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Literature / The Risen Sun

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It has been 20 years since Arenadd freed the North and became king, now they just have to hold it all together…

This is is the second trilogy in a series of fantasy novels by Australian author K.J. Taylor. This follows The Fallen Moon.

The trilogy consists of:

  • The Shadow's Heir
  • The Shadowed Throne
  • The Shadow's Heart

In addition, the author has an unpublished collection of short stories which are prequels or otherwise linked to the main series.

This series provides examples of:

  • Achey Scars: Arenadd’s scar from Erian. When it is reopened in the Sun Temple, it becomes a Wound That Will Not Heal until he leaves Amoran and gets close enough back to home. Also his back, fingers and some of his many other wounds remain painful.
  • Arranged Marriage: Subverted in that it is Laela herself doing most of the arranging and it is purely symbolic. It ends up being an enjoyable one night stand with each returning to their own country after. He later joins her in the North as Prince Consort, and they end up Happily Married.
    • In her backstory, Saeddryn’s mother makes her promise never to marry anyone except another Taranisaii. This was supposed to be Arenadd, but when he can’t get over Skade she settles instead for Torc, who had been adopted by her uncle Caedmon.
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  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: When Oeka absorbs the magic of the spirit cave, it is too much for her mortal body to contain. First she loses her sight and voice, then her body; becoming a cloud of magic and will.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Laela at the end of the first book. Made more Awesome by gatecrashing and usurping Saeddryn's own attempt.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Appears to be standard interrogation technique.
    • In his backstory this happened to Arenadd when he was captured in Malvern before the war; among others, they broke his fingers trying to find out where his allies were hiding.
    • Arenadd plans to use this when they capture the man who stabbed him and threw him in the river, but he has had his tongue and fingers removed/damaged (by either himself or someone else) so he can’t reveal who he was working for.
  • Continuity Nod: Before Arenadd kills the man who stabbed him and threw him in the river he whispers something to him. This would be “Join me”, his catchphrase from [[The Dark Griffin The Griffin’s Flight and The Griffin’s War.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Saeddryn and Torc named their children after their dead relatives Arddryn (Saeddryn’s mother) and Caedmon (Torc’s adoptive father and Saeddryn’s uncle)
    • Partial example; according to one of the short stories Kullervo unknowingly named himself after his uncle (Skade’s brother).
  • Deal with the Devil: While not actually the devil, Arenadd comes to see his deal with the Night God as this. His one true prayer was asking her to save his life; coupled with a desire for wealth, power and revenge. In return for becoming her avatar, he gets immortality, the chance at conquering and ruling a kingdom, access to his griffin’s magic and instructions to kill Rannagon and his family [[note: ... including Arren’s past girlfriend and their daughter]]. Unfortunately, she doesn’t believe in letting a useful tool go to waste, even after its initial purpose has been achieved, and he [[Who Wants To Live Forever no longer wants even to be ‘alive’]].
    • Saeddryn’s own deal was worded rather more carefully with a promise to be allowed to die once her task is complete. Unlike Arenadd, she has also lived her whole life believing in the Night God and is much more willing to follow her wishes.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Both Bran and Arenadd do this as a way of (not) dealing with the death of their wives.
  • Dying as Yourself: When the Night God withdraws her support all of Arenadd’s injuries unheal in reverse order, leaving him with his last moments dying as Arren.
  • Everything but the Girl: After the rebellion Arenadd has wealth, power and immortality, but finds that none of it means anything to him with Skade dead.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: Skandar's magic is the ability to travel quickly and invisibly between places by passing through a 'shadow world'. The Night God's favour allows Arenadd and later Saeddryn to share this ability. In addition to quicker and easier travel it is used as an advantage in battle, and for assassination attempts (at different times by both victim and attacker) – allowing the user easy retreat and the ability to strike their opponent while remaining untouchable/intangible.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Referenced by Laela when she is almost raped on her first day in Malvern.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Against Laela as a Northerner-Southerner mix. Her mostly Northerner looks caused her to be shunned as she grew up in the South, and were a reason for her moving North where she would stand out less. Even in the North it is difficult for her to find acceptance, because she grew up in the South and there is still a ‘’lot’’ of bad feeling towards Southerners. Seeing her also reminds people that her parents must have been together at some point, something they don’t want to consider.
