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An epic fantasy series by Michelle West consisting of six DoorStopper books. The series centers on events in the Dominion of Annagar and the neighboring Empire of Essalieyan. Both kingdoms are caught up in the schemes of the Lord of Night and the demons of the Shining Court, who plot to assert dominance over the mortal realms.
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The series consists of:

  • The Broken Crown
  • The Uncrowned King
  • The Shining Court
  • Sea of Sorrows
  • The Riven Shield
  • The Sun Sword

This series forms a part of West's overarching Essalieyan Saga; it is preceded by the Sacred Hunt duology and is followed by the House War series, which directly continues Jewel aTerafin's plotline.


This series provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Northern names run the gambit from Reymalyn and Cormalyn to Bruce Allen.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Alesso & Sendari are resentful that their position as second sons prevents them from having true power. They cannot bring themselves to assassinate their older brothers, so they decide to seize the throne instead.
  • Ancestral Weapon: All the important clans have their ancestral swords, wielded by the current head of the clan.
  • And I Must Scream: The rituals that make the Kovaschaii assassins so powerful, and their link to the Lady, goddess of death, means their souls cannot escape their bodies until freed. Only other Kovaschaii know and can perform the ritual.
    • Kallandras is the only Kovaschaii traitor ever, and he went into it knowing this would be his fate.
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  • Animal Motifs: The 3 commanders of the Imperial army are known as the Eagle, the Hawk, & the Kestrel. There's also the Black Ospreys, who are under the command of the Kestrel.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Sendari was a loving & doting father to Diora for most of her life. Then he participated in a coup which resulted in the deaths of Diora's husband & sister-wives. This betrayal causes Diora to work against her father in pursuit of vengeance.
  • Arc Words: The cradle song
  • Arranged Marriage: Most common form of marriage among the Annagarian clans
  • Ascended Fanboy: Aidan
  • Assassin Outclassin': The Ospreys thwart multiple attempts on Valedan's life.
  • Assassination Attempt: Valedan is subjected to numerous assassination attempts.
  • Asshole Victim: Even characters opposed to the coup agree that Markaso di'Leonne was a bad man and a weak Tyr'agar.
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  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Standard among the Kialli. Close to it among the Annagarians. A clever assassination and usurpation of power is more admired than hated.
  • Aura Vision: Kiriel can see the souls of others.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Happens to Valedan at the end of the series. The moment when he draws the Sun Sword for the first time also counts.
  • Backstory: Lots of it, even for the minor characters
  • Badass Long Robe: Mages often, and Meralonne APhaniel especially. Already deadly in a bathrobe. Be very afraid if he puts on his armored robes.
  • Badass Preacher: The Radann kai el'Sol & the four Radann par el'Sol. They carry the five demon-killing swords of the Lord's Hand and they know how to use them.
  • The Bard: Kallandras, naturally.
  • Batman Gambit: Alesso has the Northern hostages executed publicly & brutally in the hopes that the Empire will have no choice but to execute their hostages in response, thereby removing Valedan as a threat.
  • Battle Butler: Avandar Gallais. This isn't a surprise. What is a surprise to Jewel and everyone else is just how effective he is. Turns out she accidentally hired an ancient Person of Mass Destruction.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Anya a'Cooper
    • Being tortured after showing unrelated prodromal psychosis and then having a psychotic break made Anya willing to work for a demon. It's hard to know if her mind works well enough to understand good and evil, or even the fact that people don't like being slaughtered.
  • Blood Knight: Auralis
  • Blood Magic: Blood is a key ingredient in many Voyani spells.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Kiriel, at least by the standards of the rest of the Ospreys— though from 'her' perspective, it's humans who have this. Possibly Anya.
  • Body-Count Competition: Kiriel & Auralis have a competition to see who can kill the most demons despite working as a team.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Virtually unheard of among the oathsworn Toran and Tyran bodyguards of the high clans. Also the ace that Alesso plays to assassinate the Tyr'agar
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Anya a'Cooper. Notable in that she was going crazy first and brainwashed later.
  • Broken Bird: Diora after her husband and wives get killed as part of Alesso di'Marente's and Sendari's plan to wipe out the Leonne family and replace them with a strong leader
    • Anya also counts.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Teresa
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: The Ospreys for Valedan. This becomes an issue when he returns to the Dominion, as the Ospreys are feared & hated for their actions during the previous war.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Teresa calls out Sendari for expecting Diora to not resent him for killing her wives, killing her husband and destroying her happiness.
