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Literature / Birthright (2017)

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A novel about dragons, leaders and mangoes.

Birthright is a Low Fantasy Web Serial Novel written by Ian Sime.

For one hundred years, the nation of Vikaasthan has experienced a golden age of wealth, prosperity and culture. For a hundred years it has been the crown jewel of the world. Sabrina Bunahr, first and only daughter of Esteemed Maharaja Marthanda Bunahr and heir to the throne, was honoured to call it hers.

That is, until she was tricked by the dragon Ko-Kraham. Sabrina was cursed, stripped of her kingdom, her family, and even her face and name. Trapped in her own home and impersonated by Ko-Kraham, Sabrina must find a way to break the curse, expose Ko-Kraham's treachery, and take back her life.

Birthright is a Low Fantasy look at a High Fantasy setting, dealing heavily with the responsibilities of leadership, and exploring multiculturalism in a world where humans and dragons live side-by-side. At the moment sixteen chapters are available, updating roughly once a month, and can be read Here.

Not to be confused with the Urban Fantasy comic series of the same name.

This story provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Three distinct cultures have been represented so far, leading to a lot of variety in names. Native Vikaasthani names seem to be Indian (ie. Kamalakshi, Marthanda), while Kainga-o-Whenuan names are Maori(ie. Taurau) and Dragon names are completely fabricated.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Ko-Kraham frequently pats Sabrina's head or strokes her horns, although the 'affectionate' part is questionable. Ko-Kalah does as well, suggesting it's common among dragons.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Taurau, the prince of a neighbouring nation sent to Vikaasthan to negotiate a trade deal, is implied to also be there to court Vikaasthan's princess.
  • Ambadassador: Taurau is visiting Vikaasthan to help arrange a trade agreement for his country. What's his first response upon being confronted with a roaring dragon? Punch it, of course!
  • Body Motifs: Any use of magic is sure to make reference to the bones, usually used to imply the 'core' of a person.
  • Brought Down to Normal: A variation. After she's cursed, Sabrina is still able to access her magic—it's just very painful, and she's kept from actually using it, making her functionally powerless.
  • City of Canals: Sangam, the capital city of Vikaasthan, is built on a river delta and is this as a result. It's somewhat distinct in that mangrove trees are allowed to continue growing out of the canals, and even seem to be incorporated into the city.
  • Color Motif: Sabrina seems to have a purple motif, while Ko-Kraham is associated with gold.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Sabrina's father gives her a lecture on respecting the responsibility her position as Princess implies. So far the responsibility of leadership seems to be one of the major themes.
  • Constructed World: Although Vikaasthan does take some cultural cues from India, it's clear that it has its own history.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Sabrina appears to reach it at the end of chapter 6, and for much of chapter 7 it seems she's crossed it entirely. Fortunately, she's starting to pull back.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Taurau appears in the nude in the fourth chapter, and Sabrina wastes no time in appreciating it.
    Sabrina gawked, her mouth opening and closing mutely. Even if she had been able to speak, she would have been unable to string a sentence together. Her eyes ran across his body, at once drinking in every line and unsure where to look.
    No, that wasn’t true. She knew exactly where she wanted to look. But she forced her gaze up, and into his amused expression.
  • Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas: While Sabrina is capable of speaking conversationally in Draconic, she does have some trouble with it initially.
  • Elemental Powers: Dragon shapeshifting seems to be fire-related.
  • Exact Words: The first flaw in Ko-Kraham's curse is that Sabrina only has to follow commands exactly as they're given.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Vikaasthan is this to India. In addition, the nation of Kainga-o-Whenua seems to be based on Polynesian cultures.
  • Fantastic Honorifics: The dragons prefix their names with Ko, Tor, Sal or Bek. It hasn't been shown exactly what they mean yet, but 'Ko' seems to imply some degree of leadership while 'Bek' is viewed fairly negatively.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ko-Kraham is almost motherly towards Sabrina... when she's not in a fit of violence or openly laughing at Sabrina's suffering.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Of the Equality Taken For Granted flavour. No question is made of Sabrina being the proper heir to the throne. In addition, the majority of major characters introduced thus far are female.
  • Forced Transformation: At the end of the first chapter, Sabrina is transformed into a dragon whelp.
