First Lines

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Is there anything more exciting than picking up your pen and writing the first line of a new book? Is there anything more enchanting than opening the cover of a book and reading that first line? First lines are oftentimes the words upon which we judge the entire reading experience. They draw us in or compel us to return the book to the shelf in search of something else. First lines may not make or break a story, but their importance cannot be denied.

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My good buddy Tracey @ Adventure Awaits recently did a post about the first lines of her stories, and I enjoyed it immensely. So I thought I’d compile a list of my own here… and since I mostly only write fantasy, it also works with the monthly theme! Also, forgive me, some of these are a bit longer than just the first line… obviously we’ve got some flexibility when it comes to “RULES” around here! (I like to think of them as more “guidelines than actual rules”) *grin*

Have you written a Fantasy post yet? Make sure you add the URL to the linky list HERE so that we can all stop by and read it!

I’ll start with the ones you’re pretty familiar with already and go on from there…

***

Graldon, King of the dragons, mighty lord of the skies over Aom-igh, handed the golden sword to the mere man who stood before him. “This one thing will I give thee.” 

(King’s Warrior/published)

***

The young apprentice peered up at the sky, a puzzled look in his bright eyes.“But what does it mean, Master? I don’t understand.”

(Second Son/published)

***

Oraeyn sat on the shore and gazed up at the stars. The heat of the day had long since fled though the air and the sand beneath him still held a certain warmth. A cool breeze wafted pleasantly across his face, whispering promises of adventure and rest in equal strength. The gentle rustle of the waves washed up to meet the shore in a steady rhythm. On the horizon, the Toreth rose: a large, silver disc that hovered over the water like a glimmering beacon. It beckoned him though he knew not where it might lead. His head ached, though he had removed his crown before leaving the palace to wander along the shores of his kingdom.

(Yorien’s Hand/published)

***

It was dawn when my brothers and I awoke for the first time. Brightness assailed my vision as I stared about, blinking in confusion and curiosity. I was aware of others around me, but my attention was drawn to a single presence that filled me with joy and awe. I glanced from side to side, exercising my new eyesight. A blinding light slashed across my vision and I immediately covered my eyes. I lifted my wings to my face. I was astonished to find that I possessed wings.

(Minstrel’s Call/in production/editing)

***

The long stone hallways of Thorndale castle stood empty and silent. On this overcast afternoon only gray light fell through the high windows to bathe the castle in gloom. Once-brilliant tapestries, their colors now muted by dust, lined the walls and deadened the sound of Karyna’s footsteps as she made her way to Princess Bellenya’s vacant chambers.

(Stone Curse/published)

***

Firelight flickered across the old man’s face, shadows making his wrinkles seem deep, deeper than they were. The room was small and nearly empty, bare of decoration. There was a small rug, woven in threads of blue and gray, in front of the hearth and the wooden chair in which the old man sat staring into the dying fire. Three walls of the small garrett were lined with bookshelves and every shelf was filled with large, ancient, hard-bound books, dusty from disuse. In the middle of the room was a small, square table with two mismatched chairs. Against the fourth wall, which boasted no shelves, was a small, polished wood counter with a sink that allowed running water, an odd luxury for so poor a dwelling. A cabinet held a few pieces of pottery, presumably for holding food, and further down the wall rested an old cot with a straw mattress.

(The Orb and the Airship: Turrim Archive book 1/drafted)

***

A roaring fire blazed merrily in the hearth of the large room. Its light mingled with those of the torches that hung in elaborate, black iron sconces on the walls, and the tall candelabras that adorned the massive, wooden table. The table was covered with a cloth of fine, white linen, and set with crystal chalices and dishes that were rimmed with gold. The feast laid out could have fed an entire village for several days. Fruit of every variety, an entire pig, as well as large slabs of mutton and beef, and enormous loaves of bread filled the surface of the table, along with various other delicacies and trifles.

(Turrim Archive book 2/rough draft halfway complete)

***

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. All the land loved her. But one day, a dragon came and kidnapped the princess. He stole her away and kept her locked in a tall tower…

“Ella! Get your shoes on, it’s time to go to the market!”

Ella dropped the book she had been reading and scrambled about, getting her stockings and her shoes and pulling them on hurriedly. Her mother was waiting at the front door.

“Ready?”