  • Cassandra Truth: Averted by the seer-born in general and Evayne in particular. She can't even give full prophecies, just urgent instructions. Nobody likes them, and nobody likes seeing a Harbinger of Impending Doom. Almost everyone does what she says even when they hate her for it.
  • Casting a Shadow: Kiriel, as part of her heritage as the daughter of the Lord of Night.
  • Category Traitor: Some Annagarians view Ramiro di'Callesta this way for being more interested in having peaceful trade relations with the Empire rather than pointless, destructive wars.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The healer who saves Lissa's life at the start of the first book.
  • The Clan: Clans are the primary social structure of Annagarian society, and loyalty to one's clan is valued extremely highly.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Myrddion's rings.
  • Combat by Champion: Valedan challenges Alesso to this to determine who will be Tyr'agar. He accepts, & most of the clansmen agree to support the victor.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Ospreys were created to be this. They can commit necessary atrocities and spare the scruples of the rest of the Essalieyanese forces.
  • Compelling Voice: The bard-born of the Empire. In the Dominion, it's grounds for execution. Teresa and her niece Diora both have powerful voices, and they take great pains to hide it.
  • Cool Old Lady: Yollana
  • Cool Sword : The titular Sun Sword. Only the true ruler of the Dominion of Annagar can draw it from its sheath and wield it without being consumed by fire. The 5 swords of the Lord's Hand, which glow when demons are near, also qualify.
  • The Coup: The Tyr'agar is overthrown by Alesso di'Marente & his entire family is massacred.
  • Crossing the Desert: Much of the plot of Sea of Sorrows consists of this. Margret has to cross the Sea of Sorrows to the site of the Tor Arkosa so she can be fully accepted as Matriarch.
  • Culture Clash: Between the Empire in the north and the Dominion in the South. Also between the Voyani and the clansmen. Valedan in particular experiences this when he returns to the South after having spent most of his life in the North.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Auralis's inability to save Anya from a demon attack was the beginning of his descent into bitterness, cynicism, and self-loathing.
  • Damsels out of Distress: Teresa and Diora are gentle flowers of womanhood. They also pull this off sometimes.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Kiriel was raised in the Shining Court, surrounded by demons who tried to kill her. Her biological mother died giving birth to her & her adoptive mother was murdered by the demon who served as her mentor.
    • The Ospreys in general. It's understood among them that other Ospreys' pasts are off-limits.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Shining Court of the Kialli is most definitely this, mostly minus the decadence. The Tor Leonne comes close, and the deadliness is again greater than the decadence.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Avandar to Jewel. Alina di'Lamberto also qualifies by the standards of the clansmen. It's the reason she's sent North as a hostage.
  • Deal with the Devil: Alesso enters into this with the Kialli of the Shining Court. He knows full well that demons have Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and that they're using him for their own ends. He just tries to use them for his ends at the same time.
    • Also common within the Ten, the major Houses of Essalieyan. The actual royal court has provisions in place to limit the damage done by House wars.
  • Death by Childbirth: The fate of Diora's mother
    • Also the very beginning of the first book, in which Askeyia is kidnapped and raped. Notable in that her kidnapping is explicitly because as healer-born she, unlike everyone else, can survive long enough to die in childbirth rather than before childbirth.
  • Death God: Two. Mandaros is the god of the dead and the Lord of Judgment. The Lady is the god of death in the sense of dying. The former gets prayers. The latter, unsurprisingly, gets little worship except from an order of religious assassins.
  • Death Seeker: Avandar has been at it for a staggeringly long time. He's also a Type I immortal, arrogant, and immensely powerful.
  • Declaration of Protection: Kiriel vows to protect Ashaf's home village from anyone who would harm it.
  • Defends Against Their Own Kind: Kiriel chooses to defend mortals from demon attacks, despite being the daughter of the Lord of Night.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Diora in Sea of Sorrows
    • Also, in a very unusual version, Aidan and Valedan defrost Sir Anton di'Guivera into feeling affection again instead of just a need for retribution.
    • Human warmth returns. Romantic hangups are not substantially abated.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: Any important demon with a name qualifies.
