Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #23

Title: Fortress of Bones
Genre: Fantasy

Although it was only autumn, the air inside the city walls was bitterly cold. Olga rubbed her hands together as she walked and wished, yet again, that she could afford new gloves.

The cold seeped into everything, chilling and settling deep into the stones of the capital and the bones of its people. This was no natural cold; it was an ashen rime cast by the army of dead who ringed the walls. Even a cursebreaker like Olga could do nothing to halt the encroaching shudder and chill, much as she wished she could.

"Who are we meeting?" The black cat asked her as he ran along, navigating between her long legs. Raisa knew her stride so well that he never tripped her…unless he meant to.

"A new client." She blew on her hands to warm them. The brief warmth wasn’t worth the way it made her skin clammy as well as cold. For a second Olga considered grabbing Raisa and using him as a living muff. Then she shook her head and grinned as she thought how he would yowl and complain. Besides, walking would do him good. Unlike the human population, he was getting fat, thanks to the number of rats swarming the walls to break into the city.

"A new client? Tonight?” Raisa rasped. “In this part of Belis?” His voice, like his fur, had thickened with the cold.


  1. I love this! Strong characters, clean writing, and the conflict is right on the page. Delightful.

    My only quibble is the passive voice in that first line. It's just not as strong as what follows. I'd get out a piece of paper and try reworking that line until it crackles.

    I would definitely read more. Good luck!

  2. I love the talking cat! I am immediately intrigued and would definitely read more.Great voice in this piece.

  3. Love your descriptions, and how they are integrated into the story. And also Raisa's personality comes through in lines like "Raisa knew her stride so well that he never tripped her...unless he meant to."

    Very intriguing work. Excellent!

  4. This is very captivating. I agree that your first line is passive. I'd get rid of the first paragraph and start with the unnatural cold. That's where you drew me in. I want to know more about the dead bodies ringing the city.

  5. Olga is a great character and I'm very intrigued about her special qualities and her journey.

    Love the talking cat too.

    I actually liked the first line. It gave me a sense of the setting and I thought that the cold was an important element.

  6. My first thought was, "Shouldn't it be "bitter cold"?" Besides that, I have no comments. I'm intrigued by the few worldbuilding tidbits you've thrown us, but not confused. I like the description of the cold, and I'd be interested to see where Olga takes me as a character.

  7. Watch your repetitions of ‘cold’ throughout. There are so many other synonyms that you could use that would lend to even more atmosphere in your writing. There are a few cliches… I’d love for a talking cat to not be black for once, but that’s a personal preference. There’s a lot of great world building here in such a short period of time, leaving me wanting to know more. The idea of cold coming from the army of dead around them and the personality we get from Raisa are fantastic and definitely lead to wanting more. Nicely done!

  8. I’d cut the first sentence. You go on to show us how cold it is, so there’s no need to tell us, too. And the showing works better than the telling.

    The encroaching shudder and chill – perhaps replace this with something else. The cold isn’t encroaching. You’ve just told us it has settled in. And ‘shudder’, I think, doesn’t work well as a synonym for cold, and you’ve just used chilling in the first sentence of the parg.

    If the rats are outside the walls, ‘trying’ to break into the city, it means they aren’t in the city, so how is Raisa, who is in the city, eating them and getting fat? If a cat can get out, the rats can get in.

    And I wondered why the army of the dead was freezing them out, rather than something else. Is there a reason for the cold, or is it just the scenario you picked out of many? And the army of the dead is mentioned and then forgotten, as if they’re more of a nuisance than a major problem. Perhaps make more of them. Perhaps tell us why they are there?