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Literature / The Ruby Red Trilogy

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Love goes through all times, otherwise known as The Ruby Red Trilogy, the first part of which was published in 2009, is a trilogy of young adult novels by German author Kerstin Gier.

16-year-old Gwendolyn Shepherd doesn't always like that her family has so many secrets. Her great aunt has visions, she herself can see things nobody else can and her cousin Charlotte has inherited her family's time travel gene, which is all anyone ever talks about.Then, however, it turns out that Gwen is actually the one to travel through time. Before she even really has a chance to protest, she is dealing with a secret council of snobs, attempts on her life, and – worst of all – her infuriating (but so good-looking!) travel companion Gideon de Villiers. While trying to uncover the secrets surrounding a prophecy about the time travellers, attending fancy parties in the past and having to keep up with her school work, Gwen realizes that falling in love in the middle of it all only makes matters worse.

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The trilogy consists of:

  • Ruby Red
  • Sapphire Blue
  • Emerald Green

In 2013, a live action German-language film based on the first book was released. Adaptations of the two sequels soon followed.


The Ruby Red Trilogy contains examples of:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Gideon in Emerald Green, when Gwen is dying. Well, kind of dying.
  • Big Bad: The Count of Saint Germain, aka Mr. Whitman, despite living in the 18th century, manages to micromanage the handling of his life's mission up through the present day and drive the plot of the books via the selected writings he handed down to his secret society and specific instructions carried by the time travelers who visit him.
  • Book Dumb: Gwen and Lesley don't really pay attention at school (except in History class) and 'study' by watching popular movies only loosely related to the topic, yet outside of school, they are able to hold their own in trying to figure out and navigate the complex conspiracies of the Guardians. This is sharply contrasted with Gideon and Charlotte, who have received intensive education practically since birth in historical knowledge and skills designed to let them fit seamlessly into past eras, but have also been successfully indoctrinated to play their roles in the Guardians without question or complaint and are unprepared for navigating healthy friendships and relationships in their own era.
    Gwyneth: "If you've been trained for your life as a time traveler only half as thoroughly as Charlotte, then you've had no time to make any friends at all, and your opinion of what you call average girls comes from observations you made when you were standing about the school yard alone. Or are you telling me that the other kids at your school thought your hobbies, like Latin, dancing the gavotte, and driving horse-drawn carriages, were really cool?"
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  • Costume Porn: Gwen's historical outfits are described in loving detail.
  • Curtain Camouflage: During one of her first jumps in time, Gwen has to hide behind a curtain from her future self and Gideon. Future!Gwen spots her, but distracts Gideon so he won't see Present!Gwen as well.
  • Dances and Balls: Gwyneth and Gideon have to attend a large ball in the 18th century, at the request of Count Saint-Germain. This poses no problem for Gideon, who has been trained since childhood to function discreetly within the historical periods he may need to visit, but requires Gwyneth to take crash-course lessons in dance, etiquette, and history to allow her to blend in.
  • Dub Name Change: Gwyneth is Gwendolyn in the original German version.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: In Emerald Green, it is revealed that Gwyneth's mother is actually the cousin of her biological mother, Lucy. Lucy had to flee into the past only days after she gave birth and couldn't take her baby with her. Grace never told anyone in order to protect Gwyneth from the Count of Saint Germain.
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  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gideon has a tendency to act arrogant, bossy, and disdainful of Gwyneth (and other "ordinary" girls) for lacking the intensive, specialized education that he and Charlotte received through their Guardians training, but alternates this with periods of good-humor and thoughtfulness. Charlotte sometimes shows a nicer side as well, though she is generally very cold to Gwyneth.
  • Kiss of Distraction: At the ball in Emerald Green, Gwen kisses Gideon to distract him from her past self who's hiding behind the curtain.
  • Let's Just Be Friends: Gwen thinks Gideon is going to apologize for being a jerk and ask her to forgive him, turns out he thinks they should just be friends. She doesn't take it well.
  • Multigenerational Household: 81 Bourdonplace is owned by Lady Arista, who lives there with her sister-in-law Madeleine, her daughters Glenda and Grace, and her grandchildren Charlotte, Gwen, Nick and Caroline. Plus, the butler Mr Bernard.
  • Playing Sick: Charlotte and Gwen both play sick in Emerald Green. Charlotte pretends to have the flu so she can search Gwen's room while Gwen is in school. Gwen pretends she is ill so she can stay home as well and foil Charlotte's plan, however, her mother makes her go to school. It works for Gwen later when she wants to avoid going to the ball in the 18th century.
  • Pretty Boy: The physical attractiveness of Gideon and his brother Raphael are noted repeatedly throughout the books, both in the narration (Gwyneth's point of view) and in dialog, primarily discussions between Gwen and her best friend Lesley or Gwen and the gargoyle Xemerius.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Xemerius is the ghost of a gargoyle, who can only be seen and heard by Gwen. Much of his dialog is spent complaining about the tears, angst, and/or sappiness arising from teenage romance, providing sarcastic "narration" of Gwen's interactions with her love interest, or providing highly embellished reporting about events he spied on for Gwen.
  • Time Machine: The chronograph is a time machine that's triggered by blood (only a drop is needed each time). The characters who have the time-travel gene are able to travel through time without it, but travel without the chronograph is uncontrolled and dangerous because they could jump at any time to any era. People who don't have the gene can't travel in time at all, time machine or not. It can only send people into the past, not the future, sends them back to the same location where the chronograph is currently located, and sends them for a fixed, preset amount of time that cannot exceed 4 hours, resulting in the need for careful planning to accomplish missions.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Gwen takes her mobile phone to the past hidden in her bodice, despite it being forbidden.
  • What Year Is This?: Gwen asks people on the street what year it is during her first unexpected jump in time. They don't give her an answer, but she realizes that it doesn't matter because even if she found out, she still wouldn't know what to do.
  • Where Is Your X Now?: In Emerald Green, Alcott asks Gwen where the Kurucs who are supposed to protect her are now. She realizes that they're probably still in the basement, where the attack was expected during the original plan.
  • Wild Teen Party: Usually, Cynthia Dale's parties are pretty boring. Then everybody decides to spike the punch...


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