High Priestess of Mother Dark
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Rhulad seems to be the youngest of the Sengar brothers by a noticeable gap, as he did not get to fight in the Unification Wars just past at the start of Midnight Tides. He is clever enough to know how to yank Trull's chain and enjoys doing so, as Trull is the only one showing any reaction. Also, typical for a teenager, Rhulad only notices Mayen after she and Fear get betrothed, and starts starts prancing before her and lusting after her in a case of wanting what his older brother has.
- Artifact of Doom: Grabs the sword sent by the Crippled God in the heat of battle and ends up attached to it forever. The sword keeps resurrecting him every time he dies, painfully, and driving him mad, though it also grants him extraordinary strength and skill.
- Back from the Dead: After he is initially killed, and even after the burial rites are well underway, Rhulad is brought back by the Crippled God via his Artifact of Doom.
- Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Rhulad is a much more layered character than his Annoying Younger Sibling behaviour lets on at first, however it takes a serious horror show for that to surface. By the time he starts trying to get his shit together it's way too late and he can't help himself slipping back into his old persona again and again.
- Blessed with Suck: Sure, the sword makes him functionally immortal, stronger and better at fighting, and gives him a mental link to a godly advisor, but it also makes him the sockpuppet of the Crippled God, to be toyed with and tortured as the latter sees fit.
- Body Horror: As a result of the Tiste Edur burial practise, Rhulad ends up completely covered with gold coined melted into his flesh, face included.
They concern themselves with the deeds and misadventures of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two infamous necromancers, and their chronically unlucky manservant Emancipor Reese, but are only losely connected to the events of the main series aside from sharing the setting. All three first made a guest appearance in Memories of Ice, the third volume of the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
As of 2018, the series consists of six novellas:
- Blood Follows (2002)
- The Healthy Dead (2004)
- The Lees of Laughter's End (2007)
- Crack'd Pot Trail (2010)
- The Wurms of Blearmouth (2012)
- The Fiends of Nightmaria (2016)
The Tales of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach provide examples of the following tropes:
- Covers Always Lie: Steve Stone's covers for The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach unfailingly leave off Bauchelain's forked beard and instead of Korbal Broach being a towering monster of a man, he's a short, squat fellow that looks like Uncle Fester.
- Eunuchs Are Evil: Played straight with the necromancer Korbal Broach, whose castration has made him obsessed with procreation by creating creatures out of stolen souls and dead flesh.
"We have heard footsteps in the sky," one of them said. "Someone must be there. Perhaps we can live there."
Footsteps in the Sky is a Science Fiction novel by Greg Keyes (who also publishes as J. Gregory Keyes), better known for his Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone and The Age Of Unreason series. Though according to the publisher it was written as early as 1994, Footsteps in the Sky was eventually only published in 2015.
The story begins in the year 2421, several generations into the Hopi people's terraforming effort on a planet they call the Fifth World. Following a prophecy, their ancestors struck a deal with the powerul Vilmir Foundation — which the Hopi call 'the Reed' — in which they and their descendents will engage in the laborious work of terraforming the newly discovered habitable planet in exchange for ownership of it and a place where they can revive their ancient traditions and way of life. By the time of the prologue, the Hopi society on the Fifth World has split into two factions: the traditionals who are engaged in the majority of the farming work and who live on the mesas and follow the Hopi traditions and beliefs, and the lowlanders, who disagree with the choice their ancestors made for them and consider the traditionals superstitious fools. The only thing both factions can agree upon is the likelyhood of the Reed not keeping its promise and invading the Fifth World as soon as it becomes profitable.
Of course, there also remains the unanswered question of why humanity has been able to find several planets with an identical atmosphere just short of being habitable, ready for settlement and terraforming. Even the Hopi who believe the Fifth World to be a present from their ancestor spirits, the Kachina, cannot deny the coincidence. Then three alien ships take up their orbit around the Fifth World and it seems like the planet's original owners are back to claim their territory.
After one single attempt at contact from the aliens, twenty years go by in which the lowlanders' leader, Hoku, and the Reed are frantically scrambling to hide the ships' existence and get a warship to the Fifth World to prevent first contact between the settlers and the aliens, respectively, only for the aliens to release another probe onto the planet at first sight of the Reed's warship. This launches a race in which all three factions try to get their hands on the alien first, to varying purposes. Both the lawlanders and the traditionals mean to use it and its technology as a potential weapon against the Reed, while the Reed seeks to prevent that. Yet the one who reaches the alien first is SandGreyGirl, daughter of Pela, who was the one who found the aliens' previous probe and who has recently died of an unknown cause. And not only does a clone of Pela emerge from the probe, the alien claims that she is the only thing standing between the inhabitants of the Fifth World and her sisters' decision to potentially wipe the planet clean of all life forms and start their own terraforming process from scratch.
Footsteps in the Sky provides examples of:
- Alcoholic Parent: Sand's father Red Jimmie is a functioning alcoholic. He has his life more or less together, does his part of the work in the pueblos and even finds the time to spy on them for Hoku and on both factions for the Reed, then goes home and drowns his sorrows, likely due to being sick of the Fifth World. He's not as much of a funtioning parent, though. He never touched Sand and even tried to be some kind of father for her, but he was abusive towards Pela, especially when coming home drunk at night, for the entirety of their marriage and Sand hates him for the scars he left on her mother's body.
- Alien Among Us: Tektakdek's basic idea of how to concince her sisters that the humans on the Fifth World should not be exterminated is to create a human body for herself and go down there in secret to better be able to understand and judge them.
- Alien Autopsy: The aliens initially send down a probe to the Fifth World in order to determine if the atmosphere is harmful to them and to obtain human genetic material. Since the atmosphere is harmful to them, the alien in the probe arrives already dead and is dissected by the colonists, who find it vastly different from humans. They also discover that what they assume to be the brain to be highly underdeveloped, leading Hoku to the conclusion that it was specifically bred as a throw-away for this very mission.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: Invoked. When the Farmers return to the Fifth World and discover it is being settled and terraformed by another species (humans), the conflict that arises between them is whether to outright exterminate the humans or let them be, and what the Farmers' Makers would have wanted. Eventually, after all is said and done at the end of the book, Tuchvala convinces Tektakdek and her sisters that the Makers' etadotetak — evolved sense of compassion, basically — would have prevented them from interfering with another sentient life form, and thus they, as their Makers' creations, have no right to, either.
- Aliens Steal Cable: The Farmers spend twenty years floating around in the Fifth World's orbit and listenig to the colonists' radio signals and watching their rituals and routines in order to learn more about them, especially their language. Tektakdek especially uses this knowledge to better equip Pela's clone with knowledge she would need when sent down to the planet.
- Artificial Intelligence: The aliens who arrive at the Fifth World at the start of the book are Sapient Ships created by their Makers, endowed with artificial intelligence and sent out to seed suitable planets. The three sisters, though technically three physically independent space ships, share a mindlink. According to Tuchvala, they all started out as virtually identical but have developed something like distinct personalities over the millennia they've been doing their job.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Hoku starts out as very strict and even tyrannical towards his subordinates, forbidding anything he deems to be superstition or kinship nostalgia and demanding they jump at his slightest command. When Kewa dares to contradict him before his subordinates, he uses a taser on her in plain sight, then declares loudly that he will not tolerate this. He does mellow out some during the course of the story and learns to listen to other's opinions and also that his desire to save the Hopi, pueblos and lawlanders alike, from the Reed does not communicate well when he behaves like a tyrant.
- Becoming the Mask: Homikniwa, originally an agent planted on the Fifth World by the Reed, finds out that he has grown too familiar with and too attached to it and its inhabitants to be able to betray them any further at the end of the book. He eventually risks his life trying to stop Teng from reaching the landing drum and leaving the planet and dies asking for forgiveness from Hoku, who doesn't care one bit about that and cares a lot about losing his best friend, spy or no spy. His last wish is to be buried as a Hopi.
- Beneath the Mask: Hoku is a strict and angry tyrant with no patience towards traditions and emotions, but throughout the book it is revealed that beneath that mask he is simply unable to understand the emotions of others and is constantly fighting his own uncertainty in order to stop himself from becoming unable to act.
- Benevolent Precursors: Discussed by Tuchvala in her attempt to convince her sisters that they should leave the humans be. Her reasoning is that their own Makers possessed etadotetak — an evolved sense of compassion and sacrifice — and created the Farmers to modify planets so that they may bear life. Not simply so that they would have more potential habitable worlds for themselves, but so that there could be more life in the universe for it's own sake. Thus, exterminating the humans on the Fifth World for modifying the planet to their own needs would go against the now extinct Makers' wishes.
- Bizarre Alien Biology:
- The only alien closely described in the book is the "little brother" Tektakdek grows and sends down to the Fifth World to test its atmosphere, but upon seeing the autopsy pictures Hoku describes it as utterly bizzare. He compares it to a mangled shrimp lacking an exosceleton and with insectoid legs/arms, though Kewa points out that while it may seem bilateral it actually has a linear symmetry where its legs are located in pairs each one attached to the alien's backbone behind the other, just close enough to function as pairs. Its organism also needs atmospheric alcohol to function, has no lungs and has three additional eyes along its backbone, which also contains the brain.
- On the other hand, when seen through Tektakdek's point of view as she watches Pela approach the first probe they sent down, Tektakdek describes the human anatomy she sees as utterly bizarre, what with the human having it's sensory organs not strung out along its backbone and walking on two legs, which looks highly improbable to the alien.
- Bizarre Alien Psychology: One of the things Tuchvala seeks to find out about humans is whether they — like the Makers who created her and her sisters — possess etadotetak, something she tries to explain to Sand but is adamant is more than simly what Sand calls compassion. According to Tuchvala, etadotetak is the Makers' primary drive and is "the emotion of self-protection that we extend to others at our own expense". It allowed them to cooperate as no other species could and to set other life forms before their own, something that she finds humans to not be generally capable of.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Sand tries to call her father out on what happened to her mother Pela and how he treated her and how he still tries to pretend as if nothing happened, and does so several times. The first time Red Jimmie ignores her. The second time, while he is in jail in the pueblos, Sand screams at him, yet Red Jimmie just desperately laughs it off, only for Sand to lose her patience and flat out just kick him the next time they meet, then refuse to acknowledge him any further.
