You may be looking for the 2010 fantasy novel The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson.
The Way of Kings is a fantasy/xenofiction novel by Louise Searl, telling the tale of a lion's life on the African savannah.
The Way of Kings provides examples of:
- Alternate Animal Affection: The lions rub heads to show affection.
- Animal Jingoism: Lions and hyenas, as in real life, hate each other as they are direct competitors.
- Animal Religion: The lions worship the sun and moon as gods. They believe they created all the animals, including their original ancestor.
- Animal Talk: Each species has its own language, but they have a few words in common, since they all originally spoke the "Ancient Tongue." Yar the hyena learns lion language.
- Bittersweet Ending: The main character and his brother both die at the end. But they have lived long, successful lives, and go to Mbingu (lion Heaven).
- Creation Myth: The lions believe the sun and moon created the world, including their original ancestor.
- Cub Cues Protective Parent: Lion cubs get into trouble and have to be rescued by their parents.
- Death of a Child: Two of the cubs are killed by a rival male.
- Fantastic Naming Convention:
- Male lions have names ending in A or O, females in I or U.
- Hyenas start life with a short, one-syllable name, and add a new syllable each time they achieve something. Yar's full name is Yarishkanovatunkatemasukitor.
- Fantastic Racism: Lions and hyenas hate each other.
- Heinous Hyena: Kachula initially thinks this way about hyenas, but upon getting to know Yar he changes his mind.
- Interspecies Friendship: Kachula the lion and Yar the hyena.
- King of Beasts: The lions tell a folk tale about how their original ancestor became King of Beasts.
- Meaningful Name: Not the character names, but those used by the lions for themselves and other species - simba, fisi, etc. They are the Swahili words for those animals. Their names for the sun and moon, Jua and Mwezi, are also Swahili.
- Nature Is Not Nice: The lions face danger on a daily basis.
- Overly-Long Name: Yar the hyena's full name is Yarishkanovatunkatemasukitor.
- Papa Wolf: Kachula is extremely protective of his cubs, especially the mischievous Tavu.
- Predation Is Natural: Lions have to hunt, but they respect their prey and thank each animal they kill for its sacrifice.
- Rite of Passage: Kachula and his siblings are excited for their first hunt. It doesn't go well.
- Scavengers Are Scum: Inverted. The lions do not think of scavenging as any less noble than hunting.
- Unusual Animal Alliance: Kachula and Yar.
- Xenofiction: Told from the point of view of lions.