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Webcomic / Archipelago

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It's a bit of a long, complicated story. (and this isn't even halfway through!) note 

A webcomic by H. L. Devera.

Credenza, an ordinary waitress, discovers a man washed up on the shores of Ruin Island. He is wounded and on the brink of death, but with Credenza's help is able to recover. The only problem? The man's mind has been shattered; gone are his sanity and memories, including his name. Credenza gives him a new one, Blitz, and earns his undying loyalty. Follow Credenza, Blitz and their friends as they become entangled in a colossal battle between good and evil, journey to new parts of the Archipelago, and learn much more about themselves than they could've bargained for.

The comic began on September 30th 2005, and concluded on February 3rd, 2017.

The Author had mentioned a potential spin-off/follow-up that would take place in the same universe, and then on March 2nd 2017 she announced City of Somnus, which is scheduled to start in August of the same year.


Can be found at the official site as well as the creator's deviantART page.

With the closure of Smackjeeves, many links may be defunct.

Provides examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Holly.
  • Accidental Kiss: Willium and Nim here.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Captain Snow in Book 4.5.
  • Aerith and Bob: Considering the fantasy setting, not terribly shocking.
  • Affably Evil: Captain Snow is this most of the time, making jokes and snide comments; he's probably very capable of dropping it, though.
  • Affectionate Parody: In the background of the first panel here, an actor is accosted by a pair of... fanfiction writers.
    "You and Clarika are so romantic together!"
    "We wrote a story about you two!"
    "That's... nice."
  • After the End:
    • The backstory, involving a fallen (in every sense of the word), Magitek civilization that built the machines like Snow's arm, guns, the submarines, the dragon the Archipelago is built upon, which the Great Raven, Dragonfly and 4 other Magitek A.I.s ran, and duct tape. They also genetically engineered the various beastmen and were-animals that inhabit the Archipelago.
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    • Hints that this may be a far-future or alternate Earth, given that the common language is descended from English (retaining the name, but about as intelligible to modern English speakers as modern English would be to Old English) and characters have read aloud from real written works. In addition, Word of God states that religions such as Christianity and Buddhism still exist in some form.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Raven deciding that his purpose as an anti-virus also means killing pretty much everyone is the whole reason we have a plot to begin with.
  • All Just a Dream: During a session of psychological torment, Captain Snow attempts to convince Credenza that the entire story was a case of this. Paollo reminds her otherwise.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Amongst the villain camp. Knull and Han both took a liking to Lucinda, who couldn't reciprocate as she traded away her emotions after her heart was broken by a man from her past (who, in an odd twist, was also Han).
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The cast page explains a number of details about the characters' backgrounds and abilities that otherwise don't get a lot of detail in the story. The author also on occasion leaves notes with certain strips that pose as a sort as insight into the makings of individual characters or elaborations on elements of the Archipelago world, such as information about the inner workings of magic in the setting. After the comic's end, this kind of information can usually be found in her Tumblr.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Olivia's gauntlet, containing all of the heirs' powers. Once used to fight the Raven, but now Snow controls it.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Raven spirits and shadowmandyrs. Subverted in both cases for those released from control of their malevolent forebears, the Great Raven and the Shadowmandyr Queen, respectively. Raven goes on to become heroic, if cranky, while the shadowmandyrs are pretty much animals who were following their Queen's control and eventually jump ship to Simon once she's dead.
  • Always Save the Girl: This is how Raven reacted when Credenza was lost in Book 5.
    Raven: Forget the heirs. Forget the Raven. Until we find Crendenza, nothing else matters.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Dragonfly's necklace, which unlocks Credenza's power. Vaniji also has his cane, in which he has invested and concentrated his powers, to the point that Vaniji's cane becomes an Amulet of Dependency, as he has left nothing for himself.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Inverted with Raven, whose body gradually becomes more corporeal as he becomes more and more human.
    • Captain Snow keeps losing pieces of himself, but his Magitek arm keeps replacing what he loses. By the end of the story, he's completely mechanical.
  • And I Must Scream: Those who are possessed by a raven spirit but are captured or simply no longer useful may be Soul Sealed. Essentially the subjects soul is sealed deep within their body and while they remain alive and aware, they cannot move or act in any way at all. Raven attempts this on Anthony when he first possesses him, but it's interfered with when Anthony cuts his own left eye out to block Raven's escape route, inadvertently leading to breaking his own mind and trapping Raven in it.
  • Animal Motifs: Most of the cast is in some way part-animal, thanks to the Magitek After the End setting, and are often casually referred to as such; Tuff and Riley, half-weresharks, are "fish", Raven is a "bird", so on. Even characters who aren't beastmen or spirits get in on the action later, when we see their souls in the dream world or character portraits.
  • Anti-Hero:
  • Anti-Magic: Knull's gift, which even makes him immune to the Raven himself. Possibly the only reason Snow didn't kill him along with the rest of his family; that, or because he makes good tea.
