There was this book I read in 2008 - 2009 (series? single novel? not sure). I did not complete it then, so I vaguely remember very few details, please bear with me.

  • People seemed to be divided into different races, but these races each inherited some characteristics from different insects animals.
  • I remember one of the protagonists was some girl, with traits of an ant
  • The girl might have been a princes of her tribe? (the ant people maybe)
  • The setting is in a multicultural society, as in people with different insects animal traits did stay together, as well as sometimes in tribal/coven setup.
  • There were different houses, one for each type of people (ant people, mole people? moth people? some with tiger's traits? ...)
  • There was a huge city where a group of these people from different races go for some mission (free someone? kill someone? steal from someone?)
  • Their first attempt fails and they are all scattered in the giant city
  • The girl, with traits of an ant I think, joins a group of assassins/mercenaries, and eventually rises to the top quickly due to already being well trained. She does not reveal her true identity to them, however.

This is all I seem to recall. I tried various combinations here as well as on google, does not seem to give anything relevant. Any help is deeply appreciated!

  • Actually, I think I may be mistaken.... I should rephrase the question. I think there were animal traits too, not just insects
    – Abhinav
    Dec 7, 2015 at 10:46
  • With the exception of the Insects, it made me think of a half-remembered version of the Chronicles of the Chesuli, specifically, the first book 'Shapechangers' but there were no insects. (The rest of the facts could fit.. with some 'it's been a long time' stretching of details.)
    – K-H-W
    Dec 7, 2015 at 13:51
  • 1
    With the exception of the animal traits, this is a pretty good summary of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadow of the Apt books: amazon.ca/Empire-Black-Gold-Shadows-Apt/dp/1616141921 is the first book.
    – andrewsi
    Dec 7, 2015 at 14:25
  • @andrewsi - I read the extract from amazon link you posted, and that is the book I was looking for. If you can post it as an answer I shall accept it. I was wrong about the animal parts, I now realize. I listed only insect earlier, but for some reason I must have confused it with some other series cus then I added animal traits too.
    – Abhinav
    Dec 7, 2015 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


Aside from the animal traits, this is a pretty good summary of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadow Of The Apt series; specifically the first book, Empire In Black And Gold

After an unspecified disaster, humanity learned to survive by taking on attributes of various animals - Beetles are industrious, Flies can - er - fly, Mantises are excellent fighters, and so on.

The book is set in an area of the world called The Lowlands; the Wasp Empire is expanding into the area, and Stenwold Maker is trying to rally the traditionally bickering cities of the Lowlands into an alliance to oppose them.

He ends up dispatching a motley collection of his allies to a city to try and counter a Wasp plot, which as you recalled, goes less well than anticipated - the allies are scattered, and one of them gets involved with the city's underworld before she can be rescued.

If you liked the book, then you have another nine to look forward to!

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