Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #50

Title: The Treasures of Dodrazeb
Genre: Historical Fantasy

When he lost sight of Kamran, cold dread washed over Rasteem, sucking the air from his lungs. He yanked his blade from the enemy’s belly. Another came at him. Rasteem kicked the weapon out of his hand and drove a sword through his heart.

He wouldn’t allow his nephew’s death to fulfill the bizarre prophecy in this strange city. Searching for the boy, Rasteem ignored the metallic stink of blood and filtered out tortured cries. A familiar voice shouted, drawing him toward an alley. He saw Kamran, backed against a wall, trapped.

Kamran ducked behind his round shield, fending off a man wielding a short sword that thudded against it like an axe chopping a log. When the shield broke in two, Kamran flung the pieces into the dirt next to his sword. He crouched and raised his fists, ready to spring aside before the defender could finish him off.

Rasteem roared as he lunged and stabbed Kamran’s foe in the back. The tip of a sword protruding from his chest, surprise in the defender’s eyes dimmed to emptiness. Rasteem pushed the body off his blade, letting it crumple to the ground.

Kamran’s face lit up. “Still haven’t taken the palace?”

Rasteem grabbed the scruff of his neck and threw him down, hard. “Can’t lead an invasion if I’m searching for you!”

He pulled the boy up by his new armor and leaned down until they were nose-to-nose. “Stay with me.” Rasteem released him and stomped away.


  1. Hello! I love Historical Fantasy -- would love to know the specific setting.

    I think you do a good job of making the action more human/relatable by having Rasteem searching for his nephew. I might have liked some stronger emotions/feelings of panic to draw me in, but I know whether this is appropriate for the character.

    There was a point that jarred with the POV: This paragraph: 'Rasteem roared as he lunged and stabbed Kamran’s foe in the back. The tip of a sword protruding from his chest, surprise in the defender’s eyes dimmed to emptiness. Rasteem pushed the body off his blade, letting it crumple to the ground.'

    I couldn't get my head around how Rasteem could see the sword protruding or see into the defender's eyes when he'd stabbed from behind. I'd also query the use of the word 'defender', which felt awkward. As I read it, Kamran was the defender and this bandit/soldier the attacker, when Rasteem swooped in to save him. I get that it works the other way, it was just a little jarring.

    As this is a historical fantasy, I hope this follows up quickly with key details/culture to identify the setting, as at the moment, it feels a little generic in setting. I know it's hard to slip in details in the very beginning, though (boy, do I), so as long I start getting them ASAP after this, I'd totally still be in.

    Good work and good luck!

    1. Thank you for your critique. Your analysis with specific details and your reaction as you read is exactly the kind of feedback I seek.
      The setting is 3rd century middle east/Asia. Rasteem is a Persian warrior-prince leading an invasion of the kingdom of Dodrazeb, so stronger feelings of panic are not appropriate for him in this situation. Since Rasteem and Kamran are invaders, I referred to Kamran's attacker as a defender of the city.I understand why this seems a bit jarring, but I felt it works when the story opens from the perspective of the invader.
      Yes, key details quickly follow, It really is difficult to slip them into the first 250 words.

  2. I think you did a great job showing Rasteem's character through his actions and his worry for his nephew.

    However, I would have liked a bit of grounding in this scene along with the action. I didn't get a sense of setting, and too many things were introduced at once. They are in a strange city, but I don't know if it's new to them or if they've been there before, or how the prophecy fits into them being there. At first I thought the fight was about Kameron and the prophecy, but then it seemed they were fighting their way to take the palace.

    I think you could slow this down a bit, so the goal of the scene is clear and it doesn't feel like we're starting the book from the second chapter.

    Good luck!

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  4. Hi. Very exciting scene, nice visuals. I agree also some grounding at the beginning would help a lot and give your story more depth. What does the world look like? Where is he? Is it night or day? All of this can be done without interrupting the actions just with a few remarks here and there.

    A little more about the boy would be nice too. Show us his character so we want to rescue him as well!

    I'm wondering too about Rasteem crouching with his fist closed and then suddenly stabbing someone. Maybe I missed something or got confused.

    All in all this is a great start to an exciting story.

  5. Thank you for your comment. I think you were slightly confused - it was Kamran who had been disarmed and crouched with closed fists. Rasteem came to his rescue and did the stabbing.
    All of the comments have been helpful. I know how I need to rewrite this to improve the opening page. Thanks, everyone, for your feedback.

  6. Looking at your title, I’m going to caution when creating words… yes, you want to be creative but make sure a reader isn’t going to have to re-read the word six time to try and figure out the pronunciation!

    Watch your first paragraph, since we’re dealing with three males, the kicked the weapon out of ‘his’ hand can be confusing trying to see if he kicked the weapon out of the dead body’s hand or the one rushing him. I want to be more grounded in the setting than I currently am. I don’t know if we’re in a desert-like setting or a more modern city. Weave a bit of setting throughout and you’ll have a much stronger opening without sacrificing the pace you’ve started here.

    You have some great imagery in here… the tip of sword protruding and the body crumpling to the ground were two of my favorites. I will say for someone who is so concerned with finding the nephew, throwing him down, hard seemed a bit harsh. One moment he’s so worried, the next he’s throwing him and stomping off not even making sure the kid (is he a kid? is he older? Karan feels young in this) is following him. Because if it were me and someone just threw me to the ground, demanded I stay, and stomped off… I’d probably go the other way!

    There are great action sequences here. Just make are your blocking makes sense and it’s easy for the reader to follow the action (as I saw some folks were confused). Otherwise nice job and I’d read on a bit further.

  7. A nice, active scene. Perhaps set it up a bit so we know right away where we are (a town, vs a battlefield). And show us what’s happening instead of telling us. Show us Rasteem trying to look around as he fights. Give him some internal thoughts. Where is he? Instead of “When he lost sight of Kamran.” Showing makes everything much more real than telling.