  • Arc Number: Groups of 6:
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Shortly before breaking out of his Lotus-Eater Machine:
    Raven: A beautiful wife, a child on the way, surrounded by supportive friends... Whose fantasy is this, Snow? Mine — or yours?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Credenza would like for us to know that Captain Snow is a filthy coward, inexcusably evil, and poorly dressed. The last is probably the one thing that would actually insult Snow - he fancies himself a Sharp-Dressed Man at times.
  • Art Evolution: Seriously. Compare this with this, and then to the most recent pages.
  • Artificial Limb: Snow has a cyborg arm (which is quickly growing into a cyborg body because he keeps getting injured). For a more bizarre example, Anansi uses scarfs for arms.
  • Art Shift: The Maze of Dreams. Tatami's dream is rough and sketched. Riley's and Tuff's share Orange/Blue Contrast, but the former is straight lines and angles, while the latter is smooth and curved. Raven's dream is an Out-of-Genre Experience.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Uru, in Credenza's place, when they were slaves.
  • A-Team Montage: Here.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
  • Author Appeal: In the creator's own words, "In case you haven't realized, Archipelago is pretty much one big excuse for me to draw strange animals."
  • Badass Boast: "I am a part of the darkness! A piece of the nightmare! I am older than the ground you walk on, more powerful than the forces of nature that bind this world! I looked down from the stars and I cursed this world and all life on it! I made the great wheel of life turn backwards! No one can strike ME! I AM RAVEN!"
  • Badass Normal: Until Credenza started actually using Dragonfly's necklace she had no magical strength to speak of, but still threw herself into adventure and trouble. Snow also had no real native magical power before he was resurrected by the Great Raven and given the cyborg arm, but was still one of the most feared men in the world. Raven becomes one after finishing his transformation into a near-human.
  • Badass Preacher: Miss Tabitha is a nun. A rather elderly nun. Do not be fooled by appearances. Do not threaten her abbey's residents. Do NOT tear books in her library!
  • Ballroom Blitz: Book 6. Snow and an army of Ravens attempt a hostile takeover of the Quillotia Castle while King Mikel is hosting a party to welcome home his long-lost cousins, the Luck brothers.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In the finale, Credenza has to defeat Snow in the dreaming world, while her friends battle him in the physical world.
  • The Beastmaster: Simon, with his hunting dog June. And later the shadowmandyrs, once their queen is dead and he's the only "home" and authority they now know.
  • BFS: Riley's sword, The Jawbreaker, is so heavy only someone with a (half-)wereshark's strength can lift it.
  • Big Bad: The Great Raven.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Uru, to Credenza.
  • Big Eater: Riley to a T.
  • Big Good: Dragonfly. Well, he was.
  • Big "YES!": Snow, when he's being attacked by Dragon!Blitz
  • Beast Man: Even referred to as such, or werebeasts. Known races include werecats (Miss Tabitha the nun), werehyenas and other canines (Kurr), weresharks (Tuff and Riley are half-wereshark), and wereorcas. There are also some non-were beast man species as well, who seem to have obvious animal features prominently integrated into their humanoid forms.
  • Blind Seer: A half-case: Anansi Padma is blind in one eye, but it doesn't seem relevant at all to her seeing the future. In fact, it was her trying to stop the future from happening that caused her to become blind in one eye and lose her arms.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Blitz, to Captain Snow, after tearing his mechanical arm off.
  • Body Horror: Dude.
  • Bookends: The comic begins and ends with Raven and Credenza on the beach on Ruin Island at night.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Riley accidentally spends an entire day flirting with Alice, ironically without knowing that she was the one he was supposed to be looking for.
  • Break the Cutie: When hints of Blitz's memories begin trickling back to him.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "What if my teeth scare him? What if I drop him? What if he explodes?!"
  • Cassandra Truth:
  • Cat Girl: Miss Tabitha, among others.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • On this page, an observant reader will notice that when Charlie licks Credenza's cheek, there's a tiny blue magic flash and her scratch is suddenly gone. In the next chapter, this happens.
    • Credenza asks Kroft (whose dragon form she's riding on) about his human body and he goes into detail explaining it. In the next panel, we have a shot of Blitz looking overjoyed flying on his back. The relevance? Blitz is later revealed to be a dragon.
    • In the later chapters close to the end, eating spirits is brought up about twice. This is what Snow does at the end to obtain the Great Raven's power.
    • While he's talking to a girl who turns out to be Han During the party in Quilotia, Tuff mentions a Masquerade Ball that left some sort of impression on him emotionally. Guess what his nightmare is?
    • Chekhov's Gunman: Aside from the aforementioned Charlie, actually Uru. When Snow begins using the gauntlet containing all of the heirs' abilities, the heir whose power he gets the most use out of (and, in turn, the one who's able to counteract him) is Paollo.
