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The Tortall-verse consists of several sets of young adult fantasy novels by Tamora Pierce:

  • Song of the Lioness follows Alanna of Trebond and the time between her Twin Switch with her brother to her knighthood and subsequent adventures; for the first two books she must also disguise her true gender.
    • Alanna: The First Adventure
    • In The Hand Of the Goddess
    • The Woman Who Rides Like A Man
    • Lioness Rampant
  • The Immortals centers around Daine, a young girl able to communicate with animals as the world once again has to deal with the Immortals who had been sealed away centuries before.
    • Wild Magic
    • Wolf Speaker
    • Emperor Mage
    • The Realms Of The Gods
  • Protector Of The Small follows Keladry of Mindelan, the first girl to train openly for Knighthood after Alanna and her struggle to keep up with those who want to see her fail and constantly move the goalposts. She's the only protagonist so far not to have any magic.
    • First Test
    • Page
    • Squire
    • Lady Knight
  • Daughter Of The Lioness follows Alianne, Alanna's daughter, and her involvement in the underground movement in the Copper Isles to install a new Queen to replace the Royally Screwed-Up monarchy and free the repressed native people.
    • Trickster's Choice
    • Trickster's Queen
  • Provost's Dog is told in first person from the point of view of Beka Cooper, George Cooper's ancestor 200 years before Alanna's time, and her time in the proto-police force known as the Dogs on the streets of Corus.
    • Terrier
    • Bloodhound
    • Mastiff

Many others are upcoming. Has a character page.


Tropes present in this series include:

  • 90% of Your Brain: In Wolf-Speaker, Daine refers to the (false) fact that humans use little of their brains when comparing them to Brokefang who, changed by her magic, had ideas in "each nook and cranny of his skull." She is horrified by her discovery. In this case it's because at the time the book was written that was the accepted theory about brain function.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Kel remembers it's her birthday after falling out of a tree.
  • Action Girl: Several of them.
  • Action Mom: Alanna, in later books.
    • Queen Thayet was a bit of one as well. She founded her own cavalry group, the Queen's Riders, and often would drop whatever she was doing to ride out with them when they were called up.
    • Kel's mom also seems to be one, at least in flashbacks where she fought off pirates.
  • Aerith and Bob: Among others, we have Alanna, Jonathan, Gary and Raoul alongside Veralidaine, Numair (or Arram) and Keladry. Pierce also has distinct countries and regions with their own naming traditions, and people from the same country generally follow the same naming style; for example, quite a lot of the Tortallan names sound close to English, while Gallan names have a -sra (or -sri, in Daine's case), and obviously, Yamani names are like Japanese names. She actually subverts this trope, or at least doesn't flaunt it like many other authors.
    • Among Tortallans, most of the "Bob" names (George, Frances, Roger, along with those already named) were introduced in the first quartet. Tortallans from later books tend to have "Aerith" names (Keladry, Merric, Wyldon, Alianne) or Aerith-names that abreviate to Bob ones (Nealan)- although there are some exceptions (Owen). In fact, many of the 'Aerith' names are, like 'Aerith' ('Alice'), variations on real-world names from Europe, England especially. 'Wyldon' is a variant of 'Weldon', for example, and Keladry could be seen as a variant of Kelly.
  • Affably Evil: The main villain of Song of The Lioness, at least at first. There's a reason George calls him Alanna's "smilin' friend". And it's precisely because he seems too nice on the surface that Alanna suspects him, since she's figured out that villains aren't always Obviously Evil.
  • Afraid of Needles: Alanna faints when getting her ears pierced, much to Thayet's amusement.
  • The Ageless: The immortals have this form of immortality.
  • Ambadassador: Kel's mother and father.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Delia, Duke Roger, the Tusaine king's brother.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Daine learns to do this in Wolf Speaker and becomes a plot point.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Wild magic, anyone? A number of them are also purposefully broken -- bats aren't evil (reflecting how they're seen as symbols of luck in many Asian countries) among others.
  • Animal Talk: Mainly with Daine and Beka.
    • While Daine and Beka converse with animals through magic, Aly learns how to emulate and interpret the sounds and body language of crows, to add them to her spy network. On the other hand, she learns this mundane language in a series of waking dreams (courtesy of her patron god) where the crows can use human speech.
  • Anticlimax Boss: When Kel kills the mage creating the killing machines in Lady Knight, she's shocked at how easily he dies.
  • Appeal to Audacity: When Aly tells Ochobu that she was temporarily paralyzed by a Goddess, Ochobu blatantly disbelieves her; to which Aly retorts that she "likes to tell lies that will be believed."
  • Apron Matron: Chenaol from Daughter of the Lioness. Holy hell, Chenaol.
  • Axe Crazy: Josiane of the Copper Isles. Literally. Stated to have been the result of inbreeding in the island kingdom.
  • Author Appeal: Pierce admits to finding older men sexy. After the outcry over the fourteen-year age gap between Daine and Numair, though, she says she'll try for smaller gaps in the future.
  • Back From the Dead: Alanna kills the Big Bad of the first quartet very dead in book two. Alas, it doesn't stick.
  • Badass: Alanna, Aly, Kel, Daine, Numair... the list goes on.
  • Badass Bookworm: Tristan makes the very, very stupid mistake of thinking Numair is a complete Cloudcuckoolander. He won't be making that mistake again. Because now he's an apple tree.
  • Badass Normal: Kel, the only protagonist in Pierce novels not to have any magical abilities.
    • Also Liam Ironarm, who has a strong aversion to magic and is one of the most skilled fighters in the world.
  • Batman Gambit: Roger's plan in Lioness Rampant is this. Alanna only manages to stop it when she realizes he is expecting her every move, then does what he doesn't expect of her.
  • Berserk Button: See Numair. See Numair (apparently) get killed. See Daine crush the killer's palace WITH ZOMBIE DINOSAURS.
  • Better as Friends: Alanna and Jonathan, also Kel and Cleon.
  • The Big Guy: Oh my god Raoul. He later marries one of the shortest characters in the books.
    • And Sarge of the Queen's Riders, a man so huge Daine wonders if he has bear blood in him.
  • Black and White Morality: Usually played straight, though the Beka Cooper books don't always look that way, and the gods are... greyer. (See Jerk Ass Gods, below.)
    • Even more noticeable in Alanna's and Kel's books, when characters who seem to be run-of-the-mill bullies almost without exception end up being rapists. Justified in that in medieval times (and in universe) a nobleman raping a commoner was not an uncommon thing. In other words, rape is exactly the kind of thing nobles with a mean streak would be up to once they got a bit older.
    • Alana's friendship with the Rogue and his Court means that one of the Realm's knights, and later other knights as well as the Crown Prince himself are aware of crimes being committed but do nothing to interfere.
    • Where Daine is concerned, this overlaps with Values Dissonance, as Daine does not consider what is best for humans to be more important than what is best for animals.
  • Blade on a Stick: Kel and her mother both use naginata, and are quite good with them. A later book describes Kel as "that mad woman with the giant pigsticker."
  • Bully Hunter: Kel.
  • Came Back Wrong: Implied to be the case for Duke Roger. At first it seems not so, thanks to his very clever and self-effacing attitude after coming back to life, but during the final battle it's pretty clear he's gone completely insane (and lost much of the nasty manipulations and misleading obfuscation that made him such an admirable villain the first time around, although Your Mileage May Vary concerning that.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Shapeshifting wildmage Daine suffers from this.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Faithful (and his earlier incarnation Pounce)
  • The Chains of Commanding: Kel, a natural leader, wonders in Lady Knight if her old schoolmates resent her commanding them. She also has to refrain from greeting old friends with a hug -- the leader can't drop her dignity.
    • Not to mention that, in order to gain the trust and respect of her command, she needs to do every unpleasant chore in camp without complaining, and she fully expects to be executed for coming to the rescue of several hundred children. She spends at least sixteen hours of every day working.
    • Kalasin is another example, though only implied in the books. She planned to become the first openly female page, but was talked out of it by her father, to set up an alliance by marriage.
      • Kalasin in fact bargains with her father. She will not pursue her dream of being a female knight as long as she has final veto power over her marriage and is seriously involved in the marriage negotiations. She later marries Emperor Kaddar of Carthak.
  • Chilly Reception: In Protector of the Small, Kel hasn't even set foot in the castle for her page training before she's being hazed, having been put on probation by her training master. Needless to say, the boys she trains with don't exactly improve matters. She makes friends and triumphs regardless.
  • Continuity Nod: Every single new series is packed with references to the previous series, mostly through the reappearance of old characters. In First Test, one specific Crowning Moment of Awesome concerning Numair from 'The Immortals Quartet' is mentioned. One of the best things about this series is that characters do age and change between books and series, and it's always good seeing what the heroes from previous books are up to.
    • Sadly, this is also the reason why we won't be seeing any movies based off of the books either, because if one film studio owns the rights to the characters, they therefore own the rights to PRACTICALLY EVERY SINGLE BOOK.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Most obviously Aly, Alanna, and Daine. Kel also shows a few elements of this as well. None of them are particularly happy about it, see the Jerkass Gods section below.
    • In the case of Beka, she doesn't mind serving the Black God of Death, because he's the nicest of all the gods and cares for the souls of the dead, whereas the other gods barely value the souls of the living.
  • Counterfeit Cash: Bloodhound revolves around this.
  • Covers Always Lie: One edition of The Woman Who Rides Like A Man looks like the male models for a certain other series got lost on their way to the shoot. Aside from the fact that Alanna's romantic woes are only a tiny part of the story, look at the characters' clothes -- you'd be forgiven for thinking that the book takes place in modern times...
  • Cyanide Pill: Suicide spells.
  • Dark Is Not Evil / Don't Fear the Reaper: One of the three main gods in Tortall is the Black God, who is in charge of death and judgment. He is said to be the kindest and most merciful of the three, and one of the main characters, Lawful Good Beka Cooper, actually works for him on occasion, and in Mastiff the god himself calls her his most faithful priestess.
  • Dawn Attack: Ulasim realizes that the war for Rajmat "has begun ahead of schedule."

