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Literature / The Forges of Dawn

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All the prophets and far-seers in the land of the Black Mountains started screaming at once, clawing at their eyes and thrusting paws into the burning fires they scried upon in an attempt to tear the visions from their minds. Blood and burns ran across their bodies, and those that did not kill themselves outright simply went mad, crying over and over that the Red Queen was coming.
"For there to be heroes, there must first be darkness, and to stand against that darkness, heroes must be forged"

The Forges of Dawn is the first in an upcoming series of Iron Lyon novels.

It follows the somewhat clumsy and over sized lioness named Uhuru In a World... where humans have gone extinct and animals have dominion over earth. Africa (called "Afriik" in the book) has been forcibly dominated by a large pride of white and pale lyons called "The Pale Ones", under the leadership of a Lord or Lady for generations, and finally one of them appears on her pride's doorstep, savaging her father and uncle with monsters controlled and created from their magic. The rest of her family is herded back to their stronghold to be made prisoners and slaves of, and a simple quest to infiltrate and free them turns into much more. She learns, while within the stronghold, that she is the heir to many strange powers and is "Red Queen" prophesied to bring an end to Pale One rule...


The Forges of Dawn contains examples of:

  • After-Action Healing Drama: Uhuru has to get Lochan to a healer after she escapes Chetna's prison.
  • All There in the Manual: The Wiki has loads of information not present in the book.
  • Alternate History: It is set in an alternate timeline where lyons killed all humans many thousands of years ago and became sapient, meaning that there are several pleistocene-era animals running around according to supplemental material who were never driven extinct by humans.
  • And I Must Scream: The Lyons lost inside of the hounds may still be aware of their actions, even as they kill and consume their own kind.
    • The white lyon of old Tšatši is reduced to nothing but a skull, buried under sand, while his magic continues to kill and claim lives. He doesn't want it to, but has no voice to countermand it and is still alive, technically, so his magic cannot die.
  • Animalistic Abomination: The Hounds.
  • Ax-Crazy: Vireka, Yu Song, especially Vireka though.
  • Advertisement:
  • Back To Back Bad Asses: Tarute and Uhuru, and more like Stomach to back but —
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Why Tarute and Uhuru jump off the cliff into the Tempest rather than be captured by the Pale Ones. Tarute would have actually been killed, while Uhuru, would have just been tortured and forced her to be Vireka's wife, but of course she's not enthusiastic about that either.
  • Big "NO!": Uhuru after the Pale Ones catch up with her.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The meanings of all of the character's names.
  • Blood Lust: All the Pale Ones are this to some extent, but Vireka is the most potent example, licking fresh blood off his paws when he strikes a subordinate hard enough to leave wounds behind.
  • Blood Magic: The descendants of Lang'at all can use blood magic, using their own blood.
  • Blow You Away: Vireka's gift is to create hurricane-force winds.
  • But Now I Must Go: Uhuru and her allies leave the Barbari pride that she was training in to go to the Waste, to their disappointment (they had offered her a chance to stay and be one of their warriors).
  • Cain and Abel: Mōbōr and Tšatši.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": All animals are given names with slightly to largely different spelling and pronunciation than their real world names.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: The Hounds are averse to stepping into or drinking water, though they can be forced to by Beast Tamers.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Uhuru is quite surprised to see herbivorous animals joining the lyons in the Endian markets.
  • Circling Monologue: Vireka does it to Fuga before he turns him into a Hound.
  • Cold Flames: Unsurprisingly, the Coldfyre.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Afriik. The Endians see it as a wondrous land, shielded from the evils of Mōbōr, and it is ruled by Tšatši's descendants. That doesn't mean it isn't an absolutely horrible place to live.
  • Cyanide Pill: Tigrisians carry poison with them so they can kill themselves when the Endians try to interrogate them.
  • Distant Prologue: The first chapter takes place about a century before the main story, and the narrative before that takes place probably thousands of years ago.
  • Diurnal Nocturnal Animal: As lyons have moved away from their previous habits, they have become more diurnal. Uhuru herself largely subverts this, because her pride has mostly followed the old ways.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Pale Ones capture Uhuru's pride and kill its leaders in order to punish Kamaria.
  • Dude In Distress: Quite a few of them.
  • The Empire: The Pale Ones and Endia to a lesser degree.
  • Exact Words: Nirnasha says that he should have greater command over the Coldfyre than Vireka due to being a closer descendant, and Uhuru assumes this means that he's Mōbōr's son, and that when he gestures to the bones he wears, saying that he is always with him, it means that he is wearing his bones. But it turns out that this means he is Mōbōr.
