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The second epic cycle by the Russian writer Vera Kamsha, author of the Arcia Chronicles. Eight books of planned decalogy (which passed the point of Trilogy Creep a long time ago) have been published.

The books are, in chronological order:

  1. Red on Red (2004).
  2. From War Till War (2005).
  3. The Face of Victory (2005).
  4. The Winter Break was the first book to be split in two tomes:
    1. From the Depths (2006).
    2. Poison of the Past (2007) was further split in two volumes due to its sheer size, though published simultaneously.
  5. Heart of the Beast was to be the last book in the series, but had to be split in four volumes. "Ending Fatigue" doesn't even begin to cover it.
    1. Lies of Mirrors, Truth of Steel [1] (2008).
    2. The Orb of Fates (2009).
    3. Blue Gaze of Death was ostensibly the last tome of the last book but...
      1. Sunset (2011).
      2. Sunrise (TBA).

Furthermore, after Sunrise, a collection of previously published and new novellas about Eterna and Kertiana will be released in a single bound volume entitled Flame of Eterna (TBA). Said previously published novellas include:

  • Flame of Eterna (2004). A distant prequel to the novels, set before and around the fall of Galtara. Spoils a lot of reveals of the later books.
  • Taligoian Ballad (2005). A less distant prequel (published as the prologue to FWTW), set during Francis Ollar's coup to take the Taligoian crown, 400 years before the novels.
  • White Spruce (2006).

This series contains examples of:

  • Anti Role Model: Richard Oakdell, one of the central characters. Word of God says he was created to subvert the pattern of Designated Hero.
  • Anti-Villain: Roque Alva.
  • Arc Number: Four. Four noble houses (each subdivided into four clans), four creator deities, 400 year-long ages...
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: in vice versa order, but almost literally. Word of God says that Richard Oakdell's inevitable moral decay, which drove him to attempt of Alva's murder and killing the queen Keterina was shown from the very beginning; this soon-to-be-traitor-and-murderer tried to kill the annoying rat in Laic Academy.
  • Artifact Title: Possibly the entire series. "Eterna" was apparently an interdimensional fortress that served as the base of operations for the Guardians of Sunset until its destruction long before Red on Red. The Guardians of Sunset are guarding the inhabited worlds from unimaginable monstrosities from beyond but began steadily losing after Eterna fell. All of this is mentioned on four pages in an early book, tangentially referenced in the prequel novella Flame of Eterna... and never brought up again in any of the nine novels published thus far.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Katarine Arigot-Ollar. Well, Republican part is conditional - she is a royalty, after all.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Richard Oakdell happened to have duel with seven enemies at once, Alva arrived just in time to take six of them and equal the chances. Although he could have taken all seven, he just didn't want to deprive Oakdell from all the glory.
  • Brainy Brunette: Arlette Savignak.
  • Butt Monkey: Richard Oakdell.
    • Captain Aramona fits better, but his character not lasted long. In a way.
    • King Ferdinand.
    • Gilles Poncy.
  • Badass Family: Alvas. All of them.
  • Badass Spaniard: Alva, full stop.
  • Bad Samaritan: Stanzler.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Esteban Colignar. He might grow to Big Bad, but suddenly met Alva. Oops!
    • Stanzler. He showed all the soon-to-be Big Bad signs in first two books, but suddenly it came out that he is just a petty blackmailer, who was blackmailed too.
  • Four-Star Badass: Roque Alva, Almeida, Savignak brothers, Kurt Weisel, etc.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Pridds, Arigots, Oakdells... Rakans in the prequel, Flame of Eterna, also fit perfectly.
  • Break the Cutie: Mellith was effectively raped by Aldo.
  • Capulet Counterpart: Iris Oakdell, who fell in love with Alva, her father's killer.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Richard Oakdell.
  • The Chessmaster: Cardinal Dorak, his enemy August Stanzler, kazar Adgemar the White Fox.
    • And all of them ended up by outwitting themselves to the point of fatal mistake.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mellith
  • Cool Boat: "Brave Yzarg".
  • Cool Horse: Moro, Alva's stallion.
    • Dracco, Robert Epine's horse, is half as cool, for it is half the same breed.
  • Conflict Killer: tons of them. In The Face of Victory Robert Epine, who was desperately trying to lead his rebel army to not very bloody failure suddenly faces the fact that commander of government forces general Luras has decided to switch sides and embrace Aldo Rakan as his king.
    • In the next two volumes Robert with the same desperation tries to rescue Alva for I Owe You My Life reasons and drag Aldo Rakan along with Aldo's Grandma out of this "royal" shady enterprise. No way: Alva is to be resqued by Valentine Pridd (first time) and Marcel Valmes (second time) and Aldo - killed by Moro.
  • Corrupt Church: Esperathists. They are so corrupt, it took a destruction of all the Agaris City along with them to save the world from their filth.
    • Judging by the massacre on Octavian Night, Ollarian Church is hardly better.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The series features a lot of elements of this, especially when the Myth Arc regarding the impending Endofthe World As We Know It is brought up and paranormal weirdness starts happening.
  • Deader Than Dead: Richard Oakdell might be this after Sunset.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Creators of Eterna are gone for long time and, presumably, dead.
  • Fisher King: The kings of Golden Anaxia, as well as the four Dukes, wielded very direct power over their lands. This connection extends even to their modern descendants, as seen in the destruction of Nador, directly caused by Richard's betrayal of Alva at the latter's Kangaroo Court.
  • Good Shepherd: Bishops Honoré and Levy. Well, bishop Bonifatius is not bad, too, and father Germane.
  • Heroic Sociopath: Marcel Valmes
  • The Heretic: King Franciscus I, a.k.a. the Maragonian Bastard, who established the Ollarian Church.
  • Hunting Accident: This is what officially happened to Valentin's older brother Justin.
  • Idiot Ball: if Richard Oakdell was a little bit smarter, plot would be finished on vol.2.
    • Good guys in general have a firm grip on Idiot Ball, primarily by refusing to take meaningful action against their obvious enemies before the latter stab them. That's the only conceivable reason the villains, smug snakes they are, ever get anywhere.
  • In the Blood: Only males descended from Four Gods have magical powers. Even though they have no idea how how to use it anymore.
  • Jerkass: Aldo Rakan.
  • Just Before the End: The end of the world is more or less set in stone in this series. Too bad nobody but a few madmen realizes that.
  • Latin Lover: Roque Alva. Even the Guys Want Him.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Non-POV Protagonist: Alva is the essential character of the cycle, yet his actions are the only ever observed through the eyes of others. Another Duke, Valentine Pridd, likewise never gets any attention but he is also less of a world-shaker.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: everything is done for the Talig's sake, is good. What's done against Talig (and it's First Marshall) is BAD. That's why Alva can drown babies and Aldo is not allowed to take hostages.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Alva is strongly implied to be the real heir to the Golden Anaxia but has so far dodged all attempts to put Talig's crown onto his head.
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: Kamsha really loathes the Bard. In series, his Expy is a churchman's illegitimate child Walther Diderich, who expresses his grudge in Tear Jerker plays.
  • Shoot the Dog: Because of Blood Oath given by Alva to king Ferdinand, Alva cannot leave him captured and must willingly surrender to Aldo Rakan after successful runaway. And there is no way to rescue the king along with Alva. But Marcel Valmes somehow figured out that if the king dies, Alva is free from his Blood Oath. Well... poor Ferdinand.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Lots of them here.
    • Robert sacrificed himself to White Fox for the sake of his Birissian friends Garizha and Milzha - only to find pretty soon that these friends are already beheaded. Good thing Alva was there to spare his life.
    • When Alva's assassination and Born's uprising failed, Egmont Oakdell knew for sure that any attempt of riot is doomed while Alva is in command of the military. It didn't prevent him from uprising, though. Results were predictable: he was defeated and killed by Alva.
    • His son Richard didn't went much futher. He knew for sure that his inept efforts to kill Alva, regardless of success or failure, will lead to his own death. He would either be killed by Alva or executed for murder. But he tried. Because he completely missed the point. Good thing Alva spared him too. And then Richard tried killing him again.
    • And don't forget Polixena.
  • Stupid Surrender: Alva had arrived to the king Ferdinand's scaffold (because king was to be executed by Aldo Rakan's orders), laid the path of Blood and Glory through enemy lines, slashed treacherous general Luras in two halves and... surrendered to Robert Epine with no attempt to save the king at all! Made even more senseless by the fact that poor Ferdinand was later murdered in prison, anyway.
  • Too Stupid to Live: kazarone Tuhhup from the first book. Known basically by his Badass Boast to trample Alva's army into horse crap. Guess who was trampled instead?
    • Katarine Arigot. Richard Oakdell might have deserved some ass-kicking, but to scold one when he is on a verge of insanity and has dagger in his hand is the very bad idea.
  • The Tower: The mysterious Sunset Tower, which is considered an ill omen by the majority but Alva seems to think otherwise.
  • Uncoffee: Shaddi.
  • Verbal Backpedaling: Exactly what happened in The Orb of Fates when Richard had eavesdropped the little chat between Katarine and Stanzler. Poor youth couldn't stand the fact that he was totally fooled by his Love Interest. And moreover, she despises him for that. However, he happened to have dagger. Bye-bye, sweet Kat!
  • Written by the Winners: Is there anything about Kertiana's history that wasn't twisted at some point?

Notes

  1. In original Russian, the title is "Truth of Steel, Lies of Mirrors" but that version doesn't preserve the original's meter in English.
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