(Cinderella retelling/drafted)

***

I believe that all this nonsense started with my christening, although some might argue that I was doomed from the day of my birth. I was the youngest child and only daughter of the Chieftain of Alagonia. I had three elder brothers, the youngest of which was fully ten years my senior, and they all doted on me from a young age and probably did their best to spoil me. Had I been any more inclined towards vanity, I probably would have soaked up their attention and been quite intolerable. As it was, I took their regard for granted, but never allowed it to go to my head.

(Glass Hill fairy tale retelling/rough draft begun)

***

The warm breeze wafting off the island caressed my nostrils with the scent of blossoming fruit trees. Flowery, citrusy, sweet, tangy: the smells of fruit both familiar and unidentifiable filled the air, surrounding our small vessel with an embrace of welcome. We threw ropes to the men working on the dock and they pulled us in to shore.

She was standing on the shore, just a step or two off the pearl-white dock. The gentle zephyr that brought the smells from unseen orchards to our noses ruffled her pale blue dress and played with her sable hair, making it float gently around her face. We disembarked and made our way towards her. She greeted us in a voice that was both kind and yet stern. Her voice whisperedin each of our ears as though she spoke to each one of us alone.

(unnamed short story related to Turrim Archive/rough draft finished)

***

The whole world looked muffled.  If you’ve ever lived within a University dormitory and had to put your head under your pillow to try and get sleep or if you’ve ever heard a conversation through a wall you would know the feeling.  However, Devlin blinking hard at the hazy surroundings, noted that the world did not sound muffled, it looked muffled.

(The Mirror/barely begun)

***

“Thanks, Billy. That’s all I needed to know.”

Logan planted his phone back in its receiver and grinned fiercely. “I’ve got you now, Mister Jordane, and I’m coming.”

He gazed at the open folder spread out before him on his large, battered, mahogany desk and bit the inside of his cheek. This was not what he had been hired to find out, but it would put Jordane away for a good long while. He shook his head. Most of his clients found out more than they wanted to, the things he discovered should not surprise him anymore. Glancing at his watch, Logan closed the folder and stuffed it inside a large manilla envelope. The thick folder hit the bottom of the envelope with a satisfying ‘thunk.’

(Oriole/rough draft partially begun)

***

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And that’s all I’ve got right now. Any favorites from the ones I’ve shared? What sorts of opening lines/paragraphs tend to catch your attention? What kinds of opening hooks do you like to start your own writing with? I’d love to hear from you!

~ jenelle

Doctor Strange: Movie Review

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Superheroes most definitely fall within the Sci-fi — Fantasy spectrum, wouldn’t you say? Which is why I have chosen to include my review of Doctor Strange on the blog this month. Particularly as this movie leans more towards fantasy than most of the other Marvel movies do… what with wizards and magic and all.

As a general rule I cannot resist any of the Marvel or DC movies, as I really do enjoy the action, the characters, the drama, the witty humor, and the nostalgic nods back to those Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch as a kid. But knowing that this movie came with Benedict Cumberbatch… and released near my birthday… made it an absolute must-watch-in-theaters. And I’m so glad we did!

I am tempted to say that this movie is the BEST Marvel movie to come out since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And, in fact, I think I will stand by that – despite how much I loved Guardians of the Galaxy – and I would even say that it is right up there in the top 5 Best Marvel Movies Ever (the other 4 would be Iron Man 1, Avengers 1, Thor 1, and Winter Soldier) with Guardians squeaking in around #6.

I may be slightly biased because: Benedict Cumberbatch. But… I digress.

Meet Doctor Strange – a brilliant and egotistical surgeon whose moments of being an absolute jerk are poignant enough that the audience gets a good glimpse at how this character arc may become one of redemption, but also short-lived enough that we never get a chance to thoroughly despise him for it. I felt that the balance was struck with this character far better than it was with Tony Stark in the first Iron Man (some of you may remember my review of the original Iron Man from back in 2008… which seems so very long ago… in which I wasn’t a huge fan of Iron Man or the new Marvel Franchise in general).

Of course, something awful has to happen to him in order for the story to progress, so without spoiling too much, let me just say that within moments of the movie’s opening, Doctor Strange is left without the use of his hands… a nightmare scenario for a surgeon, particularly one of his caliber.