- Came from the Sky:
- The first time this occurs, Pela is out camping at her favourite spot at the edge of her lands. She thinks the streak of light coming down is a meteor and just falls asleep because she is drunk, only to wake up at some point and stumble to the alien probe's landing spot and get stung for her trouble.
- The second time around it's Pela's daughter Sand who sees a streak of light coming down in the middle of nowhere while she is out mourning her mother. The probe does not leave a crater but neatly lands in one already there and contains the clone of Pela the aliens sent down. Sands initial reaction after arriving at the landing site is to run like hell because she think she's just seen a ghost, only to come back and spirit the alien away to hide her from the lawlanders.
- The Chase: Half the book deals with a chase to reach the alien that has just landed on the Fifth World first. While Sand is trying to figure out why she thinks she should protect Tuchvala from everyone else, Hoku and his Tech Society pull every trick they can to get to her and Tuchvala before the Reeds agents, who in turn are trying to find the alien first, all while the pueblos follow the entire thing closely by satellite hoping Sand would bring the alien to them.
- The Chick: Kewa slowly becomes something like the spiritual center — as much as Hoku is willing to allow, anyway — of Hoku's immediate subordinates, where there is no constant female presence before she arrives. She secretly believes in the Kachina, and despite being tasered by Hoku personally for even mentioning them she insists on staying with the team, where she tries to convince Hoku that he needs to listen more to what his subordinates have to say. Additionally, she lectures him on how emotions motivate people's actions, which is something utterly alien to Hoku.
- Clones Are People, Too: A conclusion that is separately reached by both Tuchvala and Sand. Since Tuchvala is a clone of both Pela (biologically) and Tektakdek (having had the latter's knowledge and memories implanted into her), she herself at first thinks of herself as just Tektakdek in a human body, only to gradually discover that her now human brain cannot compute everything in the same way as the Farmers' Artificial Intelligence Mind Hive. On the other hand, Sand at first cannot shake the association of the alien she's found being her mother's ghost. She eventually notices that despite looking like Pela, the alien has none of Pela's behavioral and speech patterns and puts an end to the association by naming her Tuchvala. In the end, Tuchvala is perceived by both ehrself and Sand as an independant person.
- Coming-of-Age Story: Sand, though nearly twenty at the start of the story, finally transitions from childhood to adulthood during the course of it. She has to come to terms with her mother's sudden death for which she blames her father, learns to see others as people, and finally understands that she is not a lonely outcast among her own people but an integral part of the Hopi society provided she is willing to be part of it.
- The Confidant: Homikniwa is the only person Hoku actually trusts and talks to when in doubt or when there is a problem, though most of the time Homikniwa has to drag it out of Hoku at first. Fortunately, Homikniwa has gone native on the Fifth World, or else Hoku would be telling his immediate plans to the Reed's most deeply planted agent on the planet.
- Consummate Professional: Hoku is the Mother-Fathe rof the Tech Society and married to the job. Unsurprisingly, considering how hard he worked to get it. He is strictly all about the job, not keeping any personal contacts within the Tech Society aside from his immediate subordinate because he abhors napotism, and has forbidden his subordinates to even so much as mention anything unprofessional, be it family matters or personal beliefs. He has no problem to order someone's death to achieve his job of protecting the Fifth World. Virtually everyone on the Fifth World knows Hoku and associates him with the iron fist under which he is holding the Tech Society.
- Cult Colony: Downplayed. The Hopi agreed to become colonists and terraform the Fifth World in exchange for eventual ownership of it because they were seeking a way to leave Earth, which they peceived as corrupted and full of two-hearts, and a chance to return to their ancestral way of life, including their old belief in their ancestor spirits, the Kachina. They were not quite fanatics, though, just following a prophecy they chose to believe in, and though their life and society on the Fifth World is structured after that of their ancestors nobody is requiered to follow it.
- Declaration of Protection: Sand decides it is up to her to protect Tuchvala and declares so. The problems come right after, and consist of Sand wondering what exactly it is she means to protect Tuchvala from and why, since she's just met the latter — although, admittedly, Tuchvala is a clone of Sand's recently deceased mother. Sand decides to keep running and dragging the clueless Tuchvala with her until she can think of a reason.
- Deep Cover Agent:
- Reconstructed with Red Jimmie, who is not competent enough to hide the fact that he is Hoku's spy, sent to the pueblos to spy on Pela. He marries her and even has a daughter with her and takes part in the life on the mesas as much as he can, actually being helpful and such, but everyone including Pela and then Sand knows he's Hoku's agent. It is eventually revealed that he's fooled both sides and is actually an agent of the Reed, spying on both the pueblos and the lawlanders. He remains loyal to his employer, even if only because he is miserable on the Fifth World and wants to leave it already.
- Played straight with Escobar Jemez, aka Homikniwa, who is a former Peacekeeper and spy planted on the Fifth World twenty-five years ago by the Reed and who has wormed his way so deeply into the Tech Society nobody would even think of suspecting him, especially considering he is Hoku's right-hand man and not shy about advocating peace with the pueblos, which would strengthen the Hopi as a whole. The end reveals that he has actually gone native and become what he initially pretended to be and that he regrets betraying the aliens' arrival to the Reed.
- Dirty Coward: Downplayed. Alvar Washington actually does try to follow his orders and occasionally tries to do something useful or help somebody, but he's so much of a coward and so used to looking out for himself only and has been bullied into his mission at that, that he doesn't last long and blurts out his true identity on purpose in the first situation that seems dangerous enough to him, completely blowing any chance of achieving what he and Teng came to achieve. He's good at telling people what they want to hear if it saves his hide, though. At the end of the book, Red Jimmie comments how becoming a politician suits Alvar perfectly.
- Divided We Fall: There's a deep rift between the lawlanders and the pueblos on the Fifth World and the Reed would like to keep it that way to better be able to overpower the Hopi as a whole when the time comes. Both factions are aware of this but have grown so deeply rooted in their mutual dislike that they seem unable to reconcile. Especially Hoku, the mother-father of the Tech Society, absolutely refuses to give even a bit in regards to the pueblos, even when the threat of an alien invasion and an attack by the Reed loom on the horizon, while the pueblos refuse to make the first step. Hoku eventually sees the error of his ways but only when all seems lost and his friend, Homikniwa, dies in his arms, asking Hoku to give up his stupid feud with the pueblos as his last wish.
- Does Not Like Men: Teng Shu hates men. It is heavily implied that's because she used to be a child prostitute and associates men with the power they used to have over her and the weakness and pain she used to feel before signing on with the Vilmir Foundation and becoming a Peacekeeper. Now that she has the power she can take what she wants from men — sex — and be the one who inflicts pain. This becomes a problem when Teng realises she has fallen in love with Alvar, which throws her into an irrational rage in order to make up for her own percieved weakness and Alvar's percieved lies and betrayal, which culminates in her own death.
- The Dreaded: Hoku is feared by both his own employees and especially by the pueblos who see him as almost as bad as the Reed. Sand cringes even when he just calls her, despite only having met him once.
- Emergent Human: Tuchvala is completely new to being human. Though she's had time to grow naturally she's never interacted with humans before or had to live among them, getting all her knowledge on human culture from what the Farmers can piece together through tapping the humans' radio signals. She is particularly flustered when her body tells her she needs to pee but she cannot figure out what position humans do so in. Additionally, Tuchvala slowly realises that her now human brain is wired very differently from her alien one and is unable to compute the same calculations while making her feel strange emotions, resulting in Tuchvala developing a different personality from her original body's.
- Evil Plan: The Hopi suspect that the Reed's plan is to not honour the deal the Hopis' ancestors made to terraform the Fifth World in exchange for ownership of it and that it will attack them as soon as the planet becomes hospitable enough to be profitable for the Reed. Early on the book makes it obvious that the Hopi are right in that.
- Fighting for a Homeland: This is the sentiment the book ends on, after the lowlanders and the pueblos have resolved the conflict between them and are gearing up to face the Reed together if — or rather when — their warships arrive, since no matter what lifestyle they prefer, the Fifth World has become their home.
- Final Solution: The central plot of the story is whether Tektakdek will be able to convince her sisters that the humans are enough like her and her sisters' Makers to justify not destroying all organisms on the Fifth World in order to reseed it according to the Masters' plan, which was to create habitable planets for them. The fact that humans are sentient isn't enough of an argument in their favour, so Tektakdek hatches a plan to send down a human clone equipped with a copy of her own mind to better be able to judge if the humans possess etadotetak the Makers' evolved sense of compassion and sacrifice. The planet-wide genocide is averted when Tuchvala comes to the conclusion that the Makers' own sense of etadotetak would have prevented them from harming any other life.
- First Contact: The first ever contact between humans and aliens happens when Farmers created by another alien species return to a planet they've seeded to make habitable for their Makers millennia ago and find it occupied and terraformed to their own needs by humans. Their first instinct is to wipe the planet clean of all life and reseed it, but one of them convinces the others to let her test if the humans live up to their Makers' moral code. Actual first contact then has to wait for twenty years while the alien grows herself a human body and the on-planet government tries to hide the fact that there are three alien ships floating around in orbit.
- First-Person Perspective: The sections told from Tektakdek's and Tuchvala's points of view — who are technically the same person, at least to begin with — are told from the first-person perspective, allowing a better view of how confusing it is for Tuchvala to deal with her new human body and mind.
- Going Native: Homikniwa, a Deep Cover Agent originally planted by the Reed on the Fifth World is revelaed to have Become the Mask. Going by the training Alvar receives on his way to the Fifth World, he also probably was instructed in its customs in order to fit in perfectly, but ends up enjoying being part of the Hopi society, to the point where his Dying Wish is to be buried as a Hopi.
- Healing Factor: Thanks to being an augmented Peacekeeper, Teng is able to both take more damage than a baseline human and heal injuries much faster, although the Whipper manages to deal her enough damage that she is out for a while.
