|YMMV • Radar • Quotes • (Funny • Heartwarming • Awesome) • Fridge • Characters • Fanfic Recs • Nightmare Fuel • Shout Out • Plot • Tear Jerker • Headscratchers • Trivia • WMG • Recap • Ho Yay • Image Links • Memes • Haiku • Laconic • Source • Setting|
There's something broken inside your skull, [Tavi]. You do all your thinking sideways.
—Antillar "Max" Maximus, Princeps' Fury
Magical Roman Legionnaires straight out of Avatar: The Last Airbender versus the Zerg, wolfmen with Blood Magic, telepathic yetis and white-haired elves. Riding ground sloths and terror birds. Sometimes, the Legionnaires fight each other, too.
Yeah, it is about as awesome as it sounds.
A high fantasy/intrigue series written by Jim Butcher (of The Dresden Files fame), the Codex Alera is set in a world that is populated by the descendants of one of the lost Roman Legions (according to the Word of God). They have carved out a massive empire led by the "First Lord" and they all have magic--specifically, they all bond with one or more "furies", elementals of air, water, fire, earth, wood or metal. Those who control enough furies can become Citizens, with increased privileges and obligations above the common freeman, but everyone has at least one fury. Well, everone save one.
Young Tavi is the only known Aleran who does not have access to any furies. At best, he is treated like a special needs child. At worst... well, they start at "freak" and move downhill from there. However, since he can not rely on furies, Tavi uses something that many of his countrymen fail to utilize: his brain.
Shortly before Tavi was born, the only son and heir of the aging First Lord of Alera was killed in battle, causing the various high nobility to scramble and plot to position themselves to take power when the First Lord dies (or, in some cases, to move that event forward slightly). Chief among them are Aquitainus Attis, the High Lord of Aquitaine, and Kalarus, the High Lord of Kalare. As Alera falls into civil strife, the various non-human enemies of Alera prepare to take advantage of these divisions while a far more dangerous threat lurks in the shadows...
Standing with Tavi are his uncle Bernard (an Earth- and Woodcrafter), his aunt Isana (a very powerful Watercrafter), the young Cursor Amara (a Windcrafter) and the half-wit slave Fade, along with the other friends and allies he makes (and one of Tavi's greatest skills is his ability to make allies, especially out of enemies: something lampshaded in the fifth book) as he is swept up in the battles to save Alera.
The sixth and final book in the series, First Lord's Fury, was released in November 2009.
A character sheet is now available.
- Above the Influence: When Bernard saves Amara from the frozen, flooding Rillwater river she leans in to kiss him, but he pulls away since she is cold and hurting, and it would be taking advantage to move forward.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Metalcrafters have the ability to sharpen and harden the swords they are using, so they can easily slice through concrete, armor and even other swords.
- Abusive Parents:
- Kord is a horrible father on general principles, and mistreats Aric while spoiling Bittan, his favorite.
- High Lady Dorotea Antillus had her step-son, Antillar Maximus, viciously whipped at the slightest provocation. When it looked like he would be able to stand up to her and potentially outshine her son, Antillus Crassus, she moved on to more drastic measures.
- Accidental Marriage: Tavi attempts to claim that he and Kitai have been accidentally married for years in order to reassure Kitai of the nature of their relationship and, more importantly, the legitimacy of their child.
- Action Girl
- Amara is the first introduced character of the series and, though she never has the same power as the various High Lords of Alera, she has the training and skill (and exceptional speed due to her windcrafting) to hold her own throughout all six books.
- Kitai, as one of the Marat, does not have any furies to lend her super-human strength or speed, but her life as a "barbarian" has given her the martial prowess of a legionnaire nonetheless.
- High Lady Aria Placida is one of the most powerful beings in all of Alera, only explicitly outmatched by the First Lord himself and the Vord queen.
- Action Mom: Isana gets more involved in the direct action starting in Captain's Fury.
- Ad Hominem: Lord Aquitaine, in his first appearance, points out that ad hominem "is a notoriously weak logical argument. And is usually used to distract the focus of a discussion--to move it from an indefensible point and to attack the opponent."
- After the End: The Marat once had an Alera-style civilization with large cities, but they were wiped out by the Vord and left with only a handful of "barbarian" survivors.
- The Alliance: By the end of First Lord's Fury, all of the non-Vord races are getting along reasonably well and the New Academy will be open to all species with a variety of talents. Tavi even refers to it as "the Alliance" in the epilogue.
- Almighty Janitor: The Cursors are, technically, only the messengers of the First Lord. However, since everybody "knows" that they are just glorified mailmen, they are also used as spies, saboteurs, assassins, infiltrators, and anything else the First Lord requires. Most of the High Lords and Citizenry seem to be aware of the truth, giving them de facto authority when they speak for the First Lord.
- Varg, who holds the rank of Warmaster amongst his Range (Nation) and killed a Vord-controlled Cane (with superior strength and resistance to pain) singlehandedly and unarmed.
- Kitai is technically the Marat Ambassador due to some quick thinking (and quicker lying) on Tavi's part.
- Anti-Villain: Lord Aquitaine
- Another Dimension: According to Jim Butcher, Carna is another dimension that has wormholes pop up in other dimensions and suck beings in. This is why there are so many different species of intelligent being (humans, Icemen, Canim, Marat, Vord) on the planet, as well as why some descendants of extinct Earth animals (Megatherium and Terror Birds) are roaming around. The most well known tear leading to Carna from the "real world" appears intermittently in The Bermuda Triangle.
- Annoying Arrows: Averted, arrows are just as much a threat to flesh as the more powerful fury attacks. The Vord generally shrug them off, but they also shrug off fury attacks because of their armored hides.
- Appease the Volcano God: Inverted. Kalarus deliberately provokes the Great Fury Kalus into being as angry as possible in order to take as many Alerans with him as possible when he is finally killed.
- Appropriated Appellation:
- The Knights Pisces. The Knights Pisces are dubbed such when Tavi notes they're the "fish" (barely competent recruits) of the Knights available. After taking several collective levels in badass, and seeing how badly "a bunch of fish" can hurt someone, the embrace the name and use it for the rest of the series.
- The Battlecrows, from the same book, sort of. Instead of taking their name from an insult, they take it from the burnt and blackened standard that Tavi carries into battle after it's struck by lightning.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Tavi listed off his exploits and pointed out that he killed Sarl, held off a massive army that vastly outclassed his own, beat said massive army, and... beat Nasaug at ludus.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Vord specialize in this, at least while under a Queen's control. Though they can demonstrate considerable subtlety, they usually do not bother if they have an overwhelming numerical advantage, which they usually do.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: Wind furies have very short attention spans unless under the control of an exceptionally talented crafter, which can make long-distance flight problematic.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: An Aleran freeman can become a Citizen through several different means, but all of them (with the exception of appointment to a government position or marriage to a Citizen) involve combat in some way. The laws of the land ensure that the most capable and most powerful furycrafters end up at the top of the social order.
- Awesome but Practical: Catapults. Specifically when launching easily-made fire spheres. Their use one time impresses upon everybody present that they have just shifted the entire Aleran social order, and they can be built and used by Aleran freemen (even slaves) with limited furycrafting of their own.
- Awesome McCoolname: Gaius Tavarus Magnus ("Lord Super-Wolverine the Great") is probably the best.
- Ax Crazy:
"If you go and kill the ugly little girl right now, won't the steadholder object? And then you'd have to kill him as well. And anyone else upstairs. And all these people here... Why shouldn't we do this again?"
- The "cutter" Navaris; she has a three-figure body count behind her, and that only counts the legal duels and "self-defense." Add in all of the suspected killings and the like and the number is in the four-figures range. Plus anyone with the slightest watercrafting ability (or eyes) can see that she's really not right in the head, especially where violence is concerned.
- Babies Ever After
- Back for the Dead: Aric returns for a single scene in Academ's Fury before being Taken by the Vord.
- Badass: Let me count the ways...
- Badass Abnormal: Tavi and Kitai both gain furycraft at the very end of the third book.
- Badass Army: The First Aleran, particularly the Battlecrows. They started out as a bunch of half-trained recruits and "veterans" no one wanted in their army, eventually becoming the single most competent Legion in Alera (excepting maybe the Antillan and Phrygian Legions).
- Badass Boast:
"Boy," Gaius said, his tone growing gentler, even compassionate, "you have a choice. You may chose to stand with your father against me. Or you may chose to live."
- Badass Bookworm: Ehren, and to a degree Tavi.
- Badass Family: Not one of the people in Tavi's family fails to impress.
- Badass Grandpa: Gaius Sextus, for all that he does not look it, as well as Varg.
- Badass Normal: Tavi and Kitai. Played with in that the pair of them are abnormal by their respective societies' standards.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Marat, who are divided into tribes based on their animal totems and live in the lands east of Alera, forsaking contact except when they invade the bridging valley.
- Battle Couple: Bernard and Amara, Tavi and Kitai. In First Lord's Fury Lord and Lady Placida and Isana and Araris get in on some action.
- Beast of Battle: The gargants and vordbulks.
- Becoming the Mask: Fidelias/ Marcus has a complex relationship with this trope. "Marcus" was created before the events of the story by Fidelias, but had been abandoned for decades until he reclaimed the identity to infiltrate the First Aleran. Once he realized that Tavi was the son of Gaius Septimus, and thusly there was no need to place Aquitaine on the throne since the House of Gaius had a legitimate heir, he decides to remain in the role of Marcus to look over and assist Tavi in any way he could. After he assumes the identity, and even after it has been revealed to the reader who he really is, Butcher only writes him as 'Marcus' until he accepts the name Fidelias again himself.
- The Beast Master: The Marat are an entire race of these, split into tribes based on their individual chosen animal.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT scalp a Marat in front of their tribesmen or they will literally eat your heart.
- The Bet: The series was originally written on one. Jim Butcher was in a debate over whether a good story required a good idea, or a good story could be written with a bad idea. The other member of the argument, whose name has now been lost to time, bet that Butcher could not write a good story based on a terrible idea he came up with. Butcher responded that he would take two. The ideas were the Lost Roman Legion... and Pokémon.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed:
- Kestus, wounded while trying escape after seeing Tonnar ripped apart by the Vord, turns to Ivarus and says that he does not want to be killed by those creatures. Ivarus, understanding what he means, nods once, and Kestus thanks him before the chapter cuts out.
- When Amara and Bernard are spying on the Vord, Amara says to Bernard that whatever happens, she does not want to become one of the mindless Taken. Bernard, however, refuses to consider it, instead saying that they are going to live. Period.
- Justified by the Knights Terra, who use earthcrafting to boost their strength enough to wield them.
- High Lord Placida carries a sword that is actually described in the text as a "monster," large enough to kill gargants and fell trees in a single swing.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Attis and Invidia Aquitaine married for purely political reasons and both are well aware that they are using one another. Invidia is actually the driving force behind most of the plots that would see Attis get the throne, and is more active in the plot.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Attis Aquitaine and Invidia Aquitaine, both of whom are arguably seperate threats despite being husband and wife, are the Bigger Bads of the first book and have a presence in all the rest; Kalarus is part of three different Big Bad Ensembles in books 2-4, and Sarl is mostly a seperate threat in book 3 despite his treacherous and tenuous alliance with the former, as is arguably Big Bad Wannabe Senator Arnos; however, the Vord are the Big Bad of the overall story, both as a species and in the form of the primary Vord Queen, who is involved in an Enemy Civil War with the other Queens.
