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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    May 2018

    Default Would you read this?

    I’m trying to write a book in my homebrew world. I’ve gotten many chapters in, but before going further I want to see what people think. In these chapters the story is only starting to build. Here is the first two chapters.
    Spoiler: Chapters 1 and 2
    The Harsh North
    The ground is blanketed with a thick white powder, an icy breath blows over the vast landscape. Snow flies viciously through the air, settling on the silent ground. The landscape is immense, white as far as the eye can see. Jutting up from the white, lifeless, forgotten ground, a single peak reaches for the sky. A lone tooth in a sea of solid white foam. The top of the gargantuan mountain is hidden behind the frozen vail, its face never showing.
    The forsaken land shows no sign of life, only dead white flakes. The heart of winter has set in, and even innate wild magic must retreat to its den. The mountain lies hundreds of miles from the coast, and only the frozen creatures of the world gaze upon its glory.
    The mountain is ancient, immortal, unyielding. Its hidden history hides itself among the clouds, blanketed in thick snow. Here in the Harsh North is were the world speaks, here at the grand peak of Pro’roc.
    Yet in this most harsh place, a place of no life, a single drop of warmth glows. Hidden among the could lies hidden secrets, forgotten knowledge. On the grand mountain of Pro’roc a single soul walks, a single hope.
    The figure is wrapped tightly in a brown cloak, a losing battle to keep out the pressing cold. The figure moves with exaggerated care, like every step pains them further. The cowl of the cloak pulled forward, snow resting lightly on the shoulders. The cloaked figure continues to walk up the ice covered stone steps lining the mountain. The steps are inches away from a steep drop to the valleys below, where the skeletons of those who fell came before.
    Hours pass, the figure continues upward step after step. The further the figure winds the mountainside the more pain they seem to feel. The hooded figures breaths come in shallow and sharp. Twice they stumble, a foot slipping on the ice. Yet every time they seem to catch themselves with unnatural strength. The cold is unbearable, constant, lifeless. No one could ever make the climb it would seem to the rest of the world. No souls will ever see past the veil. Yet those who give in so easily fall into the clutches of Pro’roc’s feet.
    The figure begins to slow, seeing their journey at an end. Here, at the most remote place in all the lands they find their goal. Before them is a large stone door cut into the mountain face. Embeveled across its smooth surface are strange drawings of symbols. The door is set inside a large stone archway, the capstone hidden behind snow. Standing on both sides of the door are two towering figures. The figures are cut from the stone with uncanny accuracy. Towering above the doors, their faces are lost from sight. The two stone statues wear simple robes, each with a strange symbol resting over their chests. The figure on the right holds a long steel rope that connects to a large, simple gong.
    The figure walks forward slowly, clutching the right side of their body. Slowly approaching the gong the figure throws off the cowl of the cloak reveal their face. The man has long black hair kept back in a large ponytail. Protruding from the hair are two pointed ears, marking the figure as an elf. The start of a wispy beard hangs at the mans chin. Two piercing blue eyes stare out from his face, full of pain and anguish. His skin tinged blue from the cold air and eyebrows thick with snow.
    The man removes his hands from the cloak slowly, catching his breath as pain obviously racks his body. The man steps up right in front of the man and crosses his wrists above his head. From his frozen lips he speaks a single word that is lost below the sound of the wind. Suddenly a flash of blue light emanates from his palms. A single image begins to trace itself out of blue lines, carving a tree in the air.
    The tree is woven from the lines. It's brambles are left empty, no leaves weigh it down. The long trunk slowly curves outward exposing the inner of the tree. Resting in the inner trunk of the tree is a small circle, woven with limbs through the tree. Slowly the tree moves forward, towards the gong. With a shattering roar the tree strikes the instrument and shatters into small lines of blue. A low, sustained note plays across the mountain side, echoing in the valley walls.
    The man lowers his wrists as the tree shatters, the blue light cutting of at his hands. The man slowly sinks to his knees. His body radiates blue, those lines of power etching across his back, making their way down his side. A gust of wind reaches over the edge, grasping and pulling the elf towards the edge. As the blue lines reach his face the man drops a small object from his hand into the snow, and falls over the edge. The man's body only travels for half a second, a small smile across his face. As his lifeless body disappears into the mist below, the lines disappear, along with the elf.
    Sitting in the snow on the ledge is a small skull, its face twisted in a horrified expression. Cracking free from the surface of its scalp is a small, black candle. Its two empty eye sockets lear with a kind of hatred. The candle is lit with a dark purple flame, flickering madly in the wind. Yet no gust of air snuff the candle, no amount of snow will silence it.

