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Literature / The Seer and the Sword

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The Seer and the Sword is a 2000 novel by Victoria Hanley. It is the first book in the Healer and Seer series.

When King Kareed of Archeld invades the neighboring peaceful kingdom of Bellandra, he returns home with three spoils of war: a mysterious crystal given to him by an old woman "for his red-haired daughter"; the legendary Sword of Bellandra, a blade reputed to be brimming with magic and Bellandra's most powerful weapon; and Landen, the former Prince of Bellandra, to be given to his daughter as a slave. These three spoils of war change the course of Archeld's history forever.

Princess Torina, Kareed's young daughter, discovers that she can see the past and future when she looks into the crystal. The young princess frees Landen, and begins to secretly build a bond of friendship with him. Landen, who had vowed to learn to fight and reclaim the Sword of Bellandra, is trained along with other boys to be a soldier of Archeld. As time goes on, Torina's head is turned by the much older Vesputo, her father's right-hand-man. Despite Landen's warnings and Torina's abilities, treachery strikes, and their lives are thrown into utter upheaval.


The book contains examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: King Veldon of Bellandra seems to have been this. King Kareed notes that Veldon did nothing to stop the invading army of Archeld, attempted to parley his way out of war, and failed to use the Sword of Bellandra to defend his kingdom and his people. It appears to go for his people in general, as the invasion was apparently wholly unopposed by the Bellandrans, with "peaceful soldiers" trying to negotiate instead of fight.
  • Ancestral Weapon: The Sword of Bellandra was first wielded by King Landen the First in defense of Bellandra.
  • Anyone Can Die: One after another in fairly rapid succession once the book gets rolling, mostly to solidify the villain's power. List of character deaths, in order: Ancilla (old age), Kareed (murder), Eric (murder), and Irene (murder).
  • Assassin Outclassin': Several times.
    • Thanks to the mysterious seer's warning, High King Dahmis sees through the "envoy" from Archeld and pricks him in the shoulder with his own poisoned stiletto. Dahmis sends Toban's body back to Vesputo as a warning.
    • When Vesputo convinces the other kings to send assassins after Vineda, Dahmis sends Landen to rescue her and fakes her assassination.
    • King Dahmis receives word of another assassin coming to kill him (namely, Beron)and forces him to drink his own poison. Seriously, Vesputo should have learned from the first time, even if he did think Torina was dead.
  • Automaton Horses: Consistently averted, if not in detail. If a horse has been ridden hard, it is shown to be tired and in need of care. In the most detailed instance, Torina's mount Amber shows clear signs of fatigue during Torina's flight, and Torina takes the time to feed and water him.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Torina's crowning sees both her crowned and the Sword of Bellandra returned to Landen. The princess is restored, the Sword has been returned to its rightful owner, and Landen and Torina are poised for a happily ever after.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Eric to Landen, being the first one to stand up for Landen to the other boys and teaching Landen to fight.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Twice in quick succession at the climax.
    • Disguised as a boy, Torina shoots Vesputo in the shoulder as he is about to condemn Landen to death. And it is glorious.
    • Two minutes later, while they are escorting the "boy" assassin up, King Dahmis and Bellanes' men make their big entrance (though some of the dramatic thunder has already been stolen by Torina), providing Torina with the backup she needs to reveal that she is alive and Vesputo murdered Kareed.
  • The Bully: Vesputo will coerce and threaten anyone who is aware of his true nature .
  • The Chessmaster: Vesputo manages to kill the King, blame it on Landen, cover up the disappearance of Princess Torina, and fake her death, all without leaving any substantial evidence.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: One thing is certain: Vesputo will betray anyone if it is to his advantage. First Kareed, and then the entire Northern Alliance. Vesputo literally stabbed the king and his lover Irene in the back with his stiletto, and has no qualms about sending Tobin to do the same to King Ardesen.
  • Cool Sword: Landen's kingdom had one, to defend it. King Kareed seizes it at the beginning of the book and cannot destroy it, instead hiding it away. Landen goes through a lot to eventually get it back.
  • Crystal Ball: Torina can see the past, present, and the future by gazing into it.
