Monthly Obscure Trope Series — A Taste of Power

One of my favorite things about TvTropes is that there really does seem to be a trope for everything. I’ve caught up on the Cradle series by Will Wight. It’s been a wild ride. 

It inspired this month’s trope dive: Taste of Power. It’s a trope you’ve seen countless times before and probably didn’t know it had a name. 

This trope pops up occasionally in science fiction and fantasy where the main character starts out weak and part of the draw of the story is them growing stronger. Think about The Matrix—Neo starts out as a normal dude, but early on we get a taste of the fantastic feats that Morpheus and Trinity are capable of. By extension, we (the audience) get to see what Neo will be capable of. It gives us something to look forward to, something to get excited about. 

It hooks us. 

In case you haven’t heard of it, Cradle is a xianxia, progression fantasy series. Basically, the story takes place in a magical, martial arts world, heavily inspired by Eastern aesthetics. If you’re a fan of anime,  martial arts, or Eastern fantasy, you should check it out. 

A central tenet of this type of story is watching the Main Character grow in power, usually past the point of normal human abilities to something superhuman or reality warping.

But I’m not here to sell you on the series. I want to talk about one part specifically. It comes around the midpoint of Book 1 and it is an amazing moment and a slight spoiler. So if you’re interested AT ALL in reading the series, don’t read any further. Click away. Go somewhere else.


I mean, Unsouled is 8 years old at this point, so I feel bad, but not that bad. 

Early on, we see the MC, Lindon, throughout his early life. He basically has no powers, and is looked down on by his family and basically shunned by his society. He gets a chance to prove himself in a competition amongst the clans in Sacred Value (his home). 

This gets completely interrupted by a Big Bad Evil Guy, someone so far beyond the power of even Sacred Valley elders that everyone is helpless to stop him. In moments, the BBEG slaughters several warriors, including one of the elders, and it seems like he’s won and all hope is lost. Even Lindon is cut down, laying on the ground—dying—while this guy monologues that he’s won. 

Then a woman descends from the sky. We learn later that her name is Suriel, and she’s basically described as an angel—for our purposes that’s a close enough description. In moments, she pronounces this BBEG’s sentence for violating the universal law, grabs him like an unruly child and tosses him into a different dimension. This guy, who just took over Lindon’s home, is tossed away like garbage. Then Suriel proceeds to bring everyone back to life, reversing time itself and erasing the memories of every witness so that they don’t remember what just happened. 

These god-like powers are so far beyond Lindon’s understanding that it’s nonsensical. And it’s the perfect hook.

I won’t go into the rest of the scene. This is enough to demonstrate the trope. Suffice to say that there are other revelations in Unsouled. 

So, if you’re writing something similar—a story where your MC grows in power—you’d do well to show a Taste of Power. Show what the MC will eventually be able to do. It’s one of the best hooks—period. It gives us a tease of what will eventually happen, and also shows us just how vast the story world can be.

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