    Part One
    Flame of Cold

    One: Pro’roc
    Saul’s head hurt, a low, throbbing pain had enveloped his skull. He was lying upon a small cott. Opening his eyes he slowly sat up. Saul was sitting in his room, deep within the mountain of Pro’roc. By his bedside was a small stone bowl, resting inside is a blue flame. His shadow flickered on the wall, moving in weird directions. The stone walls of his room glistened with sweat of the surrounding rock. The room was quite humid, the strange heat of the flame making the room pleasant. The room had no other furnishings other than a small wood desk. The surface of the desk was old and chipped, reflecting years of use. Sitting atop the desk are multiple small round bottles of ink, and several quills. A single book laid open on the table, its pages torn with use. Set in the wall furthest from his bed was a small archway which held a wooden door. The keystone of the arch was slightly cracked in the middle, and grooves ran along the face showing presence of water.
    Groaning slightly Saul stands from his meager bed. Walking over to the small bowl holding the blue flame he mumbles a short harsh word. The blue flame begins to rise from the basin, sparks flying in all directions. Suddenly the flame explodes, a ring of fire spreading across the room. Two spectral torches appear on the wall further illuminating the room. Their blue flames transparent, showing the rock behind.
    Saul lifts the small stone bowl, now empty of flame and shivers from the change of temperature. Mumbling another strange word a burst of blue sparks emits from his palm. From the walls fly the tiny droplets of water, like thousands of shining diamonds. The spectral light flickers around the room, the sweat of the walls sending dots of light everywhere. With a loud splash the water collects in the bowl, the blue magic stops emitting from Saul’s palm. Reaching down into the bowl Saul splashes the water on his face, cleaning himself.
    Swinging his legs off the cott, his bare feet touch the cold, stone floor. Shivering, he pulls his feet off the surface.
    Saul is a young man, only coming out of his youth. His brown hair is cut short in the front, left longer along the back. Stubs of hair line his chin, spreading along his face. The young man keeps his beard cut short unlike the others of the mountain. Years and years of work has toughened his muscles, his sharp jaw set in a strait line. His nose is also sharp and prominent, a scar along its length. Two green eyes, showing a sense of knowledge.
    Saul reaches down and pulls up two seal skin boots sliding them upon his feet. Stepping lightly onto the stone floor he makes his way to the door. The door is old and chipped, the sign of water dripping down its side. Holding the door up are a pair of boiled leather hinges bolted roughly into the door. Lifting the door off the ground to prevent the scraping noise that would follow, Saul edges the door open. Stepping into the passage beyond he closes the door once more.
    Saul walks down the passage, the walls roughly hewn from the stone. As he proceeds along the hall he passes torches’ scones set in the wall, their flames unlit. Rounding a bend he reaches two small archways heading to the right and left. Raising his hands in the air the blue sparks light once more, and two spectral flames appear in the torches hung by the arches. Increasing his paces Saul sets down the right passage way.
    The passageway continues, steeply rising. As Saul’s path takes him by torches they ignite with the same blue light. The passage splits many times, some paths caved in only yards beyond their mouths. The tunnels are all devoid of sound other than the steady drip of water and the muffled sound of Sauls boots. Slowing his pace Saul rounds a final bend, climbing a short flight of stairs. Before him is an older archway, the grey light of dawn spilling from beyond.
    Saul steps out of the stone passage into the chamber beyond. Before him is a massive room, the ceiling carved out of the mountain to let the light of day to stream forth. The young man stands on a ledge overlooking another chamber below. The whole space looks like a hole carved from the mountain, an unnatural valley in a sea of stone. Stepping to the edge Saul sits on the side, letting his legs dangle in the cold wind. Shivering, he pulls his cloak tighter around his body, brushing the powdery snow that gathers on his shoulder. Multiple other ledges line the walls of this chamber, and far below is the main floor. Suspended about three fourths from the hole in the mountain is a large, simple bell. Green rust lines the outside of the bell, the result of the air and snow. No ropes hold the bell up, and it appears to be floating in the air. The floor of this chamber is lined with simple wood tables, running the length of the room.
    Sitting there, Saul lets his body relax, and retreats into his mind. Many minutes pass, and the snow gathers on his head and shoulders. Saul slowly brings his mind back to his body, and stands up lightly brushing the snow onto the ground. Scanning the room once more he once more walks to the ledge and peers over. Sitting at one of the large tables is another hooded figure, looking up at Saul. Feeling energized and balanced, Saul turns and walks through the arch, descending once more into the mountain.