  Any good swimmer knows to swim with the tide rather than against it. We attack in force at dawn.

  • Dead Guy, Junior: Multiple characters end up naming their children after deceased characters, not just limited to the royals. Among the more notable examples are Alanna's children Thom, Alianne and Alan, the latter two named after both her father and the name Alanna she went by during her Masquerade.
    • Also Rikash and Sarralyn, Daine's children named after the Stormwing she befriended and her late mother
    • Also, most, if not all, of Jonathan's and Thayet's children are named after dead guys. Roald and Jasson after Jonathan's father and grandfather, Liam after the Shang, Kalasin and Lianne after Thayet and Jonathan's mothers.
    • Word of God also says that Aly and Nawat had triplets after the Trickster books ended. Apparently dead-guy-junioring isn't done in raka tradition, so instead of Ochobu, Ulasim and Junai, they named the kids... Ochobai, Ulasu and Junim.
    • All of the above are truly and spectacularly outdone by Coram and Rispah, who name their children: Jonthair, Alinna, Thomsen, Mylec, Daran, Liam, and Thayine.
    • Somewhat justified in that Pierce tries to base her stuff on actual medieval culture, and there isn't exactly going to be 'baby names' books lying around. What else are you gonna call them?
  • Dead Man Writing: In Lioness Rampant.
  • Determinator: Kel has this going for her, and when one enemy is stupid enough to kidnap a group of people she'd been put in charge of and take them far away, they really have it coming to them. See Mama Bear.
    • Also Beka. It's where she gets her "Terrier" nickname.

  Beka Cooper: The lower city is mine, its people are mine. If I find them that's doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they'd best pray for mercy, because once I get my teeth in 'em, I will never let them go.

