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Literature / The War Of M

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The War of M is an Urban Fantasy novel by Stevie Barry. It is the third book in The M Universe.

Now that the magic-storms have changed the world, Lorna Duncan sets out into the unknown; unfortunately, she's forced to meet up with the last person on the planet she ever wanted to meet again. Like her, Doctor von Rached is connected to the events that all but annihilated magic a millennium before — and the person who would finish what he started so long ago.

The evil he woke is now at large, and humanity desperately scarpers to the Southern Hemisphere (and theoretical safety). The Gifted remain divided, millions of dead walk the Earth, and The End of the World as We Know It looms ever larger.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Human: Sharley was this even when she was still alive.
  • Another Dimension: The Other, where Sharley is from (and Aelis normally lives).
  • Berserk Button: Thorvald really, really hates being called a child. Lorna and Von Rached exploit that to the best of their ability.
  • Big Bad: Still Thorvald. As Von Rached muses, he might be an idiot child, but he's a very powerful one.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Lorna says a variation of this to Von Rached after they kill Thorvald, though that isn't the only reason she won't kill him. As she puts it, "You want me to, and when have I ever given you what you want?"
  • The Caretaker: As usual, Gerald, Mairead, and Pat, who make sure everyone eats and sleeps even when things go to shit.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Katje still hates being in charge of the DMA, and she still does it anyway. Likewise, Gerald isn't thrilled by being in charge of the hospital, but him doing it means nobody else has to.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Tanya, in a big way. She's awfully fond of mind-altering substances for a deity.
  • Cool Airship: The O.S. Life Boat, and assorted other flying ships in the Other.
  • Covered in Scars: Sharley. The Memories cut her to ribbons, and she still carries the scars.
  • Creepy Good: Both Sharley and Azarael. Sharley is an undead quasi-deity, and Azarael is Death.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Thorvald has one, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving person. Sharley and Marty both had one; the Memories in the Other cut them to death.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Connor and Stephen, the friends Ratiri makes while acting as the Gifteds' Ambassador. Also count as Those Two Guys.
  • Death Seeker: Von Rached isn't so much seeking it (at first), but he wouldn't mind.
  • Death World: The Other, where almost everything really is trying to kill you.
  • The Dreaded: The Memories. Even Sharley's scared of them (probably because they killed her).
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: It's become one by this point.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Sharley calls Von Rached 'Vonny'. He is not amused, though everyone else is. Saoirse calls him Doctor Creepy, but that's because she's a literal sort of kid, and he is both a doctor and creepy.
  • Enemy Mine: Von Rached is stuck working with the DMA (and later, traveling with Lorna). Needless to say, he is Displeased, though not as displeased as the rest of them.
  • Everyone Can See It: One-sided example, but everyone who isn't Lorna can easily see Von Rached's still got a thing for her (she doesn't want to see it).
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: The Other can act as one, but few people can actually use it; most have to be guided by one of the people who actually can. Unfortunately for Lorna and Von Rached, it can't be used to get them through Thorvald's darkness.
  • Eye Scream: Lorna's right eye is all but destroyed by the Memories, leaving her blind in it. She also cuts Thorvald's out with a scalpel. While he's still alive.
  • Friend to All Children: Sharley. They aren't old enough to realize how very wrong she feels, so they like spending time with her.
  • From Bad to Worse: As if the storms weren't bad enough, earthquakes happen, even in places they shouldn't. Nobody knows why, at first.
  • Ghost City: More like Ghost Countries. The entire Northern Hemisphere has to evacuate, or risk being killed by Thorvald's darkness.
  • The Grim Reaper: Sharley's father. He looks nominally human, but his preferred weapon is a sword, not a scythe.
  • Handicapped Badass: Lorna still, though she trades one set of handicaps for another. Jary is able to heal the effects of her old gunshot wounds, but thanks to the Memories, she's blind in one eye and has some very vicious scarring on her back. Jary might be able to heal the wounds that caused them (it's why Lorna's able to keep the eye, even if it's blind), but when it comes to Memory-scars, they really are forever.
  • Hates Being Touched: Sharley. Everyone hates touching her, too.
  • Healing Hands: Kali gives Ratiri the ability to not just heal, but bring people back from the dead—with the caveat that he can't tell anyone he can do it. It goes along with temporary Purpose-Driven Immortality.