- Higher-Tech Species: As far as the humans can tell, the Makers must be technologically much further advanced than they are, especially considering they managed to create Sapient Ships endowed with Artificial Intelligence which they could send out to seed and terraform other planets while remaining functional for millennia. While not omniscient they do have a philosophy or emotion turned philosophy they call etadotetak, something Tuchvala insists is further developed than what humans call compassion, and something that allows the Makers to think further ahead. In the end of the book Tuchvala comes to the conclusion that the Makers have actually gone extinct.
- Hive Mind: Downplayed. The three alien sisters Tektakdek, Otadatek and Hatedotik technically share the same mind and are mindlinked at all times and are supposed to function as one entity. However, since they each have their own body they have, over the millennias of their existence, each developed their own personality and have each degraded to differing degrees, creating an independance Tektakdek realises is not meant to be but which she uses to her own advantage anyway.
- Hostile Terraforming: Downplayed. From the point of view of the aliens, the terraforming the humans are engaged in on the Fifth World can be considered hostile because it makes the planet uninhabitable by the Makers. However, the humans are unaware they're destroying a habitat someone has spent millennia terraforming already and at least one of the aliens, Tektakdek, realises this before they can implement a Final Solution and restart their terraforming process all over again.
- Humanity on Trial: Zig Zagged. Technically, it's not the entire human race the Farmer aliens put on trial but those busy terraforming the Fifth World, and not because of any bad deeds humans are capable of but because the terraforming is happening on a planet the aliens had previously spent thousands of years terraforming themselves. Tektakdek volunteers to go down and find out if humans are capable of etadotetak, the evolved sense of compassion and sacrifice Tektakdek's Makers based their society on. If humans are it means they may not be destroyed, but if they aren't, Tektakdek may be unable to stop her sisters from wiping the planet of all life and starting their terraforming process anew. In the end she is unable to determine whether humans are capable of etadotetak because those she meets are too busy fighting each other, but she comes to the conslusion that whether they have etadotetak is of no consequence considering that her Makers' etadotetak would have prohibited them from placing their own needs over those of another species.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: Downplayed. Despite having studied humans for twenty years from the orbit, Tuchvala is puzzled by how much they squabble and how little they consider each other's feelings.
- I Miss Mom: Sand expresses the sentiment several times during the books, especially when she is reminded of how much Tuchvala looks like the recently deceased Pela but how little she resembles Sand's mother in all other ways. Little mentions reveals how close Sand was to her mother.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Justified. Because she is a Peacekeeper, Teng is able to take up a position in the hills and snipe with her rifle at anyone who leaves her enemies' Bluehawk while remaining unseen.
- Informed Loner: Downplayed. Sand claims to always have been a loner and lowkey bemoans her Friendless Background but is seen to interact normally with everyone from her clan and is even said to have been close friends with her cousin Chavo until leaving for school down in the lowlands.
- Inhuman Emotion: Etadotetak — an emotion her Makers put at the centre of their society — is often mentioned and discussed by Tektakdek/Tuchvala, who tries to explain it to Sand as an evolved sense of compassion and sacrifice, but also actually more. She claims to have come down to the Fifth World in order to determine if humans are capable of feeling etadotetak and thus worth sparing the Final Solution her sisters suggest.
- In-Series Nickname:
- SandGreyGirl is called simply Sand by most people In-Universe, largely as a term of familiarity, and only Hoku calls her by her full name, though most of the time their conversations consist of Hoku threatening Sand.
- Hoku himself is Only Known By His Nickname, which may be because even his enemies get tired of calling him Hokuhemptewa every time they have a reason to curse him again.
- Hoku nicknames his second-in-command and only friend Homikniwa just Hom. He's the only one on page who calls Homikniwa such and it's clearly a term of endearment.
- Interspecies Romance: Downplayed. Sand and Tuchvala become the Official Couple at the end, and though she has a human body, Tuchvala still is technically an alien. The relationship raises more eyebrows because Tuchvala is a biological clone of Sand's mother, though, than because of her being an alien.
- Kissing Cousins: Defied. Sand and her cousin Chavo used to be very close and were each other's partners in a lot of teenage experiments, but they purposefully stopped short of having sex.
- The Lab Rat: Kewa is a member of the Tech Society and attaches herself to Hoku's immediate circle and becomes the chick of his team. She's always wearing her lab coat and is responsible for explaining scientific matters to everyone else, like the Alien Autopsy.
- The Lancer: Homikniwa is Hoku's best friend and the levelheaded counterpart to Hoku's headstrong temper. While Hoku is mainly a political player, Homikniwa is the field guy who's adept at tracking and combat. And where Hoku is a well-established Hopi who's gone atheist, Homikniwa hails from a far off island and is an outsider to the lawlands who is actually an off-planet spy who's gone native. Homikniwa is the only one Hoku suffers to be called out and questioned by and that's because of Homikniwa's puzzling Undying Loyalty.
- Last Request: Homikniwa has two last requests he makes of Hoku after confessing to have been a spy for the Reed all along: for Hoku to finally make peace with the pueblos and to be buried as a Hopi.
- The Leader: Hoku is the headstrong and — as Sand unwillingly admits — charismatic mother-father of the Tech Society and the lowlanders fanction. He isn't as much of a genius leader as he'd like to be, and far from being the most admired leader, but everyone agrees he's better than the previous mother-father. He is a bit too passionate and has to be reined in by his lancer Homikniwa, but towards the end he finally learns to listen to his subordinates and to not jump to immediate conclusions.
- Like a Duck Takes to Water: In the epilogue, when Sand tells him that Dirty Coward Alvar Washington has gone into politics and is doing surprisingly well despite being a former off-planet spy, Red Jimmie remarks how that's not surprising.
- Longevity Treatment: The Vilmir Foundation offers rejuvenation treatments which extend lifespans, but are so expensive that only the rich can afford them, which allows them to dangle these treatments as a payment in front of their hired agents. Alvar is offered a rejuvenation treatment in exchange for becoming a Deep Cover Agent on the Fifth World for the next thirty years.
- Made of Iron: Teng Shu has plates of plastimuscle which protect her vital organs from taking damage as well as augmentations to her speed and strength, allowing her to last much longer in combat.
- Meaningful Rename: Sand gives the alien the name Tuchvala in order to further differentiate her from Pela. It means "spittle of the gods" and reflects Sand's trouble to distinguish between the aliens and the Kachina. In the end, the alien's original name is revealed but by then Tuchvala has developed her own personality.
- Mega-Corp: The Vilmir Foundation — also called "the Reed" by the Hopi — is the villain of the piece and a huge mega corporation which not only own most of Earth but also is in the business of buying entire planets. They then make deals with some impoverished and eager-to-leave group on Earth — like the Hopi — and "sell" the planets to them in exchange for their labour in terraforming them. The Hopi suspect that the Reed plans on taking the planets back as soon as it becomes profitable.
- Minor Major Character: Yuyahoeva.
- The Mole:
- Motivated by Fear:
- Multiple Narrative Modes:
- Naming Your Colony World:
- Non-Action Guy:
- Non-Protagonist Resolver:
- No Sympathy:
- Number Two:
- Official Couple:
- Older Than They Look:
- Ominous Floating Spaceship:
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Hoku is only knows as Hoku for the entirety of the book and even called such by his enemies. His full name, Hokuhemptewa, is given exactly once.
- Opening Monologue:
- Our Gods Are Different:
- Permanent Elected Official:
- Plot-Triggering Death:
- The Promised Land:
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Red Herring Mole:
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hoku, who is headstrong and temperamental and tends to jump to conclusions and into action, is contrasted by his lancer best friend Homikniwa, who is levelheaded and tends to advise caution and to second guess both Hoku's plans and the pueblos' motives. Hoku is often shown to secretly fume because he's made mistakes ''again' while Homikniwa remains stoic throughout despite regretting much bigger things.
- Redshirt Army:
- The Reliable One:
- The Reveal:
- Sapient Ship:
- Save This Person, Save the World:
- Servant Race:
- Settling the Frontier:
- Sniper Duel:
- Spirited Young Lady:
- Starfish Aliens:
- Superior Species:
- Super Soldier:
- Super Speed:
- Super Strength:
- Switching P.O.V.:
- Synthetic Plague:
- Take Me to Your Leader:
- Taking Over the Town:
- Thicker Than Water:
- Tragic Bromance:
- Trouble Follows You Home:
- Undying Loyalty:
- The Unpronounceable:
- Villain by Default:
- Well-Intentioned Extremist:
- Working for a Body Upgrade:
- X Must Not Win:
- Action Girl: Amanda Bates, the awakened military portion of the crew. At the end of the book she wades right into the combat despite having an army of drones to do so in her place.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
- Invoked, but averted with the Theseus AI. It is in fact in command of the entire mission, but uses Jukka Sarasti as a front specifically because humans wouldn't trust an AI to give them orders due to fear of it going rogue. It never does.
- Discussed by Szpindel and Siri, regarding the combat drones Bates commands, and then, again, averted. It may look like Bates is inspecting the droned so closely because she may fear them going rogue, but the drones actually operate more efficiently when they're allowed to run autonomously.
- Ambiguous Syntax: Intentionally used by the Gang of Four In-Universe in a dialog with the aliens to see if they really understand or are just using a sophisticated translation algorithms to parse the syntax. Sascha deliberaty gives answers which could be interpreted in several different ways, but after receiving only the most obvious, not actually related thematically, follow-up questions they conclude that they're dealing with a Chinese room.Sascha: Our cousins lie about the family tree, with nieces and nephews and Neandertals. We do not like annoying cousins.
Rorschach: We'd like to know about this tree.
Sascha (to her crewmates): It couldn't have parsed that. There were three linguistic ambiguities in there. It just ignored them.
- Antimatter: Theseus is powered by an antimatter engine which has a direct link to the Icarus Array near the sun, a beam which runs the antimatter they need in a straight line all the way through the Galaxy to the ship's engine. They lose the link after going into orbit around Big Ben, but the engine itself becomes important later when it's used as a bomb in Jukka Sarasti's final "taking you with me"-action against Rorschach.
- Aliens Are Bastards: Discussed in passing: a mention is made of the benevolent aliens of Carl Sagan, then compared with the idea that someone who ventures into space must have strong instincts of conquest and expansion.
