Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #18

GENRE: Historical Fiction

The gods only accept what is valuable.

Gudrid kept repeating this, as she watched them hoist her mother into the tree. Her beautiful mother with the long shining hair, like her own.

Her cousin, Yngvild, touched her hand. Not a word was spoken, from anyone. No one could believe a young mother had to die this ninth year in the sacred grove. But the chieftain had spoken it. And the chieftain was her father.

Yngvild's parents sat nearby. Aunt Arnora, her mother's sister, was silently sobbing into her sleeves. Uncle Thorgeir, her father's brother, did not even look at the tree. Gudrid knew he was glad that he would have more control of her mother's family farm now.

Gudrid clenched her fists on her shift, bunching it so tightly she felt she could rip it apart. She longed to find a weapon and fight the men who would drop the ladder, breaking her mother's neck. But interrupting a sacrifice to Thor was punishable by death--the immediate death of hanging.

The sprawling, twisted tree looked almost alive against the grey Icelandic sky. The limbs seemed to clutch at the dead animals and people hanging from them. Gudrid imagined that the tree was holding
them back from dropping straight into Helheim. Truly, her mother should go straight to Valhalla for being a willing sacrifice. But only the men who died bravely in battle got to go there, to drink endless mead for eternity.


  1. Loved this! Great voice and I definitely got a feel for the MC. Plus, the stakes are clear and high!

    Well done! I'd definitely read on.

  2. I enjoyed this snippet and would be happy to read more.

  3. I'd love to see what happens next! Even with all of the names and social aspects you introduced, I didn't feel lost once.

    I would only suggest adding a few more hints of description, like the color of Gudrid's (and her mother's) "long shining hair" or the weather at this time of year. Even the bleak landscape or dull, muted colors of the clothing worn by the gathered relatives would give us something to look at.

    Great job and good luck!

  4. I loved this, even with all the hard to pronounce names! And what I loved more was that it's historical fiction, rather than fantasy. Truth is so much stranger than fiction.

    The only thing I would suggest is that you show all the animals and people hanging from the tree the first time you mention the tree. I'd still mention them at the end exactly as you have, but you might show them there in the beginning as set up so we can see what this hanging tree really looks like (so it's not just a tree) and it will also help create a grisly mood.

    Very nicely done!

  5. This is great. I like the idea of learning about both Icelandic history and mythology (which I hope happens).

    I think you can slow down with the information, specifically the last sentence threw me over the edge of too much information, too quickly.

    But I like Gudrid immediately, and feel invested in her world and what's happening to her, so that's key.

  6. I can't think of a thing to change. This is a searing insight into the real world, not "Norse mythology for boys and girls." I hope we hear more of you when you get published

  7. Just from reading those few paragraphs, I have goosebumps. Always a sign of a great story. I hope to read the entirety one day!

  8. I can't wait to read more! Very well done, nice strong voice, strong imagery. Will look for more from you!

  9. Sure hope that your work gets published--so interesting and readable so far. Definitely an appetite whetter!