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Literature / The Star of the Guardians

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Cover to Volume 3

Two together must walk together the paths of darkness to reach the light.

An epic Space Opera by Margaret Weis, not as well known as her other works. The first book was published in 1990, the fourth one in 1993. The series consists of four volumes:

  1. The Lost King
  2. King's Test
  3. King's Sacrifice
  4. Ghost Legion

Because the series' covers feature Laser Blades prominently, young readers would be forgiven for confusing this with Star Wars. They wouldn't be far wrong. The series starts about 20 years after a college professor and unlikely revolutionary, Peter Robes, led an uprising against the monarchy; the "Blood," a ruling caste which had been genetically engineered for wisdom, intense charisma and occasional superpowers, were wiped out almost to a man. The lone survivors are a small band of loyalists, the king's nephew, newborn Dion Starfire, whom they managed to escape with, and Warlord Derek Sagan, who helped organize the coup and fought his Star-Crossed Lover Maigrey Morianna to do it. At the beginning of the book, the last of those loyalists, Maigrey's bookish brother Platus, is killed, leaving the now-grown-up Dion to flee with the help of Mendaharin "Tusk" Tusca, halfblood Heroic Bastard son of another of said loyalists. Hunted by now-President Robes and "Citizen-General" Sagan and the People's Republic of Tyranny the new government has become, aided by the rumpled, fatherly General Dixter and enigmatic Not Quite Dead Maigrey, Dion must find a way to come into his birthright and reclaim the throne.

And, of course, there's more to the story than what meets the eye...

The series had a Spin-Off, MagForce7, chronicling the adventures of a band of mercenary misfits modeled consciously after The Magnificent Seven.

