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Literature / Firstborn

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Firstborn is a xenofiction children's novel by Tor Seidler. It stars a magpie named Maggie as she goes through life.

Maggie is an unusual magpie who is more inquisitive and intelligent than what is common for her species. Maggie isn't interested in the "normal" magpie life of having children and collecting trinkets. When she ends up befriending a crow, her world is suddenly opened up. Maggie decides to leave her mate and see beyond her birthplace. Along the way, Maggie befriends a large wolf named "Blue Boy". Blue Boy lets Maggie tagalong with him as he escapes from captivity.

Though Maggie is the protagonist and the book is from her POV, the real stars are the wolves. Blue Boy ends up the leader of a wolf pack that the story focuses on. Blue Boy's oldest child, Lamar, is a central character, however he doesn't appear until several chapters in. Firstborn mainly follows Blue Boy and Lamar through Maggie's eyes.

Firstborn contains examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Lamar is very sensitive and overly curious for a wolf, especially for a firstborn pup. He's very little like his dad aside from his looks.
    • Maggie's not much like other magpies and doesn't enjoy associating with them.
  • Alpha and Beta Wolves: Subverted. The pack does have an "alpha" pair, but this is because it's a mixed pack. It's implied that Blue Boy's original pack was more ordinary, consisting of just him, his mate, and their pups.
  • Animal Religion: Briefly implied due to Maggie's references to souls.
  • Anyone Can Die: A large number of the cast dies. Jackson, five of the original six pups, two from Alberta's second litter, and Sully.
  • Artistic License Ornithology: Magpies are considered rather advanced birds. Unlike most animals, they can pass the "mirror test" (which suggests self-awareness) and understand that when objects disappear behind objects that they're not truly gone (which is something humans learn as toddlers). Magpies in Firstborn, however, are scatterbrained and annoying.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Frick ended up severely burned in a fire. This left his hind-legs injured, so he could no longer hunt with the others. He eventually ended up becoming their go-to for medicine.
  • Cool Uncle: Inverted. Blue Boy's brother Sully is considered by him to be a wimp and a traitor, though Lamar is fond of him.
  • Dark Horse Sibling: Hope is the runt of her litter and is expected to die. Yet, she's the only one of her litter to survive into adulthood.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Blue Boy's pups and mate Bess were wiped out by a neighboring pack while he was captured by humans.
    • Hope is the Sole Survivor of not only Blue Boy and Alberta's first litter but also Frick's and Lupa's only litter.
    • Of Blue Boy's and Alberta's second litter, the runt named "Rider" ends up taken by an owl.
    • Blue Boy's three sisters all died as pups.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Maggie has hated her name since she received it. Its alliterative nature embarrasses her and she also dislikes it for being too "common".
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Other animals consider magpies to be "empty-headed chatterboxes".
    • Maggie repeatedly mentions that she doesn't think land-bound animals have souls. She learns to like them after befriending Blue Boy, and even begins to doubt her beliefs, though.
  • Interspecies Friendship: A reoccuring theme is this. Wolves befriending magpies, wolves befriending coyotes, magpies befriending crows, crows befriending parrots, etc.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Maggie fell for a bluebird named Trilby. It was one-sided though.
    • Blue Boy suggests that Lamar has a crush on Artemis, but it's never specified if he was joking or not.
  • Meaningful Name: Blue Boy is a male wolf with a bluish pelt.
  • Never Given a Name: Blue Boy is reluctant to name his runt pup because runts usually die. As it turns out, the runt is the only one who survives into adulthood. She is named "Hope" after surviving the fire that killed the rest of her litter. Due to Hope, Blue Boy names the runt of his next litter. Unfortunately, Rider doesn't make it to adulthood.
  • Noble Wolf: Most of the wolves are of this variety. They're perfectly normal animals.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Maggie's friendship with Jackson (a crow) and Blueboy (a wolf) are unusual for their species.
    • Lamar befriends a coyote named Artemis.
  • Official Couple: Blue Boy and Alberta become the alpha pair early on and never break up, unlike Frick and Lupa, or otherwise get separated.
  • Parental Abandonment: Admittedly they were adults, but Maggie ditches her children and mate early into the story. She was never particularly fond of them.
  • Sickly Child Grew Up Strong: Hope was the runt of her litter and was expected to die. She not only didn't die as a pup, but she was the Sole Survivor of not only her litter but her aunt's litter.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • Blue Boy's mate and pups were killed by rivals when he was captured by humans.
    • Hope is the only one out of her litter to survive a forest fire.
  • Trash of the Titans: Maggie's mate Dan hoards garbage.