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Author Topic: RAINBORNE (YA epic fantasy)  (Read 539 times)
eleonora
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« on: August 05, 2017, 10:56:27 PM »

Hi all! This is a novel written in alternating points-of-view, so I'm pasting the first five pages from one character here. I've also pasted the first chapter for the other in the appropriate forum--would love any feedback in either place.

https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=22167.0

Thanks,
El

RAPH

A sniper on imperial grounds means three things.

The emperor senses danger—not the manageable sort.

The danger promises catastrophe.

For whom, Raph is not sure, but what is certain is that the emperor does not like the threat, so his sniper must pre-empt it with a catastrophe of her own: her rifle, scoped to perfection, and bullets to run their way through heart or brain or both.

These are the deductive principles.

How Raph wishes to know more before she leaves grounds: the chance for one question, or one story of past targets shot.

Perhaps she might even test a snipe.

It would be bloody worth it to find her.

From the west wall, with half an hour to spare before the next test, amid an attempt to salvage his honor, there is nothing he may do to realize his wish. Not as Andres slams down a card with a hand-sketched dagger, its length barely the size of the pointer finger designed to rupture throats, and grins.

“Say it one more time,” Raph says. “You what?”

“Saw a sniper, yesterday.”

Hairs on his neck stand on edge.

Neither he nor Andres is prone to dramatics with imperial issues, so the real possibility stirs in him an odd sense of foreboding alongside a delight that stiffens his back. The possibility of something different, as the sniper is out of all pattern. His memory flicks backward. At least two years have passed since rumors of a sniper on imperial grounds.

A naval cap hangs skewed over Andres’ head, an attempt to loosen the pieces of himself over which he has some control—in the hours free prior to the next training run, when it will be all perfect edges, ironed trousers, shoulders pitched back, fingers together. He reshuffles his cards, quick and sure, a toss of one set from his right to left.

“Play,” he says.

Raph shifts his own cards, and lays out two imperial crowns. He knows that Andres, with his memory, has counted every card played, and has bets in his mind on each one that remains in hand. The plays are running hard toward his loss. Again.

Andres moves his hand halfway to the table with a card before he pulls his arm back to reconsider.

Raph snaps. “Oh, come on, bollocks! What do you mean, you saw a sniper?”

“Came in as the sun was setting...”

Andres, Raph thinks, needs a good whipping.

The first target the smirk on his face.

“And?” Say more.

“She had the rifle and scope with her, and was carrying one of those full-length packs on her back.”

“You think she’s planning to stay? Here?”

What could possibly bring a sniper to the academy?

“No idea.” His tone says, obviously. And, stop asking questions. He lays down five long daggers, the silver imprinted with golden etches, and Raph knows that his end has come.

“Think Master will say something?”

If we ask?

“Course not.” Andres gives Raph a hard stare, then sighs. “Ye always expect him to put more effort into telling the truth than ye ought, you know. The man doesn’t have it in him.”

Not that Master Tomas lies. He speaks only when he must.

Which is, Raph thinks, very much a kind of lying.

They all lie.

The Master of Trackers, who trains him, and Emperor Lukas VI, who sends him, alongside the imperials guardians and their tomes of history that acquire library dust on shelves in backroom corners.

They all lie, if lying includes rewriting history—or denying events that make history up. A standing by, as if it doesn’t matter that a story told without all the details means that those details won’t survive. Or cannot survive, when the emperor burns whole passages of poets in their first and sixth editions both, alongside carved statues with such perfect etches that curiosity arises in Raph about the makers of the tools even before the sculptors who carve.

The first trace of the limits to storytelling he discovered with a streak of bitterness with the story of his own origins. Their status: unknown. Just an indecipherable letter, damaged in a pool of spilled tea, left with his little body upon an imperial doorstep eighteen years ago. Some mothers abandon.

The second trace lies in the tomes themselves, when curiosity about his own person opens a curiosity with all persons. He picks them up, shifts them from one hand to the other, and traces his hands over parchment ridged, a habit never old—then runs his imagination through facts contained within until they dance as living stories in his mind, to take shape when he awakens from slumber and follow him until he lies down again. Sometimes they blur even with his dreams, and on the days after, his heart aches to break through the structure of the academy, to step past the books and empire and see the facts beyond. To watch facts be written, so that he can better grasp the art of history-making as he has had twelve years to grasp the art of tracking.