This series provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Sagan, although there are moments of Broken Ace here and there, especially after Maigrey dies.
  • Ace Pilot: Tusk. To a lesser extent, Link.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: Maigrey continues to hang around in Ghost Legion after having died in King's Sacrifice.
    • Platus comes to Maigrey right after his death.
  • Agent Peacock: Raoul, the effeminate, campy pretty-boy. When he's not fussing about his manicure, hair and clothes, he kills people with hundreds of various poisons.
  • Apocalypse How: Invoked. The Space Rotation Bomb in book 3 is feared to cause a Class X, creating a Negative Space Wedgie that could consume the universe. Sagan detonates it at the climax.
  • Arranged Marriage: Dion has to enter into one to win his throne. He has just hit Love at First Sight with another woman.
  • The Atoner: Sagan in Ghost Legion.
  • Author Appeal: Possibly Weis' series to push the need to embrace God(s) the most (even more so than Dragonlance) it has the worst villain of the first few books be explicitly atheist.
    This is not quite true. Abdiel explicitly acknowledges God's existence and His will; he merely doesn't care what God wants.
    Abdiel: "The Creator moves against you, Peter. I feel His anger. He lifts His rod to chastise you."
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: The Golden Squadron are the best warriors and space pilots in the universe, period. They are also Blood Royal. All of them.
    • Dion Starfire is a prince and can kick some serious ass when he has to.
  • Babies Ever After: Out of the main pairings, at least one (Tusk/Nola) definitely has shades of this.
  • Badass Cape: Sagan and later, Maigrey.
  • Badass Normal: Tusk is a great space pilot and a good soldier but compared to the uber-badass Maigrey and Sagan he's just... normal.
    • Likewise, Brother Fideles, especially in the fourth book. All he has is a pope hat and medical training, but he wades into battle without flinching, proposing that he is going to stall the enemy.
  • Bastard Bastard: Flaim Starfire in Ghost Legion.
  • Battle Couple: Sagan and Maigrey, Tusk and Nola.
  • Beta Couple: Tusk and Nola.
  • Betty and Veronica: Astarte vs. Kamil. Which is whom for debate.
    • On the male side, Dixter vs. Sagan. The roles are much clearer on this side - Dixter is Betty, Sagan Veronica.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Raoul is stunningly beautiful, very courteous, calm and friendly. He is one of the most skilled poisoners in galaxy.
    • Queen Astarte is kind, gentle and soft-spoken. What she can do, though, when you really piss her off...
  • Big Bad: Abdiel.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Corasians are sapient blobs of plasma that eat Life Energy.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Bear Olefsky and all his sons. They're big, loud, friendly giants, and them leaving the room is described as having overturned several chairs and a cousin.
  • Bookworm: Platus, Maigrey's brother.
  • Break the Badass: Derek Sagan, one of the most powerful Warlords in the galaxy and probably as badass as a character can get, is scared up to the Heroic BSoD when Abdiel threatens him with the Serpent's Tooth, an exotic weapon causing Fate Worse than Death to whoever as much as gets scratched by it.
  • Byronic Hero: Sagan. Thoroughly explored throughout all four books.
  • Casting Gag: In Ghost Legion, the artist Stephen Youll is said to have made the portraits of Sagan and Maigrey that are now exhibited in the memorial chapel at the Academy. Stephen Youll is a famous artist who has provided book covers for a number of prominent fantasy and science-fiction novels, amongst them the first edition of The Star of the Guardians. That's his work in the page picture. (We're not sure who that is talking to Maigrey.)
    • Not just him. All of Tusk's co-conspirators in the fourth book are named after real friends of Weis's, including her eventual second husband and co-writer.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Maigrey and Sagan.
  • Cool Sword: Each Guardian has his/her own Cool Bloodsword.
  • The Corrupter: Abdiel, so very much. To quote one of his catches:
    Peter Robes: "First it was a lie. Just a little lie. Then a bribe to cover the lie. Another lie to cover the bribe, and another bribe to cover that lie."
  • Cultured Badass: Sagan and Maigrey both love classical music and are so well-read they can quote Plato and Yeats by heart. Dixter is fond of reading, too.
  • Cynical Mentor: Sagan to Dion.
  • Daddy's Girl: Maigrey, whose warrior nature made her Proud Warrior Race Guy of a father very happy.
  • The Dandy: Raoul.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Sagan and Maigrey. And how. As an example, they each tried to kill the other during the Revolution.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hilariously, XJ the computer. Sagan snarks less frequently, but is much better at the deadpan part of it.
  • Driven to Madness: The Fate Worse than Death the Serpent's Tooth causes.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Sagan, having activated the space-rotation bomb that would blast the whole planet, thus reaching two goals: destroying the terrible Weapon of Mass Destruction and wiping out his king's enemies together with himself, which action may also be considered a favor to the young king.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After their deaths, Sagan and Maigrey have to go through Hell together to earn their happiness in Heaven.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Abdiel.
    To his credit, Abdiel never took unwilling victims. He never needed to.
