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The Darksword series of books, written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (cover art by Larry Elmore), which tells the story of a young man, born without magic in a world where everyone is born with it, who has been prophesied to destroy the world in which he lives. The series consists of the initial three books (The Darksword Trilogy), a supplemental role-playing volume, and a single-volume sequel. The books are published by Bantam Spectra (The Science-Fiction division of Random House).
The Darksword Trilogy
- Forging the Darksword (January 1988)
- Doom of the Darksword (May 1988)
- Triumph of the Darksword (September 1988)
- Darksword Adventures (December 1988)
- Legacy of the Darksword (June 1998)
Characters of the Darksword Series
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The son of the Emperor and Empress of Merilon, and heir to the throne, Joram was born completely Dead (devoid of magical power) in a society where magic is considered life. He was taken to the Font (the religious center of Thimhallan) and left there to die. However, a distraught woman named Anja finds him there and takes him to replace her own stillborn child. She flees with Joram and raises him among the field magi in the village of Walren.
Anja teaches Joram sleight-of-hand tricks and non-magical illusions to conceal the fact that he has no magic of his own. Despite this, Joram's lack of magical ability is discovered and he flees to the Outland while Anja dies trying to protect him. In the wilds of the Outland, Joram joins the outlawed Technologists who are practicing the long-forbidden Mystery of Death, Technology.
There he plans to forge the Darksword, a blade capable of absorbing magic. However, his plans are delayed because forging such a sword requires a Catalyst (special magicians that have little personal magic but are necessary to enhance the magic powers of all the others). Luckily for him, Saryon appears and Joram coerces him into helping him forge the Darksword. Then, together with Simkin and Mosiah, they leave the village for Merilon so Joram can claim his heritage.
On the way to Merilon, they meet Garald's group. Garald teaches Joram to wield a sword and how to behave like a sovereign. At the gates of Merilon, they are kept by the guards, but saved by a young girl named Gwendolyn (with a little help from Simkin). Joram and Gwendolyn fall in love, despite the disapproval of Gwen's parents. The Duuk-Tsarith capture Joram and sentence him to the Turning: being turned into living rock to face eternal suffering. At the last moment, Saryon takes Joram's punishment for himself, allowing Joram to escape to the Afterlife (Earth). Joram gives Saryon the Darksword, causing it to turn to stone as well, and preventing it from falling into enemy hands.
Joram and Gwendolyn live in the Afterlife for ten years, and Gwendolyn goes mad. Joram meets Menju, a mage from Thimhallan. Then he hears Earth is planning to attack Thimhallan. He returns with his wife Gwen, retrieves the Darksword, uses it to revive Saryon and helps the mages acquire their first victory. Because of this victory, the people of Thimhallan see him as the true heir to the throne. However, Joram realizes that it would be impossible to win the war against Earth. He returns the Darksword to the altar of Necromancy (also largely due to influence from Gwendolyn's instructions) and releases the seal keeping Magic in Thimhallan, effectively releasing all magic from the world.
Major James Boris ceases the attack, makes peace with Thimhallan, and offers to bring them to Earth and help them adapt there.
Joram decides to stay in Thimhallan with his cured wife and daughter. Because he was harassed by Kevon Smythe, the leader of the Dark Sect (Mages who gain magic from Death, not life), he forged a new Darksword. After that, Saryon, and an apprentice of him named Reuven, visited him to warn him of a ruthless race of aliens called the Hch'Nyv. The font was attacked by the Dark Sect and Joram was captured. However, due to the actions of Scylla, a mage born under the mystery of Time, he was resurrected. Then Simkin changed into a copy of the Darksword and placed by Joram on Merlyn's tomb. Merlyn's spirit was awakened and transported mankind and the Magic to a new world, so men could make a new start.
With this, Joram fulfilled the prophecy: He was born Dead and lived, died by Smythe's poison and resurrected by Simkin, and held his hand into the destruction of the world (by the Hch'nyv) or its salvation (by awakening Merlin who saved mankind).
- Father Saryon
Saryon is a scholarly catalyst with a natural talent for mathematics. A transgression in his youth, as well as the traumatizing experience of performing the tests that proved the Empress's son to be Dead, led him to question the tenets of his faith more than others of his order. He is sent by Bishop Vanya to track down Joram in the Technologists' village so that Joram can be captured. However, Saryon ends up siding with Joram, and becomes something of a father figure to the younger man. It even went so far that when Joram had to undergo the Turning (being turned into stone while still living, thus experiencing eternal suffering), Saryon took his place allowing Joram to escape. After Joram releases the magic from Thimhallan, Saryon leaves for Earth with the other survivors.
