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Webcomic / Beyond the Western Deep

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"After countless years of war, it seemed as if civilization would take root. We hoped for a new era of knowlege and understanding. Yet despite all our progress, a single life, a single breath, a single thought, would destroy everything..."

On the continent of Dunia sits four kingdoms: Sunsgrove, Aisling, Navran, and Kishar. Forged from ages of strife and bloodshed, and held together under the terms of the Treaty of Cenolau, their rulers and subjects have managed to maintain a fragile peace—until now.

The Ermehn, a people exiled to the Northern Wastes by the Canid of Aisling, have begun to unite under the Sratha-din—Bevan, Rhosyn, Ashtor, Eira and Rathik—led by Hardin, who desires to right the wrongs his people have suffered. Further south, Quinlan and Dakkan, warriors of the combined Tamian-Lutren kingdom of Sunsgrove, are summoned by the Tamian king to serve as envoys to the Canid under Dakkan's father, Kenosh, their destination the military garrison of Deltrada where General Clovis is preparing to make war against the Ermehn. Meanwhile, Quinlan's friend Janik has been asked to serve as assistant Tamian ambassador to the Vulpin of Navran at their capital in Nessa. Quinlan and Dakkan are unaware Hardin has chosen Deltrada for his first strike against the Canid, or that Kenosh has developed a rapport with the Ermehn through his service during the Oran Uprising several years ago, when the Ermehn tried unsuccessfully to take their lands back. Unknowingly, they are headed toward a reckoning years in the making.


Got all that? Now, picture them as stoats, wolves, squirrels, and otters.

Beyond the Western Deep is a Low Fantasy Funny Animal webcomic by Alex Kain and Rachel Bennett in the vein of Redwall and Usagi Yojimbo, following the characters' adventures and trials as they attempt to weather the encroaching conflict. Tough decisions and harrowing moments abound, with Quinlan and Dakkan trying to do their duty despite lacking valuable experience, Hardin determined to restore his downtrodden people to their rightful lands no matter the cost, and Kenosh and Janik doing their best to maintain peace diplomatically. As events progress and hidden pasts come to light, the web of relationships between them all, as well as the complexities of the treaty that binds the Four Kingdoms, will either lead to the prevention of war... or the destruction of Dunia's fragile civilizations one by one.


Due to both the comic's writer and artist having day jobs, a few alternate stories and Worldbuilding asides occasionally take center stage, including:

  • Song of the Eastern Sands, which focuses on a troupe of thieves in Nessa called the Sand SpidersBeck, Rook, Asha and Theo—and how they become involved in the growing intrigue,
  • The Adventures of Cain and Yurk and The Abyssal Dunes starring the titular duo, and
  • The Scholar and the Seawal, featuring Isa, a scholar of the Felis of Kishar, investigating a Lutren mythological tale in the oceans west of Dunia.

These additions have helped the comic mostly avoid Schedule Slip, and with their inclusion in the page count it has amassed roughly seven chapters in a little under ten years since its launch in December of 2011. The comic, which updates every Saturday, can be found here.

Beyond the Western Deep and its side stories provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Downplayed. Kenosh shows he's not above threatening to hit his son, and Dakkan's reaction implies it wouldn't be the first time, but they're still somewhat amiable. Quinlan's grandfather Caldus may also apply given his Tough Love stance toward his grandson.
  • Action Girl: Rhosyn of the Sratha-din, as well as Sigrid of the Canid.
  • Adipose Rex: King Dabheid of the Tamians is rather chunky for a race of acrobatic, tree-climbing squirrels.
  • Afraid of Blood: Dakkan, who faints at the sight of it thanks to an incident where his childhood friend was eaten by a shark.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: Janik and her Vulpin guide, Mitra, are subjected to this in Cenolau during Chapter Three.
  • All There in the Manual: Several details about the world of Dunia and the characters have only been revealed so far via stories posted in The Rant on the comic pages, in development notes, and through character bios.
  • The Aloner: Implied with Quinlan. His only close friends are Dakkan and Janik.
  • Ambadassador: Ambassador Rowan of the Tamian is a decided aversion, unable to speak after nearly being killed by Canid assassins in Nessa's Sunsgrovian embassy. Granted, this is justified due to the fear he has for the life of his daughter, Janik.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Plenty.
    • The Canid play canines straight: the lower orders are loyal to their kin and to the nation of Aisling, and tough, and their leaders are pretty vicious.
