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Though trodden beneath the shepherd's heel,
the wild hyacinth blooms on the ground.
The sequel series to to Gene Wolfe's epic Book of the Long Sun and concluding segment of the "Solar Cycle". After having left the Long Sun Whorl, the former inhabitants of the city-state Viron have colonized an archipelago of the water planet, Blue. After having lived away from Whorl for twenty years, Horn, who runs a paper mill with his wife, Nettle, is tasked by his town's leaders to find the now-legendary Patera Silk.
Once the narrator embarks on this quest, his identity gradually becomes more and more ambiguous. He recounts his travels on the seas of the planet Blue, to the forested ruins of the Vanished People on Green, to the Whorl, the generation starship that he used to call home, and the voyage back to his wife and family in New Viron.
Books in the series include (in order) On Blue's Waters, In Green's Jungles, and Return to the Whorl.
- Arc Words: "No cut!"
- Astral Projection: How Horn can see the Neighbors.
- The Atoner: Pig and quite possibly Silk/Horn.
- Becoming the Mask: Zig-zagged all over the place.
- Bloodstained-Glass Windows: The climactic battle with the inhumi occurs during the wedding of Hide and Vadsig in the New Viron manteion.
- Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: The "elephants" of Planet Blue apparently have two trunks.
- Contemptible Cover : The cover of On Blue's Waters features an egregiously naked Seawrack.
- Crapsack World: Wijzer really wants to forget about ever visiting the Red Sun Whorl.
- Depending on the Writer: In story. The way things are changes slightly depending on who is writing the narrative.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Krait dies in Horn's arms, and Jahlee dies in Nettle's.
- Do Inhumi Dream?: One of the driving questions of the novel. Not only for the inhumi, but also for Babbie (the hus), Oreb (a nightchough) and Maytera Marble (a chem)
- Genre Busting: Which is why it is known under the moniker of "speculative fiction". Part science-fiction, part fantasy, part memoir, part metaphysical tract, part family drama... all Gene Wolfe.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Everybody except the narrator knows where Silk is.
- Earth All Along: Averted
- Eldritch Abomination: The Mother, Abaia, and Erebus are all part of a race of Eldritch Abominations.
- I Have Many Names: The narrator, also known as Horn/Incanto/Rajan/ Silk.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Auk and possibly Seawrack. Implied that the colonists from Viron had to eat their own dead during the three-week landing period.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: Not only will Short Sun spoil major plot points of the Book of the Long Sun if you begin reading it without having read the the prequel, it will also make absolutely no sense.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: As stated on the Book of the Long Sun page, that book had over a thousand named characters... Now take all those characters and add several hundred...
- Ms. Fanservice: Jahlee and Seawrack
- Named by Democracy: Played with.
- Narrator All Along
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The five judges who run Dorp.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Pig loses his pseudo-Brogue accent whenever Silk takes over his body.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The inhumi are more like shapeshifting, flying leeches. They don't sparkle, either.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture
- The Old Country
- Meaningful Name: Up to Eleven. Every single name given has some king of double-meaning or pun- even characters whose names are only mentioned once.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Oreb.
- Powers Via Possession: How the gods control people and Oreb.
- Rape as Drama: To both Seawrack and Mora.
- Reluctant Ruler: The narrator starts the book out telling us he is being held against his will while simultaneously acting as a Solomon figure for his captors.
- Spiritual Successor: It's a lot like The Odyssey... but in a speculative fiction setting
- Talking Animal: Oreb, though he only speaks two syllables per phrase.
- The Trickster: The inhumi are arguably a race of tricksters.
- Unreliable Narrator
- Unusual Euphemism: "Lengthy absence, eh? One, um, expects the -hum- warm commerce."
- The Vamp: Jahlee
- Viewers Are Geniuses
- Wham! Episode: Jahlee's death
- What the Hell, Hero?: when Horn rapes Seawrack.