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Literature / The Spirit Thief

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"First rule of dungeons," he said with a wry grin, "don't pin all your hopes on a gullible door."

The Spirit Thief is the first of a series of books by Rachel Aaron detailing the exploits of one Eli Monpress, a wizard and a Gentleman Thief, as well as his companions, aspiring World's Best Warrior Josef and demonseed girl Nico. In the world where every living thing has a sentient spirit, but only the wizards can hear them, Eli is a charmer extraordinaire, as proven right at the start by when he escapes from a prison by convincing the door to free itself from the tyranny of nails.

Eli has a goal, and that goal is to have a bounty on his head worth one million standards. To this end, he and his companions kidnap the king of Mellinor, a land notorious for their dislike of wizards, and ransom him for a modest sum of cash, plus a truly huge pledge to his bounty. However, it turns out that the king has a long-lost brother who is less than eager to see him returned to take the throne, and a Spiritualist from the Spirit Court has been dispatched to apprehend Eli before he further besmirches the reputation of wizards. And that's just the first book. Soon, Eli's, Josef's and Nico's pasts start catching up with them, and they become embroiled in a conflict of ridiculous proportions...


The series is composed of five books: The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, The Spirit Eater, The Spirit War and Spirit's End. The first three have been published in the omnibus The Legend of Eli Monpress, and the last two - The Revenge of Eli Monpress. There is also a short story titled Spirit's Oath centering around an adventure of Miranda's before the series starts.

Contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: While not strictly romantic, Benehime adores Eli and will do anything to keep him, while Eli does everything in his power to get away from her.
  • Achilles in His Tent: In The Spirit War, following Karon's apparent death, Eli locks himself up in the tallest tower in Osera and tries to shut off all the outside world and the feelings of guilt, as he absolutely refuses to let Benehime have him again. See Despair Event Horizon below for what happens next.
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  • Action Girl: Nico and Miranda both have no problem keeping up with their male companions.
  • Adult Fear: It's not explored much, but Eli and Banage's past has this in spades. Imagine that your twelve-years-old kid runs off into the woods after a huge fight between the two of you. You brush it off, thinking that the kid will just vent its anger and come back, but... they don't. Not that night, not the next day, not ever, and unbeknowst to you, that's because they've been kidnapped by a goddess with too much attachment to her human toys. This quote from Banage is telling:
    The day I saw your wanted poster was the happiest day of my life, because it said you were still alive.
  • A Form Youare Comfortable With: When the Demon of Dead Mountain finally gets out, the characters all see his human form as someone they know and trust. Miranda thinks he looks like a younger version of Banage, Eli thinks he looks a lot like Giuseppe, and Nico sees him as a mix of Josef, Eli, and Tesset.
  • Agent Peacock: Sparrow. He is invisible to spirits unless he dresses in garish colors, and even then they perceive him as flickering. However, he has no issue switching to drab clothing when employing stealth rather than diplomacy.
  • Alien Sky: The sky in Eli's world doesn't have stars. That's because this planet is apparently the last part of the universe not devoured by demons.
  • Alpha Strike: In the fight between Tesset and Den, the former opens the fight with the most powerful punch possible, putting his entire soul into it.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The demons and demonseeds, especially in the eyes of the League.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • The world's magic revolves around entering an agreement with spirits for them to help a wizard, or by enslaving them. However, this is completely useless against demonseeds, who eat spirits. The League has its own form of anti-magic to use against demon abilties, though.
    • Sparrow describes himself as an "anti-wizard", and unless he wears garish colours or they're equipped with physical eyes, spirits are completely blind to his presence.
  • And I Must Scream: Being completely possessed by the Master can't be fun. Nor can being tortured by the Duke of Gaol. And of course, there's Renaud's little treat during the ransom exchange, then later with the pillar.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The best way to describe the world of the series would be "what if Shinto and its kami were real". Literally everything in existence has a spirit, and most of those spirits are extremely humanlike in behaviour. Most notable example is the Lord of Storm, whose true form is a hurricane and who can take on a shape of a man, though has problems keeping it stable when impatient.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Banage clearly tries this when he asks "Would you have done this to Eli?" while confronting Sara over how the Relay works, but she's too much of The Sociopath to care.