    • The Felis are also straight examples: highly intelligent and curious, as befitting the most advanced Dunian nation, with an air of superiority. No advanced nastiness yet, though.
    • The two most notable Lutren play with this. Dakkan fits the stereotype of the "fun-loving" otter, but his father Kenosh is the polar opposite: stern, taciturn and hiding a lot of inner pain due to his experiences living with the Ermehn. Curiously enough, both are more aggressive than the usual portrayal of otters, being trained soldiers with a body count.
    • The Tamian are the epitome of graceful and agile, having an entire martial art (Tesque) dedicated to it. No signs of any screwiness.
    • The Ermehn may be threatening to the other Dunians, but are for the most part portrayed sympathetically to the audience. Of the Sratha-din, Hardin and Rathik show the most cunning and visciousness, while the rest are more neutral.
    • The jury is out on the Polcan and Vulpin; the single examples shown (Rook and Theo) show strength, cleverness and confidence. For the Vulpin, the murder of an entire royal family is a little out of bounds, though.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. A single crossbow bolt puts Quinlan out of commission.
  • Anti-Villain: Hardin. Despite his position as the story's main villain he can't really be considered evil, only desiring to right the wrongs his people suffered, even if his means are less-than-noble. He also shows some internal conflict regarding his ruthless tactics in more private moments.
  • The Archer: Quinlan and Rhosyn, the former with bow-and-arrow, the latter with a crossbow.
  • Armies Are Evil: A minor theme. War isn't something most people on Dunia want to think about, and the military-minded Canid aren't the friendliest sort.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Crim, Quinlan's rival in Sunsgrove who goads him into a sparring match to show off his skills at Tesque. It doesn't end well for him.
    • Rathik is another example, being one of the best Ermehn warriors in the Northern Wastes with an ego to match.
  • Art Shift: Every new side comic so far has had a different artist. Jerome Jacinto of Armello fame did The Adventures of Cain and Yurk, Song of the Eastern Sands and The Abyssal Dunes, and Jayelle Anderson of the webcomic Anaria did The Scholar and the Seawal.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Despite being untrained thieves, Beck and Rook manage to dispatch three Canid soldiers in hand-to-hand combat.
  • The Atoner: Kenosh on Sunsgrove's behalf for their supporting the agressor Canid during the Canid-Ermehn war.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Janik suffers a gash on her cheek from being hit with the stock of a Canid crossbow.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: Almost name-checked when Kenosh calls out Sunsgrove's lack of concern for the Ermehn.
    Kenosh: Our inaction spells our guilt!
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Hardin and General Tosch of the Canid, with our heroes caught in the middle.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Endemic to Dunia in the form of "treewalkers", invertibrates of the Western and Eastern Deeps that resemble giant centipedes. The side-story The Abyssal Dunes explores a subterranean variant native to Navran called "sandskippers" in greater detail.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Bevan and Rhosyn show up just in time at Deltrada to save him from a pair of Canid soldiers... and shoot Quinlan in the shoulder.
    • In Cenolau, Beck and Rook serve as this to Janik and Mitra.
  • The Big Guy: Rathik is a darker example than the usual take, being driven by a love for violence more than anything else. Rook from Song of the Eastern Sands is a more benign counterpart.
  • Blood Knight: Rathik, per Hardin's assessment, joined the Sratha-din solely for the sake of killing Canids. He's not entirely wrong.
  • Blue Blood: Quinlan. Technically Rathik, if the Ermehn still had a nobility. If Oran was chieftain of his tribe Hardin may also count as well.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Dakkan has this attitude, albeit a restrained one on account of his disability. Rathik of the Sratha-din also qualifies.
  • Book-Ends: Dakkan and Quinlan's journey to and escape from Deltrada uses the exact same panel format to highlight the contrasting moods.
  • Bows Versus Crossbows: Not directly, but Quinlan the bowman doesn't get to use his skills before Rhosyn the crossbow woman takes him out of the fight.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The various Earth animals of the Four Kingdoms are given fantastic names: Lutren are otters, Tamian are squirrels, Canid are wolves, Ermehn are stoats, Polcan are ferrets, Vulpin are foxes, and Felis are an amalgam of different felines.
  • The Caper: The territory of the Sand Spiders. One prompted by a Mysterious Benefactor entangles them in the main story.