  • Evil Sorceror: Abidel and his (now defunct) coven, the Order of Dark Lightning. A group of Blood Royal psychics who abused their powers until Reality itself hated them.
    They became fugitives, running from the Law. Not the laws of Men, but the laws of the Universe.
  • Evil Matriarch: Even though she's not particularly evil, Baroness Di Luna is proud, ambitious, war-loving, can kick any man's ass (Sagan being one of the very few exceptions) and almost openly despises her Girly Girl daughter Astarte, a black sheep in the bunch of Amazons. She'll have to realize, though, that kind and peaceful ones are not necessarily weak and submissive...
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Peter Robes and Derek Sagan, both in the backstory.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being struck by the Serpent's Tooth.
  • A Father to His Men: Both Dixter and Sagan show a great deal of concern for their soldiers, each in his own way. Dixter cares more about saving each individual soldier, Sagan about the big picture and making mens' sacrifice worth it. Notably, both of them inspire immense loyalty from their men in return.
  • Fiery Redhead: Subverted with Dion who is quite calm and level-headed. Unless you laugh at him while he's got a gun pointed at you, of course...
  • Fingore: Part of Dion's initiation into the Blood Royal's sect of Space Catholicism involves levitating a ball of knives above his hands. He manages it for about 10 seconds, which shows to Dagan and Majorie that while he *is* a Blood Royal, he won't be able to use any of their Psychic Powers. He has them regenerated later.
  • Foreshadowing: Twice, first with Sagan's father and his prophecy about the two that must walk the paths of darkness to reach the light, second with Sagan himself when he continues to see the dream in which he kills Maigrey.
  • Four-Star Badass: General John Dixter and Derek Sagan, Marshal of the Galactic Democratic Republic.
  • Gentle Giant: Bear Olefsky, even if his welcoming embraces don't feel so gentle to ordinary people.
  • Happily Married: Tusk and Nola.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Sagan. He gets his second Heroic BSoD when the love of his life, Maigrey, dies at his hands.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: quite a few over the course of the series, mostly towards Dion.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Raoul and the Little One.
  • The High Queen: Dion's wife fits this to a tee.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Xris, the leader of Mag Force 7.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Averted. Going FTL feels like getting schnockered, and the local rotgut is called "Jump-Juice" because of this.
  • I Am Who?: Dion Starfire, especially in Book 1.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: John Dixter.
    • Astarte is fine with being Dion's wife In Name Only, protecting his mistress Kamil (Dion's girlfriend from before the political marriage) from Baroness DeLuna.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Xris the cyborg, a cynical mercenary who still loves his wife even though he thinks she dumped him when he became a cyborg.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Sagan had to kill Maigrey in order to rid her of the Fate Worse than Death.
  • Lady of War: Lady Maigrey is a perfect example.
  • Laser Blade: the "bloodsword," which has a number of twists on the formula.
    • It can switch to a shielding function. You control this mentally.
    • It creates a mental connection with its user by injecting Nanomachines into the wielder's bloodstream, which not only connect the sword to the user's mind, not only heighten the user's latent telepathy, but steal the body's ATP to fuel the sword with.
    • If you are not Blood Royal, these nanomachines cause an extremely virulent form of cancer. Death comes in days. If you're lucky.
  • Last of His Kind: Maigrey believes she, Dion and Sagan are the last Blood Royal in the universe. Turns out it is not quite so.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Raoul.
  • Love at First Sight: Dion and Kamil.
  • Love Hurts: In every way possible.
  • Love Triangle: Maigrey loves both John Dixter and Derek Sagan.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Abdiel.
  • The Masochism Tango: Oh so much.
  • Matriarchy: Ceres. Which type of Matriarchy it is veers a bit as the point of view shifts closer to the people involved, starting at Patriarchy Flip/Straw Matriarchy and progressing to Original Matriarchy, with just a hint of Enlightened Matriarchy by the end of the series.
  • Meaningful Name: Brother Fideles - "Faithful". Lampshaded in-verse.
  • The Milky Way Is the Only Way: Averted. There's a space station in Andromeda named "Hell's Outpost". It's a Wretched Hive, being beyond the Commowealth's control.
  • Mindlink Mates: Sagan and Maigrey practically define this trope.
  • Mind Rape: Abdiel. He has heightened his Blood Royal telepathy to horrific extents. It also helps that he doses people with Nanomachines as well.
  • No Name Given: The Little One. No sex, race or age either. It takes until the spin-off for anyone to even realize what his (its?) species is.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Raoul. He's a "Loti," someone who uses recreational drugs to maintain a constant mellow high. He is also an incredibly talented and creative poisoner. One Batman Cold Open in the Mag Force 7 series has him assassinating a President Evil simply by kissing her hand at a party.
  • Parental Substitute: In some way, Sagan and Maigrey to Dion. Lampshaded by *Abdiel* of all people in his speech concerning Freudian Excuses.
    • Platus to Dion is a more straight example.