  • Did Not Do the Research: In the sport of jousting (tilting), multiple characters are impressed when an opponent's lance breaks or frustrated when their own breaks. This is usually considered a good thing, as it means you've struck your opponent's shield cleanly and hard. It stands out because every other element of the universe is so well done. In context it may have had more to do with how hitting someone cleanly and hard is only a good thing if you actually manage to get them out of the saddle by doing so, so if your lance breaks, you can't unhorse their opponent.
    • In the Protector of the Small quartet Kel's favorite weapon is described a glaive and a naginata interchangeably. Despite being similar, these are distinct weapons. Might be Translation Covnention at work in-universe.
  • Dirty Cop: The Provost's Guard's definition of "dirty" is a bit looser than our modern one (taking kickbacks in "happy bags" is a well known and accepted practice for even good cops), but as Beka eventually discovers, a large percent of the Guards of Port Caynn are completely corrupt.
    • In fact Beka's early unwillingness to take bribes is frowned upon as it is likely to lead her being targeted.
  • Divine Race Lift: It's a bit odd that the chief god worshiped by a medieval white society is a black man...something they can't be unaware of considering how much the Tortallan gods like to meddle. Particularly bizarre in the Copper Isles, considering that the white elite look down on the colored natives, though race and religion seem to not be such hot points in that world even though people hate seeing so many outsiders. It could just be that since Mithros and company are generally Jerkass Gods complaining too much about it might backfire.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Numair, magically speaking, especially when compared to Duke Baird, Neal, and other healers who require incredibly precise control as part of the job description. In a variation on the trope, Numair is perfectly aware of his strength and its limitations, he just can't control it because he's trained himself in big, power-consuming spells his whole life and doesn't have the precision needed for small things and is openly envious of 'lesser' mages. Most mages can use magic to put out their candles; Numair has to get up and blow it out because if he used his magic he'd blow up the candle, as well as the table it was on and the wall behind it.
  • The Dragon: Alexander of Tirragen, to Duke Roger. Goes from Deadpan Snarker and The Quiet One to a Blood Knight and The Rival. Alanna even has to face him before she can defeat the Big Bad.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The thing inside the Chamber of the Ordeal can come off as a less malevolent, if not outright Lawful Neutral, version of this, given all the wonky descriptions about how it is not a god and how it is completely incapable of defining time and space in ways that can be comprehended in human terms. About the only thing missing is the idea that contact with it can potentially break one's mind. That it does rather deliberately, but it also doesn't play favorites. If the would-be knight can face his/her fears and make it out alive (and with mind intact), he/she will truly be made stronger for it and can serve Tortall admirably. And because its power is so great and can overcome that of mortal sorcerers, it enables Alanna to tear through the veil keeping a villain from suspicion, so she can understand the extent of his plot.
    • The "playing favorites" bit is arguable, but being someone the Chamber wants to talk to is certainly not a comfortable position to be in.
  • The Emperor. Daine has some trouble with Emperor Mage Ozorne, who wants to rule the world or something.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Played with. In a fictional universe based around medieval, European culture, there is no problem with a 12-year-old girl (Alanna) that has just had her first period being given birth control by an older woman so she can have sex without fear of pregnancy. The nobility, at least, pays lip service to "men can do what they want, women should be virgins until marriage". On the other hand, we see several noblewomen, good and bad alike, taking lovers in a more modern "dating" fashion. Kel's books say that commoners don't hold with all this nonsense and sleep with whomever they like... but the endless, endless negative terminology thrown at Kel suggests that the commoners don't approve of women sleeping around either! In the end it seems most like modern life, double standards and conflicting messages and all.
    • In the Newest Beka Cooper book, set several centuries before the series proper, we begin to learn of the rise of the worship of The Gentle Mother aspect of The Goddess which supports demure, virginal, separated, and stereotypical female medieval ideas and aspects. Predictably our erstwhile heroine thinks its nothing but idiocy, but considering its supported by nobles there's not much she can do about it!
  • Face Your Fears: The Chamber of the Ordeal.
  • Face Heel Turn: In the Bekka Books, Tunstall.
  • Fair Cop: Beka, as far as one can be in an age when accepting bribes is par the course.
  • Fake Kill Scare: Played with in Emperor Mage, when the titular emperor has a certain someone killed. This angers everyone's favorite Wild Mage, and she proceeds to call up some ZOMBIE DINOSAUR SKELETONS and every other living animal in the area, destroy a palace and most of the city, and do quite a bit more damage. When that certain someone shows up, proving to her that it was a magical clone of himself that had been killed, she cools off, answering "What happened? with "I thought you were dead. I lost my temper."
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Yamani Islands are Japan right down to the language; Tortall's version of Ancient China (the Teasai being at least one "Chinese" faction) is implied to be on the other side of the sea in Protector of the Small and Trickster's Choice; the people at the Roof of the World were modeled after the Tibetans and Nepalese and etc; and Carthak is one big African nation, complete with lots and lots of black people. Oh, and the Bazhir are Arab. The Copper Isles are fairly analogous to India and Southeast Asia, right down to the types of dress and foods. Sarain is roughly equivalent to Mongolia. Then there's Scanra's similarities to Scandinavia.
    • Carthak, K'miri, and Sarain are rather more complex than that. Similarly, the Copper Isles, while having Indonesian influences, aren't a straight-up copy either.
      • This troper lives in Hawaii, and has always found the Copper Isles to mirror here quite nicely. Even down to history, theology, and customs, they're pretty close.
  • Fantasy World Map: At the beginning of each book, although the last Lioness book's map doesn't show a large part of the world Alanna traveled through.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: In spades. Covered in the Song of the Lioness quartet; half the point of The Immortals.
  • Feminist Fantasy
  • Fiery Redhead: Alanna, so, so much. During her training years she was in plenty of fights, and it didn't improve over much with age.
  • First Guy Wins: Aside from her twin brother and her man-at-arms, George is the first guy Alanna meets. Likewise with Daine and Numair, although he's a hawk at the time. The same occurs with Aly and Nawat in the "Daughter of the Lioness" duo. Mostly averted with Kel, who has childhood and teenage crushes on some of her fellow squires, and dates one for a while during her squirehood, but ends her own series unattached and not particularly attracted to anyone, though the end of Lady Knight, she seems to be a bit eager to get back to Dom, but it's left ambiguous if they ever get together. Averted in the Beka Cooper books where Beka ends up with Farmer, who isn't even introduced until the third book, rather than Rosto.
  • First-Name Basis: Many, many characters, including the royal family.
  • Foreign Queasine: Daine in Carthak, Kel in the desert and Aly in the Copper Isles.
  • Fossil Revival: Once again, Daine in Carthak.
  • Four-Star Badass: Raoul, as Commander of the King's Own.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Deconstructed with Ozorne, who is popular enough with his animals, particularly his birds, but is otherwise a very, very nasty man. On the other hand, Daine is nature's friend through and through.
  • Generation Xerox: Usually averted, as children are usually not like their parents and have different interests, most obviously with Alanna's daughter Aly. Although she does have a lot in common with her father George.
    • Sometimes it's played straight-Joren of Stone Mountain is so filled with bigotry that he dies during his Ordeal a magical experience in which one's flaws are tested), and when his father comes to blame Kel for it, he proves himself to be much the same.
    • Also a hilarious inversion in the Beka Cooper books: Lionel of Trebond, the head of the Port Caynn guard and presumably Alanna's ancestor, is a sexist who subscribes to a cult that thinks women have "tender souls" and aren't cut out for violence. He's also far too much of a wimp to deal with the Rogue. Also George himself in regards to Beka
  • Genii Locorum: The Chamber of the Ordeal, Chitral.
  • Genius Ditz: To those who don't know what he is, Numair comes off as, as said by Kitten: 'someone silly.' That is, until he goes into teacher-mode and gets smart or mage-mode and gets dangerous.
  • Gentleman Thief: George Cooper and Rosto the Piper, plus several characters in the Beka Cooper series.
  • A God Am I: Emperor Ozorne all but bans worship of the gods, declaring that "if the people need to worship someone, they can worship him."