  • Death Faked for You: Vesputo fakes Torina's death, just as he faked their wedding after she fled Archeld. It works, and all of Archeld, save for her mother and the captain of the guard, and the neighboring countries believe she is dead. It does complicate matters for him a little, as Torina notes that he can't exactly advertise for "The Ghost of Princess Torina, Wanted Dead or Alive".
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Landen sees right through Vesputo, though Torina doesn't catch on until much later.
  • Dramatic Irony: The author loves this trope.
    • Vesputo attempts to hire Bellanes to find Torina, having no idea that Bellanes is Landen. Landen receives the message but flatly refuses to read it, and thus misses out on the opportunity to learn that Torina is still alive.
    • Soon after, Bellanes takes a commission from Dahmis to steal a pyramid-shaped box from Archeld Castle. The High King doesn't tell Bellanes what is inside and forbids that he opens it, giving a speech about how it belongs to neither himself nor Vesputo. Dahmis, of course, has no idea that Bellanes is Landen, and Landen has no idea that he is stealing the Sword of Bellandra, which rightfully belongs to him.
    • After warning Dahmis of an impending assassination attempt, Landen goes racing back to Archeld Castle in an attempt to reclaim the Sword of Bellandra, getting captured by Vesputo's men along the way. He is, of course, completely unaware that he himself had already stolen it from Archeld Castle and that the Sword is in Dahmis' possession, waiting for the rightful heir of Bellandra.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all they have been through, all of the surviving characters have earned the happy ending though Torina and Landen are definitely the most deserving.
  • Easily Overheard Conversation: Torina wanders through the castle garden and just happens to overhear that her intended husband only wants her crown.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Landen fondly remembers the rainbows of his native land.
  • Evil Chancellor: Vesputo. He is introduced as Kareed's second-in-command who suggests making Landen a slave, and eventually murders Kareed, frames Landen, attempts to force Torina to marry him, and steals the throne of Archeld.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Right after Landen tells Torina her intended only wants the crown she overhears Vesputo professing to his lover, Irene, just that.
  • Fiery Redhead: Torina starts out as one, but the events of the book mellow her considerably.
  • Friendship Trinket: Torina gives Landen one of her rings just before he leaves Archeld. Near the end of the book, the ring allows Torina to recognize her mysterious kidnapper is Landen, who was actually saving her from the assassins sent by Vesputo and the other kings.
  • Gladiator Games: As a solider of Desante, Landen creates quite a stir by beating every single opponent who faces off against him, and then pardoning the criminal instead of killing him. It also has the added advantage of gaining him a whole crew of fighting men who owe him their lives.
  • Heir-In-Law: Torina is groomed to be the wife of a king, not a ruling queen. She states that the man who marries her will be king.
  • Heroic BSoD: Upon hearing that Torina is dead, Landen experiences one as he struggles to convince himself that it is true.
  • The High King: Dahmis of Glavenrell, who is also the Big Good.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: King Kareed invades Bellandra, murders the king in front of his son, steals the sword, and expects Landen to forget his old life and become a faithful solider of Archeld. Also, he trusts Vesputo, who eventually murders Kareed for the throne.
  • Important Haircut: Torina cuts off her own braid and pins Irene's blond one to her cap in order to impersonate her and escape Archeld Castle.
  • In the Back: How King Kareed meets his end.
  • It's All My Fault: When she finds out that by cutting ties with Dahmis due to her anger over his alliance with Vesputo she endangered all of the Northern Kingdoms, Torina tells Landen that it is her fault. Landen corrects her, pointing out that she could not have prevented the war.
  • King Incognito: High King Dahmis travels this way to meet with Vineda, the seer who is actually Torina. As she has already seen him in her crystal, Torina sees right through his disguise.
  • The Kingslayer: Rumors start going around while the King is still alive that Landen will be this, prompting Landen to leave Archeld. Only he doesn't get out fast enough. Vesputo is the actual kingslayer, though it doesn't catch up with him until the end of the book.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After being revealed as the man who murdered Kareed, Vesputo attempts to stab Torina in the back in broad daylight. The captain of the guard sees it, and Vesputo pays for his crimes with a knife through the heart. A fitting end for a man whose murder weapon of choice was a dagger.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Happens to Landen early on, courtesy of Beron. Torina sees it through the crystal and rescues him.
