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The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a series of humorous fantasy novels by Patricia C. Wrede that deconstruct a number of common fairy-tale tropes.

The first book starts with the forthright Princess Cimorene deciding that she is tired of being a princess (and doesn't much like the prince her parents are pushing at her). Her Fairy Godmother is no help with this problem so she follows the advice of a talking frog and ends up offering her services to a dragon. The first three books in the series follow Cimorene's adventures - the fourth one (which was actually written first) concerns her son Daystar.

The books in the series are Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons.

Examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Most characters have names like Cimorene and Mendanbar and Kazul and so on, but occasionally there's names like Jack and Rachel. It might be just those two names, actually. Morwen is fairly normal as well, and she's a main character.
    • Jack is justified, since the name was taken from the titular character of Jack and the Beanstalk. Rachael is a bit out-there, though it was probably chosen to show how different her life was from the fairy tale it inspired.
      • There's also Herman, but he tried very hard to change his name to something normal.
  • Action Girl: Cimorene, who matures into...
  • Action Mom
  • Affectionate Parody
  • All Witches Have Cats: Morwen owns a large number of cats of many different colors as her familiars. Other witches think she's strange for numerous reasons, but one of those is that she owns a dozen cats, none of them black.
    • Also justified, as we find out that cats help witches cast spells, and the more cats a witch has, the more power she can channel.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The King of the Enchanted Forest inherits a link to the magical forces that sustain the realm, which is more than enough power to be a match for any individual spellcaster (though you still run into trouble with groups).
  • Awesome but Practical: The Sword of the Enchanted Forest: powerful magical weapon, chooser of the heir to the kingdom... also good for plumbing.
  • Awesome but Impractical: on the other hand, the sword...leaks...if you try to take it out of the Forest, and every magic user except its wielder can tell.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: One version of the cover art for Searching shows Mendanbar and Cimorene as such (although they were fighting a bit of a distance away from each other in the actual story).
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Wizards absorb magic from everything around them, unlike witches and magicians who study magic and use magical objects. It seems as if only an unscrupulous person would want to be a wizard in this universe, since the magic absorption process visibly harms sentient creatures and damages the environment.
    • In Talking to Dragons, after the battle, it is mentioned that a few of the wizards surrendered and were willing to cooperate with the allies of the Enchanted Forest. Although, their alternative was being eaten by dragons.
  • Bag of Holding: Sleeves, technically; Morwen's enchanted her sleeves to work like a backpack, although there are limits to the spell, at which point her sleeves get heavy.
  • Be Careful What You Say: To the nth degree within the Enchanted Forest itself.
  • Beta Couple: Morwen and Telemain.
  • Blessed with Suck: The fact that Alianora wasn't cursed at her christening, despite the presence of an evil fairy, seems to have been the origin of so many problems in her life that for years her family thought she might have been better off with a curse instead. On the other hand, Alianora has managed to accrue a number of Boring but Practical blessings such as the one on her teeth, not to mention that her unconventionality has made her the only princess besides Cimorene herself who is neither a Brainless Beauty nor an Alpha Bitch.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Arona Vamist goes out of his way to make himself hated by a group of notoriously temperamental people that can set things on fire with their minds. When that's not boneheaded enough for him, he tries to literally invoke this trope by taking severe exceptions to the intellectual positions held by Kazul -- not just a dragon, but the King of the Dragons!