- Big Bad Friend: Fidelias to Amara
- Big Man on Campus: Max, with the ladies anyways.
- Bishojo Line: The Vord Queen goes through several forms as she matures; the first few are clearly monstrous and insectile, but her ultimate form looks almost exactly like a cross between Isana's sister and Kitai. In other words, like the daughter of Kitai and Tavi. This makes sense, as the Vord Queen absorbed both Tavi and Kitai's blood when they were in the wax Forest in the first book.
- Black Eyes of Evil: The Vord Queen has them.
- Blood Magic: The Canim. Unusually, it is not inherently evil, and while there are some Evil Sorcerers, other ritualists can be surprisingly decent.
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: This is basically what scenes involving High Lords Antillus and Phrygius turn into. Antillus says something dim-witted or obvious, Phrygius makes fun of him for being an idiot. They are best friends.
- Bond Creatures: The Marat can do this with any animal and call their Bond Creatures "chala"; they gain not just communication with their animal, but actually begin to gain some of their physical attributes. This works in reverse, too; Tavi's general endurance and his senses all improve after being bound to Kitai for a while.
- Book Ends: Very near the beginning, Tavi and Amara take shelter from a furystorm caused by Garados and Thana in the Princeps' Memorium. At the end of the series, Tavi kills the Vord Queen there in the middle of a furystorm caused by Garados and Thana.
- Boring but Practical:
- Both Doroga and Kitai remark that Alerans must get bored out of their minds repeatedly practicing their maneuvers (for combat and singing) over and over again, but Bernard and Tavi point out that they seem impressed by the results.
- When Tavi questions why he needs to learn the basic, almost clumsy combat techniques of the Legion when he is already a rather skilled swordsman, Max points out that the entire reason the Legions are able to stand off the larger, stronger Canim and the more numerous Marat is because of their coordination and basic efficiency. Dazzling swordplay is nice on an individual basis, but it is useless when fighting in concert with others, where learning the basic interlocking formations is what makes a Legion infinitely stronger than the individual swordsmen composing its ranks.
- Bring It: Pirellus does this gesture to a crowd of Marat toward the end of the first book.
- Bring News Back:
- When Ivarus, Kestus and Tonnar are ambushed by the Vord, Ivarus says that it is more important for Kestus to escape and warn Alera than it is for him to stop and assist Ivarus, whose horse has been killed.
- When Amara and Bernard are spying on the Vord, they debate whether or not they should go further into Vord territory or leave now and bring their discoveries to the First Lord. They ultimately agree to continue deeper into enemy territory, but Bernard makes Amara promise to return directly to the First Lord, without him if need be, once they complete their mission.
- Bug Caste System: There are lots of different kinds of Vord. Queens, Warriors, Takers, and Wax Spiders seem to come standard, but more specialized castes such as Vordknights, Vordbulks, mantises, and Cane-forms pop up, too, depending on the needs of the situation and what enemies are available to copy.
- But He Sounds Handsome: Inverted. In Cursor's Fury Max and Tavi briefly discuss the reported assault on a slaver and the freeing of all his slaves, congratulating and praising the mysterious man who did it, and are each very surprised to learn that it wasn't the other one who did it.
- The Call Put Me on Hold: Tavi grows up as a "furyless freak", a source of considerable angst to him. It is also a source of inspiration for him, because he has to think his way out of situations that his countrymen would simply blast their way out of, and he regularly takes advantage of resulting blind spots in their thinking.
- Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: "Grass lions" are (by Word of God) sabertooth cats.
- Call Back: After Isana uses a river to defeat someone in book one, she says, "My river." In the last book, after the Aleran forces repel a Vord thrust, Bernard says, "My Valley."
- Camp Followers: The First Aleran Legion has the standard merchant, vagabond and prostitute followers. Eventually, Mistress Cymnea, their nominal leader, is added to the staff of the legion.
- Cannot Spit It Out: In the fourth book, Isana finally tries to explain to Tavi who his parents were and why he does not have magic powers like everyone else. Unfortunately, he chooses just that moment for some Oblivious Guilt Slinging, talking about how great it is to see family again without all the political intrigue and backstabbing of his job, which makes it even harder for her to confess to a lifelong deception, so she puts it off. Eventually, Araris does the job for her. Tavi is a bit sore about it for a while.
- Can't Kill You - Still Need You: Fidelias is aware of the trope, which is why he feels safe reporting failure to Lord Aquitaine. He is too valuable a tool to be thrown away carelessly, so he knows that he will not be killed until his failures outnumber his sucesses.
- Capital City: Alera Imperia, a series of concentric rings with gates to the higher levels on opposite sides from the gate on the level before that. At the peak lies the First Lord's monolithic Citadel. It gets destroyed by Gaius Sextus' when he unleashes a volcanic great fury on the Vord armies. Appia becomes the new capital under Gaius Octavian.
- The Captain: While Legions are commanded by a Captain, their role tends to be more along the line of Colonel Badass. Demos is a somewhat more usual example, since he is in command of a ship with a Badass Crew.
- Captain Ersatz: High Lady Placida bears a striking resemblance, personally and physically, to one Cordelia Vorkosigan. Word of God says that this (as well as High Lord Placida's similar resemblance to Aral Vorkosigan) is deliberate.
- Captain Obvious:
"They're trying to kill you!"
- This gem in First Lord's Fury:
(signal flare appears)
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: When Tavi and Maximus are sent to join the First Aleran Legion, Max knocks out two legionares who are disrespectful to Tavi, who is there undercover as an officer. When Tavi points out to Max that he could have handled them himself, Max explains that that is not the point; an officer wouldn't dispense corporal punishment, regardless of his capabilities, since that is the job of the Centurions.
- Cardboard Prison: The Grey Tower is supposedly impregnable. Tavi breaks two characters out of it, the first with only a couple hour's preparation, the second after the prison's defenses were redesigned by Tavi himself. 
- Characterization Marches On:
- The very first conversation about Aquitainus Attis described him as powerful, but prone to drinking, unskilled at subterfuge, and planning on prematurely taking "direct action." Starting with the second novel he matured into a more patient, planning character who focused on setting himself up as the First Lord's successor instead of trying to move directly against him.
- When Isana and Fade first interacted, she was unsure if he could truly understand her simple instructons due to his mental disability. Later scenes in the same book would reveal that she was privy to his true identity the entire time.
- The Charmer: Antillar "Max" Maximus. Of course, the reason he is so outgoing is because he does not think he will live past thirty, since the Wicked Stepmother sees him as an impediment to his half-brother's political success and has been arranging "accidents" since he was 14.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: In the first book, Tavi and Kitai are sent into the Wax Forest to retrieve a mushroom that can cure any poison. After a little too much excitement ensues, this property turns out to be all that saves Kitai's life. They do not show up again until the last book, when Isana uses them to save Amara and Lady Placida from death by Vord poison.
- Chekhov's Gun: Lots and lots, some of them held across the entire series before they go off.
- The longest delay was the fact that the Calderon Valley contains the great furies Garados and Thana, introduced in the beginning of the first book and are of great importance in the climax of the final book.
- Tavi learns about icebergs at the beginning of Princeps' Fury. At the end of the book, he has his crafters carve giant ships out of them, since leviathans avoid them and he needs a way to transport one heck of a lot of Canim noncombatants away from Vord-controlled regions.
- Chekhov's Skill: See Tavi learning/demonstrating some new skill? There is a pretty good chance he is going to use it for something absurdly Badass by the end of the book.
- At the beginning of Cursor's Fury, Tavi and Magnus are testing out a catapult they made based on old Roman documents. It promptly gets smashed when an irate Max almost gets hit by a rock and chucks it back at them. No more mention is made, and it seems to be a funny but irrelevant side-note. Until the last book, when we learn that Tavi wrote home to his uncle about it, and Bernard set up over a hundred of the things as part of the defenses in the Calderon Valley, and loaded them, at Tavi's suggestion, with glass spheres full of fire furies that explode when they break. They do more damage than the High Lords when they are turned on the Vord army, and the ammo is easy enough to manufacture that they can outlast them, too.
- Chekhov's Volcano: The climax of Captain's Fury (well, one of them) has the First Lord unleashing Kalus, the Great Fury within the volcanic Mount Kalare, from Kalarus, destroying the High Lord, his capital city and all of the other towns and steadholts for hundreds of square miles, killing hundreds of thousands.
- The Chessmaster: Both Aquitaines, Doroga and the Vord Queen. Kalarus tries, but Gaius is better at it.
- Chrome Champion: The First Lord goes to battle. First Lord's Fury has Araris Valerian doing the same.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Invidia, so much so that nearly every character that has extensive dealings with her tries to take her sudden but inevitable betrayal into account. When she tries to turn on the Vord Queen, the queen is not even upset and sees no reason to punish her for it, since that is just what Invidia does.
- Click Hello: The sword equivalent. Navaris and her team corner Tavi in his office, intending to kill him... and then Max, Crasus and Arraris show up behind them, drawing their swords.
- Colonel Badass: There is not a rank of "colonel" in the Legions, but some captains, especially
TaviRufus Scipio, fit this trope pretty well.
- Combat Pragmatist:
- Fidelias mentions at least once every book that he avoids a fair fight whenever he can.
- Tavi mentions at one point that "if he had his way, he would never engage in a fair fight ever again."
- Captain Demos, whose entire ship is a single wood fury, mentions that the last fair fight he had was when he was twelve years old.
- Combat Sadomasochist: Kalarus' Immortals have been conditioned through discipline collars to enjoy pain, to the point that one of them seems to be happy when he is forced to chop off his own leg.
- Commander Contrarian: Senators Arnos and Valerius, who mostly just want to make themselves look good at the expense of everyone else. In Valerius's case, even in the face of what is basically The End of the World as We Know It.
- Consummate Liar: Fidelias (as various watercrafters learn to their dismay and disturbance).
- Continuity Nod: After Bernard and Amara have been engaged in a sexual relationship for several years (and multiple novels) Amara asks Bernard when he first realized that he was attracted to her. His response was when he first bandaged her ankle, which occurred in the first novel, soon after they first met.
- Cool Versus Awesome: SO. MUCH.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Almost every plan of Tavi's relies on this. So much so that Kitai finds the Final Battle by going to the place only a lunatic would enter.
Ehren: The plan is insane. You are insane. Beat I'm gonna need some pants.
- Crazy Prepared:
- Comes up pretty often given the number of Chessmasters in play, but the precedent is set early in the first book when Amara realizes that Gaius Sextus had designed his own son's tomb as a shelter against enemy furies, weapons stockpile, and site for healing. Hidden in plain sight!
- When Fidelias enters a seemingly empty tent he turns to the empty air and makes a verbal greeting. Lady Aquitaine, hiding under a veil, reveals herself and asks how he knew that she was there, but Fidelias is actually very surprised to see her. Apparently he greets the empty tent every time he walks in just in case there is somebody invisible hiding in there.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Fade.
- Cry for the Devil: You will probably wind up feeling sorry against your will for Invidia and the Vord Queen in the last book, even though they are, respectively, a Complete Monster and the Big Bad.
Isana: I do feel sorry for you, dear. I have good reason to hate you, yet you've served yourself a fate worse than any I would ever have imagined, much less wished upon you. Of course you're afraid.
- Cue the Sun: Happens literally (and awesomely) in Book 3. Tavi commands his windcrafters to part the clouds and reveal the sun at high noon in order to focus the sun's rays into a Death Ray which roasts the Canim.