  • Attention Whore:
    • Eli can be this at times, to his mentor's frustration (as his mentor is a proper thief who tries to avoid becoming known). As Josef notes in one conversation with Nico
      "If you want to do this Nico, I'm behind you, but only if you really want to. Don't let Eli make this about him."
    • Benehime wants to be worshipped by everyone around her, and reacts brutally when this doesn't happen.
  • Berserk Button: All spirits will flip out and try to kill a demonseed if they detect one, especially the stronger spirits, Gin included. Josef's berserk button tends to be when Nico is in danger, and vice versa. For Miranda, it's the abuse of spirits.
  • BFS: Josef's Heart of War. Though 'BFM' might be more accurate, seeing as the Heart is a mountain transformed into a sword.
  • Big Good:
    • Illir the West Wind, starting from The Spirit Rebellion. He considers it his job to protect spirits, so he aids Miranda and Eli, whether by sending his winds to help, passing information or putting in a good word with other wizards and spirits.
    • The Shaper Mountain, once it goes Screw the Rules, It's the Apocalypse!, is very helpful, though this is somewhat mitigated by its refusal to deal with anything that reeks of demonseeds.
    • Benehime tries to force Eli into making her his Big Good, but there's a price and he knows it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Yes, the only demon left inside the sphere is Nico, the new Hunter loves his job, Benehime is defeated, power is returned to the spirits and a new age of cooperation between them and humans begins. On the other hand, all of creation is still stuck in the tiny "lifeboat" surrounded by innumerable, ravenous demons who still try to break through, and its unlikely the Creator will ever return. Unless humans and spirits figure out how to destroy destruction itself, they will forever live under the threat of demons breaking through.
  • Blessed with Suck: Demonseeds. Pros: superhuman strength, speed and senses, Healing Factor, being a Shadow Walker. Cons: every spirit in existence fears you and strives to kill you, the League of Storms is hunting you down, and if you survive both of those, you will eventually be possessed and start devouring every spirit in existence.
    • The favor of the Shepherdess. On the one hand, you do get power over everything in creation. On the other, Benehime is a heartless bitch who refuses to do her job and sees her favorites as her personal property. All and all, not worth it.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: When the hunt is on, the Lord of Storms cares for nothing else, even if the world is crumbling around him.
  • Body Horror: The transformation of demonseeds into full demons.
  • Bookends: The entire series both begins and ends with Eli charming a door into opening for him.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Council Kingdoms are full of them, as bounties are the chief method the Council uses to capture criminals. Most notably, Josef used to be a bounty hunter before he went after Eli and the latter convinced him that he'd find better fights if he switched sides.
  • Break the Haughty: Happens to Miranda to a degree at the beginning of book two, when she is arrested by the Spirit Court and breaks out, becoming a fugitive.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Happens to Josef regularly, especially in his book three battle with Sted. Also happens to Nico.
  • Call-Back: In the first book, Miranda is furious to discover that the only book on wizardry in Mellinor's library is a greatly misleading treatise by one Mortimer Kant. In the final book, Lelbon reveals that Mortimer Kant is pen name of Illir, the Wind of the West.
  • Captured Super-Entity: In the first book, the "secret weapon" in Allaze's treasury turns out to be the Great Spirit of an inland sea which had been enslaved for generations, preventing it from flooding and drowning an entire kingdom.
  • Carnival of Killers: Everyone and his dog is out to get Eli and his team. Which is probably what you can expect when you're a notorious thief, one companion has a famously powerful sword, and the other is being hunted by the League of Storms.
  • CatchPhrase: Eli's "The first rule of thieving is. . . " which is followed by a different rule each time.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Eli's catsuit has threads of seven different colours woven into it, and once he awakens them, they switch and move to make him blend in with the environment as much as they can.
