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Literature / Amaranthine Saga

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From the dawn of time, a supernatural people, the Amarathine, have secretly lived alongside humans, sometimes peacefully, sometimes not. Recently, the Amaranthine Clans have decided to come out of the shadows and formalize relations with mainstream human society, to reactions ranging from delight and acceptance to prejudice and fear. The Saga as a whole tells the story of the efforts to establish peaceful relations between Amarathine and Humans, while each book focuses on a different romance. Heavily inspired by anime and manga, the series' author, forthright, is known as an author of Inuyasha Fan Fiction.

The The Amaranthine Saga includes six novels so far with one upcoming. Additionally, the Songs of the Amaranthine novellas detail the history of side characters from the main books, and the Interludes include Lord Mettlebright's Man - an ongoing series of 100-word drabbles from the family butler's perspective, and Suuzu and the Nine Nippets of Legend. There are expected to be seven full-length entries in the series. Audiobooks for the series are produced by Tantor Audio and narrated by Travis Baldree.

  • The Amaranthine Saga:
    • Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox (2018)
    • Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal (2018)
    • Tamiko and the Two Janitors (2019)
    • Mikoto and the Reaver Village (2020)
    • Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate (2021)
    • Pimiko and the Uncharted Island (2022)
    • Rhomiko and the Confirmed Bachelor (upcoming)
  • Songs of the Amaranthine
    • Marked by Stars (2018)
    • Followed by Thunder (2019)
    • Dragged through Hedgerows (2019)
    • Governed by Whimsy (2020)
    • Hemmed in Silver (2020)
    • Captured on Film (2021)
    • Bathed in Moonlight (2021)
    • Flattered by Flowers (2022)
    • Scribbled in Margins (2023)
  • Amaranthine Interludes
    • Lord Mettlebright's Man (2018-ongoing)
    • Suuzu and the Nine Nippets of Legend (2023)

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Proposal: For obvious reasons, the main plot of Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal involves one of these. Kimiko gives a comb to Eloquence Starmark (which in itself was an accident, as she had actually brought sweets, but they were eaten by his little brother), without knowing that a tailcomb is a highly traditional betrothal gift. In this case, Eloquence (and it's implied his father and the other adults as well) realize it's a mistake, but he convinces Kimiko to go through with it, because his role in the clan forbids him from pursuing a mate—but he IS permitted to be pursued.
  • Action Girl: Female Battlers throughout the series, most notably Sansa and Melissa, as well as Anna Starmark, both Beacon and Battler, who creates absolute terror in a dragon who is basically the equivalent of a CIA operative. Nona and Cinna Hightip are villainous examples
  • A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss: It is traditional for Amaranthine bonds to be initiated with a kiss. Tsumiko and Argent must kiss during their bonding in the first book, although it crops up several other times.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Perhaps it's just his mischievous nature, but Argent enjoys teasing (and feeding) Jaques' hopeless infatuation with him a little too much, including, it's implied, distracting him with dirty dreams at one point. Otherwise, the only person Argent ever shows any romantic interest in is Tsumiko
    • Jaques himself counts, as his attraction to Argent is obvious (and the on-going serial "Lord Mettlebright's Man" makes it clear he appreciates male beauty in many different persons), but he is also attracted to the genderfluid Sonnet.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Many of the examples are complicated by different cultural norms between Amaranthine, Reavers, and normal humans, meaning that two males that seem to have a very close, touchy-feely relationship. Some of the most obvious examples in the series are:
    • Suzuu Ferust and Akira Hajime: From the first book, they are noted to be constant companions, roommates who sleep on the floor together (albeit Suzuu usually in birdform), and Suzuu is frequently touching Akira. After seeing a picture of the two of them, Gingko suggests to Tsumiko (Akira's sister) that they are a couple, which she brushes off, partly because they are both young teens at that point. Having said that, Suzuu basically treats Tsumiko as his sister-in-law when they finally meet, and Argent, although highly possessive in regards to potential rivals, easily accepts this. By the second book, when Akira is a senior in high school, Akira has been officially accepted as part of Suzuu's family and Suzuu starts to obsess over the inevitability of Akira's death and an old legend that might grant him immortality. Akira makes a joke about Suzuu getting him pregnant (in context, it's non-sexual). The term used to describe their relationship is "nestmate" which is similar to, but not identical to, the "bondmate" used by canonical couples (and the avian couples in Book Three don't disclose which term they use for their relationships), and conflicting dialogue throughout the series casts either a platonic or romantic light on their relationship. It's not until Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate that their relationship starts to move in a romantic direction for Akira.