    • He does, however, have extremely strong magical protection. One of the fire witches grudgingly concedes that they did take a shot at him, but were unable to get through.
      • He continues to insult Kazul and the Fire Witches after losing said protection, however.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: As a member of the Men's Auxiliary of the Right Honorable Wicked Stepmother's Traveling, Drinking, and Debating Society, Prince Rupert has a reputation to uphold as an Evil Uncle. When it comes to the actual "evil" part, though...
  • Cats Are Magic: Morwen's cats.
  • Cats Are Mean: Well, catty, anyway. Morwen observes that it's a good thing only witches can understand cats, and only their own cats, because her horde tends to be pretty irreverent.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Morwen's cats.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Mendanbar to a degree, although his inner monologue presents him as more sarcastic than angsty. He doesn't have any use for conventional formality, but he's very serious about his real responsibilities, almost to a fault when he tries to personally resolve all of the kingdom's problems. Both Morwen and Cimorene observe that he's visibly worn out from trying to do everything by himself.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: In the Backstory of one fire-witch.
  • Containment Field: Most interestingly when one group puts up a field to keep the other group from getting in, and the other group then puts up a second field around the first to ensure that the first group can't get in either.
  • Continuity Nod: In Dealing, Cimorene sneaks out of the castle for the first and only time by using an invisibility spell. In Searching, Mendanbar sneaks out of the castle specifically not using an invisibility spell, because he's apparently done it so many times that by now it'd be "cheating."
  • Cooking Duel: In "Utensile Strength," a cooking competition is used to determine the rightful owner of a magical frying pan.
  • Cool but Inefficient: Literal with most wizards. They tend to be a theatrical lot and their spells create lightshows and loud sounds, all of which are a result of the excess magic that's not being used in the actual spell. The more skilled and dangerous wizards can control their magic to such a degree that only the desired effect of the spell occurs.
  • Cool Gate
  • Crystal Ball: The King's Crystal can scry as well as foretell the future, but it's actually a flat plate instead of a sphere. Morwen has a more conventional ball.
    • Various mirrors are also shown to be able to let viewers see where things are located or what's going on in other places.
      • At least one is rather petulant, as well-when they try to use it outside of it's prescribed use for calling other magic-mirror owners (ala videophone), it refuses to play until they can ask it to do so in rhyme-and when they do, it nearly refuses anyway because it doesn't like the rhyme.
  • Curse Escape Clause
  • Cute Witch/Hot Witch: More or less the first thing Mendanbar notices about Morwen is that she's "quite pretty and, apart from the black robe and broom, not witchy-looking at all."
  • The Ditz: Morwen's cat Fiddlesticks.
  • Doomed by Canon: The situation previously established in Talking to Dragons requires that Calling on Dragons have a less than happy ending.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: At the end of the third book Kazul rather offhandedly informs the protagonists that she ate Zemenar offscreen.
  • Elemental Hair: Fire witches invariably have red hair (which tends to burst into flames when they get angry enough.)
  • Empathic Weapon: "That dratted sword" makes all sorts of judgment calls on its own, including the selection of the heir designate.
  • Energy Absorption: Wizards' staffs have the capacity to suck up ambient magic, which is at best discomfiting and at worst fatal to any living target.
  • Everyone Can See It: Double Subverted with Cimorene and Mendanbar. Quite a few characters they encounter in Searching assume they are a couple or about to become one, for no other reason than they are a guy and a girl traveling together. But the assumptions turn out to be Right for the Wrong Reasons as they fall for each other anyway.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses
    • Subverted in Calling on Dragons, when Cimorene becomes the queen of the Enchanted Forest.
