Rivers of London

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Name: Rivers of London
Creator: Ben Aaronovitch
Date(s): 2011-
Medium: books
Country of Origin: UK
External Links: TV Tropes
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Rivers of London is a British book series begun in 2011. The books are part urban fantasy and part detective drama.



Set in London, Peter Grant is a rookie cop only weeks away from permanent assignment to the paper pushers’ division of the MET when he’s left guarding a homicide scene overnight and is approached by a ghost who claims he saw the whole murder. Peter considers that having a conversation with a ghost probably means he’s gone mad, but that’s no excuse to stop acting like the policeman he is, so he listens and takes note of what the ghost has to say. When some of this information later proves to be true, Peter returns to the scene another night to try to question this ghost again. While searching for this ghost, a mysterious man wearing an expensive suit and carrying a silver-topped cane approaches him and asks what he’s doing. Peter answers truthfully – that he’s looking for a ghost. Only then does he learn the man is a DCI (Thomas Nightingale) but rather than reporting Peter for apparent insanity, he requests Peter’s transfer to his own division immediately – a division (previously numbering only 1 - DCI Nightingale himself) that specializes in magical crimes.

Magical System

The system of magic in these stories is, in some ways, typical of Urban Fantasy -- heavily tied to a place and the lives that have happened there through history -- and in other ways, very imaginative and original, particularly the concept of vestigia (the sensory experience of magic, and through magic, of the place and the lives it is tied to), formae (the building blocks of spells which are much more like 'getting the feel for' a spell than like wand-waving and spell words), and also the magical beings called genius loci or orisha in canon (personifications or archetypes of a place or a concept). Other magical beings like fae, vampires, quiet people, unicorns and possibly shapeshifters also exist. London's magical community is referred to as the demi-monde.


Canon is primarily a book series. There is also a comic series which is written by the author and which ties in closely to the novels. The episodes in the comics fall between the events of some of the books and revisit side characters or elaborate on things like Peter and Bev's relationship that don't get much focus in the novels. There is also some extra material on the author's blog.

Queerness in Canon

Queer identities are not a focus of canon, but they are common and banal in the background, similarly to how ethnic diversity is treated as a standard part of British society in the series. Stephanopolis is a married lesbian who is part of the London higher ups. Dominic is a gay cop in a relationship whom Peter meets in Foxglove Summer. Tyburn's daughter Olivia has a girlfriend. A trans female character was introduced in the most recent book. Some see this as an attempt to make up for Peter's disgust at Ash sleeping with a trans woman in Moon Over Soho.

Is Nightingale Gay?

Word of God says no. However, between Nightingale's introduction, where Peter assumes he's a gay guy out cruising, and Nightingale's old-fashioned manners and excessively posh way of dressing, many fans read him as gay.


  • Peter Grant – The series’ protagonist, Peter is a young police constable saved from a career in paperwork after being found looking for a ghost who witnessed a magical crime by DCI Nightingale whom he later apprentices to in the study of magic. Peter is a mixed race character, a proud Londoner, and a young man. These aspects of his character are important elements of his perspective as he narrates the stories.
  • DCI Thomas Nightingale - The last wizard in London and a detective heading a unit (of one) specializing in magical crimes. He becomes Peter's teacher during the first book.
  • Lesley May - Peter's best friend, who he initially has a crush on. She is an exemplary police officer and would have had a promising career in front of her.
  • Beverly Brook-Thames - The genius loci of the Beverly Brook is one of Mama Thames many daughters, she eventually becomes Peter's girlfriend.


Soon after the first book was published, TV Tropes added a Rivers of London page.[1] The earliest fics began appearing in October 2012.[2]

Early in this fandom's history, crossovers with larger fandoms were an important part of Rivers of London fandom [3]. More recently, fics set only in the Rivers 'verse have become more common, particularly original case fics and character study stories focusing on Nightingale, some notable examples of which are listed below.


As of 2017, around half of the RoL works on Archive of Our Own are gen. A third are slash. While canon has plenty of het, it is not so popular for fanworks, at least on AO3.


The biggest ship by far is that of the two leads, Peter Grant and Thomas Nightingale. Nightingale calls Peter by his first name. In the first book, Nightingale suggests that Peter reciprocate, but Peter finds this weird and continues to use his boss's surname. Hence the ship is often referred to as "Peter/Nightingale" rather than "Peter/Thomas" or "Grant/Nightingale". Many of the magical denizens of London refer to Peter as "Nightingale's starling" and Nightingale as "the Nightingale", as though it's a title. The portmanteau of these, "Starlingale", is another common name for the ship.


The canon ship of Peter Grant/Beverley Brook is second most common in fanworks. Many fans are not fond of how the author writes straight relationships or Peter's interest in women. On the other hand, Bev is an awesome black woman, and other fans want to celebrate her canon relationship.


Canon has not greatly elaborated on Nightingale's past, but we do know that he had an old friend, David Mellenby, whom he worked hard to save during WWII, only for Mellenby to commit suicide after he returned home. Nightingale has remarked that Peter's scientific curiosity resembles David's. Nightingale/Mellenby is often referenced in the background in Peter/Nightingale fics.

Notable Works

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.


Other Fanworks



  1. ^ http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.RiversOfLondon&more=t
  2. ^ notably Plausible Deniability by pipenerd and It’s Hard Out There for an Archetype by Rhyolight04
  3. ^ see the proportion of crossovers in the early its AO3 category