    • Anansi's prediction for Tuff, which involves meeting "a beautiful blue-skinned stranger". Tuff is quick to write it off. Enter Cassie.
  • Circling Birdies:
    • On occasion.
      Credenza: Heh heh... Pweety lights...
    • Another time, when Paollo's waking up from a vision:
      Tusura: Okay, Paollo, how many fingers am i holding up?
      Paollo: Look! Stars!
      Tusura: Close enough.
  • Clever Crows: The Big Bad of this comic is The Great Raven, an ancient spirit, fearfully clever, terribly powerful, trapped beneath the Earth with a magic seal. Also present is Raven, who used to be a spiritual handservant for The Great Raven. He's also clever, but he went through a series of events (not least of which, his firing) that shook his world and made him switch loyalties.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: On Hidden Island.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Blitz, Paollo, Mikel, among others.
  • Clothing Damage: "Was it really necessary to get rid of his clothes, or was that just for effect?"
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Different types of magic, different colors.
  • Comically Missing the Point: From the Snowflakes intermission, when Captain Snow is showing off his mechanical arm to his daughter:
    "This isn't a toy! It's an insanely dangerous toy. This arm is made with the technology of the ancients who made the Archipelago! At its full power, it is capable of being an unstoppable weapon of mass destruction! ...You don't get one of these until you're at least eighteen, young lady."
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Wereshark society is apparently very dark and violent, with an atavistic focus on blood and feeding. Weresharks raised away from their society are perfectly friendly (like Tuff, Riley, and their father), though can have their fight-or-flight instincts easily triggered by a strong scent of blood or the sight of a loved one being injured.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A few, mostly regarding the identity of the heirs. In order;
    • Kor, one of the heirs, happened to work for Vaniji Ralo, someone who knew Captain Snow personally and was gifted Paollo's Royal Guard for Mind Control.
    • The second-to-last heir is Anthony/Blitz's daughter.
    • The final heir is not only Uru, Credenza's slave friend, but was Charlie the entire time. This gives him a personal connection to Snow and Credenza, our main protagonist and antagonist, and Kor, another heir.
    • Anthony and Clair's home was built on top of the very ship that The Great Raven is locked inside of.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: This or possibly a combo of it and Lethal Chef describe Riley's cooking. His signature dish is best described as fish still-kicking cooked into a pancake batter. Both of these tropes are actually averted, as his dish is delicious, loved but lost by the Pintur family.
  • Creepy Ravens: No actual birds, but the Big Bad is called The Raven and looks distinctly birdlike. His minions have a raven theme going on.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Who knew Blitz could do this? Or, for that matter, this. Or this.
    • Kor is a flighty, fickle, weak-willed, Serial Romeo meter-tall bird-man actor. He's also an heir, and holds his own against Snow in a sword fight.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Early on, Dream!Paollo attempts to warn Credenza of events to come (Raven, the heirs), but she has no idea what he's talking about.
    Paollo: Darnit, what's the point of being omniscient when no one else is?
  • Curse Cut Short: Raven, of the injured-mid-sentence variety.
    Raven: Curse it, Snow! You soul thieving son of a B- *Mona wallops with baseball bat* -UHK!
  • Cute Little Fangs: Clair, being the daughter of a half-dragon and a full dragon. Kor could almost count given his small and "huggable" appearance, but he usually only bares them when he looks like he wants to rip out someone's throat with them.
  • Deadly Doctor: Captain Snow. See Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters have their moments, but Raven's the most notable.
    Raven: Nice try, Riley, but it will take more than halitosis to scare me.
  • Deal with the Devil: Snow, Snow's crew, and every other person possessed by a raven.
  • Death by Childbirth: Poor Chesska.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Color is reserved for magical effects, lending them extra strength and making climactic fights bright and dramatic. Flashbacks - including Snowflakes, a side story about Snow set just before the series began - are done in full color.
  • Demonic Possession: The Shadomandyr Queen uses Simon this way. When the Raven sees Dragonfly he posses Snow so he could kill Dragonfly personally, Snow is angry about this because the terms of the his deal stated no possessions. Oh, and The Raven causes Snow to change into a massive raven with a shock of white feather on his head.
  • Dies Wide Open: Holly
  • Disney Villain Death: A two-for-one deal; Lucinda (Driven to Suicide) and Han (Taking You with Me).
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Credenza goes barefoot quite often.
  • The Dragon: Snow to the Great Raven, though not without signs of being a Dragon with an Agenda, and later The Starscream.
  • Dream Walker: Paollo, Captain Snow (copying Paollo's power), Olivia, Credenza.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: You're in the middle of nowhere, and the heart crystal, the only thing that can keep your sub going, is falling apart. So you put it back together with... well, guess.
  • Dull Surprise: Lucinda, to pretty much everything. Justified, since she's an Emotionless Girl.
