Friday, December 2, 2011

#27 YA romantic fantasy: For One Hundred Swords

TITLE: For One Hundred Swords
GENRE: YA Romantic Fantasy

Unwillingly betrothed to the mountain-king for the sake of an alliance, Kimri doesn't expect to discover a man she could come to care for. But when her beloved brother is taken as a war hostage, the mountain-king refuses to pay the ransom and Kimri decides to pay the price herself, even at the cost of her impending marriage. She has no idea she's about to awaken sleeping dragons.

Her brother traded her for peace, a hundred swords, and ten thousand arrows. She didn't speak to him on the day the guards came to escort her through the mountain pass and to her new home; she was too furious with him.

"Kimri," he said, "won't you even give me a proper farewell?"

She patted her sorrel's neck and swung herself up into the saddle. They wouldn't need a farewell, she thought, if he hadn't given her away to the mountain-king like market goods. With her knees, she told her horse to move on.

Her brother stood squarely in the way. "I had no choice, you know," he said.

She spared him a disdainful glance. It was true that no one dared challenge Helsmont. The small mountain kingdom conducted its affairs as it saw fit, but in the past it had always done so quietly, involving no others. It had been her brother's messenger who had gone there first, asking what it would take for an alliance between their realms.

Kimri was, frankly, impressed she was worth such a price. But it was one thing for the mountain-king to offer it, and another for her brother to take it.

Dereth sighed and stroked the sorrel's face. "Just don't try to run away. Ride safely," he said, then stepped aside.

Her escort was waiting in the yard outside the stable: half a dozen guards in leathers, standing by their mountain-bred horses. Such a small band from anywhere else would have been an insult, but Helsmont guards were famed as the deadliest fighting force in five kingdoms. Her brother's warning had been unnecessary; she wasn't going to try to escape these men----and woman.


  1. I'm already intriqued. Nice hook. I want to read more!

  2. Beautiful first line. I was pretty much hooked from that point on. The last line, too, was intriguing as I was curious to see where you were going with it.

    One thing I noticed, though: I grew up riding & showing horses, and she wouldn't use her knees to ask him to move on. She'd use her heels, or maybe even a squeeze of her calves.

    Would definitely read more! Good luck!

  3. Really intrigued, but the logline comment about dragons seemed to come out of nowhere and left me thinking more than I should.

  4. Yeah, the dragon part seemed like it was either extremely cliche or forewarning of something extremely out of the blue... I couldn't tell which. Is this story about sleeping dragons?

    You don't need any of those dialog tags, btw. You set up who is speaking rather nicely and the tags detract from it.

    Nice scene, though. I liked both the immediacy of the setting, the delivery of back story with out info dump, and the characterization for both brother and sister. I also like how I'm given the impression a whole big fight has occurred here, even though she hasn't said a word.

    Good luck.

  5. Nice writing and good sense of tension between the brother and sister. I do agree about the use of waking sleeping dragons -- perhaps if there are real dragons, you might find a way to mention that in the logline in a different way because it's something I as a reader -- and readers who like dragons -- would want to know. Great potential for conflict between family members and the new husband. I really liked the writing! Good luck!

  6. From what I've read here, this sounds far too similar to Game of Thrones for me to read further. That said, I really enjoy Game of Thrones, so the ideas are appealing!

    Best of luck!

  7. The first line is fantastic. I'm so intrigued. I'd definitely read on!

  8. I really love this already. I write fantasy myself and its right up my alley. Great job!

  9. I like this excerpt. I'm not much of a fantasy reader, but you did a great job pulling me into the story.

    "They wouldn't need a farewell, she thought, if he hadn't given her away to the mountain-king like market goods." I stumbled over this and had to read it twice to get it. Maybe if the thought was in italics it would be easier to understand.

    I agree that you could drop the dialogue tags. You don't need them.

    Great work!

  10. I love traditional fantasy, and this scene is a great place to open. I get to know the brother and sister, although if this is the brother who will be held for ransom later, I would like to know that he agonized over the decision to give away his sister, to make him a little more sympathetic. Wanting to say a nice goodbye to her doesn't quite cut it for me.

    The dragons surprised me in the logline. And if Kimri's new husband is someone who wouldn't pay the ransom for her brother, then the consequence of cancelling the marriage doesn't really concern me--unless you mean it will break the alliance/cause war, or he isn't paying the ransom because he knows it will awaken the dragons. In other words, I need a more substantial consequence than a cancelled marriage.

    And as a rider, I just need to mention that she can't use her knees to move her horse forward.

    Fantastic place to open, lots of conflict, lots at stake, and dragons make everything better. Good luck!

  11. Oh, forgot one thing--when you list what her brother traded her for, I felt rather put off about him. I wonder if you switched the order, and put peace as the last thing, if that might work better. To me, then I feel sympathetic, as I can see what goals he values--not arrows but an alliance to keep his people safe. Unless you're trying to make him look cold, in which case it works as is just fine.

  12. I liked this. Your first line is captivating. I would cut 'she was too furious with him' from the last sentence of the first paragraph. It's pretty obvious that's why Kimri isn't talking to her brother and I think it spoils the rhythm of your prose.

    I also think you could move the sentence 'She patted her sorrel's neck...' to after the following sentence. The thought that they wouldn't need a farewell if he hadn't sold her fits better with her brother's plea for a farewell, and then you can link in the two actions with the horse.

    Apart from that, I thought this was good and would read on. Good luck with the auction.


    Logline: Will she literally awaken sleeping dragons? I see this is fantasy in the genre description above, but be careful that you don’t let readers assume you’re tossing in clichés.

    Line notes: The title and the first sentence are inconsistent – “one hundred” vs “a hundred” threw me right away.
    The introduction of characters (in the scene or introduced in narrative) comes late enough that I found myself confused about who all the hes and hims were in the opening lines – brother, mountain king, Helsmont, Dareth, escort?
    I’m itching to line edit this sample. (But maybe that’s a good sign, if I want to invest that energy!)

    Overall: This seems like an interesting and viable concept. I’m intrigued by the thought of what this character faces, but the writing needs more careful word choices for increased clarity, impact, and development of voice.

  14. Intriguing! I bid 15.