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Diadem is a series of fantasy novels by John Peel.
The series takes place on several different worlds, collectively referred to as the Diadem. Travel between worlds is accomplished through the use of magic portals. The physical distance between worlds is irrelevant. Portal travel is based on the mystical geography of the Diadem, which is divided into five layers. The layers are a little like the layers of an onion and a drawing of them is the logo of the Diadem series and is on every book. At the center is a single world called Jewel, followed by the Inner Circuit, Middle Circuit, Outer Circuit, and Outer Rim. Magic is strongest on Jewel, and progressively weaker the "farther" a world is from the center. In the Outer Rim, magic barely functions at all.
The main characters are three adolescents from worlds on the Outer Rim. Each has extraordinary talent for magic. Due to the weakness of the magic on their home worlds, they do not learn about their abilities (or their mysterious destiny) until the events of the first book.
- Matthew Caruso a.k.a. Score, from Manhattan, New York, Earth.
The son of Bad Tony Caruso, Score spent most of his life in fear of his father and the Bowery gangs. His mother died when he was young, supposedly a victim of his father. She was a strega,a wise woman, and may have originally come from Ordin, Helaine's world. At the end of the tenth book, it is revealed that Shanara is Score's mother. When his father was arrested and jailed, he was put into state custody, but escaped. Score was brought to Treen by S'Hee, an Orca Bestial. Score, after travelling to Dondar, bonded with his unicorn friend, Thunder, who is both the herd leader and father of Flame and husband to Nova. His main magic ability is to change objects from one thing into another. But he also has the abilities of sight, water, and the control over an object's size.
This easy-to-be-around joker is the best at magical fighting and the second best planner (Pixel is the best). He constantly fights with Helaine but later in the series he shows romantic interest in her despite his resistance to keep his feelings in check.
- Helaine Votrin a.k.a. Renald, from Castle Votrin on Ordin
Helaine is a female warrior from a medieval world. On her planet, she was a noble, but still considered "just a girl" and therefore wasn't allowed to live her life as she planned. So she disguised herself as a boy with the alias "Renald." In this guise, she was able to wander the castle and learned to sword-fight like the other castle boys, eventually becoming the best among them. As we first see her, her father has planned to marry her off to Dathan Peveral, the imbecile son of a needed ally. After her guise as Renald was ruined by Oracle, she planned to run away. As she was leaving, the Shadows inhabited a group of soldiers sent by the border lords to kidnap her and hold her for ransom but she was rescued and brought to Treen by Rahn, a leopard Bestial. After reaching Dondar, she bonded with Flame, her unicorn friend, and the two are very close. Flame is the daughter of Thunder and Nova, and she seems to be the only person Helaine will open up to. Helaine's main magic ability is the power to foresee trouble. Her powers with the gemstones are levitation, communication, earth, and shape-shifting.
At first, Helaine's annoyance was shown at the fact that both Pixel and Score possessed no non-magical abilities. Later she becomes less uptight and ends up friends with the two boys. As the series progresses she shows that she may have romantic feelings for Score(Matt). At times she can be very bossy, arrogant, and uppity. She has been trying to control those urges as she is terrified of becoming Eremin, one of the Three Who Rule and one of the ways she could grow up to be.
- Shalar Domain a.k.a. Pixel, from Calomir.
Pixel comes from a world that is so technologically advanced, most of the population spends every moment in a virtual reality environment. People live in computer controlled houses and are served by robots. When we first come upon Pixel, we see that he has become disillusioned with the virtual world and wants to escape. He leaves his house, walking the streets. He sees that there is nothing different, every house and street is exactly the same. Oracle meets up with him, then shows him a slave labour camp and tells him that these people make the things that he requests. Oracle leaves him, and a pack of wild dogs inhabited by the Shadows attack him. He is saved by Hakar, a Bestial golden eagle, who takes him to Treen. Pixel's bonded unicorn is Nova, Flame's mother and Thunder's wife. Pixel has the innate ability to solve problems and figure things out. Through jewels, he also has the abilities to control fire and air, finding, and calling.