  • Dying as Yourself: A Raven spirit leaves its host upon death, as evidenced with Kurr. Han, being a shapeshifter goes out this way as well, showing Lucinda (but not the reader) his true appearance before their mutual Disney Villain Death.
  • Dynamic Entry: Credenza is on the beach, surrounded by shadowmandyrs, and then, suddenly.... Blitz emerges from the ocean. Smashing the shadowmandyrs. While riding a hammerhead shark.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lucinda. Justified - she had her heart broken (by a man hinted and later confirmed to have something to do with the Raven, no less), and her price for joining the Raven was to have her heart really broken all the way through, so she couldn't feel pain anymore.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Captain Snow seems to be oddly protective of his nephew, Knull. Snowflakes introduces Noemi (Snow's wife) and Yula (his daughter), but ultimately deconstructs the trope; Snow kills his mother in a flashback, and Noemi points out that his love for her and their daughter wouldn't stop him from hurting either of them eventually.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Snow loves tea, and once berated his crew for trying to burn down a tea house. He refrained from warning them when the shop owner proceeded to poison every cup (including his), deciding that if they couldn't detect the poison, then they weren't good enough to serve on his crew in the first place.
  • Evil Genius: Snow claims to be trained as a doctor, has jury rigged medical implements using advanced tech, can use magic, and at one point animates bone skeletons.
  • Explosive Breeder: Apparently, Moofs.
  • Eye Scream: Ravens enter through your left eye to possess you. Not only that, but Blitz (back when he was Anthony Solair) stabs his own eye out in a effort to keep Raven from possessing him.
  • Eye Take: Raven and Credenza on this page. Captain Snow joins the list here.
  • Fainting Seer: According to Tusura, it often takes a bucket of cold water to snap Paollo out of his visions.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Riley and Alice in Quillotia.
  • Fantastic Racism: Usually directed against weresharks and related half-bloods. Weresharks are seen as predatory monsters (and culturally, that's not far off the mark) who are better off dead. Tuff and Riley Luck, as half-bloods (they had a human mother), face all the prejudices ascribed to sharkmen, and even their shark kin would kill them as abominations. It's especially bad in Quillotia, the Luck brothers' home city, which is home to a large population of wereorcas, who hate weresharks more than any other race.
  • Food as Bribe:
    • Riley likes fish pie.
    • Later, Credenza to Raven.
      Raven: I am an ancient spirit of the dark. You think you can bribe me with a mere pastry?
      Credenza: You're a little man made of ectoplasm. And you have a sweet tooth.
      Raven: I should never have let you give me candy.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • This page shows some of the characters from Book 8 before they are introduced.
    • Book 2, page 47, Blitz says "Even if they throw me in the ocean, I'll just swim and swim until I find you again." Fifteen pages later, guess what happens.
    • This symbol is introduced at the beginning of Book 8 and goes unexplained until this happens.
    • A lot, though fairly subtle, about Blitz being a dragon, sprinkled all throughout the comic leading up to the eventual reveal late in Book 8.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: A Formspring account "answered" by the characters. Many are humorous, some are very sweet, and others are downright depressing.
  • Frameup: Just before the story actually begins, Anthony/Blitz was blamed for the death of his captain's fiance. Turns out it was actually the captain himself who killed her when she discovered he was shipping illegal goods.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Credenza, though she makes a special exception for Captain Snow, whom she would gladly personally throttle.
  • From a Single Cell: After Captain Snow is vaporized by the defense system of the Exigo, a small chip of his machinery worms its way into the ship's systems, hijacks it, and builds him a replacement body.
  • Funny Background Event: Though the moment where Snow steals Credenza's soul is very intense, it's hard not to laugh at the picture of the pterodactyl with a laser beam coming out of it's mouth in the background. Here.
  • Grand Finale: After 11 years and well over a thousand pages it would be strange if it didn't end this way.
  • God Save Us All: Paollo is the prince of the Solid Tower, the destined ruler of the Eastern Continent! In his hands lies the future of our country!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    • Alice is trying to untie a bag rather urgently. It's got lots of tight knots. So Alice, a girl raised around sailors, starts swearing at it like only she can:
      Alice: Crumbs! Toast crumbs! Toast crumbs with butter and jam you stupid bag!
    • Word of God says that it's hard to come up with G-rated swears.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Beastmen can mix with humans, though it's rare. Tuff and Riley are half-wereshark. A hybrid can get some beneficial traits like strength, danger-sense, or a powerful sense of smell, but shapeshifting into a more animalistic form is generally right out— they can try, but it won't be pretty and is probably lethal. Tuff describes the result as looking something like tuna casserole. We eventually see the result first-hand— see Body Horror above.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A lot of Blitz's strange babbling ends up making tragic sense when you find out what happened to him. And deep down, part of him is aware of what he has lost.
