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Literature / The Reluctant King

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The 1983 omnibus edition
A Heroic Fantasy trilogy by L. Sprague de Camp, The Reluctant King consisted of the following books: The Goblin Tower (1968), The Clocks of Iraz (1971) and The Unbeheaded King (1983). They are part of de Camp's larger Novarian series that includes the prequels The Emperor's Fan (1973) and The Fallible Fiend (also 1973), plus a later sequel, The Honorable Barbarian (1989). In them, other characters are featured with stories in the same universe told. In 1983, the first trilogy was collected with an omnibus edition by Science Fiction Book Club. Later, Baen Books reissued them in 1996.

The city of Xylar has an odd political system. Kings are chosen there every five years through catching the previous king's head when he's beheaded. After that time ends, the same ritual is repeated and they're replaced. Jorian, who'd been king for the last five years, isn't happy with the matter. Thus he leaps at the chance to escape that Dr. Karadur, a wizard, offers him in return for helping him acquire a magical artifact, the Kist of Avlen. Fleeing from his homeland, Jorian goes on a long series of adventures with Dr. Karadur, encountering many threats along it, traveling into many lands and encountering many strange things.



  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: After Jorian was forced to flee Xylar for self-preservation, before long he cheated on his wives repeatedly, which is basically just treated as what you expect of a man. Estrildis, his favorite wife who he returns for, it turns out also did this, falling for another man who impregnated her. He's enough of a good guy to accept this and not hold her to a double standard, aiding both to go into a neighboring land where they can live together with their baby. Jorian ends up with Margalit, her maid.
  • All Gays Are Pedophiles: Malgo, the only gay character, is indicated to be a pederast, since he rapes "youths" in both cases that are mentioned. This view was common at the time of the book being written.
  • Alternate Universe: The world of the trilogy is one for Earth, which in turn constitutes its afterlife. Early on, Jorian briefly crosses over into Earth before going back. He's completely befuddled by his encounter with what are clearly cars on a paved road, then a highway patrol officer who's trying to help what must seem like a very strange man.
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  • Ambiguously Gay: Ishbahar has quite effeminate mannerisms and is so overly kind to Jorian that the latter has to ask Karadur if the monarch actually swings that way. Apparently not, since he had numerous wives and one of the perks of being the king of Iraz is to have monthly encounters with the high priestess and is more interested in eating than sex (he might, however, be bi).
  • An Aesop: Jorian's tales of King Filoman the Well-Meaning and his various foolish decisions are obviously used for delivering various messages through negative example, e.g. paying off criminals won't solve crime, although some are very inapplicable for the real world, like "don't use golem generals".
  • Androcles' Lion: Early in The Goblin Tower, Jorian set Zor, an ape-man, free from captivity in the laboratory of an evil wizard. Later in the same book, he's rescued from ape-men who planned to sacrifice him as their leader is Zor, who recognizes Jorian. He repays him by letting Jorian go, along with Karadur. In fact, setting Zor free was wholly accidental, but Jorian is very glad for the good luck nonetheless of course.
  • Another Dimension: There are at least twelve other Planes of Existence, the First being Earth, which provides the afterlife people on the world in the trilogy go to. All the rest seem to be inhabited by various demons or spirits.
  • Author Filibuster: Jorian's stories go on for pages in many cases, but he always finds a very willing audience long enough to deliver them fully. There is always a specific moral, with it being fairly obvious they're de Camp's views.
  • Big Eater: The King of Iraz, who's also incredibly obese as a result. Unfortunately, this leads to all sort of troubles, amongst them the fact that he's no longer fit enough to pleasure the great priestess as expected.
  • Big Fun: King Ishbahar of Iraz is obese due to loving food (even his "tea" features an enormous amount) while also very nice and cheerful, all together fun being around.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Jorian is "lengthy" apparently, and this is discussed by the priestesses examining him while about to have sex with their superior, which causes him discomfort.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: In Xylar, after five years the king is beheaded, at which point they throw his head to the crowd, with whoever catches this becoming the king afterward. Escaping from this is a felony, and considered as blasphemy too. Judge Grallon thinks Jorian grossly immoral as he refuses to willingly submit for this.
