The Tales of Paul Twister is a Web serial series by an author with the somewhat punny name of Anthony Peers. The protagonist used to be an ordinary college student in modern-day America, until he was magically abducted to a Standard Fantasy Setting, and now he's stuck there. On one hand, this was not as bad as it might have been, as he was a geek who read lots of fantasy stories and was able to adapt without getting himself killed. On the other hand, there's not all that much in a 21st-century skillset that's applicable to life in a pre-technological society, and he finds himself without any useful skills. All he has are his wits and the Twist, a mysterious ability to break magic by touch.
Turns out the most in-demand use for an ability like that is breaking magical locks and seals to steal things protected by them, so he finds himself forced into a life of crime by necessity, taking upon himself the moniker of "Paul Twister", but all the while searching for ways to make something more of himself. The series involves this ongoing goal and a deconstruction of the Connecticut Yankee Plot: Being from modern-day Earth, he naturally misses the comforts of home and would like to improve upon the local technology, but he doesn't know how most of the technology he's used to works, so he has to find ways to direct real scholars and craftsmen to work out new inventions.
According to Word of God, the series is supposed to be an "inverse urban fantasy," (with modern technological elements poking into a Standard Fantasy Setting rather than magical ones in a modern world,) and a major inspiration for Paul's character was The Dresden Files, with Paul being designed as "essentially the Anti-Harry Dresden." However, the series is much Lighter and Softer in tone, and that was "more of a starting point than anything." The series definitely shares The Dresden Files's love of gratuitous pop-culture references.
The series contains three complete novel-length stories, plus a Spin-Off called Invisible involving events back on Earth, from the perspective of an unfortunately over-busty high school girl who discovers she somehow has the ability to turn invisible. A brief mention in the first chapter ties it in with the Paul Twister stories: apparently her brother knew Paul back when he lived on Earth, and was rather shaken up by his disappearance. According to the author, the first three books, in their entirety, constitute the intro to the story he really wants to tell.
Stories in the series (tropes for each story should go on their own pages):
- The Lay of Paul Twister
- The Fate of Paul Twister
- The Return Of Paul Twister
- The Voyage Of Paul Twister
Tropes applying to the series as a whole:
- The All-American Boy: Paul is essentially portrayed as a more modern, more geeky variant on this trope. It works surprisingly well.
- Amazon Chaser: Paul definitely has a thing for big, strong women. The narration makes various references to him having been a fan of She-Hulk, he admires Aylwyn's stature and her superhuman strength (and her wings), and he finds Sarah harder to resist when she's in a form that makes her taller and stronger.
- Anti-Magic: The Twist, an ability that seems to be unique to Paul.
- A Wizard Did It: In a comment, the author mentioned that the most likely explanation to any Plot Hole readers think they found is either that there's more going on that Paul is aware of, (or someone lied to him,) or A Dragon Did It. Considering that dragons have massively powerful Reality Warper powers, this is actually a plausible explanation.
- Dragons Prefer Princesses / Save the Princess: Invoked in the silly ballad Paul composes about himself, in which he has to save a princess from a dragon, but he ends up being outwitted because the princess is in another castle.
- In the second book, he gets called upon to actually rescue the princess of the kingdom from captivity by servants of a dragon. He hands the quest off to Sarah because he's busy with another urgent quest for Aylwyn.
- Gambit Pileup: The more that later books reveal about various characters' backstories, plots, and allegiances, the more the first book looks like one!
- Hero of Another Story:
- Aylwyn is always off on important quests of her own, off-camera.
- Towards the end of The Fate of Paul Twister, Sarah leaves to lead a small team to rescue the captive princess. The only thing the reader finds out about it is that it was eventually successful, but it apparently took a few months. Paul, in his narration, says that it's not his story to tell, but maybe Sarah will explain what happened someday.
- In the fourth book, Sarah interrupts Paul's narrative with a chapter of her own, explaining what she's been up to while he and Aylwyn were away!
- Homage: In case the authors pen-name doesnt already give it away, this is a homage to Piers Anthonys Xanth series
- Paul is an Expy of Bink, the main character whose ability is to not be harmed by magic.
- Sarah is an Expy of Chameleon, who changes in attractiveness and intelligence over the course of a month.
- Kentu Kel is an Expy of Trent, a powerful magician who was trapped in the non-magical world.
- Heck, the entire world the series take place in, where the magical and non-magical worlds are separated by a barrier, is lifted from Xanth as well.
- I Have Many Names: Paul uses various different handles, generally (but not always) drawn from superhero comic books. Deconstructed to a certain degree: Each identity requires time, effort, and money to maintain, and keeping them separate (and keeping people from realizing that they're the same person) is a lot of work!