  • Charm Person: Or rather, Charm Spirit; Eli is very good at sweet-talking spirits, convincing them to do what he would like them to do. At first, this is apparently because he's quite the charismatic person, and then it's revealed that while that is true, spirits bend over backwards to do his bidding because he's the personal favorite of The Shepherdess herself.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story starts as a fun fantasy romp, but before long, there is mass enslavement, Demonic Possession, war and, last but not least, Cosmic Horror Story in play.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Benehime to Eli, Nara to Benehime.
  • Comically Serious: Josef, when paired with Eli.
  • Complexity Addiction: Eli. See Wrong Genre Savvy below for when this trips him up.
    • He does have something of an excuse: Benehime has promised him that she will let him go if he can raise his bounty suitably high, and to do that he needs to be flashy and well-known.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Something the Duke of Gaol is known for.
  • The Corrupter: Master of the Dead Mountain to Nico, as he's tugging on her demonseed, trying to make her stop resisting.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: Oddly enough, this is what the series turns into in the last book. The entire world is a tiny sphere surrounded by endless hordes of enormous, ever-hungry demons that want nothing more than to devour everything, and only the diligence of the Hunter and the Weaver stops them from breaking through.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In book three. Josef's attempts to fight the Lord of Storms when he comes for Nico end with him having to be rescued by a literal divine intervention.
  • Cursed With Awesome: While being a demonseed is horrible in every sense of the word, it does give you incredible strength and speed, superhuman healing, and the ability to step through shadows.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The main trio all has this, though to varius degrees.
    • Eli ran away from home because he couldn't handle the pressure his father put on him, only to be found and taken by Benehime. He thought he was living in paradise until he found out that rather than a benevolent ruler, Benehime is a tyrant who cowes all spirits into praising them. He then spent almost a year living in terror, planning his escape and struggling not to let her know he's figured her out. Just the prospect of returning to her is enough to trigger a Despair Event Horizon.
    • Josef is the prince of Osera, but has since childhood struggled with every kingly duty, earning him mockery and scorn from the court until he eventually ran away to become a bounty hunter - only to be branded a murderer in his homeland.
    • Nico was enslaved as a child and was sold to the Dead Mountain cult, became Master's follower via Stockholm Syndrome, got a demonseed implanted in her and then, barely in control of her own body, went on a ravenous rampage through the mountains. When the League of Storms beat her within the inch of her life, the Master abandoned her, labeled her a failure and commanded her to die. If it wasn't for Josef finding her, she absolutely would.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Nico is a Shadow Walker, wears pitch black clothing and her Daughter of the Dead Mountain form is black as well. She's also one of the most selfless characters in the story.
  • Deal with the Devil: In books two and three, Nico makes one, and suffers the consequences.
  • Deep Cover Agent: The Immortal Empress' Hundred Warriors are people sent to enemy countries to worm their way into the highest parts of society so that they may sabotage any attempt at resistance once the empress comes. The duty is even passed from parent to child, such as is the case with Lenette and Adela.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: In Spirit Rebellion, when the Duke of Gaol uses the spirits' fear of him to bring them all back under his control, one of the roof tiles attacks him, prompting a full-blown revolution. Subverted when it turns out that it was Eli's adoptive father who threw the tile to motivate other spirits.
  • Demonic Possession: What all demonseeds suffer from eventually.
  • Despair Event Horizon: At the end of Spirit War, Eli, crushed with guilt over his inaction during Nara's invasion of Osera, goes into Heroic Safe Mode and lets Benehime have him. It's marked by one, short sentence.
    Eli gave up.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The League suffers from this once the Master of the Dead Mountain is vanquished and the Lord of Storms leaves to become the Hunter. Alric decides that the current members will spend the rest of their natural life spans watching over Nico, just in case she gave in to her hunger.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: In book three Eli experiences this when he attempts to infiltrate the Dead Mountain, and finds the Master strangely accommodating.