  • Evil Albino: Vireka and his entire line. Well, to be exact, evil leucistic.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Coldfyre, which is [[Exactly What Is Says On The Tin what it sounds like, and is used by the villainous Pale Ones.
  • Extra Eyes: Hounds have six eyes.
  • Evil Matriarch: Empress Chetna. Her cruelty doesn't even stop at her family.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Tšatši's final spell, which transforms a huge section of the globe into an uninhabitable, zombie-infested wasteland.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Pale Ones thinks darker pelted lions are expendable. In Endia, we see that the tigrisians and utans aren't particularly fond of the ruling class of lyons, and the lyons return the sentiment.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Vireka can be charming and soft-spoken, but there’s madness just beneath and he can snap at the most tenuous of provocations.
  • Feminist Fantasy: It is a fantasy where the main character is a powerful lioness.
  • Final Battle: At the end of the book, between Uhuru, Tarute and Modak, the Guardians, the Pale Ones' slaves and herders and the Pale Ones, their hounds, and the Goras (until they make their ill-fated decision to abandon the fight.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: The Heathen Barbari are noted to be obsessed with Afriik, or at least what they think Afriik is like.
  • Forging Scene: Ming Huo forges Uhuru's armor in Part 3.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Pales one seek to eradicate any ‘dirt pelted’, darker colored lions. Guess what spells the end of their reign?
  • Godzilla Threshold: Uhuru doesn't restore Tarute's sanity before the battle, deciding that there isn't time for that anymore.
  • Good Needs Evil: ‘...For there to be heroes, there must first be darkness...’
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Yu Song loves killing animals this way. Navy tries threatening it to Uhuru, but she uses so much slang that the threat has no meaning to her.
  • Honor Among Thieves: Navya says that Yu Song's pirates are like this to protest Uhuru stealing her salt (which is used as currency), only of Uhuru to point out all of the animals watching them as potential victims.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Pale Ones ride on Hounds, while Endians ride on phuntar (a.k.a. elephants).
  • Humanity's Wake: The lyons drove humans extinct.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Uhuru's fight with Tarute in Chetna's prison.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Uhuru gets a Hound impaled on sharp tree branches by jumping out of the way just as it makes its attack leap.
  • Ironic Name: Lochan's name means "bright eyes", and he told Uhuru he named himself that as an ironic name because of his less-than enthusiastic personality. His original name, Layak, means "capable", and considering how incapable he is considered, he thinks this one's ironic as well.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): The continents get renamed just like animal species.
  • Killed Offscreen: Hotio, Kamaria, and Shari.
  • Knight Templar: The Pales Ones, but especially their leader, Vireka.
  • Language Drift: The Heathen Barbari try to imitate African culture and believe they have the same language, but due to being separate for millennia it is noted that the languages have greatly diverged.
  • Last Stand: Tšatši held one against Mōbōr in the distant past, but he found a way to do better than a desperate stand when Araawa gave him power over the fyres.
  • The Leader: Despite having no leadership ability prior to her pride's destruction, Uhuru naturally steps into any leadership positions whenever she's a part of a group where there isn't already one. And even then, she tends to clash with that leader.
  • Light Is Not Good: The vast majority of the Pale Ones who, as their name suggest, are either Pale or White in pelt color.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Hounds are twice the size of lions, extremely strong and hard to injure, and they're faster than cheetahs.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Inverted, since every magical character thus far comes from Lang'at's line, and she was female while Jyotis was male and nonmagical.
  • Macguffin Blindness: The Pale ones miss that Uhuru's sapphire is a coldfyre stone because it is dull and because they simply never expected a coldfyre stone to show up in that context.
  • Magic Knight: Uhuru and Vireka are both capable of magic, though the latter is more skilled and uses it more extensively while the former relies more on brute strength and her own determination.
  • Made a Slave: When the Pale Ones aren't turning their captured enemies into Hounds, they're enslaving them.
  • Meaningful Name: Several.
    • Uhuru’s name means ‘Freedom’. After Lochan dies, she changes it to Uru, which means ‘Diamond’
    • Hotio = ‘Dismissed’
    • Kanali’s name means ‘Colonel’
    • Koto = ‘Bulky’
    • Lochan is a prince of Endia, and teaches Uhuru their language as well as confiscating her before another more unsavory person or group gets their paws on her.
    • Oni’s means ‘Born in a Sacred Abode’
    • Tarute’s name means ‘Live Through’ or ‘Contend’
    • Vireka’s name means ‘Emptying’
  • Meaningful Rename: Uhuru's name change to Uru reflects how she is determined and unbreakable.
  • No Escape but Down: Uhuru and Tarute jump off a cliff into the Tempest to escape the Pale Ones, knowing she'll probably die.
  • No Ontological Intertia: Tšatši, Mōbōr, and Vireka's deaths lead to the Hounds being turned back into lyons, the Waste and Tempest disappearing, the undead animals dying permanently, and the Coldfyre disappearing. However, the Sunfyre is still imbued in Uhuru's armor, and this is noted to be because not all magic just disappears with its user's death.
