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Literature / Ren of Atikala

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It's basically Drizzt Do'Urden meets Goblins. With kobolds.

I was born dead.
Ren of Atikala

"Ren of Atikala" is the first novel of the Kobolds series. Inspired by the Pathfinder RPG and set in the world of Drathari where Gods once existed but are now dead, it's a view of a stereotypical sword-and-sorcery fantasy world through the eyes of a race typically considered monsters.

The protagonist, Ren of Atikala, is a young kobold sorceress and warrior who struggles with a lack of identity, the prejudices of her people, and the destruction of her home city.


These books contain examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Most kobolds are black, rust coloured, or some other strange colour. Ren is gold, an unfortunate colour as it implies gold dragon heritage, which is seen as evil.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Tzala loses her arm.
  • Arc Words: "No mercy for monsters" appears in a few contexts.
  • Back Stab: Twice, by Vrax. First when he sends the Atikalan refugees out to die, then Vrax again after Ren, Tzala and Khavi return, he takes Ren and Khavi to Contremulus.
  • Barbarian Hero: Not explicitly stated, but Khavi fits. He can't even read, although this is common of non-sorcerers.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Ren relays Atikala's destruction to Melicandra and the guards at Ssarsdale. It's unclear if Vrax and the other leaders already knew or not.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Ren convinces Khavi to visit the copper dragon Tyermumtican by saying that, after everything they've been through, their story can't end with them being turned into dragon shit.
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  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The novel implies this, in a roundabout way, is why kobolds are evil. It's implied in the epilogue that this happens to Ren after she's made a prisoner of Contremulus.
  • Berserker Tears: Ren, when Khavi is killed. Also Khavi technically counts when he cries after seeing the destroyed gnome city.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tzala kills more humans than all the other kobolds combined.
  • Big Bad: Contremulus. Vrax probably counts too.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Khavi, saving Ren from the gnome outside the mists. And again, but Gone Horribly Right when he saves her from the humans who had just started to warm to her, killing a child in the process.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Ren doesn't know her parents, and there's significant resistance to her finding out because her mother is a powerful sorceress and her father is an evil gold dragon.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Kobolds have an estrus cycle and lay eggs. Played straight in-universe, for laughs, when Khavi asks how many eggs a human lays a year, and again when No-Kill takes off her boot, which Ren and Khavi mistake for part of her foot.
  • Break the Cutie: No-Kill asks for a Mercy Kill when she sees that her city has been destroyed. Khavi, after a moment's hesitation, obliges.
  • Body Horror: Pewdt begins dissecting Ren while she's paralysed and still alive.
  • Character Development: Ren changes a lot over the course of the novel, as does Khavi.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ren seeks permission to visit a nearby dragon in the beginning of the story, to learn more of her origins. After Atikala's destruction, she realises she finally has nobody stopping her.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Pewdt sings beautiful melodies as he flays Ren alive.
  • Darker and Edgier: Despite being inspired by the Pathfinder RPG and the Legend of Drizzt, Ren of Atikala is darker, more bloody and sex and reproduction play an important role.
  • Death Is Cheap: Averted. Aside from Ren as an egg, nobody comes back to life after they're dead. Not even Gods.
  • Death-or-Glory Attack: Khavi's suicidal charge into Stonehaven.
  • Death Seeker: Khavi sometimes has shades of this, especially after the destruction of Atikala.
  • Deus ex Machina: The humans persuing Ren and Khavi abandon their chase because of the losses they've suffered. And because they know that if they ask Vrax, he will turn them over anyway.
  • Disability Superpower: Ren's golden scales are a distinct social disadvantage but grant her sorcerer powers.
  • Distant Prologue: The story begins with Ren's death/rebirth as an egg and resumes when she's an adult.
  • Always Lawful Evil: Kobolds are Lawful Evil. Ren and Tzala are shown to be more Neutral Good, Faala is True Neutral, while Khavi is Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The kobolds, as par for the course. They even mention how foreign the concept of footwear is when a gnome's shoes are described as "overfeet."