- Curse Cut Short: In Cursor's Fury.
Random legionairre: "Kick their furry-"
- Cute Monster Girl: The final form of the Vord Queen.
- Dark Action Girl:
- Invidia is one of the most powerful crafters in the series, and is motivated solidly by ambition and greed.
- Navaris is regarded as possibly the single most deadly swordsman in Alera (Araris, the other single most deadly swordsman in Alera, gave any fair fight between them a 50/50 chance of going either way), but is motivated solely by bloodlust and a need to prove herself better than everybody.
- The Dead Have Names:
- After a pair of Hunters are killed in battle with the Vord, Tavi asks their leader what their names were, and asks if anyone will sing a Blood Song (Canim funerary ritual) for them.
- One Canim ritualist, Master Marok, uses this to take the wind out of the sails of one of his less-honorable colleagues. After Tavi has to kill two Canim in self defense, the ritualist says that a blood price must be paid for them--and Marok undercuts him by asking if he even knows their names, when he clearly doesn't.
- Death by Childbirth: ...sort of. Tavi is brought up believing that his mother was Isana's sister and that she died giving birth to him. While Isana's sister did die when Tavi was born, it was not in childbirth since she was not his mother; Isana was. Her sister died from blood loss from an arrow wound she took when they were attacked shortly before Tavi's birth, which was not properly treated since she was focused on helping Isana deliver Tavi, making her death an example of the trope by proxy.
- Death by Origin Story: Tavi's father was a member of the Crown Legion and his mother was a member of the camp followers, both of whom were killed by the Marat at the First Battle of Calderon. As a result, Tavi was raised by his Aunt Isana and Uncle Bernard, his mothers older siblings. Except it turns out that his father was not a legionare in the Crown Legion, but Princeps Gaius Septimus, and his mother is actually Isana, who claimed to be his aunt to obscure his heritage.
- Death Equals Redemption: Amara mourns "the man he became" after Gaius Attis is skewered by his wife and spends his remaining days calmly leading the Alerans and planning for his death.
- Defiant to the End: When Invidia has Amara and Bernard at swordpoint, but seems willing to talk for at least a little while, Amara tells her to quit stalling and explains that she is just pitiful and pathetic, whose actions have no justification or excuse. When Invidia increduously asks Amara who she thinks she is to talk like that, Amara points out that she is somebody who is willing to give her own life in the service to others, while Invidia is naught but a traitor and coward that will get neither sympathy or last minute forgiveness from her.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Slavery, torture and genocide of nonhuman species are all accepted in Aleran society, remnants of their Roman Ancestry. Women are also stuck in a second-class status, but the patriarchy has weakened slightly due to their ability to gain Citizenship by proving their martial abilities.
- Deus Exit Machina: Gaius Sextus could easily handle a lot of the problems of the first four or five books, so a pretty good fraction of the plot revolves around taking him out of the picture somehow.
- Diagnosis From Dr. Badass: Attis's calm and exact description of exactly what getting filleted by Invidia did to his insides.
- Discriminate and Switch: When Tavi suggests adding Mistress Cymnea to the staff of the First Aleran Legion, Max instantly objects. When Cymnea asks if his problem is with the fact that she is a woman or because she is a madam, Max says that the problem is that she is a civilian.
- Damsel in Distress: Isana is generally the character to be rescued, as she is held hostage or attacked by (in order) Kord, Kalarus, Navaris, and the Vord Queen.
- Don't Explain the Joke:
Antillus Raucus: When we get back, you and I are going to have a talk in which you lose your teeth. Because I'm going to knock them out of your head. With my fists.
- The Dragon
- Fidelias to Invidia.
- Navaris is the Dragon to Senator Arnos.
- Drop the Hammer: Knights Terra often wield giant hammers as their weapons, using their earthcafted strength to swing them with crushing force.
- Duel to the Death:
- The juris macto; it is mentioned in various points through the series, and we see two duels in completion:
- Tavi challenges the corrupt Senator Arnos to bring him to account for ordering the slaughter of Aleran freemen trapped behind the Canim lines. The senator sends in his second, Navaris, to fight, but Tavi kills her and "Marcus" kills Arnos when he tries to escape.
- In the fifth book, Isana challenges High Lord Antillus. He beats her easily, as she knew he would, but she psychoanalyses him as he does and 'wins' when he realises that she is right.
- A third duel, between Araris Valerian and Aldrick ex Gladius that lasted for ten hours, took place fifteen years before the start of the series and is repeatedly mentioned by characters.
- The Marat language has no word for "lying," the closest concept they have is to say that someone is "mistaken." When one Marat accuses another of being mistaken, they fight each other to the death in order to see who is correct.
- The juris macto; it is mentioned in various points through the series, and we see two duels in completion:
- Due to the Dead:
- The Canim sing a "Blood Song" for fallen warriors. Warriors who become Hunters (spies, assassins and saboteurs) have their blood songs sung when they make the transition, because their old life is over.
- The legionares who die serving on the Shieldwall, the fortifications protecting Alera from the northern Icemen, are burned on a funeral pyre instead of being buried. It is symbolic of keeping them away from the Icemen.
- Dying Moment of Awesome
- Gaius Sextus blowing up Alera Imperia, taking out most of the vord army in one strike.
- High Lord Cereus diving into a vordbulk's mouth and blowing it up from the inside.
- El Cid Ploy: A significant chunk of the plot of Academ's Fury consists of hiding the fact that Gaius Sextus collapsed from overwork and poison.
- Elemental Powers: Well, duh. There are six elements, each of which can be directly manipulated or used to summon a manifest fury, and most of them have secondary applications as well:
- Windcrafting (Knights Aeris): In addition to air manipulation and Flight, grants Super Speed, Veils, and the ability to create a telescope-like lens out of air, this last of which has also found use as a Death Ray.
- Earthcrafting (Knights Terra): Earth and rock manipulation (good for making buildings!), Super Strength, and ability to induce calm or lust. Additionally, manifest earth furies can be extremely useful... and dangerous.
- Metalcrafting (Knights Ferrous): Implausible Fencing Powers and the ability to sense nearby metal; additionally, it can be used to artificially repress emotion and pain to turn the user into an Implacable Man. The most powerful and skilled metalcrafters can incorporate metal into their skin to protect themselves.
- Woodcrafting (Knights Flora): Manipulation of plants, including encouraging them to grow, or animating them directly, which also (as the name implies) applies to dead wood. It also grants the ability to create veils when enough plant matter is present, specifically with shadows. Most Woodcrafters are archers, since control of the arrows and bows gives them Improbable Aiming Skills.
- Watercrafting (Knights Aqua): Empathy, underwater breathing, changing appearance, long-range water-based communication, and, most importantly, healing. There are't any actual Knights Aqua because their medical skills are so valuable elsewhere. Without some metalcrafting, though, they tend to be Unhappy Mediums, since as we all know, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read.
- Firecrafting (Knights Ignus): Very big booms. It also grants the ability to inspire fear or passion, and manifest fire furies can be an outright nightmare. Knights Ignus are the Legions' cannons, and battle plans always need some way of neutralizing them lest everyone get burnt to a crisp.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Each element (above) is canceled by its opposite: fire with water, metal with wood, air with earth (or just a pinch of salt), and vice versa. This is mainly used to design prisons and other restraints, but is occasionally used in battle.
- Emotion Bomb:
- A less utilized, but very effective, application of firecrafting. Not only can it cause panic in your enemies and break a charge, it can inspire heroism in your own troops.
- Tavi uses this to escape a watercrafter that is drowning him. He focuses on his fear and drives himself into a panic to overwhelm her senses.
- The Empath
- Any sufficiently power watercrafter can feel the emotions of surrounding people. One compares a visit to any sufficiently-sized city as the following:
"a low but steady "noise," like being constantly accompanied by half a dozen nightmarishly persistent crickets. It was never horribly loud, but it didn't stop, and the intrusive sensations could make it maddeningly difficult to sleep or concentrate."
- The Icemen, who can communicate amongst themselves with no speech at all. Their intense enmity for the Alerans comes largely from the mix of their water-based empathy with the minor firecrafting that Alerans use to stay warm in the cold northern regions. When fire and water are mixed it creates feelings of anxiety and anger, so just by being next to each other the two sides were feeding their hatred.
- Enemy Civil War: Between the primary Vord Queen and her daughters. It is the main reason why the world was not consumed by the Vord.
- Enemy Mine
- Amara and Invidia team up to bring down Kalarus
- Alerans, the Marat, and the Canim join forces to stop the Vord, with an armistice with the Icemen at the same time.
- Erotic Eating: When Tavi and Kitai finally have an actual date, the text spends quite a bit of time detailing exactly how Kitai is eating, and at what speeds. Tavi is particularly transfixed by how she eats a berry. Slowly.
- Eureka Moment: After Furies of Calderon, every novel contains a scene where a character realizes that Tavi is Gaius Octavian when they receive some final bit of information and put it together with what they already knew.
- Everyone Went to School Together: In the third book we learn that Aria and Kalarus were both at the Academy together, though possibly in different years; the mother of all examples is the second and final books where we learn that Araris, Aldrick, High Lord Antillus (the father of Crassus and Max), High Lord Aquaitane and Princep Septimus were all friends from school as well, and continued that friendship until the night Septimus died.
- Everyone Is a Super
- Lava Adds Awesome: Twice.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: In Cursor's Fury, one of several tricks Tavi pulls during the defense of the Elinarch is dumping blood into the river, attracting sharks that very effectively prevent any Canim from swimming across. In Captain's Fury, they have to swim through the Leviathans' Run, and Demos says that the sharks will be more of a problem than the leviathans-- but since they have Isana with them, when one shark is stupid enough to bother them she throws it a good fifteen feet out of the water to land on the deck of a pirate ship.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good
- In Cursor's Fury, Invidia suggests that Amara use forceful methods to get information out of Rook. Amara instead determines Rook's driving motivation for being loyal to Kalare (her daughter) and promises to rescue her daughter because it is the right thing to do. When Rook breaks down crying and agrees to help, Invidia is described as looking on the scene with a confused expression like someone watching a "silent play performed by lunatics."
- The Vord queen. In a twist, however, she knows that there is something fundamental about humanity that she is not understanding, and she keeps trying to learn what it is. She observes families, interrogates humans as to what "love" means, and even tries to replicate the traditions of everyday life (family meals). Despite all this, she never does learn what it is that makes people tick, though she does manage to form a bond with Invidia and is a little put out by her death.
- Evil Sorcerer: The Canim Ritualists are generally considered to be this, though only some of them are as bad as they are made out to be: the blood they need for their rituals can as easily be taken from already-dead corpses as from live sacrifices. In fact, the old school of ritualists do not believe in using anyone's blood but their own; Marok, in First Lord's Fury, demonstrates how decent this type can be. However, Sarl and later Khral embrace the trope thoroughly. Unfortunately, the Old School ritualists are badly outnumbered by the rest.
- Expecting Someone Taller: Amara uses the standard line to subtly insult Pirellus of the Black Blade, Knight Commander of Garrison. When she first encounters Pirellus he is completely naked, having just been roused from a bath, and she mentions that she thought he would be taller after looking him up and down, during which she lets her gaze linger "significantly."
- Extranormal Institute: The Academy is a school for teenaged youths in a world where everyone has magic abilities, so between math and history class there are classes on magical theory and actual training to use magic.
- Eye Scream: Turns out, a sufficiently powerful watercrafter can regrow her own eyes after they have been clawed out.