Mosiah is a field magus who grew up with Joram in the village of Walren. He befriended Joram despite the others taciturn nature, and proves to be a trustworthy friend and ally of Joram's. Mosiah is naturally gifted at magic, though he was never formally trained in its use. He became one of the Duuk-tsarith on Earth under the charge of King Garald
Simkin is one of Joram's companions, a powerful magus who seemingly has no morals or regard for human life. He is well known in all the royal courts in Thimhallan and often regales his friends with scandalous tales and gossip about the nobility. As many characters in the novels remark, Simkin has a game of his own to play, though he chooses to not reveal his true motivations to anyone, preferring to put people in various alarming situations in order to see how they react.
Not much is known about Simkin's age, he could be 100 years old or as old as time itself. Simkin, however, can look anything from 14 to 75 years old. In Legacy of the Darksword, Simkin reveals that he truly is "Magic". When Kevon Smythe asks 'Who are you'? Simkin replies 'A pocket of residual magic'. Simkin also went on to say 'That's the problem isn't it? You don't know me. You and your kind never did. Oh, you tried to manipulate me. You tried to use me. But it never truly worked, because you never really believed in me.'.
Andon is the original leader of the Technologist village. He is a kind hearted man who does not want to use any violence. However, before the beginning he was overthrown by Blachloch. After Blachloch's death, Andon's fate remains unknown.
- Prince Garald
Garald is the prince of Sharakan, a rival kingdom that plans to engage in war with Merilon with the aid of the Technologists. Garald is noble, if ambitious, and sees the hidden potential in Joram. He teaches Joram how to wield a sword effectively, and also gives him pointers on nobility and courtly behavior. He becomes king of the people of Thimhallan on earth after Joram releases the magic from Thimhallan and thus making it an inhospitable place.
- Cardinal Radisovik
Radisovik is the Cardinal of Sharakan, who sees the current bishop Vanya as a corrupt man. Therefore he breaks up with the church to help his prince Garald with the war. Radisovik is a wise and patient man who is always there for Garald. He is also respected greatly by Garald, as the prince seems to listen to his wise words. He became the new Bishop for the survivors on Earth.
By the time she meets Joram she is the 16 year old daughter of Lord and Lady Samuels. Lord Samuels is a Guildmaster, thus moderately rich, which means Gwen has led a carefree life. Because she hits puberty, her favorite hobby is going into town with her cousins and flirting with young men. When she saw Joram, she fell hopelessly in love with him and vice versa. But her father and mother intended for her to marry to a rich man, wanting to become rich themselves in the process. Thus, her parents wanted to know Joram's heritage before giving permission to their marriage. When Joram was sentenced to the Turning and escaped to the Beyond, Gwen's love for him was so great, she followed him blindly. And when Joram returned from the beyond Gwendolyn followed. Though she gained the ability to talk to the dead, she was unwilling to talk to the living at all. She was cured after Joram releases the seal keeping Magic in Thimhallan.
- Bishop Vanya
As the Bishop of the realm, he is one of the only people apart from the Duuk-tsarith who is aware of the Prophecy. He fears that Joram will bring the Prophecy to fruition, and does all that he can to ensure that Joram is captured—though whether this is out of concern for the good of the realm, or in order to protect his own political power, is debatable.
Blachloch is a Duuk-tsarith spy in the Technologist Village. He overthrew the real leader Andon by claiming he left the order of the Duuk-tsarith and rallying the technologists into fighting Merilon, thus making himself more popular than the pacifist Andon. He even went as far as making an alliance with Sharakan. His true plan was to start a war between Sharakan and Merilon, helping Merilon behind the scenes. Before he could make his plan reality, he was killed by Joram and Saryon who had just finished the Darksword. After that, it was revealed he was working for Vanya instead of being a renegade.
- Prince/Emperor Xavier
Xavier is Joram's uncle and second in line to the throne of Merilon. (Joram being the first.) He is a D'karn-Duuk (a warmaster). The right to rule in Thimhallan is determined by the family of the queen, thus if the queen dies, her closest family member takes over the throne, in this case Xavier. His only problem was that because the Emperor kept his wife 'alive' by using illusions, Xavier could not do anything but wait until the people realized the truth. But when the truth arose, and Joram was sentenced to the Turning, Xavier quickly took the chance and crowned himself emperor. Garald challenged him to war, which he gladly took. However, when both armies clashed, a third army came, which consisted of Dead people using Iron Creatures and people with Iron skin (which were in fact tanks and infantry of future earth). Because he could not defeat this threat, he became mentally unstable and was later killed by a shot from one of the tanks.
