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Literature / The Highlands of Afon

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The beginning of the series.
The Highlands of Afon are a series of novels by Marcus LaGrone about a species of feline aliens known as the Taiks and in particular a subspecies known as the Highlanders. Known primarily for their 4:1 gender ratio and the abilities of their males to summon weapons from hyperspace.
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The novels, in published and rough chronological order:

  • Dawn: Dawn is the daughter of a Highlands ambassador who is suddenly orphaned by a terrorist attack. Taken in by her uncle Llewellyn and his family she has to adjust to a new life in a culture she belonged to but spent very little time among. And what will they think about her wings?
  • Edward: Edward has felt overshadowed by his older siblings and is determined to prove himself fighting along the Shukurae mercenaries. But when a "routine" job contract to provide security for an up-and-coming pop diva becomes complicated, he is forced to reconsider what is truly important to him.
  • Chloë: On the run from an arranged marriage, Princess Chloë Amsterval crash-lands in the Highlands of Afon. There she finds refuge with the family of the young Heather Stratford. Can her new friends protect her from her father's henchmen and mercenaries? Or does someone need to protect them from Heather?
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  • Theodore: A college student from the Highlands of Afon studying on another planet, Theodore finds himself falling in love with a human woman, and getting tangled up with an organized crime syndicate.

Tropes

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Live Steel blades can cut through seemingly anything. And conversely Live Steel armor can stop a railgun at point-blank range.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kate, the Lady Mayor's daughter, bullies Dawn and makes fun of her "plain" coat and says she'll steal Gavin from her, despite already having a boyfriend. But in a subversion, her mother knows what she gets up to and punishes her for it, and it costs her boyfriend.
  • Always Someone Better: Edward is the only one of his brothers who isn't a High Silver, just an "ordinary" Silver. While he can change his fur and has better control over Live Steel than the average Highlander he can't create forests or fold space or generate EMP bursts like his big brothers. And he spends most of his novel obsessesing about it, eventually though, he comes to terms with just being himself, with help from his fiancées.
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  • Arranged Marriage: Chloë crash-lands in the Highlands trying to run away from one, where she discovers that forced marriages are actually illegal under Confederation law, which doesn't stop her father from trying to bring her back.
  • Badass Family: The Sliverglades, in particular Llewellyn, his brothers, and his daughters. Llewellyn himself is a retired mercenary whose Live Steel arsenal includes grav-tanks, he and his brother Penn are known as "the Right and Left Hands of Kali" in one of the systems that they are specifically banned by treaty from, even his youngest brother Edward is a Silver capable of taking on a biker gang/doomsday cult on his own. And daughters Dawn and Heather are among the few females capable of using Live Steel, Dawn can open gates remotely while Heather is quite formidable even unarmed.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Edward towards Tatiana and Zoe.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: "Silvers" can change their fur color at will, though near invisibility is largely exclusive to High Silvers.
  • Everyone Is Related: The titular characters of each book, Edward is Dawn's uncle, Chloë is best friends with Dawn's sister Heather and later her adoptive sister for all intents and purposes, while Theodore's second girlfriend/fiancee is Edward's daughter Meagan.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Because 80% of the Highlander population is female it's most common for a family to have one father and four mothers. The First Mother being the head of the household and primary breadwinner, Second Mother is in charge of caring for the children, Third and Fourth Mother's roles are less clearly defined. Other Taik races have more even gender ratios and find the concept of polygamy strange.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: One that requires a polygynous society that doesn't care which mother gave birth to someone. Dawn discovers that her uncle Llewellyn is actually her biological father, after she's been adopted by him and calling him "dad" for months. He got in a fight with her birth mother's brother and ended up killing him, after which her mother had a nervous breakdown and couldn't stand to be near him so she married into his sister's family.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Highlanders have both patrilineal clans and matrilineal (via first mother) houses. Though females typically just use their house name (i.e. Dawn Stratford), males list their mother's house and then their clan as children (Theodore Foxdale clan Blackford) then switch to just using their clan name when they become adults (Edward Silverglade) and when they marry they take their first wife's house name (such as Llewellyn Silverglade of house Stratford).
  • Fertile Feet: When High Silvers expend a lot of energy a small forest sprouts around them.
  • Feudal Future: A number of Altshean cantons are feudal, such as Chloë's homeland. The Highlanders have barons, but it's an earned military rank with no political power, towns are led by elected Lady Mayors. Which doesn't stop Chloë from introducing Heather as "daughter of Baron Llewellyn of the Three Dales" when dealing with her father's men.
  • Hammerspace: Male, and some female, Highlanders can summon Live Steel from a pocket dimension related to the ancient technology in the Highlands. They can also duplicate Live Steel items indefinitely and place new items there. One could send a machine gun to the pocket dimension and summon it back with essentially Bottomless Magazines.
  • Interspecies Romance: Theodore, a Highlands Taik, falls in love with a human girl named Anna. They can't have kids, but she's okay with him also marrying another Taik and being First Mother to their cubs. While Edward ends up with two Kulpgurie Taik girls, which is really more interracial than interspecies.
  • Man in a Kilt: The kilt is part of traditional Highlands formal wear, Llewellyn likes wearing a kilt, Edward would rather he not, and isn't too keen on wearing one himself. Though his girlfriends talk him into it.
  • Multi Cultural Alien Planet: Afon hosts at least four distinct nations, three of which are interstellar empires. The Kulpgurie Republic, the Altshea Confederation, Draeka Empire, and the Highlands.
  • Omniglot: A lot of characters, given there's not really any Common Tongue in the setting. Dawn knows eight languages on account of being a traveling ambassador's daughter. Chloë knows a number of languages via her royal education, but her somewhat isolated canton treated Afon's Old Tongue as a Classical Tongue so at first she has some trouble communicating with her new Highlands friends, at one point Dawn is asked to interpret. While Anna is first introduced offering to help Theodore with a spaceport clerk whose trade tongue is a lot worse than Ted's, and her mother knows even more languages.
  • Polyamory: Normal in the Highlands from the gender imbalance but unusual among lowlanders. To the point of being a minor scandal when Tatiana (a pop star) and Zoe both start dating Edward.
  • Portal Network: There are gates connecting towns in the Highlands left behind by the precursors. If they close, they can only be opened by the rare and solid white Aurorans, and by Dawn, who's completely black-furred.
  • Precursors: An unknown ancient civilization left a lot of highly advanced technology in the Highlands of Afon. It interferes with electronics, forcing most in the area to resort to more basic technology, but it is also the source of the Highlanders' Live Steel.
  • Proud Warrior Race: To some extent male Highlanders, they are traditionally protectors of their families and some of them go off-world as mercenaries. And the Shukurae, an alien race that was enslaved by another species as slave-warriors, but was freed with Highlander help, almost their entire species is now employed as mercenaries.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Aside from the gates there are "gate stones" that allow one who can open gates to teleport people anywhere. And High Silvers can fold space over arbitrary distances, Llewellyn once managed a jump of over a hundred light years.
  • Winged Humanoid: Dawn has wings that she normally stores in a pocket dimension, but she can fly with them. Initially, she's ashamed of them because she thinks they make her a freak but but her new family and boyfriend and co-girlfriend don't mind.

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