- "Failure to Save" Murder: The source of many characters' resentment towards Gaius Sextus, whose son, Gaius Septimus, was killed by the Marat approximately fifteen years before the start of the series.
- Famed in Story: Aldrick ex Gladius often serves as The Dragon for whichever character is currently in control, and not as a clear antagonist on his own, but he is legendary throughout Alera for his famed skill with the sword. His duel with Araris Valerian, also legendary because of his skill, is still being talked about fifteen years later. To hear Araris tell it:
Araris:: [Aldrick had] more than a hundred duels to his credit. He used to hire out as a champion, before he took up service with [Septimus]. That one got a lot of attention. We went for about ten hours, all the way around Garden Lane and Craft Lane both. Must have been fifty or sixty thousand people that came down to see it.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: Tavi's "aunt" Isana is really his mother.
- Fantastic Caste System
- The social classes of Alera are: Slaves, freemen, Citizens and Lords/Ladies, with several different ranks of nobility somewhere at the level of Citizens and higher. There is a strong but not perfect correlation between strength in furycrafting and social rank, and strength in furycrafting is at least partially heritable, so while many characters have moved their way up in rank over their lives, the caste one is born into is still very determinative.
- The Canim castes are the Makers (farmers, workers, and artisans), Ritualists (doctors, priests and sorcerers) and Warriors (Exactly What It Says on the Tin). The Warriors and the Ritualists are continually at odds as to which caste is higher, though they both claim to serve the Makers.
- Fantastic Nuke: Many smaller versions, but Gaius wiping out Kalare by unleashing a volcanic Great Fury and then slowing the Vord by destroying the remnants of Alera Imperia with another volcano probably take the cake.
- Farm Boy: Tavi. Even when he is recognized as the Princeps of Alera and on a secret mission behind enemy lines, he still stops to admire the efficiency of a livestock pen.
Tavi: "They can change the size of their pens, or set it up so that you can cut some animals out and leave the rest penned up. That's handy."
- Feel No Pain: An aspect of metalcrafting.
- First Kiss: Notably initiated by Kitai
- First-Name Basis:
- When the Windwolves, mercenaries in service to the Aquitaines, save the lives of Bernard and members of his legion, Bernard insists that they address him by his first name instead of title.
- High Lady Placidus Aria is the only member of the Aleran nobility to insist that other characters address her by her first name, indicating that she is friendly and approachable.
- Five Races: Averted, though notable because there actually are five sentient races in the setting. While Alerans are High Men and Marat can be put into Fairy without too much effort, Canim, Icemen, and Vord defy categorization in the system. (When the closest thing you have to Mundane are the nine-foot-tall wolfmen, you know you are not dealing with the traditional fantasy races...)
- Flying Car: The favored and fastest way around Alera is by flying coach. Interestingly, the draft "animals" are other human beings, specifically wind-crafters who lift the coach up.
- Follow the Chaos: Provides the page quote, and is how the final battle is located.
- Foreshadowing: There is a ton of foreshadowing of later events in the series in the early books.
- At the end of Furies of Calderon, Gaius speaks with Fade about the sword he gave Tavi and remarks that the sword is a "princely" gift.
- In Academ's Fury, while Bernard is preparing for the final push against the Vord Queen, he notes the ugly weather being brought down by the great furies around Garados and remarks that "Even if we don't finish them, the furystorm will finish what we started." At the end of First Lord's Fury, a furystorm is what hurts the Vord Queen enough to allow Tavi to finish her.
- For Want of a Nail: Thematically lampshaded: everything in the series is kicked off by a serving girl wanting some pretty flowers.
- Fragile Speedster: Any windcrafter without an accompanying skill in metal- or earthcrafting. Particularly Amara, who is possibly the fastest flier in Alera aside from the High Lords, but at one point actually starts breaking her bones and tearing muscles from speeding herself up too much in a fight.
- Free-Fall Fight: Basically, any fight with Amara or any other Knight Aeris. During one such fight, she and the Knight take a glance at the rapidly-approaching ground, and decide silently to stop the fight in the interest of not going splat.
- Freudian Excuse: Her poor relationship with her father is why Navaris is the way she is. Exploiting it is how Tavi beats her in a duel to the death.
- Friendly Enemy:
- Captain Demos is a slaver and a pirate, theoretically an enemy of the Aleran government, but he frequently talks about how much he loves working with the Cursors, the spies and assassins of that same government. As he explains it, the Cursors pay on time and almost never try to kill him once the job is completed.
- The Canim term gadara pretty much means this. They even see a gadara as worth more than a friend: a friend can always disappoint you, but your gadara is always your enemy. However, Tavi and various Canim always make it a point to explain that they are still an enemy, and in a conflict will do their best to kill one another.
- Functional Magic: Several systems. The Alerans, the Vord Queen, and the Icemen to a degree use a combination of Inherent Gift and Theurgy (the elemental furies do all the heavy lifting, but Alerans have the inborn power to summon and control them), while the Canim Ritualists use a sort of blood-based Rule Magic. The Marat also have the ability to bond with various creatures, but that is more one inherent power than a complete system.
- Gambit Pileup: Just look at how many Chessmasters and wannabes there are on the character sheet. Who is on whose side repeatedly changes from book to book and from moment to moment.
- Gender Equals Breed: Of a sort. Though background Marat characters are of both genders, all named characters of any tribe are the same gender (All named members of Gargant, Wolf and Herdbane tribe are male, all named members of Horse tribe are female).
- Get It Over With: Amara refuses to listen to Invidia's justifications or explanations for why she is helping the Vord Queen and tells her to "get on with it" when she holds Amara and Bernard at swordpoint.
- Glad I Thought of It: Used intentionally by Ehren in First Lord's Fury.
- Glass Cannon: The more powerful furycrafters, including the various High Lords. Multiple characters point out that, despite their strength and skills, their flesh and bone is no harder than the average human; provided you can get to them, they can be felled by a single blow like any normal person.
- Go for the Eye: Subverted in First Lord's Fury. One character remarks that attacking the vordbulk's eyes would normally be a good way to slow them down... except that they do not have any eyes.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: In First Lord's Fury the Marat join the Alerans in the battle to defend the Calderon Valley and the Canim fight beside Tavi throughout his campaign.
- Gone Horribly Right: Gaius Sextus hopes to push High Lord Kalarus into action by pretending to appoint High Lord Aquitaine as his successor, knowing that this will force Kalarus to accelerate his plans to seize the throne. Unfortunately, both Gaius and Amara believe that Kalarus will pursue a subtle means of displacing the First Lord, and are surprised and unprepared when he launches a full-scale insurrection.
- Good Feels Good: Fidelias really likes being Valiar Marcus.
- Good Is Not Dumb: While none of the main cast are stupid, Tavi and Ehren take the cake, being both genuinely good people and absolutely brilliant.
- Good Is Not Nice: Kitai and Hashat are two of the Marat most friendly to Alera, after Doroga, and assist them in their fights against Atsurak, the Canim and the Vord. However, they remain "barbarians," including practicing cannibalism and living with an almost sexual desire for combat and bloodshed.
- The Good, the Bad, and The Evil: At first, the three main heirs to the throne: Tavi is the good, Aquitaine is the bad, and Kalarus is the evil. Later on, you have Tavi as the good, Aquitaine as the bad, and the Vord as the evil.
- Gratuitous Latin: Used extensively, with good reason: Word of God is that the Alerans are descended from one of the Lost Roman Legions.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Her name's Invidia for a reason, folks.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted with Bernard and Amara, the most long-term Battle Couple. Though Bernard has an earthcrafters strength and carries a battle axe, he is primarily an archer, while Amara is a swordswoman.
- Half-Human Hybrid
- In a rather twisted way, the Vord Queen.
- Gaius Desiderius Tavarus
- Happily Married:
- Isana and Septimus in backstory; details are gradually revealed as the series progresses.
- Bernard and Amara, who marry towards the climax of Academ's Fury.
- Lord and Lady Placida. When Aria has been kidnapped, her husband specifies that he knows that many of the Lords of Alera marry for political reasons, but he married her for love.
- In the epilogue, Isana and Araris, and Octavian and Kitai. Both couples were basically married beforehand, but they were a little busy for a cermony.
- Happiness in Slavery: What eventually happens to people with discipline collars on them.
- Healing Hands: Watercrafters can heal using their furies, but all but the most powerful need a tub of water to immerse the patient in.
- Heel Face Revolving Door: Fidelias. See Becoming the Mask. He is always loyal to the Realm, but at one point he decides that the current First Lord, old and heirless and pushing himself too hard, can not provide the stable, strong leadership the Realm needs and should be replaced by another High Lord. Later, he learns that his current allies are even more ruthless than he thought and that there is a legitimate heir after all. Later still, that legitimate heir learns about Fidelias' past and almost has Fidelias crucified before he is talked out of it.
- Heroic BSOD: Varg gets one in Princeps' Fury when he learns that his home range has been consumed by the Vord. Tavi snaps him out of hit by hitting him with a Canim cattle prod.
- Heroic RROD: The First Lord spends most of Academ's Fury in a coma after being driven to collapse defending the continent from Canim-manipulated hurricanes. The poison he was being slipped certainly did not improve his condition.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Lord Aquitaine began conspiring against the First Lord because the uncontrolled High Lords had killed his best friend, Septimus, and he saw that Gaius's political macinations would ultimately lead to civil war. In his efforts to gain the throne he became an uncontrolled High Lord whose political machinations nearly lead to civil war.
- Hive Mind: The Vord. Furies might also count, surprisingly enough...we learn in First Lord's Fury that a single room has thousands or millions of tiny air furies living in it, so the smallest visible furies may be simply amalgamations of the microscopic ones.
- The Horde: Before a tentative truce was struck between Alera and the Gargant/Horse clans of the Marat, almost the only contact between the two peoples was when a Marat horde would sweep into the Calderon Valley to raide the Steadholts there.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Vord.
- Horse of a Different Color
- While regular horses exist, a prefered secondary beast is the Gargant. The descriptions in the books are a little vague, but Word of God finally came out and said that Gargants are descendents of Megatherium, the Giant-Ground Sloth, but with gigantic tusks and having the same disposition and ecological niche as Indian Elephants, but omnivorous.
- The Canims' mounts, the Taurga. Descriptions are vague, but they give the impression of being massive, predatory camel-analogues, especially in disposition.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Aldrick and Odiana; Amara and Bernard.
- Huge Holographic Head: The most powerful watercrafters can create life-size, full-color images of themselves in water to communicate at a distance. In the last book, Tavi and the Vord Queen figure out that if you do not bother to make it two-way, you can project copies of the image in every body of water in the country.
- Humanity Is Infectious: The Vord Queen.
- Humanity Is Insane: Pretty much every nonhuman species is convinced that Alerans are completely, irrationally mad.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Gaius tries to justify blowing up Kalare by unleashing Kalus this way, pointing out that it actually saved lives compared to the alternative.
- Idiot Ball: Allies and enemies alike point out that Tavi had no reason to think that he could turn the Vord Queen in Shuar against her mother and sister, since it relied on assuming a history and motivation that he had no evidence to support, and that his plan was doomed from the start.
- Ignored Expert: Nobody believes Bernard about the threat the Vord pose. He eventually just gives up on trying to convince the idiots and starts fortifying the Calderon Valley instead, but Ehren believes that Bernard had convinced the First Lord and had been operating under secret orders to prepare for an invasion.