  • Demonic Possession: Demons possess the bodies of Mareo di'Lamberto's Tyran & assassinate the kai Callesta, ensuring that Lamberto will be blamed for the death & the two clans will not become allies.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Despite being a Badass Normal wielding a sword with no special demon-killing powers, Ramiro di'Callesta manages to sever the shield arm of one of the most powerful kinlords. When Ishavriel appears later on, he is unable to summon his shield.
  • The Ditz: Serra Fiona and Serra Marlena, especially when compared to the other clanswomen in the books
    • Marlena is truly The Ditz, too everyone's varied amusement and disgust. Fiona is not; she's just no match for Sendari's previous wife. This is intentional, as he's afraid to risk falling in love again.
  • Divine Parentage: The god-born, naturally. They have one divine parent & one human parent.
  • Door Stopper : The books each range from 687 pages to 957 pages
  • Draw Sword, Draw Blood: Bloodhame, the sword of Clan Callesta, cannot be sheathed until it has drawn blood.
  • The Dreaded: The Ospreys have this reputation in the South. They were the only unit of the Imperial army the Annagarians came to fear. This causes a problem for Valedan when he travels south with the Ospreys as his bodyguards. The Kalakar ends up retiring their colors so they can accompany Valedan without issue.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Jewel's Seer ability frequently takes the form of prophetic dreams.
  • Duel to the Death: Between Valedan & Alesso, with the throne of the Dominion as the prize.
  • Duels Decide Everything: Alesso agrees to single combat with Valedan once the battle is over to decide who will rule. Most of the clansmen are willing to accept the winner as the new Tyr'agar. Justified in that their culture values strength above all.
  • Elemental Powers: Mages can summon the elements (earth, air, fire, or water). Also, four of Myrddion's rings grant their wearers power over one of the elements.
  • Emotionless Girl: Diora pretends to be this after her wives and her husband get killed as part of her father and Alesso di'Marente's plan to rule Annagar to keep herself safe and not fall under suspicion until she has the perfect chance to reveal her true feelings. Also mistaken as this by Margret in Sea of Sorrows.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: A bone of contention between Voyani women and clanswomen, especially between Margret and Diora in Sea of Sorrows
  • Enemy Mine: Alesso di'Marente's army fights side-by-side with Valedan's army against the demons.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Neither Sendari nor Alesso can bring themselves to kill their older brothers for power, and Sendari's love for Alora and Diora is a foundational character point. Subverted with the kin, who really do know nothing but power.
  • Evil Empire: Subverted. The Empire of Essalieyan is not evil at all. It's certainly a much nicer place than the Dominion, and while it has
  • Evil Mentor: Isladar to Kiriel.
  • Family of Choice: Jewel's den
  • Fantastic Honorifics: Ser & Serra among the clansmen. Also Tyr & Tor.
  • Fantastic Racism: Between the Annagarians & Imperials. The Annagarians view the Imperials as weak & refer to their kings as demons. The Imperials view the Annagarians as barbaric.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The clansmen have their own rank system, with the Tyr'agar at the top followed by Tyr'agnate, Tor'agar, & Tor'agnate.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Annie" for Annagarian. The Ospreys try to avoid using it within earshot of Valedan.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dominion is a blend of Asian cultures, particularly Japan and India. The Voyani are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Romani.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The Empire worships a variety of gods, while the Dominion only worships the Lord and the Lady, associated with the sun and moon respectively.
  • Fantasy World Map: Right-justified though, not left
  • Feuding Families: Happens from time to time among the clans. Callesta and Lamberto are historically enemies and frequently raid each other's territories. This proves to be a problem when Valedan needs to win the support of both clans.
  • Fictional Holiday: The Festivals of the Sun & Moon in the Dominion. Dedicated to the Lord & Lady respectively, they take place over several days & culminate on the summer & winter solstices. The Festival of the Sun features various competitions in the form of the Lord's Challenge, presided over by a clanswoman in the role of Lord's Consort. The Festival of the Moon involves wearing masks & taking part in revelry.
  • Fish out of Water: Life in the Shining Court left Kiriel woefully unprepared for life in human society. Concepts like money need to be explained to her.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Leonne the Founder, who received the Sun Sword from the Lord & united the clans under him. He was responsible for banishing the Lord of Night from Annagar.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Diora & Valedan. They marry shortly after meeting, a necessity given the political situation.
  • Gender Is No Object: The Empire allows women to serve in the military with no restrictions. Ellora AKalakar is one of the Empire's three top commanders.