    • Similarly, Joe/Jiro Reaverson in Tamiko and the Two Janitors: While Kip is canonically gay, the close connection between him and Joe is never given any of the same confirmations of status that similar couples, such as Tsumiko and Argent, or Kimiko and Eloquence got, despite sharing some similar beats. All of the scenes that signal attraction between the two could be explained away as indicating comfort between the two or by the platonic, but Intimate Healing-coded "tending" magic.
    • The shop-boys in Tamiko and the Two Janitors that explicitly harass male customers and trying to make them put on various ensembles to become beautiful. However, avian clans are shown to be flamboyant throughout the series without it necessarily affecting their sexuality, with Cyril Sunfletch being explicitly Mistaken for Gay.
  • Battle Butler: In Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox, Argent is Tsumiko's proper butler—until he's an enormous predator guarding her from any and all attacks.
  • Bird People: Suuzu, and other members of the Phoenix clan, play a main role throughout the series, and other avian clans, such as Crow, Pheasant, and Dove get focused on in Tamiko and the Two Janitors
  • Breeding Slave: One of Argent's previous mistresses' husband decided that he wanted more Amarathine servants, and the best way to get them was to force Argent to father them. Unlike most male-victim examples, this is treated as absolutely despicable and a huge part of the issues behind Argent's Ice King attitude towards Tsumiko.
  • Broken Masquerade: Due to being highly sheltered, Tsumiko was unaware of the Emergence, and had to be told about the Amarathine clans by her solicitor. Tami and Joe, on the other hand, were very aware of the existence of the magical world...they just didn't know that they were part of it.
  • Bunker Woman: The M.O. of the rogue Amarathine rapist is to kidnap women who are Reavers, imprison them in underground cells, and rape them until they become impregnated. The few victims who are rescued suffer from enormous psychological trauma
  • Butlerspace: Argent appears from seemingly nowhere whenever Tsumiko says his name, which he demonstrates both to vex and fluster her and to rescue her from imminent danger. It's much easier to pull off with faster-than-human-sight speed available to him and a superhuman sense of hearing as well (although it is implies he may simply be able to sense her saying his name through their bond)
  • The Champion: Argent eventually adopts this role towards Tsumiko, replacing the forced protection of their bond with a deliberate choice to put her safety and needs above his own.
  • Chessmaster Sidekick: Jacques Smythe appoints himself as valet and butler to Argent, eventually making himself indispensable.
    [Argent making introductions] "And that is Jacques. He has his uses."
    The man flushed as if he'd been paid a great compliment.
  • Child by Rape: Gingko, which results in a huge amount of self-hatred, and a complex and painful relationship with his father (the victim). Kyrie is unwanted by his mother for this reason, and it is strongly implied he has half-siblings in the same situation.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: In Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal, Tenma is overwhelmed by the presence of all the Amaranthine on his first day of school, and Eloquence instinctively "seals" him. He doesn't mean anything by it except to lend a helping hand to a scared kid, but other Amarathine subsequently see Tenma as Quen's responsibility and scold him for shirking it.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Tsumiko and Akira, which allows Tsumiko to be scooped up and enfolded into the secrets of Stately House with a minimum of fuss. Averted for the other heroines, however, who have loving, if sometimes interfering families. Ash is an orphan, but there's nothing convenient about it, and he has an adoptive family involved in the plot.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Foxes are noted as being among the trickster clans, and several characters warn Tsumiko about their devious natures. Argent is a silver fox and Guile Hero, and matches up against a pair of vixen who try to be devious, but are outclassed by him.
  • Extranormal Institute: Tsumiko and Argent turn Stately House into a school and home for crossers, who are often rejected by one or both of their parents.
  • Fantastic Arousal: Several clans, including Fox, Dog, Wolf, and Squirrel, consider their tails to be extremely intimate territory, and brushing a partner's tail is explicitly a form of foreplay for them. However, this is not the case for other clans, including simian clans, who use their tails as tools and don't consider them any more "personal" than hands.
  • Fox Folk: Most of the folklorical stereotypes about foxes hold true for the Fox Clans. Unusually, however, most of the foxes focused on in the series are Silver Foxes, not the typical red fox (although Lady Nona and her sister are red foxes).