- All There in the Manual: The back of the book has a "Notes and References" section that fleshes out some of the more radical ideas in the novel. Peter Watts's website also provides supplementary information, including a fictional in-universe audio log and powerpoint presentation of a scientist presenting his findings on the vampire sub-species to his "FizerPharm" investors.
- Anyone Can Die: Considering Peter Watts' past work, and that the novel is very dark and pessimistic, this is a given. Everyone except the narrator dies, and the narrator thinks that humanity back on Earth is doomed as well, one way or another.
- Apocalypse How: Siri comes to the conclusion that by the time he returns to Earth, the vampires would have exterminated humanity and taken their places as rightful owners of the world because as natural predators they are much fitter to survive competing against other space-faring races.
- Attack Drone: Theseus can manufacture pretty much anything on the spot, which includes Attack Drones. They look like metal pods with legs and can fire a variety of weapons, inclusing microwaves. Major Bates commands them despite the drones' ability to act of their own accord — and much faster at that — and insists on personally inspecting every newly-fabricated drone. Theseus can and does take the command from Bates when it deems that necessary.
- Bald Woman: Major Amanda Bates keeps her head bald on the mission. One "Imagine you are Amanda Bates" segment shows that even before going into space, she used to keep her hair in a buzz cut. She is also the Big Guy of the team and responsible for any combat situations.
- Being Human Sucks: In the world of Blindight, baseline humans are obsolete. Some go transhuman to keep their edge, but even the engineered superhumans can't compete with the newly-resurrected vampires. And not only that, but humans were defective to begin with — as the aliens show, self-awareness is holding us back from being truly effective by using up too much valuable energy.
- Bizarre Alien Psychology: One of the book's twists is the discovery that humanity is pretty much the only race out there with a concept of self, reason and such things as art... which are evolutionary dead-ends that make humans vulnerable to the creatures out there, who see it as an abomination or infection and have decided to eliminate humanity because our broadcasting of it into space hurts them.
- Big Dumb Object: The alien ship Rorschach is a city-sized dumb object as far as the humans can tell. Although the "dumb" part is debatable because of its inscrutability to human understanding, and indeed is debated throughout the book.
- The Big Guy: Amanda Bates, the military expert of the crew. She's strong, doesn't talk much except to caution against rash action, and prefers to keep the ship's Attack Drones under her personal tight control.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality:
- Discussed early in the book, where time is spent discussing the potential moral outlook of Rorschach's creators, especially by Isaac Szpindel, a biologist, and the Gang of Four, who are the different personalities of Susan James and each a sociologist and linguist in their own right. They're all using their respective fields to argue for the degrees to which the aliens will, for example, obey human rationality like Game Theory or how belligerent they will be. Ultimately exaggerated, as it turns out that the scramblers don't have a concept of morality, or indeed a concept of anything — they're non-sapient and do everything unconsciously. Being self-aware is inconceivable to them, and thus they interpret humanity as trying to attack them by making them waste their time interpreting statements we've made from a sentient viewpoint.
- Jukka Sarasti and the rest of the recreated vampires are sociopathic cannibals who operate on a rather different wavelength than the rest of humanity. Which is justified, as Siri points out when considering the fact that vampires are an early offshoot of the homo sapiens, because having to rely on cannibalising your own kind to survive would neccessitate developing a different outlook on things, and vampires are predators through and through who can't help seeing humans as meat.
- Brain in a Jar: On Earth, a lot of people have plugged themselves into Heaven, a virtual reality that few choose to return from. While Heaven's managers insist the entire body is kept intact and in peak fitness in case of emergency, Siri suspects that the body gets reduced to a torso or even less the second a person's family is barred from visiting them in order to optimise the physical storage space.
- Calling Parents by Their Name: In the flashbacks, Siri refers to his mother as "Helen". In a large part it's because she ditched the real world for virtual reality and was never much of a mother to begin with, despite her claims otherwise. On the other hand, Siri calls his father "Dad" most of the time and "Jim" on some occasions.
- Came Back Wrong: In order to cure his epilepsy and save his life, Siri's parents agreed to have a radical hemispherectomy performed on their son, literally cutting out half his brain. The kid that came out on the other side is demonstrably not the same — emotionless, without natural empathy. Siri thinks back to what his life was like, pre-op, and the memories feel like they belong to someone else.
- Cannon Fodder: When the crew has no other option but to go explore Rorschach in person, Siri has no illusions about his role in the enterprise. It's later subverted by Jukka Sarasti's reveal that he did send Siri down there because of his ability to see more than others, not as cannon fodder.Three valuable agents in harm's way. My presence bought one in four odds the enemy would aim somewhere else.
- The Captain: Jukka Sarasti, the vampire, is commanding the mission, mainly because his superior vampire brain is much better able to recognise patterns and plan ahead. It's later revealed that the ship itself, Theseus, is artificially intelligent and was the real captain the whole time, with Sarasti being little more than a wetware body.
- The Chick: Susan James, the linguist (in her core personality). Siri goes as far as to call her a "congenital optimist" and a "high priestess of the Church of the Healing Word". She's the most emotional of the team and the one who understands concepts like empathy best, mitigating potential disputes by her presence alone.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Subverted. The vampires and crosses thing is not because of anything religious or mystical but because their brains go into seizure when exposed to straight vertical and horizontal objects in their visual field forming a 90 degree angle (not as dumb as it sounds: there are people who have similar types of problems due to head trauma). That sort of thing is not that common in nature, and it wasn't much of a problem until their food source went and invented architecture and drove them into extinction.
- Cold-Blooded Torture:
This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, and keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the speech from the screams.
- In one "Imagine you are Amanda Bates" segment, intelligence agents torture a few captured "Realist" terrorists. Bates does not approve, and decides to give the surviving terrorist a bit of payback as a gesture of good faith.
- When the crew finally capture a pair of scramblers and are at a loss as to how to initiate a conversation, provided the scramblers even have a language, their last resort is to hurt them out of frustration and desperation. As Siri puts it:
- Cool Starship: Theseus. Hyperintelligent AI? Check. Antimatter engines? Check. Fabrication units that could put the replicators from Star Trek to shame? Check.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: FizerPharm in the book's supplementary backstory.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Blindsight deals primarily with characters that display psychopathic or sociopathic traits, and is set in a future in which the basic human sense of worth is undermined by the social implications of new technologies. But the true cosmic horror is not revealed until near the end of the story: Watts is portraying a universe in which sapience (that is, self-awareness, sentience, and the empathy that goes with it) is unnecessary for advanced intelligence and creative thinking. In fact, it's inefficient, tending to lead to Solipsism and wasting resources on pointless endeavors like art. Apparently most other species in the Blindsight universe may not be sentient at all, despite possessing vast intelligence and the ability to travel the distances between stars.
- Crapsack World: The short version is that mankind hit the Singularity... and it didn't really take. If the bastardized technological world doesn't kill us, the superintelligent sociopath vampires we brought back to life with our genetic prowess and put in charge of everything will. And if they don't... well, the novel is about how we just met an intelligent alien life vastly superior to our own single planet existence and it very well may want to wipe us out.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The "Golem" virus induces rapid Fibrodyplasia Ossificans Progressiva, a particularly horrible condition that causes tendons, ligaments and muscles to turn to bone, effectively petrifying you alive. There's no cure, and slowing it down just means you die in a couple of days instead of just one. It's used as a biological weapon, and is what kills Chelsea.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul:
- Isaac Szpindel's mechanical augments allow him to interface directly with the ship's labs — giving him all the senses that implies — but his own normal senses have been so numbed that he has to wear force-feedback gloves just to give him a sense of touch.
- Robert Cunningham gets around this same issue by using the neurons that control his face instead. The down side is that he looks like he's got no soul to a casual observer since he is now unable to use his facial muscles and has a blank mask of a face. He has also lost his ability to use gendered pronouns, using "it" instead, even for people.
- Death Is Cheap: This is what allows the crew to explore Rorschach. Body riddled with tumours? The Theseus has the facilities to let you sleep that off while the ship repairs you. Unfortunately for Szpindel, you can't sleep off brain damage.
- Deer in the Headlights: Siri claims that to look into the eyes of a vampire triggers evolutionary ingrained responses to predation in humans that causes them to freak out and stand paralysed. This is why Jukka Sarasti wears sunglasses at all times when interacting with his crew.
- Vampires (which are an extinct hominid species, rather than the standard undead types) are stated to have been able to reproduce with humans, and given that the extinct species was brought back from dormant genes in humans, it's pretty safe to assume a fair number of early humans must have had children with them. This actually seems rather surprising given that the vampires were very creepy creatures; among other things they were visibly inhuman, nocturnal, sociopathic loners and spent most of their time hibernating in a mummy-like state to conserve their food supply (not to mention the fact that they ate people). It's pretty hard to imagine many humans ever wanting to have a relationship with something like that; one suspects most of the human partners were less than willing.
In fact, it is hypothesized in-universe that there used to be a virus that could turn half-vampires into full vampires, similarly to how gene therapy experiments on autistics and sociopaths accidentally revived the species. So a vampire who couldn't find a mate of his own kind (as they are extremely territorial) could breed with a human, hibernate, and find their descendants decades later and bite them.
- In a more benign instance, deep space travelers are given vampire hibernation genes to save life support and reaction mass on long trips. The crew of the Theseus spends five years "undead", then returns to "life" within hours.
- Vampires (which are an extinct hominid species, rather than the standard undead types) are stated to have been able to reproduce with humans, and given that the extinct species was brought back from dormant genes in humans, it's pretty safe to assume a fair number of early humans must have had children with them. This actually seems rather surprising given that the vampires were very creepy creatures; among other things they were visibly inhuman, nocturnal, sociopathic loners and spent most of their time hibernating in a mummy-like state to conserve their food supply (not to mention the fact that they ate people). It's pretty hard to imagine many humans ever wanting to have a relationship with something like that; one suspects most of the human partners were less than willing.
