Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #9

TITLE: The Temple of Ardyn
GENRE: Fantasy

Anyone else would have thought him mad to even suggest it, but Taryn knew better. If Brandt said the heavy oak door in the cellar of the pub was a portal to another world, she was at least willing to humor him. She’d learned over the past twenty-three years to keep quiet and trust the old man. He often made outlandish claims, and they almost always came true.

“It will be an adventure.” Brandt said, the crinkles near his eyes folding into deep creases with his smile. “The best we’ve ever had.”

With deft fingers he traced around the frame, then the door itself, pressing against it as if the wood might speak to him. She was about to turn away when her pendant sent a shock of heat against her skin. Singing she was used to, pain was new. A moment later the doorway blazed with amber light and then the door was gone.

Instead of a storeroom filled with casks of ale and old chairs, Taryn stared into a gaping blackness. “Bloody hell.”

Brandt reprimanded her for cursing and she mumbled an apology, eyes fixed on the emptiness before her.

“Take my hand and whatever you do, don’t let go.” Brandt gripped her hand firmly, “There’s no telling where you might end up.”

“Where does it lead?” The darkness pulled at her with a curious desperation.

“Aelinae, darling.” Motioning to the nonexistent doorway her grandfather said, “You’d be surprised at what is possible if you look beyond what you think you know.”


  1. You've got a great first line, and a great last line, and you've definitely got my curiosity piqued. I would absolutely keep reading on. I've been meaning to get into more portal fiction. No pun intended...? :p

    The *only* thing I wish this piece had more of is... not so much more setting exactly, but more of a sense of the world. You know, like what Taryn was doing five minutes ago, or what appointment she may be putting off by humoring her grandfather. They're in a pub, right? So maybe she didn't even have time to finish her drink before Brant pulled her downstairs. I mean, we're on the verge of leaving this world for another, but we barely know anything about this one. As a reader, it'd reassure me if this world had been painted vividly so I'd know the one to come would be painted with the same deftness.

  2. I agree, what a great first line! I also think the last line is great but it might be coming a bit too soon in the story.

    Yeah, I was taken aback a little too by jumping right into Aelinae so quickly. I was going to go along with it however, if you do set up more of your MC's world first, I just want to throw out there how wonderfully DJ MacHale did it in Pendragon. Can I say that? I think reading that might help. All of that said, this is still a great intro!

  3. Yes, I would definitely read on. I'm a big fan of portal fantasy; I absolutely love it. I am curious though, just because there's a door, why are they going through? I mean if it's all just explore and have fun, that's cool, but it seems like there should be a motive for jumping through. I only bring it up because it seems like a bit of a trope in the portal fantasy genre. You have a door, and of course they go through it. So, I'd really like to have that set up better.

    I would definitely read on though.

  4. To me this is definitely not a first scene, maybe a third. I don't know their relationship yet, why they care, why Taryn is used to singing. It really feels to me like you took this scene out of the middle or end of the third chapter.

    Also I was confused by the first "him". I thought it referred to Taryn, because Taryn is the only possibility in this sentence. but later we learn that Taryn is a girl. So I went back and reread and learned that the "him actually refers to the Brant in the next sentence. confusing.

    I also think they're already in a fantasy world, based on the names, so why jumpt to a new fansasy world before we know anything of this current one? If they aren't in a fantasy world to start with, I'd make that clear. good luck!

  5. I really like the opening paragraph here. I think it's a great example of setting conflict as well as character context.

    I do feel like they move into opening the door a little too fast. I'd prefer to see a little more development of the setting and the relationship between Taryn and Brandt -- which is the really compelling thing in this opening -- as well as what it might mean for the door to open to another world, before they jump right in.

    But this is a good start.

  6. Thank you everyone for your insightful comments! I had written the opening with more of the relationship between Taryn and Brandt, but changed it to go more for the action opening. You've validated that I should stick with my instincts and start with their relationship before pushing them into the void. :) Again, thank you!