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Literature: The Withering Sword
The Withering Sword is an Epic Fantasy novel written by Jimena Novaro and posted in serial form on her website. It takes place in the fictional empire of Gyoto and chronicles the empire's dissolution from the point of view of various characters, including the sons of the empress, the royal princes who lead an uprising in one of the subjugated kingdoms, a priestess who struggles to reconcile the differences between the cultures of the conquerors and the conquered, and a cunning ambassador.

Inspired by ancient Chinese history, it has very little that can be defined as actual magic, politics, war, assassination, complicated backstories, Loads and Loads of Characters, and giant birds that destroy entire villages.

The author updates the story with a new chapter, each one told from the point of view of a different character, every Sunday. It can be found here and here.


The Withering Sword provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Yamo, captain of the Imperial Military, and Myogo, a Tyovadh warrior trainee. Presumably also Celari, the pirate princess, although so far we haven't seen her in action.
  • Actual Pacifist: Priestess Iriwe and most of the Miihing natives.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: In the first chapter, we see Princess Avaho find out that she's going to marry one of her mother's councilors. However, she doesn't have any real issues with being married off until she starts to discover more about her fiancÚ.
  • Big Badass Bird of Prey: The mountain birds are the size of a man and so far have destroyed several villages, killed soldiers, and generally terrorized the empire. The dawn bird is supposedly even bigger and smarter.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Amraxes has this for his younger siblings, and later on for his second cousins Nerion and Silaron as well. Silaron, despite being technically younger than his brother (they're twins), spends most of his time keeping Nerion from getting himself killed.
  • The Casanova: Nerion.
    Nerion: She looks unfriendly. And apparently uninterested in male companionship. I take that as a challenge.
  • The Cassandra: Scholar Geyas might be this, or he might just be nuts.
  • The Chessmaster: Ambassador Xemyo.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Subverted. By the end of the first chapter, there are no princesses in the novel, unless you count Celari, the daughter of the Lord Captain of Leiyang, who's technically not a princess.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Nerion (foolish sibling) and Silaron (responsible sibling) fulfill this trope nicely.
  • Initiation Ceremony: The Tyovadh trainees put Nerion and Silaron through one. They have to make their way across rocky terrain in the dead of night, blindfolded and naked. Nerion enjoys it (apparently, he's had to do something similar before while also drunk). Silaron tolerates it.
  • Low Fantasy: There's not much overt magic, and the world as a whole is decidedly grey, with touches of black.
  • Nerd: Demys, essentially. He's a Bookworm, he has No Social Skills, and he's a decidedly Non-Action Guy.
  • The Prophecy: The previous emperor was worried about one that predicted that two people would bring about an end to his dynasty. According to a priest who acted as his adviser, those two people were born twenty-seven years before the novel begins.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Minister of Miihingese Culture and Religion is much more willing to hear Iriwe out than the officer at the outpost near her village.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Amraxes and Demys, the two imperial princes, are a moderate version of this trope.
  • Warrior Prince: Amraxes, who commands the Imperial Fleet. At least until Avaho dies and he becomes the heir to the empire.


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