    The hooded figure remains at the table for many minutes, unmoving. As the icy wind descends into the great maw of the cavern no sign of snow touches the floor. The snow seems to stop as it passes the bell, escaping into nothing. No sign of water from the snow melt falls from the sky, the air is clean, pure, balanced. The figure stares to the sky, studying every dent, crack, and flaw in the bell. The early light of the grey morning begins to stream further into the chamber, the light of day growing stronger. The man turns his head slightly to the side, catching the faint murmur of footsteps. As the sound echoes from beyond the man turns his head upward toward the bell again, deeply studying its surface.
    Saul turns the corner, once more walking through the dark damp corridors. Along the walls are more spectral torches, yet the small flame dancing on their surfaces is a dark, deep, purple. The color reminds Saul of his home, warm and welcoming, yet hiding an unforeseen anger. Flickering through the flames Saul can imagine every detail of his home. The simple mud walls, bound tightly together by the dried leaves. A simple dirt floor, kept clean and freshly swept. Small unadorned shelves line the wall, holding a small library of books, the spines faded from the sun. The one green bound book lying open on the floor, its pages sprawled open. Saul could picture every page from that book, the tear he made when he had carelessly turned the page. Yet through visiting his memories he felt no nostalgia, no loss. His past was a part of him to be controlled, carefully balanced, yet not forgotten. He had learned much, learned to find balance.
    Pushing the careless thoughts away deep within his consciousness, Saul tears his eyes from the purple flame, and continues through the dank passage. Every few minutes a small droplet of freezing water finds its way on his cloak, soaking him to the bone. He climbs down a large staircase, making sure not to slip on the icy steps. Finally walking into the cold light of day Saul exits the passages into the large chamber.
    He now stands at the floor of the large circular crevice carved from the mountain. Suspended by a unknown force is the large bell, chips and cracks along its polished surface. In the center of the chamber is something different from what Saul perceived from one of the many ledges ringing the walls. A circular pit further deepens the room, and contained inside is a large roaring fire. From his position in the doorway, fifty feet from the flames he could feel the heat radiating around the chambers. In a circle around the flames are several oakbound tables, neatly polished and well kept.
    Sitting close to the fire is the cloaked figure, his back facing Saul. Without turning to face the young man he raises his hand in the air, beckoning Saul closer.
    “Saul Silverspell, good to see you on this fine morning.” Says the man, his voice dry and scratchy. Yet the sound was soothing, full of knowledge.
    “The heavy snow seemed to have broken late last night, and the winds have changed.” Saul replies, stepping forward towards the man. Sitting to the right of the old man he looks towards the bell, catching his gaze on a small dent two thirds up the bell frame. The old man leans forward, resting his arms on his legs, a speaks a low gutteral word. The fire behind the two lets off sparks, the flames leaping wildly. The old man stays unmoving as a tendril of flames erupts from the fire, and rises toward the sky. Turning to look at the flames Saul notices the slight purple tinge the flames take on, and the lifelike movements of the tendril reaching upwards.
