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  1. #1
    Nolan Wilson

    New member, New taste: Prelude part 1. Comments??

    A LONE MAN struggled through the ankle-deep snow, against the wind that ripped through the ravine leading far into Ghorvol’s Deep. It bit into his skin like a thousand icy shards as it blew through the tears in his ragged robe, but he was oblivious to it. His long, unkempt brown hair whipped in the icy winter wind as he began to descend into the Deep, the footfalls of his doeskin boots silent, his black eyes searching ahead.
    Where he was going, snow, wind, and whatever element tried to assault him would be insignificant in comparison to the fear that had gripped his very soul the moment he had sworn himself to the Shadow.
    Ghorvol’s Deep was dank and smelled of rotting flesh. He wrinkled his nose, fingered the bone hilt of his hidden dagger and continued deeper between the black and icy cold walls of the ravine.
    He could feel the Nar-kesh, now. He could feel the hatred that pulsed from within the depths of the Deep. It was growing stronger with every step he took and he knew that anyone weaker than himself would have been weeping in fear.
    Darkness closed in around him and a fleeting thought crossed his mind; perhaps he should turn back. Yet, retreat was not an option. If he were to turn back now, he would surely be killed even before he reached the southern border of the Forsaken Lands. Besides, he knew the Nar-kesh could read his thoughts already. He was too close, now.
    A sick and twisted whisper laughed quietly within his head, tugging at his brain, and he knew he had made the right decision. He would do whatever it took to gain the power that had been promised him.
    He passed deeper into the wrenching fissure in Meldamoor’s surface, and all light was obliterated. He was glad. He hated the sun anyhow. A quick snap of his fingers produced a small ball of magical flame that would provide all the light he would need for the rest of his descent. He wasn’t sure why he snapped his fingers. It wasn’t necessary in order to bend the Arcanna to his will, but it had become a habit; an unnecessary flourish that he used for the intimidation of those feebler than himself.
    The passage he had taken opened into a large crater that amazed him every time his beady eyes fell upon it. It was broader than any city he had ever seen and he had visited a few in his time. The crater was, as he knew, the remnants of a battle so ancient that only the one who was imprisoned below it could remember. The ground within the crater was polished as smooth and black as Talmiran glass by a magical force so powerful, that the entire world had been nearly destroyed. The air was stiff with the smell of sulfur, and he resisted the urge to cover his nose.
    Several men and even a few women huddled in the middle of the vast circular expanse, shaking in fear, though they tried to pretend it was the biting winter that always hung over the lands this far north. They were weak. That was why he would be the one to claim the power promised to those who did his bidding. He dared not say the Nar-kesh’s name aloud. He was far too smart for that; only a fool made that mistake.
    He flipped up the hood of his tattered black robe. Not because he was cold or afraid, but to hide his face from the rest of the fools who had congregated here for the same reason as he. He would not share a word with them and they deserved not a second of his time.
    An ominous cloud began to materialize overhead. Lightning and pulsing blue fire twisted and crackled within it as the small storm quickly became a dark and whirling conflagration in the sky.
    He wasn’t afraid of the storm, and had seen it before. He waited for what he knew was coming next and kept his distance from the center of the crater, away from the center of the storm. His mouth curled into a crooked smile as several men did the same. Either they had been summoned here before, or they were slightly smarter than he had anticipated.
    A thick black bolt of lightning struck from the center of the storm, scattering those witless enough to have remained below the cloud in a bloody mess of limbs and entrails.
    He smiled again.
    A shadow remained where the bolt had struck, and he willingly fell to his knees immediately and without hesitation, burying his nose in the blast-hardened stone of the crater. He had been forced once, and once was enough. He could still remember the sharp ringing in his ears. It had lasted for weeks after his foolishly defiant act and he had both slept and ate little during that time. He had been one of those lucky enough to regain his sense of sound. He presented his rotting teeth in another twisted smile from the shadows of his hood when he heard the moans of agony uttered by those too daft to put their faces to the ground in the presence of the One Who Speaks.
    The shadow was not of a man, or even of a beast that he knew of. It was a fearsome apparition ten times taller and wider than any man he had ever met; large and slick black horns curled their way from a thick skull that was nothing more than a shadow. A feeling of intense fear gripped all those who beheld it.
    The shadow reached out and grasped a loudly wailing young woman who had obviously not taken a knee. Blood streamed down her neck from her ears and down the front of her face as it poured forth from the eye sockets she would never see through again.
    He did not feel compassion for her. He felt compassion for no one, especially for one as fool headed as her. Compassion was a feeble emotion that he would not allow to be a hindrance to his goals.
    The earth shook as the shadow spoke, though its voice was nothing more than a slithering whisper. It hissed deeply in a low, drawn out melody that reminded him of a child crying in the distance. The woman trembled violently until the shadow squeezed her like a lemon. Most present turned their heads at the abrupt halt to her wailing, but he was not one.
    The shadow swept its gaze over those before it, and he heard the soft moans of those who were too weak to hide their fear. He felt its eyes linger upon him for a moment.
    The One Who Speaks knew him. It never forgot.
    He lifted his face and met its invisible gaze with a cool stare of his own. He was afraid, as was expected from him, but he was also expected to control his fear. He had to be strong to earn what would someday be his.
    The shadow drew the minds of those present and an image appeared before them. Two men and two women stood motionless in the suspended state of the rendered image. They were the cursed Lightborn, the ones who must be destroyed before they realize their power. The message was whispered clearly in his mind. Of course, there would be more of them, if only a few, but the four shown were those that had been revealed to him through Amoor’tin’alom.
    He twitched involuntarily and his cracked lips slid apart in another greasy smile as he recognized one of the men and knew that fortune had indeed smiled upon him. It was hard to believe that he had been weak enough to consider fleeing the summoning.
    The dark throbbing pulse at the back of his mind became almost gleeful, though he knew the Nar-kesh was incapable of showing such a weak emotion. The Nar-kesh was aware of his thoughts and he felt him prodding at his brain for the location of the man he knew.
    He hid his thoughts silently, leading the Lord of the Night astray with a vision of mountains and a small lake…the village where he had spent the wasted half of his life. It was not the place, and he was unsure how he was able to keep the real location secret, but if he was to be the one to gain favor, he couldn’t let the rest of the fools know anything. He could feel their thoughts being passed to him through the darkness that pulsed within his mind.
    Useless thoughts, all of them…except one. He recognized the Island of Wavost and had been there once when he was younger and not yet shadowsworn. One of the women was there. She would be next, after he dealt with the man he recognized.
    A sickening cry shook the air, drawing his gaze skyward. Three hulking, winged forms circled the crater, high above. The Dragh-Kar had been released. He wondered if they all had the ability to fly, but the thought was wiped from his mind as the One Who Speaks spoke once more, mentally.
    An ominous vision flashed behind his eyes; a vision of a world of darkness. A world created in his likeness and whoever took care of any of the Lightborn would rule part of it. The shadow winked out of existence, if it could have been said to even exist at all.
    He waited a moment to ensure it would not return before lifting himself to his feet. He would return to the village and deal with the wretch that threatened his future.