  • Caper Crew: Again, the Sand Spiders.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted by Isa of The Scholar and the Seawal, the only Felis shown in any detail so far. She's bright, polite and thankful to her Lutren crew.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Part of the reason Quinlan is not happy about inheriting his grandfather's position as Sunsgrove's Captain of the Royal Guard. Hardin also feels their weight during the Sratha-din's final preparations for the Deltrada raid.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The knife Hardin sharpens during the Prologue serves as his weapon during his duel with the Ermehn warrior at the end of Chapter One, and ends up buried in his left shoulder in Chapter Four.
    • The trained ravens the Canid use to send messages are given brief focus in Chapter Two before and after the Ermehn raid on Deltrada to set up Janik's predicament and Tosch's communication with the kingdoms of Navran and Kishar in Chapter Three.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Bevan's knife-throwing and Rhosyn's crossbow come in handy during the raid on Deltrada. And in taking out Rathik.
    • As does Quinlan's Tesque training with his grandfather in dispatching an Ermehn earlier in the raid.
  • The Chessmaster: Hardin and Tosch fit this bill, Hardin for his sheer ruthlessness in planning and execution and Tosch for his calm but rageful early efforts at retaliation against the Ermehn and any perceived enemies of Aisling through cloak-and-dagger methods, including assassination and backdoor diplomacy. As of Chapter Four, Hardin's efforts may have been Too Clever by Half thanks to his abrasive style of command and his underestimation of Rathik's instability.
  • Combat Pragmatist: One of the three tenets of Tesque: "Everything is a weapon, from your teeth to your tail."
  • The Conscience: Ashtor pulls no punches when calling out Hardin's hard-heartedness and amorality in his quest to save his people.
    Ashtor: You are responsible for these Ermehn, if not to save their lives, then to ensure they don't die for nothing. That is the weight you bear.
  • Constructed World: Dunia.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Felis of Kishar try for a Renaissance-flavored version of this, including building an actual spire for their historians in their capital city of Gair. Their toleration of slavery for non-Felis races puts a bit of a damper on it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Several characters have been put through the wringer, but Bevan's story is a particularly good example: his entire tribe, the Evyn-din, was wiped out in a retaliatory strike by the Canid after an ill-fated attempt at rebellion by the tribe's leader.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kenosh and Dakkan.
    Quinlan: Wait, war? What's he talking about?
    Kenosh: War, Captain, is what you get when you have two armies who don't like each other very much.
    • Quinlan can be a bit of a snarker too, particularly about his job:
    Janik: You're hiding from the king again.
    Quinlan: He is fairly easy to hide from.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The aforementioned Felis slave trade, as well as the penalty of An Arm and a Leg for stealing in Nessa and the Ermehn tribes' lethal duels for power.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Hardin's raid on Deltrada leads to Clovis's death by Kenosh's hand, leading to Tosch taking power in Aisling, leading to Tosch seizing early initiative to retaliate against Sunsgrove...
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The Eastern Deep is uninhabited and thick with treewalkers. Naturally, Quinlan and Dakkan head there to escape a Canid dragnet.
  • Dramatic Irony: Janik and Mitra dismiss a messenger raven flying over their caravan at the start of Chapter Three which delivers word to the Canid forces in Cenolau about what's happened at Deltrada.
  • Duel to the Death: Hardin is formally introduced in a clash with the defender of an Ermehn tribe. It doesn't go well for the defender.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The Sratha-din don't exactly run like a well-oiled machine. Hardin and Rathik clash over egos and Rathik's unrestrained vendetta against the Canid, Hardin and Ashtor squabble over the sacrifice of innocent Ermehn to Hardin's ambitions, and the whole group isn't too happy with Hardin's propensity for secrets. These differences eventually come to a head when an enraged Rathik stabs Hardin in the shoulder.
  • Ensemble Cast: The plot currently rotates between Quinlan and Dakkan, Kenosh and the Sratha-din, and Janik and the Sand Spiders, with roughly equal amounts of time spent on each across the main comic and Song of the Eastern Sands. Taking into account the side-stories with Cain, Yurk and Isa, we're looking at a burgeoning Cast Herd.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For each of our major players, and some minor ones.
  • The Fagin: Theo the Vulpin to the Sand Spiders, particularly Beck and Asha, both of whom he rescued as children.
