Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #32


Prince Jocko and his best friend Brogwin Frayney lounged on the lawn on the far side of the castle’s moat. The young prince knew he should be heading for the Great Hall for his afternoon’s lessons, and though he saw the sun shift slightly westward, he remained reclining on the grass. “Though there be wicked trolls under yon bridge, should thy King or Queen command you to cross that bridge, would you?” he asked his friend and royal food taster.

Though Brogwin had not seen a troll on, near, or under this bridge, he believed the stories that one or more of them dwelled below it and would pounce on an unsuspecting traveler. That is why Brogwin vowed to never go to France. Perhaps by boat, but never on horseback and certainly not on foot crossing this bridge.

Brogwin swallowed nervously and stared up into the clouds drifting westward, having already passed over France and would soon float above England. He sat up and laid his right fist over his heart. “By my faith, my allegiance is to my king and queen. Bravely would I cross yonder bridge to Calais,” he declared.
Prince Jocko laughed at his friend’s attempt at bravery. “With a phalanx of knights to protect thee.”

Brogwin’s face flushed. “And what of thee?” he asked, happy to shift the attention from his failed boast.

“Me? Remember, I shall one day be king of Wagetannia, young Frayney. The king of Wagetannia cannot be fearful of a lowly troll. Hah!”


  1. Intriguing! Is this set on an imaginary island to the east of England? I can't quite figure out the geography. England is north of France, especially at the point where Calais meets Dover, so not sure why the clouds are drifting west, having passed over France and soon to be above England. Also, is that relevant to the story at this point? The clouds passing overhead?

    There are some details here that I'm not sure are necessary - do we need to know that they're on the far side of the castle's moat? In a first line that detail would have to be pretty important to warrant its place.

    The language is interesting but I wonder if the prince would also say 'thee' (as in 'Would thee') if he says 'thy' in that first bit of dialogue. Same with 'yon' and 'yonder.' I'm not an expert on olde worlde language so couldn't say for sure, but you'd need to make sure it was consistent one way or the other.

    I also assumed Brogwin was a girl because it's similar to the name Bronwin (is that spelled correctly?) but that might just be me. I do love the name!

  2. Hah! I really liked this! I'm especially a big fan of their dialogue. That was spot on for me. And i'm super intrigued to learn it's in our world, with the mentioned France.
    good job!

  3. Extremely visual and full of bold characters intriguing and different - kids would love this.

  4. I want to read more! I'm not usually a fan of this type of story, but somehow the language and setting grabbed me. The visuals really pop here, and this seems like a wonderfully different kind of story. From what little I've seen, it seems bold in its viewpoint, and probably ideal for imaginative younger readers.

  5. With all the false bravado going on here, I'm dying to find out how this food taster Brogwin could 'nearly' save a kingdom. The language puts me comfortably in Wagetannia and I think kids will feel right at home, as well.

  6. Definitely felt immersed in this alternate earth and would read on. My son is 10, he'd love this!

    Love the title too, just seems like fun. :)

  7. It doesn't matter to me which way the clouds are going. I like the fact that this story takes place in the past, in a make-believe kingdom, and with young boys who will have wonderful adventures. It appeals to the child in me and I want to read more! And I hope that happens. The author has created a new world in just a few paragraphs.

  8. Feels like high fantasy for MG, and I'm not a huge fan of high fantasy.

    I don't know. They just didn't feel like kids to me. Everything felt stilted, but that must just be me.

  9. Not sure I'd read on. I'm not a fan of high fantasy. It feels older than middle grade, but the dialogue is fun.

    Good luck. :)

  10. I'm not sure I have enough here to hook me. I love the dialogue but for a genre I don't normally read, it's got to grab me right away, give me something different than what I expect from the genre. Great names though.

  11. The idea of a royal heir friends with a common servant is a usual conceit so there must be something special about their relationship to elevate it beyond the usual. I think I would lose the old world language as it is more distancing than scene-setting. Likewise the references to geography and the moving of the clouds - I am sure of little to no interest to the target age group. Whatever age or world it is set in , the voiceds must still be authentic and they are not achieving that yet in this sample. "A phalanx of knights" would be an example of a choice of words wholly inappropriate as dialogue coming from a young boy - even a royal one. I suggest a more direct approach written in modern language yet elevated in order to convey the formality rather than the thee and thy and yon stuff. Before getting into trolls why not just start with why they are friends? That's what I mean by direct.

  12. This is one that I wanted to like more than I did. Right now, there's a lot of information being dropped in but not developed. Why isn't the prince going to class? What bridge are they talking about? Where are they (not England or France, apparently)?

    Don't be in such a hurry to give us the background info and details. Spend a bit more time on the dialogue between the boys.

    And thee/thou/thy is old-fashioned, but also denotes familiarity and status. A servant doesn't address his prince as "thee." And if the prince uses "thy," then he doesn't switch to "you." That pulled me out of the story a bit (but I am a bit of a linguist nerd.)

  13. This is so cute! I love *what* the characters are saying--it's very clever and fun--but I don't think the old world language is working. At all. It feels very awkward to me. I would really think about who your audience is. This is the kind of stuff that adults would LOVE for kids to read, but do kids really want to read anything with old world language? I think that alone would make it harder sell, and we aspiring authors already face an up-hill battle. If you really believe in the language, then definitely go for it. Just giving you something to think about. These two characters have great chemistry (in just 250 words!), so I would love to see it do well! And of course, the writing is really great. Good luck!

  14. I love the details. This is a well-thought out work with strategic information doled out in description.
    Very nice. I would love to read more.

  15. Jan:
    From the start, the author's balance of character and place draw me into the fun-to-read story. I can immediately fall head over heels into this imaginative kingdom . . . As much as I can't wait to get to the end, somehow I dread the end of a good fantasy.

  16. I hope this is going to be hilarious because it has some potential. I did want the author to pick a viewpoint: Prince or royal food taster?

    Both seem to have an unusual take on things, both seemed to have a comedic bent, but I think after a while without some ability to develop a character arc, this might get tedious. I actually can't choose, which is a really cool problem to have.

    Who changes the most in this story? That might be a great clue as to which one you choose for POV. And stick with the one you choose. Show us the entire story through his eyes.

    Other POV structuring include alternating chapters though, too.

  17. Thank you to all who read/commented.

    @ Secret Agent - Thank you for reading/commenting. The POV is Brogwin (royal food taster).