    Blitz: I can't die, I need to go home, she needs me.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Raven gets a soul. And much later Knull decides he's done with following his uncle's orders.
  • Heinz Hybrid:
    • Vaniji is an "Archipelagan Mutt," a mix of human, Avian, were-cat, and Cloven, which balances out to "looks mostly human with a few vestigial features" like tiny, useless wings and a tail.
    • Most of the were-creature and beastmen races are technically such as well. Weresharks were engineered using traits from gorillas and Komodo dragons as well as sharks. Fish-people like Cassie were engineered using cuttlefish and electric eels, among other things. According to the creator, "This is what comes of being raised watching Animal Planet."
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Book 10 has a variation. We finally come face to face with The Great Raven, set up as the Big Bad- only for Snow, the one whose been harrying our heroes all along, to come up, eat The Raven, and act as the main villain for the rest of the plot.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Second book, Captain Snow versus the Royal Guard.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Both of the Luck brothers (Riley and Alice, Tuff and Cassie). Apparently, it runs in the family.
  • Humanity Ensues: All the A.I.s but The Great Raven in the back-story. Raven starts at the end of Book 6 from Credenza's magic overload, and finishes in Book 7, triggered by strong emotions.
  • Human Shield: The Shadomandyr Queen uses Simon as one.
  • Humiliation Conga: Through most of book 5, Han ends up embarrassed, screwing up, or otherwise causing trouble for himself out of incompetence or thoughtlessness in nearly every appearance.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Vaniji.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Alice got this a lot, enough to accuse Riley of this when he says he has to leave.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Alice's brother Lio, to Riley.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight:
    • Played during the beginning, with Credenza and Blitz/Raven.
    • With Simon, when he's possessed by the Shadowmandyr Queen.
    • With Paollo's guards, after they're brainwashed by Vaniji.
    • Played with when Raven confronts a possessed Benjamin. His conversation has less to do with convincing Benjamin, and more with goading his possessors into letting him out, so Raven can slip him a counter-spell for when they pull him back in.
  • Imaginary Friend: Claire's Projected Boy best friend, Benjamin.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: Blitz does it here and here. Turns out that the first time he cries was because before his memory loss, he had a wife who died in childbirth. The second time, we then know about it...but he still doesn't. He had just woken up from a dream which was a memory of his wife, but Blitz doesn't understand his dreams, they just make him sad and confused.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Blitz is run through during the climax.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Credenza cries so hard that she scares Raven.
  • In Love with Your Carnage:
    • Riley sprouts lots of little hearts watching the "three time champion of the Ladies of Quillotia Wrestling Federation and Book Club" in action. The two of them get another moment later on, when he attempts to propose to her.
    • Snow and Yula, though Yula was not particularly good, and willingly joined Snow.
    • Tuff for Cassie, when Cassie starts breaking golem heads with rocks.
  • Instant Bandages: Happens a lot.
  • Insult to Rocks: Comparing Vaniji/Han to chopped liver would be an insult to dog food.
  • Interspecies Romance: Avian men are infamously infatuated with women of all species, Tuff and Riley were born from one, and Mikel's wife Deliza is a beast woman.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Tuff, sadly. He gains some control over it, but he can still be triggered into going full shark.
  • I Owe You My Life: Blitz, to Credenza, out of thanks for giving him a name (and by extention, a new identity).
  • Ironic Echo: 'It's only okay when you do it.'
  • Kill and Replace: Han. Sucks to be you, Vaniji.
  • Killed Off for Real: Everybody who died in the backstory ( Chesska) and on stage Dragonfly, Lucinda, Han, Vaniji, Holly. Except Snow, but he's got Joker Immunity, being the main villain and all.
  • Life Energy: One source of magic.
  • Light Is Not Good: Played for laughs.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Uru and Credenza.
  • Long Haired Prettyboy: Han. He's very proud of his Pretty-boy status.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: the Maze of Dreams.
  • Louis Cypher: The man who broke Lucinda's heart was named Corveau. Also something of a Bilingual Bonus.
  • Loss of Identity: Blitz.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The various cultures of the Archipelago are decidedly rustic and old-timey, coupled with an 1800s-ish seafaring aesthetic with all of the shipyards and villages throughout. Yet nearly all inhabitants have access to Subs and various other modern-day conveniences, either biomechanical or magical in nature. Courtesy of the Ancient Civilization.
  • The Lost Lenore: Depending on how you look at it, Chesska's death kickstarts the entire plot. If she hadn't died, Anthony probably wouldn't have gone off to join the navy, get framed for the death of the captain's fiance, been possessed by a Raven and gone completely insane, turning him into Blitz, wouldn't meet Credenza, and cause her to leave the island by sneaking aboard Paollo's submarine.
  • Madness Mantra: Starting here, from Mona after Vaniji's hold on her was broken.