    • Kulevero also gets it bad due to being a Half-Human Hybrid, particularly from the griffins who see him as deformed and think he should be culled. Interestingly, humans don’t seem to mind as much, often thinking of him as either a strange curiosity or Gryphus’ holy messenger.
    • Actively averted in the remote town of Gwernyfed. Since the war, it has become a haven for Northerner-Southerner halfbreeds and their families.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Kullervo is part human and part griffin; born of a ([{Our Zombies Are Different mostly) human father and a shapechanged griffin mother.
  • Happily Adopted: Laela by Bran, who marries Flell when he discovers she is pregnant. Flell is killed while she is still a baby, and Bran refuses to tell her anything about her father/Arren.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Arenadd since Skade died has pretty much lost interest in ruling. Unfortunately, the Night God isn’t done with him yet. Particularly poignant given that he is TheManWithoutAHeart and she had become his substitute heart.
  • Heavenly Blue: While most of her looks take after her father, Laela has her mother’s bright blue eyes. These mark her as being of the line of Baraher the Blessed, Gryphus’ chosen.
  • Heroic Bastard: Laela is the illegitimate daughter of Arenadd and Flell, although he acknowledges/adopts her when he realises. She is the main protagonist of the trilogy and contains many heroic qualities.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Arenadd dies for refusing to kill Laela, who he has come to see as more his own daughter than Flell’s.
  • Identity Amnesia: Fully committing himself to the Night God caused Arenadd to lose all personal memories of Arren, including Laela’s mother Flell. By the start of the trilogy he is starting to resent his role as the Night God’s avatar, and is questioning who he was before.
  • Immune to Fate: Or at least the Gods. Being a halfbreed, Laela is able to choose which God she serves. Personally, she thinks that they are both Jerkass Gods.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: The Amoran message dragons serve almost no actual plot point.
  • Interspecies Romance: Between Kullervo and Sennek, although Sennek as a griffin is having some trouble with the whole concept of love. Made slightly more practical by Kullervo being able to take griffin form.
    • Kullervo’s parents, Arenadd and Skade, in the backstory; she was a griffin shapechanged into a human.
  • King Incognito: Arenadd when Laela first meets him has snuck out for an evening in the pub. It is implied that he does this relatively often, and it is one of the ways he gets around Saeddryn and makes sure he actually knows what the common people think.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Kullervo is Laela’s half-brother (sort of; if you count Arren and Arenadd as the same person)
    • Similarly, each of them discovering that Arenadd is their father and vice versa.
  • Mugging the Monster: Pirates try to attack a ship with a bored and restless Skandar and Dark Lord. Oh, Crap! indeed...
  • Not Quite Dead / Back from the Dead: Arenadd after being rescued from the canal
Also at the end of the second book, Saeddryn becomes the Nigh God’s new avatar.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The kraeai kran ae is the Night God's avatar. While they are unable to die (or at least, she keeps bringing him Back from the Dead) they also have no heartbeat and are not truly alive.
  • Parental Abandonment: Laela, four separate times. First her father (Arren) doesn’t realise her mother is pregnant and is killed/exiled (depending on interpretation), then her mother is murdered shortly after she is born, then her stepfather dies so she has to go North, then Arenadd ‘dies’ just after revealing that he is actually Arren and her father...
    • Also Kullervo. His mother Skade abandoned him after his egg hatched saying that he was ‘deformed’, and didn’t tell his father that he exists.
  • Place of Power: In the previous trilogy it was shown that it is incredibly painful for Arenadd to enter a sun temple, because it blocks him from the power of the Night God who gives him ‘life’. This makes it a big deal when he enters the sun temple in Amoran to help Laela when she is in trouble.
    • Amoran itself so strongly belongs to Gryphus/Xanthius that he weakens/sickens just visiting the country.