  • God-Emperor: Variation. The Empire of Essalieyan is ruled by two Kings who are the sons of the gods of wisdom & justice. They aren't worshiped exactly, but they are treated with the reverence shown to the god-born in the Empire. The Annagarians refer to them as demon kings.
  • God of Evil: Allasakar/The Lord of Night
  • God Needs Prayer Badly: Subverted. The gods in heaven don't really seem to need much of anything.
    • The gods who remain on the mortal plane don't need prayer either. They need to consume souls regularly.
  • Going Native: Happens to Valedan during his time as a hostage in the North. He has to downplay this when he returns to the Dominion so the clansmen won't consider him too Northern and reject him.
  • Grim Up North: The Northern Wastes are the location of the Shining Court upon the mortal plane.
  • Had to Be Sharp: Growing up in the Shining Court surrounded by demons who tried to kill her taught Kiriel not to show any sign of weakness.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Kiriel
  • Heir Club for Men: The Dominion of Annagar, among the clansmen. Completely subverted by the Voyani, whose leadership is an Heir Club For Women
  • Hellhound: Falloran
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Fredero kai el'Sol draws the Sun Sword during Alesso's coronation, sacrificing himself to undermine Alesso's legitimacy.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Unintentional example. Instead of being the heir to the throne, Valedan is sent north as a hostage precisely because he is the son of a minor concubine. He ends up being a Hidden Backup Prince by virtue of being the only member of Clan Leonne to survive a Ruling Family Massacre.
  • Hidden Depths: Avandar Gallais
  • High Priest: The Radann kai el'Sol is the head of the Lord's priesthood & is the only person aside from the Tyr'agar who can wear the sun ascendant.
  • Honor Before Reason: The defining trait of clan Lamberto, as viewed by others. From the Lambertan perspective there are good reasons for their honor.
    • And from the perspective of the Empire of Essalieyan, this is largely the hat of the entire Dominion.
    • Very common. Mareo kai di'Lamberto (and many other clansmen) are more than the Honor Before Reason Proud Warrior Race Guy types they appear to be on the surface.
  • Hostage Situation: After the war, the Empire & the Dominion exchange hostages to ensure peace. Most of the clans don't take it seriously & send minor family members. The exception to this is Ramiro di'Callesta, who sends his own brother, the captain of his Tyran. This is understandable, considering his Terrean bore the brunt of the fighting.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The point of the domicis. They are hired, for a period or forever, to be perfect assistants and aides. They do it for various reasons and with various skillsets that must match with their clients' needs.
  • I Am Not My Father: Valedan has to win support by convincing the Annagarians that he won't be a weak and ineffectual ruler like his father was.
  • I Know Your True Name: Knowing a demon's name allows you to bind that demon to your will.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Auralis feels guilt & shame over running away & leaving Anya to die. Finding out she's alive later doesn't diminish his shame.
  • I Should Have Been Better: After his failure to save Anya, Auralis is determined to never run from demons again. He becomes a skilled swordsman & racks up more demon kills than any other Osprey save Kiriel.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Kovaschaii use unusual, but not improbable, blades. Kallandras takes to wielding a pair of demons reshaped into blades.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The demonic Kialli. The Arianni. Most non-humans are beautiful.
    • Also subverted by the Kialli. Since they have to force the world to give them a form, they are only as beautiful as they care to be (not all care much about human aesthetics) and as they can force from the elements (not all have the skill to appear as anything but monsters)
  • Iron Lady: The Voyani matriarchs tend to be this out of necessity since they have to lead their clans in the hostile and misogynist Dominion of Annagar
    • The Kalakar also counts as this in spades.
  • Kill Tally: The Ospreys keep tallies of how many demons they've killed. Kiriel & Auralis, despite having the most kills as a team, have their own competition.
  • Libation for the Dead: It's common in the Dominion to pour libations of water, wine, & blood for the dead.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Averted. Essalieyan men typically wear their hair long. Soldiers tie it back in a braid.
  • The Lost Lenore: Diora's mother Alora is this for Sendari. He never really gets over her death.
  • Lost Orphaned Royalty: Variation in that Valedan isn't actually an orphan, but he is the only member of Clan Leonne left alive after the rest of the family is massacred. He only survived because he was a hostage in the North, & not for lack of trying on the part of the conspirators.
  • Magical Romani: The Voyani. They have distinctive magic of their own, which includes Seer abilities.
