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Post-Apocalypse Fantasy.
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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.

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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.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: While the handbook pictures shown the various Sorcerer Kings as overall normal-looking humans, the books portray them as more inhuman-looking and monstrous, with King Tec becoming a birdman and Andropinis going from an elderly, white-bearded wizard to a younger but ogreish-looking pigman.
  • 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.
  • Amazon Brigade: In Nibenay, all the Templars are women, specifically chosen for their skills and their beauty, doubling as the Sorcerer Kings' countless brides.
  • 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. Tithian is later sealed in another dimension where he has god-tier powers but is unable to interact with Athas aside from making it rain.
  • Animate Dead: The wraiths of Borys' Champions can animate carcasses and skeletons. Also Jo'orsh and Sa'ram.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Tithian is a Templar or bureaucratic priest of King Kalak who betrays him to free the city. He is always looking out for number one and seeking more ways of gaining power but often finds it conveinant to side with our heroes.
    • Sadira of Tyr is willing to use Defiler magic and other ruthless techniques to achieve her goals. This often has collateral damage and gets her kicked out of the Veiled Alliance.
  • Anyone Can Die: Since the series is set on Athas, the risk of death is very high for anyone, even the main character's Plot Armor may not upheld for long. At the end of the day, the list includes: Fylo, Agis, Magnus and Caelum.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Giants are really huge, as is the Dragon, Borys.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Sorcerer Kings are the strongest spellcasters around, masters of psionic fight and have super strength. And they rule Athas or, at least, most of it.
  • Badass Normal: Neeva is a gladiator by trade, strong enough to give birth to a Mul and survive and, unlike her companions, lacks any sort of magic of her own. She still faces the Dragon of Tyr armed only with an enchanted steel axe.
  • Beast Man: The Saram tribe of giants use a magic rite to behead themselves and attach the head of a giant animal to their necks, giving them attributes of their bond animal. Their leader has the head of an owl and an entire elite squad of troopers has heads of venomous beasts, such as asps, spiders and other weirder monsters.
  • Big Bad: Over the course of the five books, three figures occupy this spot: in the first book Kalak, whose plans may kill the entire population of Tyr. After his death, the second book portrays Hamanu, king of Urik and direct threat to the now Free City of Tyr as the biggest threat. In the last three books, the Dragon himself takes the spotlight as the biggest enduring threat the heroes have to overcome.
  • 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.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Rikus is the most violent and action-prone of the heroes, sometimes a little too much for his own good..
  • 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.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Neeva is a gladiator who wears a very Fanservice esque outfit that is justified by being an Amazonian Beauty gladiator meant to appeal to the grounds.
  • Character Development:
    • Rikus spends most of the second book, where he's in charge of the Tyr legions, as brash, moody and angry, turning the campaign into a personal vendetta against his former master and costantly blaming his shortcoming on a non-existent Urik mole in his army. By the time the story is over, Rikus has matured and learnt from his mistakes, becoming a more patient and respectable leader.
    • Sadira in the third book spends a dangerously-long amount of time believing herself to be always in the right and that her ends justify many unsavory actions, such as refusing to return Ktandeo's magic staff to his rightful owner Nok and defiling Nibenay's royal gardens just to stall Dhojakt. It takes one big Jerkass Realization for Sadira to realize the full extent of her actions and change for the better.
  • 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. By the color of the gem and the glow, you can tell their identities (for example, Tamarr is ruby red).
  • Continuity Nod: Usually events from the first books are mentioned in the sequels.
  • Crapsack World: Almost no plants, full of monsters, the Sea is silt and there are the Sorcerer Kings around....
  • Creepy Centipedes: The Cylops monsters used as hounds by the Templars and Prince Dhojakt, who was turned into an half Cylops monster himself.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The Sorcerer Queen Lalali-Puy is hinted to be this, her only monstrous features being small cute fangs and overly slanted eyes.
  • 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. The Shadow People at first looks hostile, but eventually prove helpful with the heroes, but only because of Enemy Mine.
  • 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 take the form of ethereal, deformed skeletons.
  • 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: Out of the blue, 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 and evolved from a race ancient even during the dawn of Athas.
  • 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.
  • End of an Age: By the end of the final book, Rajaat's threat has been forever cancelled, Borys is dead and with him two of the most evil and dangerous Sorcerer Kings. The remaining ones are implied to opt for a more merciful line of government from there on.
  • Enemy Mine: Ohh boy...
    • First book: Tithian sides with our heroes in order to take a chance at killing Kalak and taking the crown of Tyr for himself.
    • Third book: The Shadow People helps Sadira to gain power to kill Borys, against whom they have a vendetta.
    • 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. At least Rikus isn't too happy with this situation.
  • Evil Is Cold: The Black, homeworld of the Shadow People, is a reign of sheer darkness.
  • Evil Sorcerer/Sorcerous Overlord: All the Sorcerer Kings, each being basically a Physical God in all but name.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower of Primords, home of the Shadow People, surrounded by dangerous wild magic that twist living beings.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Sorcerer Kings versus Rajaat. Might even qualify as Evil Versus Oblivion given Rajaat's desire to exterminate all races but the halflings.
  • 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. Rather than petty hatred though, the reason was to make way for what he believed was the only race worthy of the Age of Blue, the Halflings.