    The small string of fire touches the tip of the bell, and begins to envelope its surface, encasing it in a burning membrane. The flames seem to form an almost identical copy of the large bell, yet a small detail flaws its form. Saul couldn’t describe how you could make out that tin flaw, the single scratch amongst the thousands of dents and divots. His eyes were drawn to the scratch, only a few inches in length. As his trained eyes observed every surface of the bell he could discern the meaning of that small, thin line.
    Pro’roc is an ancient location, deep in the icy land of the Harsh North, far from the eye of the civilized folk. Saul had lived there for most of his life, coming to the mountain only as a small child from the strange land of Zenakar. Deep within the mountain is an ancient sight, possibly as old as the world itself. Scholars believe the world originated from the heart of the Kingdom of Sehril, born of the Elder Elementals. However here in the secret shrine of the world, one could almost think differently. Deep within the heart of Pro’roc, one could almost know the truth. The place was as old as the world itself, even older than the lands of Thane and Arati. The place held a secret, the balance of the surrounding world. Falling in the center of the multiverse the place is home to the true balance, the true home of neutral. The bell represented the center of all existence, the balance point. Its strange ring would call the aid of mortals, those whose ancestry was from the land itself. The great balance could be kept here, those drawn could hold the world on this point. The bell would attune to these folk, and granted them power. Their lives would be scribed by a ancient hand on the smooth steel, bound for eternity.
    “Mutaa, have they met resistance?” Asks Saul, referring to the wise man by his name. With a sigh the man shifts his hands, the flames evaporating into the air.
    “The land has shifted east, something is afoot. They all knew the risks, they all came to this mountain for a reason. I fear they may have been separated, after all these centuries, someone could take advantage of our actions. The heart is rarely protected by strength alone, we must all be careful during these times.” The old man says in almost a whisper. “Who ever it was, they knew the risks, we all know what must be done when the land moves east. These times test the man's strength. Be grateful our souls are not tested as well.” To this day it was still a wonder to Saul how well Mutaa could read the signs of the bell, strokes that seem unimportant to most. He had learned much in his time in Pro’roc, yet so much still seemed beyond his reach, the endless void of secrets.
    Saul rises from the bend, and turns toward the stone passages once more. “Their strength may be tested, but I feel our souls suffer as well.” Turning, the young man is swallowed by the passage once more. The old man sits there for a few minutes more. Turning to rise the Mutaa descended into the mountain, he had matters to attend to.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Tulips Cheese & Rock&Roll