  • Mama Bear: Teresa to Diora. She swore an oath to Alora that she would protect her daughter.
  • The Marvelous Deer: Jewel acquires one after her encounter with the Winter Queen. It's actually the Winter King & can speak to her inside her mind.
  • Masquerade Ball: Not a ball exactly, but Annagarians celebrate the night of the Festival Moon by wearing masks & partying.
  • Master Swordsman: Anton di'Guivera
  • Matriarchy: the Voyani
  • Missing Mom: Diora's mother
    • Kiriel on two counts. Her true mother died giving birth to her, and her adoptive mother Ashaf's death left a scar on Kiriel's soul.
    • Margret's mother Evallen isn't missing at the beginning of the series, but she is by the time Margret herself appears.
  • Morality Pet: Ashaf is a posthumous morality pet for Kiriel. Thinking of Ashaf brings out Kiriel's human side. Her feelings of love for Ashaf are so strong that they extend to other people associated with her. When Kiriel travels to Ashaf's home village, she vows to protect the villagers from the coming battle.
  • A Mother to Her Men: The Kalakar
  • Musical Assassin: Kallandras. Notable in that he is both an assassin and a bard, but the two have nothing to do with each other.
  • My Greatest Failure: Diora's failure to use her Compelling Voice to save her sister-wives fills her with guilt, even though Evayne a'Nolan told her she must remain silent. Also, Auralis's failure to save Anya.
  • Mystical White Hair: Meralonne APhaniel & Lord Celleriant
  • Named Weapons: Standard practice for swords in the Dominion. Examples include the Sun Sword, the 5 swords of the Lord's Hand, and the ancestral swords of the clans.
  • Nerves of Steel: Teresa who raised Diora to have them too.
    • A trait prized by the Annagarians.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When the mages came for Anya. If they had let her lover come to the capital with her, she wouldn't have been running away where there was no one in the know to help her with the whole going-crazy-while-developing-powers thing, and the demons wouldn't have found her. But they just had to go all "She'll have no use for you once she's a powerful mage!" on them, thereby provoking them into running away together.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Kallandras betrayed the Brotherhood, the assassins who are his only family, who he loves, to save the world. Not because he particularly loves the world, but because he loves them and they're saved in the process. His reward? They hate him, and when he dies none will come to release his soul from his body. He volunteers for And I Must Scream knowing this will happen.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Only members of the Clan Leonne may draw the Sun Sword without being incinerated on the spot.
  • Oracular Urchin: what Jewel ATerafin used to be before she became a member of House Terafin.
    • She's still oracular, and as she frequently notes, it's much easier to take the girl out of the street than the street out of the girl.
  • Our Demons Are Different
  • Parental Betrayal: Diora is betrayed by her father when he participates in a coup resulting in the murders of her husband and sister-wives.
  • Parental Substitute: Teresa for Diora.
    • Ashaf for Kiriel.
    • And Sir Anton di'Guivera for Aidan, somewhat. Aidan's father isn't dead, just broken. Even when he gets better, Aidan still looks up to Anton, who in turn takes Aidan under his wing.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Powerful mages qualify. Anya and Avandar/Viandaran are the ones who can wreak cataclysmic destruction with ease.
  • The Plan: Probably what Isladar is up to, although it's not entirely clear.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Diora wears an elaborate, pimped-out sari twice. The first time is when she marries the Tyr's heir. The second time she wears one as the Lord's consort.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This and Culture Clash led to the death of Mareo's eldest son in the backstory. The Essalieyanese tried to offer him a way to spare his own life and accidentally forced him into suicidal battle. Neither side realizes that the other had no desire for that outcome.
  • Power Nullifier: Myrddion's ring acts as this for Kiriel's demonic powers. She's not happy about it.
  • Pretext for War: Alesso attempts to goad the Imperials into executing the Annagarian hostages so he'll have a pretext for war against the Empire.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Dominion, so very much. The Lord respects strength above all.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The male ideal among the clans.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Anya a'Cooper
    • Kiriel hovers on the verge of this.
  • Public Execution: The Northern hostages are executed publicly & brutally.
  • Puppet King: What the Southerners fear Valedan is for the Northern empire
  • Put on a Bus: Jewel returns home to House Terafin less than halfway through the last book & isn't seen again. Her story is continued in the Sequel Series The House War.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Ospreys and Jewel's den
  • Raised by Wolves: Kiriel was raised by demons. She comes out surprisingly functional, which still leaves her woefully unsuited for human society.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Most non-humans fit this. They tend to be older than any of the countries that exist. Or, for that matter, any of the countries that any human has ever heard of.