With nothing else in the world that he is good at or has any desire to do, Dr. Strange sets off on a journey to fix his handicap the only way he knows how, by throwing money and treatments at it. But when he finally has nothing left and nowhere else to turn, an incredible story about a man whose injury should have left him unable to walk suddenly turning a corner and being able to carry on a perfectly normal lifestyle sets the good Doctor on a journey to a far away country where he hopes to find the same miraculous cure.

That cure is not what he expected, however. And the paths that open up before him may not lead him to the simple solution he believed he sought… but there may be something even greater in store for him than returning to surgery.

I loved practically everything about this movie. From the careful way that the script-writers handled the word “magic” in the movie (one of the characters tells Strange that what they use is called “magic. Or, if that offends your modern sensibilities, think of it as ‘source code.’”) by equating it with “science we don’t understand fully yet,” or “the same things that make Thor and Hulk and Captain America and Spiderman possible.” to the laugh-out-loud moments of pure witty humor, this movie was so much fun to watch. I also appreciated the nods to Sherlock… and despite the weirdness of Benedict Cumberbatch without a British accent, he played the part marvelously, and I have come to expect nothing less.

There was no dearth of fantastic supporting characters in this movie, as well. The villain was quite believable, Mads Mikkelson always does a fantastic job. I also loved getting to see Chiwetel Ejiofor play a good guy, as I loved him in Serenity, it was fun to see him play a foil to Strange in a supportive way. Tilda Swinton did a phenomenal job with her role, and was barely recognizable from her role as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia, and it was fun to see her play a non-villain, as well. I also really loved Rachel McAdams in her role as Strange’s colleague/ex-girlfriend, as she played the part in an absolutely believable fashion – which ranged the gamut of emotions from humorous to heart-wrenching. She reminded me a lot of the Molly character in BBC’s Sherlock series.

The thing I loved most about this movie, however, has to do with the way it ends. I do not want to spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, so all I will say is this: the resolution is NOT reached through a fist-fight. Doctor Strange has to use that incredible brain of his in order to solve the problem and win the battle, and that was extremely refreshing to see. In an era where it often feels like all action/adventure/mystery/crime/thriller/fantasy movies devolve into a question of: “how fast can the main character run” or “how much harder can the good guy throw a punch than the bad guy” it was really fun to see this movie resolve with nothing of the sort and get to watch the resolution come about through more of a “checkmate” sort of scenario.

If you missed this in theaters… make sure you watch it as soon as it comes to DVD (which, my sources tell me, will be February 28th… just in time to wrap up February is Fantasy Month)!

Five Dragon Eggs

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~ jenelle

Draven’s Light

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The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl have quickly become some of my all-time favorite books in the past couple of years. I own many of them and have reviewed almost all of them (you can find the links on my Recommended Reads page). I was saddened to hear recently that she is temporarily (hopefully only temporarily) discontinuing the series and beginning a new authoring journey under a different pen-name. However, the books that are out remain and will continue to be some of the most enjoyable fantasy I have stumbled upon. Each book is better than the last, and Draven’s Light did not disappoint.

Though it is only a novella, Draven’s Light is a powerful story that explores the themes of courage and cowardice, love and self-sacrifice, standing up for what is right even when you’re the only one, darkness versus light, and many many more.

Like her other novella, Goddess Tithe, this story does not follow any of the main characters that we’ve come to know and love in the rest of the Goldstone Wood Saga, but rather explores some side-characters whose stories have been hinted at but not completely revealed. However, despite the lack of appearance by Eanrin or Imraldera, this little story packs a powerful punch. Written in the style of a story-within-a-story (one of my favorite story-telling devices), we meet a young girl who is tasked with taking water up to the two men who are building a large structure on the hill above her village. She is a bit scared of them, but she takes the water up and meets Akilun, who is carving a statue from a tree. When he notes her interest, he begins to tell her the story of the man whose likeness he is carving. The girl returns day after day, spellbound by the story of Draven, “The Coward.”

I could hardly bear to put this book down each night when I had reached the end of my allotted reading time. I sped through it swiftly, devouring the story from its pages. And in spite of the fact that I did guess the big surprise twist before it was revealed, that did not detract at all from my enjoyment of this wonderful story.

I would unreservedly recommend this and any other story in the Tales of Goldstone Wood. I anxiously hope for the day that it continues once more, but at least there are quite a few stories already written in this world to keep me entertained until then.

Five Dragon Eggs:

dragonEgg5star

~ jenelle