  • Boring, but Practical: In the third book, Jorian tries to use sorcery (first a flying, demon-manned giant bathtub, then a demonic envoy) to reach his beloved Estrildis in the palace. He's ultimately successful when he's advised to simply bribe someone from the palace to take her out to him.
  • Buxom Is Better: Jorian is highly admiring of Yargali, as she has huge breasts described as melon sized.
  • The Caligula: Nervos the Daft, Vindium's king, was a bloodthirsty lunatic who wasted most of his treasury getting made gold statues of himself, had tons of people near him killed (including family) and entertained himself through having his army pretend to be frogs. Not surprisingly, a group of his nobles and officials killed him.
  • The Casanova: Jorian easily seduces many women over the course of his adventures. Most of them seem drawn to him anyway, so he doesn't have to do very much.
  • Celibate Hero: Karadur is abstinent as part of the spiritual purity needed for higher magic (he also doesn't drink to achieve the same end). He also advocates celibacy to Jorian, but it doesn't take.
  • Civil War: Iraz falls into one at the end of the second book when Jorian abdicates for Colonel Chuivir, the royal guard commander.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Gods gain strength from how much worship they receive. Those with the most are very powerful. Conversely, ones that have been deprived eventually fade into nothing.
  • Code of Honor: Corineus, Estrildis' lover, follows a knightly code that has been out of fashion for centuries, which dictates fighting Jorian to win her. He finds it grossly dishonorable after Jorian doesn't kill him when he's beaten, but leaves along with her anyway at Jorian's urging.
  • Compelling Voice: Malgo, who's a threat to Jorian, is ordered away under a spell which Goania, a nice sorceress, puts on him. It forces him to get on a ship bound for somewhere far away, by which time Jorian is long gone.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted. At one point Jorian is busy fighting an enemy soldier on the walls and panics when he spots a second soldier running his way to join the battle.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: Lampshaded in The Goblin Tower. Fugitive king Jorian, the wizard Karadur and the woman Vanora have been tied up in Jorian's bedroom by a couple of other wizards. Jorian's sword is hanging by its baldrick on his hatrack, and though Jorian has his ankles and wrists bound, he manages to worm himself to his feet, knock the hatrack over, and (with the help of Vanora's feet) cut through his bonds. It prompts this exchange after he releases the others:
    Jorian: These knaves were tyros after all, or they'd never have left aught sharp where we could come upon it.
    Karadur: Remember, my son, that they are accustomed to coping with foes, not by such crude devices as swords and cords, but by spirits, spells, and the transcendental wisdom of magic.
    Jorian: So much the worse for them.
  • Corrupt Church: Tarxia is ruled by its clergy, many of whom have grown very corrupt over the centuries since their theocracy began. Gambling and whoring are now common among them, despite this violating the laws.
  • Covers Always Lie: The omnibus e-book's cover has Jorian (who in the book is described as having long hair and a mustache) with short hair. Worse, beside him is a woman who's clearly meant to be Yargali, who's literally whitewashed. She's described as having skin that's so dark it's nearly black, with the character on the cover Caucasian looking.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: In Xylar a king attempting to prevent his beheading after five years is a felony. Judge Grallon says he would charge Jorian with murder if possible for killing two mercenaries in self-defense from dragging him back for this too.
  • Crystal Ball: In the third book, a wizard spies on the enemy forces besieging his city using such a scrying device. He succeeds in learning of what their plans are, and thus saves them due to Jorian using this intelligence for an effective defense.
  • Curse: A ghost encountered in the last book was a nobleman who was cursed by a charlatan alchemist he had executed and became a wraith, condemned to infest his own castle until the day a queen will wash his floors. Jorian helps him break the curse by marrying Margalit (making her a Queen, as he's technically still the King of Xylar) and having her wash part of the floor, releasing the ghost of his torment.
  • Death by Sex: Invoked in the third book, where Jorian tries to get Vanora off him by claiming that he was cursed so that any woman who has sex with him dies horribly. He's bluffing, there's no such spell.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Book three has Malgo the jailer: back when he was in the same army as Jorian, he bullied a younger soldier and eventually got beaten to a pulp by Jorian when he tried to force the soldier to have sex with him. Later we learn that he was fired from his job when he was caught raping a prisoner in his cell.
  • Diamonds in the Buff: It's mentioned that a wizardess in a costume competition put a jewel in her navel to qualify as her "costume" (as she's wearing something), nearly winning it.
