Matthew Swift

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For Matthew Swift, today is not like any other day.


We be light, we be life, we be fire
We sing electric flame, we rumble underground wind
we dance heaven!
Come be we and be free!

We be blue electric angels.
Anonymous spam mail, source unknown

The Matthew Swift saga is a series of Urban Fantasy novels written by Kate Griffin (a pen name for Catherine Webb).

They begin with urban sorcerer Matthew Swift waking up mysteriously in a house he used to own, two years after his violent death, with different-colored eyes and an internal narrative that thinks of himself as "we" about half the time.

The novels include:

  • A Madness of Angels, or, The Resurrection of Matthew Swift (2009)
  • The Midnight Mayor, or, The Inauguration of Matthew Swift (2010)
  • The Neon Court, or, The Betrayal of Matthew Swift (2011)
  • The Minority Council (2012)

Needs More Love.


Tropes featured include:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A God I Am Not: Matthew, post resurrection.
  • Action Girl: Oda, Penny, Vera, Dees.
  • Affably Evil: Robert Bakker.
  • Animorphism: Charlie.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Anthropomorphic Personification:
    • The Death of Cities from The Midnight Mayor is a relatively straightforward example.
    • Matthew himself is a slightly more complex example; as of the end of the second book he arguably personifies both the city of London and telephony.
    • Also The Bag Lady, The Beggar King and Fat Rat who all embody various aspects of urban life.
    • Lady Neon is implied to have some characteristics of this as well, specifically unattainable, unrealistic glamour.
  • Arc Words: "Give me back my hat!" in The Midnight Mayor
    • For the whole series, "Come be we and be free" and "Make me a shadow on the wall".
  • Art Attacker: The White Clan.
  • Art Initiates Life: During the battle against Lee, the paintings on the walls came to life and fight.
  • Awesome McCoolname: The bikers tend to change their names: Dave to Blackjack; Laslie to Halfburn. Also, Jeremy the Troll wants to be called the Mighty Raaaarrggh!.
  • Back From the Dead: Matthew Swift, who quickly tires of explaining why he isn't dead and eventually just answers "I got better."
  • Backstory: How Matthew met Bakker, how Matthew met Dana, how Oda became part of the Order, how Blackout was defeated...
  • Badass Adorable: Matthew: channeling beings of pure energy, and forging alliances eating pancakes and ice-cream.
  • Badass Biker: The Bikers.
  • Badass Boast: The Midnight Mayor has a couple of these:

"I was the apprentice of Robert James Bakker. I'm sure you've heard of him. I am a sorcerer. I was there when Bakker died. We... made it happen. I too have met death, and did not have to peel the bones away from my chest to survive the encounter. I am also, and incidentally, the Midnight Mayor, the blue electric angels, the fire in the wire, the song in the telephones, and we are having a bad week. Be smart; fear us."
...
"We are the blue electric angels! We were born from the leftover breaths of humanity, by the fears and the thoughts and the ideas and the truths and the lies you poured into the telephone lines. We were created by you bigger and brighter and more alive than any mortal could aspire to be! Do not think to tell us what we can or cannot do! Where is her hat?!"

    • In The Neon Court too:

"We are the Midnight Mayor, protector of this city, carrier of its secrets and bearer of its shadows. The shadows watch us as we pass, the pigeons turn away at our passage, the rats scurry beneath our feet and shudder at the sound of our footsteps on the stones. We are the blue electric angels, the telephones sing at the passage of our voice, our blood is blue fire, our soul carries a pair of angel wings. We are the killer of Robert Bakker, sorcerer, master of the Tower; we destroyed the death of cities; we came back from the dead, Swift and the angels, two minds became one, two souls in one flash, in one form, in one voice. We are me and I am we. And we're frustrated."