- Doing In the Wizard: In the novel, vampires are not supernatural but rather are an extinct subspecies of humans that evolved to prey on the homo sapiens in ancient times. This explains the persistent myths and stories about them: they are a kind of racial memory. Many of the qualities of vampires are given logical, scientific explanations as well, like their aversion to crosses which stems from their hyper-specialized brains being unable to compute straight vertical and horizontal objects in their visual field forming a 90 degree angle. It sends them into seizures. Since this is a rare phenomenon in nature, they were doing just fine until humans invented architecture, at which point evolution proved to slow and the vampires died out.
- Downer Ending: Nearly all the characters in the novel end up dead or soon to be dead, and Siri is convinced that humanity back home on Earth is doomed by a vampire uprising. In a more general sense, we've discovered that humanity is an aberration in a cold, uncaring universe.
- Eldritch Starship: Rorschach is described as resembling "an object that embodies the very notion of torture, so wrenched and disfigured... that you can't help but feel the entire structure is in pain." Not only that, but every part of it is absolutely deadly. It gives off powerful magnetic fields that induce horrifying hallucinations in the people who explore it, as well as high levels of lethal radiation which would kill any human within seconds without a Faraday suit and within hours with one. It's inhabited by starfish-like creatures called "scramblers", which are many times more intelligent than humans, but lack any sort of self-awareness, acting like white blood cells in a human body. Indeed, it's implied that Rorschach itself may be alive on some level.
- Enemy Within: Rorschach's enormous magnetic field induces some changes to Susan James, as one of many simultaneous plans to deal with the inconvenient humans. These induce the building of a new personality within her, prompting her to act extremely rashly at the end of the book and endanger everyone else.
- First Contact: Invoked. The ship Theseus Earth sends out is manned because they have reason to suspect that the event know as Firefall was initiated by aliens, who... for some reason took a picture of all of Earth. It's then subverted when what the crew of the Theseus finds isn't quite the intelligent life forms they expected to find and brought a linguist to communicate with, though. The alien scramblers which inhabit the Rorschach turn out to be hyperintelligent but not conscious or self-aware, and can only parse human languages as space-wasting cognitive viruses designed to hurt them. As the narrator puts it:How do you say "We come in peace" when the words themselves are an act of war?
- First Contact Faux Pas: Human communications are so alien to the first aliens that receive them (i.e. from radio and TV transmissions), that they consider humans a virus and immediately set out to destroy them, promting the Firefall and the remainder of the book to happen.
- First Contact Team: The crew of the Theseus consists of highly specialised individuals specially assembled to be able to initiate First Contact, all of which have something unusual about them: Susan James, the linguist, has had her brain altered to facilitate the development of four different personalities; Isaac Szpindel, the biologist, has nerves which have been repurposed to allow him to see x-rays and taste ultra-sound; Major Amanda Bates is a military specialist whose defining career moment consisted of an act of treason in order to facilitate a peaceful outcome; Jukka Sarasti, technically the head of the team, is a genetically re-engineered vampire whose intellectual capabilities and foresight surpass those of any given human; and a synthesist, Siri Keeton, whose job it is to translate complex statements and/or data into more easily palatable language.
- Five-Man Band: The five members of the First Contact Team on board of the Theseus fall neatly into the roles of the Five-Man Band, with Jukka Sarasti as the leader, Isaac Szpindel as the lancer, Siri Keeton as the smart guy, Major Amanda Bates as the big guy and Susan James as the chick. Robert Cunningham fills the role of the sixth ranger after the halfway point.
- Fling a Light into the Future: This is what Theseus and the rest of the crew has in mind when they send Siri back towards Earth on board of one of the ship's shuttles: to warn everyone on Earth of the coming of the aliens and their hostile intentions. The remainder of the crew dies in order to give Earth this much needed time. However, Siri realizes en route that it's not going to work, anyway — there might not be anyone left on Earth by the time he gets home.
- Forgettable Character: "The Captain", aka the Theseus AI, never communicates with the crew members except through Jukka Sarasti, making it easy for them to forget that the Captain even exists. This is treated as a big reveal at the end: everyone assumes Sarasti to be the one in control of the mission until Siri finds out that Sarasti is just Theseus's talking interface.
- Fossil Revival: The vampires went extinct around the time that humanity discovered architecture, as they have fatal seizures when they see right angles due to these screwing with their advanced pattern-finding instincts. But, in the mid-21st century a biomedical corporation reconstructed their genome for their superior mathematical and hibernation abilities.
- Genetic Memory: Humans are thought to be naturally, automatically, and helplessly freaked out when they encounter a vampire due to a genetic memory of being hunted by them. It turns out that vampires are smart and fast enough to intentionally trigger hallucinations and fear responses using subtle nonverbal cues.
- Hallucinations: Rorshach's incredibly strong magnetic fields induce some rather vivid and disturbing visions in the crew when they venture inside. Siri sees alien beasts out of the corner of his eye, James thinks her leg is some kind of monster attacking her, and Bates at one point believes she is dead.
- Hates Small Talk: The aliens cannot comprehend the concept of a communication that isn't intended to transmit useful data. Technically they're not even sentient, and assume sentience is a disease and attempt to "contain" it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The entire crew of the Theseus, except for Siri Keeton, decides to stay and fight Rorschach and its inhabitants in order to give Siri a chance to get away and warn Earth of an impending invasion.
- Human Subspecies: Vampires were a subspecies of the homo sapience who had a deficiency of some vital protein unique to humans and evolved to obtain it by consuming other humans. They were completely sociopathic, had super-savant level mathematical abilities and spacial perception, and could hibernate for decades in order to allow the human population to remain a stable food source for them, among other things. However, their subconscious math skills resulted in a "glitch" that caused them to have potentially fatal seizures when they saw right angles, resulting in them going extinct as soon as man discovered architecture. Then a somewhat less-than-ethical biotech company in the mid-21st century discovered and recreated them, without the protein deficiency but leaving their predatory instincts intact, and giving them drugs to suppress the so-called crucifix glitch.
- Icarus Allusion: An array of solar collectors and particle accelerators hanging in space near the sun is known as the Icarus Array. It teleports antimatter to Earth and spaceships as a power source.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Vampires in this setting are actually a Human Subspecies which used to lack a vital protein unique to humans and evolved to obtain it by consuming other humans. When it was recreated in the mid-21st century, this deficiency was corrected but the vampires' predatory instincts preserved, resulting in them still seeing humans as meat first and foremost.
- Improvised Cross: Exaggerated, justified, and deconstructed. Vampires have the vertical and horizontal crosswired in their visual cortex, which causes them to suffer fatal seizures upon seeing perpendicular lines. As would be expected, they went extinct when humans invented architecture.
- Inscrutable Aliens: A variant. The alien ship does make contact, but for hours talks in circles without revealing any useful information. The crew figure out that they're talking to a Chinese room. They spend a lot of the novel trying to figure out whether the giant starfish-like creatures patrolling the ship are sentient or just drones of some kind as they make no attempt at communicating. The truth is far more sinister: [[spoiler:the aliens are not sentient, self-awareness is not required to build starships, sentience is an anomaly unique to H. sapiens sapiens and will be corrected eventually.
- Inside a Computer System: People have started to transfer their minds into a computer system called "Heaven." The Realists terrorist group are trying to destroy it.
- Invisibility Flicker: The human eye is always moving, but the brain clips out parts of the movement to present a picture without motion blur. This is called saccadic masking. The aliens develop the disturbing ability to time their movements to human saccades, rendering themselves invisible. It takes the heroes a lot of careful video analysis to even realise they've made first contact. And these are really not the kind of aliens you want to discover dancing all around you...
- It Can Think: Three-quarters through the book, the crew of the Theseus suddenly makes the startling discovery that the "scramblers" they have been fighting, capturing, torturing and experimenting on are intelligent beings: they're intelligent without being sentient, a concept that was entirely alien to the crew up to that point and makes the "scramblers" so alien that trying to communicate with them meaningfully is impossible. At this point they also realise their "captives" let themselves get captured intentionally and have been spying on them. Things rapidly take a turn for the worse.
- The Lancer: Isaac Szpindel, the biologist, is the most social member of the crew, getting along with everyone. He's also the only one to develop a personal relationship with another crew-member, and Siri wonders how Szpindel manages to be successful with women despite his below-average looks. In contrast to Sarasti, his specialization is physical: he's had his nervous system repurposed to enable him to directly communicate with his entire lab.
- Success Through Insanity:
- The main character's severe autism means he's the only one able to objectively synthesize all of the information and determine just what the deal is with the Starfish Aliens they discover. Of course he's also unable to bond with other people or empathize with them, so...downer.
- The predatory instincts and complete sociopath nature of the ship's captain (who is an actual vampire) also turns out to be vital in second-guessing the otherwise indecipherable behavior of the alien vessel and its inhabitants.
- Godblind (2017)
- Darksoul (2018)
- Bloodchild (2019)
Almost a thousand years ago, the bloodthirsty Red Gods and their most devoted followers were exiled from the fertile lands of Rilpor into the harsh mountains to the West by the Gods of Light, the Dancer and the Fox God, and have since been kept out by a divine veil.
Godblind tells of how, frustrated with the way things are, the Mireces are about to set into motion their long-term plan of reconquering Rilpor in the name of their gods when a Rilporian slave not only kills their king, but also manages to escape with vital information.
On the other side of the border, a Watcher — a member of the civilian warriors guarding Rilpor's western border — named Dom Templeson sets out for a vaguely defined quest given to him by the Dancer to recover the Harbinger of Impending Doom coming down the mountains, for Dom is the calestar, the most powerful seer to be born in generations.
While the Mireces don't waste time with a Succession Crisis by War Chief Corvus simply killing his way to kingship and setting out for Rilpor, it turns out that the Mireces have allies not only all over the country, but within the royal household itself, where Rastoth, the king of Rilpor, is slowly sliding into madness after the brutal murder of his beloved queen.
Most of the first book tells of the Mireces's slow but inevitable invasion of Rilpor, the breaking of the veil and the return of the Red Gods while the heroes on the Rilporian side scramble to prevent it.
The Godblind Trilogy provides examples of the following tropes:
- Achey Scars: The scars left around his right wrist after Dom's careless blood oath of revenge against his wife's killers start itching when he meets Rillirin and only get worse from there on, especially after the Dark Lady, who is the recipient of all oaths sworn in blood, begins to punish Dom for resisting her. The itching turns into full blown unbearable pain by the end of Godblind.