  • Domestic Abuse: Vanora tells Jorian her lover Boso hits her sometimes, though she says it's partly her fault as she deliberately provokes him. Jorian sympathizes with Boso, since she also provoked him (this all just seems pretty... unfortunate now).
  • Dragon Rider: In an extremely mundane example, Paaluan cannibals use howdah-like platforms mounted on their Paaluan Dragons (essentially, oversized monitor lizards) when going to waon culinary expeditions.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: By the end of the third book, Jorian has settled down with Estrildis' maid and became a respected clockwork artisan and father.
  • Epic Fail: Ruak the demon is sent to fetch Estrildis, a short, plump blonde woman. He returns with her handmaid Margalit, a tall and slender brunette.
  • Fantastic Legal Weirdness: In "The Unbeheaded King" there's a brief discussion by ghost Baron Lorc who had been a magistrate while alive if he's still got authority to perform a divorce. Since there's no law saying a ghost can't be a magistrate so far as he knows, Lorc concludes his office is still in effect and grants the divorce.
  • Fantasy Contraception: There's a reference to a "really effective" contraception spell loosening sexual mores in Novaria (pretty clearly based on Earth's birth control pill, which did this in the West).
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Novaria is made up of twelve city states akin to Ancient Greece or Italy until 1870, having a shared culture, language and religion despite being separate, with different government systems. Shven is home to nomadic warriors modeled on the Mongols or similar cultures (although described as white). Fedirun contains another culture that resembles the Bedouin Arabs. Mulvan is an empire with a strict caste system resembling ancient India's, although it has features of Persia and China as well. Iraz, dividing Mulvan from Fedirun, is also a lot like the Byzantine Empire. Salimor, in the Eastern Ocean, resembles Japan and the Philippines. Kuromon is based on China and Japan too.
  • Fat Idiot: Zigzagged with the King of Iraz Ishbahar: he's obese due to his excessive eating, though while he's not a complete imbecile, he's at times far too ingenue and optimistic. When he thoughtlessly announces that he wants to make Jorian his heir in front of the entire city, a full blown revolt ensues and he dies of fatigue while trying to get away from the mob.
  • Finders Rulers: The kingdom of Xylar chooses its next king by throwing the head of the previous king into a crowd — the catcher gets the throne. The downside is that in five years, the process is repeated... which is why Jorian, who had no idea about all this, is very much the titular Reluctant King, and spends the trilogy running away from Xylarians who want to drag him back so they can perform the ceremony.
  • Foreshadowing: In the beginning of the third book, Jorian tries to see if he can spot a Paaluan Dragon while they're flying over the Moru Swamps. When they enter the swamps much later in the book to recover the Xylar Crown, an actual Dragon shows up.
  • From Bad to Worse: Vindium went from a mad king who killed most of his associates, to the First Consul of a supposed "republic" who killed anyone who disagreed with him.
  • Full-Boar Action: In a folk tale narrated by Jorian in the third book, King Fusinian is threatened by a gigantic boar who dwells in the forest of Chinioc, a beast so large that, according to the population, it was essentially a tusked buffalo.
  • Geas: Jorian is under one to help Dr. Karadur on his quest to get the Kist, in return for saving his life.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The gods need prayers and sacrifices from worshippers, or else they'll just fade away, eventually to death. Consequently, the more worship they receive the more powerful gods are. Poor little Tvasha has grown very weak indeed when Jorian finds his statue, but he repays Jorian's worship of him as best he can.
  • Golem: A tale narrated by Jorian features a king in dire need of a general being gifted a Golem general by a witch who wants to be acknowledged for her powers. Then the other army shows up with a Golem general, but both are such huge perfectionists that they stop their armies every five steps to make sure they're perfectly in order, and by the time they're about to engage in combat a sudden downpour melts the clay golems.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Inverted in a tale, where a kingdom is toppled by a rebellion and turns into a republic... in name only (they allow voting, but all those who vote against the republic are considered enemies of the people, and thus their vote is made null) which tries to take over the nearby far more benevolent monarchy.
  • Headless Horseman: A local legend in book three has the headless ghost of a bandit lord still riding the mountain where he died. Jorian actually asks if the ghost is riding the ghost of his horse (with the innkeeper admitting that he was the first person to ask that).
