Friday, November 30, 2012

(23) Historical Fiction: The Fury of Dragons

TITLE: The Fury of Dragons
GENRE: Historical Fiction

Even though the penalty for runaway slaves is death, Eleri seeks to escape the powerful British chieftain who abducted her on a slaving raid.

432 AD

Every step forced the iron cuff deeper into the raw flesh of her ankle.

Eleri staggered along the forest path, chained to the other sobbing captives. Pirates with torches and bloodstained swords had herded the women through the forest all night. When the pirates weren't close, she searched the green dimness under the trees. Some of the abducted women were the wives of warriors and royalty. They and the rest of the group, slaves like herself, would have been missed by now.

She wiped the sweat off her face and shuddered when the leader's gaze focused on her. Throughout the endless night march this pirate had patrolled the straggling line of women, keeping a sharp lookout. Clean-shaven, with dark hair pulled back from a face tanned by the sun, his gaze was that of a man accustomed to being obeyed. He'd stood on a knoll yesterday at the edge of the clearing, watching his men dispatch the older members of the group and round up the young women, while the screams of the dying shattered the early morning air. Everything in his bearing spoke of ruthless power and forcefulness, from the taut set of his chin to the massive bronze armlets that coiled around his upper arms. Now his dark stare transfixed her like a hunter's arrow until she managed to look away and choke back a sob.

It didn't seem possible that only yesterday Patrick had baptized her in the cool waters of the spring.


  1. Love me some historical fiction. Your logline is succinct and to the point. I like that.
    Little tweaks I would suggest
    "...When the pirates weren't close, she searched the green dimness under the trees..." Need to understand what she was searching for in order to transition smoothly to the next sentence or help me understand better what she's thinking.
    Also I think you can break up that 3rd paragraph so it makes a more fluid read. Maybe interchange and shorten some of the sentences.
    LOVE the last line!!
    Good Luck!!

  2. Holy opening page! You've painted QUITE the scene. My only suggestion would be to group together the sentences of the leader's physical description. As it stands, "He'd stood on a knoll..." breaks it up, so I'd switch it with the "Everything in his bearing..." sentence.

  3. Great opening line - right into a scene and a protagonist with a problem. I love that.

    2 minor quibbles would be the use of the word 'pirate' and the switch in the time frame in the 3rd paragraph.

    But I'd certainly read on.

  4. I really like the concept, as well as the mood you build. You can feel the fear and vulnerability of your protagonist. I would say you have the makings of a great story teller.

    I agree with the above comments that the writing needs a bit of polish - try the tweaks suggested and watch your grammar.
    For example, "Clean-shaven, with dark hair ... tanned by the sun" is a modifying clause. ie. not sure if you can say clean-shaven gaze (rather its his face you have described).

    Good luck!

  5. Your logline is strong, but I think you can make it more powerful with a bit of tweaking. 'Seeks to escape' could be turned into a stronger goal with more drama, like 'strives to survive her capture' or 'flees from...' or something like that.

    Very dramatic opening. The description is very vivid. The sudden mention of Patrick jerked me away from the drama, but I think it's probably a good segue to a flashback. (not seeing the next sentence, I'm guessing here)

    I wouldn't use 'dispatch' as a euphemism for killing here. The POV is a captive's, and I don't think Eleri would think of sanitizing what the pirates are actually doing. I would choose a word that would express her fear and disdain of what her captors are perpetrating. Maybe something like 'slaughtered'.

    I'd read on. I enjoy this genre, and the hook got me.

    If you have time to return a critique, my post is #19 Everett Quartet.

    Good luck!

  6. Vivid Imagery and setting. I agree with the comments above.

    I'm already connected to Eleri and would definitely read on.

  7. I love this first line so much!

    The description here feels just right, plus there's an immediate emotional connection with Eleri.

    I'm really nitpicking here, but I wonder if it might work to substitute one or two of the "pirate" references with "raiders," only because the word pirate conjurs up a very specific, rather swashbuckling image, which isn't right for this time period.

    And after reading again, I agree with the earlier comment about the word "dispatch" as it does sound a little clinical. Maybe the men cut their throats or something more specific and visual?

    Really well done intro!

  8. Again, historical fiction isn’t for me, but the opening is pretty good. Just watch the POV when you mention the leader standing on the knoll (should be through Eleri’s eyes). The writing is smooth, and I get a good sense of what she’s up against. However, the logline leaves much to be desired. There must be more to this story than a woman running away from her captors. If I was going off that one sentence, I wouldn’t know what makes the plot interesting and what the real conflict is. Is she torn between running away and some desire for the chieftain? Does she need to infiltrate their ranks to gain some knowledge necessary to save the other women?

  9. Wow, what a powerful scene! Great writing. The last line threw me completely though. I thought she was a slave, and had been for a while? And who is Patrick, is he the pirate she was just describing, or someone new? Good luck!

  10. Really evocative first page! I instantly cared about your MC and could feel her frustration and fear. The scene was easy to picture, and your descriptions really brought the scene and characters to life. I agree about the logline, though. If you plan to use one for anything else, you might want to give us a hint of what else is in store for Eleri. I would definitely keep reading (and wish I could!) :)