  • God Was My Co-Pilot: Faithful/Pounce in both the Lioness books and Beka Cooper novels. He was affirmed as a god at the end of The Realm of the Gods, the last Immortals book. It distinctly points out that Daine met a black cat with purple eyes. He was annoying the Goddess. It could also be interpreted, using information from Terrier, that Faithful and Pounce are one and the same constellation.
    • That last interpretation was actually confirmed in Trickster's Choice by Aly, who mentions in passing to someone else that "the star-Cat became a real cat, and taught [her mother] things as she grew up."
    • There's a scene at the end of Mastiff that has a line directly proving this. "Pounce-who would one day soon be called Faithful..." (The scene has the cat watching George before his first meeting with Alanna, right after he became the new King of the Rogue.)
    • Incidentally, Pierce said in an interview that the character took the "copilot" role because he was...well, bored. Typical cat.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The books tend towards Black and White Morality, but there are still some examples of this. Prejudiced Lord Wyldon in Protector of the Small proves eventually to be good, though flawed. Raoul specifically points out to Kel, who also saw it with the emperor of the Yamani Islands, that a good king isn't necessarily a nice king.
  • Hair of Gold: Very consciously averted. Word of God is that the reason almost none of her heroines are blonde is precisely because of this trope. In Song of the Lioness, the blonde princess, Josiane, is evil. However, in the new Provost's Dog series, the heroine Beka Cooper's hair is described as dark blonde, and Aly's hair is strawberry blonde (red gold), too.
  • Hammerspace: Carefully averted. While Aly whips out an insane number of knives, Pierce always goes to great pains to describe where she hid each one.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Daine can talk to animals. Emperor Mage ends with her raising an army of dinosaur skeletons to destroy a palace. Awesome indeed.
    • Raising dead animals wasn't a part of her power until the Graveyard Hag, however. Although Daine proves on many occasions that speaking to animals gives her huge advantages in war and intrigue, without needing the influence of being a Cosmic Plaything.
    • She is, however, able to use her power to talk to animals to prevent an army from marching, as they have no edible food, no water, no horses, and hardly a strap of leather or piece of rope that hasn't been chewed through: a logistics nightmare.
  • Heroic Bastard: Daine is illegitimate, as indicated by her matronymic "Sarrasri" from her mother Sarra, and this affects her and how other see her throughout The Immortals. However, in Realms of The Gods we find out that her father is really Weiryn, the god of the hunt, and her mother has gone up to join him to become The Green Lady, a minor Goddess. Daine very briefly considers changing her patronymic to Weirynsra before deciding to keep her old one after having been through so much with it.
    • Nester is a minor character version of this as well. Despite being from "the wrong side of the sheet," he manages to become a Dog through his close friendship with his older cousin, the Lord Provost.
  • Heroines Want Redheads: Not counting her one-sided crush on Neal and likewise her crush on Neal's cousin Dom, Kel's only Love Interest has red hair.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Pierce has said that Lalasa from Protector of the Small is gay, but it wasn't important enough to put in the books outside of Subtext between her and Tian without invoking Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?. This is averted in the Circle books, however, and in the second Beka Cooper book, Bloodhound, there is a queer couple, one of whom is a transgender singer. Word of God has also stated that Duke Roger and Thom were originally intended to be in a homosexual relationship, before she changed the book to be marketed to young girls instead of adults and thought the Moral Guardians would take issue with it since it was the late 1980s (though there is still plenty of subtext if you read closely. Or maybe you don't need to read so closely, in some cases).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: the Big Bad of Song Of the Lioness's death is made of this trope. Crosses into Too Dumb to Live territory, for while in his defense he could never have expected Alanna to surrender to anyone, and thereby release the sword, once he saw it coming at him he should have released his spell. Even if for some reason he couldn't, the rather mad way he acts suggests he doesn't even care at that point...which is rather dumb.
  • Honor Before Reason: The lady knights. Kel runs into enemy territory in the middle of a war to rescue the refugees who have been abducted from her camp. Admittedly, she's been explicitly told, by what amounts to a god, that it's her fate to face off with the perpetrator, which is a pretty good sign that she'll win. If she doesn't go save them, the number of nigh-unstoppable killing machines assaulting the border will quintuple, because they're powered by the souls of murdered children- given that they're already losing the war...
    • And just to top it off, when Kel finally gets where she needs to be, she gets told that the odds of success are fifty-fifty. And since the speaker in question is a seer who can function as a medium when the gods want to talk to Kel...
  • Horsing Around: The horses of Tortall have very distinct personalities in general, but special mention goes to Cloud (Daine's pony, and often a grumpy, motherly Lancer as well) and Peachblossom, Kel's inappropriately named, bad-tempered gelding, who decides to be Kel's equine partner because she treated him well, and because, as he tells Daine she needs to be looked after.
    • Lady Sabine's horses Drummer and Steady in addition to normal warhorse kick-the-enemy training are, according to Beka, “truly enthusiastic when it comes to the head”. Sabine trained them to do that to cut down on the harassment encountered while being a female knight, but Drummer takes his job extra-seriously -- apparently if she hadn't introduced Tunstall as a friend, Drummer might have attacked him the first time he saw them hug. Not entirely surprising that Pounce later confirms Farmer's suspicion that Macayhills are horse mages, with Sabine being particularly powerful.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Its revealed that Pounce/Faithful did this on George so that he wouldn't remember that Beka's cat had purple eyes, just like Alanna's.
  • Hot for Student: Daine and Numair. Daine had reached the age where she would be considered an adult before she even realized Numair liked her, and Numair himself seemed initially reluctant when Daine brought it up.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Alanna with most men, and in the Protector of the Small books Raoul and Buri.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: The last time Kel's height is mentioned, she's 5'10", fifteen, and not done growing yet.
  • Hypocrite: In the Beka Cooper book, Bloodhound, Beka is nearly killed by two men who wanted to get back at her for arresting thier friend. Needless to say, when they come back to Beka as pigeons, they're not pleased about having been killed and proclaim that they would have finished the job had they had the chance.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: After members of a foreign delegation insult the prowess of Tortallan knighthood, Alanna is chosen to defend Tortall's honor in a duel against Tusaine's champion. She does well enough until her opponent manages to wound her in her right arm. Instead of accepting his victory, the knight presses in for the kill. At this point Alanna switches to her left hand, beats him in short order, and delivers a Reason You Suck Speech. The best part? Alanna was only a squire at the time and this was her first serious duel.
    • Justified in that Alanna had to learn to fight with her left as well as her right after a bully broke her right arm during her time as a page.
  • Icon of Rebellion: In the Tricksters series, the symbol for the cultural uprising of an ethnic group enslaved and kept on the bottom rung of society was a crude broken manacle: three small circles as a chain attached to a larger broken circle. This tiny sign of the underground rebellion could be seen anywhere—vegetable stands, scratched into the corners of glass windows.
  • Idiot Ball: Aly loves to occasionally juggle this one around, normally when she's trying to talk her way out of trouble - With Chenaol and her knife in the first book when she fails to actually say anything of use and Kyprioth in the second, when the first thing she says is that his choice was a stupid one. In fact, both times it takes a God to step in and keep her alive. Both cases of which could have been quickly averted with the right knowledge - which, all the more maddeningly, she had!
  • In Love with Love: Neal. When he actually falls for and marries Yukimi, he acts quite differently.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted frequently, though the perpetrators are always a bit unpleasant .
  • Interspecies Romance: Daine's parents, human and god, Aly and Nawat, human and crow-turned-human.
  • It's All Junk: The bet the crows make with the Trickster god in the Daughter of the Lioness books.
  • Jerkass Gods: Mithros and the Threefold Goddess/Great Mother Goddess/Goddess. Seriously, the god of death is nicer than the goddess of women and childbirth. How can the Goddess support the Rittevons when they throw the children of rebels into a river full of piranha-esque fish?
    • And Mithros is a dick. "Sorry Daine, never mind that you just singlehandedly saved us all from being devoured by the queen of Nightmare Fuel herself, but because you cause a mild ruckus wherever you go, you'll never be allowed to see your parents again in their realm, unless they beg us nicely."
    • Conversed in Trickster's Queen by one of the darkings.