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: When presented with a giant spider's web, Khavi can't help but touch it. Ren lampshades it by saying essentially this.
  • Downer Ending: At the conclusion of the first book, Tzala loses her arm, Khavi is beheaded and Ren is taken away as the prisoner of a gold dragon.
  • The Dragon: Metaphorically with Jhora and Vrax. Literally with Tyermumtican, Contremulus and with Ren, being a half-dragon.
  • Dumb Muscle: Khavi, although he has moments of insight as well.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Quennax the eidolon.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Khavi cries when he sees how many gnomes have died.
  • Eye Scream: Pewdt carefully and deliberately stabs out Faala's eye as both she and Ren are paralysed and forced to watch.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Ren, when she realises that she cannot beat Quennax the eidolon.
  • Fate Worse than Death: No-Kill asks to be killed when she sees the ruins of Stonehaven.
  • Foreshadowing: Anyone who's heard anything of Contremulus does not think he's a good guy.
  • Genius Bruiser: Khavi is sometimes smarter than he looks (and sometimes dumber). Vrax is tall and strong, but also understands—far better than Ren and Khavi—what the humans are like and what it takes to keep them from destroying Ssarsdale. Appeasement.
  • Giant Spider: Six-Legs is a giant, talking, fiendish spider who speaks in rhymes.
  • Good Powers, Bad People: Contremulus is a gold dragon.
  • Half Kobold Hybrid: Ren is the child of a dragon, making her a half-dragon. Vrax is also a lot larger than he should be.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Faala, Khavi and Jedra all agree that the kobold way of life, despite its hardships, is the best.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The book is an examination of the world through the eyes of a kobold, implying their Always Lawful Evil status is because of the way they're treated. It's implied in the conclusion that Ren is beginning to feel this way as well.
  • Heroic BSoD: Khavi, when he realises he can't get revenge on the gnomes because they didn't destroy Atikala and are already dead anyway. Ren, when Khavi is killed.
  • Hero of Another Story: Lots of small things, such as the world map being much, much larger than covered in the story, imply that Ren is just a small player in the scheme of things and part of a much bigger world.
  • He's Back!: Khavi, as Ren is digging the graves at No-Kill's behest.
  • Hit Points: Averted. Despite being inspired by the Pathfinder RPG, the novel takes the view that narrative trumps mechanics.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The kobolds think this.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: The theme of the novel.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Ren mistakes horse's hay as food left out for her. Melicandra is amused by this.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Vrax's justification for betraying Ren and Khavi.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Khavi impales a gnome on a crystal.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: A specific example is played straight in Ren's case, but averted in there were many other eggs incinerated that day. And averted in that Pewdt crushes the Jedra/Khavi egg before the eyes of its parents, then flees to the surface with the Faala/Khavi egg.
  • In the Blood: Ren's power comes from a draconic source, but the exact nature of this is not clear to her. It's an evil gold dragon.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Even though all parties consent to the arrangement, Khavi mating with Jedra and Faala, seen through Ren's eyes, is violent. Especially with the latter.
  • Ironic Echo: A few. "Dragons can eat anything." "No mercy for monsters." "I forge my own destiny."
  • Jerkass: Vrax, who sends the Atikalan refugees out to fight a hopeless battle in exchange for sanctuary for those who survive, then betrays the survivors anyway.
  • Klingon Promotion: Occurs frequently within kobold society, but less due to malicious intent and more due to their short and dangerous lives.
  • Lawful Evil: The typical alignment of kobolds, especially Vrax.
  • Light Is Not Good: Contremulus the Sunscale, gold dragon, is decidedly ungood.
  • Lizard Folk: Kobolds are reptilians and while shorter than lizardfolk are remarkably similar.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Discovering her parentage is a significant motivator for Ren throughout the story. Tzala being her mother is hardly a surprise though, neither is Contremulus being her father as almost every other male character in the story apart from Vrax or [[Main/Squick Six-Legs is either the wrong race, wrong type entirely or too young.