- Action Girl: Most women among the Watchers can fight, but Dalli in particular is almost always either fighting, training or carrying messages through enemy terrain.
- Aerith and Bob: There's a noticeable distinction between important characters, who have names like Rillirin, Dom, Janis, Rivil, Lanta, and so on, and less imporant ones, who tend to be named along the lines of Richard and Mara.
- After-Action Healing Drama: After Dom and Rillirin run into a Mireces war party and Dom is shot several times with arrows, he urges Rillirin, who's too busy being elated over still being alive, to rush him back to Watchtown else he might fall dead from the horse on their way back.
- Archer Archetype:
- Ash, one of the skilled archers among the Watchers and Wolves, is a generally calm and down to earth guy who follows his own conscience and actively disregards Dom's orders to not follow him into Mireces territory, much to Dom's later gratitude.
- Sarilla, though equally skilled, is largely used to show how archers are much less effective in close quarters when a Mireces cuts off several fingers on her draw hand, making her effectively useless until she receives a wooden hand from Rillirin.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Among the Mireces, whoever is the toughest and strongest warrior gets to be the War Chief, or even the king. When King Liris is found dead at the start of Godblind, War Chief Corvus doesn't waste any time to let his axe fly and assert who's going to be Liris' successor.
- Ass Shove: Not Played for Laughs. One version of the Mireces Human Sacrifice involves driving a big nail through the still conscious male victim's genitals and into his rectum as a final flourish.
- Attention Whore: Corvus and later Gilda both assert that Lanta always wants to be at the centre of attention despite her claims of only doing the Dark Lady's will, which is why she both joins the Mireces war party looking for Rillirin and gloats in front of Gilda about her goddess's power.
- Back in the Saddle: After losing several fingers in the Mireces attack on their village, Sarilla regains her ability to use the bow thanks to the wood-and-leather hand Rillirin makes for her out of guilt.
- Back Story: The general back story of the series is that almost a thousand years ago, the Red Gods were driven out from the fertile lands of Rilpor into the harsh mountains to the West by the Gods of Light and have since been kept out by a divine veil.
- Badass Army: The West Rank gaurding the border between Rilpor and the Mireces territories is considered the most hardened and most tough of Rilpor's armies due to the constant skirmishing and the harsh weather conditions.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Mireces are the war-crazed, Always Chaotic Evil descendants of the exiled worshippers of the Red Gods. They engage in Human Sacrifice and slavery, subscribe to Asskicking Equals Authority and Rape, Pillage, and Burn their way through Rilporian villages whenever possible. The Mireces's religious head is the Blessed One, the High Priestess of the ed Gods. For some reason, they collectively only wear blue and/or black despite living in the harsh and cold mountains west of Rilpor.
- The Berserker: The Mireces are an entire culture of berserkers, taught to recklessly throw themselves into battel no matter what. This is partly because Asskicking Equals Authority for them, but mosty because any blood spillt, including their own, is a sacrifice to the Red Gods and helps tear the veil that's holding those back just a tiny little bit more.
- Blade on a Stick: Many Watchers use spears as weapons. Early on, Rillirin notices how particularly confident and comfortable Dalli is at handling hers and becomes envious, because Dalli represents to her everything she's never been able to be: a warrior and a woman able to handle herself. Eventually, Dalli teaches Rillirin how to use the spear, marking the point where Rillirin leaves her past as a slave behind for good.
- Blood Oath: Blood Oaths are practiced among the Mireces and entail swearing vengeance while cutting a circle of glyphs around one's forearm. Swearing a blood oath consecrates one to the Dark Lady, which is desirable among the Mireces but has unfortunate consequences when the chosen one of the Gods of Light does it.
- Bring News Back: The Watchers send Crys, Tara and Ash to Rilporin in a race against time to bringt the news to General Durdil Koridam that Prince Rivil is not only a murderer, convert and traitor, but has allied with the Mireces in their invasion of Rilpor. They fear for most of the way that the fact Crys is not dead has been discovered and they are being pursued only to discover that they're late upon arriving in the harbour of Rilporin. Fortunately, they still manage to get through to General Koridam, who already has been harbouring suspicions about the story the princes' party brought back.
- Broken Pedestal: Though Crys hasn't known Prince Rivil for long he comes to almost idolize the prince, looking up the Rivil's level-headedness, cameraderie and sense of resonsibility despite his reputation as a bon viveur. The, about a third into the first book, Rivil reveals that he's a follower of the Red Gods and a Mireces-collaborator and makes Crys watch the horrendously brutal sacrifice of his brother Prince Janis. Crys lampshades this in his thoughts thoughout Godblind again and again.
- BrotherSister Incest: The Dark Lady and Gosfath, God of Blood, are siblings. They're also lovers. Well, technically they're gods, and all the deities seem related somehow, but the Dark Lady exploits this to further squick and disgust Dom.
- Cain and Abel: Everyone assumes there has to be some kind of Sibling Rivalry between the princes Janis and Rivil, especially considering their different personalities, but is astonished to see that there seems to be none. About a third through Godblind Prince Rivil is revealed to be a traitor and convert to the Red Gods and offers his brother up as a horrific Human Sacrifice in honour of of his own conversion.
- Career-Ending Injury: Sarilla loses three of the fingers on her draw hand during the Mireces attack on her village, rendering her unable to use the bow and thus useless to the Watchers, at least as far as she is concerned. She does get better again after Rillirin presents her with a specially made wood-and-leather hand.
- Carved Mark: Swearing a Blood Oath involves carving a pattern around one's forearm, which is very commong among the Mireces. When Rillirin discovers that Dom also has these scars, she freaks out and has to be told about Dom's Dark and Troubled Past to stop accusing him of being a follower of the Dark Lady.
- The Cassandra: Defied by Dom who doesn't want people outside his immediate family to know that he's the calestar, even though his predictions are always right. He fears to either not be believed or to be denounced as a Mad Oracle because his knowings involve him fainting und writhing on the floor. His fear is not baseless, though, as this is exactly what happens when General Mace Koridam finds out the Watchers not only believe that Dom is the calestar but actually base their military movements on his predictions.
- The Chosen One:
- Dom Templeson, the calestar — the most powerful seer to be born in generations — was born in order to oppose the Dark Lady and her brother Gosfath, God of Blood, though the technicalities of what he is supposed to do are rather murky despite his direkt spiritual connection to the Dancer. He eventually figures out that the least he can do is to not break, but naturally, the Dark Lady pounces on the challenge, which drives him to Self-Harm. Deconstructed when it is revealed that due to his wife's and unborn child's brutal deaths he swore a Blood Oath to the Dark Lady, making it questionable at best whether his visions really come from the Dancer or actually the Dark Lady, who had her fingers in forming the calestar born to oppose her into her own Unwitting Pawn.
- Lanta, the Blessed One, is the High Priestess of the Dark Lady and Gosfath, God of Blood. She receives guidance and visions from her goddess and is generally considered the chosen voice of the Red Gods, although Gilda, the High Priestess of the Gods of Light, openly questions the truth of that.
- Citadel City: Rilporin, the capital of Rilpor, is surrounded not only by one, but by five curtain walls arranged concentrically round the palace. Each is another layer of defense which in peace times hold a different district of the city, with their gates set at different points to force attackers to run along a wall to get to the next gate, exposing them to whoever is atop the walls. Only the two harbours can be found outside the outer city walls.
- Cliffhanger: Godblind ends with Rillirin and Seth being trapped within the flooding tunnels of Yew Cove waiting to drown while the Mireces army and their allies from the East Rank have just arrived at Rilporin, with the first trebuchets losing their munitions at the city's walls.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
- The Mireces wear exclusively blue and/or black garments, making them instantly recognizable and the colour blue a very ill-advised and unpopular one in Rilpor. Characters who are secretly in cahoots with the Mireces also wear blue underneath their outer garments, usually dramatically ripping them open upon revealing their true allegiance.
- The Watchers and Wolves wear mostly green and brown, which makes sense considering they live in the forests close to the Mireces territory and need to be able to disguise themselves easily.
- The Corrupter: The Dark Lady, upon discovering that Dom is the calestar, puts herself to the task of breaking him through alternately torturing and seducing him within the waystation, the place the gods use to talk to mortals. Dom quickly figures out that she does it because making the calestar have a FaceHeel Turn would tear the veil holding the Red Gods from returning to Rilpor almost instantly. At least at the end of the first book, she succeeds in breaking Dom.
- Crisis of Faith: Through the Dark Lady's increasing mental torture of him and the atrocities visited upon his people by her followers, Dom slowly loses his faith in the Dancer whose calestar he is. When he eventually succumbs to the Dark Lady, the Dancer finally makes an appearance and is met with Dom accusing her of not giving a damn about what happens to her people, prompting her to reveal her true intentions and plan to him. It ends not so much in Dom regaining his faith as him losing his mind at the impossibility of her demands.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Prince Janis is the first to be sacrificed onpage to the Red Gods, which is told in detail. It includes him being hanged naked and head down from a wooden scaffold and having his feet, ankles, legs and knees nailed to it one big nail at a time. The procedure finishes with Lanta driving a last nail through his genitals into his rectum and eventually the scaffold beyond. Through all of this he is kept conscious because pain, suffering and blood is what lures the Red Gods to the site of the sacrifice and allows them to speak a message to their followers through the victim's mouth before leaving them dead behind. Lanta points out that it took them a long time to perfect the procedure.
- Cunning Like a Fox: One of the two Gods of Light revered in Rilpor is the Fox God, also known as the Lord of Cunning, the son of the Dancer. While he is seen as a trickster and the patron of gamblers, thieves and soldiers, he is also considered to be the bringer of truth and justice and people pray to him for wit, ingenuity, resourcefulness and strength.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Dom used to be married but once came home to a bunch of Mireces in the process of raping and killing his wife and unborn child, which promted him to rashly swear a Blood Oath for revenge, leading to the situation where the chosen one of the Gods of Light is bound to the Dark Lady.
- Dark Is Evil: The Dark Lady and her brother Gosfath, God of Blood, are the deities of death and mutilation and pain. Whenever they appear in person in Godblind it is in a dark, dimly lit cavern and wreathed in shadows, wearing black.