  • Famous Ancestor: Rathik is a direct descendant of the Ermehn ruler Sratha. This becomes a point of contention between him and Hardin, who uses Sratha's name as a rallying point for the Ermehn of the Wastes.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Canid, based on the now-superceded alpha-omega paradigm for wolves. In a twist, caste levels have high and low tiers, and mobility is based on merit, meaning omegas can be in demand by Canid royalty as top-level blacksmiths while alphas can be found digging ditches.
  • Fantastic Racism: The protagonists aren't above it. Dakkan believes the Ermehn are violent savages when they've been forced into that lifestyle by the Canid conquering their land. Thanks to his experiences as a captive of the Ermehn, Kenosh has a more nuanced view.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Each Dunian race has identifiable cultural analogues in the real world:
    • Tamian Sunsgrove is medieval Europe with some Native American-esque mythology, while the Lutren have Polynesian aspects.
    • By creator admission, the Felis are based on the Roman Empire and medieval China.
    • The Canid resemble Roman military culture and medieval Northern Europe.
    • The Ermehn are Germanic tribesmen, with a passing asthetic similarity to the Scots and/or Picts.
    • The Vulpin are Arabian-inspired.
    • The Polcan take after the Sea Peoples.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tosch is a downplayed example. Even with more refined manners than his brother, he's still not that cozy.
  • Five-Man Band: The Sratha-din, with Hardin as The Leader and Sixth Ranger.
  • Foil: Hardin to Quinlan. Both are roughly the same age and in charge, but Quinlan is more reluctant to step into a leadership role while Hardin embraces it wholeheartedly.
    • Quinlan and Dakkan to each other. Quinlan is more reserved and a reluctant fighter, while Dakkan is hot-headed and enjoys fighting, apart from the carnage.
    • Theo to Mitra. Both serve as advisors, but Mitra teaches protocol while Theo teaches ways of subverting it.
    • Both Beck and Rook to Rathik. All three are handy in a fight, but Beck and Rook both lack Rathik's arrogance and bad temper.
  • Foreshadowing: Focus is put on Hardin's knife skills in his duel at the end of Chapter One that pays off when the tables turn and he gets stabbed by Rathik in Chapter Four.
    • Janik and Mitra discuss the assassination of Navran's royal family at the start of Chapter Three before they become targets of Canid soldiers at Cenolau.
    • The attention given to the Canid's raven messengers in Chapter Two forshadows Tosch's shadowy diplomatic efforts and Sigrid's growing involvement in the plot in Chapter Three.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: They're animals, natch.
  • From Bad to Worse: Chapter Two starts with Quinlan, Dakkan and Kenosh on the way to Deltrada, sees them fail to convince Clovis to reconsider his war efforts, and ends with Deltrada raided by Ermehn, Quinlan wounded, Kenosh AWOL and Clovis dead. Not exactly a successful mission.
  • The Generalissimo: Aisling is run by its army's generals rather than its king, invoking this trope. The two most prominent so far are the brothers Clovis and Tosch.
  • General Ripper: Clovis's stance toward the Ermehn. Tribes making trouble? Train like mad, then wipe 'em out.
  • Gentleman Thief: Theo has this vibe, as do the rest of the Sand Spiders to some extent.
  • Going Native: Played with. Kenosh, despite having fought the Ermehn during the Oran Uprising, departs with them after stabbing Clovis in the back, and before that spoke out in sympathy to their plight. It's all but stated those sympathies began to grow during and after his captivity, during which time he more or less lived as an Ermehn.
  • Great Offscreen War: The ancient wars which resulted in the Treaty of Cenolau, and the war between the Canid and Ermehn for control of Aisling, both of which led to the Ermehn being decimated and scattered across the Northern Wastes. The Oran Uprising, where the Ermehn tried to take Aisling back, is technically not "offscreen" as we do see a panel or two devoted to it, but the comic is more concerned with its fallout than covering it in full.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: The main story revolves around the Ermehn, specifically around whether or not they got what they deserved or were unfairly punished. While neither option is seen as right or wrong out-of-universe due to the fact that every character has a bias that affects their views on what exactly happened, the question and various answers the characters have chosen is a huge driving force for the plot.
  • Grim Up North: Aisling to Sunsgrove, and the Northern Wastes to Aisling.
  • Happily Adopted: Asha the Ermehn with Tabitha, a Nessian Felis.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cain and Yurk, to fan-roiling levels.
  • Hot-Blooded: Rathik, whose temper eventually comes to bite the Sratha-din in the ass. Beck is a more positive counterexample.