    • And The Minority Council:

"My name is Matthew Swift. I"m a sorcerer, the only one in the city who survived Robert Bakker's purge. I was killed by my teacher's shadow and my body dissolved into telephone static and all they had left to bury was a bit to blood. Then we came back, and I am we and we are me, and we are the blue electric angels, creatures of the phones and the wires, the gods made from surplus life you miserable excuse for mortals pour into all things electric. I am the Midnight Mayor,the protector of the city, the guardian of the night, the keeper of the gates, the watcher on the walls. We turned back the death of cities, we were there when Lady Neon died, we drove the creature called Blackout into the shadows at the end of the alleys, we are light, we are life, we are fire and, would you believe it, the word that best describes our condition right now is cranky. Would you like to see what happens when you make us mad?"

Chaigneau: You... blue eletric angels... you are children with the power to kill, destroy and burn. You know nothing about life, its rules, norms, laws and understanding, and probably care less. Why should you not set the field of fire for the prettiness of its burning; why should you not kill wherever you go, simply because you can; why should you understand anything that the rest of humanity can?
Matthew: Because I'm here.

Vera: God, if there wasn't a fucking sorcerer still in that skin, they'd have ripped the city apart just for kicks.

Vera: It's generally accepted that if there was an election, I'd win. So I figured - why bother?

  • Post-Modern Magik: Used extensively. For instance, the greatest talisman an urban sorcerer can carry is a subway farecard.
  • The Power of Friendship: The Blackout hosts weren't able to kill their only friends.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Quite a few of the more clandestine services offered by the Tower are like this, including San Khay's offered "experience of a dying addict's final high."
  • Power Source: Cities, for urban magicians: take one of them to the country and his powers will be severely weakened, or nullified.
  • Power Tattoo: San Khay's magical tattoos, which afford him considerable stamina.
  • Present Day
  • Prophetic Fallacy: In The Neon Court the prophecy turns out to be entirely fabricated as part of an elaborate The Plan to create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The angels give an epic one to Bakker, mixed with Calling the Old Man Out from Matthew's side.
    • Mathew also gives a pretty spectacular one to Oda at the end of "Midnight Mayer about why he won't kill Penny.
  • La Résistance: The concerned citizens in A Madness of Angels.
  • The Reveal: Dana Mikeda brought Matthew back to life.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Vera.
  • Seers: There are a few.
  • Sharing a Body: Matthew and the blue electric angels.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: By the third book, some characters believe that Matthew is suffering from PTSD.
  • Straight Edge Evil: San Khay, who lives a fiercely regimented lifestyle, exercises hard, always eats healthily, and never partakes in smoking or drugs. However, his well-planned routine does permit him a one-night-stand every week...
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Matthew after his resurrection.
  • Someone Has to Do It: The Midnight Mayor
  • Switching POV: A slightly odd example. Everything seemingly takes place from Matthew's perspective; however, the narrative switches back and forth between "I" and "we" to signal the distinction between the thoughts of Matthew and the blue electric angels who are possessing him. (Though they rarely if ever seem to disagree on anything.)
  • Tranquil Fury
  • Un-Equal Rites: Though wizards (who control magic through rules) and sorcerers (who draw on raw magical power) get along reasonably well, they both have very little respect for warlocks, who earn magical powers by bargaining with the various spirits in the area.
  • Unexpected Successor: Matthew wasn't even in line to became the next Midnight Mayor.
  • Urban Fantasy
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In A Madness of Angels Matthew gets a few of this about the casualties his revenge is going to cause.
  • Who Dunnit to Me?: The plot of the first book has aspects of this, though Matthew figures out the "who" pretty quickly and moves on to "how", "why", and "what can I do to get revenge".
  • Willing Channeler: Both Matthew and the angels are perfectly content to share a body, though the original combination was largely accidental.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Matthew suffers minor injuries by Hunger, and the wounds keep bleeding until he goes to the magical hospital.
  • X Marks the Hero: The Midnight Mayor always has two cross carved in the palm of his hand.
  • X Meets Y: In universe Matthew is described with these words: "The Swift-angel creature, while appearing almost entirely human, is at its core a combination of a traumatised dead sorcerer and infantile fire."