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Literature / Warlock of Gramarye

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The cover of"Warlock and Son"

Warlock of Gramarye is a fantasy series by Christopher Stasheff about Rodney D'Armand (it is said that he has at least 15 last names and they would take too long to list) A.K.A. Rod Gallowglass, his children, and, in one case, his ancestors. The series is sometimes referred to as The Warlock in Spite of Himself series, after the first novel.

Most of the books take place on the planet of Gramarye, where a colony was founded on a large island by what are essentially Society for Creative Anachronism members.

Background:In approximately the year 3000, the Intergalactic Dominion Electorate was falling. Essentially a political party only ever known by its unsubtle acronym of LORDS overthrew the republican government and established the Proletarian Eclectic State of Terra (a totalitarian regime). This lasted for a couple of centuries until subversive agents and teachers (yes, teachers) managed to overthrow PEST and establish the Decentralized Democratic Tribunal, an intergalactic Athenian-style Democracy.

Since they knew that it was dangerous to keep revolutionaries around after the revolution is over, the Society for the Conversion of Extraterrestrial Totalitarianisms was founded. The purpose of this organization is to find the "Lost Colonies" that were cut off from Terra during the PEST regime, since totalitarianism is easier with a smaller population, and turn them into democracies so that they could one day join the DDT. The word "Nascent" was added to the name after about a century, i.e. after all of the known Lost Colonies had been found, turning it into the SCENT we know at the time of most of the books.

A group of rich SCA members saw the PEST coup d'etat coming and decided to set off and found a colony on the noble way of life of Medieval Society. Thirteen threw off their given family names and adopted classic names, Plantagenet, Hapsburg, Romanoff, Loguire, Savoy, and Bourbon among others. They then sent a call out for people wishing to accompany them as serfs, minor lords, and servants. All memories of the tainted technological world would be erased and new memories of life on Gramarye would be implanted instead. They chose selectively among all of the applicants for "the poeticness of their souls." They then set off in their colony ship without telling anyone where they were going. They dubbed themselves the "Romantic Emigres".

Most of those that were unable to accompany the Emigres became the foundation of the resistance to PEST. The rest spent the next few centuries playing Dungeons & Dragons, since "they were used to being underground."

Setting/Story/Characters:Most of the story takes place 500 years after the colonization of Gramarye, when Rodney D'Armand, subversive agent for SCENT, lands on Gramarye. He is accompanied by an approximately 600~700 year old family heirloom robot. This robot is one of very few of the remaining Faithful Cybernetic Companion (FCC) series, primarily because of a weak capacitor which, in cases of deep stress, trips a circuit-breaker and causes him to have the robotic equivalent of a seizure. This can happen due to anything from trying to analyze too many things at once to a logic paradox.

Upon arriving on Gramarye, Rodney takes on the Nom de Guerre of Rod Gallowglass, Mercenary. It does not take him and Fess long to realize that this is the colony of the Emigres. It also does not take them long to have a small run-in with the...natives. Suddenly, these two find themselves on a world with witches, warlocks, elves, and most things that can be found in medieval fairy-tales. The population also speaks Elizabethan English.

The "Witches" and "Warlocks" turn out to be psychics. All are telepathic to some degree, most of the females can use telekinesis, and the males have Psychic Teleportation and levitate themselves. A few precognitives are thrown into the mix as well.

The first book in the series is called "The Warlock in Spite of Himself" in reference to Rod. Once he lands on Gramarye, everyone says that he's a Warlock, which he continuously denies, since he has not a single shred of psi power.

Books:The books follow his travels and trials through the land of Gramarye, the courting of his wife Gwendylon (the most powerful witch on all of Gramarye), and the raising of his four children. Each child also gets at least one book to him- or herself, with the eldest getting an entire spinoff series. The original Warlock has at least some part to play in all but the eldest's books. The series is concluded with The Warlock's Last Ride quite poignantly.