- I Have Your Wife: One of Kalarus's favorite tactics. It backfires in several instances.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Tavi, initially.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
- When fighting the Vord Queen, Tavi was pinned to a rock with a razor-edged, poisoned vord-chitin sword. He almost cut his fingers off trying to get himself free.
- The Vord Mantis-Warriors in First Lord's Fury tend to do this. One almost kills Ehren such, pinning him to a fortress wall in the process.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Marat eat their enemies to "partake of their strength," with some clans eating them while they are still alive.
- I Meant to Do That: Tavi's talented at this. Considering everything else he manages, people usually assume he really was planning on whatever it was, be it a dramatically well-timed volcanic eruption or his plan to get into Riva accidentally leveling several blocks of buildings, the latter of which led to the phrase appearing almost verbatim in the narration.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Most Metalcrafters have this as their primary means of offense. Although they have to build up their reflexes and muscle strength naturally, their Metal Furies give them the ability to sense all metal around them, giving them a sort of metal-detecting bullet time, as well as allowing them to cause the metal in their blades to become magically superhard to the point that they can easily cleave through solid stone walls. Aircrafters can use their Furies to boost their reflexes and movement speed to give them increased swordfighting powers as well.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Anyone with strong woodcrafting ability becomes an incredible archer, among them being Bernard, Fidelias, and any Knight Flora. In Academ's Fury, a group of Knights Flora looses a barrage of arrows that are so precise they can fly between a legionaire's ear and his shield, or beneath a rising sword arm as the soldier in question strikes out. In Captain's Fury, a woodcrafter named Iris the Hawk is so accurate that she can put arrows into men's heads or throats from four hundred yards, while on the rolling deck of a moving ship. By comparison, the classic English longbow could potentially reach those ranges in ideal conditions, but with only inaccurate, arching barrage fire.
- I Never Told You My Job: Beritte, who fancies herself as something of a seductress, accidentally gives away that she was eavesdropping when she refers to Fidelias as a gem merchant, which was the cover story he had just relayed to Bernard.
- Insult Backfire: The knights in the First Legion invoke this in Captain's Fury. The previously inexperienced division of Knights had gotten the nickname Knights Pisces, based on the naming convention for the knight divisions by craft (Knights Ferrous, Knights Flora, and so on) and the tradition of calling new recruits fish. After their exceptional performance in dire circumstances, they make themselves insignia of a shark as a Badass Boast because of Tavi's little trick with the cattle blood in the river.
Crassus: "Apparently, they never realized how bad a bunch of fish could hurt them."
- Interspecies Romance: Tavi, a human, and Kitai, a Marat. Of course, the Marat are pretty much humans that are taller, have higher body heat and are less "civilized," so it is easy to overlook. They can also interbreed with humans, though mutual longstanding hostility between them means no one knows this is possible.
- I Shall Taunt You:
- Tavi uses his knowledge of his enemy's culture to make their leader look like a fool and thus erode his support.
- Tavi uses this against Phrygiar Navaris after he determines the cause of her fragile mental state.
- It Can Think: The Vord, when commanded by a queen. This is especially evident the first time they show up as a major threat, when they have not yet built up a truly absurd numerical advantage and fight a guerilla war instead.
- It Has Been an Honor: Amara and Aria as dawn arrives on the first day of the final stand in Calderon.
- It's What I Do:
- Inverted--It's what he does--when Tavi and Nasaug discuss Varg and why he is imprisoned in the Aleran capital. Nasaug states that Varg is imprisoned unjustly since he did not act dishonorably, and when Tavi asks what makes Nasaug think that, he simply replies that, "He is Varg."
- The Vord seem to have some sort of genetic imperative to destroy all other living species on the planet. In the end, the Queen tells Tavi that it was never personal; she was just doing what a Vord Queen is supposed to do.
- As of Princeps' Fury, High Lord Antillus Raucus has spent huge chunks of his life locked in constant battle with the Icemen. He is obviously emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by the constant strain, but he gamely carries on with it, because "it's what one did".
- I Will Only Slow You Down: When Ivarus and Kestus are fleeing the Vord, Ivarus' horse is killed and he tells Kestus to continue without him to warn Alera. Kestus instead turns around to carry Ivarus on his own horse, and is killed by the Vord.
- Jackie Robinson Story: Isana becomes the first female steadholder at the end of Furies of Calderon. Tavi becomes the first non-crafter to be, well, everything.
- Kansas City Shuffle: Tavi figures out that the best way of combating an enemy who can read minds is to make sure nobody but him knows all of what is going on, so he uses plans that rely on complicated sets of sealed orders issued to many different people. And in return, they do not tell him about the fact that they are sending backup.
Tavi: "The best part about this plan is that I don't have to explain anything to anybody."
- Karmic Death: Invidia died by being stabbed in the back.
- Kick the Dog
- High Lord Kalarus, in his bid to overthrow the throne and take it for himself, demonstrated that such petty things as "morals" or "humanity" do not concern him. When he kidnaps the wife and daughter of two High Lords in order to blackmail them into non-action he puts one of them in the same room as the five year old daughter of his spymaster and explains to her that, should she attempt to escape, his security systems will kill the child first and then try to stop her.
- Senator Arnos orders an entire town's worth of civilians executed "for conspiring with the enemy" after the town is liberated. He does it for the sole purpose of having an excuse to remove Tavi from command of his Legion when Tavi balks at the order.
- Killer Rabbit
- Kill It with Fire: The generally preferred method for dealing with the Vord.
- Knife Nut: Ehren hides such an extravagant number of knives on his person that it becomes a Running Gag, and at least one person deduces that he is a Cursor based solely on how many he has.
- Kraken and Leviathan: The leviathans are mammoth deep-sea creatures that regularly sink ships which attract their notice. Infants are a "mere" forty-feet long.
- Lady Macbeth: Lady Invidia Aquitaine is much more evil than her husband. The Cursors even had a betting pool going on "Which one will win when they finally try to kill each other?" Invidia, it turns out.
- Lady of War: Lady Placida. Invidia is something of a hybrid of this and Dark Action Girl.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: Quite a few, but especially Princeps Gaius Octavian and First Lady Gaius Isana, which is a major plot twist foreshadowed for the first three books and explicitly revealed in the fourth, but is so central to the plot of the last two that it is near-impossible to give a plot summary without giving it away.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Amara was rendered infertile in her youth due to the blight, and had finally reconciled herself to having no children and adopting wayward orphans. It is after she accepts this that her womb is healed and she becomes pregnant.
- Lightning Bruiser: The Vord. They are fast, come in huge numbers, are almost impossible to kill, and if directed by a Queen, are smart. The Vord Queen also qualifies, seeing as balest bolts bounce off her skin, she can craft better than any Aleran, is faster than any windcrafter and stronger than the Canim. It takes the efforts of Tavi, Kitai, and two great furies to put her out of commission.
- Living Lie Detector: Pretty much all watercrafters with at least Knight-level skill.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Kalarus, the failed Chessmaster, took out an insurance policy against his demise: he has bonded the elemental of a sleeping volcano. He dies, the volcano blows its top. At least, that was the plan. The First Lord made the hard choice and detonated it prematurely. It wiped out the city below, but if he had given it until the end of the civil war, the city would have been filled with refugees and the soldiers of his own armies, which would have doubled the number of casualties at least.
- Locked Into Strangeness: Gaius Sextus's hair goes solid white after his collapse during the second book. He still looks 40-something otherwise.
- Luxury Prison Suite: The Grey Tower, which is the most escape-proof prison in Alera. The cell on the top floor is the entire floor and includes dining areas, luxury furniture and plenty of books. Max points out that anybody who ends up in that cell is there for politics, and the bars are simply for show.
Max: Actually, the room they had me in was quite a bit nicer than any I've ever had to myself.
Kitai: "You will no longer lie with me. You will treat me in exactly the fashion that you would any proper young lady of the Citizenry. You will court me, and do it well, or so help me I will strangle the life from you. And you will court me properly after the ways of my people. You will do so with legendary skill and taste. And only when that is done will we share a bed once more."
- Magical Defibrillator: Veradis, the daughter of High Lord Ceres, can do this through a combination of watercrafting and windcrafting to channel electricity.
- Magitek: In daily life, most Alerans use technology roughly equivalent to medieval Europe, which is about what one would expect considering the origin of Alera. However, different aspects of furycrafting stand out as modern conveniences: furylamps, which function exactly like lightbulbs, coldstones, which provide refrigeration, watersending, which provides communication across thousands of miles, and air-coaches, which stand in for airplanes. Combined with the healing of watercrafting and the ability of woodcrafting to stimulate the growth of food crops, Alera has a life-expectancy and quality of life equal to the modern day.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Max's mother succumbed to this, and his Wicked Stepmother has been trying to arrange a similar accident for him since he was 14. It is her preferred method of operation against all opponents, and she is damned good at it.
- Mama Bear: Do not make Isana angry.
- Manipulative Bastard: Gaius Sextus is legendary throughout Alera for his skill and abilities in pitting his enemies against one another. Unfortunately, this is also his downfall, as many of his enemies became his enemies when they saw how preoccupied he was with keeping his other enemies at one anothers throats instead of planning for his succession.
- Manly Tears: In Academ's Fury, when Miles witnesses his brother Araris in battle again, after believing he had been dead for fifteen years, he weeps at the sight.
- Mark of Shame: Fade's brand. It is self-inflicted.
- Master Swordsman: Any Knight Ferrous is this by definition. Araris Valerian, Aldrick ex Gladius, and Phrigiar Navaris are the three most significant to the story, and each of them has a deserved reputation as one of the top blades in Alera. Araris is probably the best, though Aldrick once famously dueled him to a draw, and he admits himself that it could go either way between him and Navaris.
- Mathematician's Answer: When Kitai asks if Tavi is studying the Vord or the Canim, Tavi simply replies "yes."
- Mauve Shirt:
- Centurion Giraldi was introduced towards the climax of Furies of Calderon as a soldier stationed at Garrison, returns in Academ's Fury as Bernard's second-in-command and spends Cursor's Fury as Isana's companion, guard and assistant. He returns in First Lord's Fury, back at Garrison where it all began.
- Legionare Schultz was introduced as a trainee in Cursor's Fury and worked his way up to Centurion of the Battlecrow Cohort, functioning as Tavi's primary battle component in the First Aleran.
- May-December Romance: Amara and Bernard
- Meaningful Name
- In the epilogue Gaius Desiderius Tavarus. Desiderius means "the desired one" and was chosen by Tavi and Kitai so he would never feel unwanted.
- "Invidia" is Latin for "envy". Which is rather appropriate.
- In Cursor's Fury, there is a character named Rook. In one scene, she exchanges places with a member of the royalty for the sake of both protection and greater maneuverability. Or, to put it simply, Rook castles.
- When first introduced, the Placidas are noted for staying out of the turbulent politics.
- Meaningful Rename
- Marcus earned the name Valiar for his courage.
- Nihilus Invidia earned hers for her treachery.
- Varg dubs Tavi "Tavar." A tavar is a highly intelligent wolverine-like predator native to Canea, stupidly brave and incredibly dangerous. Varg says he has never heard of a Canim taking one down without receiving extreme injuries of its own, and the Canim have a saying that, despite its small size, only a fool messes with a tavar. Sounds about right.
- Minored in Asskicking: Magnus.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Aric turns on his father, Kord, because of the horrendous treatment he endures and the generally abhorrent attitudes and actions he was raised with.
