Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Knight of Aegias
GENRE: Fantasy

It all began with the skull.

There were other beginnings of course, found in occurrences both obvious and subtle that had been orchestrated by circumstance, chance or some other more deliberate force that had dictated the course of things. Everything was a consequence of something. But whenever he thought back on it years later, Ryn always found himself dwelling on the day on which that wretched piece of bone first intruded upon their lives.

It had been the twelfth day of Quinsen, the height of spring, a day that came like any other. The rising sun burned away the cool breezes that had crept in under the cover of darkness from Crusader’s Bay. Residents devoted to the Church and the Quadripartite were summoned to Morning Prayers by the toll of the cathedral’s bells. Those who instead adhered to the shamanistic practices of the Teishlian Empire heralded the sun’s arrival with sing-song chants that lingered long after the bells had gone silent, as if one religion could overwhelm the other by persistence alone. From the Harbor Ward echoed the sounds of maritime commerce, mingled with the aromatic smoke of outdoor cooking hearths and bread ovens.

Ryn woke with the first note of the cathedral’s bells. Josalind barely stirred beside him, her features lost under a tangle of coppery red curls and one pale arm cradled over her head. He rose, pulled on a light cotton shirt and a pair of short pants, and padded barefoot to his desk in the common room of their modest apartment.


  1. I'm concerned that this opening is taking a while to rev up. We don't get to actual characters and movement until the very last paragraph, and the rest is just setup. While you do paint a nice picture of the world, it didn't really grab me because I didn't have present action and characters as a foundation.

    You've obviously built this world well, and know much of its intricate workings. However, I'd prefer to have this information drizzled over the actions of the characters, instead of 'info dumped' at the beginning.

  2. I love the first line. After that, I felt a little bit lost. The paragraph ruminating on other beginnings and how everything is a consequence of something else just made me frustrated. I wanted to get to what began with the skull! You give us a great, intriguing sentence like that, but then it gets lost and bogged down in all the description, so by the time I reach the point where Ryn wakes up, I don't even remember the skull anymore, or why I should care.

    That said, you have some great imagery and description. You definitely paint a great picture of the city(?) where Ryn lives. I just wish it weren't between me and finding out what is going on with your hook. :)

  3. You definitely have a way with words. The way you paint a picture of this world waking up is beautiful. It flows so effortlessly.

    I like the way the first line leaves me wanting to know about the skull but the next bit lets me know that there's a story that needs to be told before we can get back to the skull. It works for me. I like it.

  4. The first line has shock value, but the telling and backstory in the second and third paragraphs took away any forward momentum. I wouldn't read on, and I suggest you think about going straight to para 4 after the opening line, and try to insert the world building a little at a time.

  5. I really liked the description in the second paragraph--great world building. Not sure whether this needs to be in the opening though. I'd start with him waking up in the beginning of the second paragraph, then that naturally leads into talking about the two different religions making their noises outside, but we hear it from MC's perspective. This also helps with the problem I had with the third paragraph, which was that, in my mind, the character was already away talking about the religions in the second paragraph, so having him wake up in the third, when I already pictured him awake, jolted me. I also think in the first paragraph you might make it a little less wordy so it's got punch. I like the first paragraph, just a little wordy. Choose the best words and leave out the rest.

    Nice job.

  6. Unfortunately, I wouldn't read on.
    There's too much here and not enough drawing me in. I am not a huge fantasy fan, maybe this is why, But there is a lot of info and not a lot about the MC. There is also a very static tone to it. The voice is not grabbing me.

  7. I don't like omniscient narrator, so I would stop reading pretty quickly.

    You move into Ryn's point of view in the final paragraph though. Why not just start with that?

  8. I want to emphasize that I really like the writing style and the attention to world building and detail in this. Taken seperately, each paragraph was lovely... but it seems to be in the wrong order.

    I completely agree with Mark about starting with Ryn waking and then filtering the world building in through his real-time observations.

    I also agree with Amalia about the paragraph after the first skull line being a bit of frustrating delay.

    ...though still a very nicely written delay.

  9. I actually really like this. Sounds like true fantasy.

    Adult fantasy by authors like George Martin, Brandon Sanderson and Anthony Durham often take pages before you even know who the main character is or what the conflict is.

    Different genres demand different ways of engaging the reader.

    Keep going.

  10. Took too long to get going for me and I was a little lost in the reflection and world building and then getting to Ryn only in the third paragraph. I'm not sure what the opening conflict is to keep me riveted in the story and reading. Since it is fantasy, I might give it another page to find out who the character is and if I can connect with him.

  11. It all started with the skull. You said it as the writer, your MC says it as the character, and where did you start? Not with the skull. If it all started with the skull, then start the story with the skull. A skull is always a bigger hook than 250 words of description.