  • Dysfunctional Family/ Big, Screwed-Up Family: In the end of the third book, Eli is revealed to be Banage and Sara's son.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Eli is blessed (or cursed, as he might see it) with Benehime's power and attention, Josef is a remarkable swordsman with the most powerful awakened blade, and Nico is a powerfully advanced demonseed.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Some spirits, like winds, fires, seas or mountains, embody and control their element.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: The first three rules that Benehime has set down for spirits are don't look at the sky, don't talk about the sky and don't talk about stars. By the forth book, this elephant in the room becomes so conspicuous, the Shaper Mountain goes "screw it" and explains almost everything to Slorn and Miranda.
  • Empathic Weapon: All spirits are conscious beings in this world, and awakened blades are no different. Weapons of note would be Josef's Heart of War; Sted's Dunolg, the Iron Avalanche; Alric's Dunelle, the Last Sunlight; and Coriano's Dunea, River of White Snow.
  • Enemy Mine: In the final book, the imminent threat of all the demons in the universe coming to eat the world means that Nico, Eli and Josef have to work with the Lord of Storms, and the Demon of the Dead Mountain. No one of the three groups seems particularly enthralled with this plan.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Eli has a wind spirit transmit everything Adela tells Josef to the entirety of the island they're at while Josef goads her into telling "him" what she really thinks of her country and what she's done to it.
  • Extended Disarming: Josef takes about thirty minutes to take off all his weapons. After he does so, he is searched by guards and relieved of at least four he 'forgot'. And even then, he refuses to part with the Heart.
  • Fiery Redhead: Miranda.
  • Fighting a Shadow: Part of the reason why the Lord of Storms is nigh-invulnerable and unbeatable is because his human shell is just that: a shell. His true body is the thunderheads in the sky above him.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Nico in the climax of the third book, when the Master forces her to transform and tries to brainwash her back into obedience. She wins, of course.
  • Final Battle: The climax of Spirit's End sees the main characters, the Lord of Storms and the Master fight against the demons invading the world, as well as Benehime.
  • First-Episode Twist: It's hard to talk about Mellinor without revealing it's actually a sea spirit.
  • Foreshadowing: While Josef's identity as a prince may come out of the left field for some, note how in book three, he mentions having fencing tutors, something only very high-ranking nobility - such as, say, a royal family - would be able to afford.
  • Friendship Moment: Quite a few, mostly between Josef and Nico, Miranda and Gin, though Eli also gets a few with Josef and Nico as the story progresses.
    • Nico would rather let the Master have them than have Josef die - and Josef would rather die than let the Lord of Storms have Nico.
    • In the fourth book, upon sees a wanted poster for himself, Josef declares that he has to go to Osera and prepares to leave the group. Eli (from whose perspective we see this) doesn't even consider letting him go off on his own - he just arranges for transport to the islands in record time, sparing no expenses.
  • Friend To All Living Spirits: Eli's talent, and partly why he's such a successful thief. It is also what makes Miranda such a good Spiritualist.
  • Gentleman Thief: This is Eli to the core.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: That's when you know the demonseeds really aren't just messing around.
  • Godiva Hair: All three Powers have long, thick hair capable of covering them all, so Benehime often wears nothing but them. They also seem to have some sort of protective power, as she has to convince the Hunter to part them before she can kill him.
  • Got Volunteered: Eli and his companions really didn't want to get involved in stopping the brand new evil dictator in Mellinor, but have no choice, mostly because it's their fault in the first place for kidnapping the king and creating a power vacuum.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The Lord of Storms doesn't have the word "patience" in his dictionary, and he's very quick to anger when he's forced to wait.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The Creator is gone from the world, as revealed in the last book, and no one knows when or if he's coming back. He left three children with some of his powers to keep the world safe from the demons before he left, The Powers of Creation. The Shepherdess/Benehime, The Weaver/Benehin, and The Hunter/Benehar. Starts out as a good idea, end's not so well. Never leave your kids in charge of everything.
  • Hearing Voices: Those lucky demonseeds again.