Pixel has a keen mind and due to his powers, he is an excellent problem solver and planner. He has problems associated with being a hopeless romantic. He has had crushes on Helaine, Destiny, and Jenna.
The Three Who Rule
These are the three powerful magicians who ruled the Diadem before Sarman. Though they ruled jointly, they could not stand each other. They were tyrannical despots who only remained together so they could keep their power. When they discovered Sarman's plot, they left their magical abilities on Jewel and travelled to worlds on the Rim. Traxis's spirit embedded itself in Score's mother, Eremin's spirit entered Helaine's mother, and Nantor's spirit flowed in Pixel's mother. Thus, the Three who Rule were reborn as Score (Traxis), Helaine (Eremin), and Pixel (Nantor). The evil of those Three is a part of the trio, who are terrified of becoming them so fight the evil inside themselves. Book 11 reveals each of the 3 as they are beginning their political ascension, byut by that point, they are already selfish, cruel adults. It is unknown what choices each of the Three made to become the despots they are - though Traxis' final turning point was revealed in book 10.
- Traxis – A male member of the Triad. Traxis was originally semi-willing to join Eremin and Nantor. To punish Traxis for his not being willing to give all of himself to them, they ordered him to torture the Queen of Ordin, who'd stood up to them. Cathane (who later took the name Shanara) later recalled how Traxis enjoyed her drawn-out agony. This is revealed in the twelfth book. When compared to Nantor, he's arguably the cruellest of the Three. His specialty seems to be torture rather than outright murder (as is Nantor's forte), which some would say makes him more sadistic than his allies. In addition to being Score's/Matt's literary shadow, book 11 reveals that he is Matt's uncle - his father's, King Caligan of Ordin's, brother. (Sarman is the king's cousin).
- Eremin – The only female member of the Triad and the spirit reincarnated into Helaine. She's the most arrogant of the Three. She initially comes from Treen, as revealed in book XII.
- Nantor – A male member of the Triad, and the essence of Pixel. In book No. 10, the Book of Doom, Nantor escapes and takes over Pixel's body, but his spirit is embedded in a microchip. He was born on Calomir 500 years before Pixel, but moved to Treen. He's arguably the cruelest of the triumvirate, alongside Traxis - in book ten, he considered a group of the Overmind's slaves and said he can kill them all without trouble. He prepared a deadly curse, but Pixel stopped him by reasoning that corpses will leave a trail.
Destiny was a servant of the Triad who betrayed them to Sarman. She had hoped they would rule the Diadem together as king and queen. But Sarman betrayed her as well, showing her treachery to the Triad. As a punishment, they used her as a test subject for the reincarnation process, sending her to Earth crippled. She used what little power she had to take over Toshiro, an electronics businessman, and used his influence to attempt to get back to where she could be powerful again. She put a curse on Score to steal his powers, weaken him, and draw him to Earth. She pretended to help the three so that she could be free of her "prison," the wheelchair and the weak magic of Earth. When they discovered her secret, she kidnapped Pixel and took him to Zarathan, notorious world of nightmares. She died in a fall when Score, Helaine, and Pixel forced Zarathan, which was actually a giant egg, to hatch. But the wizard Jagomath finds one of the pieces of the shattered Zarathan; it augments his powers. She manipulates him into believing his schemes in the eighth & twelfth books, until he realises her selfish motives with Score's help.
- Oracle a.k.a. LeCora, Cleora, and Relcoa.
Oracle is not actually a person, he is a hologram created by Eremin's spell. He was first cast by the Triad to help Score, Helaine, and Pixel to get to Treen and then to give them clues. Due to the corruption of the magic, he was forced to speak only in rhymes and to not give the whole truth. After Sarman and the Triad were defeated, Score, Helaine, and Pixel recast him and his speech returns to normal because the analogue is fixed. Jagomath causes him to regain corporeal form in book twelve.