  • High Priest:
    • Xylar has one whose office represents the chief of their pantheon, Zevetas.
    • The theocrat of Tarxia. While the first was a puritanical fanatic who wanted to conquer everyone else, the current one appears to be a good sort (though he still heads an oppressive state).
    • Iraz has two of them, husband and wife: the latter is also the lover of the King who, in order to maintain his role, has to partake in a ritual and monthly spend a night of passion with the high priestess. If his performance is unsatisfying, the priestess warns her husband, who presents the king a sacred rope he must use to hang himself.
  • Honey Trap: Jorian seduces Princess Yargali, who's the Kist's guardian, so she's distracted while it's stolen (although he needs little encouragement as Yargali's highly attractive to him).
  • Honor Before Reason: When Istrildis' new lover barges into Jorian and his group he angrily challenges him to a duel for her, accusing him of being an honorless coward when he tries to talk his way out. After Jorian beats some sense into him, he acknowledges how foolish he has been and behaves properly.
  • Human Sacrifice: Murugong demands human sacrifices by his worshippers. He isn't too choosy on just who his worshippers are, only that they provide this. Some magic also requires such a sacrifice, as related at the end of The Goblin King.
  • Illegal Religion: The theocracy of Tarxia forbids every religion besides theirs. Foreign visitors who aren't converts are only permitted for short periods, having to wear placards reading "Licensed Heretic" while in Tarxia.
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Jorian goes through a lot of this, becoming wiser and more mature during his toils. When he ultimately learns that his beloved Estrildis found another paramour and got pregnant by him, he decides to let her live happy with him and wishes them both well, contrasting the very beginning of the novel where he swears to chop her hypothetical lover into ribbons.
  • Land of One City: The states of Novaria are all these. The protagonist Jorian is from one, Kortoli, and becomes king of another, Xylar. They all have different government structures, and twelve exist in all.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: In the second book, Jorian has this inconvenience when he joins the High Priestess he's supposed to have sex with in bed. Fortunately, he recovers later.
  • Mage Tower: The Goblin Tower in Metouro, though originally the headquarters for its government, has become one by the books' time, with the wizards from the Forces of Progress meeting there.
  • Magically Binding Contract: Wizards force demons who they summon to swear oaths that make them perform services under compulsion.
  • Magical Society: The Forces of Progress are a wizard organization Dr. Karadur belongs to, and work as a guild. Internally, they're divided into two factions with opposing philosophies: White (Altruists, who want to use magic in helping others) and Black (Benefactors, those that want this kept for themselves). They have yearly conclaves in the Goblin Tower of Metouro, which de Camp depicts as being like academic conferences.
  • The Magocracy: Vorko and his compatriots had planned to establish one across the states of Novaria, after he purges the wizards opposing him. Karadur, who had been his friend, is appalled and stops this. Supposedly, it would have been to spread magic for everyone's benefit. He would have been in charge of course, and indicates he'll only really have people who he'd chosen to use magic.
  • The Mermaid Problem: In a folk tale recounted in The Unbeheaded King, a mermaid and a human attempt to have sex. Since the mermaid is dolphin-based, finding the opening isn't a problem. However, almost drowning is.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • After Jorian refuses to pay the wizard Abracarus for his demon-summoning service since it was a blunder, the latter retaliates by summoning a wraith that appears every night at his bed and moans out "Pay your debt" for hours before disappearing.
    • A group of wizards in Iraz are set to keeping leaks from a tunnel, which Jorian points out later is better solved by engineering and proper maintenance.
  • Necromancer: Many wizards practice necromancy, though here that just means control over spirits with magic (as the original term denoted). It's portrayed neutrally, though necromancy remains dangerous (as the spirits don't like this one bit, so any missteps can be a hazard to the wizard or anyone else nearby).
  • No Ontological Inertia: In one of Jorian's tales, when the wizard who imprisoned a king with magic is killed, the spell wears off almost immediately.
  • No Woman's Land: In The Honorable Barbarian, princess Nogiri of Salimor comments that Kerin of Novaria, with whom she has just entered into a Citizenship Marriage, is an incredible man and husband and wonders why all Salimorese women don't go to Novaria to find such wonderful men. The primary reason she says this is that Kerin doesn't beat her when she argues with him.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Fifth Plane demons are compelled to serve wizards by threatening to hold them inside a magic circle until sunlight enters it, killing them.