  • Geas: Ko-Kraham's curse forces Sabrina to follow any commands Ko-Kraham gives, although there's no condition for breaking it—Sabrina is simply unable to break Ko-Kraham's commands. So far, the main commands seem to be: Do as you're told; Don't tell anyone what's happened; and your name is Bek-Braya.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: Juvenile dragons stand at about four feet tall, while the oldest dragon seen so far is large enough to be mistaken for part of a building. And she's still an adolescent, meaning they might come even bigger.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Sabrina's tutor, Harinma. Actually Evil Old Folks
  • Headbutt of Love: The draconic equivalent of a hug involves rubbing heads to knock their horns together, as Sal-Sobin happily teaches Sabrina after a particularly stressful day.
  • Healing Factor: Dragons are able to use their shapeshifting to heal injuries.
  • The High King: Sabrina's father, Maharaja Marthanda Bunahr.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Taurau pulls this on Sabrina during a game of Catur in Chapter 5, fooling her into thinking he's using an easily-countered strategy. In reality, he's using a strategy designed to counter her counter. The end of the chapter implies Ko-Kraham is using a similar strategy on Sabrina.
  • Magical Gesture: Human Magic is performed by making a series of hand gestures that, together, communicate the desired spell. These gestures seem to be based on Mudra.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of Ko-Kraham's original human disguise, 'Harinma', means 'Gold'. An appropriate moniker for a dragon.
  • Mood-Swinger: After dropping her disguise, Ko-Kraham swaps between cheerful and violently angry at the drop of a hat.
  • Mythopoeia: Three religions across two different species have been presented, albeit in varying levels of detail.
  • Omniglot: Several characters have demonstrated knowledge of at least two languages, Draconic and Vikassthani. Taurau demonstrates the most however, presumably speaking the native language of Kainga-O-Whenua on top of the others.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They seem to lean more towards Western Dragons, but have shapeshifting magic, a tribal social structure, and seem to be big on craftsmanship.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Sabrina's duties as a princess includes accommodating diplomatic guests.
  • Power Parasite: After Sabrina and Ko-Kraham share their magic, Ko-Kraham uses the connection to steal Sabrina's magic for her own.
  • Proportional Aging: While the upper limit of Dragon age isn't mentioned, they have a maturation period of around 80 years. Physically at least, as dragons appear about as mature for their age as humans.
  • Psychic Link: 'Sharing' magic creates a version of this. Although the two people sharing magic cannot hear each other's thoughts or feelings, they instinctively want to mimic each other's movements, even over a large distance. This allows Sabrina to track Ko-Kraham's movements.
  • Private Tutor: Sabrina's tutor in dragon history and culture, Harinma. Who is actually the dragon Ko-Kraham
  • Religion is Magic: Literally. Magic is referred to as 'prayer', and involves making a series of gestures to communicate the desired spell, and a book of spells is called a Prayer Book.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sabrina is involved in the arrangement of a trade deal (or at least buttering up the diplomat), and her father is implied to be just as politically active, given the ministers flocking around him. Sabrina is also schooled in magic which, from the history we see so far, has some military tradition.
  • Sacred Language: Overlapping with Language of Magic, the Holy Language of Kilhanism is user for both prayer and magic.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Taurau's religion requires him to be near-or-completely topless at all times, to say nothing of his casual nudity in the fourth chapter. Of course he was in a bathing room at the time, he was just less concerned about getting dressed after leaving the pool.
  • Shaming the Mob: Sabrina pulls it twice on the Dragon Tribe. The first time is implicitly calling them out for allowing a young dragon to be bullied, the second time she explicitly calls them out for their mistreatment of her.
  • Spell Book: The Rajaa kee Yaachikaen, in addition to its more mundane use as a prayer book, contains details a variety of spells and magical gestures.
  • Stress Vomit: Sabrina does this twice in the second chapter: First when she realizes she's been turned into a dragon, and second when she accidentally stabs Ko-Kraham in the stomach.
  • Surprise Checkmate: Sabrina is surprised by the result of a game of Catur, an Indian proto-chess. Somewhat justified, since she was wrong about the strategy her opponent was using, and was too distracted to spot her mistake.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Taurau, of the cultural and religious type. His tattoos cover his torso, shoulders and arms, and it's mentioned his chest tattoos in particular should never be covered.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Ko-Kraham refers to Sabrina as 'dear'.
  • Universally Beloved Leader: When Sabrina and Taurau venture out into the city, it's pretty clear that Sabrina is very well-liked by the populace.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Dragons as a whole are able to do this.