    • Also subverted since, with a few exceptions, most princesses are stupid, spineless, and generally useless. In all fairness, they're raised to be that way, but most of the protagonists find them annoying.
  • Evil Redhead: Subverted in the case of fire-witches. While they are shown to have nasty tempers and are prone to tantrums, nearly all of the ones mentioned or seen are generally quite helpful to the protagonists.
  • Evil Uncle: Prince Rupert, technically, although he's actually a milquetoast who likes his nephew.
    • There's an entire group for them in the "Right Honorable Wicked Stepmothers' Traveling, Drinking, and Debating Society" -- their 'Men's Auxiliary', while officially meant for wicked stepfathers, mostly consists of uncles.
      • He's also rather annoyed that his sibling and in-law ran off questing rather than running the country, indicating he'd rather not play Evil Regent if he did not have to to keep his membership.
  • Exact Words: Addressed a couple of times; see I Gave My Word below.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin The Ford of Whispering Snakes.
  • Eye of Newt: Usually in passing Morwen will mention what components are going into her spells. In the first book Cimorene spends quite a bit of time trying to collect increasingly obscure components and had the most trouble locating a set of powdered hens' teeth.
  • Fantastic Science: Telemain's Magi Babble.
  • Fisher King
  • Flying Broomstick: Morwen uses a broomstick, and later enchants a giant basket to fly.
    • Telemain doesn't like it. Morwen insists it's because you're meant to ride them sidesaddle.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Buckets of soapy water (with lemon juice; don't forget the lemon juice) have an interesting effect on ... wizards. Not witches.
    • Note that the one witch who's ever been in its path was a particularly tidy one and therefore not prone to melting. ("Clean living," she explained.) And it's not permanent.
    • The short story collection Book of Enchantments has an actual Frying Pan of Doom.
  • Functional Magic: Good writeup of the series' use of magic here.
  • Genie in a Bottle: Cimorene lets loose a genie who promises to kill her, though she evades it through a legal loophole.
    • And also because the genie wasn't supposed to be let out yet for a few hundred years.
  • Genre Savvy: This, combined with good old common sense, is near to a superpower in the setting. All of the protagonists have it, and almost no one else does, giving them a tremendous advantage most of the time.
  • Harmless Villain: Prince Rupert is here, if there isn't a rank lower.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Cimorene of both Therandil and later Mendanbar, although it's played to different effect.
  • How Would You Like to Die?: "Old age."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The book titles all follow the format [Gerund] [Preposition] Dragons. See also In Which a Trope Is Described for the chapter titles.
  • I Gave My Word: Apparently breaking promises in the Enchanted Forest is a really bad idea.
    • Daystar almost uses this exact phrase when he promises to try to do whatever he can to help out a princess - and she asks that he hand over her magic sword. Interestingly, as Shiara notes, there were a few loopholes that he could have taken advantage of to get around it.
      • In fact her Exact Words are "give me your sword." Daystar nearly does, too, except that the sword chooses that moment to act up again, spooking the princess off it. Later it's pointed out that it's The Sword Of The Sleeping King, and he's really only using it at all because it's the only thing that can get past the wizards and awaken said King; it's not his sword to give, so he shouldn't have felt under any obligation to comply with that particular request anyway. He also only promised to "try" to give it to her, and it was noted that after spending several minutes trying unsuccessfully to unbuckle it, he could have just said he tried and failed, and felt his promise was fulfi
  • Improbable Weapon User
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Antorel is consistently ineffectual, but not all that sympathetic. He is, at best, pitiable.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: All the chapter titles, such as "In Which Morwen and Telemain Argue and Killer Discovers the Perils of Mixing Cosmetics and Magic."
  • It's What I Do