- Mon: Word of God holds that the furies are in fact based on Pokémon.
- Olympus Mons: The Great Furies. Garados is a literal example.
- Monster Sob Story: The Vord Queen is in Alera because her daughters in Canea declared her defective and try to kill her on sight.
- Mood Whiplash: Often. Particularly when Max goes in and out of scenes.
- Moody Mount: The Taurga, which try at every opportunity to dislodge, bite or kill their riders.
- Muggles Do It Better: One of the most devastating weapons the Canim use against Alerans is an enormous crossbow. There is nothing magical about it, beyond the fact that it is scaled to a Canim warrior, making it somewhere between a ballista and a man-portable crossbow.
- Mundane Solution: A whole lot, mostly courtesy of Tavi. Earthcrafting makes someone super strong, but it does not increase weight and you have to be touching the ground to use it. Throwing an earthcrafter on a wooden deck cuts off their strength, and salt injures wind furies, disrupting fliers. Metalcrafters can sense blades or arrowheads coming at them, but not flint or obsidian weapons.
- Mundane Utility: All of the different types of furies and their crafters have some form of mundane utility; wind-crafting allows for flight, earth-crafting increases strength to the point that loads in the hundreds of kilograms are no issue, water-crafters are healers, metal-crafters are smiths and have endurance that allows them to block out pain or keep going for days, wood-crafters can manipulate any form of plant life, making them excellent farmers--and archers--and firecrafters create the equivalent of both lightbulbs and refrigeration. Heck, the entire economy is so based on fury-crafting that most forms of technological development have completely stagnated.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Gaius Tavarus Magnus, which literally means "Lord Wolverine the Great".
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Tavi and Kitai are inadvertently responsible for the awakening of the Vord.
- Nigh Invulnerable: The Vord Queens are far more durable than anything made of flesh and bone (and chitin) ought to be.
- Non-Indicative Name: Fidelias ("faithful"), the Wild Card who goes back and forth through the Heel Face Revolving Door.
- No One Could Survive That: Lady Aquitaine, conspirator extraordinaire, gets shot with a poisoned crossbow bolt while in disguise as a washerwoman. The combination of the two highly deadly poisons on the bolt plus the fact that the bolt went through her back and out through her chest reportedly kills her within minutes despite the best efforts of the healers. But her body was not in the morgue when the guy who shot her went to make sure. The fifth book reveals that she was indeed mortally wounded, but was able to heal enough to get away... where she was found by a Vord Queen who offered to keep her alive in exchange for her loyalty.
- No One Gets Left Behind: When Kestus and Ivarus are fleeing from the Vord, Ivarus' horse is killed and Kestus turns around to assist him and bring him to safety on his own horse, even though Ivarus says it is more important that he escape with the news. Kestus himself is killed immediately after he turns back for Ivarus, leaving Ivarus to continue the journey alone.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: When the Alerans test their new catapults against the Vord, Amara comments that, no matter what the outcome of the war is, the autocratic/feudalistic society of old Alera is gone forever because the destructive power of the High Lords is now in the hands of the freemen.
- Even more so the ending. Tavi has changed the world so that Fury Crafting ability is now based on hard work more than genetics, with a further implication that the other races would develop it. He has also managed to force the Alerans, Marat, Icemen, and Canim into an alliance because if they don't work together, they will all die when the Vord from the former Canim cross the ocean in a couple of centuries.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Bernard to Frederic, regarding the vord parasite he has captured in a cup.
- No Woman's Land: Though Alera's women do enjoy plenty of rights as freemen, the number of female Citizens is limited; up until Gaius promoted Isana to the Citizenry at the end of Furies of Calderon, no woman had ever gained Citizenship without either serving in the military , winning a Citizenship bout (requiring strong furycrafting) or marriage into the Citizenry (strong furycrafting being nearly required as well). In short, women without Knight-level furycrafting are generally out of luck in Alera, at least until Gaius promoted Isana. This becomes an important plot point as the series progresses, as Isana's promotion is taken as an official statement by the First Lord regarding parity of genders and a sign of his power, making Isana a target for those trying to undermine Gaius' authority. It also resulted in an increase in sale prices for female slaves and caused chaos and pressure in the slave trade in general. Since Kalarus is one of the two High Lords with eyes on the First Lord's crown, and the province of Kalare is heavily dependent on slave labor, this seriously hampers his economy and pushes him into launching the brewing civil war earlier than he planned.
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- The first thing Kitai says about her father, Doroga, is that he does not seem clever.
- Fade, seemingly a mentally disabled slave, is really Araris Valerian, possibly the greatest swordsman alive. He slowly drops the charade after Tavi discovers the truth, eventually abandoning it completely in the epilogue of the third book.
- Inverted with Ullus, the fence in Westmiston. When he draws a sword on Captain Demos the Captain is surprised to find that Ullus really is as stupid as he seemed; Demos had thought it was an act.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging:
- Occurs in Captain's Fury, when Tavi makes an offhand comment about how you can always trust your family while Isana is in the room. Isana, who has been lying to him his entire life about his parentage and the reason for his lack of crafting ability, was getting up the nerve to confess.
- Fidelias/Marcus gets it from both sides. On one hand, Max, Nalus, Crassus, and most of the First Aleran keep going on about how good a friend, adviser, and all around soldier he is, while he is technically working for Lady Aquitaine and has orders to kill Tavi, and on the other, Lady Aquitaine keeps complimenting him on his ideas to get Tavi out of the way, when he feels horribly guilty about coming up with them.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: It would not be Alera without them, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and positions of authority. Naturally, they cause innumerable headaches. However, in at least one instance, they proved useful: one such official, Pluvus Pentius, protected some children by obstructing a roving monster with his accounts ledger. Repeatedly. To the head. Because hey, in Alera even the accountants can kick your ass.
- Odd Name Out: Isana, Amara, Fidelias, Maximus, Araris, Invidia... Tavi? Which is Foreshadowing, as it happens. "Gaius Octavian" fits right in with the rest of those awesome Latin-derived names.
- Offhand Backhand: Walker provides the Gargant equivalent when charged by a mantis Vord in First Lords Fury. The creature charges with berserk fury until Walker squashes it while paying next to no attention to it.
- Official Couple: Tavi and Kitai, Bernard and Amara, Isana and Araris.
- Offing the Offspring: Antillar Maximus seems to have plenty of accidents whenever his step-mother, High Lady Dorotea Antillus, is around.
- Oh Crap: Everywhere and in wide variety.
- Older Than They Look
- All powerful watercrafters, to the point where even the eldest High Lords almost never look older than their forties, with the majority of them looking like they are in their mid-thirties or even younger. Gaius Sextus spends the entire series dying of old age (with a little help) but still looks like he is in his forties.
- Tavi looks young for his age and does not reach his full height until he is over twenty, since Isana purposely stunted his growth as a child. More than a few dim bulbs in Aleran society make the mistake of assuming that just because someone looks like they are in their late teens or early twenties that they really are that age.
- Olympus Mons: Though most Alerans do not believe they truly exist, "Great Furies" embody the larger geological formations of Carna, including mountains, volcanoes and even Alera itself. These Furies can be stirred to action, held to inaction, and even (If the crafter is powerful enough) bound to a person as any smaller fury can be.
- One Curse Limit: Only one discipline collar can be fitted to a person at a time; the furycrafting involved does not take if a second one is added later. Amara uses this to her advantage.
- One-Man Army: Giraldi explicitly calls Araris a "one-man Legion" in Cursor's Fury after he massacres dozens of Kalarus' Immortals.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Tavi and Varg, especially in Princeps' Fury. Earlier, in Academ's Fury, Varg tells Tavi that the entire reason he is helping him protect Gaius is because Varg wants to be the one to lead the army that will destroy Alera with honor, and that he does not want Alera to fall to Sarl and the Vord Queen's trickery and deception. Applies to any sets of gadara as well, and other Canim will get out of the way in order to let them challenge each other.
- Orifice Invasion: Vord Takers crawl in through your mouth, secreting a poison to numb your flesh so you do not know they are crawling into you until it is too late.
- Our Elves Are Better: Marat are basically neolithic Wood Elves, though the term is never explicitly used for them.
- "I gave you even odds of seeing through the switch."
- Do not try to get in the way of Gaius Sextus. Even if you think you won, he will have something else in motion that makes everything turn out in his favor. Even after his death he has plans in the works: He left instructions for Ehren to set up Aquitaine for death in order to make sure that Tavi would not have a challenger for the throne.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The Alerans speak with scorn of the ancient Roman traditions of praying to "gods" and trying to tell the future by scattering animal entrails. Some doubt that these practices ever occurred at all.
- Out of the Inferno: Cursor's Fury. Tavi gets hit with a massive evil magic fireball. Twice. And is pretty much unphased the second time.
- Papa Wolf: Sextus did not take it kindly when a couple of his High Lords killed Septimus. It may have taken him twenty-five years, but he got his revenge. How? He killed one with a volcano and he set the other one up for death by the hands of the oncoming Vord.
- Parental Favoritism: Kord favored Bittan, who was growing into just as sickening a thug as he was, over Aric, who never quite reached the same depths.
- Peeling Potatoes: Tavi pisses off an officer and ends up measuring latrines in Cursor's Fury.
- Person of Mass Destruction: All the High Lords, and especially the house of Gaius. A single High Lord is said to be equal to an entire cohort of Knights, and Gaius was able to influence weather on a continental scale.
- Planet of Hats: A rare fantasy aversion. Although there are five different races, each one is shown to have its cowards and its heroes, individuals noble and villainous. The Canim and the Marat may be Proud Warrior Race Guys, but there's far more to their outlooks than just killing stuff for honor. It is what makes The Alliance at the end possible. Even the Horde of Alien Locusts are exempt, as the original Vord Queen develops a personality very different from her daughters.
- Posthumous Character: Princeps Gaius Septimus. In the first book, he is mentioned briefly and it almost seems like a bit of scene-setting: this is why there is a succession crisis and scheming noblemen, and the monsters in the storm are so dangerous the only safe place is a tomb fit for a prince, and that is all we know about him until halfway through the second book. However, Septimus gets developed as a major character later.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Lady Aquitaine gives Isana an impassioned (for her, anyway) speech about how she can be trusted to honor loyalty, oppose violence and protect the people she has sworn to protect. Not because she feels some sort of moral duty to do so, but because she knows that that is how she gains loyal servants, preserves Alera as a prosperous whole and sways others to her cause.
- Pregnant Badass: Kitai throughout all of the last book.
- Pretender Diss: Aldrick ex Gladius, regarded as one of the greatest swordsmen living, is legendary partly because of his famed duel with Araris Valerian. At multiple points throughout the series he crosses swords with other famed warriors, calmly informing each of them, "The only man who has ever matched me in battle was Araris Valerian himself, and you aren't Araris." When it turns out that one of them actually is Araris, Aldrick practically collapses.
- Pronoun Trouble: Marat children are referred to by their parents as their "whelp," instead of "boy" or "girl", until they pass a certain rite of adulthood. In the first book Tavi meets (and is injured by) a Marat child (Kitai), and the narration refers to this child with male pronouns since that is what Tavi assumes her to be. Before the reveal, Tavi asked Doroga, Kitai's father, about his "son" — it seems he is confused by the homonym, as a bit of a language barrier had been established earlier, it is only later that it is revealed that it is because he has a daughter instead.
- Proud Warrior Race: The Marat and the Canim.