 "Uh oh," whispered Trick, "Gods not good. Gods sly.

  • Just Friends: Before their Relationship Upgrade, the situation between Daine and Numair was slightly...complicated, although it didn't show as much on the surface.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Liam's eye color changes depending on his mood.
  • Karma Houdini: Delia of Eldorne. Okay, she gets arrested and presumably locked away somewhere, but much of what goes wrong in Tortall could be attributed to her as much as the Big Bad from book two onward. In particular it was her playing off of Thom's vanity and ego that led to him bringing the Big Bad Back From the Dead, and it's also possible she seduced Alex into their cause. All this, and her joining the Big Bad in the first place? Because Alanna refused to dance with her. Something she conveniently forgets later, when she claims to have known all along that Alanna was a girl. Alanna calls her out on it.
    • Nomalla in Mastiff, as well. She eventually helped the protagonists escape, but she isn't punished at all for her prior role in the attempted coup. Beka objects, but her protests are overruled.
  • King Incognito: More of a case of Prince Incognito: "Johnny," the rich young merchant's son befriended by the King of Thieves, is really Prince Jonathan. Also Thayet in Lioness Rampant when on the run during a civil war.
  • Knife Nut: George, Aly and Rosto.
    • And Chenaol.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Alanna, Kel and Sabine are female examples. Seen best when Alana and her apprentices have to defend the Bloody Hawk tribe from being attacked.
  • Knight Errant: Alanna starts in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man to escape court and find adventure.
  • Lady of War: Kel and Alanna mainly, but Thayet, Buri and the Yamani ladies also fit this trope.
  • The Lancer: Neal to Kel.
  • La Résistance: The plot of The Daughter of the Lioness revolves around this.
  • Last Kiss
  • Lizard Folk: Basilisks are sentient, bipedal lizards with a gift for languages and the power to turn things into rock. Tkaa, the only one to have a role so far, identifies their species' Hat as "travel and gossip"; he ends up teaching the pages' class on immortals in the third quartet.
  • Loveable Rogue: George and Rosto.
  • Love Triangle: George, Jonathan and Alanna have this issue until Alanna cuts them loose to pursue adventure and other options, though ultimately George wins.
    • Although neither man actually meets, Rosto is not happy to hear that Beka found a boyfriend while she was in Port Caynn, and several times throughout the book she compares Rosto and Dale, with mixed feelings.
  • Magic Knight: Alanna, and any of the other Gifted knights. Most of them rely more on the Knight than the Magic in combat situations.
  • Magic Music: Numair Salmalin manages to retrieve several large boulders to fortify the defences around an army camp in Protector Of The Small. Word of God says that the name of the music he uses - "The Sorcerer's Dance" - is meant to reference the Sorcerer's Apprentice.
    • It should also be noted that the Sorcerer's Dance is considered an absurdly simple spell (the scale Numair which uses is rather huge though). Scanran mages are also mentioned to be quite good at music magic.
  • Mama Bear: Despite never actually having children, Kel fits the mold quite well indeed. Do not pick on people close to her. There's a reason the quartet of books featuring her are collectively called the "Protector of the Small" series.
    • Horrifically averted at more than one point in the Beka Cooper books. Although many of the major characters express disgust and dismay at child slavery and child-killings, often mentioning that child killers are given the most brutal of sentences and that those that get away are often taken down by vigilantes, that doesn't stop some women from ignoring their maternal instinct. One woman attempted to use the Shadow Snake to hide the fact that she sold her child into slavery. The woman responsible for starting and leading the Shadow Snake killings was, herself, a mother. Why? Self-entitlement. She felt that she deserved the nice things she ransomed more than those she took them from. This is in exchange for the lives of children!
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: So many examples, but especially: Numair (whom you of all people should know he's been involved with the women at court), Jon, and Rosto.
    • Might be justified, because everyone is cheerfully having sex (see Eternal Sexual Freedom), or so career-focused that they can't - and that's considered weird. Numair, Jon, and Rosto are 'playboys,' but few of the major characters are chaste or virginal after the age of sixteen.
  • Mauve Shirt: Most of the soldiers Alanna befriends in camp when at war with Tusaine are this. Several become a Sacrificial Lamb as well.
  • Maybe Ever After: At the end of Lady Knight. Kel is still attracted to Dom, and the book ends with excited to see him again.
  • Mentor Ship: Tamora Pierce seems to be fond of this one. Daine and Numair are the most obvious examples.
  • Merlin and Nimue: Daine and Numair.
  • Mighty Whitey - When Prince Jonathan becomes the Voice of the Poeple to the Bazhir Tribesmen and Alanna becomes a respected shaman to the Bloody Hawk Tribe.
  • Mind Control Device: Roger and his sapphire pendant. Numair and his eyes. Blayce and his thing. Numair explains that they need your attention but sufficiently powerful mages don't need an object. Often: ~Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!~
  • Mind Rape: The Chamber of the Ordeal, which must be faced by all would-be knights (and, as shown in Lioness Rampant, the heir to the Tortallan throne in order to become King, though the presumptive King is lucky that he only has about fifteen minutes of it to a knight's presumably hours...), is essentially a big box of this.
  • Modest Royalty: The Contes, to the point that Daine is shocked when she first meets Jonathan and Thayet since they don't look like her mental image of royalty.
  • Must Let Them Get Away: The second type in Bloodhound and Squire. In the former, a noble is convicted of a crime, but is given a lesser sentence due to his family connections. In the latter, Joren is given a fine as a sentence for having Kel's maid abducted due to his status as a noble and hers as a servant.
  • Naked First Impression: The first time Daine is properly introduced to Numair, he's naked, having just shifted back into human form from hawk form. Not to be confused with Naked on Arrival, though, since upon arrival Numair was a hawk, and a hawk can't exactly be considered naked.
  • Nature Hero: Daine, who was raised in (relative) isolation and who is Friend to All Living Things.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Eda Bell. And Alanna herself, after her daughter Aly gets pregnant.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Goes along with Pet the Dog below for Wyldon.
    • Beka also has a few moments in Bloodhound where she intentionally leaves food for the young girl who is spying on her for the Court of the Rogue, since she knows that the girl probably is not well fed and Beka used to be in a similar situation herself. The girl later helps her escape and find what she needs to take the Rogue in.
    • Everyone good is Nice To The Waiter, everyone bad is not. We keep being told by the huge cast of nobles who care about commoners that it's atypical in Tortall for nobles to care about commoners. The only borderline exception is Kel's friend Merric, who, while certainly not cruel or miserly, tells her and Neal at one point that they're too concerned and generous.
  • The Nicknamer: Oh my god Daine. And she's not even creative about it.