  • Promotion, Not Punishment: When Saeddryn finally flees Malvern the remaining priestesses are arrested and the Wolf Priestess brought before Laela. She expects to be executed or banished, but instead Laela offers her Saeddryn’s position of Head Priestess… if she agrees to cooperate and go through with organising for her womanhood ceremony, something Saeddryn had refused to do.
  • Reforged into a Minion: This is basically what the Night God has done to Arenadd, including taking his memories. When she later makes Saeddryn her new avatar, it is less drastic as she has spent all her life believing in her.
  • Sapient Steed: The griffins. They are intelligent and have their own language, but are usually willing to let their partner fly on them.
  • Screw Destiny: Arenadd getting fed up with his God and refusing to a) conquer the South, and more importantly b) kill Laela. It doesn’t end well.
    • Laela also decides that she won’t kill Arenadd, despite Gryphus’ warnings and her position as The Risen Sun.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Laela is the only one able to kill Arenadd. The three possible outcomes are a) they fight and Arenadd kills Laela (only case where the prophecy is not fulfilled immediately), b) they fight and Laela kills Arenadd or c) [[Arenadd is killed for refusing to kill Laela]].
  • Shadow Walker: Skandar's magic is the ability to travel quickly and invisibly between places by passing through a 'shadow world'. The Night God's favour allows Arenadd and later Saeddryn to share this ability. In addition to quicker and easier travel it is used as an advantage in battle, and for assassination attempts (at different times by both victim and attacker) – allowing the user easy retreat and the ability to strike their opponent while remaining untouchable/intangible.
    • Thanks to being Arenadd’s son (not Arren’s), Kullervo shares some of the power, able to faintly detect someone who is in the shadow world, and reach into it to touch them.
  • Shapeshifting: Due to his half-breed birth and griffin magic, Kullervo is able to change between griffon and human forms. Sometimes, he is only able to do a partial change and gets stuck between shapes; given his limited control of his change and the structural differences between his two forms, this is rarely a good thing.
  • Slave Race: The Northerners in backstory. A key reason for Arenadd and Laela visiting Amoran is to organise for the remaining Northern slaves to be freed and returned to the North. They were sold to Amoran by the Southerners during their occupation of the North; Amoran itself uses slaves of many different races.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: How Laela communicates with Gryphus and later her [Dead Person Conversation mother, uncle and foster-father.]]
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Laela and Yorath, her tutor in the Northern written and spoken language. Their relationship doesn’t survive the separation of Laela’s visit to Amoran.
  • That Man Is Dead: Arenadd sees Arren as almost a completely different person, although once he finds out he still considers Laela to be his own daughter.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Skade rejects and abandons her son Kullervo after his egg hatches because she believes he is deformed. While he does look it, due to being half griffin and half human, he is healthy and as an adult gains the ability to shift fully to one form or the other. Skade dies not long after leaving him and never tells Arenadd, the father. Arenadd later finds out while trapped serving the Night God in spirit form, and does acknowledge him
  • The Chosen One: Laela is the Risen Sun, the only person capable of killing Arenadd. [[She does so by prompting his Heroic Sacrifice.]]
  • The Magocracy: All important government positions are held by griffiners; Laela has to be chosen by a griffin before Arenadd can award her the title of Master of Wisdom aka chief advisor.
  • The Starscream: Saeddryn is pleased that Arenadd’s leadership and presence as a figurehead allowed them to win the rebellion, but wishes that he would either finish what he started and invade the South, or let her take over.
  • This Is My Human: Most of the griffins have this sort of attitude, and frequently refer to their partner in this way
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Arenadd since Skade has died. It’s not so much that he can’t die, but that his God refuses to let him stay dead.
    • Carefully averted by Saeddryn. When she becomes the Night God’s new avatar she stipulates that once she has succeeded in putting her son on the throne she will be allowed to die properly.
  • You Have Failed Me: the Night God kills Arenadd after he refuses to kill Laela and make war on the Southerners.
    • Unfortunately she still has control over his soul and sends him back again, this time in spirit form, to aid Saeddryn against his daughter.


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