- Psycho for Hire: Phrygiar Navaris.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The Vord's most potent weapon are the Takers, insects the size of a mouse that crawl in through your mouth and take over your body. The Taken bodies are impervious to pain, have strength far beyond their normal capability, and are used to sow dissent and fear amongst the populace. When the Taken is an Aleran, they can even use furycrafting, provided that a non-Taken furycrafts first to "activate" the furies.
- Quip to Black: Tavi pulls a mild one in Captain's Fury after surviving an assassination attempt at the end of a chapter. The text even includes a perfect moment for a Glasses Pull:
"It would seem," Ehren said, "that someone doesn't want you making this trip."
- Rags to Royalty: Tavi (Sleeping Beauty-style) and Isana (Cinderella/Goose Girl-style)
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Rape is a "Realm offense;" if somebody is convicted then punishment is meted out not only to them, but even to their family if the judge deems it worthy.
- Ravens and Crows: Crows are seen as a symbol of death and war by Alerans, and are frequently seen on and around the many battlefields throughout the series. In fact, almost every Aleran curse centers around crows.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Varg. Potentially any Cane for that matter, as their life expectancy seems to be near a millennium.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Bernard, Giraldi, Lord and Lady Placida, Lord Ceres and Gaius Sextus.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Amara gives one to Invidia First Lord's Fury, then Isana to Invidia and the Vord Queen later in the same novel.
- Red Baron: Skilled swordsmen of Alera are often given sword-based nickames which become part of their actual names.
- Aldrick ex Gladius. "ex Gladius" literally means "of the sword," and when he is introduced Fidelias explicitly states that he is known throughout Alera as "the sword."
- Pirellus of the Black Blade.
- Required Secondary Powers: High Lords/Ladies and the First Lord are generally very strong in all six elements. Most other people, though, are only strong in one or two, which means they might lack these. This results in situations where speedsters pull their own muscles if they do not have the earthcrafting to augment their own strength; see Fragile Speedster above. In the same way, metalcrafters have the pain tolerance to keep fighting far too long for their own good because they do not have the earthcrafting to prevent injuries in the first place or watercrafting to heal them. Watercrafters have the empathic ability to sense everyone's emotions, but might lack the pain tolerance of a metalcrafter to avoid going crazy from the mental cacophony.
- Rescue Romance: After Bernad pulls Amara out of the frozen, flooding Rillwater river, the two of them warm by the fire and Amara leans in to kiss Bernard. He pulls away, pointing out that she is cold and injured and it would be taking advantage to pursue the matter. They get together later on anyway.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Lady Aquitaine's ultimate fate; Amara says this trope almost word for word as she executes her.
- Rogue Drone: Played interestingly with the Vord, where it's one of their Hive Queens who starts developing her own personality (leading the other queens to try to kill her to prevent her from "infecting" the rest of their race). She stays a villain even while developing increasingly humanlike personality traits although her death scene is surprisingly moving.
- Running Gag:
- Kitai would like to point out that she wanted a horse.
- Maximus frequently utters the term "sacred right," which is a legionare's right to complain about his duties, no matter how frivolous his complaints are, for as long as he wants. Tavi co-opts the phrase at least once to refer to his right to be mysterious and secretive as part of his authority.
- Once Ehren becomes a Cursor he carries numerous knives hidden about his person. Eventually people begin commenting on just how many he has tucked away from view.
- Sadistic Choice: When the Vord Queen studies people to try and understand their thoughts and motivations, she orders a mother to hand over her infant son. The mother looks to Invidia and asks for help, but she tells her that she has another child that she can protect by handing over the baby as ordered.
- Samus Is a Girl: For such a smart guy, Tavi takes far too long to realize that Kitai is female. Twice!
- Sanity Has Advantages: Navaris may be a swordsman on par with Araris, but her Ax Crazy nature ultimately leads to her death at Tavi's hands.
- School of Seduction: Lord Kalare is said to have used a training program incorporating this as well as other things for all his female agents. The Cursor's Academy also teaches some agents the ropes, but none of the main characters are so trained.
- Senseless Sacrifice: When Amara and Bernard are spying on Vord activities, they see a Ceresian cohort sacrifice themselves in an attempt to hold off the Vord long enough for a group of civilians to reach the safety of the city walls. Amara is particularly sickened when, after killing the last of the soldiers, the Vord catch up to the holders in less than two minutes, rendering their brave sacrifice completely pointless.
- Sequel Hook: In the epilogue, Alera mentions to Tavi that the Vord Queen in Canea will be ready to cross the sea in one-hundred and fifty years, and he better be ready.
- Sergeant Rock: The Centurions
- Centurion Giraldi was stationed at Garrison since before the the first novel; he remains there for several years and serves as Bernards primary subordinate for numerous battles. He was offered a promotion to officer after Second Calderon, but turned it down; as he explained, he had spent so much of his life making fun of the officers of the Legion that he could not very well join them now.
- Valiar Marcus, First Spear (Senior Centurion) of the First Aleran Legion. One of the few men living that was 'promoted' to the House of the Valiant (Valiar) for his service to Alera. It turns out he is Fidelias in disguise.
- Shades of Conflict: The characters have to make some interesting ethical decisions over the course of the series. The Vord border on Blue and Orange Morality: the queen in Academ's Fury cannot comprehend the idea of Taking You with Me. She has an intellectual understanding, but is entirely incapable of wrapping her mind around the idea.
- Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: What it takes to fool the Vord.
- Shock Collar: In this case the collar does not only hurt the slave when they misbehave but also reward them with sensations of pleasure when they do well.
- Shoot the Dog: See Load-Bearing Boss, above.
- Shout-Out: Tavi, whose name is remarkably similar to Rikki Tikki Tavi, a mongoose that regularly overcomes greater foes with cunning and skill in the works of Rudyard Kipling.
- Sickening Crunch: When Gaius Sextus kills three cohorts of Immortals, at the same time, the sound of all their necks breaking "was a rippling staccato of sound, somewhat like a saw going through wood."
- Single-Stroke Battle: Ultimately, the Vord War is decided by a single lunge between Tavi and the Vord Queen.
- Slave Collars: When it comes to the magical discipline collars... well, it is not pretty. When one is put on you, you are buried in indescribable pleasure, until the mere absence of that pleasure is like torture. From then on, you must obey the orders of the person who put the collar on you, or you will feel pain, while obeying causes pleasure. Worse, you will die if anyone other than the person who put the collar on you tries to take it off, even if that person is dead.
- Slave Mooks: The Immortals
- Slouch of Villainy: Lord Aquitaine is sitting this way during his first appearance in the series, during Furies of Calderon.
- Smart People Play Chess: Or the local eqivalent, ludus.
- Smith Will Suffice: When Amara sees the full fury of Garados and Thana, she expresses her shock in the standard Aleran swear of "great furies." Placidus Aria simply responds with, "Two of them."
- Smug Snake: Senator Arnos (who was actually in the pay of genuine Magnificent Bastard Lord Aquitaine) and Sarl. Also Kalarus Brencis Minoris.
- Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: The large, weaponized variety is used by Tavi in Cursor's Fury.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Furies of Calderon features a relatively minor struggle against invading "barbarians". By First Lord's Fury, the world is literally about to end. The Vord basically have this as a superpower- kill some, and all you have really accomplished is teaching the Queen new tricks to incorporate into the next generation.
- Spanner in the Works: Throughout Furies of Calderon Fade repeatedly saves Isana's life by tripping over people and spilling hot soup right at the critical moment. All on purpose.
- Spirit Advisor: Alera
- Spoiler Title: At some point, the reader will likely realize that the titles of the books refer to Tavi's rank and position during that book.
- Spring Is Late: Tavi gets Alera to bring cold air from the arctic much farther south than normal for late winter/early spring. The extra week of winter allows Tavi to craft the snow into a surface that allows ships to sail on land, getting Tavi's army to the main battle earlier than expected.
- Spy From Weights and Measures: Cursors, to an extent. Lots of people think of them as just messengers, although aristocrats know better than that.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: After most of Furies of Calderon had established that Heddy had been raped by Bittan, it is revealed that Heddy had actually been having consensual sex with Aric, Bittan's brother. Aric's father, Kord, was an abusive, violent, lecherous bully, and Heddy's father, Warner, knew all too well what Kord was like, so both partners had to keep their relationship secret from their families.
- Start of Darkness: The fifth book reveals that contrary to what most people assumed, Aquitaine was not one of those who killed Princeps Septimus: quite the opposite, he was one of Septimus' closest friends and turned against the First Lord who had been unable to protect his own son, becoming just as cruel and ruthless as those he sought revenge against.
- Stealth Hi Bye: Varg's Hunters do this repeatedly, including once emerging from a room that Tavi and company had been in (alone) only moments before. Eventually, Sha (Their leader) pulls this on Valiar Marcus so often that Marcus stops being surprised at finding him in his tent.
- Stealth Pun: See one of the Meaningful Names above. A character named Rook switches places with a royal figure for the sake of maneuverability for her and protection for the royal. In other words, Rook castles.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: When Doroga and Kitai see examples of precise, choreographed Aleran activities (Military formations and rehearsed singing, respectively) they both comment that Alerans must be bored out of their minds rehearsing in advance, part and parcel of Aleran "madness." The people they are talking to (Bernard and Tavi) both then point out that they seem extremely pleased with the results.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Whenever firecrafters get involved.
- Swordpoint Banter: In Captain's Fury, when Tavi meets with Navaris for the first time, and is outwardly calm and dismissive even as she prepares to kill him.
- Succession Crisis: The overarching plot of the series, and the cause (However indirectly) of the entire story. Princeps Gaius Septimus, only son and heir of First Lord Gaius Sextus, was killed in the First Battle of Calderon by a Marat horde more than fifteen years before Furies of Calderon, leaving Alera without a clear inheritor for the position of First Lord. Multiple High Lords have spent the intervening years scheming and positioning themselves as Gaius's successor, to take his role once he dies, and some have decided to hasten his end in order to claim the throne sooner.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Tavi's solution to being chased by the Vord Queen? Piss off two great furies and see what happens.
- Super Reflexes / Super Speed: A primary combat ability for windcrafters. This also allows them to increase their own speed in a Flash-like manner. Later deconstructed in that if the windcrafter tries to take it Up to Eleven, their bodies can not keep up and/or they end up with torn muscles and broken bones.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Khral is basically another Sarl, and Valerius from the sixth novel resembles Arnos in more than one way.
- Sword Sparks: Swords sparking is an artifact of powerful metal crafting. With thematic colors no less!
- Taking You with Me: Twice, with both times involving volcanoes.
- That's No Moon: Garados, when fully unleashed, is an ugly humanoid twice as tall as the mountain he emerged from. Tavi can not stop gawking at the fact that something that large could actually exist.
- That Man Is Dead: Fidelias ex Cursori in favor of Valiar Marcus
- Throw the Book At Them:
- In the first book, Garrison's resident Obstructive Bureaucrat uses his official ledger as a bludgeon to fight off a Herdbane and protect a group of children (after all, this is Alera, where even the accountants will kick your ass).
- In the last book, Varg knocks down Khral, an attacking ritualist, with what is strongly implied to be a copy of the Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
- Time Abyss: Alera, Spirit Advisor to House Gaius, remembers billions of years back. This is because she is essentially the spirit of the continent itself.
- Time Skip: A two year one between the first two books, and another (technically two and a half, but the first chapter or two starts about half a year before the rest of the book) two and three. There are about two years between three and four, and about six months between books four and five and another six months between five and six.