    Default Re: Would you read this?

    Okay, I'm just going into full nitpick mode here. Be warned.

    It's not completely spelling error free yet. For instance "Hidden among the could lies hidden secrets" rather than "Hidden among the cold lie hidden secrets". These are tricky because they're the ones you're left with after using a spell checker (thank you for doing that). Spelling errors are not a complete show stopper, editors exist, and I even vaguely remember finding an error in the Dutch translation of Lord of The Rings when reading it, what must have been several decades after its release, so perfection is not a requirement. (On a related note: due to circumstances I'm typing this with a spell checker set to the wrong language, there will be loads of errors in this review.)

    You go quite heavy on the prose, describing everything with epic sounding words. This is a fine style choice for fantasy, but double check that everything makes sense. Take the sentence: "The steps are inches away from a steep drop to the valleys below, where the skeletons of those who fell came before." A reader rereads that 3 times, thinking it must be the prose that's tripping them up, but it's actually just a bad sentence.

    Then there's places where you don't use enough different words. Take these sentences: "The figure on the right holds a long steel rope that connects to a large, simple gong.
    The figure walks forward slowly" and "The man steps up right in front of the man". You're refering to two different entities by the same term right after each other. Here you can use different synonyms or add extra descriptors to let the reader see who you're talking about. "The cloaked Elf steps up right in front of the ancient statue" is both easier to read and breathes more atmosphere. In this particular scene I would go as far as not describing any character other than the cloak wearer as "the figure", because that's basically the name of the character in this scene, he's referred to as such several times in a pretty short bit of text.

    I'm also a bit confused by the image I'm supposed to get from this figure. There are sentences like "Yet every time they seem to catch themselves with unnatural strength" and "No one could ever make the climb it would seem to the rest of the world" intertwined with ones like "The further the figure winds the mountainside the more pain they seem to feel" and "The figure walks forward slowly, clutching the right side of their body". My problem with it is this: The camera in my head is coming up to this misty mountain, it sees a mysterious figure walking, and it's immediately getting confused wether I'm seeing this worlds most powerful warrior completing an impossible task with superhuman strength and endurance or if I'm seeing someone who's obviously struggling. Maybe write this scene in such a way that I'm getting one of those images before the other. First I see a man struggling, and only later does the realization sink in that any other man would have been crushed at this point, or first I see a man doing the impossible, and after a while I notice it gets harder and harder for him to do so. This is a problem unique to an opening scene. If I knew this character there wouldn't be a problem.

    I like the size of the sample, you don't have to bury us in text, but I would like to note that I don't think these are two chapters. This is a short prologue and a part of the first chapter. This has to do with the writing style. In that first block of text for instance nothing really happens. It's mostly atmosphere. That's fine, but it does mean it will take a while to make actions happen, and a chapter is a part of a book in which something happened. But that's semantics...

    I am a bit confused after reading this. Is Mutaa the same wizard guy we see in the first bit? I would make that more obvious. I would also prefer a bigger tonal shift between the prologue and the first chapter. You introduce us to Saul by name. This means that were the first man was mysterious, this guy has to feel familiar, almost normal. I like how you try to do this with this homely scene, but you could make it feel more homely. Go easy on the mistery right up until the point where Mutaa enters the scene. And in that part maybe add something that let's me know Mutaa is the same guy from before. Have Saul ask him how his trip to the Harsh North went, or describe him in a way very similar to how he's described in the prologue.

    The hardest for me to judge, yet the most important for you to know, is whether the story arc you're working on is cool enough. Classic fantasy is hard to do because it's very easy to make a book feel derivative. The shadowy figure immediately reminds me of Allanon, the Gandalf proxy of The Sword of Shannara. Misterious figure, powerful beyond any good guy and all but the biggest bad guys, carries the weight of the world, always complaining how magic has a price while performing world changing feats, blue fire as his signature magic. It immediately feels like I've seen this before. At the end of this sample I'm introduced to some vague threat to the world, danger, danger, I refuse to use normal people sentence so you'd know what's going on. Seen that before. There's almost nothing you could write in this style that will not make me feel like that. That's why what's really important is how these elements are combined. I can't judge that from a sample. The back blurb of the book and a careful reading of the first 30 pages might give the reader a clue, might. But this is the element that's going to carry the book. If a few people read the whole thing and like it the book can take off. The story, the overarching plot needs to be good. If you think you have a good plot than your writing style is from what I can see probably good enough to turn it into a good book, if you take a little care and reread everything you write a few times. Despite my nitpicking the style is fitting and you seem to have enough of a vocabulary and idea of style to pull it off.
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2019-02-06 at 09:25 AM.
    The ultimate OOTS cookie cutter nameless soldier is the hobgoblin.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Re: Would you read this?


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