    Mona: The puzzle's all fallen apart. You can't solve it. All the pieces are gone and eaten by the bad children. All gone and eaten. Can't put it back together. I can't see myself anymore. I'm all eaten up.
  • Messy Hair: Almost all the male good guys to varying degrees.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Those controlled/hypnotized by Vaniji. They don't always look like it though.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Resident hypnotist Vaniji tries it on Blitz and gets a nasty dose of Dark and Troubled Past.
    Raven: Broke into the wrong brain, didn't you? He looks all frail and frightened, but he has a mind that will swallow you up before it lets you take over. Take it from me, more powerful minds than yours have tried.
  • Mirror Character: The parallels between Credenza and Snow are strong. Both are (or were) normal humans with negligible magical gifts and lost their parents, who went through various traumas (death for Snow, and Snow for Credenza), were granted artifacts and powers from the Big Good and Big Bad, and often fall back on who they were before their careers as hero and villain - Snow out of pride, Credenza in humility. Where Credenza is able to build people up, Snow breaks them. They're also rather magnetic, a strength they use as much or more than the gifts offered by Dragonfly and the Great Raven.
  • Morality Pet: Stretching the definition almost to the breaking point, but Captain Snow's nephew Knull and his widow Noemi and their daughter Yulalia, who was born shortly after Snow died.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Someone was apparently crazy enough to give Snow a doctorate, though his backstory mentions that he was kicked out of med school because he proposed unethical experiment. He still is probably fully trained though.
  • Nice Hat: Pretty much everyone on Quillotia.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Captain Snow is an undead cyborg pirate king.
  • Non-Action Guy: Knull. Snow only keeps him around for his Anti-Magic, as an armorer and medic (the latter mainly while Snow is busy), and because he can brew an excellent cup of tea.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*:
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Nim, after rescuing Willium from the belly of the Shadomandyr Queen, states simply "That was definitely the third weirdest thing to ever happen to me."
    • We're not sure what happened at Mikel's 21st birthday party, but when he brings it up in comparison with Snow's attack on Castle Quillotia , you know it has to have been crazy.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The Darkeyes. Not all of them are actually dead bodies, as Snow can form them from whatever material is handy, but they look like human corpses. Later on they're explicitly called golems.
  • Ocean Madness: Blitz. Apparently he was already going mad as it was - Raven simply hurried the process along.
  • Ocean Punk: Submarines are the archipelagian mode of transport. After all, it is an archipelago.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Han's expression in this page, for very good reason.
    • Credenza here, also for very good reason.
  • One Person, One Power: A side effect of the nature of magic in the Archipelago. Most magic-users have one signature ability (with the exception of Clair, who has two).
  • Orphanage of Love: All of the nuns are orphans.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Credenza's hair tie, a little.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Word of God sorts them into four major tribes, with distinctive physical traits: Summer (fire breath), Fall (poison), Winter (ice), and Spring (acid). The first dragon we're properly introduced to, Kroft, is a Winter dragon, and Anthony/Blitz is a Summer dragon.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: If it weren't for their six limbs and weird retractable Xenomorph mouth, Jabberwockies could pass as owlbears.
  • Painful Transformation: Were-creatures who lack certain Required Secondary Powers, such as the half-breed Luck brothers. Tuff receives said powers as a gift from Dragonfly. Riley... doesn't.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • Each character has a specific font in their speech balloons to represent their "voices."
    • People with a raven spirit are drawn with red eyes.
  • Parental Abandonment: Tuff and Riley's wereshark father disappeared while they were kids, and their mother took off to try to find him once they turned 16.
  • People Jars: Dragonfly is in one of these when the gang finds him.
  • Power Gives You Wings: Raven wings, specifically.
  • Personality Powers: Most people's magic is expressed in some way reflective of their unconscious self and the associations they make with their magic, and cannot consciously change their power any more than most people can consciously change their own personality.
  • Persona Non Grata: Tuff and Riley were kicked out of Hidden Island once. They both thought that Tuff caused it (see Unsuspectingly Soused below), but the abbess later mentioned that it was actually because Riley kept hitting on the girls there.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: According to Paolin, Credenza has brought countless dangerous beasts home, because they were injured.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Deliza during Snow's attack on Quillotia; she goes into labor as soon as the battle is over.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Fortune Teller tells it like it is.
    Anansi: Prophecies are tricky things. Not that they'll ever lie to you, of course, but they're very easy to misinterpret. After all, a prophecy isn't supposed to make sense until the moment you put it to use.
  • Punny Name: You know you've had it rough when your name's Tuff Luck.
  • Put on a Bus: Prince Paollo's guards, until Book 7, when The Bus Came Back: when they go to Paper Island to find Kor, they also find Paollo's guards, brainwashed (or locked up, in Tatami's case) by Vaniji.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Han, one of the most threatening of Snow's crew, has a habit of sewing before a battle. Don't laugh at this if you like your bodily envelope intact.