  • Off with His Head!: The city state of Xylar operates under an odd custom where after five years each of their kings is publicly beheaded. At that point, his head is thrown into the crowd, with whoever catching this becoming their next king. However, they have to suffer the same fate once their own five years are up. Jorian however escaped.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Fourth level demons are invisible but capable of flight and great strength, fifth level demons like Rruakh resemble red-skinned winged humanoids with taloned feet and horns and no visible genitals (they sprout during the "right" season) who can't stand sunlight, seventh level demons are humanoids made entirely of solid fire and eighth level demons are vaguely described as massive, toad-like creatures. All of them are quite powerful but also surprisingly dumb, perhaps because, as Karadur speculates, their superior powers they were born with overshadowed any need to actually use their brains for anything.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Yargali looks mostly human, though she has some odd features. However, she's capable of turning into a huge snake at will, and apparently so are her entire people.
  • Past-Life Memories: Karadur tells Jorian people from Earth have faint memories from their past lives in the world they come from, where gods and magic are quite real, which explains why belief is very prevalent here despite little evidence of them.
  • Patron God:
    • Jorian becomes patronized by little Tvasha, a weak god who has few worshipers but does reward them as he's able.
    • Tarxia is ruled by the clergy of Zevetas, who consider him its patron. Given their devotion, they mandate that he is the greatest god in the pantheon, although he's considered minor elsewhere, and all different beliefs there are outlawed. Foreign visitors who follow other beliefs only briefly can stay in Tarxia.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: Vindium became a "republic" whose First Consul had anyone who disagreed with him beheaded, convinced that his opinions were infallibly true, with anyone against him an "enemy of the people". The people, meanwhile, he defined solely as those who shared his views, even if those were a minority. Because of this, he held any vote against him to be invalid by definition. Not happy with just Vindium, he tried to spread his wondrous "republican" values through conquest, which led to his death.
  • Polyamory: As king of Xylar, Jorian had multiple wives, whom he was all fond of. However, he also found it tiring since they all wanted his attention. Dividing his time between them was difficult.
  • Prestige Peril: The kingdom of Xylar chooses its next king by throwing the head of the previous king into a crowd — the catcher gets the throne. The catch is that in five years, the process is repeated... which is why Jorian, who had no idea about all this, is very much the titular Reluctant King, and spends the trilogy running away from Xylarians who want to drag him back so they can perform the ceremony.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: A plot point in the second book, where two prophecies made by the high priest and the high priestess of the city foretell that 1) Iraz will be saved by the clock tower and that 2) Iraz will later be saved by a barbarian, and thus apparently contradicting each other. Turns out, both are correct: Jorian (who's a foreigner and thus considered a barbarian by Iraz' standards) saves the city from the besieging armies by changing the hour on each of the four clocks so that their coordinated attack is thrown into disarray, with each of the four armies attacking separately and ending up destroyed.
  • Reincarnation: People in the series' world reincarnate to Earth when they die. It's also mentioned that many other worlds exist, into which people incarnate as well (presumably after this).
  • Religion Is Magic: Karadur is a priest along with being a wizard. He says his spells are strengthened through spiritual purity, and thus abstains from alcohol or sex. There is also overlap between prayers and spells, with people getting magic in return for favors given to gods too. What might be called miracles which the gods work could just as easily be called spells of a different kind or greater power.
  • Rhino Rampage: The unicorn inside the Grandduke's menagerie is actually an elasmotherium, or wooly rhinoceros.
  • Royal Bastard: The Dukedom of Othomae has both a Grand Duke (the actual legitimate heir) who takes care of most of the business of the Dukedom, while the illegitimate firstborn holds the title of "Grand Bastard" and takes care of the military business.
  • Second Love: Near the end of the third book, Jorian actually proposes to Margalit, having grown attached to her many qualities during their months spent together. They get married and have a family.
  • The Social Darwinist: In one of Jorian's folk tales, a criminal explains himself with such a philosophy. His motive in robbing or killing people is always to see who's stronger, and it gives him satisfaction finding that it's him.
  • Squishy Wizard: Dr. Karadur is a frail old man for all his magical skills and thus little help with physical fights. Luckily, he has Jorian to deal with that.
