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In the land of the Half-Continent where monsters roam the country-side and the ocean is acidic, lived a sensitive bright boy named Rossamund Bookchild. Growing up in an foundlingery (orphanage) Rossamund always thought he was destined for a short but exciting life as a vinegaroon (sailor) upon the vinegar waves. However, to his disappointment, while all the other foundlings are sent to the navy one by one, Rossamund is selected by the mysterious Sebastipole to become a Lamplighter. Rossamund is sent to the coastal city of High Vesting but is kidnapped by pirates on his way there. Rossamund escapes and tries to make his way to the city by himself. While traveling he encounters Miss. Europe, an expert monster hunter. And that's just the beginning...

Australian writer D.M. Cormish has written and illustrated an absurdly detailed country with intricate histories, dialects, slang, cultures and technologies. Think Dickensian social commentary meets Lovecraftian science meets freakin' monsters.

Freakin' MONSTERS people!

Here's the website to check out more. Also there may be a film in the pipe-line, by the Jim Henson Company which is too awesome for words.

The series was renamed "The Foundling's Tale" in North America.

This series includes the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure - In the second book. Rossamund and his classmates as lamplighters have to learn to fight monsters.
  • Action Girl - Threnody and all her monster-hunting lady friends. And Europe, of course.
  • A Father to His Men - The Lamplighter-Marshal.
  • Alchemy - Lots but the biggy is probably the lahzars, a group of specialised monster-hunters have had various vat-grown organs transplanted into their bodies to give them special powers: control of electricity (called fulgars) or what amounts to telepathy (called wits).
  • Adorkable - Rossamund. Kind-hearted, awkward, eager to please, very shy.
  • All There in the Manual - There is a selection of glossary terms, maps, and diagrams at the end of each book. The first one took up nearly as many pages as the story itself.
  • Amazon Brigade - Calendar Claves.
  • Ambition Is Evil - The secretarial staff are up to no good.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie - although he didn't really hate all the monsters he fought. See also the Tomato in the Mirror entry
  • Badass Bookworm - Rossamund has his moments.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People - Subverted: Rossamund's powers aren't evil persay, it's the reason behind their existence that has everyone upset.
  • Bald of Awesome - All Wits lose their hair, which leads to...
  • Bald Women - All female Wits.
  • Band of Brothers - The Lamplighters at Wormstool.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished - Played with; at various points, Europe gets the crap beaten out of her and/or becomes deathly ill, and is described as looking like a shadow of her former self...and STILL being gorgeous.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat - The Lamplighter-Marshal until he's called away as part of a power play by the Master-of-Clerks.
  • Bio Punk - crossed with a Steampunk aesthetic.
  • Bittersweet Ending - No one really important dies, but Rossamund is separated from Europe and all the other humans he cares about, forever.
  • Black Sheep - Europe of her family, and Threnody of her clave (to a degree).
  • Blessed with Suck - Being a Lazhar; on the one hand, awesome monster-killing powers. On the other hand, you have to take an array of noxious potions on a daily basis to keep your implanted organs from killing you horribly; which they may end up doing anyways. Oh, and you're a social pariah, shunned by decent folk. Wits have it even worse than Fulgars, having to take twice as many potions and losing all their hair.
  • Blood Knight - Europe has elements of this; Licurius definitely is/was.
  • Carnival of Killers: Europe and Rossamund have to fight their way through a number of hired killers at the midpoint and at the climax of Book Three.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin - Grinnlings.
  • Child Soldiers - The prentices are all quite young, but expected to learn how to fight and succeed against various monsters in about four months' time. This is revealed as not commonly accepted everywhere in the Half Continent as a woman expresses the sentiment that Rossamund is too young to be fighting.
  • Coming of Age Story - The trilogy is Rossamund's Bildungsroman.
  • Conveniently an Orphan - Rossamund
  • Cryptic Background Reference - The Half-Continent is vast and all the stories happen within a few hundred miles of each other, but there's the imperial heartland on the other side of the Half-Continent and all the kingdoms near it, and all the people only mentioned like the Emperor, not to mention the tales of the Gotts who fled from across the sea from the rise of a false-god, apocalyptic monsters that are only mentioned in passing.
