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Literature / Zero Sight

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Rei and Dieter

Son, a real battlefield lacks dignity and honor. When lives are being spent—actual human lives—those high-minded concepts lose their meaning. All that matters is victory. If you have blades, you’ll use blades. If you have rocks, you’ll use rocks. If there’s nothing but sand, you’ll throw the damn sand. A true war is only waged when men don’t want to live to see what failure looks like. You do what it takes to win. You go wherever necessity takes you.
Dean Albright to Dieter, Zero Sight

A series of contemporary fantasy novel with large amounts of humour, by Justin B. Shier. Dieter Resnick is the sole child of an abusive single father, a perennial schoolyard brawler, and Ted Binion High's number one academic prospect. He is terrified of staying poor, has few friends, is absolutely obsessed with earning a college scholarship and a latent mage. Joining him is Rei Acerba Bathory, a second year student at Elliot College, the premiere magical training academy in North America. She's on an all-liquid diet, acquired her odd speech and mannerisms living among her centuries-old kin, can kill a man without blinking, but has a serious weakness for puppies.

There are currently two novels in the series, with a third one planned.

  1. Zero Sight (March 24, 2011)
  2. Zero Sum (November, 2011)
  3. Zero Tango (TBA)

Work in progress.

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Swords from the Midden can cut a person in half. Dieter conjures one for Rei twice, and describes it as a white-hilted short sword about two feet long, as transparent as sheet of glass.
  • Anti-Magic: The robes that Elliot students uses. It saves Dieter's life on multiple occasions.
  • Artifact of Death: The Líserg Egg.
  • Colour-Coded Emotions: The mage's Sight allows to identify emotions by the colour of a person's aura.
  • Cool Bike: Cell Cycles, the fastest rides money can buy. Their engines are formed out of a complex matrix of nanotubes.
  • Downer Ending: The Greater-Scope Villain's plan succeeds, Lambda Squad loses two members and Rei has to leave Elliot to face the consequences of breaking her kin's laws to protect Dieter.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The six armed rape monster hatches from the Líserg Egg.
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  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Rei is incapable of understanding why Dieter cares about her and why he feels the need to help a dying girl when there are humans dying all the time around the world.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Magus to the Nostophorus. Justified in that all vampires are evil.
  • Flaying Alive:
    • One of the vampires does that to a mook.
    • The punishment for illegal weft linking.
  • Foreshadowing: Every time Dieter gets hurt someone mentions that he heals quickly and for some reason Rei's blood cures his wounds but no one else's. It's only on the ending chapters of the second book that we learn why: he is a Dhampyr.
  • Gang of Bullies: The Splotches.
  • Hero Secret Service: The ICE.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the books are titled "Zero [X]":
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The punishment for using magic to enslave normal humans.
  • Masquerade: Humans are not aware of the existence of vampires, werewolves, wizards and other magical creatures.
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: The magus have WIP teams that wipe the memories of people who witinessed public displays of magic.
  • Muggles: The magus call them Imperiti.
  • No Eye in Magic: Both the vampires and the magus have powers that depend on someone looking them in the eye.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Students have to wear special robes to protect them from failed spells and the college has no problems with sending teenage student to fight wars.
  • Old Money: The Bathorys
  • Our Mages Are Different: They work using the four classical elements, and each mage has an element they are strong with, one they have affinity with, one they are neutral to and one they are weak against. They have close quarter combat specialists called Cataphracts.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: If they were born are vampire they are true vampires, who are strong and faster than humans, can walk under sunlight and go without drinking blood for days, and regenerate as fast as a werewolf in other settings. If they were born a human and later turned into a vampire, they are closer to beasts who can only think of drinking blood.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They have to be constantly eating, die shortly after reaching twenty years of age and can regenerate even if blown to pieces.
  • Psychic Block Defense: All members of Lambda Squad are naturally resistant to mind alteration powers, but there is a training for people who aren't.
  • Police are Useless: Subverted. It seems it will be played straight, with the DEA focusing on the wrong place and having it's communications listened on by Talmax and ICE unable to do anything because of the their treaty with the vampires. It gets turned into a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
  • Portal Cut: Messing up a translocation circle makes people arrive in pieces.
  • Running Gag: Dieter's complete ignorance about magic creatures and myths.
  • Sacred Hospitality: The principles of Xenia are taken seriously in-universe and Jules uses it to prevent Rei from being killed by a member of the council of mages.
  • Shown Their Work: The author is a medic student and it shows in the books in the form of detailed wounds and treatments.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • The student dormitories in Elliot.
    • A few dozen werewolves and their Cool Bikes.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: Normal humans can never use magic. The magus have to spend years studying to learn how to use it.
  • Witch Species: Magical abilities are inherited, though the strength of the mage varies between siblings.
  • Wizarding School: Elliot College.
  • Wizards Live Longer: The magus have much longer lifespans than the Imperiti, but it's not specified how much.
  • World of Snark: Almost everyone shows the inclination, even the generally serious agents of DEA.


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