  • Hypocrite: Clovis doesn't see any need to respect the Treaty of Cenolau's concessions of land for the Ermehn, yet forces Kenosh, Quinlan, and Dakkan to join his war efforts per the same treaty's dictates.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Hardin considers any method justified against the Canid at this point, including sacrificing his own people. He only hopes it succeeds.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Beck's specialty. She uses a bag of Tamian amber coins and a potted plant to dispatch two separate Canids.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Quinlan's pessimistic assessment of his new captaincy, compared to Caldus.
  • Indy Ploy: The Sand Spiders seem to run exclusively on these.
  • Internal Retcon: The Ermehn "long memory" can do this by striking certain facts from the race's shared cultural record, most notably the entire existence of Bevan's tribe.
  • In the Back: How Clovis dies, courtesy of Kenosh.
  • In the Hood: Bevan. It's hinted he uses it to cope with some emotional vulnerabilities.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Janik and her tutor Mitra dismiss a Canid raven passing above their entourage on the way to Cenolau. Justified, as they had no expectation of anything going terribly wrong at Deltrada.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Dakkan is "less than forthcoming" even with a bout of this after Kenosh leaves Deltrada with the Ermehn.
  • Jerkass: Crim. Generals Clovis and Tosch help maintain the quotient in later chapters.
  • Just Following Orders: None of the Canids seen so far (Cain being the sole exception) have taken umbrage to murdering unarmed diplomats in cold blood or detaining allied soldiers indefinitely.
  • Karmic Death: Clovis, after a whole chapter of being a host to Quinlan, Dakkan, and Kenosh, is unceremoniously stabbed In the Back by Kenosh when he attempts to kill Hardin while the latter is disarmed.
  • Knife Nut: Bevan is a well-skilled but otherwise amiable knife thrower. Hardin is a more gruesome example, his weapon of choice being a long-bladed knife in lieu of a sword.
  • Knight Templar: Hardin, for a given value of "good". He's out to save his people and cause untold suffering in the process.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The seawal is this in Lutren mythology, its head so big it can block out the sun. In The Scholar and the Seawal a version still large enough to take out a Polcan ship is discovered in the Western Seas by Isa.
  • The Lancer: Rook to the rest of the Sand Spiders.
  • Large Ham: Beck, whose antics often serve as a convenient distraction for her crew.
  • The Leader: Hardin to the Sratha-din, Theo to the Sand Spiders. Quinlan's journey involves him trying to become this.
  • Light Is Not Good: In Lutren mythology per The Scholar and the Seawal, the sun's heat caused the Lutren to first seek shelter in the sea.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Quinlan and Dakkan escape from their cell in the Deltrada garrison when Quinlan uses the crossbow bolt General Tosch left in the cell to chip away at the mortar keeping him chained to the wall.
  • The Lost Woods: The Kingdom of Sunsgrove is two-thirds forest, the titular "Western Deep", full of big trees and even bigger treewalkers. The Eastern Deep is implied to be even more dangerous.
  • Medieval Stasis: Averted. Since the Treaty of Cenolau the races of Dunia have advanced from war-torn tribes to stable, prosperous kingdoms with significant advances in material wealth, trade, and art all around. The Ermehn, unfortunately, have regressed to tribalism due to being kicked out of the party by the Canid, and are growing desperate...
  • The Mentor: Ashtor to Hardin in addition to being The Conscience, Mitra to Janik, and Theo to the Sand Spiders.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The Sand Spiders' attempt to knock over Sunsgrove's embassy in Nessa reveals the murder of Sunsgrovian diplomats by Canid assassins.
  • Missing Mom: Dakkan's died when he was young, Janik's is M-I-A.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Despite his passionate disagreement about the nature of the conflict, Kenosh agrees to Dabheid's terms in heading to Deltrada to negotiate with Clovis on Sunsgrove's behalf. On the Canid side, Sigrid, despite her own misgivings, obeys Tosch's orders to fight under the command of a mercenary Polcan force.
  • Mysterious Benefactor: Whoever tipped off Theo to the vulnerabilities of the Sunsgrovian embassy in Nessa.
  • Neck Lift: Rathik does this to Dakkan during their brief battle at Deltrada.
  • Non-Action Guy: Quinlan—who has trouble "commanding a room", so to speak—tried to invoke this by becoming a scout for the Tamian army, to his grandfather's displeasure, but Dabheid appointed him captain of the Royal Guard after his grandfather's death.
  • Not So Different: All over the place.
