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Literature / Tortall: A Spy's Guide

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Tortall: A Spy's Guide, published 2017, is a collection of Fictional Documents from the Tortall Universe. George Cooper, Baron of Pirate's Swoop, has found himself needing to clean out a room next to his office because Alanna, to her surprise, got pregnant again, despite being in late middle age. As the newly-retired King's Champion returns home, George finds many interesting documents while sorting through the contents of the room...

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Tropes:

  • Beneath Notice: A Handbook for a Young Spy contains advice on using the guises of a servant, a beggar and a slave, since they're supposed to go unnoticed and/or be thought stupid.
  • The Bus Came Back: Several characters either unseen or without major roles in the books play roles in the documents, either having written them or being mentioned. Notable examples include Kourrem Hariq and Coram from Song of the Lioness.
  • Continuity Nod: Plenty. Most every document in the book is connected to some event from one of the various subseries.
    • For instance, Evin Larse alerted the Crown to Lord Sinthya's treasonous plots, and the Workbook for a Young Spy that George wrote for Aly quoted in Trickster's Choice is seen in its entirety.
    • Although the Provost's Guard is no longer called the Dogs, their name for the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine is "Good Dog/Bad Dog".
    • Aly's use of a Liar's Palace on Topabaw is mentioned in a draft of a Shadow Service training handbook.
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  • Ear Ache: George, re-using one of his favoured tactics from his time as the Rogue, sent the King of Tusaine a boxful of the ears of his spies after an operation launched by the king's spymaster that led to the deaths of a dozen people and the burning of three city blocks in the Mire.
  • Fantastic Slur: Merfolk call whales "sea slugs". They don't get on in general.
  • Fate Worse than Death: There used to be spells to trap baby griffins in "undeath", where a fledged baby griffin would be sunk partially into a shield, not living or dead, with no way to bring them back.
  • Feeling Their Age: One of the reasons Alanna intends to retire as King's Champion, as she's in her late forties and has been fighting since she was a teenager. Queen Thayet's noticed and has also been suggesting she retire.
  • Fictional Document: Presented as a collection of documents George found while he was cleaning out a room at Pirate's Swoop.
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  • Framing Device: George rediscovered the documents becauses he had to clean out a room at his home because Alanna had an announcement...
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The Provost's Guard calls this "Good Dog/Bad Dog", but the spy writing about it doesn't know why.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: An incident first mentioned in the Trickster's Duet where George took Aly on a mission that went unexpectedly violent, which is one reason why he refuses to let her work as a spy later, is fleshed out in a report she wrote for her father.
  • The Reveal: Various individuals, notably Evin Larse from The Immortals and Protector of the Small, are revealed to work or have worked for the Royal Intelligence Service at some point in their lives. Other agents include Lady Uline of Hannalof and Kourrem Hariq. Stefan Groomsman's involvement, however, should come as no surprise — he did used to be George's spy in the palace back when George was the Rogue.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Thom's homework assignment with a list of Tortall's monarchs notably does not include the first and third Jonathans and Bairds, despite Jonathan I having been mentioned in the books, notably Protector of the Small. And there's no notation on the pages from his tutor suggesting an error in this instance, either. This isn't the only discrepancy in this section, either...
    • The official timeline at the back also has some odd interpretations regarding things from the previous books that don't quite fit. In one instance, Rikash Salmalín is said to have been born in 464, but in the timeline at the end, the epilogue of Trickster's Queen, in which he appears as a baby, is said to have been in 463.
  • Shout-Out: There's mention of a group of rogues who were caught after their stick figure cypher was figured out by Deputy Provost Sherringford Adler.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Alanna, who is in her late forties in 466 H.E., writes George in October of that year to reveal that she's pregnant as a result of a damaged anti-pregnancy charm and them spending time together in May. This is the impetus for both George recovering the documents that form the book while cleaning a room and Alanna's retirement as King's Champion.
  • Taking the Veil: Marenite king Qual the Foolish abdicated in favour of his cousin Kirikene before becoming a priest of the Black God and taking a vow of silence.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Stormwings really can't stand the scent of onions.


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