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Literature / The Prism Pentad

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Post-Apocalypse Fantasy.

The Prism Pentad is a series of five books written by Troy Denning and set in the world of Athas.

The desertic wastelands of Athas are ruled by the despotic Sorcerer Kings, and Borys, the legendary Dragon, roams in the desert and force the Sorcerer Kings to pay him a tribute of a thousand slaves each year. In this grim land, a small and improbable band of heroes (Agis of Asticles, Rikus the half-dwarf, Neeva the gladiator, Sadira the half-elf and Tithian of Mericles) fights for the freedom of their home town, Tyr. Eventually, their path will lead them to a great battle with the fate of Athas itself at stake.

The books are:

  • The Verdant Passage: Where our heroes gathers and start a quest in order to defeat the dispotical Sorcerer King Kalak of Tyr.
  • The Crinsom Legion: Narrates Rikus' battle against the invading armies of King Hamanu. However, he'll have to endure many trials in order to succeed.
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  • The Amber Enchantress: Sadira starts a dangerous journey in order to reach the legendary Tower of Primords, in order to find a power strong enough to stop Borys.
  • The Obsidian Oracle: Where Agis chase after Tithian in order to arrest him and recover the Obsidian Lens, the artifat required for slaying the Dragon. Sadly things ends badly.
  • The Cerulean Storm: Where the final battle against our heroes and the Dragon Borys takes place.