    • Avandar Gallais, previously Viandaran the Warlord of the Cities of Man
    • Meralonne APhaniel probably isn't just a human old man. It's not clear what he is, but he's recognized and respected by demons, elemental forces, and immortals.
    • Averted by the god-born. You might expect them to live long lives, but you'd be wrong. Divine blood burns brightly, and it burns fast.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: The Ospreys were recruited from men & women who'd been sentenced to the gallows.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ellora AKalakar, the Kestrel, and Devran ABerrilya, the Hawk. Notably, they can't stand each other and can't work together, and Bruce Allen, the Eagle and the third commander of the Empire's forces, has to carefully manage them.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: The Empire has the sword & rod. The Dominion has the crown & Sun Sword, with the Sun Sword being the more important of the two.
  • Revenge: After her wives are murdered, Diora's main motivation is vengeance on those responsible.
  • Rightful King Returns: Valedan spends the series trying to do this. As the son of the Tyr'agar's least-wanted concubine, raised entirely in a hated foreign country, going up against the usurper who's a respected war hero with those same hated enemies supporting him, he has a tough time winning over the Annagarians.
    • This also plays into Margret's return to the Tor Arkosa.
  • Ring of Power: Myrddion's rings are a set of five magical rings. Four of them have a gemstone (diamond, ruby, emerald, & sapphire) while the fifth consists of a plain gold band. The four grant their wearer power over an element. Three of the rings are used in the series: diamond by Kallandras, ruby by Auralis, & the gold ring by Kiriel.
  • Royal Harem: Standard practice for the Tyr'agar & the clans as a whole. Unique in that the harem is ruled by a clansman's official wife (Serra), who selects concubines for him.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The odd system of Essalieyan accomplishes this. The kings are the sons of Cormaris, Lord of Wisdom, and Reymaris, Lord of Justice. They marry queens, and then the two gods beget sons on the queens who will be the new Wisdom-born and Justice-born kings. The result is a rather effective court ruled, well, wisely and justly.
    • Also Princess Mirialyn, a rare daughter of the Wisdom-born king rather than his father. Having no divine parentage, she can't inherit, but she still effectively defends the capital and represents the Twin Kings' authority.
    • And Valedan spends a long time trying to prove he can do things when royalty alone just isn't enough to win allies.
  • Ruling Family Massacre: Happens to the Clan Leonne in The Broken Crown. Everyone, including the wives and children, are murdered. Valedan only survives because he was a hostage in the North at the time.
  • Samurai Ponytail: Standard hairstyle among the clansmen.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Kiriel.
  • Satanic Archetype: The Lord of Night
  • The Savage South: The Dominion is seen as this by Northerners.
  • The Scottish Trope: The name Allasakar is never spoken. Instead he's referred to by epithets such as the Lord of Night.
  • Seers: Jewel ATerafin and Evayne a'Nolan
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The second book is all about Valedan trying to prove that he is worthy of kingship by some kind of skill, not just by birth. Then at the end he disqualifies himself when a demon erupts in the middle of the last challenge. Winning wasn't really the point; proving that he was badass enough to fight a demon works better anyway.
  • Shed the Family Name: Diora introduces herself as Diora en'Leonne when she presents the Sun Sword to Valedan. This serves to both separate her from her traitorous father and communicate her intention to marry Valedan.
  • Sibling Murder: It's common for a new Tyr'agar to murder his brothers upon assuming the throne. This is the reason why Leonne is a small clan. Averted among Callesta, where the Tyr'agnate's brothers typically become his Tyran.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Diora and Teresa are made of this trope.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Slavery is illegal in the Empire, & as such Northerners are very uncomfortable with serafs. This includes Valedan, who avoids having serafs attend to him.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Subverted and played straight with Diora. Because she is the Flower of the Dominion, the son of the Tyr'agar, ruler of the Dominion, marries her. Because the Tyr'agar is weak, he and all his family are killed except Diora, who is protected by her father. Because she is the Flower of the Dominion, not just an ordinary Serra, she is able to use herself as a weapon against the usurping Tyr. Diora's beauty determines the course of her life.