 Daine: This is Skysong, but mostly we call her Kit, or Kitten.

    • Let's not forget her nicknaming a dragon Big Blue.
    • In fact it seems the vast majority of protagonists in both series have the curse of names longer than two syllables shortened. Kel for Keladry, Sandry for Sandrilene...
  • Nobody Poops: Completely averted through small mentions of characters going to the bathroom in the middle or end of a scene, and latrines.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Mastiff. Beka describes often and at great length the many times her scent hound Achoo finds a spot where their quarry relieved himself on the road. And then of course we had Saucebox demonstrating his opinion of Pounce's high opinion of himself.
  • Non Sequitur Thud: Not as random as some examples, but Kel is noticeably... ineloquent after three rounds of jousting with Lord Wyldon.

 Kel: I know, my lord. You wish I were a boy. But being a girl is more fun. More fun-er? Is that right?

Wyldon: Go lie down, Mindelan. You're tilt-silly.

  • No Ontological Inertia: Mage Marks in Terrier.
  • No Periods, Period: Completely averted by frank discussions of feminine issues and magical birth control, and in the Lioness books Alanna ended up outing herself to George Cooper after she panicked during her first period and went to see his mother, a healer.
  • Not Good with People: Daine at first.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Thom freaks his teachers the hell out when he stops doing this.
    • Also Numair in Wolf-Speaker refers to depending on Tristan remembering him as having been a "book-bound idiot" back in Carthak.
    • Beka invokes this sometimes when she has to pass as a "loose dog." Asskicking generally ensues for whoever underestimated her.
    • Sir Myles has a mild form of it, both when it comes to Alanna's true identity and how she obtained her magical sword in the first book. The latter is a tactic he and Alanna agree on to fool the court, and Duke Roger but the former is one he pulls on Alanna herself when her healing Jonathan of the Sleeping Sickness gives her away.
    • Farmer Cape. Everyone knows that Provost's Mages are scummer. Farmer goes the extra mile to keep his rivals from divining his true talent and selling him as a bond mage. And because he enjoys helping people more than doing lofty magical pursuits.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Bekah.
  • Odd Friendship: Daine and Rikash the Stormwing. She even names one of her kids after him after he dies.
  • Oh My Gods: "Goddess" most commonly replaces "God," though some characters swear by multiple gods; Numair says "Mithros, Mynoss and Shakith!" quite a bit.
  • Older Sidekick: Coram to Alanna, arguably Numair to Daine (depending who you view as the 'hero')
  • One Last Fling: Alanna and Liam. They eventually break up after they realize that they're too different.
  • One Paragraph Chapter: The Cooper books have two. In one, our protagonist/journal-keeper has been awake far too long and can't stay up long enough to write down everything in her journal. In the other, she's just drunk.
  • Pals with Jesus: Perhaps 'pals' is the wrong word, but many characters (such as Aly with Kyprioth the Trickster) are on speaking - often first-name - terms with the gods.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: The Yamani shukusen, which sport razor-sharp metal edges. They like to play catch with them. And this is why you should never try messing with a Yamani noblewoman. Particularly because they're also trained in self defense and Naginata skills.
  • Pet the Dog: Is usually indicative that a character may not be as cold-hearted as they initially appear. The Stormwing Rikash has one of these moments in the Wild Magic series, as does Kel's sexist training master Lord Wyldon in a literal Pet the Dog moment with Kel's terrier Jump.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Although Kel had a schoolgirl crush on Neal, she got over it. Now Neal's married to Yuki and Kel is heavily implied to be involved with Neal's cousin Dom, but they're still best friends and always will be.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: In "Alanna: The First Adventure," when Alan (Alanna) and Jon are fighting the Ysandir, said evil magicians make her clothes disappear, revealing her naked girlyness. Jon ogles her for a moment before blushing and offering his tunic. Also been described as the "lolwutboobies" moment.
    • After Daine shapeshifts back into a human after saving Numair from a Chaos-dweller in The Realms Of The Gods, she walks up to him - only to remember that she's naked except for her badger claw necklace. Awkwardness Ensues.