- Kevon Smythe
Kevon Smythe is the leader of the Technomancers in Legacy of the Darksword. Smythe is trying to get a hold of the second darksword forged by Joram in order to trade it to an alien race known as the Hch'nyv. The Hch'nyv are an extremely violent alien race bent upon the destruction of all human life. The diviners of the Hch'nyv have prophesied that the dark sword could be their great undoing. Smythe agrees to deliver them the darksword and allow them to take over Earth if the Hch'nyv will allow him and his people to take over Thimhallan. The Hch'nyv agree to this but they have no intention of keeping their bargain.
The Prophecy is an integral part of the Darksword trilogy. In the chaotic times after the Iron Wars (in which the Technologists attempted to take over the world), the Bishop of the Realm decided to attempt a vision of the future, in order to calm the fears of the populace. In the month leading up to the attempt, he secluded himself in a small room and fasted, in order to purify himself.
The spell succeeded, but the strain was too much for the Bishop's weakened body. He died before the Prophecy was given in full, and the theurgist assisting him was rendered catatonic. Since the theurgist was the last of his profession in the world, no further attempts to see the future could be undertaken.
The Prophecy begins "There will be born 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--"
It is revealed in Triumph of the Darksword that the broken-off sentence would have ended with "or its salvation". It is also revealed that The Prophecy was only supposed to be a warning.
Properties of Darkstone
Darkstone is an ore that is similar in properties to iron but has the ability to absorb Life (magic). Near the end of Forging the Darksword, Joram deduced that, in a world that exudes magic, there must exist a force capable of absorbing it, going by the principle that 'for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction'.
In Doom of the Darksword, Saryon asked Joram to create a setting for a piece of darkstone so that Saryon could wear it as an amulet. Saryon hoped that the darkstone amulet would absorb magic and prevent Bishop Vanya from contacting him through magical means. Saryon's theory proved to be correct.
The Darksword was forged by creating an alloy of iron and darkstone. The proportions had to be exact, or else the metal would be too brittle for use as a weapon.
Weapons forged from darkstone need to be infused with Life from a catalyst and can only be effectively wielded by the Dead, who have no magic to be absorbed, as Prince Garald discovered when he and Joram traded weapons while sparring.
The Nine Mysteries
After the testing, a magus who is powerful in the mystery of fire is taken to a place known only as the Mountain to begin training as one of the Duuk-tsarith (warlocks and witches). Those who show greater potential are kept for three additional years of training to become a 'DKarn-duuk (warmaster).
Those born to the mystery of water are called druids. There are three types of druid:
- Field druids, Fihanish, who help the field magi clear the land for farming.
- Druids of minor healing, Mannanish, who deal with cuts and scrapes.
- Druids of major healing, Theldara, who deal with broken bones.
Those born to the mystery of earth are born either:
- Mon-alban, the alchemists, who change metals into more useful metals.
- Quin-alban, the conjurers, who use Life as the only material in their work.
- Pron-alban, the shapers, who can alter materials and produce chairs from a single piece of wood or a fort from a mountain.
- Albanara, the noble magi born to rule, who possess skills in all parts of the earth mystery.
Any magus born to this mystery is either a Kan-hanar, a gate keeper, or a Sif-hanar, a weather changer. It is the Sif-hanar that keep the city of Merilon in perpetual spring; when most of the Sif-hanar were killed in the battle on the Field of Glory, Merilon passed from spring to winter, much to the horror of the city's inhabitants.
This mystery's practitioners are called illusionists. Illusionists are the artists of Thimhallan. They use Life to create plays, music, and images of dragons and other creatures.
The rare magi born to this mystery are known as catalysts or thaumaturgists. A catalyst does not possess magic in great measure himself; however, he possesses the unique ability to channel Life. As the name implies, a catalyst takes magical energy from his surroundings and, by assimilating it within his own body, is able to enhance it and transfer it to magi who can wield it. Catalysts are recruited into the clergy of Thimhallan.
This mystery allows magi to communicate with the dead, but its practitioners were allegedly wiped out during the Iron Wars, and have been suppressed by the Church ever since. Devotees of this mystery are called necromancers. Also born to this mystery are enchanters, who change the desires of people, and theurgists, who can communicate directly with the Almin (God).
This mystery deals with the future and the past. The magi of Time, known as Diviners, also created the Corridors, holes in time and space that take a person from one place to another. The Corridors became the main form of transportation for all magi. When the Diviners were wiped out during the Iron Wars, the Corridors were maintained by the Kan-hanar 's Life while the church took control of the use of the Corridors. It is stated in Darksword Adventures that for a person to be a Diviner, one parent must also be a Diviner.
This mystery is believed to have been banished from the world. This mystery gives Life to that which is Dead, an unforgivable sin. The magi of Death are known as Sorcerers, and they make and use magical devices (wands, scrolls, potions, and similar items).