Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Symphony in Mist
GENRE: Fantasy

Alverai ran the wild grounds of Soledad with his eyes closed, his gift open wide to the night. The path unfolded in his mind like a melody, the ground a bass anchor beneath his feet. Slender birch leaves trembled in the breeze, a light arpeggio of sound. Alverai heard the living connections of the world as music. With a pluck of melody, he could guide the throw of a stone, correct a misstep, slow a fall.
Gift let him parse the harmonies of a heart, glimpse its shadows and
its longings. And Gift kept him, always, apart.

By day, the Masters claimed him. But when Alverai stole from his cell by night, he surrendered to a different, deeper longing. When he ran, his skin dissolved into the melodies of sky and soil. He let the wind ride through him, clean and clear. Thought fell away. Even loneliness left him, as he slipped into the whole.

A dissonant chord teased the edge of his awareness. Alverai rolled to a halt, pushing his gift out past its usual bounds, tracking the sound. Melody kindled inside him, an unmistakable signature. Alverai spun, shattering the demon’s allure. He sprinted through the trees, feet finding the path by instinct. He thought the Masters had stripped away this nightmare, those seven years they’d cut him off from human affection and trained him to a Watcher’s discipline. But fear pummeled him now, drove him back to the heart of Soledad where eighteen trainee Bladesworn slept unaware.


  1. Consider me intriged.

    I do think your first line suffers a bit since we don't know what Soledad is yet, nor what Alverai's gift is. Also, is "gift" supposed to be "gift" or "Gift?" I'm a HUGE stickler for consistency, so the uncapitalized/capitalized thing was driving me crazy!

    You've also got some great imagery. "With a pluck of a melody, he could guide the throw of a stone, correct a misstep, slow a fall" is particularly a nice example. It also pulls double duty and shows us Alverai is a nice guy. God knows I'd use Gift to tie shoelaces together and dump ice cubes down the back of shirts :p

    This demon's allure is pretty intersting. I do think you could do a better job showing us Alverai's fear than you currently do. It comes off a little tell, rather than show. I'm not saying you can never tell, of course, but I think his fear is something I'd rather be shown.

    I'm not normally into swords & sorcery fantasy - which I think this is? - but this gets a thumbs up from me; I would definitely continue to read!

  2. I like the second paragraph and think the opening would be stronger if you led with that. The flowy description in the first paragraph was filled with words that let my mind slip off them without registering meaning. It wasn't until I knew Alverai's situation (Masters by day, running free by night) that I was interested enough to really listen to those descriptions.

  3. Beautiful imagery. Watch your capitals - I suspect 'whole' should be 'Whole' too in this context.

    I think that so many beautiful lines tend to run together when there are so many of them - and then we don't appreciate them as much as we should. I was skimming a little bit to get to the action, even though I was aware that the writing was very nice. Perhaps breaking up the more 'flowery' phrases with simple and grounded ones helps us appreciate them better. It's hard to complain about beautiful writing, I just think I need more concrete action.

    Actually, I think you could start right at 'By day the Masters claimed him.' - I think that would be a great opening line that would really hook me.

  4. I agree with Heather's suggestion to start with the line about the Masters claiming him. That puts the running paragraph in better perspective. The rest of the second paragraph seems like more of the first. Not sure that we need them both or maybe combine them a little.

    It's the last paragraph that really grabbed me so I'd like more of that siuation on the first page. I was a little confused as to the nightmare - which makes me think it was all in his head - being a real demon that would threaten others. Or is the demon going to take control of him? How does cutting him off from human affection cure his nightmare? I'd read on to find out what is really going on, but a little clarity here would be welcome.

  5. I was a bit confused by this sentence: "He thought the Masters had stripped away this nightmare, those seven years they’d cut him off from human affection and trained him to a Watcher’s discipline." It read to me like the nightmare/demon was the one cut off for seven years?
    Overall some beautiful writing and I love the concept of the magical as musical, I would read on. Good luck!

  6. You have a beautiful prose style, and clearly an interesting world. But I'm seeing a common fantasy problem here -- you're putting so much worldbuilding in the opening page that I don't have a chance to get to know Alverai at all. I want to know more about him as a character (what does he feel?) before I learn about his gift and his history, which make him seem foreign.

    I think taking more time before introducing the magical elements will make this a stronger opening.