Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Uncharted
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy

Devin Grath hated failure but, given his current occupation, he hated success more.

Careful not to look back, where evidence of his most recent success formed a puddle of blood on the stone floor, Devin wiped his sword clean. If only he could erase the memory so easily. Though his hands remained unstained, he scrubbed them against his pants.

“Sorry, friend,” he whispered, then slipped out the magistrate’s back door into the small garden behind the house. A quarter-moon illuminated neat rows of herbs and vegetables. Three gulps of basil-scented air did little to calm his churning stomach, only lodged in his throat.

Swallowing, he tilted his face to the starry sky and closed his eyes. One. Don’t look back. Two. Don’t think about it. Three. Focus on the next task. Four. Remember Mother. Five.

On five, he opened his eyes, the memories now tucked away with all the others.

For now.

Devin climbed the waist-high, split rail fence and crept through backyards of the neighboring houses. Darkness and shadows of enormous apple trees provided cover as he made his way toward the town square.

Ailba was the type of place he preferred to avoid—still hot in late autumn, nothing but dry breezes off the endless plains, no water for miles, the sickly sweet stench of rotting fruit. But this town in the middle of the kingdom served as a gateway from mountains to plains and was therefore important to his boss.

And what Lord Byrne cared about, Devin better care about, too.


  1. I loved the opening-- and how you showed us what "success" means in this case. Nice sensory details as well-- the smell of basil, the shadows of the trees, the smell of rotting fruit in the town. Very evocative of setting. Nicely done.

    I like how Devin counts to five to block out the memory of what he just did. His thought "Remember Mother" suggests that there's more going on here and makes me curious why he's doing this against his will. The last line adds to this curiosity.

    Overall, except for maybe some minor line editing, I thought this was a good opening and I would keep reading to find out why Devin is doing this and what sort of hold his boss has on him.

  2. This is pretty good. It really makes me want to know what got this guy into this job that he hates so much. Only thing that stood out to me is a grown man doesn't really have to "climb" over a waist height fence. Anyways, besides that, this is a really cool beginning.

  3. Great opening! I like that we get a real sense of the protagonist, and I'm intrigued to know why he's killing for his boss. "Remember mother" instantly makes me want to know what happened. There's a nice balance of narrative with snippets of world building inserted and I'd absolutely read on to see where the story goes!

  4. Nice. Character establishment in the first sentence. I admire that.

    Lovely imagery throughout, too--I definitely felt like I was there with Devin, and I got an immediate grasp on his character. I was curious about the time period. It's fantasy, so this could be any time. "Sword" and "Magistrate" make me think this is more of a classic fantasy.

    I get the sense I should be terrified of Lord Byrne. There's enough mystery in that last sentence to pull me forward. I wish I had more to critique here, but it's really very solid. I wish I could read more!

  5. Nicely done. I'm not sure you'll be able to make me sympathize with him, even though he's doing what he's doing to protect his mother apparently. But the writing is tight, the voice is good. I'd definitely read on.

  6. I'm definitely interested. I am assuming his current occupation is assassin, but his use of a sword was a little surprising. I can't really see sneaking up on someone with a sword, and I'd think drawing it or holding it would draw attention.

    Apart from that, though, I liked the fact that he found his job so hard he had to walk through a progression to try and forget. Lots of interesting suggestions about this world and what he's trapped in. I'd definitely keep reading.

    I thought this sentence was a little awkward: "Three gulps of basil-scented air did little to calm his churning stomach, only lodged in his throat." It almost sounds as if his stomach lodged in his throat.

  7. Well done! Nice title. Great movement from Devin's inner to external world. Good particulars concerning his present state, and interesting reflections on what's next, leaving intrigue about Number Five.

    I like the detail about gulping the basil-scented air, but the sentence might need a little tightening.

    You go!