  2. #2
    Devin Stadeker

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude part 1. Comments??

    This is pretty well-written overall, but I just read the prologue to The Great Hunt a week ago and this really does strike me as a condensed version of it. The similarities are glaring, from the usage of shadow/light terminology down to the character interactions. The omniscient baddy speaking directly into the minds of his servants, which themselves appear to be competing directly even as they serve, and, worst of all, suspended images of the 'Lightborn' almost seem like direct ports.

    And I also see the word Dragh-Kar. Which is kind of like the Draghkar in the Wheel of Time universe, just with a hyphen.

    This almost looks like Wheel of Time fanfiction. It's competent writing but appears to be shamelessly derivative.

  3. #3

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude part 1. Comments??

    I think it has as much of a "Lord of the Rings" vibe as "Wheel of Time," but WoT is heavily inspired by LotR.

    I would say that this has a "generic" fantasy vibe and probably wouldn't be a "fresh" best-seller, but it's decent writing. It would probably benefit slightly from making it a little less derivative, but "ultra-derivative" seems to be the industry standard (WoT = LotR + X-men/Deryni), so I might not know what I'm talking about. I apologize for not having the expertise to give a more specific and helpful critique.

  4. #4
    Nolan Wilson

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude part 1. Comments??

    thanks for the input Mara. I have to agree with you very much. Let me say that there are multiple elements used throughout many fantasy books that are similar in name only. - Such as using 'spine of the world' as the name of a mountain range, which i believe Robert Jordan's WOT shares with Paolini's ERAGON. My story is as similar to WOT as WOT is to LOTR. I used some traditional concepts, yet created a world all my own. I will include next part of the Prelude....perhaps you will want to read more.

  5. #5
    Nolan Wilson

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude part 1. Comments??

    thanks for that, Devin. I read the WOT series many years ago, and suppose i must have subconsciously imposed upon the name Dragh-kar... In a novel of 114,000 words i gotta say, 'thank god for find/replace!'

  6. #6
    Conor Beaulieu

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude part 1. Comments??

    Hey Nolan,

    I have to say that yours is actually the kind of writing I love for fantasty-style books. I read the entire excerpt, and wasn't bored or distracted by much of anything at all.

    That said, I do have to agree with the people before me in saying it feels kind of run-of-the-mill. I'm sure you could write a good book, but in order for it to be something that stands apart or above others, you need to have something the reader hasn't seen before. At least, I know that's what sets fantasy novels apart for me.

    The Recluse books by L.E. Modesitt have always been exemplary models of this, and in my mind are the absolute best fantasy books out there. Consistently. I would suggest taking a look at them if you'd like, not only would you enjoy them, I think, but you would also have a lot to learn from his storylines and story flow.

    Good luck with your writing, and I hope to read more from you.

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