Saturday, February 11, 2012

"With Fate Conspire"

Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Brennan applied the Page 69 Test to With Fate Conspire, the latest novel in the Onyx Court series, and reported the following:
My page 69 quote spans the end of one scene, and the beginning of another:
"Please, Ada," Wrain entreated her. "I have seen the disaster that is Babbage's notes; I daresay you understand them better than he does himself. Or at least can explain them to others, which he patently cannot. We will not be able to do this without help."

It would have taken a harder soul than Ada Lovelace's to say no to that desperately hopeful expression. With a feeling of both doom and delight, she said, "Charles Babbage is too rude and too sane to ever help you in this matter. Poor though my own intellect may be, I will bend it to your cause."


Islington, London: March 14, 1884

Eliza had spent the days leading up to the meeting of the London Fairy Society imagining how things might go. The people might prove to be nothing more than a cluster of bored wives, reading collections of stories from the folk of rural England, clucking their tongues and sighing over the loss of a peasant society none of them had ever seen in person. They might be a group of scholars, documenting that loss and forming theories about what defect of education or brain made peasants believe such ridiculous things. They might be the kind of people Eliza had seen at Charing Cross last fall—working hand-in-glove with the faeries to sow chaos among decent folk.
The first scene is the end of a flashback to the years when Ada Lovelace was alive, and the second returns to the present, when one of the two protagonists is trying to find people who can help her against the faeries of London. Since the past is a crucial element in With Fate Conspire -- the pasts of the characters, and the Onyx Court, and the city itself -- I'd say this is moderately representative.

What it doesn't show is the struggles of the characters. Eliza is poor and Irish, which is a bad combination in Victorian London; the other protagonist, a faerie named Dead Rick, is under the thumb of a brutal crime boss. Neither of them has very much, and they're gambling what little they have in the hopes of regaining the precious things they lost, years ago: Eliza's childhood sweetheart, and Dead Rick's stolen memories. They need each other's help, but at this point in the story, they aren't yet working together -- there's a lot of difficulty still standing between them and that alliance.

I suspect a page from the middle of a scene would show those things much better -- page 79 is a nice one; I recommend that to the reader. But as far as samples go, this one does moderately well.
Learn more about the book and author at Marie Brennan's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Onyx Court series.

--Marshal Zeringue