Years into reading as a novice imperial historian he realized he wanted an answer to the one unasked question: Why an imperial history at all? Mistress Coralie, at the library front desk, with a bent in her back grown by years behind it, neglected him with a firm purse of her lips. Raph tried once, twice, thrice more, and left her to records.

The question persists.

Snipers, and the shifting patterns outside the naval academy, all resurface the question, an apple tucked into kitchen buckets floating to bobble. All this, with the way Master explains it—which is not at all. The grander ships, docked more often, and the constant flow of military gear through hall arches, long, lean rifles on one end, and shackled prisoners on the second. They shuffle in behind guards with skin shades new to him, some a darker, richer hazel, others so pale that Raph muses whether sunlight ever touches them.

Something in him inquires.

The highest of his cards is a double-rifle, so he sets it, and takes the cards on the table into his hands. Thirteen more to discard now.

Andres lays down a sniper—oh, the games chance plays on card players—and shines his teeth at Raph with a tip of his head.

“I can’t do this anymore.” Raph sets his down, and punches in with a fisted hand, a dramatic flair. The phoenix on his neck, calligraphy of the thickest paint, gazes out from unformed eyes.

“Ye mean it?” Half-serious, as if Andres believes him.

The poor bastard would not survive the academy without cards.

Only reason Raph plays him.

“Not at all.” Raph muffles words against the table before he raises his head and slips the scorecard between them. “One hundred games played—and I’ve lost eighty-three.”

And wins are the ones you let me.

He has learned that Andres is the most excellent of card players, without habit of losing, especially with a game of crowns and daggers.

“So much hope for me, Andres. So much. I had best absolutely give it up now, entirely, before you butcher this reputation I ought maintain. First on track for corporal, you know.” He juts his chin.

Andres laughs, and sounds his maturity, a small hint of pride in games won. Raph rises up and fists Andres’ head into the crook of his elbow, his uncut blonde hair loosing from its catch, the other hand hard against the other’s chin. “You’re lucky to have such a memory for cards, you rat, because otherwise there’d be no chance.”

The shaking in Andres’ shoulders loosens Raph’s grip. Before he knows it, Andres has wrapped one hand up behind his back, onto his shoulder, and dragged him to the floor. His weight is light, and it takes one adjustment, weight pushed into his arm, to flip over and place his hand against Andres’ throat.

Tighten a little more, and he could kill him.

The lessons they learn, and practice.

Bells ring from the eastern wall, then: high noon, and they are late.
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Tigerbunny
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The War in Serendipity


« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2017, 12:13:28 PM »

Hi Eleonora.

I stopped here:

A sniper on imperial grounds means three things.

The emperor senses danger—not the manageable sort.

The danger promises catastrophe.


The reason being is it's too confusing.  I don't see three things. I see two, and I don't immediately connect with Raph at all in that I don't know what I'm looking at or what Raph is seeing.  Perhaps if you painted a brief scene of what he's doing when he's thinking this it would help the reader understand immediately where he is and what he's doing.

Hope this helps.  Smiley
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Alrune
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2017, 05:23:52 PM »

I was having a lot of trouble getting into this, and I think I know why. At first, there was nothing tangible to focus on. Thankfully, mentioning the cards and the shuffling gave me a little bit of context. I think you should start there. Start with the cards and then zoom out, tell us about the people, tell us what they look like and how they sound.
With these pages, I don't know who these people are, what they do, or what they want.
You've clearly done a lot of world-building. I think it's probably a world I'd like to explore. Keep working. I'd love to read a revision.
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DamsonGreengage
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2017, 08:42:51 PM »

Well, it's interesting, first. Shows promise. Then confusing. Read pieces. Still 'fused. Snipe is bird. Not clear sniper is Emperor's agent. Better if less style, more clarity.
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newtothis22
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2017, 05:10:58 PM »

I agree with the other posters. I couldn't get through the entire thing. I had to re-read parts just to understand what was being said and it made it impossible to keep my interest. I also agree that it's sounds interesting but maybe add more details. Also, what did you mean by scoped to perfection? Did you mean she had the best scope available or that she had the scope sighted to perfection?
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Kjk
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2017, 12:59:47 AM »

you are a very talented writer and I can tell that you are trying to create something different in terms of form and structure. it's more complex which requires focus from the reader. It feels like the flow is abrupt, almost like poetry. based on your writing ability, if you were to create a traditional novel I think it would be well received. like I said this is more complicated and  I would say it's more literary than ya.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 01:06:10 AM by Kjk » Logged
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