelated 'heresies' are actually a truth that has been suppressed by the Church.
- Kill 'Em All
- Kill It with Fire: the purge of the Dweomerfolk.
- Knight Templar: The Inceptine Order.
- Informed Ability: The reason the reader knows that John Modgen was a great strategist is that nearly every person Corfe encounters mentions this. The reader never sees him commanding his troops because the day the story sets in is the day of his defeat at Aekir, followed by his death.
- Left-Justified Fantasy Map
- Mad Oracle: St Honorius it turns out he's not so much mad as called that because he's inconvenient to the Church.
- Malignant Plot Tumor: pretty much anything involving the mysterious Western Continent.
- Memetic Badass: an in-universe example Corfe Cear-Inaf becomes one over the course of the story. Also becomes a Four-Star Badass.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ultimately deconstructed. Aruan talks a good game about wanting to create a better world for dweomer-folk, but it's pretty clear to anyone who pays attention that he's just using this rhetoric to gather followers and really only cares about power for himself. As a result, some of his own minions ultimately end up deciding that the best way to realize Aruan's stated vision for the world is by removing Aruan himself from it, and turn on him.
- Ocean Punk
- Our Homunculi Are Different: Homonculi are familiars grown without Ur Blood; they mature faster than Imps, but they have bad eating habits and are Always Chaotic Evil.
- Our Werewolves Are Different
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: The marriage between Nasir and Mirren is this.
- Preacher Man: Albrec becomes this.
- Rape as Drama: Corfe's wife Heria, Arja, and most women who sleep with Murad.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Definitely on the cynical end.
- Turbulent Priest: Albrec and Avila, although Avila tends to follow Albrec's lead.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: at any given point, there are at least five major plot threads going on.
- Vestigial Empire: The Republic of Fimbria once was the Fimbrian Empire. Most of the streets were built to march its armies. Now Fimbria is only one relatively small country. But don't worry. It is rising again.
- Wooden Ships and Iron Men
- Worthy Opponent: Shahr Baraz considers John Modgen to be this.
- Zerg Rush: The strategy of the Merduks after they deposed of Shahr Baraz.