  • Rebus Bubble: Used here and here.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Great Raven and those under his power.
  • Red Right Hand: Take note of anyone who is missing their left eye, especially if it happened recently.
  • Red String of Fate: The boon that Riley received from Dragonfly - the scent of his mate, which led him straight to Alice Pintur, who turned out to be an heir.
  • Refused by the Call: Villainous example: a raven by the name of Steller is unsure why The Great Raven passed him up in favor of choosing Captain Snow as his herald. Snow, on the other hand, sees right through him.
  • Retired Monster: The true Great Raven. Being stuck in an orb and slowly siphoned of all power turned him from an omnicidal maniac into a tiny fledgling who had only his regrets to think about. Shortly after this is revealed, Snow consumes him.
  • Reverse Grip: Raven's prefered method of holding a knife.
  • The Rival: Nim to Willium Drake and vice-versa. Kind of.
  • Rewatch Bonus: There are a number of foreshadowing events/telling dialogue that make significantly more sense or give much more impact on the second read. Notable examples include:
    • Blitz/Raven's first words to Credenza sound crazy and disoriented, which is perfectly understandable for his circumstances, but it becomes clear that the person speaking was in fact Raven and not Blitz; who, after his possession attempt went horribly wrong, is in even more shock than Blitz, and is trying frantically to escape his broken host who inadvertently trapped Raven in him.
    "Where, I, I can't, it hurts! Make it stop, get me out! Something's gone wrong! …It's not supposed to be like this… I think I'm scared… I can't… I can't feel my wings…"
    • Doubles as Heartwarming in Hindsight, as it shows that Raven's human emotions developed very early on in the story, although in the first page it's more like an emotion overload.
    • Almost every moment with Charlie before he is revealed to be Uru. A notable insight: whenever he sees her, he does his best to call Credenza by name, even the first time they meet.
      • Other attempted words include 'shark' (notable because were-whales have an almost instinctive hatred of were-sharks) and 'Snow.'
    • Blitz's reaction to Kroft, the dragon in Quillotia, makes significantly more sense once it is revealed that Blitz himself is a dragon.
      • Also explains his reaction to flying.
      • And every instance where he runs around on all fours.
  • Running Gag:
  • Scars are Forever: Blitz's whole torso is covered in scars that date back to the very first page, when he washed up on the beach. Both Credenza and Knull suffer real-life injuries after their time in the dream world, which are stated to be permanent.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Great Raven.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Captain Snow. Word of God puts Han in this category as well (with a side helping of Where I Was Born and Razed).
  • Sense Freak: Raven after becoming fully human. More specifically, he's interested in taste. Word of God says he has a very detailed diary of everything he's ever eaten and whether he likes it or not.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Han attempts it on Lucinda here. It doesn't work.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: Han goes through a short one here. He starts by trying to use Lucinda's love for Knull to protect himself, switches to his Shapeshifter Default Form, and finally, in a Pet the Dog moment, shows his true form at Lucinda's behest.
  • Shark Man: A whole species of them with a culture that's all about violence and blood. Tuff and Riley's dad was an exception.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Credenza, at the royal dinner in Quillotia.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: Vaniji and Kor are introduced presenting and performing within a play called "Cord of Gold," full of flashy magic special effects. Kor calls back to it during a rousing swordfight with Snow through the theatre's storage rooms.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Between Riley and Alice here.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Alice and Riley are (metaphorically and then literally) all over each other almost from the moment they meet.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: From Noemi, Snow's wife, to Snow, and followed by another slap.
  • Slave Brand: Captain Snow has one he occasionally uses on slaves or underlings. Credenza has the brand on her arm.
  • Something Person: It's Laundry Pants Man!
  • The Soulless: Any raven would be an example, but most have no interest in reclaiming their soul, and in fact have some of their souls and emotions still intact.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Played as counterpart to And the Adventure Continues Defeating Snow leads to new challenges, like rescuing and feeding all of the survivors.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Great Raven, partially to avoid confusion with Raven, partially because it sounds cooler.
  • Spider-Sense: A common trait among beast-men. Riley refers to it as his "Sharky Sense". Can be quite intense.
  • Spot the Impostor: Between Riley and Han. At first, it seems that Tuff spots the difference when Han isn't strong enough to carry Riley's BFS, but as it turns out...
    Tuff: Actually, I only used the sword to distract him. I knew you were real because your pants were unbuttoned.
  • The Starscream: Han dabbles, though he mostly limits himself to assuming too much authority in Snow's absence and thinking he could get away with killing Kurr or roughing up Knull. Once or twice, though... At one point his raven tries to get him to kill Snow, though given they know that Snow can't die, one wonders whether the Great Raven had it out for Han...