  • Heroic RRoD: In a couple of his fights, Josef pushes his limits to the edge, and even a little beyond with the help of the Heart of War, but Nico runs headlong into this trope in Spirit War against Den the Warlord. She embraces her inner demon completely, going full-on Humanoid Abomination, becoming a sort of Living Shadow. Unfortunately, when Den is killed, Nico's arms and legs are left twisted, blackened, and utterly broken. Her coat manages to seal her in a cocoon so she can heal, but she's out of commission for the rest of the book.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Eli is stuck in it at the beginning of Spirit's End. It takes Benehime taking Karon from him with no care for the lava spirit's survival to shock Eli out of it.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Nico considers herself to be the least valuable member of the team and despises herself to the point of being at the brink of Despair Event Horizon several times. Being a demonseed will do that to you.
  • Heroic Willpower: Both command over spirits and fighting with awakened blades depends on this - Josef survives what should be mortal wounds several times because his willpower keeps him going.
  • Horror Hunger: When overusing her powers, Nico feels an overwhelming urge to devour spirits around her. All demonseeds and demons do, she's just one of the very few who manage to handle it without going on a rampage.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Lord of Storms is usually a hurricane, so his human shell has its share of problems. For one, it becomes unstable and blurry when he gets emotional, and in one case as he gets impatient, he grows far beyond human sizes. Then there's the fact that he's capable of both the Flash Step and staying utterly still. His entire mind is focused on hunting, to the point that when he finally spots his quarry, Miranda calls his joy so powerful, no human would be capable of feeling it.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each book is named "Spirit ___".
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: This seems to be how The Shepherdess/Benehime acts with Eli.
  • Inspector Javert: In the first three books, Miranda is set on capturing Eli to the point of obsession. After she sees the Daughter of the Dead Mountain, she decides that in the light of the Myth Arc, this is petty, and abandons her quest.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: Illir's fascinated by humans, and has gone to great lengths to learn as much about them as possible, including publishing books to see if literature can change people's behaviour and establishing the brokers to learn everyone's secrets.
  • Invisible to Normals: Non-wizards can't hear spirits, or communicate with them. Though obviously if a table decided to up and attack them, they'd notice it.
  • I Owe You My Life: Part of why Nico is so loyal to Josef.
  • I Want Grand Kids: Queen Theresa, though in her case it's less about having someone young to look after as it is continuing the line of succession.
  • Jerk Ass Gods: Benehime seems to be this with her attempts to manipulate Eli, as well as her treatment of the Great Bear, the West Wind, and the Lord of Storms. Most of the time though, she's just neglectful. In the last book she tries to let the world be devoured by demons so she can live without the responsibility of being The Shepherdess
  • Karma Houdini: Sara. She creates enlaved, mad spirits in replica of Renaud's sandstorm to fight in The Spirit War, her Ollor Relay was as good as Powered by a Forsaken Child according to Banage, including the spirit of her loyal water spirit, she bound another human being as a sevant spirit for many years before killing him, and probably has many more horrible acts to her name. At the end of the books, all we know if that the rivers all hate her, but with Banage rushing off to her aid, it's likely that even that won't keep her down.
  • Killing Intent: People who are extremely good at killing can sense others of their kind when they're about to fight, and explicitely refer to this as sensing the killing intent.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Lord of Storms. His arrival in the third book marks the shift from episodic adventures towards the more serious main arc.
  • Knight Templar: The League of Storms are this towards demonseeds. They believe there is no possible help for seeds, so they must die. The Lord of Storms (the League's leader), is the personification of this, while his second-in-command, Alric, is more balanced.
  • Knowledge Broker: The brokers specialize in providing information, and it's implied that their methods are supernatural in nature. In fact, they exchange information via wind spirits, having worked out a system for communicating with them without having magic.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Nico, thanks to her demonsees strength and Shadow Walker skills, strikes fast and strikes hard.
  • Made of Iron: Tesset, who can even survive a building falling on him, Alric, because it's the nature of his League gift, Sted, for the same reason, and arguably the Lord of Storms, Nico and Josef (though Josef relies on the Heart of War for this).
  • Magma Man: Karon, being a lava spirit, manifests himself as this when outside of Eli's body. Inside, he appears as a burn scar covering his abdomen.