This work contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Scourge of Rkard, which is stated by Umbra to be made of Vorpal Steel.
  • Action Girl: Neeva, but also Sadira, despite being a wizard.
  • After the End: Well, in the current age Athas is almost totally devoid of plants and the sea is made of silt.
  • Alien Sky: Athas has different moons and the eponymous Dark Sun.
  • An Axe to Grind: Neeva's weapon of choice. Used also by Rikus near the end of the last book.
  • Ancestral Weapon: The Scourge of Rkard, which was Borys's sword.
  • And I Must Scream: Rajaat is currently sealed in "The Hollow", an eternal prison beyond time and space.
  • Animate Dead: The wraiths of Borys' Champions can animate carcasses and skeletons. Also Jo'orsh and Sa'ram.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Tithian is power-hungry, and wants the power of a Sorcerer King. He eventually sides with Rajaat.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Gaj in the first book: a sort of huge cockroach that devours minds.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Heartwood Spear, the MacGuffin of the first book used to slay Kalak.
  • Body Horror: The land around the Tower of Primords is filled with magic, so much that a small scratch results in a Resident Evilesque mutation. Some of the Sorcerer Kings have a creepy appearance.
  • Breakable Weapons: Justified, as the weapons are often made of bone and obsidian. In the last book, the Scourge of Rkard broke, "bleeding" a weird, mutating goo, but is repaired. It's broken again when used to kill Borys.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: At one point our heroes shelter in the carcass of a huge bear and use their powers to make it seems alive in order to sneak into a Giants' fortress.
  • The Chosen One: Rkard is destinated to slay the Dragon. Subverted, it was all a lie invented by Tithian in order to trick Jo'orsh and Sa'ram.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Wraith, whose life force is linked to a precious gem.
  • Contemptible Cover: A buxom, Stripperific Sadira is pictured on the third book and a half-naked Neeva on the fifth.
  • Continuity Nod: Usually events from the first books are mentioned in the sequels.
  • Continuity Snarl: In the first book, Kalak's plans for becoming a Dragon were considered abnormal and almost apocalyptic. Then two books later we find out that all Sorcerer Kings, as Rajaat's former Champions, are basically Dragons in nothing but their physical bodies, making Kalak's ambition downright silly.
  • Crapsack World: Almost no plants, full of monsters, the Sea is silt and there are the Sorcerer Kings around....
  • Creepy Centipedes: The Cylops monsters and Prince Dhojakt.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Lalali-Puy is hinted to be this.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: When Sadira obtains the powers of the Sun Magic, her skin and breath become black and her lips and eyes get blue. She's still good. Played straight with Umbra and later the whole Shadow people.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Caelum and Neeva's son is called Rkard, just like the hero who defeated Borys.
  • Dem Bones: Usually animated by the Wraiths. Also the two giant undead dwarves Jo'orsh and Sa'ram.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: By the end of the series, our heroes have killed TWO Sorcerer Kings and the Dragon, AND managed to re-seal Rajaat forever.
  • Dirty Coward: Tithian, even after becoming King of Tyr.
  • Downer Ending: The fourth book ends with Tithian killing Agis and fleeing with the Dark Lens.
  • The Dragon: The Sorcerer Kings to The Dragon Borys. Shadow leader Khidar to Rajaat.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Magnus is killed by the Dragon, who flings him into the silt sea.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Rajaat is a colossal, deformed skeleton covered in storm clouds and crowned with lightning bolts.
  • Elite Mooks: Borys' Spirit Lords in the last book.
  • The Empire: Many cities under the Sorcerer Kings.
  • Elemental Powers: Caelum can draw his powers from the Sun, while Magnus is a Windsinger.
  • Enemy Mine: Ohh boy...
    • First book: Tithian sides with our heroes in order to take a chance at killing Kalak and taking the crown.
    • Third book: The shadows helps Sadira to gain power to kill Borys.
    • Fourth book: Between Agis, Tithian and the two Giant Leaders with tons of Heel–Face Revolving Door in it.
    • Last book: First, the shadows and Tithian help the heroes against Borys, then after the Dragon's death the remaining Sorcerer Kings sides with Sadira and Rikus against Rajaat.
  • Ethical Slut: Sadira loves both Agis and Rikus, and eventually even marries both.
  • Evil Is Cold: The Black, homeworld of the Shadow People.
  • Evil Sorcerer/Sorcerous Overlord: All the Sorcerer Kings.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower of Primords, home of the Shadow People.
  • Fate Worse than Death/Laser-Guided Karma: When a Dwarf fails to complete his objective, he turns into a ghost when he dies. Tithian is exiled to another dimension by the Dark Lens during Rajaat's demise, and despite his newfound powers he can't escape.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Tyr is based on Tyre, Urik on Babylon/Uruk, Nibenay on Ancient China/Angkor, Balic on Greece, Draj on the Aztec empire, Raam on India mixed with a bit of Egypt, Gulg on Africa. Elves here may be seen as Gypsy/Beduin analogues.
  • Fantastic Racism: The main reason why Rajaat started the great Epuration in the past. Fallen races include Ogres, Orcs, Goblins, Gnomes, Kobolds, Pixies and Trolls.
  • For the Evulz: The Sorcerer Kings. A glaring example is Hamanu, who orders to one of his subordinates to fight a sword-wielding Rikus.... unarmed.
  • Garden of Evil: Around and inside the Tower of Primords. Justified, as even a tiny little sting can turn you in a monstrous, hulking brute.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sadira post Sun Powers.