  • Meaningful Name: Ren had her name stripped from the archives, so her true name is not known. Ren simply means 'nothing'.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Inverted. Most kobolds are female, and males are fairly rare; this is for reasons of biology. A female given many males can still only produce one egg every gestation period, but a male given many females can produce many more. That said, males are still expected to work and fight.
  • Mercy Kill: No-Kill begs for this. Ren also kneels and lets Quennax kill her, partially because she knows she's overmatched and partially because she's genuinely sorry about the human deaths.
  • Mood Whiplash: The book has lighthearted moments, such as Ren and Khavi's comical misunderstanding of gnome biology, to dark moments such as Pewdt crushing a freshly laid egg with his bare hands.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Quennax the eidolon has four arms.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Initially hating gnomes and having few compulsions about killing them, Ren softens her attitude towards them after meeting No-Kill.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Ren explains to Melicandra that she is different from her kin and that she, unlike most kobolds, has at least one friend.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Some of No-Kill's party void their bowels on death.
  • Odd Friendship: Ren and Laughless/Tyermumtican, Tyermumtican and Chime.
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: The kobolds have a racial memory. They're born being able to speak and sometimes have memories and experiences of their ancestors. For example, when Ren first puts on a chainmail shirt, she instantly knows how to use it because one of her ancestors did. Khavi, too, when he picks up Jedra's spear. Also, Ren is a half dragon, a fact that should be fairly obvious under the game mechanics rules, but aside from a tinge of her scales she looks otherwise normal.
  • Pet the Dog: Khavi does a few nice things that pull him away from simply being Axe-Crazy.
  • Power Glows: Most magic has a visual effect.
  • The Power of Love: Tyermumtican speaks highly of love, and the effect its loss has on a copper dragon, known for their ability to laugh and tell jokes.
  • Precision F-Strike: A few times. Most notably, Khavi saying he doesn't want to have sex with Ren, because he doesn't fuck gnomes. This is a terrible insult to her, akin to saying he doesn't fuck dogs or hunks of slime.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Vrax gives a roundabout one to Ren and Khavi, explaining how little they know of the world and how he's able to be the leader of Ssarsdale without being a sorcerer.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Khavi tries this when they attack the gnome city. Too bad all the gnomes are dead or long gone.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Khavi's eyes glow red when he's angry. Vrax also has red eyes, as do many other kobolds; it's the most common colour.
  • Roaring Rampageof Revenge: The humans against the kobolds, after Khavi kills a number of them, including a child.
  • Rebellious Princess: In a way, Ren is a version of this. Sorcerers are a privileged upper class; they can own things, are a lot more independent, and the rules of their Lawful Evil society don't apply as strictly. However, they are still expected to contribute and Tzala does not allow her to leave the city.
  • RPG-Mechanics Verse: Although based on the Pathfinder RPG, most notably the use of a summoner/eidolon, narrative takes precedence over rules.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Ren is smarter than most kobolds, so her internal monologue and her use of language are somewhat higher order than most other kobolds.
  • Ship Tease: Ren and Khavi. Until Khavi's head gets chopped off.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Jedra suggests that Ren is related to Yeznen due to her jaw line being similar.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Ren has these. So does Contremulus for obvious reasons.
  • Take That!: To the Pathfinder RPG. It's subtle, but Ren quickly realises that Quennax is too powerful for her. In the Pathfinder RPG, Summoners (the base class who are granted Eidolons as pets) are widely considered to be overpowered, primarily because of their Eidolons. (... and their reduced spell-level spells)
  • Unstoppable Rage: Khavi is probably a barbarian given how often he shrugs off poisons, magic and beatings due to being angry.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Ren, after she gets covered in tiny spiders and Khavi sets her on fire.
  • Wangst: After Atikala is destroyed, Ren and Khavi engage in some.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ren walks straight into the human village, against Khavi's advice. It doesn't end well.