    • Ashtor and Kenosh are old men who serve as voices of reason to those they encounter, complete with hidden passions for justice and morality.
    • Bevan and Dakkan are boisterous young warriors hiding inner turmoil.
    • Quinlan and Hardin are young men in command with plenty to prove and plenty of doubters and doubts.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: One for Kenosh which helps establish his credentials as an old hand in combat. Early in Chapter Two, Quinlan and Dakkan are ambushed on watch and subdued by a trio of bandits while Kenosh is asleep. Kenosh wakes up, manages to sneak around the bandits and get the drop on them. The resolution goes unshown, instead cutting away to the trio discussing what happened. Kenosh declines to take credit, considering Quinlan's decision to let them go unharmed to be the real "awesome moment".
  • Oh, Crap!: Quinlan upon waking up after falling asleep for several hours while on the run from the Canid.
    • Janik gets two similar moments in Cenolau when she's told about Deltrada, and when Rook informs her the Sunsgrovian caravan which brought her there has been killed by the Canid.
  • Oh My Gods!: Yurk in The Abyssal Dunes just wants to get out of the "gods-damned" caves.
    • Hardin invokes the Ermehn gods' favor before his raid on Deltrada.
  • Old Soldier: Kenosh is in his late fifties, but is a well-respected and highly skilled warrior. Ashtor is implied to be one.
  • The Paranoiac: General Tosch, not without some justification, after his brother Clovis's betrayal by a supposed ally from Sunsgrove. Canid society as a whole may have some degree of this, given their preoccupation with military pursuits and rigid societal strata.
  • Parental Abandonment: Quinlan's parents are deceased, and his grandfather passed away shortly before the beginning of the story.
  • Parental Substitute: Caldus to Quinlan. Their relationship was somewhat rocky.
  • Playful Otter: Played straight with Dakkan and Beck, subverted with Kenosh.
  • Please Select New City Name: The Ermehn capital of H'arkenlowe was renamed by the Canid to Arklow after the Canid-Ermehn war.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Beck, whose pluck could sink battleships. The Sand Spiders as a whole are this to the main cast.
  • Plucky Girl: Janik, who's more outgoing and optimistic than her friend Quinlan, the aforementioned Beck, and Isa.
  • Posthumous Character: Several, including Caldus, Oran, Hardin's father, Sratha, Rathik's ancestor who once ruled Aisling, and Aeslid, the high king of the ancient Ermehn.
  • Proud Scholar Race: The Felis.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Canid.
  • Puppet King: According to Dakkan, Janus is king of Aisling "only 'cos his generals say he is".
  • The Quiet One: Quinlan. He starts growing out of it after his life takes a left turn at Deltrada.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: The Sratha-din are a group of Ermehn cast off from other tribes. A dark example, given the ruthlessness of their leader.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Kenosh, Mitra, and King Dabheid all apply. Theo does too, for a given value of "reasonable".
  • Rebel Leader: Hardin, following in the footsteps of Oran, his father.
  • Red Shirt Army: Hardin uses an Ermehn tribe recently assimilated by the Sratha-din as this during the attack on Deltrada.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Quinlan (blue) and Dakkan (red), Rook (blue) and Beck (red).
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Sand Spiders are having trouble with a tricky lock on a merchant's trunk. Solution? Sprint the trunk through the marketplace in broad daylight surrounded by dozens of witnesses!
  • Reluctant Hero: Quinlan's position as an untested captain of the Royal Guard for Sunsgrove. Crim needles him on it during their Tesque match.
  • The Remnant: The Ermehn tribes of the Northern Wastes are the last vestiges of the Ermehn kingdom of H'arkenlowe.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Possibly. Both Quinlan and Hardin have been wounded in the shoulder, and on the same side. Time will tell if the two are further connected.
  • Sad Clown: Bevan. Under that hood, the knife tricks and a thick layer of machismo is one unhappy little stoat.
  • Savage Wolves: Some Canids (Cain, Sigrid) avert this, others (Clovis) play it straight, some twist it around a little (Tosch).
  • Ship Tease: Bevan with Eira, and (possibly) Quinlan with Janik.
  • Slasher Smile: An occasional expression for Beck. Her teeth are her best feature, y'know.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Inverted with many of the Ermehn who, despite living in the frigid Northern Wastes, wear sleeves without shirts.