 "He's been trying to figure out how the wizards work their spells," Mendanbar explained, "but he hasn't done it yet."

"Why do you want to know that?" Cimorene asked Telemain with renewed suspicion.

"Because that's what I do!" Telemain said.

    • Specifically, "what he does" is research magic, trying to find the underlying ur-spell in any given magical rite, as well as experimental magic. His house has two stairwells, one of which only goes up and the other only down, apparently for no other reason than he was experimenting and those were the nearest handy sets of stairs.
  • Jack of All Trades: The aptly-named Jack. He mostly does peddling and minor repairs.
  • Karmic Transformation: For Woraug this is explicit, but Arona Vamist qualifies too.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The witch Morwen has cats in every color except black.
    • And purple, and blue, and lavender, and 0x00FF00, and...
      • Well technically it's a "proper and witchy black". Apparently it goes with the League/Guild/Whatever it is the witches have...?
    • In fact, Arona Vamist once left a long message on her magic mirror saying she had too many cats.
    • There's also a practical reason. The more cats Morwen has, the more power she can get while casting spells.
  • Layman's Terms: Telemain's technical babble on magic often needs to be translated.
  • Literal Genie: This may have happened with the genie encountered by Cimorene and her unwanted fiancee Therandil. Therandil wishes to defeat a dragon in battle and rescue "his" captive princess. Cimorene then points out that Kazul, her dragon, is female, and thus the wish doesn't apply to her. Since both of them were actually happier with the idea of Therandil defeating a male dragon and rescuing a more "traditional" princess, they never actually try to find out if the wish was indeed literal.
  • Living Statue: The Stone Prince in Dealing with Dragons
  • Locked Out of the Loop: For most of Talking to Dragons, Daystar has no clear idea what's going on, and the various people who do know refuse to enlighten him.
    • Justified, as if he was informed of what the sword he was carrying was and what his possessing it meant (that he was prince of the Enchanted Forest), the wizards could use magic to find him.
  • Long List: Willin carries around one for everything -- caves in the Enchanted Forest Kingdom, formal occasions the kingdom no longer holds, torture implements once stocked in the dungeon...
  • Lord Error-Prone: Therandil.
    • Also, the knight running off with the princess Daystar and Shiara meet.
  • The Lost Woods
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Mendanbar's sword.
  • Made of Temptation
  • Magi Babble: Telemain speaks in nothing but, at least when he's talking shop.
  • Magic Mirror
  • Modest Royalty
  • Moral Guardian: Arona Vamist acts as one in Calling on Dragons, for some unfathomable reason. He basically spends his days calling up magical beings who he believes aren't "traditional" and trying to convince them to rearrange their lives to suit his tastes.
  • Mundane Solution: Literally.
  • Mundane Utility: Mendanbar, King of the Enchanted Forest, uses his great magical powers to dust his house.
    • He introduces himself to Cimorene by using the ancestral weapon linked to the realm of pure enchantment to unclog the drain. She has to forestall him from doing the dishes.
  • No Ontological Inertia: In several ways, really. Most importantly, after a magic user's death, their spells will cease to exert any influence (unless they're a very powerful/clever magic user). However, the way everything just snaps back to normal after Daystar brings down the wizards' shield around the castle and releases Mendenbar could be seen as an example of this trope as well.
  • Not That Kind of Mage: Telemain is a Magician not a Wizard, no matter how interested in how they work their spells he may be, and regardless of whether or not he happens to have one of their staves at the moment or not.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: That -- in the frog's words -- "small pavilion made of gold, surrounded by trees made of silver with emerald leaves". "Go straight past it without stopping," he says, "and don't answer if anyone calls out to you from the pavilion." In the space of three paragraphs during her tiring-but-otherwise-uneventful departure from the castle, Cimorene considers resting at a grove of trees, recognizes the pavilion when she comes closer, hears a friendly voice inviting her to rest there and share her "luncheon", takes two steps forward, remembers the warning, decides she's "not going to be caught this easily" and wisely goes back down the road... and that's all you ever hear on the matter. In a series where so many other fantasy trappings play out to one conclusion or another, and there's no shortage of truly kind characters -- who the hell was that?
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Cimorene on occasion, mainly in Dealing.
    • Hilariously, she draws from her own sisters' behavior.
      • This leads to the question of how much of her sisters' behavior was genuine and how much was, like Cimorene's, part of an act...
  • Off to Boarding School: Mendanbar's suggestion of what the aforementioned Evil Uncle should do. He's been ordered by the Wicked Stepmothers' Society to do something evil or lose his membership, but he genuinely likes his nephew, and in addition can't get his nephew to think getting lost in the forest is actually a bad thing, because the nephew is a wannabe adventurer. So Mendanbar tells the uncle that boarding school is the perfect solution, because it's a thing that's conventionally done by nasty people but won't actually do the nephew much harm.
  • Old Retainer: Willin
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. The giants Dobbilan and Ballimore are regularly robbed by humans, who are different individuals each time but always named Jack. However, the traveling merchant Cimorene and Mendanbar encounter has no interest in trying his luck.