  • Femme Fatalons: Abalach-Re, Sorceress Queen of Raam possesses these. Also Lady Joy of the Spirit Lords.
  • For the Evulz: The Sorcerer Kings are cruel and whimsical. 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 retains all her smarts and, in addition, possess an otherwordly strength.
  • Gentle Giant: Fylo, who's one despite being quite gullible.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: The giants' main form of attack against other people. Since the shortest one are around fifty/fiftytwo feet tall, it's an effective strategy.
  • Giant Mook: Half Giants serving the Sorcerer Lords in pretty much all the cities.
  • 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. Downplayed by Andropinis, who disguises his tyrannical regime as a republic... with himself as the President for life.
  • Grand Theft Me: In book two, Rikus is partly possessed by Tamar's spirit, who rides along to discover what fate befell her master.
  • 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, being gladiators and slaves, don't have a good idea of whom their parents were. Also Fylo, who's a half-breed giant who's nevertheless good and kind.
  • 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/The Hollow, dimensions of emptiness and darkness.
  • 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.
  • Interspecies Romance: Tons, and in many flavors, given the massive amount of hybrid races. In the main cast alone we have Rikus and Neeva (Mul + Human), Rikus and Sadira (Mul + Halfelf) and Sadira + Agis (Halfelf + Human).
  • 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.
  • Knight Templar: Rajaat is a Humanoid Abomination and the greatest sorcerer of his age. He created magic as we know it and unleashed the Sorcerer Kings to eliminate all species in the world but humans and halflings. Rajaat actually plans to eliminate humans as well and leave the world to halflings. He also possesses the power to restore the world to its former pristine glory.
  • La Résistance: The Veiled Alliance is an alliance of Preserver Wizards dedicated to ending the reign of the Sorcerer Kings. They turn on Sadira of Tyr for her use of defiler magic but she ends up doing more damage to the Sorcerer Kings than they have in centuries.
  • 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, is surrounded by an ocean of magma.
  • 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, are absolute beasts in the field of armed combat, magic and psyonics.
  • 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 is made of mantis people with four barbed arms each.
  • Multi Boobage: The massive Tarek females sport four massive breasts.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Explored and deconstructed in Agis' humane treatment of his slaves: Agis is a very kind soul and treats all his slaves with respect, but he still refuses to give them freedom because he's afraid they won't get a better treatment or life on their own. His dwarf majordomo, while grateful for everything Agis has done for him, would still prefer to be fred and becomes The Mole for this very reason.
  • 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.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Unlike most Dungeons and Dragons fiction, this series utterly changes the nature of the campaign setting and its politics with most of the Sorcerer Kings either dead or imprisoned forever plus the death of the Dragon.
  • Odd Friendship: Agis and Tithian, the former being a noble and kind defender of justice while the latter is cynical and ambitious. 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. Downplayed in that not all the Sorcerer Kings pass themselves as gods.
  • 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.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The true reason why the Dragon asks for so many slaves is to keep Rajaat sealed inside the Hollow in Ur Draxa. Unable to destroy him, Rkard and Sadira manage to put him back into a prison he won't be able to leave again.
  • Sinister Scythe: Tamar's weapon, a double scythe made of bone.
  • Smug Snake: Tithian's entire characterization: he's vile, despicable and ready to do anything to achieve goals he thinks he deserves, even when said goals are clearly above him.
  • The Starscream: Tithian starts as an ambitious Templar who'd love to rise to the top, which is why he even sides with the heroes to begin with. Turns out, the throne of Tyr is not enough for him, especially with the heroes keeping an eye on him.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: While it doesn't seem to be one at first, the Scourge of Rkard, a pale-white sword made of Vorpal Steel and the former blade of Borys of Ebe, is one of the three things required to slay the Dragon of Tyr for good.
  • Take a Level in Badass: Sadira after the third book: obtaining the power of the Sun from the Tower of Primords allows her to channel magic directly from the sun and makes her nigh invulnerable and incredibly strong as long as the sun is up.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The final book has the Dragon summoning all the Sorcerer Kings to him so that they can help him deal with the heroes and keep the seal in Ur Draxa safe. It's clear by their interactions that the Sorcerer Kings don't enjoy each other's company that much.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Tithian undergoes a physical one as well, devolving into a frail, pitiful man bound to the incredibly powerful Dark Lens.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tithian in the fourth book.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The templars of Nibenay are composed of women wearing only a short golden skirt and nothing else. Unsurprisingly they double as Nibenay's Battle Harem in the literal sense of the word.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The most powerful being in the setting, Rajaat, ultimately meets his demise because the Mul boy Rkard (in ingame terms a 1st level cleric at best) casts an ordinary light spell through the Dark Lens, which amplifies its power to such an extent that it manages to lock Rajaat away in the Hollow once more.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Arguably Borys, who's keeping the far more dangerous Rajaat sealed. In turn, Rajaat wanted to bring back an age of water and vegetation to Athas, though it involves the extinction of all people but the halflings.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rikus get several of these during the second book. Sadira, too, when she defiles the park of Nibenay against Dhojakt.
  • The Worf Effect: Rajaat kills King Tec, seals away Andropinis and blocks the surviving sorcerers in mere minutes.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the backstory, Myron Troll Scorcher says this to Rajaat, who created Hamanu to replace him.


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