  • Magnetic Hero: Eli's way with the spirits.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everyone present when the Daughter of the Dead Mountain reemerges has a minor (or major, in some cases) nervous breakdown.
  • Master of Your Domain: Attaining total control over one's own spirit can allow them to shrug off, even heal, the most brutal attacks that should have killed them several times over. Tesset was able to peel off Nico's Horror Hunger-enraged demonseed with almost contemptuous ease, something Nico hadn't even thought was possible, let alone this easy.
  • Meaningful Name: Benehime is a compacted version of the Hebrew Benei Elohim meaning "children of God" see Have You Seen My God? above.
  • Mind Rape: The Master seems fond of employing this to force demonseeds to submit to his will.
  • Morality Chain: Josef for Nico. Her Undying Loyalty to him stops her from accepting the Master's Demonic Possession time and again.
  • Mysterious Past: All three main characters, though we learn more about their pasts as the books progress. Josef being a prince especially came out of left field.
  • Named Weapons: Awakened swords all have their own names, like Dunlea or Heart of War.
  • Never Trust a Title: The second omnibus, Revenge of Eli Monpress. Neither Spirit War nor Spirit's End contain any revenge on Eli's part.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The most prominent instance of a romantic pairing is Slorn and his wife Nivel, who intentionally isolates herself to protect everyone and dies in the third book, so they don't even interact onscreen. Between the main characters never even thinking about romance (Josef and Nico, for all of their devotion to each other, remain Platonic Life-Partners) and any mention of marriage centering around politics, it almost seems as if most of the world was asexual.
  • No-Sell: When Tesset strikes Den with his most powerful punch, the latter doesn't as much as flinch.
  • No Sense of Humor: The image that Nico attempts to portray, though Eli notices a few occasions when she seems to be fighting back a smile.
  • Number Two: Alric is the League of Storms' Deputy Commander, making him Lord of Storms' second-in-command.
  • Oh, Crap!: Tesset when his Alpha Strike doesn't as much as scratch Den.
  • One Hero, Hold the Weaksauce: Eli's ability to convince spirits to do what he wants far exceeds that of other wizards.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Nico and Josef are incredibly close, extremely protective of each other, are the inspiration for so many Heroic Second Winds it's ridiculous, and even explicitly use the word 'love' in the text to realize how they feel about one another....and yet there is no hint of romantic or sexual feelings between them in the slightest.
  • Principles Zealot: Banage is often accused of being an extremist and a conservative, unable to see past his dedication to spirits and the Court's mission even if it could save lifes - notably, he thinks for a time that the Immortal Empress is better than the Council Kingdoms because of spirits' total loyalty to hernote . This being said, when there are spirits being abused, you really want to have this guy on your side, because he's absolutely uncompromising and very powerful.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Relay only works if water spirits are completely and totally isolated from the moment they are formed. Each spirit believes it is totally alone in its own private world, so their spirit unity allows vibrations to be passed between their parts. It's explicitly compared to locking a child in a closet for its entire life.
  • Power Limiter and Restraining Bolt: Nico's cloak and silver bracelets help her suppress and control her demonseed. The prototype was made for Nivel, who has been containing a demonseed for ten years.
  • Pun: Eli makes one in Spirit's End:
    If you disarm me any further, I will have no arms!
  • Rage Breaking Point: Eli bears Benehime treating him as her pet, psychologically abusing him and threatening everyone he loves meekly accepting everything happenning to him out of fear, despite hatred slowly building up within him. The dam finally breaks when she takes Karon away from him when he's asleep.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • The Immortal Empress is eight hundred years old.
    • Alric has been the Deputy Commander of the League for the last thousand years.
    • Benehime and her siblings are five thousand years old.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Eli delivers a long and epic one upon passing his Rage Breaking Point.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Eli is the red, Josef the blue.
  • Rings Of Power: Spiritualists keep their companion spirits in rings and other jewelry, so one easy way to spot this type of wizard is to count how many rings a person's wearing.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Josef is forced to become the king of his country after everyone else in the line of succession is assassinated, despite the fact that he considers himself a complete failure as a nobleman and his subjects practically hate him. The moment he decides his advisors have matters well in hand, he leaves.