  • Love Confession: Just before he races off to warn Dahmis of another assassination attempt, Landen tells Torina that even if she sees them as nothing more than friends, he loves her and has loved her since the day they met and she freed him. Torina doubts her worthiness, but realizes she loves him too and always has, even though she "lost her senses" for awhile. Leads to a proper Big Damn Kiss and Relationship Upgrade.
  • Made a Slave: Landen, until Torina frees him as soon as her father gives him to her.
  • Mauve Shirt: Eric is abruptly murdered by Vesputo for letting Torina escape, just after he tells Torina he is going to get married.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Vineda/Torina breaks ties with Dahmis after finding out his alliance with Vesputo. Vesputo uses this to accuse her of working with the invading Sliviites, simultaneously convincing the other kings to hunt Torina down and allow Vesputo to be rid of her once and for all and covering up the fact that Vesputo himself is the traitor.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Bellandra, described as a kingdom of peace, harmony, and art, and conquered by neighboring Archeld at the beginning of the book. Archeld's soldier trainees believe it to be a "kingdom of milksops".
  • Public Execution: Vesputo attempts to publicly execute Landen for the murder of King Kareed. This sets the stage perfectly for Vesputo's crimes to be revealed.
  • Rebellious Princess: Torina. Starting when she frees Landen.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most of the kings seem to be this, to varying degrees.
    • Torina's father, King Kareed, constantly pits his strength against other kingdoms, personally marching into battle and conquering his neighbors.
    • High King Dahmis works hard to unite the neighboring kings under his rule and protection, and defends all of the countries against invasion.
  • Run for the Border: Both Landen and Torina flee across Archeld to Desante at different points in time to escape Vesputo.
  • Seers: One gives Kareed the crystal during the sack of Bellandra. Kareed gives it to his daughter, Torina, who also turns out to be a seer.
  • Spoiled Brat: Princess Torina. While she frees Landen almost immediately and mostly a very loving, good person, Torina can also be very headstrong, opinionated, thoughtless, proud, superior, and she's used to getting what she wants. As an adult, Torina realizes that she was a bit of a brat, and begs Landen's forgiveness. Of course, he has already forgiven her.
  • Starting a New Life: Both Landen and Torina are flee Archeld and start new lives after Vesputo murders King Kareed.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: The king and people of Bellandran were complete pacifists. When their neighboring land Archeld invaded, they attempted to negotiate instead of fight and were quickly conquered. King Veldon of Bellandra himself would not use a magical sword he had, and thus was killed in front of his son Landen, with King Kareed (his killer) taking both with him home as war trophies. It's left a mystery just how they managed to survive until then.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The boy assassin who shot Vesputo dramatically lowers "his" hood, revealing a woman with long, red hair and unmistakable features, proudly announcing that she is none other than Torina Archelda, the lost princess of Archeld.
  • They Do: After years of hardship, separation, and mortal danger, Landen and Torina finally pledge their love to one another. The events of the next book see them Happily Married with Babies Ever After.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Bellanes' code.
    • Though he is in the awkward position of having granted mercy to an unrepentant man who murdered a child out of spite. The King of Desante only agrees to free Bellanes' men on the condition that the murderer is executed. Landen doesn't kill the murderer personally, but orders his soon-to-be right-hand man to do it. Landen admits that the man deserved to die, though he wishes justice had come from another hand.
    • Likewise, during the Sliviite invasion, Landen wrestles with the moral implications of his plan, which will condemn thousands of the invaders to their deaths. He also realizes that if he does nothing, thousands of innocents will die.
  • Time Skip: Though there are definite smaller time skips throughout the book, the most abrupt is the passing of two years between the end of Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Landen uses the bounty on him to infiltrate Archeld Castle.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted. The plan for repelling the Sliviite invasion, after being discussed extensively, goes exactly according to plan save Landen forgetting his flotation log. But by then the attack plan is complete, and it is only a question of individual survival and not the success of the overall plan.
  • Young Face, Old Eyes: The King of Desante notes that Landen's eyes are "too old and sorrowful for such a young man."