 "I'm a businessman. I don't do giants."

  • Open Sesame: The gate from the Mountains of Morning to the Caves of Fire and Night. Apparently Open Sesame was the literal passcode for a time, but "word got around and we had to change it."
  • Orwellian Retcon: The re-release of Talking to Dragons had some edits to bring it into line with things that had changed during the writing of the prequels. These included:
    • In the original version of Talking to Dragons, Telemain was reasonably comprehensible, but the prequel novels gave him his habit of constantly speaking in Magi Babble. When Talking to Dragons was reissued, his dialogue was edited accordingly.
    • The circumstances under which Cimorene and Mendenbar knew each other -- the original version of Talking asserted that the Enchanted Forest and the Mountains of Morning had been closely allied, bringing them into each other's immediate orbit, but in Searching the relationship between the two kingdoms is shown to be neutral at best, and in fact the two meet while trying to prevent an outbreak of full-scale war. There was further mention of Antorell having actually courted Cimorene. These were also rectified in the re-release.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They seem to be pretty benevolent; only the real Jerkass dragons eat people. Unless those people are wizards.
  • Our Elves Are Different
  • Pair the Spares: Cimorene deliberately does something like this when she sends Therandil to rescue Keredwel instead of her. It gets Therandil out of her hair, and the two are much better suited for each other, so everyone wins.
  • Personality Powers: Fire-witches tend to have a certain similar temperament, although it's no indication of being either good or evil.
  • Playing with Fire: fire witches, who burn themselves. Har.
  • Politeness Judo: Daystar has a black belt in it.
  • Public Domain Artifact
  • Punch Clock Villain: Dobbilan the Giant, encountered off the clock.
  • Rebellious Princess: In spades.
  • Rightful King Returns: Well, both the king and the prince in this case.
    • And the queen. Which makes one wonder who was running the Enchanted Forest at this time?
      • Well, it is a magic forest... And the dragon's might have helped out some.
      • Probably Willin was running the part of the forest that still loyal to the missing monarchs, and everyone else did their own thing.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat and Squishy Wizard: Literally, if you've got soapy water with lemon juice handy.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Mendanbar is a DIY sort of king, Cimorene is the same.
      • In regards to Mendanbar, though, he insisted on doing everything himself, which was actually getting unhealthy for him, and it would have been a bad idea for him to keep going at the rate he was.
    • Kazul is also pretty active. She seemed quite eager to seek out and eat wizards in Calling on Dragons at any rate.
    • In Talking With Dragons, Shiara is constantly annoyed because Daystar gets distracted from their quest to help a princess and her knight. Daystar is also quite willing to do his part in the battle to stop the wizards.
  • Runaway Fiance: Cimorene's adventures start when she flees an arranged marriage.
  • Schmuck Bait: The gold dipper by the Water of Healing.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Telemain's Magi Babble-esque "explanations" tend to require a third-person translation.
  • She Is the King (Third type): In Dealing, Cimorene assumes that if Kazul wins the competition for King of the Dragons, she will be crowned Queen; but Kazul explains that no, King of the Dragons is a gender-neutral title, and Queen of the Dragons is a separate (also gender-neutral) job, with very little power, that nobody much wants. Also an inversion, since at the start of the story, the most recent Queen was a male dragon.
  • Shipper on Deck: Cimorene. "Next Queen of the Enchanted Forest" indeed! Plus she made sure the stone prince "rescued" Waraug's princess and sent her own fiance after a more suitable match for him. Also its never revealed just how much of a hand she had in the series Beta Couple hooking up... so yeah, she gets a lot of traction in this role.
    • As seen above in She Is Not My Girlfriend, a lot of people in Searching for Dragons think that Mendabar and Cimorene look good together.
  • Shout-Out: Naturally, to just about every fairy tale in the public consciousness, but also to some recent literature. The Fire-witch whose castle is full of petrified passersby is like the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the idea that witches and wizards melt in soapy water clearly comes from The Wizard of Oz, though in Morwen's case it is subverted.
  • Shrinking Violet: Princess Alianora.
  • Smug Snake: Zemenar. On so many levels.
  • Squishy Wizard: Or at least water soluble wizards. Ok, so it takes a little soap and citrus too, but that only makes them tough for a stain.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Cimorene is supposedly as tall as most men.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Again, Telemain. Presumably other magicians too.
  • Taken for Granite: Shiara, plus a bunch of other people who happened by the evil Fire-witch's castle (possible Shout-Out to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe); and the stone prince, although the prince was mobile.
  • Talking Animal: several.