  • The Reveal: Several, with various degrees of importance.
    • The land of which the Kingdom of Mellinor now stands was once a great inland sea that's been enslaved by the first king.
    • Eli's uncanny affinity for spirits comes from him being Benehime's favourite.
    • Josef is the heir apparent to the kingdom of Osera.
    • Banage and Sara are Eli's parents.
    • The entire world is a tiny sphere surrounded by demons trying to devour it.
    • Benehime wants to destroy the world she's supposed to protect.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: The second omnibus is Revenge of Eli Monpress.
  • The Runaway: Eli Monpress ran away from his home when he was twelve because of the pressure his father was putting on him, though the catalyst for his escape was a massive fight the two of them had, which ended in the kid going off into the woods and never coming back.
  • Screw the Rules, It's the Apocalypse!: As the most powerful spirits see Benehime becoming more and more neglectful, they eventually begin breaking the rules to force her into acting like she's supposed to.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: How everything says alive. The Hunter, made for the job by the Creator, keeps the Demons from eating the world by keeping them back with his sword. Since the Demons can't get past his armor and he can't kill them at all, it becomes this.
  • Shadow Walker: Demonseeds such as Nico can use shadows to travel long distances, even taking others with them, though this leaves them and their passengers at the mercy of the Master of the Dead Mountain.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Eli's companions are tickled when they hear Giuseppe quote Eli's phrase of, 'the first rule of thieving is. . . " and realize where Eli gets it from.
  • Sibling Murder: In the last book, the Shepherdess murders the Hunter so that no-one will be able to oppose her plan to let the world die.
  • The Sociopath: Sara has several qualifications. On a reread, pay close attention to her first conversation with Miranda when she's talking about wanting to 'examine' how Eli works. That's her own son she's talking about.
  • So Proud of You: Eli gets two within a short period of time, much to his bemusement. Sara's is likely insincere, but Banage was genuine
  • Stalker Without a Crush/Stalker with a Crush: Benehime towards Eli. It's hard to tell the difference, honestly. Did we mention she's also a Yandere Physical God?
  • Succession Crisis:
    • Eli and company accidentally start one in the first book by kidnapping the king.
    • Josef accidentally creates one when he abandons the throne. His cousin can legally take over for a while, but the law is clear that there needs to be a direct lineage of royal blood.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: The Immortal Empress survives the finale of the fourth book, only to be unceremoniously killed off by Benehime in the first chapters of Spirit's End.
  • Super OCD: The duke of Gaol is obsessed with having total control over everything in his duchy, up to and including the weather and the cobblestones in his city.
  • Taking You with Me: In the last book, Nico grabs hold of the Demon Of The Dead Mountain as she is falling out of the world and drags him along with her. By pulling him out of the world, Nico knows she won't die, but will be in absolute nothingness, slowly growing more and more hungry until she is completely insane just like the rest of the demons, and will be like this for all of eternity. She even tries to resist when Josef pulls her back in, because she believes she is too dangerous to live in the world.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Our first introduction to Eli has him doing this.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Josef thinks this is being done to him in the forth book. It turns out the poison was in the candles rather than the food.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Actually pretty common in the character's backstories.
    • Eli, according to Giuseppe. The reason he took Eli in was that the kid refused to leave his front door for several days.
    • Tesset to Den. After Den wiped out the most powerful man in Tesset's old gang, Tesset followed him begging to be trained until Den finally gave in and taught him for six months, with the promise that after, he and Tesset would be enemies.
    • Josef to Milo Hurtch, renown swordsman and The Heart's former bearer.
  • Think Nothing of It: Miranda genuinely believes the ideals of the Spirit Court, so she's occasionally surprised when people behave as if she's done something extraordinary when she upholds those ideals.