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Poor Sarah, randomly transforming to a new form every day!
- Lovable Rogue: Paul, natch. Also Patrick Hill, to a certain extent.
- Magic Versus Science: Averted. Paul actively encourages magical research to find ways to augment and complement his technological research.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Paul occasionally thinks of himself and the world around him in terms of Tabletop Games, and his Twist power qualifies as this trope.
- Omniscient Morality License: Ryell behaves this way. Her followers call it "the way of the dragon" to do thing that, on the face of it, look horrible, but turn out to prevent even worse tragedies and save far more people than they harm, in the long run. Paul doesn't buy it, rejecting the basic premise that the dragon can accurately predict what would have happened had other choices been made.
- Our Angels Are Different: Aylwyn is a tall, strong, beautiful Paladin (which apparently is exclusive to Celestials) with big angel wings, a Summon to Hand Flaming Sword, and a Cool Horse. She's noticeably the least snarky of the main characters, and borders on Spock Speak sometimes, but she's definitely not emotionless. The Paladins are from the Celestial Realm, a different world, and have some sort of agreement with the nations in which they can act as a semi-autonomous, extraterritorial police force, within strictly-defined limits.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Ryell (and apparently the other dragons) look like standard Western dragons, but they're powerful enough that even the strongest of characters are extremely wary of provoking them. They actively meddle in world affairs, work to suppress warfare and the development of military technology, and separated the magical world from Earth back when gunpowder was invented.
- Post-Modern Magik: Paul applies concepts of modern science to magical problems, most notably generating the energy needed to overcome a magical barrier by crashing a car through it at a very high speed, which brings a whole lot of kinetic energy with it.
- Power Glows: As an angel, Aylwyn's body is always shining subtly, and she becomes brighter the more of her power she's using.
- Proud to Be a Geek - Paul defines the term "geek" in the most positive language possible without doing severe injury to the truth.
- Spoony Bard: Averted: bards may not be the strongest warriors or the most powerful mages, but they're are very powerful opponents because of their understanding of human psychology, and useful in a medium-scale or larger fight due to their ability to use magic to communicate and coordinate things for their side.
- Status Quo Is God: Thoroughly averted.
- Paul's stated goal is to do all he can to help the world he finds himself in to progress. It started out as a Standard Fantasy Setting, (which, according to April, was mired in a Dung Age and infested with extraplanar horrors when she showed up, which she spent a lot of time, effort, and magic helping to clean up,) and he's already helped them invent the battery, the electric motor, the germ theory of disease and the printing press.
- At the end of the second book, Paul loses the ability to automatically speak and comprehend the local language, and so he has to actually learn it, which he spends a good deal of the next book struggling with.
- At the end of the third book, Paul decides to offer a serious cash prize to whoever can invent a process for industrial steelmaking, which, according to him, is the last element they need to kick off the Industrial Revolution.
- The third book sees Ryell being killed, then coming back because she had planned for it but in a greatly weakened form, and under the control (or at least the influence) of Ken'tu Kel.
- The fourth book opens with Aylwyn marrying Paul!
- There Is Another: Paul wasn't the only person from Earth to be magically abducted to the other world.
- Translator Microbes: Paul has something which is never elaborated on, that mystically performs this function for him ever since he was taken from Earth. Lampshaded left and right, and also used as a plot point: because he hears everything a English whether he wants to or not, he has no way to learn the local written language because he has no concept of the spoken language it's based on. This changes once he has the ability taken away.
- Uncanny Valley: The tractumil (dragon-seeds), people who look almost-but-not-quite human and serve dragons. Invoked In-Universe by Paul.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: According to Ken'tu Kel, the reason they don't quite look like humans is because they're actually nothing of the sort, being grown like plants from cast-off pieces of the dragon's own body.
- World of Action Girls: Among the Companions, Paul is tall, in good shape, and reasonably athletic, but no good at all in a fight, preferring to solve problems with brains or trickery. Gerald is a heavyset wizard whose focus is on healing and theoretical magic, and Patrick is a bard who communicates and helps coordinate things. The two heavy hitters are Sarah (blaster) and Aylwyn (amazonian Celestial Paladin). In the second book, we find that the Princess of the kingdom of Cleron is a high-ranking officer in the Royal Knights, and when Paul recruits a whole encampment of bards to help stop a revolt, most of them seem to be male, but the only one who actually kicks any bad guys' asses is the enigmatic Darkskinned Redhead Amber.
- World of Snark: Everyone from Paul to the villains has a strong streak of snark to them. Aylwyn least of all, but even she has her moments.