  • No-Sell: Users of Coldfyre and Sunfyre are immune to what they use, unless a closer descendant of the fire's respective creators is nearby. One of Lochan's uncles is immune to regular fire.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Vireka thinks this [[after he gets the Colder during the Final Battle]], though the audience knows that [spoiler:Nirnasha can stop him if he just gets close enough.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never find out just how Chetna tortured Lochan, just that Uhuru thought it was almost as bad as hacking off bits of him.
  • Obviously Evil: Uhuru expects the Pale Empire to actually look evil. As a result, the reality of well-kept and impressive-looking farmlands surprises her.
  • Panthera Awesome: Almost the entire cast.
  • Pirates: Yu Song and his crew are the brutish kind, though he pretends to be the roguish kind.
  • Power Armor: After they traverse the Waste, Uhuru is able to imbue her armor with the Power of the Sun just before they face Vireka.
  • The Power of Love: What fuels the Heartfyre.
  • Power of the Sun: The Sunfyre, which, as befits its origin, is both terribly destructive and keeps whatever it kills alive.
  • The Promised Land: The Endians see Afriik as this. Its reality would not fit their expectations.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The goras forge armor for the Pale Ones, but they don't approve of their tactics; they just do so as the only way to make a living and because it benefits both parties.
  • Pyro Maniac: The Pale Ones love using their Coldfyre.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Red everything take warning, in Uhuru’s case. The Hounds also have red eyes, except for Tarute, which is a sign of his sanity.
  • Red Is Heroic: Uhuru's pelt, eyes, tail tuft, and underbelly are all red and she is indeed, the hero.
  • Red Right Hand: The Pale Lords literally have a red paw, due to being descendants of the Red Queen Mjane.
  • The Rival: Uhuru and Kanali after she tears off one of his ears and blinds him in one eye. Later, Uhuru and Tai Yang.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Technically Uhuru, as she is a part of the Pale One holy/royal line via her grandmother, Kamaria, who was the daughter to one of it’s princes.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Mjane lets herself be captured by the Pale Ones so they'll never find out about her son carrying on the line, stopping their attempt to get her power. But the Pale Lord just rapes her and installs the resulting child, Keita, on the throne, leading to the Pale Ones having more power than ever before thanks to control of the Coldfyre.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: The Hounds versus pretty much anything, even two adult male lyons, excepting perhaps another hound. Uhuru mentions they can club a Rhino into unconsciousness with ease.
  • The Sociopath: Vireka, Yu Song, and Kanali. Nearly all of the Pale Ones, in fact.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: Yu Song wants to convince the tigrisians to rebel against the Endian empire, fueling their legitimate angers, for his own benefits.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Koto's death. Uhuru notes that he could have saved Aja without being killed himself, but he was still in shock from his brother's death.
  • Suicide Is Painless: When Lochan is first introduced, he is considering drowning himself just because he is bored.
  • Taking the Bullet: Lochan dies by getting in the way of Tai Yang's throwing knife, saving Uhuru. And Tarute later does the same thing, standing between Uhuru and Vireka's Blood Magic.
  • Terror Hero: Uhuru tries to inspire as much fear in her as possible from the Pale Ones to gain an advantage, using her Sunfyre armor, Tšatši's skull, and Lochan's mane.,
  • The Dragon: Kanali to Vireka. And Tai Yang to Yu Song.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Nirnasha and the undead animals of the Waste hope so and they are right.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Yu Song and Tai Yang.
  • Uplifted Animal: They populate the world instead of humans.
  • You Have Failed Me: Happens to Fuga, the Beast Master, after he fails to find Kamaria and her family for Vireka. The white lyon punishes him by turning him into a hound.
  • Was Once a Man: All Hounds were once Lyons.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Lochan gets ignored by his relatives thanks to having the power to grow plants quickly, which doesn't seem like much use for a potential ruler.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Modak calls out Lochan for saying that Uluru will be just like the Pale Ones if she attacks them, and Ming Huo for objecting to him taking Lochan's mane with him]], even though she herself uses dead animal parts for various jobs without ever thinking about it, as opposed to Modak's intention of respect to the dead.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: No one wants to be head beast tamer of the Pale Ones because of the chances of Vireka turning you into a hound.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Pale Ones use bronze claws on top of their regular ones to be more powerful. In Endia, they're made of iron.
  • Women Are Wiser: With a few exceptions, the female characters in the book seem to have all the ideas and answers.
  • Xenofiction
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Cold spots have a tendency to distort time this way.
  • You Have Failed Me: Why Vireka turns Fuga into a hound, and later why Yu Song kills Navya.

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