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There will be born one to the Royal House one who is dead yet will live, who will die again and live again. And when he returns, he will hold in his hand the destruction of the world... ...Or its salvation.
A trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman consisting of Forging the Darksword, Doom of the Darksword, Triumph of the Darksword, and Legacy of the Darksword. Also has an associated Tabletop RPG, Darksword Adventures, and a (now hard to find) companion book, called The Darksword Companion.
In the magical land of Thimhallan, Magic is considered to be the same as Life. Those born with no magic are considered Dead. As an ancient prophecy tells of the destruction of the world by one who is Dead, those born without magic are routinely killed. However, royal-born protaganist Joram manages to escape this fate. Joining with a group of unlikely allies such as the elderly scholar Saryon and the erratic trickster Simkin, he plans to forge the magic-consuming Darksword and retake his royal position, unaware that doing so may bring the prophecy to fruition.
- Angel Unaware: Scylla
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Simkin is a personification of Magic.
- Anti-Magic: The Darksword
- Artifact of Doom: The Darksword
- Baleful Polymorph: Powerful sorcerers can do this.
- Black Magic: Techno-magic, which draws power from death.
- The Atoner: Saryon, eventually.
- Back From the Dead: Simkin comes back from the dead because "it was boring." Later on, Joram.
- Belated Happy Ending
- Black Widow: The Duchess D'Longeville, subject of number of Simkin's anecdotes.
Simkin: Never take tea with the Duchess D'Longeville. Or, if you do, make certain she doesn't serve you from the same pot she serves her husband.
- Break the Cutie: Gwendolyn. Occurs between book 2 and book 3.
- Chekhov's Gun: Very subverted: What ends up saving the world is not the Darksword. It gets lost partway through the fourth book and is never seen again.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Simkin
- Cloudcuckoolander: Simkin is a self-described "fixed point of insanity in any sane situation".
- Crossover: In the 3rd Dragonlance book, Tasslehoff finds a map with 'Merilon' listed as a major city.
- Deadly Euphemism: Those born Dead (ie without magic) are "Allowed to slip out of the world" - it is implied that this means starving them to death.
- Distinguishing Mark: The scars Joram aquired as a baby.
- Either/Or Prophecy: The complete version of the Darksword prophecy, which the prophet died in the middle of delivering. The government then began the infanticide of low-magic newborns. Poor Communication Kills... babies.
- Enemy Mine: In the fourth book, the only reason Earth's army hasn't lost the war yet is that they've allied with evil mages who need to save the world so that they can conquer it.
- Fainting Seer: The seer who made the Darksword prophecy died in the middle of speaking it.
- The Fool: Simkin is strongly associated with this archetype, being symbolized by the "Fool" tarok card while Joram is represented by the "King of Swords".
- Ironic Echo: Simkin is mistaken for a pocket of residual magic by technomancers. Later when he is asked who he is he replies that he is a pocket of residual magic, then goes on to explain that if you don't believe in him it doesn't matter what he is.
- I See Dead People: Gwendolyn gains the ability to speak to the dead... but loses the ability to speak to the living.
- Large Ham: Simkin
- Life Energy: In Thimhallan, Magic is considered to be synonymous with Life. They're wrong.
- MacGuffin: The Darksword
- The Magic Goes Away: In the third book; the fourth deals with some of the repercussions.
- The Magocracy: To the point where anyone without magic is exiled or outright killed.
- Man-Eating Plant: The Kij vine.
- Meaningful Name: The city Merilon, which is eventually revealed to be so named because it contains Merlin's tomb.
- Medieval Stasis: The failure of Thimhallan to advance at all due to the prevalence of magic is an important theme. The third novel repeatedly uses the metaphor of mice sealing themselves in an attic with unlimited food and water where cats can't reach them, then dying of suffocation.
- Messianic Archetype: Joram, in the final book.
- The Millstone: Simkin ruins many a plan with his flamboyant carelessness.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Joram
- No Sex Allowed: Sex is forbidden; all procreation in Thimhallan is carried out through magic.
- Noodle Incident / Noodle Implements: The majority of things Simkin says. In a private conversation with the Emperor bystanders overhear the phrases "Contessa", "chafing dish", and "Unfortunately discovered naked".
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now: During the final battle, Simkin is present and in shapeshifted disguise as an inanimate object. Being a Large Ham, he waits for the Big Bad to declare victory before revealing himself.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: The Empress of Merilon. Due to the politcal situation, everyone's spent a year pretending that she's still alive.
- Offing the Offspring: Joram's parents, because of the prophecy.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: These centaurs are cruel, barbaric savages who torture any humans they come across.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: These giants are roughly double the size of a man and as are usually friendly, peaceable and kind of dull.
- Prophetic Fallacy: Turns out the missing last line completely changes the meaning.
- Punch a Wall: Or rather a tree. Or rather Simkin disguised as a tree. Oops.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The various revolutionary groups that appear through the series are all Black Magic users who are just as bad (or possibly even worse) than the ones they're rebelling against.
- Science vs. Magic: All technology is forbidden in Thimhallan, even the use of simple tools like levers.
- Secret Police: The Duuk-tsarith
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Everything done to avert the Darksword prophecy ends up being responsible for bringing it to pass.
- Taken for Granite: A ritual method of execution, eventually used on Saryon.
- Tarot Troubles: Simkin can predict the future with tarok cards. His reading of Joram has him drawing the Death card twice, reflecting the prophecy: One who is dead yet will live, who will die again and live again...
- Trickster Archetype: Simkin
- Trilogy Creep: The "trilogy" has four books.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Can be done by anyone with enough magic, but Simkin's best at it.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: Joram remains accepting of Simkin no matter what he does, even when the others want to Just Eat Gilligan.
- Year Outside, Hour Inside: Due to the effects of the magic Border, ten years outside Thimhallan is only one year inside.