  • Cute Shotaro Boy - Rossamund.
  • Cute Bruiser - Rossamund is a male example after learning to tap his inner monster-strength near the end of Book Two
  • Dance Battler - Sagaars.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen - Europe, after she adopts Rossamund as a Morality Pet.
  • Eldritch Abomination - the false gods, and to the common people probably the monster lords. The false Gods are pretty much a expy of lovecraftian horrors, they live under the sea, they have many mouths and radically different bodies, they are sleeping and waiting to rise, cults of people worship them and when one did rise a fishing village was destroyed.
  • Everythings Better With Duchesses-in-Waiting - Europe.
  • Evil Counterpart - Laudibus Pile can be seen as the evil counterpart to Mister Sebastipole.
  • Facial Markings - Teratologists mark their faces with distinctive "spoors" that demonstrate what kind of monster-hunter they are.
  • Fantastic Racism - Basically the entire storyline. Monsters Vs. Humans and such.
  • Foreshadowing - Freckle's words to Rossamund on their first meeting, Rossamund's conversation with the Rabbit Lord.
  • Gender Blender Name - Rossamund.
  • Healing Potion - Rossamund always has a satchel full of powders, so of course one of them has to have healing powers.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Masters Craumpalin and Fransitart.
  • He Who Fights Monsters - Metaphorically for most of the monster-fighters, as lampshaded by Rossamund. Literally for Rossamund himself, though really it's more of a Tomato in the Mirror thing
  • Humans Are Bastards - Rossamund finds it infuriating that everyone is so intent on killing monsters.
  • Humanoid Abomination - Some of the monsters are this, particularly rever-men and what the glossary describes as "zombie scarecrows". Rossamund might be considered this.
  • Interspecies Romance - Mentioned in the books as an aside, toyed with a very, very little in one scene of the third.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Threnody is a vain and annoying brat, annoying even Rossamund to the point of snapping at her, but she highly values the protection of the oppressed because of her calendar learnings and remains loyal to him even when it gets hard for her.
  • Kangaroo Court - The Master-of-Clerks inquiry into Rossamund's actions at Wormstool.
  • Karma Houdini - Laudibus Pile. Unlike the Master-of-Clerks and Grotius Swill, Pile manages to survive the fall of Winstermill AND sells his account of it to the scandals.
  • Kid Hero - Rossamund, although reluctantly.
  • Lady of War - Europe and a few of her allies and enemies in the third book.
  • Masquerade Ball - Europe throws one of these in Book Three.
  • Military Maverick - Threnody is intent on saving the world, much to everyone's chagrin.
  • Morality Pet - Rossamund for Europe.
  • Naive Newcomer - Rossamund
  • Nice Hat - Rossamund has a very nice one. Several, in fact. Every time he loses one, Europe calls him out on it.
  • Nightmare Fetishist - Licurius' hobby was painting graphic depictions of monster-related violence. Some he sold, others he kept in his bedroom.
  • Our Monsters Are Different
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse - Cinnamon and Rossamund.
  • Prophetic Names - Rossamund's embarrassing name is in fact quite important to the plot
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance - Wits put their fingers to their temples when they frission.
  • Psychic Powers - Wits.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure - The Lamplighter-Marshal at Winstermill. See also Beleaguered Bureaucrat, above.
  • Red Baron: Europe, the Branden Rose.
  • Shock and Awe - Fulgars.
  • Super Senses - Laggards have superpowerful vision, wearing an olfactlogue enhances ones sense of smell, and a sthenicon enhances both sight and smell.
  • Technicolor Eyes - The alchemical "washes" that give leers their special sight also changes their eye colors; laggards have brown and yellow eyes, falsemen have red and pale-blue eyes.
  • Tomato in the Mirror - Although he's not a bad monster
  • Took a Level In Badass - Rossamund, goes from spending fights hiding in Book One to wading through a horde of nickers at the battle at Wormstool near the end of Book Two.
  • Uriah Gambit - The Master-of-Clerks sending Rossamund to Wormstool, the most dangerous Lamplighter outpost in the Empire, is implied to be this.
  • World Building - It's pretty intricate.
  • World of No Grandparents - There simply aren't any.
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