- The Dark Times: The main Back Story of the trilogy is that before the Dancer and the Fox God drove them out almost a thousand years ago, the Red Gods used to rule over the lands of Gilgoras with their tyrannic lust for blood and pain.
- Death by Origin Story: Hazel Shortspear, Dom's wife, died a long time before the trilogy begins, but still serves as an important motivation for Dom considering she and their unborn child were killed by Mireces (as far as Dom knows). The event's particularly important because it led to Dom swearing a Blood Oath of revenge, making him susceptible to the Dark Lady's corruption.
- Death Seeker: The Mireces army the West Rank and the Watchers face at Blood Pass Valley seem to throw themselves into their own deaths even more than the Mireces usually do. The Rilporians then figure out that they're old men with died hair and nothing to lose and keen on dying for their gods and taking as many enemies as possible with them in order to further damage the veil.
- Despair Event Horizon: Dom completely loses all hope when he not only sees Watchtown burnt down and its inhabitants slaughtered, the temple raided and defaced and the Mireces triumphant, but when he also becomes aware that the veil holding back the Red Gods has been torn down for good. Basically, his entire reason to exist as the calestar has become moot and since he is a seer, it means he can see what is happening and goign to happen elsewhere in Rilpor. It causes not only a severe Crisis of Faith, he is ready to give up his soul to the Dark Lady just to make the pain stop.
- Divine Conflict: There are two major divine parties in the conflict driving this trilogy. On the one hand, there are the Gods of Light, the Dancer and the Fox God, who almost a thousand years ago drove their siblings, the Red Gods, out of Gilgoras to end their tyranny of blood and death. Now the Dark Lady and her brother and lover Gosfath, God of Blood, are pushing for their return and the end of the reign of the Gods of Light through the means of their Religion of Evil.
- Doomed Hometown: The nameless Watcher village Dom calls his home is attacked and burnt down by a Mireces war party in search of Rillirin shortly after Dom rescues her and takes her there with him at the start of Godblind. Played for Drama because when the survivors accuse him of being responsible for it and kick him and Rillirin out of their company, Dom is very aware of the fact that he could've known of the attack in advance had he either demanded the information from Rillirin rather than being afraid to scare her himself or not run away from the knowing he knew was about to come which he avoided at all cost because they are always painful.
- Downer Ending: Godblind ends with Dom, who is supposed to safe the world, having succumbed to his despair and sitting sightlessly in the ruins and among the corpses of Watchtown, slowly gnawing off his own arm while Rillirin is about to drown at Yew Cove and the Mireces and their allies from the East Rank arriving at Rilporin and losing the first trebuchet munitions on its city walls. Parts of this also double as cliffhangers.
- Driven to Suicide: Defied. Dom reasons that the goal of the Dark Lady's torture of him is meant to either drive him to a FaceHeel Turn or to drive him to kill himself in despair because the calestar doing that would instantly tear the veil holding back the Red Gods. Dom resolves to never kill himself just to spite them. And he doesn't, though he fervently wished he could and ends the first book having gone completely nuts from the pain.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- During the first chapter, when Lanta is introduced, she is established as being very conscious about her standing and her importance as the Red Gods' Blessed One and thus the highest religious authority among the Mireces. Her first act is to imperiously ridicule them for not having achieved their gods' desires, then to demand that the queen of the Mireces offer herself up as this day's sacrifice, establishing the power she thinks she has over King Liris.
- Dom is first seen fishing with a spear out in the woods, only to drop it in a hurry and slosh praying for the shore because he can feel a knowing coming. He doesn't make it and drops unconscious in the cold water, establishing how the visions sent by the Dancer can come at any time and how Dom himself isn't too happy about it.
- Establishing Series Moment: Godblind opens with a scene of Lanta, the Blessed One of the Red Gods, choosing the queen of the Mireces as a sacrifice as punishment for the Mireces' continued failure to reconquer Rilpor for their gods. The palpable power dichotomy, dominance of the Red Gods and the bloody Human Sacrifice set in the heart of the Mireces territory pretty much sets the mood for the remainder of the story.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: When Dom arrives at Watchtown after it has been run over by the Mireces, he is already aware of what has happened thanks to a knowing, but he still needs to see for himself the still burning remains of his home town and the corpses of absolutely everyone who was within it when the Mireces arrived. It's one of the last straws that drive him over the edge.
- Fainting Seer: Dom tends to have more or less severe epilepsy-like seizures whenever he is receiving a knowing from the gods, including spasms, drooling and screaming, especially when the knowing is important or sudden. Of course, the gods don't care if he's in the middle of swinging an axe when they decide to communicate. He is acutely aware of this and tries to keep the fact that he's the most potent seer to be born in generations a secret from anyone outside his family, as at best they would think him the Cassandra and a Mad Oracle at worst.
- The Fatalist: Dom slowly develops into a fatalist. At first he still believes that the Red Gods can be resisted but the more he is tortured by them, the more he understands that resistance is futile and You Can't Fight Fate — especially not when you're the calestar who has foolishly bound himself to the Gods of Blood. Breaking him will break the veil that is holding them back, and he is only one man and very much vulnerable.
- Forced to Watch:
- Crys is forced to watch the brutal sacrifice of Janis when Janis's brother Rivil is revealed to be a follower of the Red Gods. It's not so much that Crys was particularly fond of the prince, but as captain of the honour guard he was responsible for his safety and respected him. It's left entirely open why he is made to watch other than to Kick the Dog because Galtas Morellis cannot stand Crys, but it does have a profound influence on Crys from then on.
- Gilda, the High Priestess of the Gods of Light, is forced by Lanta, her counterpart in the cult of the Red Gods, to watch Watchtown and the adjacent temple be sacked, looted and burned and its inhabitants butchered in the name of the Red Gods. Gilda assesses succinctly that Lanta does it to have someone to gloat to about the power of her gods while they watch the town burn.
- For Science!: Hallos's justification for secretly drafting Durdil's soldiers to participate in potentially dangerous experiments which more often than not end with them in the hospital amounts to it being necessary to advance his medical knowledge, especially considering that he's the king's physician and the king is not well.
- Gender Is No Object: Among the Wolves and Watchers, women can and often are warriors in their own right and are regarded as equal, which strongly contrasts with the general view of Rilpor. Dalli even lampshades this when she tells General Mace Koridam that Captain Tara Carter would be much better served by joining the Watchers where she would be appreciated as an equal rather than suspected of having slept her way up at best.
- Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: After the battle at the Blood Pass Valley, many of the Watchers and soldiers celebrate still being alive by having sex. Ash purposely invokes the trope in-universe by pointing that out to Crys then propositioning him to do the same, what with the possibility that they might, in fact, die within the next few days after all. Crys initially balkes at the idea because Ash is a man but then comes around to see Ash's point of view.
- God of Evil: The Dark Lady and her brother Gosfath, God of Blood, are known as the Red Gods; the gods of death, blood, pain, war and a lot of other unpleasant things. They and their followers are the main drive of the plot by trying to Take Over the World and restore their tyranny after almost a thousand years. Their methods include Human Sacrifice and spilling blood and bringing pain until the veil that's holding them back rips. As far as their followers are concerned, walking the Dark Path brings power and glory and makes them supposedly invincible.
- God of Good: The Dancer and her son the Fox God are known as the Gods of Light and are the main deities worshipped in Rilpor, with their counterparts, the Red Gods, having been banished beyond a veil almost a thousand years ago. The Dancer is a Mother Nature type of goddess, responsible for all things related to light, the seasons, harvest, the cycle of birth and death, peace, patience and so on, and appears as a woman in white. The Fox God, also known as the Lord of Cunning, is a trickster-deity, isconsidred to be the patron of gamblers, thieves and soldiers and revered for his wit, ingenuity, resourcefulness and strength. Unlike the Red Gods, the Gods of Light are much more passive, allowing their people to live their lives to the point of losing their faith and embracing all, even the followers of the red Gods.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: The reason the Red Gods are ascendant is that they are so strict and harsh when it comes to their followers, whose devotion allows them to keep gaining strength and who are ready to die for them. It is said that, in contrast, the Dancer's grip on Rilpor as well as her shields against the Red Gods have weakened so badly because the Rilporians lack faith in the Gods of Light due to having lived in their care and peace for almost a thousand years.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: After he finds Watchtown burned to the ground and everyone within it dead and has a severe Crisis of Faith, the Dancer finally appears to Dom in person, who confronts her already raving against the injustice of her inaction. She responds is that she loves all her people, even the Mireces, and reveals to Dom her true intentions and his role in her plan. This and the constant unbearable pain from several gods tugging at his brain makes Dom lose his mind completely and he ends the first book raving mad and gnawing away at his own arm.
- Got Volunteered: Prince Rivil volunteers Crys to captain his honour guard on his and Janis's visit to the West Rank. Crys isn't too keen on the job, considering it means actually working. General Koridam reminds him in no uncertains terms that goofing off will not be tolerated wether Crys wants the job or not.
- Groin Attack: One version of the Mireces Human Sacrifice involves driving a big nail through the still conscious male victim's genitals and into his rectum as a final flourish.
- Happily Adopted: Dom was taken in by Gilda and Cam and raised as part of their family at the temple after he was sent there by his real parents, who were overwhelmed by his visions. He's very happy about it and considers Gilda and Cam his real family and Lim his real brother.
- Harbinger of Impending Doom: Dom is sent by the Dancer into Mireces territory to find something he calls the 'key' and 'harbinger'. Turns out it's Rillirin, who is injured and coming down the mountains in her flight from a Mireces war party. Technically, she's bringing news of the planned Mireces invasion of Rilpor, but she is too scared and traumatized to share that information with anyone and Dom is too hesitant to demand it from her even though he knows she's bringing vital news. The bottom line is that his home village is destroyed, a lot of people are killed and he and Rillirin are banished by the surviving villagers for not warning them beforehand.