 Daine: "Oh, for - !"

  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In Squire and Lady Knight mage-made monsters that are powered by the souls of murdered children start to appear. Admittedly, they are made for the enemy nation, but the mage who makes them is in hiding, or otherwise he would be torn apart by every mage in Tortall who is looking to end the war.
  • Put on a Bus: Just about every Corus character in Mastiff. Justified in that most of the action takes place in other locations, but it's still a bit jarring when important characters like Goodwin, Rosto (who had major Ship Tease with Beka and was expected to be her endgame love interest), Eskren, and Kora and Aniki only have a sentence or two devoted to them.
  • Prince Charming: Justified in Prince Jonathan of the realm of Tortall who is a lover and a fighter. And oh boy is he a lover - right up until he meets Thayet, anyway, and she steals his heart and his ability to speak in all of ten seconds.
  • Proud Warrior Race Girl: Buri.
  • Psychological Torment Zone
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The main villain of Song of the Lioness's motivation, in a particularly pathetic example-he decides to tear down the gods (and make himself one in their place) simply because they didn't bother to notice him, or grant any of his requests for power. Essentially, "if they won't help me, I won't believe in them". On the other hand, considering what is learned about the gods in later series, he may have had a point. Not that that excuses either his methods or his ultimate goal.
  • Razor Wings: Stormwings are covered in steel/metal feathers which are extremely sharp.
  • Raised by Wolves: Or, in Nawat's case, raised by crows.
    • Daine experiences this trope literally, back in Snowsdale with what later became to Long Lake wolf pack.
  • Reality-Changing Miniature: Roger's wax figure of Lianne, washing away beneath a fountain to wash away her life. Meanwhile he has figures of the king, Jonathan, the Provost, Alanna, and Sir Myles wrapped up in a black sack to "obscure their vision" so they cannot be suspicious of him. The other instance is the shield over Dulath valley in Wolf Speaker.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Played with. Alanna at the slightly below-average 5'4" is often called tiny, though this may only be because she spent much of her life disguised as a boy among other boys, and carried over even after she revealed her true gender.
  • Red Headed Heroine: Alanna, she even has the fiery personality.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Alanna and George could be this trope to some extent.
  • Relationship Ceiling: Inverted with Daine and Numair, who seem to be more, if not just as, in love with each other after ten years of being lovers, than they were at the beginning of their relationship.
    • Word of God claims that they would never tire of each other, although they didn't know that, which is why they wouldn't 'trap each other in a marriage' initially.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Book four of The Immortals has the aforementioned couple realizing that they were meant for each other. The previous books give a few clues to this end, but not all that many - the fact that Daine was in her early teens and Numair in his late twenties, and her teacher, would have made that a bit...squicky before they became friends and co-workers instead.
    • Luckily for the author's observing Moral Guardians, Daine was already at an age where she would be considered an adult in her time period before this happened, and by that time Daine and Numair were no longer teacher and student, but friends and co-workers.
  • Rich Bitch: Delia of Eldorne. To what extent she gets any Character Development, Princess Josiane is also this.
  • The Rival: Alex, to Alanna. She also has a Bazhir one in the third book, after she becomes a Bazhir shaman against her will.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Daine. Sadly, the person her revenge was supposed to be directed at turned into a Stormwing, and his innocent nephew had to pay the damages.
  • Romantic False Lead
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Conte family embodies this.
    • Arguably, every named royal does - even the evil ones have some pretty profound effects on their societies. (The Luarin royals in the Copper Isles, or Ozorne, for instance.) Most nobles, and all unnamed royals, though... Who ever worries about Gallan politics? (Probably justified by length restrictions on the books.)
  • Royally Screwed-Up: The Luarin royalty of the Copper Isles in Song of the Lioness and Daughter of the Lioness.
    • And Thayet's family, though she was lucky enough to escape.
  • Rule of Symbolism
  • Ruling Couple: Jonathan and Thayet.
  • Second Book Spoiler: The identity of the Big Bad. All right, it's more of The Untwist, but considering the first book ended with Alanna thinking he was the villain but being unable to prove it, while the very first POV we get from him in the second chapter of the next book makes it clear he is the villain...it kind of makes it hard to discuss the series without giving away too much. A secondary example, with the same villain, occurs after he comes Back From the Dead: much mileage is gotten out of playing up just what forbidden thing Thom did in book three, and whom he brought back...only to have the resurrectee's identity revealed by the cover blurb on book four. Sigh.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Many female characters get at least one of these. Alanna's first one comes in In the Hand of the Goddess, when she starts taking lessons from Mistress Cooper in feminine dress and behavior, and George and Jon see her in a dress. Lampshaded by Alanna after Jon starts coming onto her:

  This was what came of wearing a dress! Men got ideas when a person wore skirts!

    • Also in Lioness Rampant, where her comrade/lover Liam, despite thinking she looks pretty, reacts snappishly and tells her basically that she can't be a warrior and a lady and she'd better straighten out her priorities. Later he apologizes.
    • Beka faces a similar problem adjusting to a dress when she is forced to wear one in Bloodhound. She hates the way men treat her all of a sudden, but manages to pull it off by constantly reminding herself that she's undercover.
  • Shout-Out: Lord Wyldon of Cavall is a blatant one to Cavall, King Arthur's favourite hunting dog. He is pathologically loyal, ruthless, kindhearted and breeds dogs.
  • Shown Their Work: One of the major virtues separating the books (particularly from 'The Immortals' onwards) from the swathes of other feudal-set sword-and-sorcery series is Pierce's attention to detail. Daine may be able to communicate with, transform into, and heal animals through magic, but Pierce's descriptions of the animals, their behaviour and biology is all thoroughly well-researched. The cultures of the fantasy lands outside Tortall also demonstrate the kind of authentic detail only possible through conscientious research into their real-world counterparts.
  • Shrinking Violet: Lalasa, at first.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Nawat is Alysexual.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Many in the Tortall Universe.
    • Thayet, a model lady and founder of the Queen's Riders, a branch of Tortall's military.
    • Sarai, the most popular belle in the Copper Isles. One time she talked down a poorly planned noble revolt while making it seem like she was only interested in a date for the Summer Send ball. Also she's no slouch with a sword.
    • A relative of Kel's who poured hot oil on besiegers just like 'any delicately raised country lady' would.
    • Alanna, the original heroine, tries to be this but she's just no good at the silk part.
    • Inferred to be the case with the Yamani ladies. We don't get to see them in action, but after Neal interrupts a game of fan toss, Yuki tells him the following yamani proverb, right before she use the fan to slice up a wooden tent pole as if it were made of paper.