  • Guile Hero: Argent, true to his fox nature, relies on misdirection and deception rather than brute strength. He also enjoys tricks and pranks for no other reason than to mess with people. Enti, a monkey crosser, and Kip, a squirrel, also share these traits.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Children of unions between Amarathine and humans are called "crossers". Unlike their Amaranthine parent, they cannot change into an animalistic "truest form", and so show much more obvious animal traits in their appearance than full-blooded Amarathine do. They typically do not seem as magically powerfully as their full Amaranthine parents, but most retain an Amarathine lifespan. Some crossers also have human Reaver abilities.
  • Honorary Uncle: Several characters act as honorary uncles to various characters, most notably Jacques, whom almost everyone in Stately House calls "Uncle Jackie." He initially earns this title when Tsumiko signals to her distant relative's family that she will not be marrying Jacques or his brother, but he quickly makes it real.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The title character of each book in the main saga has the syllables Miko in their name, and the titles are all __Miko and the ____ ___. The Songs' titles are all alliterative __ by __.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Kip is gay and in love with Ash, who seems to be straight, and falls for a female.
  • The Ingenue: Tsumiko is so kind, accepting, and generous that others assume she must be naïve and easily manipulated. Tsumiko herself disputes this, pointing out that she was ignorant, not naïve, when she was first introduced to Stately House and The Masquerade, and she has taken pains to educate herself, and that she has only given her trust to people who are actually worthy of it. She bears this out when she and Argent travel to England and she puts on a show of total childlike innocence and naivety that delights Argent to no end.
  • Interspecies Romance: The saga is FULL of Amarathine x Human and Crosser x Human couples. As the series progress, it is also revealed that Amaranthines in truest form are compatible with actual animals, and kith are descended from such unions. Harmonious Starmark had a relationship with a dog in between his first marriage, to an Amarathine, and his second marriage to a human.
  • Intimate Healing: Tending has a tendency to come across as this, especially as the tending sessions between Tsumiko and Argent are very obvious Ship Tease... but often is platonic.
  • Legacy of Service: The Reavers attached to Stately House has formed into a generational pattern, with Michael being the fourth Ward from his family to serve Argent. This seems to be a fairly common practice with Reavers attached to various Amaranthine enclaves and clan houses, probably because it makes it slightly easier for the long-lived Amaranthine to form bonds within the fleeting existences of their Reaver companions.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Amaranthines in speaking form have just a few animalistic traits, which are sometimes obvious and sometimes very subtle. Crossers have much more obvious animalistic traits, such as furry ears or tails, but still fall under this.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Amarathine, being long-lived, also take much, much longer than humans to heal, sleep, and to gestate. The typical Amaranthine or half Amaranthine pregnancy is three years.
  • Magic Contract Romance: Tsumiko inherits a magical bond to Argent, an Amarathine fox who was enslaved by her ancestors. Although neither of them want to be bonded, if they do not renew the bond, Argent will die. They fall in love.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Amaranthine are functionally immortal, which creates quite a bit of angst for Argent when he realizes he has fallen in love with Tsumiko, who will die just as all his previous mistresses have done. It's later revealed that Amarathine can extend the lifespan of a Reaver to match their own by regularly tending him or her. This doesn't work on humans that don't have any Reaver ability, though, which is the cause of much angst for Suuzu and Akira.
  • My Beloved Smother: Jacques and Boniface's mother tries to control every aspect of her sons' lives, which is partly why Jacques moves to Stately House. It takes Boniface another 12 years to escape.
  • Nature Spirit: Impressions are the embodiment of aspects of nature such as moonbeams, winds, and stars. Most can take speaking form.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Tsumiko's kindness and thoughtfulness towards all of her newfound staff quickly earn her the friendship and confidence of Michael, Sansa, and Gingko and eventually Argent, despite resisting and distrusting her kindness with all his might.
  • Pregnant Badass: Sansa, frequently. She doesn't let her many pregnancies interfere with her status as an elite Battler.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Even the Amaranthine equivalent of the FBI are absolutely disgusted by the Serial Rapist they are tracking. This also applies to every sympathetic character who gets anywhere close to truth about Gingko's conception, although out of respect for Gingko and Argent's privacy, it is kept quiet.