 Cimorene: Are you an enchanted prince?

Talking Frog: No, but I've met a few, and picked up a few things.

    • In particular, Killer the rabbit and witches' cats, although only their witch can understand them.
      • And Suz the lizard
  • Too Dumb to Live: Killer.
    • Antorell could also count, given that by Talking, his attempts for revenge against Cimorene pretty much have consisted of him dramatically bursting into her house and screaming about how he'll get her, only for her to promptly melt him. Arona Vamist could also count, seeing as he makes it his business to endlessly pester witches (both fire and regular) and dragons about the "proper" way they should behave. Granted he had the power of an entire group of wizards protecting him from the fire witches, but there's really no excuse for him to argue with Kazul over whether or not dragons eat princesses, especially since he had just lost said wizarding protection.
  • True Love's Kiss: Pulled by Daystar to bring Shiara back from being a stone statue.
  • Un-Equal Rites:
    • Nobody likes wizards (dragons and other inherently magical beasts are even allergic to them).
    • Wizards don't like fire-witches due to some rather dangerous interactions thanks to the incompatibility of their magics, and they also do not like the unique magic wielded by the king of the Enchanted Forest.
    • Sorceresses ended up a little too popular for their own good.
    • Magician's are usually seen as confusing
    • Fire-witches as moody and unpredictable at best, but then you get to the worst of them...
    • Regular witches are careful to keep their scary reputation up (even though most of them seem to be nice enough) so they don't end up like the sorceresses.
  • Unicorns: ...are rather narcissistic.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Any wizard can be melted (temporarily) with the simple application of soapy water with a little lemon juice. Later a spell is devised to have the same effect by simply pointing a finger and reciting a magic word.


    • Cleaning solution, with lemon juice to make it smell nice. Is this nature's way of saying that wizards are dirty and smelly?
      • It's even implied that it doesn't work on Morwen because she's so tidy.
      • Morewen does say in Dealing With Dragons that wizarding spells are "sloppy".
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Antorell. "Father will be so pleased."
    • By Talking this has graduated into Avenging the Villain. He doesn't have any better luck with that, either.
  • Why Didn't You Just Say So?: Telemain's convoluted use of language prompts this a lot. On one occasion when Morwen replies to him in a similar style, he uses this phrase word-for-word.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Heck, they have a Traveling, Drinking, and Debating Society. And a men's auxiliary for the Evil Uncle contingent.
    • In Searching for Dragons, a princess in the Enchanted Forest tries to move Mendabar with her story of how her Wicked Stepmother banished her there. Mendabar is not sympathetic, as he instantly suspects that the princess and the stepmother talked the entire thing over as a way for the princess to get a good marriage.
  • Wicked Witch: Subverted, though Morwen Speaks Fluent Animal with her cats.
    • All witches are, although a 'hear-everyone-else's-cats' spell is still not feasible. Morwen observes that, considering the way her own cats talk about other people, that's probably for the best.
    • Witches in general try to pretend that they are this, because they're afraid that if people are no longer afraid of them, they'll be endlessly bothered for magic cures for everything.
  • Witch Species: Fire Witches.