  Beware the women of the warrior class, for all they touch is both beautiful and deadly.

  • Slave Collar: Carthaki/Copper Islands slaves.
    • In the Cooper Isles at least, the collars will choke slaves who stray too far from their masters. Aly in Trickster's Choice convinces her owners to dispel that particular magic because she is the chosen of a god, but not the god they think.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Attacked with great fury by the lead of just about every book.
  • Spanner in the Works: The heroines are usually always this to the Big Bad of their series, but special mention goes to Alanna and how she brings down her enemy's plots, twice. It helps when The Hero possesses powerful magic of her own and has the (inadvertent) assistance of the Eldritch Abomination in the Chamber of the Ordeal, not to mention help from the gods.
    • The Chamber of the Ordeal has been known to work against those who challenge the natural order in the Tortall universe, such as with Keladry in Protector of the Small.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: characters with the Sight can observe use of the Gift. Alanna also has a stone which, when held, allows her to see magic in use.
    • Numair shows Daine a spell that reveals the magical aura of everything that exists (living, dead, inanimate) in the first book of The Immortals. With all the various colors of bright magical light, it just begs to be Fan Art.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: Subverted by Daine and Numair. After falling off a cliff, Daine strips her ruined clothes off for Numair to heal her, only for him to protest that she should stay clothed while in his presence.
  • The Stoic: Kel and her "Yamani face."
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Most notably Jonathan of Conte.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Alanna and Thom have Purple Eyes that match the color of their magic; so does Faithful.
  • Teen Superspy: Aly's the very successful spymaster of an entire rebellion. And later, government.
  • Thieves' Guild: Also known as "The Court of the Rogue," with one in each major city.
  • True Sight: The Sight can detect illusions and some other kinds of information.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: In the Hand of the Goddess has Alanna trying to figure out who is plotting against Jonathan and his parents, a search which is interrupted by the seemingly unconnected war with Tusaine which draws her, Jonathan, and their friends off into battle. But it turns out the king of Tusaine and his mages were manipulated into the war by Duke Roger so it all ends up being connected after all.
  • Unfortunate Implications: This occurs In-Universe with female guards, seeing as guards are mostly referred to as Dogs (or Puppies when they're in training). In Bloodhound, it is specifically mentioned that calling a guard a "bitch" is a good way to get a baton in the face.
    • Ahuda does some badass reclaiming in Terrier, though.

 Ahuda: You tell me nothin' in my kennel. Here, I am Queen Bitch, and you will muzzle yourself.

  • Unstoppable Rage: Please don't piss Daine off. Otherwise you'll be dealing with skeleton zombie dinosaurs crushing your palace.
    • Perhaps less dramatically, if she is in the form of a giant bird, don't follow close behind her. Just... don't.
    • And in Numair's case, he'll just turn you into a tree.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Beka's sarden, which, combined with her lower-class slang and Kyprish commands to her dog, can result in some nigh-incomprehensible sentences. There is luckily a guide in the back of the books defining what everything means to make it easier.
  • Vestigial Empire: The historic Thanic Empire, whose states are the modern Eastern Lands. Roughly analogous to Ancient Rome.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Many a villain when he's drawn into the open. Alanna's enemy, when Alanna is revealed to be a girl in front of the entire court, is particularly epic. And a bit inexplicable, since he'd shown no indication prior to this that he suffered from misogyny. Unless it was simply that anything had managed to escape his notice?
    • More likely the latter. Also because by this time, he is ever-so-slightly batshit insane.
  • Weak but Skilled: Neal and his father Duke Baird when compared to Numair magically. Nowhere near as powerful but as healers trained to a level of precision that Numair could never hope to match because of his Ace Lightning Syndrome.
    • They are only this in comparison to Numair and other black robes and Alanna, otherwise it is clearly stated that they both posses a strong gift. Farmer Cape-Cooper is a much more straightforward example
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Kel's stern training master Lord Wyldon serves as one of these for Kel -- a conservative opposed to the concept of female knights, but fair enough to recognize her hard work and skill. He even admits to Kel that it took a little arm-twisting from his own conscience for him to allow her to stay on as a page after her first year, and up until that point she was all but convinced that he intended to see her fail regardless of her actual talent.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So many people asked about what happened to the tree that became a man that Pierce wrote a short story about it for an anthology.
    • It was never specified what happened to Varice Kingsford at the end of Emperor Mage. We can't even be sure if she knows her ex-lover is alive, seeing that we never saw them speak to each other after Daine told her to flee and hide.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Kel starts out terrified of heights. She never really learns to like them, but thankfully she has her ever-helpful training master, who forces her to learn to deal with them by ordering her to climb tall trees and landmarks to survey the area.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Thayet, called The Peerless. Her mother, Kalasin, was reported to be just as beautiful, if not more.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Book one of the Beka Cooper trilogy mainly revolves around finding the Shadow Snake, a Lower City criminal that abducts children and demands that their parents give up what little of value that they have in exchange for their child's life. If the parent doesn't comply, they find their child dead very quickly. If said parent happens to have another child, the Shadow Snake ALWAYS comes back.
  • Wutai: The Yamani Islands.
  • Xanatos Gambit: a villain on villain one. Emperor Orzone is cornered and injuried by The Heroine and Stormwings offer him one of their feathers which can change him into one of them and allow him to escape. If he accepts, that puts him under their jursidiction and reduces him to the kind of creature he kept in cages. If he refuses, than The Heroine has zombie dinosaurs waiting to finish him off.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Alanna winds up a Bazhir shaman this way.
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