- Too Kinky to Torture
- A small humorous example.
Tavi: If we survive this I'm taking it out on your hide.
- In Cursor's Fury, Odiana actually implies that she wants to have a discipline collar put on her by Aldrick, but only Aldrick. This is played for tragedy, not humor; in the first book she reveals that she used to be a slave, used for sex, and her watercrafter abilities let her feel the emotions of her attackers, which is what broke her. Notably, Aldrick will not do it, possibly because, in the final book, we learn that he was one of the men who saved her from said slaver.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Tavi takes one in every time skip between books, but perhaps the most noticeable is Ehren, who goes from being a wimpy kid obsessed with his studies in the second book to a Badass Anti-Hero (of sorts) in the third to all that and a brilliant Chessmaster in the fifth.
- Centurion Schultz, who starts as a fish in Cursor's Fury and is a Centurion by Captain's Fury, mirroring the First Aleran's transformation into one of the most elite armies on Alera.
- Training Accident: Amara's test at the beginning of the series was not really to see whether she could get information; it was to see if she would stay loyal and be able to escape after Fidelias's betrayal, which Gaius saw coming.
- Trope Overdosed: And how!
- Tsundere: Kitai, especially early on.
- Tunnel King: Earthcrafters can phase through earth and rock, allowing them to travel underground without leaving any sign of their passing.
- Twin Threesome Fantasy: Antillar "Max" Maximus is introduced after spending the night in the company of Ladies Celine and Celest. When he obliquely mentions this to Tavi and Ehren, they are shocked and jealous, especially when they realize he means both, not just one or the other.
- Underestimating Badassery: He is just a furyless freak. What could he possibly do?
- The Unfair Sex: When Kitai learns of the complicated rituals of courtship and marriage among the Citizenry of Alera, and that the relationship she has with Tavi is (by those standards) that of a concubine or whore, she becomes infuriated with how Tavi has treated her. Tavi, however, points out that she was the one who initiated their relationship, and that by her own Marat customs he has behaved perfectly honorably. Alera points out that that really is not relevant at all, and when Tavi accuses her of supporting Kitai simply because she is a woman, Alera agrees.
- Unhappy Medium: Watercrafters, the strongest of whom tend to be incapacitated by sufficiently powerful emotions unless they are also good at metalcrafting.
- Unholy Matrimony: Odiana is Ax Crazy. Aldrick is an amoral mercenary. They are a cute couple.
- The Un-Smile: The Vord Queen's smile is described as something without meaning or warmth, a movement of facial muscles that is a replication of something she has seen in others.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Tavi and others in the series are quite good at playing their cards close to their vests. Becomes even more true in the fifth book, when Tavi realizes that the Vord are able to read the minds of their foes... and thus sets up a plan that is unspoken even to those who are carrying it out, using a whole network of sealed orders.
- Unusual Euphemism: Many variants on "crows" and "furies" seem to take the place of traditional oaths.
- The Uriah Gambit: The First Lord sends out the High Lord of Rhodes to be killed by the Vord at the vanguard of the Aleran forces for multiple reasons: A dead High Lord underscores the fact that the Vord truly are a threat to the whole realm, whereas previously many of the Lords and higher-ranking Citizens had dismissed them as a danger; killing Rhodes in particular gets him the loyalty and assistance of the High Lord of Aquitaine, who viewed Rhodes as a potential threat to his own plans to attain the throne; and killing Rhodes was a matter of personal vengeance, as he was one of the cabal of citizens who, decades earlier, had killed Gaius Septimus, the First Lord's son.
- Villainous Rescue: Used frequently. In addition to Enemy Mine situations that are key to the plots of the first three books, The Only One Allowed to Defeat You is a fundemental part of Canim culture. Many times from the third book on, if certain situations were taking place entirely between humans or even if the roles of humans and Canim were reversed, one character would call another a friend or ally who needs their help. But since they are Canim or talking to Canim, though, one goes to great lengths to make it clear that they do not like helping the other, but neither another rival nor the Big Bad can be allowed to kill them, so they are working together just this once...
- Villainous Valour: When Gaius Sextus unleashes a fearcrafting on Kalarus' Legions, the entire force is instantly routed. Many simply die of fright, and the rest are panicked to collapse and flight. However, one single legionare resists the mental assault and actually raises his sword in defiance. Amara feels pity for him and regrets that the reward for his courage, which was greater than the entire rest of his Legion, is to be killed by the First Lord.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: High Lords Phrygius and Antillus.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Watercrafters are healers and, if they are sufficiently skilled, they can alter their features to make themselves look younger and, if they are really skilled, look like someone else. It is really uncomfortable, though, to imitate someone larger or smaller.
- Warrior Therapist: See Sanity Has Advantages. Isana also does this against Antillus Raucus, in an attempt to get him to see sense regarding the negotiations with the Icemen.
- We Are as Mayflies: At least, compared to the Canim, who can live for centuries (unless they die in battle first). The other races' lifespans are never explicitly stated, but the Vord seem to have some sort of Genetic Memory at least.
- We Are Not Mates: When Ambassador Varg refers to Tavi and Kitai as "mates," they each (at the same time) state that they are not mates.
- We Could Have Avoided All This:
- The biggest recurring obstacle impeding Amara, Tavi and Bernard from warning Garrison of the Marat threat in Furies of Calderon was Kord and his two sons (Aric and Bittan), who kept interfering at crucial junctures in the hopes of derailing the trial of Bittan for rape. It turns out Bittan really was innocent; simply letting the trial go through would have made the story easier not only for the "good guys," but would have saved Kord and Bittan's lives as well.
- As time goes on, multiple characters (even those loyal to the First Lord) point out that Gaius could have prevented a lot of the scheming amongst the High Lords by fathering another child after the death of Septimus, or at least designating an heir from one of the nobility. It would not have solved everything, especially once the reader learns that some of the High Lords created the problem in the first place by assasinating Septmus, but it would have resolved the most public crisis of a disputed succession.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist:
- Fidelias, who betrays the First Lord for what he views as the greater good, the long-term stability of Alera, by ensuring that there is a strong and younger First Lord in charge.
- Aquitainus Attis, who sought the throne because he believed that Gaius Sextus could no longer control the High Lords and would ultimately lead to civil war.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: The Vord Queen, in her efforts to understand humanity, asks people to explain to her what "love" is.
- What the Hell, Hero?: The First Lord's decision to contain the threat of Kalarus unleashing Kalus by setting off the volcano and killing the majority of Kalare's population did not go over well with Amara.
- What You Are in the Dark:
- When Max tells Tavi that he should buy a woman for the night in Cursor's Fury, pointing out that nobody would know, Tavi gives the standard respnse that he would know.
- When Bernard asks Amara why she did not kill Invidia when she had the chance, since she could easily have blamed it on the enemy or even natural causes, Amara explains that she refuses to live in Invidia's world, where actions are determined by power and practicality. Her world has laws and justice, and she would rather live there and suffer than win Invidia's way.
- White Sheep: Aric is no saint, but his father, Kord, is a brutish thug and his brother, Bittan, is offensviely loud-mouthed and is being raised in the same vein. He eventually turns on his father and frees Isana from her captivity.
- Wicked Stepmother: Max's stepmother, Lady Antillus, wants the best for her son, the heir of Antillus. It just so happens that her husband's bastard child has the support of the legions and good connections, and could probably take the position of heir if he wanted it. Which he does not. This has not stopped her from killing Max's mother and arranging "accidents" that have very nearly killed him several times. She also betrays the Alerans to the Canim.
- Wild Card: Fidelias will sometimes be motivated to help those still loyal to the realm, even if it does not benefit his goals, and he eventually becomes loyal to Tavi, albeit in a Secret Identity, upon realising that Tavi would make a better ruler than Aquitaine, as well as being a better man.
- Woman Scorned: It turns out Invidia arranged Septimus's death because he rejected her for a peasant- Isana.
- Worf Barrage: The battle for Ceres in Princeps' Fury gets quite a few of these. The Alerans let the Vord come all the way into the city before Gaius opens it up with an enormous eagle-shaped thunderbolt that vaporizes every living Vord inside the city, followed by complimentary and almost-as-devastating attacks by the High Lords in their respective colors and symbols. Unfortunately the Vord Queen and her 100,000-strong army of Knights Aeris-inspired fliers turns it into a Negated Moment of Awesome.
- World Half Full: By the end of First Lord's Fury, only a few thousand Canim refugees escaped the destruction of their homeland and a very small number of Aleran redoubts have survived out of an empire that once spanned a continent. But the new First Lord Gaius Octavian forms a new Alliance where slavery is banned, freemen are not treated like dirt, illegitimate children are embraced, humans live in peace with the Marat, Canim (Varg becomes the first nonhuman High Lord!) and Icemen, all of whom get their own states in Alera. Tavi even changed the way magic works, so furycrafting ability will be based on effort instead of blood. The Vord are still out there, but the new alliance will have over 150 years to prepare for them. Tavi comments that he will not go after the Canea Queen yet because she is so darn useful in getting everyone to work together.
- World of Badass: Oh, so very much. Remember that description at the top of the page?
- Worthy Opponent: The fifth novel explains that the Canim as a culture prefer having a Worthy Opponent over having a friend: a friend can disappoint you, but a Worthy Opponent can always be trusted to try and kill you. The Canim even have a specific word (gadara) that means Worthy Opponent.
- X Meets Y: The political dealings of Dune meets a Greco-Roman Society powered by Pokémon. Really. Word of God is this series actually started because someone dared Butcher to write a Lost Roman Legion story based on Pokémon.
- You Are in Command Now: Tavi is inserted into First Aleran Legion as the Third Subtribune Logistica, a non-critical post that serves as an excuse to be present and spy on the legion, but he winds up in command when the Canim eliminate every other officer with their sorcery.
- You Are Not Alone: Tavi to Kitai, when he figures out that he has been bound to her as her chala, her totem. Marat tribes are based on having the same totem, so Kitai has no tribe.
- You Just Told Me: Magnus had been suspicious of Valiar Marcus for a long time, and several times tried to catch him out. None of them work until, during a fight with some Vord, he yells, "Fidelias! Behind you!" and "Marcus" whirls around.
- You Need to Get Laid: Max to Tavi during much of Cursor's Fury and at the beginning of First Lord's Fury.
- You Remind Me of X: When Phrygius Cyricus threatens to kill Varg if he harms any of the citizens of Phrygia, Varg asks Tavi in Canish if Cyricus reminds him of anybody. Tavi, understanding what Varg is referring to, comments that he was holding a knife to Varg's throat at the time.
Varg: It did give you a certain credibility.
- You Shall Not Pass: The latter half of the Cursor's Fury and all of Princep's Fury, culminating in Gaius Sextus drawing almost all of the Vord army onto Alera Imperia and detonating a volcano underneath the city to wipe them out and buy the country critical months to fight the invaders.
- Zerg Rush: A surprisingly non-Hollywood Tactics version. What makes the Vord so scary is that they use Zerg Rush and We Have Reserves tactics intelligently, to devastating effect.
- No, Tavi did not deliberately leave a weakness in the defenses in case he ever needed to stage another jailbreak.
- Because their flailing around is less like a legionaire and more like a landed fish.
- Difficult, as women could not normally be legionares, so this requires them to serve as either healers or Knights, both of which require strong furycrafting, or the woman had to disguise herself as a man until such a point that her deeds on the battlefield proved her worhty of being a Citizen if she revealed her gender