Posted by: nhfalcon | January 1, 2007

Presented For Your Approval…

Mrs. Chili confirmed something during our little New Year’s Eve get-together at Bowyer’s house that I had already suspected – I need to post more. It has been a week, after all. I just wasn’t sure what to say.

Well, I sometimes fancy myself as a writer. I’ve been working off and on for, oh, about a decade now (at least) on a fantasy novel, occasionally enlisting Bowyer’s help. I’m a big fan of Tolkien (he is GOD when it comes to fantasy literature, imho), as well as Terry Brooks, David Eddings, George R. R. Martin, and Katherine Kurtz, so I thought I’d take a whirl at it myself.

It’s a hell of a lot harder than you might think, in case you didn’t know.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from A Gathering of Wolves (working title). Please feel free to critique extensively, both positively and negatively. Critique style, grammar, spelling, originality – whatever you feel needs commenting on. All that I ask is that the criticism is constructive. Just saying “Wow, good stuff” or “Wow, that sucks” does me no good at all. Why is it good? Why does it suck?

Now, on with the show…

“Will they come?”

“Your Majesty?”

“The Dwarves,” Haldan explained. “I sent a mission to Khozlad as soon as we learned of the Karn Ord plan to launch the invasion. Will they come?”

Whisper nodded. “That alliance is nearly as old as I am. It has not been called upon in ages, but that does not mean it has been forgotten. Dwarves remember everything – alliances and betrayals, friends and enemies, and praise and insults. Remember that when they do come, Haldan of Drelnaria. Dwarves have very thin skin. The slightest slur, real or imagined, even intended in jest, could very well have dire consequences.”

“So they will come?”

“They will. That is not the question here. The question is when will they come? The Dwarves are not riders, they have no cavalry. Only their royalty and nobility ride, and then only as a mark of their station. They dismount to fight. So there will be no advance element of their army; it will arrive all at once.” He pointed out over the ramparts at the approaching wall of black smoke that marked the advance of the Karn Ord army. “But will it arrive in time to aid you in stopping that?”

“What do you think?”

Whisper considered the question, weighing how long ago the mission left and the distance to the Dwarven kingdom against the rate of the Karn Ord advance and its distance from Beyvon.

“It will be close. Believe it or not, you’re actually being aided by the size of that horde out there.” He smiled at Haldan’s startled look. “The Karn Ord’s alliance with the Orc-kin has swelled their ranks, but it has made the entire army unwieldy and has presented them with discipline problems. The Karn Ord pride themselves on being a highly trained and disciplined fighting force, but the Orc-kin rely on savagery and weight of numbers. I’m sure they just want to plunge headlong towards Beyvon and start sacking the city, but the Karn Ord are holding them back, wanting to formulate a plan. That confusion is helping you. You may even see the Gnomes before the siege begins.”

“The Gnomes? I sent no envoy to the Gnomes.”

“You did not need to. The Dwarves and the Gnomes are one. Wherever the Dwarves go, the Gnomes will go with them. They are related, you know. The Gnomes are literally smaller cousins of the Dwarves.”

“But what can the Gnomes do for us?”

“Do not underestimate the Gnomes. They bring far more than you guess. They have a symbiotic relationship with the Dwarves. The Gnomes raise crops and livestock, the Dwarves mine rock and metal. The Gnomes scout, the Dwarves fight. The Gnomes dream up tools of industry and war, the Dwarves craft them. While the Dwarves do not ride, the Gnomes do.”

“Gnomes ride?! Ride what?”

“Dogs.”

Dogs?”

“Deerhounds. As tall at the shoulder as the tallest Gnome. A short, wiry coat the color of a leaden sky. Quiet. Loyal. As graceful as the animals they are named after and sometimes used to hunt.” The Elven assassin saw that the king of Drelnaria still looked at him with skeptical eyes. “Do not discount the value of the Gnomes and their hounds, Haldan, nor should you scoff at them. The Gnomes love their dogs like family, far more than the most caring of your knights dotes upon his destrier. To mock a Gnome’s dog is to mortally insult him. If you do that, you lose the Gnomes, and if you lose the Gnomes, then you lose the Dwarves.”

“Very well. Of what use are they, then?”

“First of all, they will be a harbinger of the Dwarves. When you see the Gnomes, you will know that the Dwarves are only a day or two behind. Secondly, they are very effective scouts and harriers. On their deerhounds they are fast, maneuverable, small targets, and they have developed tactics and weapons that emphasize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.”   

Haldan nodded, then gazed out over the river and the plains beyond, taking in the blackened, barren ground and the advance of his enemy.“Am I doing the right things here?”

“Haldan?”

“Burning crops as we retreated. Sending out rangers and druids to harry their flanks. Were they the right things to do? How many of my people have I left with no homes, no possessions, nothing at all? How many of my people have I killed?”

“They were things that needed to be done, Haldan. Would you rather the Karn Ord and the Orc-kin had more than enough food and shelter to comfort them as they made their advance upon this city? Would you rather they had been allowed to advance unhindered? I know your rangers and your druids. However many you have lost, they inflicted damage far beyond their numbers.”

Let the sport begin! 🙂

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Responses

  1. I like the dialog, and I’m sure there is more that came before the excerpt; but I need a picture of the characters, land, buildings etc. What colors are their clothes, hair, eyes…any beards or scars. One of my complaints about the fantasy novels my kids read is that the string of dialog is too easy to read making it seem too difficult to read the “classics”. Give me a page long paragraph of description to go with it. When they make the movie, you want it to look like what you imagine. Right?

  2. I printed your excerpt out and did my “teacher thing” to it. Would you rather I give you that – with the circles and arrows – or shall I try to explain what I did here, in the comments section?

  3. Well, if you had to do “the teacher thing” to it and had to emblazon it with circles and arrows, I’d rather you didn’t do it in public! 🙂

    Besides, Cookiemaker and I stil owe you money for the pizza the other night, so seeing the carnage in person will hopefully remind me to pay you back. What’cha doin’ tomorrow?

  4. There is no “carnage.” Really, I think it’s very good. It’s just much easier for me to read with intent when the words are on a page rather than on a screen. Besides, you DID ask for critiques of “style, grammar and spelling,” so it’s only natural that the teacher thing should apply.

    Tomorrow afternoon will be spent visiting my grandparents, but the evening is free. Do you want to come to our place, or try to arrange a convergence on Bowyer’s?

  5. Either way is fine by me. Given that Bowyer is a co-conspirator for this escapade, he may be interested to see it, your comments, and to chime in on his own.

  6. The questions posed to the king seemed to be coming from a child and when you wrote “Halden the assassin”, I had to read that paragraph a couple of times to connect that name with the person asking the questions. I feel the story of the impending battle could be a great start to the book, perhaps as a middle of the story in chapter one and then have chapter 2 go back in time to lead up to chapter one. I was very upset that the king elected to sacrifice his subjects lives for the sake of saving the castle. His name isnt George W by any chance is it? Hust kidding!

    Overall I can say the story line is captivating with the impending battle and wondering if help will show up, but why is there a battle and why does this king deserve help with it? The only other question I have and this may be silly, but, the name orcs is so ‘One Ringish’, I mean, I love the characters names, and I realise dwarves, gnomes and elves are all over fantasy literature, but I’ve only seen Orcs in Lord Of The Rings, (not that I read a lot of fiction, mind you) so isnt it like copying someone elses idea? I think a different name for these creatures will help the story feel more original. I have a great picture in my computer that I will send to you. Its creepy and beautiful and it may inspire your King not to need to kill off his people to save his own a$$.


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