  • Start of Darkness: Snow as a kid took animals apart to see how they worked and because he thought they did nothing useful; a lot of sociopaths in the real world also start by killing animals, so it isn't too much of a stretch. Word of God states that he killed his family just to see if he would feel anything while doing so - he didn't.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Credenza looks a lot like her parents. She also looks like the younger Dragonfly, and both have the same magic. Even her soul has dragonfly wings.
    • Between Knull and Snow and Yulalia.
    • And also, Clair looks a lot like her mother Chesska and her father Blitz/Anthony.
  • Submarine Pirates: Captain Snow and his crew.
  • Suicide Attack: Captain Vander tries to pull one on the Luck brothers.
  • Symbiotic Possession: Blitz and Raven, starting somewhere in book three.
  • Symbol Swearing: Occasionally.
  • Talkative Loon: Blitz again, particularly in the beginning.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Credenza has dream conversations with Abbess Tabitha and later Olivia, hinting at latent Dream Walker abilities.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Credenza murmurs in her sleep when dreaming about Uru.
    • Later, Raven talks in his sleep, alerting Credenza to his nightmare.
  • Tarot Motifs: Willium Drake uses magical cards resembling Tarot cards.
  • Team Mom: Credenza.
    Raven: What makes that woman think she can order us around like that?
    Blitz: The way we always do what she says.
  • Teleporter Accident:
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Captain Snow versus Benjamin. See: The Disintegrator Ray. Snow never saw it coming. Benjamin then proceeds to vacuum up the remains and dump them in a vat of lava. It still isn't enough.
  • The Tell: A small example, but a succinct one.
    Miss Tabitha: Oh, please. I live with exactly sixty-five young, hormonal, adolescent girls. I can smell self-doubt.
  • Tempting Fate: What's that Han? Lucinda of all people is having an emotional breakdown? That makes you uncomfortable and you're wondering what to do about it? Why tell her to shut up of course! Scold the silly girl! What could possibly go wrong?
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Those whose souls have been removed from their bodies.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Avians average maybe a meter in height. Word of God says that a "running joke in the Archipelago is that the only reason the Avians haven't wiped out all competing humanoid races is that they like tall women."
  • Transformation Trinket: Dragons use these to switch between their human forms and their dragon forms. Blitz's is his watch.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Blitz. Eventually explained as something far deeper than as normally presented: when Raven came to possess him, he slashed out his own eye, an act which cut off Raven's escape route and damaged the spirit, which in turn damaged Blitz's mind. He's got almost no hope of getting his original memory back (which may be for the best).
  • The Un-Reveal: Thanks to an Unreveal Angle, we the audience never get a good look at Han's true form. What we do see is scarred and squinty-eyed, though.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: Gregor Samsa is a giant potato!
  • Villain Teleportation: Snow learns he has this ability after Claire uses it, since the arm grants him the powers of the heirs.
  • Visual Pun: How does Snow die? By melting.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: All full-blooded werebeasts have a human and animal form. Half-bloods could, in theory, but it would probably kill them. Han pulls off a simpler version with his appearance through garments sewn from magical materials.
  • Wham Episode: Book 8. The setup of the book is already pretty surprising, with the reveal that the next heir is actually Blitz's daughter. But things really heat up when Snow shows up and steals Alice's soul, causing Riley to freak out and attempt to transform, nearly dying in the process. And it gets even worse when Snow murders Holly. Oh, and by the way? Blitz is a DRAGON. The wham just keeps up until the very end of the book where it's revealed that the final heir is Charlie, or more specifically, Credenza's childhood friend Uru.
  • Wham Line / Wham Shot: Usually at the end of a chapter.
    • Book 5:
    Tuff: (to Riley) We're going to Quillotia. We're going home.
    Tuff: No! Blitz is only part of the family line! The heir is his daughter!
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Captain Snow. Knull also has his uncle's hair, but his heart isn't in the right (wrong?) place.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Snow had already died when the Great Raven conscripted him into service, and part of their deal is now that he can't die again. He finds this takes a great deal of excitement out of his second life.
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: Can't be surprised, huh?
  • Winged Humanoid: A lot, actually. There's Avians, those possessed by the Ravens seem to able to sprout magic wings, and Raven.
  • Witch Doctor: Jan.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Captain Snow keeps getting grievously injured and his magical robot arm keeps repairing him with more robotic parts. By book 9 page 249, his robotic parts include "Both arms, one leg, most of his chest (including heart and portions of the lungs) the first few vertebra of his spine, and a patch on the back of his head that's covered by hair" as per Word of God.
  • Wolverine Claws:
  • Would Hurt a Child: Snow would. Said child is Clair. Plus Credenza in the backstory - that mark on her right shoulder isn't a tattoo she got, it's a slave brand.
  • Written Sound Effect: Quite often.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: If a Dream Walker sustains an injury in the dream world, it'll manifest in the waking world if left untreated. Following the final battle, Credenza goes blind in one eye, while Knull is rendered mute by a neck wound.

Taking you to the Archipelago...