A very powerful magician who killed the Triad and took over Jewel. Once he ruled the Diadem, though, he found he could not leave Jewel without giving up his power. So he set about his plans. He created a great machine called the Analog to represent the Diadem, with jewels for each world set in a large orb. Bound within the world-jewels were the souls of magic users from these worlds. Score, Helaine, and Pixel were the last three, and when he tried to take them, they reversed the spell, binding Sarman to the Jewel. Book Twelve reveals he was the cousin of Caligan, Score's dad, and plotted with Traxis o get the Book of Harmony.
Jenna is a young healer from Ordin, Helaine's home planet. She has a strong rivalry with Helaine and is a magic-user. In the 8th book, Book of Oceans, she joins Pixel, Score and Helaine to help them with their quest. She is also Pixel's girlfriend, causing much romantic tension between Helaine and Score.
Shanara is a powerful enchantress, and a very good friend of Score, Helaine and Pixel. Although she is not as powerful as them, she does help them out often. In the end of the tenth book, we discover that she is Score's mother. Once known as Cathane of Ordin, she was torured by her brother-in-law, Traxis, but Score, Helaine, Pixel, and Jenna bring her to Earth. Jagomath makes it so she's 500 years after her own time (Cathane lived in Shakespeare's day). She was pregnant with Score, and within months the Triad was defeated & Traxis' essence flowed into the fetus.
Blink, a red panda described by Shanara as fat and lazy, that enhances Shanara's powers as her familiar. Blink can be compared to Helaine, Score, and Pixel's gems, except he is alive. Apparently, Shanara can replace him anytime. In Book of War, Blink worries that Shanara will get a new familiar.
Very powerful wizard with chronokinesis. Caused events of books 8 & 12. Became Score's apprentice in book 12.
- Bestials: A race of humanoid animals native to Treen. They possess the ability to change from humanoid form into full animals at will.
- Centaurs: Native to the forests and plains of Rawn. They live in nomadic tribes ruled by a dominant male. Centaurs are expert archers and enjoy hunting. Shanara often takes the form of a female centaur to spend time with a group of the creatures she has befriended.
- Goblins: Also natives of Rawn, these little humanoids live in underground communities in the mountains. They are excellent gem miners and can find any gemstone simply by hearing the name. In a fight, goblins attack en masse, using sheer weight of numbers to drive off enemies because they are terrible fighters.
- Trolls: Yet another race of nonhuman beings native to Rawn, trolls are tall, heavily muscled humanoids who live in tribes in the caves of the lower foothills. Despite their size, trolls are normally peaceful creatures who prefer to spend their days lazing about in their villages, using the cover of night to hunt. Trolls have a deep sense of community and family, and attacking one tribe member's home will arouse the ire of the entire tribe.
- Fair Folk: Elven beings spoken of in the legends of Helaine's homeworld.
- Unicorns: Horselike beings native to Dondar. Score and the group befriended a herd of Unicorns led by a black stallion named Thunder. Unicorns can communicate telepathically and their horns possess the power to negate magic.
- Shadows: These creatures were controlled by Sarman, and when Score, Helaine, and Pixel defeat him, they disappear as well.
- Griffins: half beast half eagle
- Sphinxes: Nova's mother was killed by a sphinx and ever since she has been terrified of them.
Magic-users can amplify their abilities with gemstones. Different gems enhance different types of magic.
- Agate – Communication
- Amethyst – Size
- Aquamarine – Survival
- Beryl – Air
- Carnelian – Healing
- Chrysolite – Water
- Chrysoprase – Earth
- Citrine – Persuasion
- Emerald – Transmutation
- Jacinth – Summoning
- Jasper – Sight
- Obsidian – Invisibility
- Opal/Onyx – Shapeshifting
- Ruby – Finding
- Sapphire – Levitation
- Topaz – Fire
- Book of Names
- Book of Signs
- Book of Magic
- Book of Thunder
- Book of Earth
- Book of Nightmares
- Book of War
- Book of Oceans
- Book of Reality
- Book of Doom
- Book of Time
- Book of Games