  • The Phoenix: Sagan's personal emblem and the name of his battle ship. Counts as symbolic, too.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: In the end of Book 4, dying Derek Sagan begs Maigrey who came to him after her death not to leave him. She doesn't.
  • Precision F-Strike: Tusk.
  • Pride: Sagan's Fatal Flaw. And boy, how...
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Bear Olefsky
  • Psychic Powers: genetically engineered for the Blood Royal.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sagan and Maigrey even wear red and blue as their favorite colors respectively.
  • Rightful King Returns: Pretty much the plot of the first three books.
  • Royal Blood: It is actual royal blood that is needed in order to safely operate royal Cool Bloodswords and Cool Ships, which connect to the user the same way.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: A lot of these, actually, Dion and Astarte being the first in row. Technically, all Blood Royal count, though only some of them are "royal" in the sense of being monarchs. (And of the characters listed in the series synopsis, Dixter is the only one who isn't Blood Royal.)
  • Sexy Priest: Sagan is a warrior priest in the Order of Adamant.
    • Brother Fideles is described as being very good-looking.
  • Shout-Out: This series can probably boast the vastest amount of literary and music quotes like, ever. Each chapter in every of the four books has an epigraph that is a quote of some sort and relates to the events of the chapter. Characters themselves tend to quote famous literary works and even classical opera.
    • The murder of the royal family by the revolutionary forces resembles very much the execution of the Romanov royal family by Bolsheviks.
    • The space station in Andromeda is named Hells Outpost.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming:
    • The planet Vangelis is named after a modern Greek composer, best known for the Chariots of Fire theme, whose music the author obviously loves.
    • Dion, one of the three protagonists, is named (in-verse) after an ancient Greek philosopher and politician, disciple of Plato. And Platus, Dion's tutor, is evidently the homage to Plato himself.
    • The character Sparafucile is named (also in-verse) after a character from Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Rigoletto". Both are paid assassins.
    • Baroness Di Luna's name is taken from another Verdi's opera, "Il trovatore".
    • When Maigrey doesn't feel like revealing her real name, she uses the alias "Major Penthesilea". In Greek mythology, Penthesilea was the queen of Amazons and fought for Trojans in the The Trojan War. She was killed by Achilles and was said to be the only woman he ever loved (he realized it was her he killed only after removing her helmet). A Prophetic Name, too, because, given the amount of Rule of Symbolism and Power of Fate in this book, you may guess what happens.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Maigrey and Sagan. First they were Guardians of the King, then he took sides with the revolutionary Republic and she didn't.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Corasians. They are red glowing blobs which feed on raw energy and use Mini-Mecha to get around. Shooting them with lasguns just makes them stronger unless you Reverse the Polarity.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Sagan.
    Sagan: "I realize that thinking does require an extraordinary amount of effort for you, Aks. Perhaps you could pay attention to me now and think later."
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kamil Olefsky vs. Queen Astarte.
  • Tomboy Princess: Maigrey was this as a child.
    • Kamil is as well, though Bear Olefsky's domain only includes the planet he lives on.
  • Trial by Combat: Maigrey and Sagan in the first book.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: For Maigrey, though with her and Sagan being mind-linked it counts for both of them.
  • The Un-Favourite:
    • Platus' and Maigrey's father despised his firstborn son for becoming a peace-loving bookworm instead of a badass.
    • As mentioned above, Baroness DiLuna doesn't much like Astarte because she's a girly-girl where an Amazon warrior is expected.
  • Unwanted Harem: Downplayed, at only 2 members. One of DiLuna's conditions for supporting Dion was that he marry her daughter, Astarte, thus making goddess worship the state religeon. Unfortunately, he's already fallen in love with another girl, Kamil. The plot of book 4 is about DiLuna finding out about this other woman, and being pissed right off about her. Even after Dion tells her that he's never going to even touch Astarte. Kamil and Astarte get along just fine, for their part.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Tusk and XJ.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Xris the Cyborg, leader of Mag Force 7.
  • Wartime Wedding: Tusk and Nola. Played for Laughs and a Breather Episode.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Dion to Sagan. Sagan, being a Cynical Mentor, Jerkass and Deadpan Snarker with no respect to Dion's royal status whatsoever, treats the king-to-be like shit all the time (even when providing real help), and the thing Dion wants most is to hear him say the trope-naming line. In Ghost Legion, Sagan eventually does just that.
  • You Are Worth Hell: In the epilogue of Ghost Legion, Maigrey and Sagan are offered a choice: to repent and be redeemed in Heaven, or to be punished in Hell. Sagan would not repent, and Maigrey, too, renounces salvation to be with him. Subverted in that they still have a small hope of reaching Heaven after they walk through all the paths of Hell.