Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Guardian of the Prince
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The only thing I liked about the Ellidrian King's Men was that their ridiculous uniform made them easy to notice. Even if I wasn't looking, the clacking of their high-heeled boots always alerted me to their arrival. In the quiet library, the sound was unmistakable.

When their footsteps stopped and the whispers of pages turning became the only sound again, I looked up from my book. The gas lamps on all of the reading tables around me bathed everything in murky amber. Even in the poor light, the King's Men were easy to spot beside the front desk. No one else had a silhouette like a stuffed turkey, thanks to puffy doublet jackets, equally puffy knee-length pants, and skin-tight stockings.

The stack girl perched behind the front desk pointed in my direction, and that was my cue to leave. Sure, there were other people around, too. She might not have been pointing at me, but the King’s Men were the Ellidrian law enforcement. People who'd never broken a law in their life could afford to assume that the King's Men wouldn't be interested in them. I didn't have such luxury.

I slung my bag over my shoulder and left the fraying book on the table for a stack girl to deal with later. On the chance the King's Men were leaving the library and sparing my nerves, I glanced once more over my shoulder. No luck, as always. They were waddling towards the reading tables. I slipped between the bookshelves.


  1. You have drawn me right into the library with the MC. I want to know what he's reading and why the King's Men are looking for him. I want to know why the MC isn't considered a law abiding citizen.

    I love the visual of the King's Men as oversized turkeys.

    I want to read more!

  2. Once they're in the library, we know by genre convention whom they're there for. Why not jump directly from "the sound was unmistakable" to "that was my cue to leave." All the rest - the description of the turkeys (which I like!) can come later. You might note the gas lamps in the action as he stands up and begins to leave because that's an important part of setting up the period (i.e., beyond pre-industrial).

  3. I like the descriptions of the king's men. You paint an excellent picture of them, but I feel like I know more about them than the narrator.

    I like the detail of the gas lamps. I'd keep it, but I also like the suggestion of blending into an action.

    "the King’s Men were the Ellidrian law enforcement."

    I could be wrong about this (see what others say), but I think this is redundant. The reader would expect someone called the King's men (especially the way you described) would be some sort of law enforcement. Trust your reader.

    I didn't find the opening paragraph particulary gripping. I wonder if you could move the opening to the stack girl pointing at your narrator instead.

  4. I liked this a lot. You did include a lot of detail, so the action wasn't as fast as it could have been, but I was fine with that - the details you did include were good for world-building and also for learning the main character (as we got to see his specific perception of the world, not just raw descriptions).

  5. I like this one overall, but I agree with Ted that you don't need to say that the King's Men were the Ellidrian law enforcement -- let the reader figure that out as they go along.

    Also, you might consider reordering the first paragraph so that it begins with the unmistakable sound of those clacking high-heeled boots.

    Describing the men as 'waddling' toward the tables didn't work for me; even if their uniforms makes them look like turkeys, unless they're all very heavy I don't think they would waddle -- it also clashes with the image of someone walking in high heels. Wouldn't they be more likely to strut? (Turkeys don't really waddle anyway -- only ducks and geese!) ;)

  6. I thought this whole excerpt could have been cut to a parg or two, and that most of what's here is either unnecessary or repetitive.

    I also had a hard time with the voice. For me, it came off as too modern for a time period where there are castles and kings. Not that I'm looking for anything stiff and formal, but perhaps something less smart-alecky? Perhaps lose some of that and replace it with story.

  7. I’m intrigued by this set up. The observations about the King’s Men are a little redundant in the first and second paragraphs, so I’d suggest condensing that down a bit. You might also consider cutting “Sure, there were other people around….luxury.” since I think the implication that our main character is on the wrong side of the law enforcement is established pretty clearly early on. Overall, though, I enjoyed this.