  • To Be a Master: Josef's goal is to become the greatest swordsman in the world, as he believes that only then will he be worthy of using the Heart of War.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Miranda faces this dilemma in book two, when she has to decide whether to aid the spirits in Gaol or obey the Spirit Court.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Nico, after mastering the demon. Josef, after becoming one with the Heart of War, Miranda at the end of The Spirit War, once she becomes the Rector Spiritualis and the Lord of Storms in the final book, upon becoming the Hunter.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Lenette has been poisoning her mistress for years, as she's actually a Deep Cover Agent for the Immortal Empress.
  • Trickster Mentor: Giuseppe Monpress, Eli's adoptive father who taught him how to be a thief. In book two, Giuseppe breaks into the Duke of Gaol's elaborate trap for Eli and clears out the treasury right before Eli shows up to do the same, claiming that he was doing it in the hopes of dissuading Eli from showing up at all. At the end, it is heavily implied that the agent from whom the Duke had been receiving advice about how to best lure Eli in was the senior Monpress, meaning that Giuseppe helped make a trap to catch Eli, then set the trap off himself intending to spare Eli any actual danger, all while getting paid.
  • Undying Loyalty: Eli, Josef and Nico are all undyingly loyal to each other, but the latter two are especially of note. Miranda and her spirits also regularly put their life on the line for each other.
  • Villainous BSoD: Benehime completely shuts down when she believes that she's killed Eli, though she still says he made her do it.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Prince Renaud, thanks to some shrewd political manipulation, plays Mellinor like a fiddle by his second day in the office.
    • The Immortal Empress is practically worshiped by her subjects.
    • Adela is beloved by people more than her country's rulers.
  • Vague Age: Nico reads like a young girl with a precocious crush on Josef, though the cover of Spirit Eater indicates that she may be a great deal older.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Josef and Eli.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Eli, Josef and Nico each have one, but Eli takes great pride in his. We find out why in the final book.
  • Waif-Fu: Nico is terribly thin, due to the demon's constant need to feed, but it's also what gives her incredible strength.
  • Walking Armory: When the king of Mellinor sees Josef for the first time, he notes that it's impossible to make out the colour of his coat under all the blades. Josef keeps up the habit throughout all the books.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: While not his primary motivation, Eli definitely has shades of this towards Etmon Banage. The intro to the second book reveals a young Eli and his father arguing, with his father calling him worthless. Cut to the present day, where Eli sent him one of his wanted posters with the words changed slightly.
    . . . the same hand had crossed out the word WANTED with a thick, straight line and written instead the word WORTH.
    “Eli Monpress," [he] read quietly. "Worth, dead or alive, sixty thousand gold standards.”
    • When Eli and his father finally have a moment to talk in the 5th book, Eli is shocked when Banage actually hugs him and tells him that he's proud of Eli's sacrifice in book 4.
  • Worf Barrage: Tesset's most powerful punch gets a whole long paragraph of build-up, and then another paragraph to describe the aftermath. It doesn't even make his opponent flinch.
  • World's Best Warrior: Den the Warlord is generally considered the most dangerous man in the world. When he made a Face–Heel Turn in the first war against the Immortal Empress, he singlehandedly destroyed the Council Kingdoms' army, and when he's spotted during the second war, swimming alone for the beach, the entire fleet almost pulls back to try and stop him from reaching the shore.
  • World of Snark: Everybody snarks in those books, from master swordsmen to doors.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Coriano and Josef, at least from the former's perspective.
    • The Lord of Storms has been looking for one for five thousand years and is overjoyed when he finds out that Josef can match him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Eli occasionally makes the mistake of thinking that his opponents are as sneaky or roundabout as he is. In the second book he at first assumes the Duke of Gaol will try to bribe or trick him into revealing his stash of stolen items, instead of just torturing it out of him. In the fourth book, he pulls Osera's Spiritualist aside and slyly asks him to send a message to Zarin, only to be flabbergasted that no, Spiritualists don't have secret communication methods kept hidden from outsiders.
  • Yandere: Benehime in a nutshell. That goddess is scary, and perfectly willing burn the entire Council Kingdoms just to get Eli to "love" her.


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