- He Knows Too Much: Downplayed with Crys. After he finds out who is the traitor within the princes' party and made to watch the Human Sacrifice in honour of the traitor's conversion to the Dark Path, he is kept in captivity by them because he knows too much and could ruin their entire plan. It's never revealed why they keep him alive and drag him back to the capital, where he could start talking at any time, because Crys manages to escape shortly after the sacrifice.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Rillirin, who is a redhead and becomes Dom's Love Interest during Godblind, turns out to be quite spunky and willfull after she loses her paralyzing fear of everyone around her.
- High Priest: The two rivalling faiths in Gilgoras, those of the Red Gods and the Gods of Light both have a High Priestess:
- Lanta, the Blessed One, is the young high priestess of the Red Gods. She leads the priesthood, is responsible for conducting the Human Sacrifices her faith demands and is in direct contact with the Dark Lady. She obviously struggles with her desire for power and attention, which is fueled by her priests, and the risk of becoming too ambitious and provoking the ire of her gods, which is not helped by the Mireces king, Corvus, who enjoys taunting her with both.
- In contrast, Gilda, the high priestess of the Gods of Light, does not meddle in power plays and prefers to live quietly with her family at the temple. She has lived a long life and been a lot of things, like midwife, priestess and counsellor, and prefers to worship her gods by helping other people. Unlike Lanta, she is very secure in her standing and who she is and not afraid to state things as they are or offer herself up to safe others.
- Human Sacrifice:
- Idiot Ball: Defied with Galtas, Rivil re Crys see He Knows Too Much
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die:
- I'm Having Soul Pains:
- Inciting Incident:
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: It's all the Dark Lady & Gosfath are about.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One:
- "Join the Army," They Said:
- Keeping the Enemy Close:
- Kiss of Death:
- Leave No Survivors:
- Left for Dead:
- Light Is Good:
- Long Game:
- The Lost Lenore: Hazel, Marisa?
- Loves the Sound of Screaming:
- Made a Slave:
- Mad Oracle:
- Make an Example of Them:
- Mind Rape:
- Mission from God:
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness:
- The Mole:
- Mole in Charge:
- Mother Nature:
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Not Himself:
- An Offer You Can't Refuse:
- Oh, Crap!:
- Oracular Urchin:
- Panthera Awesome:
- Physical Religion:
- Plot-Triggering Death:
- The Poorly Chosen One:
- Power-Strain Blackout:
- Prevent the War:
- Primal Fear:
- Protagonist Journey to Villain:
- Psychological Torment Zone:
- Punished for Sympathy:
- Rage Against the Heavens:
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Red and Black and Evil All Over:
- Relationship Upgrade:
- Religion of Evil:
- The Reveal:
- R-Rated Opening:
- Saintly Church:
- Scientist vs. Soldier:
- Second Love:
- Sex for Services:
- Sex Slave:
- Shapeshifter Default Form:
- The Siege:
- Siege Engines:
- Situational Sexuality:
- Sleeping Their Way to the Top:
- Sleeping with the Boss:
- Smart Ball:
- The Smurfette Principle:
- The Squadette:
- Start of Darkness:
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Janis, Marisa (also Death by Origin Story)
- Succession Crisis:
- Take Over the World:
- Title Drop:
- Treacherous Advisor: Subverted with Galtas.
- The Trickster:
- Villain Opening Scene:
- Villainous Incest:
- Violence Is Disturbing:
- Voluntary Shapeshifting:
- War Arc:
- Wham Episode:
- World Limited to the Plot:
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
Verka Serduchkanote is a Ukrainian Drag Queen and the best known stage persona of Ukrainian singer and comedian Andriy Danylko. She has recorded several studio albums and appeared in various films, with her best known performance being when she represented Ukraine in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 2nd place. Verka has remained very popular with the Eurovision fan crowd ever since.
Verka's music is characterized by using a liberate mix of Russian and Ukrainian known as Surzhyknote , poking fun at Russian and Ukrainian (and originally Soviet) social norms, as well as catchy beats and easy to remember lyrics, which have made her songs popular at weddings and any outing that might end in general drunkenness.
The persona of Verka Serduchka began life as a bossy and proudly ignorant middle-aged Soviet train conductor, then ditched her train whistle to acquiere a feather boa and sunglasses and become a flamboyant parody of Russia's nouveau riche class. After the political fallout of her 2007 Eurovision Song Contest performance, Verka again changed her style, now towards an internationally easier readable but no less outrageous look, and started peppering her lyrics with German and English words.
At some point, Verka also acquiered a sidekick in the form of her wide-eyed "mother" from the village, played by actress Inna Bilokon.
In 2015, Verka Serduchka made an in-persona appearance in the film Spy.
- Ya rozhdena dlya lyubvi (1998) — I was born for love
- Hop-Hop (2002)
- Chita drita (2003)
- Kha-ra-sho (2003) — Surzhyk way to say 'khorosho', meaning Good
- Zhenikha khotela (2004) — I wanted a bridegroom
- Novye pesni Verki Serduchki (2006) — The New Songs of Verka Serduchka
- Tralli-Valli (2006)
- Dancing Europe (2007)
- DoReMi DoReDo (2008)
- Alles Gut Mamba (2011) — German for All Is Great Mamba
Verka Serduchka provides examples of:
- Binge Montage: Hop-Hop-Hop is one song-long montage of people getting ridiculously drunk in an exaggerated, 'typically' Ukrainian manner.
- Concept Video: Most of Verka Serduchka's music videos are Concept Videos. Examples:
- Chita drita has Verka, having become a nationally known star, returning home to the village for a visit, bringing along some hanger-ons and presents. Turns out that with enough alcohol and the right music, villagers and city people can party together like there's no tomorrow, despite obvious visual differences.
- Horilka has villagers and kosacks come to a peasant Verka's house in search of booth, and the song is about how horilka (Ukrainian vodka) tops anything Verka has ever tasted in the city, be it champagner or coffee. After everyone's passed out, Verka runs off.
- Vse budet khorosho (Everything will be well) has Verka, the nouveau riche, thrown into jail, where she promptly proceeds to throw a party under the nose of the police.
- Tuk, tuk, tuk has pop star Verka Serduchka taking her numerous family out to an expensive restaurant, and when asked for a toast, she delivers a song that animates everyone to drink and dance.
- Tango is an unusual one insofar as it has both Verka Serduchka and her creator Andriy Danylko dancing tango and hashing out via singing who's the one more deserving of praise and fame.
- Drag Queen: Of the camp variety, dressing outlandishly to mimic a certain style among the Russian nouveau riche without any sense of fashion. Verka Serduchka is larger than life, snappy, bossy and a diva. It is clearly for comedic purposes only, though, as Andriy Danylko has in the past stated that Verka Serduchka is nothing more than a stage persona.
- Fish-Eye Lens: Hop-Hop-Hop features a song-long Binge Montage with lots of close-up moments of people's faces when drinking, eating and singing, seen through a fish eye lens.
- Gag Boobs: Verka has an impressive pair of them as a comical exaggeration of her Soviet train conductor persona.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Surreal Music Video: When Verka's music videos are not telling some elaborate framing story, they tend to be surreal. For example, the video for A ya smeyus' (And I'm laughing) features her in a monstrous winged pink gown in front of an equally pink, vaguely heavenly background with scantily clad and aluminium foil decorated musicians who may or may not be supposed to resemble astronauts. This is completed by a horde of pink-clad dancers in mini dresses with wings and red ribbons where certain delicate body parts are.
- Talky Bookends: Most music videos of Verka's feature an introductory scene with dialogue, and some take more than a minute to get to the music. Often, there's also a concluding short scene, usually showing the aftermath of whatever revelry has taken place during the actual song.
- Unlimited Wardrobe:
Nogu Svelo! (russ. Ногу свело!; engl. "Cramp in the Leg!") is a Russian Alternative Rock band from Moscow whose style spans Indie Rock, Pop Punk, plain old Punk Rock, Ska and anything else that looks experimental enough. It was established by Singer-Songwriter Maxim Pokrovkiy in 1988 and to this day he remains both the producer and Face of the Band, as well as the author of most of its music and lyrics.
The band's songs are distinguished by their delicate but often highly cynical humour, accessible but seemingly nonsensical lyrics speckled with foreign phrases and almost childishly simple melodies. As it often happens in Russian rock, the lyrics seem to transport a particlar sentiment or veiled message rather than tell a coherent story. Nogu Svelo! was particularly popular in Russia and its neighbouring countries during the '90s, when they kept winning awards for best alternative band.
When talking about his band's name, Max Pokrovskiy has stated that he actively wanted to find a name that would differentiate his band among other bands and would not follow the standard "adjective + noun" pattern. He eventually settled on "Nogu Svelo!"
As of 2018, the band consists of five members:
- Maxim Pokrovskiy: lyrics & music, vocals, bass guitar
- Igor Lapukhin: guitar
- Maxim Likhachev: trombone, harp, timbales, tambourine & other instruments
- Dmitry Krichevskiy: drums, percussion
- Alexandr Volkov: keyboard, synthesizer, musical arrangements
Nogu Svelo!'s studio albums to date are:
- 1:0 в пользу девочек (1:0 v pol'zu devochek; engl. 1:0 in favour of the girls) (1990)
- Капризы манекенщиц (Kaprizy manikenchits; engl. The whimsies of the models) (1992)
- Хару Мамбуру (Haru Mamburu) (1993)
- Сибирская любовь (Sibirskaya lyubov'; engl. Siberian Love) (1995)
- Счастлива, потому что беременна: Синий альбом (Schastlivaya potomu chto beremenna: siniy al'bom; engl. I'm happy because I'm pregnant: The blue album) (1997)
- Счастлива, потому что беременна: Зелёный альбом (Schastlivaya potomu chto beremenna: Zelyonyi al'bom; engl. I'm happy because I'm pregnant: The green album) (1999)
- Каллы (Kally; engl. Callas) (1999)
- Бокс (Boks; engl. Boxing) (2000)
- В темноте (V temnote; In the dark) (2002)
- Идём на Восток! (Idyom na vostok!; engl. Going east!) (2005)
- Обратная сторона ноги (Obratnaya storona nogi; engl. The otehr side of the leg) (2011)
- Съешь моё сердце (Syesh moyo serdtse; engl. Eat my heart) (2014)
- Материки моей планеты (Materiki moyei planety; engl. The continents of my planet) (2017)