  • Speed Sex: Jorian's first time with the high priestess of Iraz is quite fast, and thus dissatisfying to her. He explains this as a result of being celibate for several months, and after that pleases her greatly due to getting back into his old form.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Princess Yargali, who's essentially a were snake, talks like this, with a sibilant hiss when pronouncing anything which uses an "S".
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Margalit disguises herself in a man's clothes when she goes to help Jorian on mount Aravia. The narration does mention that her disguise is kinda given away by some unmasculine bulges beneath her jerkin, though other strangers mind their own business.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Jorian and Estrildis cheat on each other due to their separation. She falls for another man and gets pregnant. Jorian, as a result, understands and accepts, letting Estrildis go. Instead he marries her maid, Margalit.
  • Take That!: The folk tales Jorian tells often have morals that seem like veiled satires of ideas like welfare solving crime (since criminals are supposedly all motivated by want) or the disaster that renouncing material concerns as a Hindu-like sage advises would result in.
  • The Talk: In book three, the young son of a tavern owner hired to be Jorian's guide straightforwardly asks him for information about sex. A little embarrassed, Jorian complies.
  • The Teetotaler: Many wizards don't drink alcohol, as doing so gives them more powerful magic and extended life spans.
  • The Theocracy: Tarxia is ruled by its clergy, with many laws forbidding sensual pleasures. Other religious beliefs are also outlawed, with foreigners that follow them only allowed briefly in the city state.
  • This Is Reality: Jorian scoffs over tales of swordsmen fighting off a hundred opponents at once, saying that it's nonsense. While fighting just one during the siege of Iraz, he was put in dire peril by another coming to help the first, only being saved when Chuivir killed the fellow.
  • Top God: In most of Neveria, Zevetas is considered the highest of their pantheon. Tarxia is different though, as they are ruled by the clergy of Gorgolor (who's elsewhere a minor deity) whom they hold highest. Everyone else they deem to be heretics.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The entire city of Iraz turns against Jorian, who saved the city, when the King shortsightedly announces to the city that he wants to make him his heir.
  • Unicorn: In The Unbeheaded King, Jorian and Karadur runs into a wild Unicorn, which is, essentially, a giant woolly rhino with a misplaced horn and a very bad temper, forcing them to run up a tree.
  • Vancian Magic: Spells require preparation beforehand usually, along with specific components to work. Without them, a magic user is powerless.
  • Vapor Wear: At the wizard costume contest, Vanora wears a see-through green garment with nothing underneath while made up as an undine. Jorian is suitably impressed. This is toned down from the previous contests, where many of the wizardesses competed wearing nothing before it was ruled that your birthday suit isn't a costume, with one of them later wearing an ornate jewel in her navel though otherwise nude to qualify afterward. In the second book, Jorian has to wear a see-through tunic on his night of love with the high priestess, which makes him feel like a male prostitute.
  • Victory by Endurance: In the third book, Jorian ends up facing a massive Paaluan Dragon, and since he knows he's outmatched he tries to outrun the beast: as it turns out, the reptilian heart of the beast makes it unsuited for prolonged efforts, so the dragon runs out of steam sooner than Jorian and simply leaves after catching his breath.
  • Vow of Celibacy: In order to gain greater magical strength and extended life spans, since for some reason abstinence causes it, many wizards have sworn themselves against having sex.
  • Weird Trade Union: Magic users in various countries have guilds they must join to work and obtain licenses, frequently with extortionate rates.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Those who remain teetotalers and celibate can double or sometimes triple their lifespan, plus gaining higher magical strength.
  • Woman Scorned: Vanora in book 3: at one point she tries to pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit (claiming that Jorian tried to rape her) in front of her current boyfriend, Boso. Later she admits in a drunken fit that she sold information of his whereabouts to some Xylarian mercenaries who go after him.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: One story by Jorian has a king presiding over a poetry contest whose proposed winning entry (plus the other submissions) was a rhymeless random word string literally plucked from a dictionary. He dismisses them all in disgust. This is a rather obvious slam against certain modern "poetry".
  • You Talk Too Much!: Karadur tells Jorian this is his chief fault, and it's quite true. At the time, Jorian's talking when Karadur says this, and tries to defend himself while dangling from a rope to rescue his wife. Cue Big "SHUT UP!" by Karadur.