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"Let us begin with what everyone knows about magery. Mages have magic; common folk do not. What makes a truly great mage is power, the ability to set a forest on fire or freeze a lake. Mages train, as apprentices with one master or students with many, in order to learn to increase their power. The power of mages comes from the elementals - salamanders for fire, sylphs for air, and the rest. Elementals know mages by their names. Hence, giving a child the name of a past mage gives him easier access to that mage's elemental.""Every one of the facts I have just listed is false."
A fantasy novel by economist and omnienthusiast David Friedman. The story is set in a world where everyone has some magical talent, but magic is always very weak, at the time when the Laws of Magic are just starting to be formulated. The plot centers around Ellen, a new student at a School of Magic. she meets the young theorist Coelus, one of the masters at the academy. He's working on a new kind of spell - 'The Cascade' - which could grant vast power to whoever uses it. Ellen is drawn into both the politics surrounding the cascade and the mystery of the Salamander.
Not to be confused with the game in the Gradius series.
Salamander provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Coelus.
- Anti-Villain: Kieran.
- Badass Bookworm: Coelus is just a naive professor, right? Wrong.
- Beta Couple: Mari and Kieran.
- Boy Meets Girl: Twice.
- Common Knowledge: Discussed at the start.
- Elemental Powers: How magic works.
- Hidden Depths: Ellen, Coelus, Kieran, and Dur.
- I Know Your True Name: If a mage changes his name, he loses his powers.
- Immortality: A discussed trope.
- Karmic Death: Maridon convinces Coelus that he needs to be the subject of the Cascade ritual because if something goes wrong and the subject dies, he's expendable and Coelus isn't. Naturally, his attempt to Take Over the World is interrupted when something goes wrong with the ritual.
- Language of Magic: And nobody knows how it works, just that it works.
- Manipulative Bastard: Subverted with Mari.
- Nakama: Ellen and Mari.
- Needle in A Needle Stack:
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: Fieras tries this. It doesn't work.
- The Social Expert: Mari is a heroic version, serving as a Hypercompetent Sidekick in the world of politics to Ellen.
- Sparing the Aces: Main reason Coelus is alive.
- Talking the Monster to Death
- Teen Genius: Ellen.
- Un-Equal Rites: Mages look down on witches. Modern theory is that there's no difference.
- Vain Sorceress: Discussed. One of the reasons that Alys wants to be a mage is so she can be young and beautiful forever; Ellen points out that even the strongest mages can't keep their age down very far.
- Weak but Skilled: The trope this book is based around.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kieran, naturally.
- White and Grey Morality: There may be one truly evil character in the story. May.