  • Heroic BSoD: Katje very nearly suffers from this after the Memories have attacked the DMA.
  • Hostile Weather: The magic-induced storms only get worse in this book.
  • Humans Are Good: For the most part. Though there's a lot of conflict and bickering along the way, The Migration to the Southern Hemisphere proceeds more or less peacefully.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Julifer was already this, but Geezer more and more takes up this mantle for Katje.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Saoirse, of course. Her social skills haven't improved, so she still pretty much totally lacks a verbal filter.
  • Insufferable Genius: Von Rached's even more insufferable to those around him than they were prepared for. He still doesn’t care.
  • Jerkass: Agglethorpe; on top of his bigotry against the Gifted, he's willingly attempting to sabotage things just to make their lives miserable.
  • Land Down Under: A fair bit of the plot takes place in Sydney.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: At one point, Von Rached non-verbally threatens rape in an attempt to get Lorna to kill him, but she calls him on his bluff. He's in no physical condition to try anyway.
  • The Medic: Ratiri is able to disguise the use of Kali's gift by being a medic in various places that desperately need one.
  • The Migration: The entire Northern Hemisphere has to head south, because Thorvald's darkness can't yet handle the heat.
  • Mind Rape: Like Von Rached, Thorvald is an expert at this, right down to being able to control large groups of people from far away.
  • Necromancer: Thorvald can raise all the people killed by his darkness, but they come back as mindless revenants he can use to do his bidding.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: Von Rached's reaction to having so many Donovans in his compound. He didn't invite them, and he definitely wasn’t expecting them.
  • Odd Friendship: Lorna forms one with Ana, largely because they're both so isolated. Ana might work for Von Rached, but she's not a bad person — she just owes him a hell of a lot, and believed him when he told her the DMA would kill her if they found her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Sharley's (and then everyone's) reaction to finding out the Memories are no longer confined to the area where they died.
  • The One That Got Away: Sharley is this in an entirely non-sexual way for Von Rached. She was his patient in the 1950's, but she seriously creeped him out, and he wasn't exactly sorry when she escaped.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Jary and Tanya aren't Jary and Tanya's actual names; their real names are very difficult for humans to pronounce.
  • Our Gods Are Different: Sharley was the child of a deity and a human; born human, she became wholly divine after she died, but also became an abomination.
  • Parental Substitute: Jary and Tanya are these, for their respective peoples. Jary's ship is crewed by living orphans she finds on the surface (who often wind up on different ships, crewed by adults she's raised); Tanya's children are those she's found dead, and resurrected as zombies/revenants. Jary also largely raised Sharley.
  • Purpose-Driven Immortality: Along with his ability to heal, Kali also makes Ratiri immortal until she no longer needs him to be. Thorvald finds this very, very interesting.
  • Scars are Forever: Sharley and Lorna. Those who survive (or in Sharley's case, die and get resurrected) bear the scars of the Memories' wounds forever. Even Jary, goddess of Life, can't get rid of them.
  • Squee: In spite of everything, this is Gerald's reaction to Jary's airship. Everyone else who joins him agrees.
  • Strike Me Down: Von Rached really, really wants Lorna to kill him after Thorvald dies. She won't do it, though not because she doesn't want to.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: They pick up Lorna's other sister, plus a niece, great-niece, and great-nephew. All of them, naturally, look like clones.
  • Supreme Chef: Mairead. Ratiri muses that she's somehow capable of conjuring up means out of thin air. (His friend Stephen, the Irish Ambassador, says it's because she's Irish.)
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Von Rached and the DMA might work toward a common goal, but neither actually likes it.
  • Troll: Aelis has a little too much fun dealing with assholes at the U.N.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Ratiri, sort of. He already had Aura Vision, but Kali grants him the ability to heal, and to resurrect people.
  • Undead Child: A whole army of them. Special note goes to Sharley's daughter Marty, who's the cutest little zombie you'll ever see.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Ana is awfully good at just rolling with all the shit that gets thrown at her.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Von Rached, still. Lorna remains so skeeved that she refuses to acknowledge it, because if she does, it's accompanied by a very strong urge to rip his face off.