    Complete list of series novels 
  • Main Series (Rod Gallowglass):
    1. Escape Velocity (prequel, 1983)
    2. The Wizard in Spite of Himself (1969)
    3. King Kobold (1971) (rewritten as King Kobold Revived in 1984)
    4. The Warlock Unlocked (1982)
    5. The Warlock Enraged (1985)
    6. The Warlock Wandering (1986)
    7. The Warlock is Missing (1986)
    8. The Warlock Heretical (1987)
    9. The Warlock's Companion (1988)
    10. The Warlock Insane (1989)
    11. The Warlock Rock (1990)
    12. Warlock and Son (1991)
    13. The Warlock's Last Ride (2004)
  • Rogue Wizard:
    1. A Wizard in Mind (prequel, 1995)
    2. A Wizard in Bedlam (1979)
    3. A Wizard in Absentia (1993)
    4. A Wizard in War (1995)
    5. A Wizard in Peace (1996)
    6. A Wizard in Chaos (1997)
    7. A Wizard in Midgard (1998)
    8. A Wizard and a Warlord (2000)
    9. A Wizard in the Way (2000)
    10. A Wizard in a Feud (2001)
  • Warlock's Heirs:
    1. M'Lady Witch (1994)
    2. Quicksilver's Knight (1995)
    3. The Spell-Bound Scholar (1999)
    4. Here Be Monsters (2001)

Tropes found in these novels:

  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Magnus, in Warlock and Son.
  • Alternate Universe: Rod and family get exiled to one by the time travelers, only to come back more badass than before when Rod gets his own powers from his Alternate counterpart, a real wizard.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Several, including the Order of St. Vidicon.
  • Applied Phlebotinum:
    • The method of space travel and FTL radio, the sheer power of psi powers.
    • Witch Moss, which can be shape shifted into anything needed. It is used a few times to get out of a jam, but to the author's credit, he doesn't make a habit of it.
  • Badass Family: The Gallowglasses.
  • Badass Normal: Rod Gallowglass, for the first 2½ books, at least, Yorick, in The Warlock is Wandering (technically as a Beastman he should have a power, but he's never used it)
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Good lord, Gregory. Just don't get on the wrong side of him.
  • Blood Knight: Geoffrey borders on this at times.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Sort of, since it's as if it were the 1300s or so, but is actually the 3500s.
  • Break the Haughty: Queen Catharine, all too often.
  • Burn the Witch!: Catharine put a stop to this practice, but the prejudices linger on.
  • Character Development: Happens a lot.
  • Children Are Innocent: Both supported and subverted in the characterization of his children, especially in The Warlock is Missing.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Justified for novels set on Gramarye, where Catholicism is the only religion. In novels set outside Gramarye, though, other Christian confessions don't seem to exist.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Best summed up by Rod's "No rest for the wicket" line in The Warlock in Spite of Himself.
  • Cool Horse: Fess in his robot body
  • Days of Future Past: Justified, as the colony was settled by fans of the past.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Cordelia, beware...
  • Dumb Muscle: It sure as hell seems like what Geoffrey is, but he's got a lot more depth than that.
  • Empathic Shapeshifter: Witch-moss responds to telepathy, even unconscious projections from latent telepaths. If two or more of the same kind mate, their descendants are born into that form, creating a new species. This is the origin of the monsters and elves that inhabit Gramarye.
  • Energy Economy: the DDT's "kwaher," or kilowatt-hour.
  • Epiphany Therapy: This happens a lot at the conclusions to books; the most satisfying one was followed by a very hard slap.
  • Famous Ancestor: Tod Tambourin comes up a lot in stories, but the current-time characters never seem to make the connection that they're his descendants.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel
  • Fiery Redhead: Both Gwen and Cordelia.
  • Gambit Pileup: You have at least three time-traveling factions, an Earth agent, a religious/technological secret society, and several native opportunists trying to influence Gramarye's development and future during a very turbulent period.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The jealousy of Cordelia being unable to play Teleport-Tag, and in return the jealousy of the boys in the Unicorn not letting them approach.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Gwen Gallowglass is one-quarter elven. Brom O'Berin is half-elf.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Big Tom, Finister...
  • Honor Before Reason: Alain gets it from his father King Tuan, much to Rod's exasperation in earlier books.
  • Horny Vikings: Played with— the Beastmen are not Vikings, but they use horned helmets and dragon-prowed longboats to make them look scarier. Considering that they're already barbarian Neanderthals who can freeze you with a glance, they hardly need the help.
  • Hot-Blooded: Geoffrey, definitely
  • Hurricane of Puns: Just read the names of the organizations above. The pun ratio increases throughout the series. And in The Warlock Rocks, there's a tornado of puns (and psionic energy).
  • I Have Brothers: Have we learned to not mess with Cordelia yet? Let's not forget that they're all always within teleport range and in mental contact.
  • Improbable Age: Everyone thinks this when talking to Gregory. How many 3-year-olds do you know who speak like college-prep students?
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: All too often.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Finister's entire plan.
  • Logic Bomb: Happens to Fess on a regular basis.
  • Lost Colony: Gramarye.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Averted, as Brom O'Berin does not want Gwen to know he's her father. He even made Rod promise never to reveal the truth. However, it's eventually indicated that it's not that easy to keep secrets from the best telepath on the planet.
  • Lust: Geoffrey's known for...wenching.
  • Mama Bear: Gwen.
  • Master of Illusion: Gwen, who often disguises herself and the kids.
  • Meaningful Name: The King of the Elves is named O'Berin. Also, Rod adopted the name "Gallowglass" because it's an Irish term for a mercenary soldier; what he was posing as. And when he met his Alternate Universe analogue, the fellow was named "Kern": another term for an Irish soldier.
  • Mechanical Horse: Fess
  • Medieval Stasis: Gramarye doesn't appear to have advanced significantly in the five hundred years since its founding. Justified in that it was established by people who deliberately set out to recreate Earth's Midieval period, and who therefore voluntarily had their memories of high tech wiped before landfall. Subverted by the priests who accompanied them, members of the Order Of St Vidicon of Cathode ("Cathodeans"), they were not memory-wiped and the order still maintains knowledge of technology. Since it's a cloistered order, its fairly easy for them to keep it secret. A more extreme version is found in The Warlock Unlocked, in which an Alternate Universe 31st century Earth is still in the medieval period.
  • Meta Origin: Witch-moss as the source of the mythological creatures.
  • Motive Decay: Part of the apparent motivation for the inimical organizations from the future was that they were composed of normal humans who felt oppressed in a universe where espers outnumbered them (which somehow also led to their opposition of democracy), giving them a reason to target and control or destroy the largest historical concentration of esper genes while it was still planetbound. By the end of the series, they're raising esper babies to be part of an organization which endorses the pursuit of personal ambition using any means available.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Usually true of one going up against a witch.
  • Mushroom Samba: In The Warlock Insane, Rod gets fed raw witch-moss, resulting in hallucinations. Since it also bonds to his DNA, he just learns to live with it.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Fess
  • Not Helping Your Case: Whenever Rod denies he's a Warlock, something sciency comes up (like an arrow bouncing off his horse's flank with a bongg noise). Eventually, he becomes one anyway.
  • Our Elves Are Different: They're actually a fungus unconsciously reshaped by psychics.
  • Our Witches Are Different: Gender-Restricted Ability-type Psychic Powers: Witches (women) are telekinetic.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The elves, although it's more like 200~500, the author has some issues with timelines.
  • Redemption Quest: Kinda the entire point of Milady Witch
  • Retcon:
    • In the first book, witches can teleport, too.
    • And a plot point in the first book— that Deflector Shields were impossible without future technology, which let Rod know about the Time Travellers, gets totally forgotten when Rod and Gwen go 500 years into the past and encounter forcefields used as a standard part of law enforcement.
    • Also, the first book states that the government overthrown by totalitarianism was simply the Galactic Union — and Gramarye was colonized in the late 22nd Century.
    • 1971 and 1984 versions of King Kobold drastically differ in some plot points. The Warlock Unlocked written in 1982 mentions the events unique to the 1971 version, like Rod meeting the "good" time travellers, but in post-1984 books those never happened.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Fess
  • Royally Screwed Up: Rodney comes from an asteroid whose natives purchased royal titles and then inbred for five hundred years. Frequent problems crop up in the bloodline.
  • Schizo Tech: In The Warlock Unlocked it turns out that the Cathodean monks have knowledge of technology, and possess a radio that is monitored to communicate with approaching spacecraft.
  • Shapeshifting: Witch-moss
  • Spin-Offspring: Magnus in the Wizard series.
  • Stealth Mentor: Chollie
  • Subspace Ansible: Fess has one built in. The limits of this type of communication are a major plot point and drive the entire struggle by outside forces to control Gramarye.
  • Time Travel
  • Tsundere: Queen Catharine
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Rod and Gwen.

Alternative Title(s): The Warlock In Spite Of Himself