Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Lifeweaver
GENRE: Fantasy

King Arlan had shown impeccable timing in getting himself murdered tonight. Talyn could think of no better excuse to leave one of his mother's exhausting dinner parties than, "My apologies, someone assassinated the king, and I must go bring His Majesty back to life."

But now, as Talyn and his bodyguard strode through the palace halls, anxiety prickled the air. Guards watched them pass with uneasy stares. Servants lingered in doorways, only to scatter when Talyn glanced their way. Their uncertainty and fear smothered Talyn's relief, and a churning ball of worry spawned in his gut. He had yet to treat someone even half as important as a king. To fail wouldn't just be embarrassing; it would be akin to treason.

To succeed, though--that would foil an assassin’s plans. If a murderer truly wanted the king dead--permanently--then within the next few minutes, they had to kill Talyn too.

And unlike every other person in Aronia, Talyn had no one to save him from death.

He shivered as he stepped through the dining hall’s entryway. The air stank of citrus and blood, and shadows lingered in every corner of the immense hall. So did royal guards--at least twenty, spaced evenly, like armored pillars wielding sword and spear.

Talyn murmured to his bodyguard, "How could an assassin slip past this many guards?"

Gariss, ever-vigilant, did not even spare him a glance. "Maybe some turned traitor."

The doors behind them slammed shut.

Talyn spun around. Four guards had already moved to block the entrance.


  1. This has great tension in the opening -- a murdered king, and a man with the power to save him as the MC is a solid hook. And I love how this ends, too, since I'm left on the dramatic moment of Uh Oh! Are they going to be killed or are the king's guards just protecting them? But, though it is all well done, I feel like I'm missing something -- I'm not sure what sets this apart from every other fantasy novel. There's nothing to give me a sense of what is unique about this world. Maybe that's okay, because you give us some sense of it in the next couple of pages (which I think would be absolutely fine) but if not, that might be something to consider bringing forward into the beginning.

    Otherwise, nice, smooth writing, and I do like Talyn's voice!

  2. I like the premise and I like that the stakes are high from the get-go. The writing is strong and i would continue on. The second paragraph was a bit flowery for my tastes. I preferred the cleaner style of the rest of the piece.

    IMHO, you could cut "anxiety prickled the air" and "Their uncertainty and fear smothered Talyn's relief, and a churning ball of worry spawned in his gut" without losing any tension. Uneasy stares and people scattering set the tone nicely.

    Great opening

  3. What a great voice! Love your style, and love the humor. The one thing that tripped me up was the fact that unlike everyone else, Talyn had no one to protect him from death, but then you refer to his bodyguard. Isn't that the purpose of a bodyguard?
    Well done!

  4. See, I loved this. I got the impression that the body guard was to THWART ATTEMPTS, but that only he could BRING SOMEONE BACK from death. I thought it was a really strong beginning.

  5. I like the premise and based on what you've given us (combined with the title) I think this is a great fantasy premise.

    I have to admit that although I like the content of the opening line, it reads a little awkward for me. I'm not sure why.

    One other thing, I really like your characters names. Good job on that.

  6. I was very hooked and want to read on. I'm not sure what comes next, but I hope the guards that slam the doors aren't traitors, that would be too soon to break the tension. (I'm guessing they aren't traitors). You've got me totally hooked, so be sure to keep that tension by not giving any answers too soon.

    great job.


    I *loved* that first paragraph. Don't ever get rid of it! :D

  8. I would definitely read on. I like the voice and the pacing. Nicely done!

  9. This is good work. How do I know? Because I almost skipped right over this one after "King Arlan" (the name seemed, yanno, so-typical-fantasy), but then my eyes slipped over the rest of that sentence and I did a mental, "Oh?" And it just got better.

    I love the flippancy of the first paragraph. I second Tamara. Don't ever lose it.

    I sort of agree with Bill Scott's suggestions on the second paragraph. It did seem a bit awkward. Maybe you could clean it up just a hair to get across the same basic vibe.

    And "the air stank of citrus and blood." I freaking love that! Hands down, my favorite line. Well, after, "My apologies, someone assassinated the king, and I must go bring His Majesty back to life." :)

  10. I'd read on. Even though it is not a genre I normally read. It is written well. I think. :)

  11. Awesome!

    I was a little confused about POV in the beginning because of the mention of the King. I'd get rid of that first sentence, or move it to the end of the opening paragraph.

    The second paragraph feels a little clunkier than the others. It's very wordy.

    I'd definitely keep reading. Love the premise.

  12. Thanks for the comments, everyone! They are much appreciated.

    Seems like the consistent criticism is a clunky/flowery second paragraph. I'll have to work on that.

  13. I remember this from another of the Authoress' critique sessions, and I love the tightening up you did here. Best of luck with this!

  14. It was always a strong opening, but I do agree with Becky that I like the choices you've made in handling some of last round's critiques.

    For Bill's suggested cuts, I see the advantage in cutting "anxiety prickled the air," as well as, "and a churning ball of worry spawned in his gut." But I think "Their uncertainty smothered Talyn's relief" (you can cut "and fear") is necessary to relate their unease to his doubt about his abilities. I could be wrong, though.

  15. Nice opening and nice finish. And interesting premise, too! Just one suggestion - perhaps start with Talyn rising from the dinner table and actually saying his line of dialogue? I think it would make a great first line. As is, you’re telling us instead of showing us, and that dilutes it a bit. I’m hooked.

  16. I'd definitely keep reading. The opening paragraph was unexpected and funny. Just enough to get us intrigued about the character and the world, but you held back enough not to bombard us with backstory and world building, giving us a great amount of character and conflict instead.

  17. I remember reading this before and it definitely reads more smoothly. I really enjoyed this. Great work.