  • Servile Snarker: Argent excels at this, although he prefers non-verbal expressions of snark, such a raised eyebrows, tsk-ing sounds, and condescending tones of voice, since, as his internal narration points out, "he couldn't be held accountable for words left unsaid."
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: Discussed and somewhat deconstructed in Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox. Tsumiko is the second type, who only accepted Argent's magical bond because it was the dying wish expressed in Eimi's letter to her, because Michael assured her Argent would die if she did not, and because Argent did not actually refuse to consent when she pressed him, although he does not give affirmative consent. She avoids giving Argent commands, willingly frees him from any previous restrictions that he brings to her, and willingly joins the "secret plot" to free him. Nevertheless, Argent refuses to show any signs of Happiness in Slavery and outright tells Michael that responding gratefully to Tsumiko's kindness would just make her and others believe that his situation is acceptable, when it completely isn't. This is further explored with Argent (and Gingko)'s complex relationship with Eimi, who was Argent's kindest mistress prior to Tsumiko, and seems to have been the first type. She gave Argent a comfortable existence as "family butler" and inflicted none of the horrors that many of her predecessors did, but she still violated Argent's personal autonomy in many small ways (like forcing him to accompany her yearly to England, despite him being openly harassed by her husband's relatives, forcing him to allow her in his private spaces, and to reveal some of his secrets to Stu) and kept him as a slave. Ultimately, Argent chooses to forgive her after her death, accepting her choice of Tsumiko as her successor to be her gift to him and an expression of a better self than her actions were able to be. Gingko, on the other hand, never forgives Eimi or any of his father's other mistresses, and the narrative presents this as a valid choice as well.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: A large part of Argent's cynical, cold personality is an attempt to distance himself from everyone, both to protect himself from the pain of caring for others (who can be used against him or he will ultimately lose to death) and to protect those he cares about from realizing how deeply painful his existence as a slave is.
  • There Is Only One Bed: During their stay at Smythe Manor, Tsumiko insists the (still-recovering from injury) Argent stay in her suite so she can tend him. When he stiffly points out there is only one bed, she points out that they previously (platonically) shared a bed at Stately House during his convalescence. She wins the argument. Extra points for Tsumiko assuring Argent she'll "protect his virtue"... which eventually, she does.
  • Unequal Pairing: Strongly implied to be part of the reason Tsumiko refuses to accept Argent's proposal until she has secured his freedom, as any relationship between them with the bond intact could never truly be equal. On a series-wide level, the powerful nature of the Amaranthine makes it hard to avoid this trope in Interspecies Romance, but the series typically handles it by giving the human characters powerful Reaver abilities, or, in Kimiko's case, deliberately framing the relationship so that she has the majority of the agency.
  • The Unmasqued World: The Emergence, orchestrated by Hisoka Twineshaft, makes existence of the Amaranthine and Reavers public knowledge. Previously, all information about either group were closely guarded secrets of "The In-Between," even to each other.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Amarathine can typically change between their "speaking form" which is humanoid with some inhuman and animalistic traits, and their "truest form" which is an unusually large form of whatever animal their clan is aligned with.
  • White Magician Girl: Tsumiko, an extremely gentle and compassionate person, is a very powerful class of Reaver, known as a Beacon, but her abilities are solely used to nurture others.
  • Winged Humanoid: Ash, due to being a Crow crosser. He typically uses copious illusions to hide the fact, although he also has to be careful with his clothing and his movements, as the illusions don't change the feel of his wings. Some dragons can also manifest wings in speaking form.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Argent, an immortal enslaved to a human bloodline, considers whether death would be preferable to the centuries of enslavement he has already endured, which will continue endlessly into the future. In Tamiko and the Two Janitors, Tamiko is dismayed to learn that becoming Tree-kin means she will become immortal, when she realizes this will means she will outlive her family members, love interest, and the vast majority of her friends and acquaintances. The immortals who deliver this news seem to expect this reaction and find ways to soften the blow.
  • Wonder Child: legend has it that anyone who swallows a golden seed will give birth to a child who is born with another seed in their hand. If that seed is planted, it will grow into an Amarathine tree, which will share their lifespan with their "twin." It is eventually confirmed that the legends are true, and do, in fact, work for male swallowers.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Tsumiko, a gentle, feminine, Japanese White Magician Girl, who manages to defrost her love interest and accomplish virtually all of her goals by submitting gracefully to everything she can and absolutely refusing to compromise on the few occasions when she cannot.