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Literature / The Way of Kings (2021)

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You may be looking for the 2010 fantasy novel The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson.
"To give up is not the way of kings."

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.
  • Big Bad: Torga.
  • 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).
  • Constantly Curious: Kachula when young, and later his daughter Tavu.
  • Covered with Scars: Nava has a few. Also Harathi.
  • 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.
  • Due to the Dead: The lions speak a death rite for those who have died. They also say words of thanks to prey they have killed.
  • 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.
  • Oh, My Gods!: The lions swear by Simba, their original ancestor, using phrases such as "Simba's claws!" and "By Simba's mane!"
  • Overly Long Name: Yar the hyena's full name is Yarishkanovatunkatemasukitor.
  • Panthera Awesome: Well, they're lions.
  • 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.
  • Taught to Hate: Lions are taught from birth to hate hyenas, with the differences between the species being emphasised. Once Kachula actually meets one for himself, he learns they aren't so different after all.
  • Thank Your Prey: Lions thank every animal they kill for its sacrifice, without which they themselves could not survive.
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: Kachula and Yar.
  • The X of Y: The Way of Kings.
  • Xenofiction: Told from the point of view of lions.
  • You No Take Candle: Yar the hyena talks like this when speaking lion language.