  • The Smart Guy: Both Ashtor and Eira are literate, and Eira keeps track of the Sratha-din's side of things in a book. It's implied by the Prologue she's the one who eventually tells the entire story to the Felis scholars at Gair.
  • Smug Snake: Crim, who challenges Quinlan to a match in Chapter One to try and humiliate him.
  • So Proud of You: Kenosh's last words to Dakkan before he leaves Deltrada with the Ermehn.
  • The Starscream: Rathik stabs Hardin in the shoulder in Chapter Four.
  • The Stoic: Kenosh and Ashtor. Both of them lose it at points, Kenosh whenever discussing the Ermehn and Ashtor when he's been kept out of the loop of Hardin's plans one time too many.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Done well in Chapters One and Two where the story switches fluidly between the Tamian/Lutren and Ermehn sides, showing the desperation the Ermehn have in their situation and the efforts of Dakkan, Quinlan and Kenosh to defuse tensions with the Canid. The sympathy has begun to flow to the Canid side of things in Chapter Three with Sigrid, a Canid soldier who's starting to question her nation's way of dealing with things, if only tenuously.
  • Thirsty Desert: The Desert of Zin in southern Navran. Few attempt to cross it without proper provisions.
  • Those Two Guys: Cain and Yurk.
  • Three Lines, Some Waiting: The main plot as of Chapter Four consists of Quinlan and Dakkan trying to get back to Sunsgrove to raise an alarm, Kenosh on the run with the Ermehn during the fallout of the Deltrada raid, and Janik and her guide almost being killed by Canid soldiers in Cenolau and escaping to Nessa on ostrich-back—basically lots of running and desperation all around. A potential fourth plot thread exists with Sigrid of the Canid being dispatched to the port of Peregrine on the west coast of the Northern Wastes to launch an attack on Sunsgrove by sea using the Polcan navy.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Dakkan loses a tooth from a Canid's right hook during his and Quinlan's escape from Deltrada.
  • Tough Love: Caldus's stance with a young Quinlan during his training in Tesque.
    Caldus: Quinlan, you are going to hate me your entire life. Right up until that one moment when it's your life or another's. Then, and only then, will you ever understand.
  • Tranquil Fury: Tosch, while interrogating Quinlan and Dakkan. Most of the time, at least.
  • Tree Top Town: Terria, the Tamian capital of Sunsgrove, with houses built into the trees' outer layers of bark.
  • Trickster God: Tesque, the mythological progenitor of the Tamians.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: General Tosch comes to power in Aisling after Clovis's death. He's more brutal than his brother, and craftier.
  • Utility Party Member: Asha as a (fledgling) lock picker for the Sand Spiders, though she also pursues and subdues a Canid assassin in Song of the Eastern Sands.
  • Villain Has a Point: Hardin's grievance is more or less justified in light of everything we know about the Canid and their manipulation of Sunsgrove to oust the Ermehn from Aisling, notwithstanding his own father's death during the Oran Uprising. On a similar level, Tosch has every right to interrogate Quinlan and Dakkan on what they know concerning his brother's death by Kenosh's hand, albeit perhaps not while they're both chained to the walls in a dungeon for manners' sake.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Cain and Yurk throughout "The Abyssal Dunes".
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Nearly all male Ermehn.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Quinlan and Dakkan to Caldus and Kenosh, in different ways. Quinlan despairs at making his grandfather proud in his new position while Dakkan feels ashamed of his lack of combat experience due to his inability to tolerate seeing blood.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Again, Hardin, a Rebel Leader who wants to help the Ermehn regain their stolen land from the Canid and is willing to spark what might be a continent-wide war to do so.
  • Wham Line:
    Kenosh (to Hardin:) "You said you would wait. Why didn't you wait?"
    • From Song of the Eastern Sands:
    Ambassador Rowan: My daughter! You have to find my daughter!
    Beck: What? Here in the embassy?
    Rowan: No... No, she's on her way from Terria. Her name is Janik.
  • Wicked Weasel: The Ermehn avert this. Even among the two wickedest specimens, Hardin is an Anti-Villain while Rathik, despite his temper and violent tendencies, is rather affable toward his own people most of the time. Of course, stabbing someone in the shoulder can get you points deducted.
  • World of Funny Animals: Per the description.
  • You Killed My Father: Kenosh killed Oran, Hardin's father. Hardin was given the opportunity to kill a captured Kenosh in revenge, but stayed his hand, figuring a high-ranking Lutren soldier would prove a valuable ally.


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