  • Gentle Giant: Fylo, who's one despite being quite gullible.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: The giants' main form of attack against other people.
  • Giant Mook: Half Giants serving the Sorcerer Lords.
  • Giant Spider: A friendly aversion inhabiting the jungles of the Ringing Mountains. They're even Ugly Cute and have a cat-like behaviour. Neeva also mentions that she and Rikus fought several giant spiders during their gladiatorial days.
  • A God Am I: All the Sorcerer Kings. Actually justified, as they're so powerful that they can allow templars to cast spells. This applies especially to Tectucticklay (who claims to be a moon god) and Lalali-Puy (the forest goddess).
  • God-Emperor: Again, the Sorcerer Kings.
  • Grand Theft Me: In book two, Rikus is partly possessed by Tamar's spirit.
  • Happily Married: Neeva with Caelum and Sadira with both Agis and Rikus.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The surviving Sorcerer Kings after the big, final battle.
  • Heroic Bastard: Rikus and Neeva. Also Fylo, who's a half-breed giant.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: Happens to several people. The hardest one is Sadira, after seeing Agis amongst the dead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Fylo does a tear-jerking one against a giant attack in order to buy Agis some times. Made even more Tear inducing by the fact that Agis, the only witness, is killed shortly after, making it a senseless sacrifice.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Many. In the main circle, Rikus and Rkard (Mul or Half Dwarves) and Sadira (half elf).
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Black and The Grey.
  • Implacable Man: Prince Dhojakt in book three. A smell-confusing gas to cover your escape? Worthless. An acid cloud capable of vaporizing a small army right in the nostril? He got better. Whole upper body trapped in a giant pearl and the toss in a seemingly-bottomless pit? ''NOT ENOUGH''.
  • I am a Humanitarian: Halflings in this settings devour humans—or rather, humanoids. Not to mention spider eggs.
  • Incest Is Relative: Common enough amongst the Elves, though sons of the same mother can't marry or have children.
  • Jungle Japes: Where the halfling lives.
  • Kick the Dog: In the first book, the mute halfling girl Anezka, who's guiding our heroes in the forest, attack the harmless Singing Spider befriended by Agis and rips her open in order to feast on her eggsac.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In the last book, Sadira engages Borys's Wraiths (who did horrible things to Rikus in the second book) and kill them all. Also Jo'orsh and Sa'ram's ghosts almost ages Tithian to death. Oh, and the Saram leader curb-stomping Tithian in a psionic battle.
  • Lean and Mean: Borys the Dragon is noted for being extremely thin. Of course, he's still huge.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Ur Draxa, the domain of the Dragon.
  • Living Shadow: The Shadow People, who are revealed to be Rajaat servants and former ancestral halflings. They are Rajaat's weak point as well.
  • Lizard Folk: Of several kinds. However, they are not the Lizard Folk from traditional Dungeons & Dragons, who were wiped out long ago.
  • Lovable Rogue: Sadira's father Faenaeyon tries to pass as one. Sadly, he's far too assholish.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: What happens to Caelum when Borys unleashes a full powered psionic attack on him.
  • MacGuffin: The Heartwood Spear in the first book. The Chronicles of Kemalok in the second. The Power of the Tower of Primords in the third and the Dark Lens in the fourth. The last two are needed along with the Scourge of Rkard to kill Borys.
  • Mage Tower: The Tower of Primords used to be Rajaat's base.
  • Magic Knight: The Sorcerer Kings, being former Champions of Rajaat and all....
  • Making a Splash: After being released from the Hollow, Rajaat cover his body in clouds and starts a flood.
  • Mama Bear: Neeva toward Rkard. Especially when Borys kidnap him in the last book.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Thri-Keen race.
  • Multi Boobage: The reptilian Tarek females sport four massive breasts.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: All the Sorcerer Kings except Hamanu, who's vulnerable to everyday steel and Prince Dhojakt in book 3.
  • Noble Demon: Lalali-Puy is the more sympathetic and reasonable of the Sorcerer Kings.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: The above mentioned Tareks.
  • Odd Friendship: Agis and Tithian. One sided.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted: dwarves from Athas are a lot grimier and hairless.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Joorsh and the animal-headed Saram. Yes, their ancestors were the mutated dwarven knights Jo'orsh and Sa'ram.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being a slave owner in the first book, Agis was extremely kind with all of his slaves.
  • The Power of the Sun: What Caelum and Rkard use. After book 3 Sadira's magic takes its energy from the Sun.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The two Sorceress Queens are over 1,000 years old, and yet look beautiful... if you're willing to ignore things like claws and fangs.
  • Red Right Hand: In the second book, Rikus is possessed by Tamar, who keeps an eye on him by putting a ruby into his chest.
  • Religion Is Magic: Templars gain their powers from the Sorcerer Kings.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the second book, Rikus has one against an Urik noble who once owned him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the past, most of the Champions of Rajaat eventually turned against him when they learned that he meant to take their powers back.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Sacha and Wyan, two zombified heads of former Champions who are now helping Tithian.


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