  • Spare to the Throne: Valedan. He was only declared a legitimate son in the first place so his father could send him and his mother north as hostages.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The heads of the Ten are typically known as The (House Name).
  • Start of Darkness: Devlin a'Smith was a nice guy who was fully devoted to Anya. His failure to protect her from a demon attack led him down the path that would result in him becoming the bitter, self-loathing Auralis AKalakar of the Black Ospreys.
  • Stepford Smiler: Diora
  • The Stoic: Diora and Teresa
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Teresa, Diora, and generally most clanswomen belonging to powerful families who aren't stupid tend to be this character type.
  • Supernatural Floating Hair: Happens to Kiriel's hair when she uses her powers.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The most obvious trait of the god-born. In the Dominion, gold-eyed babies are killed at birth. Even in Essalieyan, where the god-born are cherished, Kiriel hides her eyes to avoid awkward questions about just which god is her parent.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The Sun Sword is the ultimate symbol of sovereignty in Annagar & no man can hope to rule without being able to wield it. Alesso knows he can't wield it while Valedan is still alive, so he tries multiple times to assassinate him. Much of the plot of the later half of the series revolves around getting the sword to Valedan so he can prove he's the rightful heir and wield it against the forces of the Lord of Night.
  • Tear Jerker: Many of them with the cradle song.
  • That Man Is Dead: Devlin leaves behind every aspect of his old life, including his name, after he fails to protect Anya.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Valedan over the course of the series.
  • Top Wife: The Serras of the clans. A clansman's Serra is his principal wife & the ruler of his harem. It's her duty to select concubines for him & only her children are considered legitimate.
  • Tournament Arc: The primary plot of The Uncrowned King is centered around this.
    • It's also something of a "Shaggy Dog" Story. Valedan disqualifies himself from the final challenge in the process of fighting a demon. Ultimately, he doesn't care about winning; his purpose was prove himself worthy, and he does so without even finishing the tournament.
  • The Tourney: The Kings' Challenge is a weeks-long event consisting of multiple competitions (swimming, archery, fencing, etc). The Dominion has its own variation with the Lord's Challenge, which takes place during the Festival of the Sun.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Ashaf's necklace is the only thing Kiriel has to remember her by. Eventually she has to give it up, as it's actually the Heart of Havalla & Yollana had only loaned it to Ashaf.
  • Underground City: The Cities of Man, ancient cities buried in the desert. They are the original homelands of the Voyani, which ended up buried during the previous war against the Lord of Night. Margret & Diora are able to ressurect the Tor Arkosa at the end of Sea of Sorrows.
  • Unexpected Successor: Valedan. As the unimportant son of a minor concubine, he was never expected to rule.
  • Unstuck in Time: Evayne a'Nolan volunteered to be sent to specific times when she is necessary, without knowing where or when she will be from one step to the next, in order to save the world. It's a miserable job, but the force that directs her seems aware enough to send her to places to rest and heal and recuperate when she is at her breaking points.
  • The Usurper: Alesso di'Marente.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Diora feels this way after delivering the Sun Sword to Valedan & marrying him. She'd been focused on vengeance for so long that she hadn't considered what she would do after.
  • Warrior Prince: Valedan. In the beginning of the series he is skilled, but lacking in any actual combat experience. He has to prove his skills to the Annagarians to get them to accept him as Tyr'agar. He eventually succeeds at this by killing Alesso di'Marente in a duel.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: The Sun Sword and the Five were made specifically to kill demons.
  • The Wild Hunt: The court of the Arianni.
  • The Wise Prince: Valedan evolves into this.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Inverted with Anya. She's the most powerful human mage to live for ages. She's utterly insane. She went mad and developed her powers at the same time, but it's unclear if they're linked or not.
    • The maker-born in general are sane and useful, widely regarded as having the most day-to-day valuable gift by birth except maybe the healer-born. The Artisans, the greatest among them, are stark raving insane.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Diora. She spends most of the series using her beauty, or rather her reputation for being the Flower of the Dominion, as a weapon against her enemies.
  • You Are Not Alone: Kiriel & Auralis. They see echoes of their own dark and troubled pasts in each other & a close bond forms as a result. By the end of the series, they're willing to die for each other.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Markaso di'Leonne was widely disliked due to getting the Dominion involved in a costly war which he lost. That being said, not all of the clans are willing to support his assassination & the overthrow of Clan Leonne.


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